Saturday, May 31, 2008

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 8)

If you are reading this post on a Saturday or Sunday, then I caught you at the right time (if not, I hope you have a few minutes to spare).

I want you to visit a blog called Zen Habits, a blog that mixes productivity, life hacks, with a soulful Zen twist. It is written by Leo Babauta who covers a variety of timely topics, including: "achieving goals, productivity, being organized, GTD, motivation, eliminating debt, saving, getting a flat stomach, eating healthy, simplifying, living frugal, parenting, happiness, and successfully implementing good habits."

This is not your ordinary productivity/life hack website, I have discovered. As the author explains, "...I believe that goals — especially ones that are worth reaching — are ultimately achieved through the building of good habits." Becoming a better Microsoft Outlook user is one thing; becoming a better human being is another.

In an effort to simplify my life, I am finding his material easily applicable and refreshing.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Desktop Wallpaper

No, it's not the name of a band. It's what I hope will be an on-onging topic every Friday.

For the coming month of June, spruce up the old computer desktop with a set of professionally designed wallpapers.

Visit Smashing Magazine. You've been warned, however. Your desktop will never be the same.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Job Search: Network Network Network!!

It's weird--in fact, it's kind of ironic--that in this time of the Social Web, where information professionals are blogging, social networking, Twittering, flickring, and generally connecting and collaborating with each another in a variety of ways, the act of searching for work (a long time hobby of mine, tragically) remains a very solitary endeavour.

There's the long hours of searching through job postings, online, offline, etc; revising one's resume; writing cover letters, tailoring each to the specifics of the job in question; and on occasion, being interviewed by a search committe. And on and on it goes. All solitary.

Making matters more challenging is the decision I made to transition from the purely archival field to the field of web communications and new media.

A few friends have suggested taking a long, long sabbatical, that is, a vacation away from searching for work. Take up another hobby, they say, adding that searching for work should not be considered a hobby. Get fit. Lay off the laptop. Hit the outdoors. Take more pictures. (Practice makes perfect, they say.)

Another astute friend, however, suggests I network network network. (If I recall, she did indeed say network thrice.) Contact colleagues, ex-colleagues, professors (if they actually remember me). Just network, let people know you are looking, and, like karma, something good will come your way.

(network + network + network) + good karma = job

To those unemployed (and I know who you are since you responded to my employment survey), let me know if this equation works.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bizarro and Blogging: Funny Observation

Podcasts and New Media: Are they in your future?

Podcasting and other forms of new digital media are evolving and, I believe, entering the mainstream, as broadband connections and mobile computing proliferate.

Is your organization producing and publishing podcasts (or other forms of digital new media) to the Web?

With digital new media, I find, there is a unique intimacy between content creator and content consumer, unseen and unheard of before in my experience, in which the content consumer is not passive but rather active, communicating and networking with others in the community of listeners and/or viewers and in some cases influencing the direction of programming.

For example, Star Quest Production Network (SQPN), a Catholic new media organization founded by Father Roderick Vonhögen, a Roman Catholic priest based in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, produces and publishes family-friendly audio and video content to the web.

About a year ago, I blogged about SQPN, explaining how it was producing some very good, high-quality content that one could download to an iPod or other mp3 player.

Fast forward to today, and I am pleased to report that SQPN continues to produce more programming worthy of watching - and emulating in your own personal or professional context.

Its latest show is called "Grace Before Meals," a lively, funny, entertaining and educational cooking program hosted by Father Leo Patalinghug, a Catholic priest with a penchant for cooking practical and healthy meals (with a dose of the divine and a sprinkle of humor). Running time: Approx. 9 minutes.

What a fine piece of online media! With the proper tools and training, can you envision your organization creating podcasts and other digital new media?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day (US)

To all my readers based in the United States, I wish you all a very reflective Memorial Day. I took this photograph of Arlington National Cemetery (below) while living in Washington, DC. It was taken this past January.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More Web Trends 2008 Goodness

From Read Write Web (yet again - RWW is starting to become my new thought-provoking blog of choice), a presentation called "Web Technology Trends for 2008 and Beyond."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Web Trends 2008

I came across a really good blog called Trendsspotting, which I discovered serendipitously via Read Write Web, that posted an online presentation showcasing the technology and Web trends to look out for in 2008.

