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Harvard just put all their librarians on notice, layoffs to happen soon

No one is laid off yet, but the writing is on the wall. Harvard has the second largest endowment in the world, after the Vatican. Can they really not afford a first-rate library staff? What’s happening at Harvard? -- Feral Librarian
The twitterspere (at least my corner of it) was all abuzz today about the Harvard Library Town Hall meetings (hashtag #hlth). Harvard Libraries have been in a “transition” for some time now, and it appears that the meetings today were intended to provide library staff with some updated information on the transition. Judging from the tweets, it was not particularly effective — more questions than answers apparently. I have absolutely no insider knowledge at all, but as far as I can tell from trying to keep up with the tweets all day: An initial tweet claiming “All of Harvard Library staff have just effectively been fired” was re-tweeted often, as was a Google+ post written by a former Harvard University Library staff member. Later tweets clarified that no staff were laid off … today. Layoffs are imminent, however, and more details will be available next month. The layoffs will be in areas that are “Shared Services” — such as technical services, preservation, and access services; not collection development, research librarians, or special collections. Some jobs will be eliminated, some restructured, some new jobs created. For restructured and new jobs, internal candidates will be solicited first. All library staff are being encouraged to fill out employee profiles (with skills, interests and a CV/resume), which will factor into decisions about restructuring (and presumably who stays and who goes, and where the stayers go …). It looks like the deadline for completing profiles is only 1 month away, and workshops on how to do so are already full. The general sentiment on twitter is that the senior administrators at Harvard Libraries handled this very poorly — that the town hall meetings produced more questions than answers. Rather than serving to keep staff informed, they served primarily to created significant anxiety. Plenty of folks are worried that as Harvard goes, so go other academic libraries – in other words, if massive layoffs can happen at Harvard (with its huge endowments), then no academic library is safe.

13 writing tips from Chuck Palahniuk

13 Writing Tips | The Cult
Number One: Two years ago, when I wrote the first of these essays it was about my "egg timer method" of writing. You never saw that essay, but here's the method: When you don't want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you're free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you'll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you'll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work. Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don't know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come. Number Two: Your audience is smarter than you imagine. Don't be afraid to experiment with story forms and time shifts. My personal theory is that younger readers distain most books - not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today's reader is smarter. Movies have made us very sophisticated about storytelling. And your audience is much harder to shock than you can ever imagine. Number Three: Before you sit down to write a scene, mull it over in your mind and know the purpose of that scene. What earlier set-ups will this scene pay off? What will it set up for later scenes? How will this scene further your plot? As you work, drive, exercise, hold only this question in your mind. Take a few notes as you have ideas. And only when you've decided on the bones of the scene - then, sit and write it. Don't go to that boring, dusty computer without something in mind. And don't make your reader slog through a scene in which little or nothing happens. Number Four: Surprise yourself. If you can bring the story - or let it bring you - to a place that amazes you, then you can surprise your reader. The moment you can see any well-planned surprise, chances are, so will your sophisticated reader. Number Five: When you get stuck, go back and read your earlier scenes, looking for dropped characters or details that you can resurrect as "buried guns." At the end of writing Fight Club, I had no idea what to do with the office building. But re-reading the first scene, I found the throw-away comment about mixing nitro with paraffin and how it was an iffy method for making plastic explosives. That silly aside (… paraffin has never worked for me…) made the perfect "buried gun" to resurrect at the end and save my storytelling ass. . . .

Sometimes protests really do work (SOPA/PIPA)

Check out all the politicians who changed their positions after yesterday's Blackout The Internet Day. Infographic of the Day - The Daily What