Jason Griffey

This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Jason Griffey. He’s the head of the Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the creator of LibraryBox.

Jason Griffey, welcome to the show.

Hi Steve, thanks for, thanks for having me.

The first thing I wanted to talk about was when I was going over your blog and the presentations and things and listening to the American Libraries Live thing, a lot of what your topics that you discuss is about emerging technologies, new things that are coming out in the next few years, but my first question I wanted to hear is what crazy sci-fi technology that’s hundreds of years in the future, Star Trek kind of stuff that you wish existed, what do you wish you could make just to magically happen? And, to follow up, how would you apply it to libraries?

Oh man.

So a jet pack, you have to say why a jet pack would apply to libraries.

Sure, sure, sure, sure, okay. Well, I think that you said, Star Trek technologies, I think the, the, the two things that I think everybody wants out of Star Trek is the teleporter and the replicator, right? Those are the iconic kinds of pieces of technology from that world. Teleporter because, well who wouldn’t want to just blink your eyes and be somewhere? That would certainly make ILL a lot easier, right? [laughs] Throw your book in, throw your book on the transport pad and it just shows up in the library across the, across the city and.

Save some shipping costs too.

That’s right! That’s right and, well, and of course with the technology that it goes hand in hand with is the replicator, right. Any, anything where I can, the promise of the replicator is the promise of a post-scarcity world where you can have any, any thing, any object, any substance, any foodstuff, any piece of technology, if you can do that by simply talking to a box on the wall, that’s, that’s pretty amazing stuff. So I think if I could have that I’d, there’d be a lot more Earl Grey tea in my office. There’s already quite a great deal of it so there’d be even more if I had a replicator here.

Instantly, just instantly hot then.

That’s right! Tea, Early Grey, hot! And then, of course, the ability to dream up new stuff becomes much easier when you don’t actually have to build it. You can simply describe to the computer what you want. But from a, from, for my own geeky reasons the answer whenever anyone asks me what kind of future tech do you want, it’s always lightsaber. And the reason is it’s a lightsaber!

Of course.

Right. What are you talking about? Why do you need a reason? It’s a lightsaber!

I always used to say before the Star Wars prequels came out, I said, “The first preview that I want to see could just be a lightsaber lighting up and I would be happy.”

Oh yeah. Right. That’s why, why would you want anything else?

And then the prequels happened and oh well.

Yeah. The problem is I’m not exactly sure what the library effect of having lightsabers is. I’m not sure that that helps the library world that much. The replicator, a little more direct and the transporter, a little more direct. Those would be the ones, if I could wave my wand and have 500 year, technology from 500 years in the future, that’s, those are the two that I’d want.

And I guess the lightsaber could be security, I don’t know.

Yeah, that’s true, that’s true, it’s fighting off the, fighting off the hoards.

And the funny thing is that the replicators don’t seem as far in the future now anymore with 3D printing, it’s sort of, I mean, we’re having to design a lot of stuff, but I mean it seems like you put this thing into this box and it comes out, so.

Yeah, yeah. It’s one of those kind of, there have been examples, plenty of examples of science fiction in not predicting the future as much as driving the development of the technologies that lead to themselves, right. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, there’s lots of, lots of examples of where a science fiction author has described something and then scientists have gone, “You know, that’s a really cool idea, let’s see if we can do that sometime in the future.” And the 3D printing replicator thing is one of those instances where when Roddenberry first came up with the idea, it probably predates Roddenberry but, when it was thrust into the popular conscientiousness by Roddenberry, there may not have been a clear scientific idea about how that might work, but we actually understand how that could happen now, we don’t have the tools yet to make it happen, but there is no particular reason on the physical physics, chemical front that it couldn’t happen which is one of those situations where it’s, it, with slightly better technology and slightly better energy sources and, yeah, sure we could do that.

It’s pretty exciting to think about, sometimes even with our, our cellphones are now more powerful than Kirk’s communicator.

Yeah, oh yeah, by far. Yeah it doesn’t, there’s not a day, there’s not, there’s not a day that I’m not amazed at the fact that I’m carrying a computer in my pocket that’s dozens of times more powerful than the one that sent people to the moon, that’s just a fact about the world that we take for granted that’s crazy amazing.

