For the past several months my colleagues Cesar Garza and Amy Mullin and I have been producing Facebook Live episodes in series called Q&APL Live. These 20-30 minute broadcasts focus on a theme like New Year’s Resolutions or cooking. We show off the collections—in print and online—related to that topic while taking live questions. We’ve also done program teasers for crafting and music events.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a webinar, standard fare in my previous librarian life at Walden University. I’m obviously still not camera shy, at least not enough where it gets in the way. 😉 It will be fun.
I’m a proud member of the Austin Public Library Bibliofiles Book Cart Drill Team. Wait, that’s a thing? Oh yeah it is. Award-winning, even! My first performance was at the 2015 Texas Library Association… and that time we placed rather poorly, but that’s because they didn’t understand our art:
(I was part of the river.)
While performing was giggly nerve-wracking good fun, what I really enjoy is marching in parades. Our krewe dresses up, sometimes elaborately, and pushes book carts in choreographed patterns, waving to kids and dancing, either to our own music from an APL truck driving in front of us or to whatever music’s coming from nearby marching bands or floats.
Before I was an official member, I joined the Pride Parade as add-on staff to essentially be an extra. The theme was The Wonderful Land of Oz-tin for the 75th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz. All of the major characters were claimed so I went as the horse of a different color, cementing my reputation as a ridiculous force to be reckoned with.
I’ve since joined the Juneteenth Parade, Chuy’s Children’s Parade and the Honk!TX parade.
This shot is from a GoPro on our library bike during Honk!TX, the annual community street band festival in Austin. After the parade we did a pop-up library with the bike next to the band revue in Pan-Am Park.
It’s good fun and awesome community relations, particularly for the parades crammed with corporations. They’re part of our community too (along with the small businesses, churches and clubs) but our presence feels especially important as a neutral civic institution, where everyone is welcome and you don’t have to buy, believe or belong to anything to show up and engage, or show up and just be.
After over a year of planning and unexpected setbacks, a few months ago we finally got our book bike, Unbound: sin fronteras! It turned into two builds, actually:
No. 1 is a front-end unit on an attached bike created by Haley Trikes in Philadelphia. They’ve done a handful of library bikes now and got it down to a (library) science. No. 2 is a custom trailer to attach to a personal bike made by Austin builder Saila Bicycles. Both have ample room to hold books and materials, plus a laptop, wifi puck and all the swag you can stand.
Each has its idiosyncrasies but nothing unmanageable. The trike is slow going but steady (winning ALL the races!) and the trailer is so smooth you almost forget it’s there… until you turn too tightly into a parked car. I haven’t crashed either yet. After making it down the hill of Guadalupe on the trike during rush hour without dying, I’m confident I can handle anything.
Administratively we’re still figuring things out—where to store it, how to streamline all the bits and most importantly, how to staff it. We have willing riders but staff shortages at the branches keep people on the desk instead of in the Austin wilds. This is understandable but still. Sad face. I’m fortunate to have more flexibility with my schedule.
So what do we do with it? Community outreach, of course! We’ve shown up at Movies in the Park, Books and Beer and random farmers markets. We tailor a mini-collection to the theme and vibe of the event and check out books and DVDs, sign up new members and demo the Virtual Library. Many who get their library cards from the bike are newcomers to the city. What an awesome introduction to the Austin Public Library.
A photo posted by Austin Public Library (@austinpubliclibrary) on
I led the proposal team to get the project greenlighted then took a more passive role on the task force. I’m super impressed with and proud of the research and tireless diligence done by Conor Walker, Betsy Evans and Andrew Murphy, the chair and deputy co-chairs of the team, to make both builds happen.
Unbound: sin fronteras is a fun, fresh take on community engagement that will be enjoyed by Austinites—and us!—for years to come.
Tech Toy Time continues its supremacy. This is the program I created in January 2014 for technology novices to bring in their tablets and phones to learn how to download library eBooks to them. With the help of a train-the-trainer session I provided and a mondo OverDrive LibGuide, the program has rolled out to our neighborhood locations where it is run by branch staff.
I also got another KXAN gig last August where I talksupermegafast about Tech Toy Time and how awesome the Virtual Library is:
Rebranded as Tech Time to avoid confusion (where toy = kids = disappointment we aren’t breaking out the Makey Makeys), the program was nominated for the Employee Awards 2016 Project of the Year, and we won!
The competition was stiff and I didn’t expect to win. I also didn’t expect to be half as giddy as I was when we were announced. All staff who participate in the program got not only the token Shining Star paperweight, but a full day of free vacation. Woo hoo!
About a year ago I embarked on a mission to update every website I own. This wasn’t exactly intentional, but once I started, every old theme became a prickly thorn begging for attention, extraction, re-imagination, a fresh set of clothes and shiny new tools.
I shepherd the library’s zine collection, buying zines and processing donations. This includes adding a courtesy staple in loose-sheaved zines that fancy themselves lovingly handled with white-gloved nimble fingers and never once crammed in a magazine file or scattered across the room.
I was jazzed to discover a gorgeous saddle-stitch stapler hidden in a cupboard, collecting dust. But despite being built to withstand nuclear holocaust, this behemoth is mere brick paperweight in the face of the discontinuation of its Swingline SF 15 staple.
The zines arrayed behind are in mourning, badly in need of repair without destruction—that is, jamming the pages in the vise of a regular stapler. “Do no harm,” isn’t that the librarian motto?
I did find a long-armed stapler in the newspaper processing area, but I’m still saddened by the forced obsolescence of this amazing beast.
I’m going to keep it in remembrance. And as a weapon. It can’t staple zines, but it can clean clocks.
For a while I’ve been hankering for a personal and social media website portal of sorts—something simple, elegant, and responsive on various device sizes. With a little work and WordPress magic, I’ve turned megholle.com into just that, and have shifted my résumé/portfolio site to the subdomain librarian.megholle.com. I think it turned out pretty swell.
For you champs who rock it old school, I uhhh think I updated the RSS feed to properly port the content from the new subdomain into the existing/old RSS link at Subscribe in the upper right. I guess I’ll find out as soon as I publish this post….
After oh my… fifteen years? I still find thrashing around in web code stimulating and satisfying. Next on the hacking block is the Death Reference Desk, which after 5 years badly needs an overhaul. As I type this I realize that this website is also 5 years old. This was the spring/summer of graduating from library school, so I had some time on my hands. I think the design here has held up slightly better, though it still looks dated and could a new theme. Hrm… no promises on that just yet. 😉
6I kicked off my first South by Southwest Interactive with a live-streamed discussion about library innovations at the #Ideadrop House. A colleague and I shared goings-on and comings-up at the Austin Public Library, including our new Central location and Google Fiber. Not bad!
SXSW also gave us a chance to soft launch our Geek the Library campaign alongside Harvard’s pop-up LABRARY on the lawn of the O. Henry House. Luring passersby with shiny stickers, we asked them what they “geek”—what are they interested in and curious about, what inspires passion and awe? Film? Technology? Makery? Cupcakes? We’d then remind / assure / astound with all the ways the library has got their backs then snap a shot of them proclaiming their zeal.
For me, it was tempting to geek biting the heads off of chickens, but I kept it tame.
Being badgeless, I was surprised by how many events and conversations I could elbow my way into, but I was also wistful and envious and mostly on the reference desk at my regular, you know, job. Yet I met so many awesome librarians from all over the country (world!) who do awesome things. What little I experienced was exciting and tremendously energizing, and I want in, all the way.