My interview with Paul Vinelli, the author of the Unofficial SXSWi Primer for Rowdy Librarians.
Naomi: What made you interested in creating this guide for SXSW?
Paul: Last year was my first time at Interactive, and in the blur I was fortunate to connect with Jessamyn West and Paul Jones (UNC-Chapel Hill & iBiblio). After chatting with them at a library meetup, I asked if they’d consider joining me for coffee later in the weekend. They were kind enough to make time, and we spent an hour talking about the field and where I could potentially fit in. This ultimately led to my decision to apply to UT-Austin and change my career trajectory.
There are tons of parties and events at South By, and one can easily get seduced by the bright lights and big names. My intimate coffee chat with Jessamyn and Paul was the highlight of the conference, and I feel that these meaningful exchanges are what SXSWi should be about. Given the awesomely accessible nature of librarians, I felt it was worthwhile to help people recreate these experiences.
Naomi: Are there other blogs or resources you can recommend?
Paul: The staff at UT’s Regional Foundation Library recently pointed me towards a massive listing of Grants for Individuals at Michigan State University. The grants are open to everyone and subdivided by academic level, population group and subject. There’s funding out there for any project if you put the time in to search for it:
- Grants for Individuals: http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3subject.htm
- UT Regional Foundation Library: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/rfl/
If you’re trying to find the source that’s right for you, Brett Bonfield posted an absolute MONSTER list of librarian-oriented blogs and listservs on Code4Lib last year. http://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg10336.html
In terms of my personal loyalties, I’m an admittedly biased fan of Jessamyn West’s librarian.net. She’s on the pulse of the field and is a refreshingly outspoken advocate. Also, her role at MetaFilter means she knows how to shepherd fascinating conservation. I always enjoy keeping tabs on what she has to say.
For music, I visit:
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Paul: I’d have to say the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library at UC-San Diego. The library has a picturesque view of the California coastline crawling into the Pacific. Almost none of the students at UCSD know about it, so it’s quiet and peaceful… and open to the public.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Paul: This is probably a trite answer, but I really like Stephen Mitchell’s version of the Tao Te Ching. I dig the inherent paradoxes, and every time I revisit it I’m stumped by another mind-cleansing riddle. I did an audio recording of the book during my off-hours at Chicago Public Radio, so I learned rudimentary production while narrating my favorite text. That was fun.
Naomi: Why are you attending library school?
Paul: The people. When others ask me about my decision to pursue an MSIS, I say “I like hanging out with librarians.” I’m not trying to dodge a question about what I want to be when I grow up (well, kind of); but I honestly made my choice because I wanted to immerse myself in a community of brilliant, dedicated, helpful and creative people. If I’m surrounded by truly excellent human beings, I trust I’ll find the best path.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Paul: I believe in informational interviews. Not only are librarians phenomenally interesting, but they’re more than happy to dish out useful suggestions of topics to research and additional people to speak with. In reaching out to others, I’ve also made some wonderful friends along the way.
I’m currently a graduate student in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, I’ve served as a social media research analyst, nonprofit manager and public radio lackey. I’ve earned Masters degrees in Communication from the University of California, San Diego and Fordham University, where I wrote a thesis on the Google Library Project and its impact on the future of information.
My primary interests are reference, teaching/instruction and library advocacy. In my spare time, I’m hitting up funk/soul/world music events and practicing on my conga drums.
Read more on SXSWi from Paul here: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/ala-members-blog/rowdy-librarians-sxsw1-day-one