And that’s, that’s one thing I had to ask you about later but since it came up was, can you talk a little bit about the Warren Ellis essay that you posted a link to, I hadn’t seen it before that, but I, the one about we’re living in the future kind of thing, what excited you about that?

Sure, the.

And I’ll provide a link in the show notes for that.

Okay. I’m actually going to pull it up really quick. The.

Cause I had read his work before, but I hadn’t read that particular essay until you had, I think you tweeted it for.

It was, the science fiction condition, is that right?

“How to See the Future.”

How to see the future, yeah and in it he uses the phrase “the science fiction condition.” Yeah, the, the, the, that was such a great, it was such a great essay that talked about how wonderful the time we are living in is, right? The, we, we think about science fiction as this thing that is around the corner, we think about these technologies as things that are around the corner, but its been 30 years, has it been that long, since my, since William Gibson showed us that the future really is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. That the world we live in is the future, we just don’t always see it that way and, and that’s been my, my, I don’t want to say role, but what I have done over the last few years with writing and presenting and things has all been in that vein, in the, the future, here’s, here is the nearly emergent future, here is how it is likely to affect us, be ready! [laughs]

Right, it’s just around the corners.

Just around the corner and these are things I, I try not, I try not to talk about futures that are too far out, right, once you get past an event horizon of 5, 8, 10 years with technology, things get really weird, they, I’m in, one of the, one of the biggest projects that I’ve been working on here at work is, here at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is a new library.

We’re building a brand new academic library and we have been in the planning processes for 4 years, a little more than 4 years now and it’s supposed to open in about a year. This new library is, when they came to us, the University, the state said, “You’re building a, you’re building a library that we want to last for 30 years, we want this to be a building that is still useful as a library in 30 years,” and I threw my hands up and had some small panic attacks because there’s no way to, there’s no way to predict 10 years from now what an appropriate library might look like, especially, I mean an academic library where the curriculum is going to change significantly in the and the expectations of the students are going to change significantly and then when. I’m the head of IT here in the library and when it came to trying to plan the information infrastructure for the building I, I like to think that we’ve done a good job, but trying to, trying to plan the infrastructure technology for a building, I don’t know what I’m going to need to support in 5 years, I don’t have a clue.

Right, cause, I mean 30 years ago there was no worldwide web so that’s how different the world is in 30 years.

Five years ago there was no iPhone. Trying to, three years ago there was no iPad, so to try and, to try and plan information, how people are going to access the information that the library’s going to be providing, we’re still going to be providing information, we’re probably going to be providing digital information at an increasing rate. There’s some good bets about the way things are going to go, but as far as what the patron expectation is going to be and how they are going to want to interface with that information, I, we, I’ve made some good bets and most of them involve being flexible enough to change things because there is very, very little that I was sure about. I was very sure we were going to need lots of power [laughs], no shortage of the need for electricity and as high a speed, as high a speed internet as I could possibly pump into the thing and other than that, we’re just, there’s living in the science fiction condition is really hard when you’re trying to plan 10 years out, much less 30 years out.

Right, well one of the things you’re doing to move into that science fiction-y future is with your LibraryBox project. Can you tell me a little bit about that? How you came to, I know it’s based on the PirateBox, can you tell me a little bit about PirateBox first so we can get a foundation of what it is and how you came to adapt that for libraries?

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, yeah. The, so, for a while I had been watching this project that was started by an art professor at New York University named David Darts, Dr David Darts and he had started as an art project, not as a tool or a technology project, but really as an art project, this piece of software based on certain kinds of hardware called a PirateBox. And the idea with PirateBox is similar to the sorts of, there’ve been other digital art projects like Dead Drops, USB Dead Drops where people just cement USB drives into walls and let people plug into them and leave, leave files or take files off of them. The PirateBox is a wireless dead drop that is, what David, what Dr Darts did was develop software that you could apply to a wireless router that would turn the router into this self, self-sustaining little file-sharing infrastructure, so anyone, when you turn the PirateBox on, anyone could connect to that wireless signal and using whatever device you’re connected with, you could leave a file or take a file, or many files.

