January is a hunkering month. I get out when I can, stay home when I can’t, keep the sun box pointed at my face, and work on Wikipedia, learning new things and giving other people the chance to learn about my world. The #Lib1Ref campaign is happening, I’m barely paying attention to it, but it’s as good a reason as any to organize some of my random interests.
So, I wrote a lot of pages, mostly “stubs” (short pages, getting started pages) which seem to be my strong suit. In other parts of my life I am good at both starting and finishing projects, but on Wikipedia I’d rather starts some stuff, let other people flesh them out more. There’s also the WomenInRed project which helps get more articles about women on Wikipedia because it sure could use them. So I dipped my toe in there as well. Final count: 36 articles (I was aiming for one per day) in a few basic groups.
Women educators and activists (and one radio show)
A few people whose work I admire
I’m aware that Wikipedia is not for everyone, but it’s a good place to put my talents when the driveway is a skating rink, the library travel hasn’t picked up yet and I just can’t read another book! Besides, just tonight I noticed someone made a change on the Wikipedia page for my dad (Wikipedia has a way to tell who made changes to pages you edit) and they had added a video of a Data General product announcement from 1990. And oh hey, wow, there’s my dad sounding like a sales robot talking about some sort of blabla computers thing. It was nice to hear his voice.
This is me starting to do my taxes (in my case, getting my paperwork to my guy) and preferring to do almost anything else. I think the last time I did one of these was at the end of 2016 and it was over at the other blog. Anyhow, this is a percentage-based look at where my work-money comes from. And it’s funny, since for someone who calls herself a librarian, that sliver is pretty small. But I can explain.
That slice, the 1.3%, represents the time Kimball Library pays me to work as a librarian. It doesn’t count drop-in time (27.8%) or writing about libraries (15.2%) or giving talks about libraries (17.6%) or a wide array of other consulting type work (the rest!) which can be anything from helping Wikipedia be better with librarians (I tried) to going to people’s homes and helping them with their network configurations. Also, and I don’t mean to be rude, but librarying doesn’t pay that well. Which is fine, and understandable! But giving a keynote talk at a library conference can easily pay anywhere from five to fifty times as much as an hour of librarying. Which doesn’t mean I’d choose it, it just means that slice is bigger.
I’m retooling my world of work until my sister and I get a little more traction our hopefully-short-lived real estate mogul life which does not suit me. In the meantime, I continue to do all my local stuff including working on the town’s Conservation Commission, being on three committees of the Vermont Humanities Council, and drop-in time isn’t going anywhere. And I keep doing my internet stuff including social media and online work for the Vermont Library Association, writing little articles for Wikipedia, and answering questions in Ask MetaFilter, my first online home.
Just for recordkeeping, here are the new Wikipedia articles I’ve written since last time I checked in. Not trying to be braggy, though I’m aware of the optics, just noting this for future-me as well as trying to highlight just how much it’s a possible thing people can do. And if you want some help, you know where to find me.
My other year end lists, over at the other blog are online now: reading list, library visit list. It’s the 13th day of the year and I’ve already racked up five library visits, but mostly because I’ve been filling in at the library. It’s been fun.
The big other winter hobby, which I somehow pick up every winter and then drop again when the weather improves, is picking away at Wikipedia’s representation problem, which I wrote about in March (shortly after I wrapped up a brief consulting gig with Wikipedia). Everyone’s got their own special set of skills and I’m always trying to use mine to do the things I like doing. This winter, the plan is to create Wikipedia pages, mostly for women and people of color. I’ve done a page a day so far and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve also been able to upload a bunch of photos of people that are better than the ones that were there. Until this weekend the general plan was:
- go to the NYPL’s Digital Collections
- do a search for the word “portrait” and limit to images that are in the public domain
- scan the results (all 6000 of them) for people who look like they might not be well-represented in Wikipedia
- add them
- GOTO 1
Then I finished scanning NYPL, and discovered that the Digital Library of Georgia also allows you to search by what is in the public domain, so that is next. Previously I’d used Florida Memory. I’d love to be adding photos from Vermont but there is no statewide image resource, much less one that allows searching by rights. Which is too bad. To be fair, most states don’t have this sort of archive.
I felt like listing what I’ve done somewhere and, while I speak Wikipedia, not everyone does, so here’s what I’ve been up to in a bloggy format. These are pages I created.
I also added a bunch of photos and you can see those mainly over at Wikimedia Commons. Most of these people either didn’t have a photo of them on Wikipedia, or they didn’t have a good one. A lot of people grab images from public domain books to add to Wikipedia which is great but then time passes and better images are available. It’s good to be able to add better photos and improve someone’s legacy. Once a photo is up on Wikipedia, it makes it to Google within minutes, it’s actually a little eerie.
