2018 In Review
It’s trite by now: 2018 lasted a decade. I am consistently surprised by the contents of year-end lists. We had an Olympics this year? Black Panther was released only months ago? We’ve seen how many scandals out of Facebook in the past year?
Amidst all of this activity, I’m pleased to say that I can fairly concretely reflect on a few projects I completed this year, all of which presented me with new challenges. And I love a good challenge.
I was fortunate to work with talented, smart, and interesting individuals on each aspect of my work this past year. Without their guidance, my 2018 wouldn’t have been nearly so successful.
As winter break 2017 drew to a close, I was hard at work on METRO’s first symposium. Libraries in the Context of Capitalism reflected on the ways in which our relationship to capital influences our work in libraries and archives. With a runway of sixth months and a lot of word of mouth, the symposium attracted a number of thoughtful presenters from places as far flung as Colorado. (I’m still amazed by that, to be honest.)
- Finding a topic that struck a nerve and being brave enough to act on it
- Working with a wonderful planning committee
- Identifying and filling a need for a hands-on element by working with a colleague on a speculative design activity
- Prepare for everything (our internet went out the day before the event and literally came back on five minutes after we’d started)
- Delegate as many tasks as possible (I should not have emailed participants when also managing an event; I sent out a message to a much wider group than was necessary)
Goal for 2019:
- Meditate deeply on the issues that underpin our work
- Continue plan symposiums that bring our unspoken struggles into focus
I am one to keep to my word, and when Libraries in the Context of Capitalism was announced as a quarterly endeavor, I went into overdrive trying to plan an event three months later. This is not enough time.
That said, I had the incredible fortune to team up with the Media Manipulation team from Data & Society to plan what turned out to be an incredible day. (Mis)informed: Propaganda, Disinformation, Misinformation, and Our Culture took place on Friday, June 1. It included another batch of incredible speakers, breakout sessions led by the team at D&S, and Interference Archive hosted a Propaganda Party to cap the day’s work.
- Working with an amazing partner
- Sensing an opportunity to host a Propaganda Party with Interference Archive and jumping on it
- Adding more participant involvement in the day’s event by including facilitated group conversations
- Creating this timeline
- While I can plan a symposium within three months, I probably shouldn’t
Goals for 2019:
- Find an amazing partner to work with on the next symposium
- Make sure the runway is long enough to host a successful event
Web Literacy for Librarians
Shortly after Libraries in the Context of Capitalism concluded, my colleague Molly and I hosted a series of three web literacy workshops. We hoped to gather data on the efficacy of the curriculum Mozilla Foundation had updated in response to our pilot tests in the fall of 2016.
- Taking the opportunity to work with Molly; she’s great
- Capturing helpful data on the effectiveness of these workshops
- Gaining a ton more experience with workshop facilitation
- Marketing workshops appropriately is key
- I love preparing for and delivering workshops and I want to do more of this in the future
Goals for 2019:
- Use this experience to improve the content and delivery of workshops I have coming up this year
NYC Digital Safety
NYC Digital Safety started to ramp up as I brought METRO’s work with Mozilla to a close. In progress since summer 2017, the principal goal of the project was to train public library staff throughout NYC in privacy and security.
We were working on a blended learning environment with materials to be made public by the project’s conclusion in June 2018. It didn’t quite work out that way. We learned in March that the curriculum design company we had hired didn’t make it past launch. We needed to readjust. This meant hiring a new team and moving deadlines back.
These bumps on our road did not deter our project team from delivering on time and within budget. (Reflecting now, this feels like a minor miracle.)
- Leading a volunteer advisory council through some rocky terrain
- Leaning hard on my negotiation skills to make sure we delivered materials on time
- Hiring excellent contractors; I could not have done this work without them
- Make explicit the roles and limits of each project partner; ensure these roles and limits are equitable for similar institutions and individuals
- Understand and map the spheres of influence with each partner throughout the project (this can and will change)
Goal for 2019:
- Ensure goals, outputs, and deadlines for phase 2 are humanly possible
- Take project partners out for coffee to renew our spirits
In addition to the training elements in NYC Digital Safety, I also helped put together NYC’s first Library Privacy Week. All three systems got involved, and all told we produced 30 events. With a little more experience behind us, Library Privacy Week 2019 will be that much more amazing.
Our project team also produced Privacy in Public, an exhibit hosted by nine libraries in NYC through February 1st. I’m thrilled that this is out there in the world, and I loved getting to know and work with our ten artists. Lessons learned here are to listen to my instincts, and to use my voice more effectively.
The goods news: those two lessons transcend any work environment and (bonus!) they apply to life itself. It’s all a work in progress, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.