So, it, it, because the Pirate Box is not connected to the internet in any way, it is its own self-contained wireless signal, so it doesn’t talk to internet servers, it doesn’t talk to Google, it doesn’t talk to anybody online. Because of that it’s totally off the grid and anonymous, so his, his PirateBox project was all about, I mean judging from the name PirateBox, it was all about the, a statement about how digital piracy in big scare quotes there, piracy in big scare quotes from me, is really unstoppable and is something that can be totally off the grid, totally anonymous and driven by very inexpensive hardware. So, I had been watching this, because, I think, I thought it was a really interesting project, I thought it was a really interesting art project, I thought the technology behind it was really cool, and a couple of people that were working with him on the project managed to get the code to a point where it would run on this one particular piece of hardware, the TP Link MR3020 and that was important, that the original versions of the PirateBox were big. They fit in big metal lunch boxes and used lead acid batteries, they needed a lot of power and they needed big pieces of hardware because that was all there really was at the time, this was 2, 3 years ago, for so, almost 3 years ago at this point. Over, because of the wonders of technology and Moore’s Law, you know technology gets smaller and faster and uses less electricity, so a couple of coders, the main one that I’ve been working with is a German coder named Matthias Strubel, who’s been a big help, he and another of the, another of the PirateBox project coders managed to get the PirateBox code running on the MR 3020 and the MR 3020 is like a $35 to $40 router that is about the size of a hockey puck, very, very small, very light, very cheap, right, $40, it runs on USB power, it runs on standard 5 volt USB power, which means that you could power it with a battery, you didn’t, you no longer, a small battery like you can run it on AA batteries. You don’t actually need these big batteries and big pieces of hardware and heavy, lunch boxes, you could actually make a PirateBox that fit in your pocket. So when I saw that happen, when I saw that turn in the project, I had been thinking about library uses of the project for a while and the biggest barrier that I could see was that it’s very hard to sell libraries and educators, I work in an academic library, but the kind of idea was, that in my head I was trying to think of how can it be useful for education, how could it be useful for a library? And the biggest barrier that I could see was the whole, the pirate aspect, right. The build up of files, if anyone can randomly upload files to this server, obviously, I don’t think it takes much imagination to see how quickly things could go wrong. [laughs]

Exactly. [laughs]

You could very quickly have, have material on the server that you did not want and that could result in both police activity and the FBI becoming interested. So, that, that as a, this sort of project is great, that as a useful tool for libraries was something that I knew needed to change. So, the PirateBox project is totally open source, all of the code was available, so I just started looking at it and playing with it and digging into the code to see where tinkering, right, to see how do I change this? How do I, how do I, is it possible for me to easily remove the ability to upload things? Oh, okay, well I figured that bit out. Okay, well now, can I change the interface a little bit? Oh okay, well I can do that too. Well, hmmm, now if I, if I make it a little easier to install, if I make the install process a little smoother and, and make it so that other people can build this thing and load, load the library materials onto it, or freely available public domain materials onto it, it becomes a really interesting project for libraries.

It becomes something where you can provide, so, you can provide access to digital materials totally off the grid in places where there is no internet access and while that is increasingly rare these days, it certainly is not so rare that we all can’t think of a place where there isn’t any internet still. So, once I, once I tinkered with the code and got it working, I put up a website, I made my code, all of the changes and everything available on a social coding site called Github and I made a little website and I generally announced it at Computers In Libraries early, early this year, I guess, was the first public demo of it. I took a LibraryBox, I built one and took it with me and put it in my bag and just ran it off a battery while I was walking around the conference, at Computers In Libraries 2012 and it was still pretty rough, it was definitely a 1.0, very, very hard, I would say it was hard to build. The coding process was still pretty, pretty technical and so the, the. Over the next six months or so I worked pretty hard on and off at trying to make the installation process smoother and trying to make it a little more, a little more obvious what needed to be done and to just clean the code up and make it run a little faster and that sort of stuff. So.

When you were at the Computers In Libraries conference, did you get a lot of good buzz about it? I mean did you get people excited about the project?