While we are almost halfway through the year, the ideas presented are clearly worth considering...and dreaming about how they could be used in our respective professional environments.

Personal favourites:

  • Social Networks, Unstructured Data
  • Web Gadgets
  • Peoples Web
  • Mobile and Mobile Web
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Video: Video blogs, video search, indexing videos

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5 Things I Want in My Next Job

Being unemployed after successfully completing a contract fills me with a sequence of emotions: pride, reflection and conflict.

I feel pride because I am satisfied with having achieved the objectives of the contract. Whether 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months, I feel pride with my accomplishment.

Then I enter into a state of reflection when the last day of work arrives and I must, albeit reluctantly, start planning my next step.

And, finally, more often than not, I feel conflict, inner conflict, that is, an uneasy, nagging sense that the hard work and excellent performance I have thus far produced and delivered are not coalescing into a structured, developing career path of satisfaction and professional growth, like many of my library school peers and former colleagues now seem to enjoy.

In an effort to resolve these repetitious mixed feelings (and perhaps help others in the same situation at the same time), I put together a list of wants and needs, professionally speaking, that I want to see in any future job offer.

The list items are personalized, in some ways; but feel free to tailor them to your needs, if necessary.

Moreover, I want to hear what you think about these items. Am I too idealistic? Am I missing the point? Or am I hitting the nail on the head, so to speak?

Here they are:

1. Hired as a Professional, not as a Jack-of-all-Trades

2. Work in a University or other well-funded Institution

3. Attend Conferences, Seminars, Training Sessions

4. Work with a Team, and in a Healthy Environment

5. Work / Life Balance


I have a BA in History/Religion and a MLIS degree, plus I have close to eight years experience working in this field, focusing on web design and content development, digital preservation research, and digitization projects. As such, I want to be hired as a professional (no, I am not the department’s “web guy”). I want to be hired because of my skills and abilities, and not because the employer needs a Jack (or Jane) of all trades who will act as a warm body in boring meetings, pitch in when there is a huge backlog, fill in for the front office administrative assistant, or troubleshoot that virus-infected, spyware-saturated public access computer workstation. No, I have heard from enough colleagues to say this practice needs to stop.


An academic setting seems ideal for someone in the library and archives profession. The edenic campus grounds, the quiet library buildings, the youthful energy of hungry minds. But positions in academic settings are not easy to find. While I believe the academic environment would be perfect, I am still willing to accept a position at a well-funded institution. By well-funded, I mean an institution with sufficient resources to fund people and projects, and not just talk about them and sound hip.

I know the usual line in the library and archives field is that there is no money, there is no funding. But ironically there is money to pay for salaries of senior level staff and to fund a project or two that will make the department look good and therefore increase visibility and perhaps boost further funding prospects next fiscal year.

Listen: There is money; it is time to start using it wisely. Good professionals want to contribute, but also want good compensation (and benefits).


I want to attend conferences, seminars, and training sessions. I want to do so because I want to come in contact with other professionals, share and discuss ideas, form connection and perhaps fuel future collaboration. I want to be part of a greater community of professionals to learn, contribute and grow as a professional.

I want to attend training sessions—to learn something new—because there is nothing worse than professional stagnation. Any professional, regardless of field or years of experience, needs to be fed and supported by his or her institution. There are no excuses.

[Interestingly, there is a blog post by a librarian at Princeton University Libraries that discusses the issue of attending conference and giving speeches and who should cover the costs. The Princeton librarian also cites Meredith Farkas’ recent blog posts on the same topic, here and here.]

Many of us will never attain the frequent flyer miles as some of the more prominent professionals in the library field, or the opportunity to attend gaming and education conferences, or the technological ticket to attend a conference in Second Life. But as an optimist (or simply to stupid to know when to quit), I will never say never.