The photo that leads this post is the one I’m stuck on. The caption just reads C. A. McGill and the photo is from Monrovia, Liberia. I’m pretty certain that this woman is part of the McGill Family who emigrated to Liberia (I added the woman’s photo that is on that page). There are photos of a few of the McGills and other early Liberian colonists in the Library of Congress. But, documentation is scarce and I haven’t been able to prove that this woman is related to those McGills. I’ll noodle around some more with this next week which is when #1lib1ref starts up again, and maybe write a few more pages. It’s good to have a hobby.
Wintertime is for woodshedding. For me this is a combination of catching up on reading (current title is an ARC about the North Pond Hermit), catching up on housework and home care, and catching up on correspondence (email, postal mail, social communication). I spend a lot of time busy usually, enough so that it’s a little hard for me to figure out what to do when I’m not doing paid-for work. Helen and Scott Nearing, when they were talking about their version of “the good life,” spoke of splitting up their day into thirds; roughly a third for vocation/wage earning, a third for the community, a third for fun and hobbies. Mine seems to go in bigger chunks: a day for fun, a day for community, a day for work.
Today I woke up determined not to do job-work and applied myself to more of the house projects here. I’m sure from the outside it looked like work. It can be hard to explain to people that, to a librarian, or at least to THIS librarian, putting things back in place is a deeply pleasing activity. So, I rewired the stereo, dusted all the bookshelves, found out when I went to put the iron back that there was already an iron there, hung up a few pictures and listened to some records. Yesterday I was the house manager at the Chandler for a talk by Amy Goodman and Bill McKibben, two favorites of mine. I got to help people find parking, help them find their seats, help the volunteers find their coordinators, help lock and unlock doors and keep the place running. It reminded me a lot of the work I used to do at the Odd Fellows hall and made me wish there was a little room in there somewhere where I could live. Jim was up before that and we went to VINS and admired the birds and I got to cross three more libraries off of my VT 183 list (Woodstock! Northfield! Quechee!) a list which is sort of slow to get filled out.
Wintertime is also for Wikipedia. I have more free time, enough that that if I learn a new thing (particularly if I got it from a print source), I try to add it to an article if it’s not already there. The next few weeks are a project called #1lib1ref, a campaign to try to get every librarian (or anyone really) to add a citation to Wikipedia to help make it better. There is a tool called Citation Hunt where you can look for articles needing citations in categories you are interested in. I found the five articles about African American Librarians needing citations and went and tracked down some sources. A lot of this can be done with some determined Googling and some Wikipedia-wrassling to get the citations right.
It’s more challenging finding citations in categories like this because history is often racist and the historical achievements of people of color didn’t make the papers in the same way achievements of white people did. One of the things that helps with this is libraries and the (Googleable) finding aids that they create. Not everyone can become famous for single-handedly recording 40,000 VHS tapes worth of TV news footage, sometimes you have to dig harder to make the connections and verify the claims. And all the while I got to do this stuff while listening to all my old records. Woodshedding may look like work, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
The wikipedia deletion debate ended with a more-or-less consensus of “keep.” You can read, but please do not edit, the discussion which is now over, at Wikipedia. I hemmed and hawed about proposing a paper for the Wikimania conference and decided against it. I don’t know at this point if I’ll want to travel to Egypt in the summertime and right now I feel pretty well-socialized and in need of some non-travel time. I also had to pass on an invitation to Bulgaria in May which was a little too close to NOW to be something I could reasonably do. I’d really like to go back to Bulgaria a whole lot. I haven’t been since 1996.
In between that last post and this one, I went to Michigan and had a quick fun flyby of a trip. I gave a talk I really liked about teaching technology, I topic I hope to return to. I also went to the Tuba Museum, saw a bunch of old and new friends and got driven around a lot looking out the window. When I got home, it was snowing. What else is new? I’m in hunker down mode because it’s Spring tomorrow and even though there is icy blech coming from the sky today (and a small scrabbly sounding mammal running around downstairs that I just do not feel up to investigating) I can see a little mud in the ice of the driveway and I went out without a scarf today. It’s something.
I have two links to show you.
- There was an article about Wikipedia in the local paper, Sunday supplement even, that has some quotes from me and even a picture. No, I don’t know what is up with my hair. Close readers may notice that this is the second time I have been photographed for the Times Argus holding a laptop. I’m not sure what happened to that other picture, it was almost seven years ago.
- I went to see the Tunbridge 55th Annual Show (youtube link. their title, not mine) a local fundraising effort from the Tunbridge Civic Club. Apparently in days of yore this was a minstrel show and now it is decidedly a non-minstrel show (except for the guy in blueface?) with an introduction explaining what the show used to be like. I made a little movie of some high points. Still learning how to use all the camera + software + youtubery.