Yeah, I mean it was a lot of good feedback. It was really interesting to see, I get two reactions, or two first blush reactions to LibraryBox. One is, “Oh wow, that’s really cool,” and the other is, “Why would I want that?” [laughs] And I think both of those are really illustrative of the project, I think it’s true that it’s kind of technologically interesting and it’s also true that there is not something that everyone has an obvious use case for. So, ultimately it boils down to a LibraryBox is a small, portable router that has the ability to share a WiFi signal that anyone can attach to, that you can download stuff from.


It’s a portable, wireless, digital distribution device and you could totally do this with a laptop, right. You can have a public share on a laptop, be publicly distribute your WiFi signal, the, the technology is there for this to happen with other stuff. It’s not, the idea isn’t particularly novel, I don’t think, but the fact that you can have a, a piece of $40 or $35 at this point, $35 hardware, right, so for $35 and a half hour of your time, you can build a digital distribution center for files that will work anywhere you can plug it into anything including a battery or a solar panel and.

That’s very cool.

Very cool, right? There’s some power there that I think is really interesting and if you’ll, if you’ll indulge me in a small story. The thing that is, so I was working on the first one and it worked, it was fine, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I was, “Okay, that was a cool proof of concept, neat, alright.” And then I got an email from a person in China and they had seen my project, this was an American who was in China teaching English and I got an email because they had seen the website and read, had read what I was working on and the English teacher, the instructor said, “You know, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.”

And I was, “Oh, okay. What, what do you mean?” And he said, “Well, in, where I am, I’m teaching English to lower and middle income people in this small town in China because English is a major, the ability to speak and read English is a major stepping stone toward higher income brackets, just that skill alone opens up a huge amount of income ability to people in, where he was. And the lower and the middle income people were having trouble getting, actually being able to access the materials that they needed online because of the great firewall. Upper income people simply use a VPN and ignore the firewall completely, they get around it technologically because they can afford to pay for VPN to get their IP changed. But, lower and middle income people couldn’t and he had been looking for a project that allowed him to do basically this, inexpensively share two very small localized groups of people, his class, educational materials that they couldn’t get themselves. All of the people in his class were lower income, lower income people included, they all had mobile phones that were capable of accessing a WiFi signal and downloading digital material and reading it. The gadgets, the actual hardware to, to access the material, everyone had, but because of the censorship of the net, they, they couldn’t get what they needed and he. So, he, I worked with him to make sure that the code worked on the Chinese variant, the Asian variant of the hardware. He is currently using it and spreading it to the other teachers of English he knows, right, in that area to spread educational materials in a place where that is difficult and that was, that was my “ah ha!” moment. That was the moment when the lightbulb went off and I said, “That, there is the use case that makes me want to work on this project.” That is important. The ability to give people the information they need to make their lives better. That’s the ultimate dream of the library. That’s what a library wants to do, right, a library wants to give people information to improve their lives and the fact that I knew that even one place was using a LibraryBox to do this was just, that was majorly inspiring to me, so I.

That’s a great story.

Yeah, I, so I, I’ve kept in touch and that was really what drove me to the version, what we’re on now which I’m calling version 1.5, it’s not quite a 2.0, there’s some stuff that I still want to add to it, but making the installation much easier, making a very detailed, thorough instructions for building your own, all of that  kind of came out of the conversations that I had with this, with this English teacher and after that I started looking for other similar use cases and the real strength I think of LibraryBox, the promise I guess and it doesn’t, again the idea is, I don’t particularly, original, the, even the instantiation is not, the product itself is interesting in a, it’s my project so I get to be obsessive about it, but the, the fact is that these little easily shareable bits of digital information don’t get more difficult to share over the next several years, it just gets, this hardware gets cheaper, the battery power gets easier to provide, the, it gets easier and easier to do this and the idea of taking a LibraryBox, plugging it into a solar panel and throwing a bunch of them across villages in South America, or Africa, or places where they may have cellphones but no direct data connection. That sort of thing is really exciting to me.

Yeah as Jessamyn West always likes to say too, the digital divide even is real in America too. It doesn’t seem like it in some places, but it is.