Some of us like to work alone, while others like to work with a large team. I fall somewhere in between, preferring the solitude in times of project planning and welcoming a team when the time comes to execute the plan. I do not want to work any more in isolation, carrying the weight of a large-scale project. It is neither good mentally or professionally. We need each other to support our strengths and overcome our weakness. We need each other to get the job done correctly.

I also want a healthy work environment. Sadly, far too many archives offices are located below ground, in basements, in windowless rooms with poor ventilation systems. No more. Been there, done that. I need windows, sunlight.


I work hard, I put in the time required to complete the task. I know work is something we all do that consumes a large of amount time on a weekly basis. But at the same time that does not mean I wish to have my life outside the job to suffer or be limited. There is a line between work and personal life. I need to draw that all important line early on.

There it is.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Boomers and Scarcity of Library Jobs

It is a holiday today in Canada, and depending on your political, social, cultural background, it is either Queen Victoria Day, Dollard Day, or Patriots Day. For me, it is a rainy and dreary day - perfect weather, I say, to read the Annoyed Librarian. Yes, she/they is/are still blogging in spite of what seems to be a deliberate slowdown in her/their usual prolific output.

In light of my recent survey on the status of employment among librarians and archivists, whose results revealed many librarians/archivists have permanent positions (contrary to my own thoughts), I found the Annoyed Librarian's blog post, "Those Darn Boomers," rather interesting. Of course, the AL is to be taken with a grain of salt (or with a martini), but she/they usually infuse(s) her/their posts with some truth.

In the blog post, the AL argues:
  • Library grads have no reason to moan and groan about the scarcity of library jobs (AL writes: "If you went to library school because you were told jobs were plentiful, then you were duped.");
  • Library grads should not assume that permanent positions belong to some exclusive group (AL writes: "Some new library school graduates seem to have been under the impression that librarianship was a non-competitive field.");
  • Library grads use faulty logic if they complain that boomers in the profession are the ones responsible for the library job shortage (AL writes: "Are these boomer librarians not people who deserve jobs, too?")
After many years of being in the field, roughly seven years, these are valid points. Like any other profession, there is strong competition, there are more candidates than positions, and professionals in the field with senior titles are not likely to retire any time soon. So what should one do if one still finds him or herself underemployed or unemployed?

As my survey revealed, there are still many with contractual or no jobs at all. So, honestly, what should one do??

FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS!! (...even if that means stepping outside your comfort zone...)

God, that was hard to write. I tried to be as eloquent as the AL. But sometimes bluntness rather than eloquence is best. And more truthful, too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Montreal Tourism Board Launches New Website

According to today's (May 15, 2008) Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Tourism Board has launched a new $1.5 million website that highlights and showcases the city's many charms in an effort to boost a sluggish tourist season and, more importantly, to reach out to far away travellers (i.e. Americans living on the West Coast and Europeans) interested in visiting the city.

Technically sophisticated and visually appealing, the new Tourisme Montreal website, offered in both official languages (English and French) and customizable to the needs of select groups who have made Montreal a popular destination, aims to bring Montreal to the world with a very slick user-friendly navigation system and plenty of multimedia content.

Montreal Tourism Website

The website also boasts a few cool features such as personalization, RSS feeds, Google Maps integration, among other features. I was surprised I did not see any user-generated content or solicitation for such.

Tourisme Montreal prepared a video explaining how it created this online project.

Visit the site. It's so full of information, you may not want to leave your computer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Random Changes to the DA

A few changes, enhancements, modifications to the blog. I wish Google would provide us Blogger users with more, ahh, Wordpress-like templates. Blogger seems so boring, blah, basalt.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Survey Analysis

Survey Asks....

"As a librarian or archivist, what is your employment status?”

In total, 66 readers of The DIGITAL Archive responded to the survey. I want to thank them for participating and for writing comments (thanks to Heidi and the Lone Arranger for their unique comments), and to thank those who promoted this survey on their blogs.

