Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Please, Ask Me What I Do

I get this question often: "So what exactly do you do all day?" One of the women in my Bible study group recently asked me this, with a very puzzled look on her face. I don't take offense, or ever tire of hearing this question.

After all, I'm just as puzzled as to what rocket scientists do all day.

It gives me a chance to plug the 30-second "why it's great to be a librarian" schpiel. I get to tell people that part of my job is implementing cool new technology - MP3 players for people to check out, blogs for readers' services, subject guides for the Internet - and this inevitably starts a very enlightening conversation. "Oh, I had no idea the library offered stuff like that! Is it free?!?"

We should all be prepared to answer questions like this - and in a pretty spunky manner. Don't just list the reality of what you, as a librarian, do all day - order books, help people find things, surf the Internet, bleh bleh bleh. Think of something immediately attention-getting, "Oh, I change people's lives on a daily basis. Let me tell you how..." "I'm fighting for freedom of speech and privacy. Let me tell you how..." "I enrich the community you live in by..." I guarantee you'll be able to tell them something they didn't know before.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rock on!

We all keep saying that librarians rock... well, they literally do. Check out this review on the Twin Cities' band Wes Burdine and the Librarians. Smart lyrics meets folk-rock.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Battle of the Generations

There has been a recent thread on the nexgen librarian listserv about the availability of professional jobs in the library market. (OK, there's been way more than one thread, but the one I'm referring to was the most recent.) Someone on the listserv asked, "When the heck are all the babyboomers going to retire, so we nexgeners can have their jobs?"

Let's think about this for a moment before we kick everyone over 45 out of the library world. With the mass exodus of the older librarians, we're going to lose much experience and institutional memory. While I agree that on the whole, nexgeners are innovative, creative, and often are the main proponents of useful library technology, there's still inherent value in years of experience, and nexgeners don't have that yet. All of that useful knowledge, garnered over decades of learning, will go *poof* when the babyboomers retire and take it with them. So let's not be too hasty to dismiss them and arrogantly assume that we can run libraries without the babyboomers.

The whole thread reminded me of the 60s/70s mantra, "Don't trust anyone over 30." The cry of some nexgeners seems to resonate as, "Don't even like anyone over 30 - they'll just get in the way."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Day in the Life

To illustrate how diverse a public librarian's job is....

Fun Stuff I Did Today
  • Ordered the Spamalot Original Broadway Cast CD for our collection
  • Met with the Reader's Services Librarian to figure out how the department could use blogs
  • Chatted with colleagues about the joy of buying 2 or 3 pairs of shoes at once
  • Polished Introduction to eBay class presentation for patrons
  • Read Walt Crawford's April '05 article that says CL doesn't print well... oops. Must figure out how to improve printability
  • Went on mad weeding stint in the 004s (computers), chucking titles on the Internet from 1998

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Clear the Sidewalks

A patron came to the reference desk the other day asking for the Illinois Rules of the Road in large print....uh, may I suggest public transportation?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Spring Cleaning

Bookshelves overflowing to the point of threatening to crush your guests when you have a party? Do books stack up on your nightstand and eventually slide to the floor in a big crash in the middle of the night? At a bookstore, do you think, "I have room for just one more, I swear..." while your sig other rolls his/her eyes?

It might be time to clean out.

Free Cycle is here to help your overflow woes... it is an email-based system where people post items they don't want anymore, but loath to see going to the landfill. Sign up for the local listserv, and offer and accept unlimited freebies. And know that your box of books will go to a good home.

Library Travels

Just returned from a trip to San Diego, CA. When I'm traveling, I always try to visit the local public library, but ran out of time during this trip. At an independent book store, I did ask the shop owner where the SDPL was, but she lamented that it probably wasn't worth the visit. Apparently the citizens of SD have been lobbying for a new main branch for many years (the shop owner said 15), but it hasn't come through. For a city as beautiful, well-off and educated as SD, I was surprised that the system wasn't supported as well as it could be. Maybe this is part of the problem?

"San Diego leaders are now finding themselves staring at a deficit of more than $2 billion, largely of their own creation... Residents are feeling the pinch, and they are asking why. It costs more to swim in the city's pools; some public libraries are cutting hours; potholes are virtually ignored; Christmas in the city was temporarily canceled when lack of funds forced organizers to call off a popular holiday celebration featuring free admission to museums and cultural exhibits." Washington Post, September 13, 2004.

It's occured to me that public libraries need to figure out a way to protect ourselves better from public administrators' whims. Perhaps it's building in an independence from the city budget, if possible. I don't know. But it's made me sad to see all of the press about the dismal state of library budgets across the nation - Ohio, California, etc. And the thing is, knowing librarians, those that are affected by the budget cuts are going on with their jobs as best they can, but are brokenhearted at how public administrators and lawmakers rank the importance of libraries.