Absolutely, it is, I mean I grew up in rural Kentucky and I currently live in rural Tennessee, so the digital divide is alive and well in my mind. The ability to take this to places that don’t have the ability to just hop on and download an e-book, right, is really interesting and I think potentially powerful, especially again, it’s the combination of how inexpensive it is and how easy can I make it to do, right, the easier it is and the cheaper it is, the more ubiquitous it can be and theoretically the more places it can go.


So, that’s what I’m concentrating on, is trying to get the project as inexpensive as possible, as easy to install as possible and try to see where that takes it.

Do you have any other concrete plans for the future of how to expand what you’re doing besides just simplifying the process?

Yeah. I mean I, there are, I have a rough development, a rough development path that I want to take. The website, I should mention the website, I’m sure you will put it in the show notes, but the website is Librarybox.us. Just the way it sounds, Librarybox.us and on the website I’ve got some use cases and then a future roadmap section where I’ve got a little bit of an outline of how, things I’d like for it to do in the future. Some of the things that I want it to do are currently beyond my meager coding skills [laughs] so, as a result one of the things that I’d like to concentrate on in the next year, six months to a year, now that I’ve got a stable version and I’ve got clear instructions and I’ve got some decent, some decent tech stuff on the side about what it’s for, I’d like to concentrate on trying to find some grant funding frankly. I mean, again I’m at an academic university, I’m an academic librarian, that’s kind of the way things go in academia, right.


You find grant funding for it. So, I’d like to find some grant funding mainly to be able to trade money for skills I don’t have. [laughs].

Well, bring on the experts.

Right, I would love to, I would love to be able to hand someone some money and say, “Okay, this is the thing I need it to do because I don’t have the skill to make it do it yet and I don’t currently have the time to.” I mean, I would rather not wait on the time it would take me to level up to that point. So, I very much would like to find some funding that would, that would allow me to accelerate the process to make it an even better project. I mean, the project is totally open sourced, like I said, it’s all available, it’s all out there, there’s no hidden proprietary motive here, I just want this thing to be as ubiquitous as we can make it as long as there’s holes in the world that don’t have access to digital information.

Yeah, I mean, it’s a, it’s a very cool project. I wish you luck and success with it.

Thanks, I hope so, I mean it’s, it’s, there’s some, there’s interesting developments, there’s other people working on variants of it. I know that there’s a couple of programmers that have taken the idea and are trying to twist in different ways, make it more more friendly to e-books, make it more friendly to certain kinds of materials and that’s exciting, that’s really, really exciting. I hope, I hope that that ultimately, any development that anybody else is working on, I hope ultimately gets rolled back into the, into the main branch of Library Box. I just want it to be as good as it can be for as many people as it can help, so.

Well it’s, like I say, it’s very cool. I was very excited about it when I first read about it and I, you were instantly on the list of must talk to Jason for the podcast, so.

Thanks a lot.

So, another project that you’re involved in that’s also cool is the American Libraries Live that just debuted its first episode last week. Is that?


How did that come about? Is that something that was your idea? Or did somebody, did ALA or somebody come to you about that?

Yeah, it’s a combination of those things. I’ve been working with a couple of editors at ALA Tech Source for a few years now. I’ve written a couple of library technology reports and I’ve contributed to a couple of other technology reports and I’ve been working with a couple of editors there and maybe a year and a half ago or so we had talked about the. Bridging beyond text, right, getting, doing a podcast, or doing some videocast, doing some form of media that wasn’t text based and after talking and stuff, I, we decided that we, it would be really interesting to do something that was way more interactive than the traditional talking head kind of webinar sort of thing that happens. Those are great, I’ve done a, I’ve done dozens of them, they’re really, really useful if you’re in an instructor mode, but if what you want is a little more freeform discussion, it, they don’t always map well to that. So, so, a bunch of us talked and we hit on this idea of a live talk show, sort of interactive show and this was, again, this was maybe 18 months ago, a year ago and at the time it wasn’t totally obvious how to make that happen technologically. [laughs] We looked at a bunch of options like using Skype video and pushing it all to a single machine and then using something like Livestream to then redistribute that and we played with a bunch of different how to make this work and it wasn’t until Google Hangouts went public with their, with Hangouts Live, with the ability to really kind of push that out live where we were all, “Okay, so this is the tool, this is the right way this should be done.” And we played with it, we did some initial tests and it just works really well for what we wanted.