By the numbers, the votes revealed the following:

  • 44 people (66% of the vote) indicated they had a permanent position with a full benefits package;

  • 9 people (13% of the vote) indicated they were unemployed;

  • 7 people (10% of the vote) indicated they had a contractual position with a full benefits package;

  • 6 people (9% of the vote) indicated they had a contractual position but with no benefits package

For the sake of transparency, I would be part of those unemployed.

While Blogger surveys are not formal, nor the most scientific vehicle to gather such complex information, and while my survey question had a few holes in it—I should have asked how long the respondents took to find or land a permanent position, for instance; or what career path they had chosen, librarianship or archives; or whether they were recent grads or those who had been in the profession for many, many years—I was still able to conclude that:

1. There are a large number of people with permanent positions;

2. There are still a sizeable amount of people with no jobs or with contractual jobs

I was surprised such a large number of people had permanent positions. I was really surprised. I was also surprised there were more unemployed librarians and archivists than those with contractual positions.

In reading the poll results, I also concluded, on a personal note, that I need to revise my career strategy, or more specifically, my job search strategy and then my career planning.

After 8 years in this field, after working at various locations in mainly contractual positions, each with its own share of opportunities and challenges, I still find myself no closer to a permanent position. The survey numbers reveal that there are permanent positions, but thus far these positions have remained elusive to me and the 22 other respondents.

Surveys, opinion polls, and statistics can draw different conclusions, depending on the perspective, biases of the individual analyzing the data.

What conclusions can you draw from these numbers? Were you surprised or shocked or indifferent by the numbers?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

ReadWriteWeb: The Alpha Geeks Start Talking Digital Preservation

ReadWriteWeb, a popular weblog that discusses web technology, has an article called "Digital Information 250 Years From Now," which delves into the complex issue of (yes, you guessed it) digital preservation.

It is interesting to see how long it took the "mainstream" technology media--by mainstream media, I mean those high traffic uber tech sites--to finally cover this thorny issue, whose eventual solution will involve not only archivists but technologists as well.

Now, let's get busy!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Polling Closed: Analysis Soon

The employment survey is closed. But look at those results. The number of responses was larger than I expected and the results are very interesting, to say the least.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Adding AdSense

By now, I am sure many long time readers have noticed the addition of Google’s AdSense modules to The DIGITAL Archive page.

According to Google’s AdSense’s Terms of Service, I, as an AdSense subscriber

1) Cannot click on my own ads and;
2) Cannot promote or encourage visitors to click on said ads

I can, however, filter out irrelevant or questionable ads via the AdSense website.

That said, I hardly think I will actually monetize this blog or its content; but for the sake of journalistic integrity, I will certainly assess AdSense’s value, if any.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Polling Update

The response to the poll ("As a librarian or archivist, what is your employment status?") has been nothing short of incredible. The number of respondents and the responses themselves are making this poll a success in many respects. So much for the idea that I had but two readers. Thank you to those you have participated - and if you still haven't done so, go ahead, select a status that matches and push the VOTE button.

In retrospect, I may have to fill the gaps with a few additional questions, such as: How long before you landed a permanent position? Such data could eventually paint a more complete picture.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Survey Says...What is your employment status?

Using Blogger's Poll/Survey widget, I created a brief survey that I hope some of my readers, specifically the librarians and archivists out there, will answer. The survey is located on the top-right corner of this blog. It's very easy to use. I'll keep it running for a week.

Basically, I created this survey because I wanted to ask the powers that be at the American Library Association (ALA) and Library School Administrators across North America why so many recent graduates and not-so-recent graduates in library and information studies end up toiling in contractual positions for years without a single permanent position on the horizon. Additionally, why does it seem as though only a few people in this profession have permanent positions, like an oligarchy?

Since I am seeking facts, I want to know what is the employment status of the librarians and archivists among the readership of this blog? The choices are presented in the survey widget. Feel free to leave comments, too.

This survey is as scientific as unscientific surveys can be. Tell your friends and fellow bloggers about it.

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.