So, that’s kind of how it came about. We’re going to be doing one a month. I’m not going to be the host every month, those are, it’s going to rotate between several very, very interesting people. Although I hope to do several over the course of the next year, I’m hoping I get slotted in that guest spot, the host spot over time. But, I was really, really pleased doing the first one. It’s, doing it live, streaming it live and then the ability to have live interactions with people I think is really the selling point. That’s the, I think that’s what makes it a cool new product, a cool new way to get information. The first episode clocked in at,1800 or so people tuned in, which was phenomenal, blew my, blew my mind, I was incredibly, incredibly flattered that we had that kind of audience so I’m really excited about where it could go. I think there’s just a lot of options there.

And did I read that you all hit a wall on the chat of how many people could be in there, or something? Is there a limit as to how many people can be in the chat?

Well yeah, the tool that we, again we kind of hacked it together, right. It was a, it was a project where we, we, we, that they built a page and we had the embed, the Google, the Google embed that people could then watch and then we also wanted the ability to have that back channel chat stuff happening and the tool that we chose for that, we had, I think it was a 250 or 300 person simultaneous limit and obviously that, that filled up real quick. [laughs] So, we estimated the, we underestimated the need there, so next time around I think we’ll be using something, something slightly different that has a little higher cap. We’ll find.

It was a good problem to have.

That’s right, right. Like, if you’re going to fail, fail big. So, [laughs].

“Oh no, we’re too popular!”

Right, that’s right, exactly the right problem, so, hopefully we’ll find a better tool for that next time around.

Well, and another library project that I think you were involved in starting is the Library BoingBoing group through ALA?

Through ALA, The Member’s Interest Group through the ALA.

Right, right. Can you talk about what that is and how you got started with that?

Sure, sure. There are a couple of people at, a couple of people at ALA that really spearheaded that endeavor. Jenny Levine and Christina Coleman, who are both ALA staffers, had been working on the back, formally on the ALA side, to try to find relationships with interesting groups that ALA could bridge with and several of those are names that anybody that’s in the tech world would recognize, right. Boing Boing, Make magazine, these progressive technologists trying to figure out how we could, how we could get them interested in the ALA, interested in libraries and how we could help them reach out in different ways. So, this is, it’s another project where Jenny and I had been talking about it for a long time, about how could we get libraries into those spaces and make librarians more aware of them and that sort of thing and we finally, Jenny and Christina were able to talk with the Boing Boing group which is a “Who’s Who?” of internet famous peoples. [laughs] Xeni Jardin and Cory Doctorow and Mark Frauenfelder and that whole Boing Boing group.

The people who make geeks go squee!

The definitely all, all those names make geeks go squee! And the, they’re all huge library fans. They’re all huge reading fans, they’re all literary people and they love what libraries do and when we approached them and said, “Could we maybe work with you guys to get more information out about libraries, seeing as how you’re the biggest blog on the entire internet?” They were incredibly gracious and agreed to, agreed to let us start this group, Library Boing Boing, through the ALA, using the Boing Boing name internally, agreed to give us the ability to work with them to get some stories like, important library stories up on Boing Boing directly so that we have the ability to get libraries in front of literally millions of people a month. Boing Boing as I said is the most popular blog on the, on the whole internet and it does get millions and millions and millions of people looking at it. So, the ability to get those library stories up is just huge. We’re also working with them to do, the next step is Boing Boing meet ups. We’re going to be doing some in-person meet up stuff around the country and having kits, a meet up kit that libraries can use to do these little in-person, informal meet ups with Boing Boing fans. We’re working with Make Magazine, you may have seen the, there’s going to be some interesting stuff at ALA Mid-Winter and ALA Annual with them. There’s going to be some cool stuff happening there, so it’s a, it’s a really great group. It’s a members interest group of the ALA, anybody that is interested please join up, we’re going to have a meet up at Mid-Winter, we’re going to have, we have both a business meeting, although business is again it’s scare quotes there because we like to do instead of talk as often as we can, so it’s not quite a meeting as much as it is a series of roughly planned strategic [laughs] strategic strikes. “Let’s do these things.” Again, the, we’re going to be doing, we’re going to be doing programs. I think it’s a really, it’s a really interesting way of getting the, the technorati of the internet a little more, a little more interested in what libraries can offer them. And I think it’s a cool outlet for that.

You mention on your blog a while back that you, I think you were specifically writing about something that Meredith Farkas had posted, but you said that you really admired her and people like Jessamyn West and Michael Stephens, etc and the reason that you really admired them is because they rocked librarianship in a way that you don’t, that you can only dream of getting the whole concept. Can you talk about what it is that you admire about people like that? Or any other librarians, not them specifically maybe, but what you admire about the people you admire in the field.

Oh yeah, I could. Totally. I can, I can wax rhapsodic about lots of librarians.


I love librarians! And, I mean there really are some that are just, that have inspired me in so many ways. I mean, there’s everything from, I mean I mention, in the blog post I mention Meredith, who has, has just been a force for interesting ways of looking at public services and instruction and how to move those into the digital world and she was one of the, the early, early librarians working on the use of Wikis and on how to, how to bridge the gap in these web, in the web 2.0 era of librarianship, how to really get that in front of people. She was outspoken at a time where it was, there were still and I guess still maybe probably are lots of people who are very doubtful of the strength of these tools. I admire people who are willing to stand up and put themselves. When you’re, what is the old saying, right, the first person is the martyr and the second person is the conqueror.


[laughs] You get, there, it’s very, it’s not easy for people to be willing to put themselves out there in that martyr position and the people that I really admire are the people who do that and there’s, there’s no shortage of those people in library, in the library world which is fantastic. But, yeah, I mean Meredith, Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine who I mentioned earlier, Jenica Rogers who is incredibly bright, brilliant leader in libraries and is, through her public, her public-ness, her very, the very fact that she is willing and able to be as public as she is about her process in leading her library is, I think, a model that everyone should be watching. There’s so many others, Andromeda Yelton who is this amazing librarian who works for, who’s currently working at, on the Unglue.it project, but behind the scenes is working on inclusiveness in libraries and bringing the level of coding and technology skills in libraries up through the LITA interest group that she’s, that she started. Code Year, the leader of Code Year interest group. There’s just, there’s so many people that are trying in their own way to push the, push the profession and to push our services forward and those are the people that really, really inspires me. Those are the people I want to hang around and have a beer with.

At the ALA parties that you want to go to, after the parties. [laughs]

Those are the people that I want go hang out with cause they’re, the, I have been accused and not unjustly of being far too focused on the future and that really is, again, that’s what I, it is what I’m interested in. I’m interested in the future, in where our, where our profession, where our role, where our role, where our libraries, where our information, I’m interested in where all of that goes. The people that make that happen, I think, are the interesting people, right. Those are the ones where I think there’s a lot of learning to be done from them. There’s a great quote, I write a blog, I write several blogs, but one of the blogs that I write is really future techy called “Release Candidate,” it’s on my website, but the byline of it is a quote from Thomas Jefferson that says, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” And that really is what I’m interested in. The dreams of the future, that’s what I, that’s what I want to, that’s what I want to work towards.

Well I hope you help keep pushing the profession into the future as we said in that Warren Ellis thing, we’re kind of living in the future now and part of that is that we’re making the future, so.

That’s right, that’s absolutely right.

Jason, thanks so much for talking to me for the show. I think we had a great conversation, I hope a lot of people learned things and go and check out LibraryBox and American Libraries Live and everything else that’s going on.

Thanks a lot, Steve.

Can you tell people how to find you online?

Absolutely. I am imminently Googleable so if you don’t remember anything else, remember my name, Jason Griffey. You’ll find pretty much everything there. My website is jasongriffey.net and on there is linked, all my social media places, I’m active on Twitter. I have a couple of blogs that I write, both a personal blog, personal-professional. I write for ALA Tech Source on their blog and I’ve published a couple of books so you can, you can find all that out at my website, but jasongriffey.net will get you directly to the website if you don’t want to bother with the Google.

All right, well, Jason, thanks a lot.

Thanks a lot, Steve.