Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Resource Sharing - am I really so wrong???

Time for some shameless blog promotion. I welcome your comments on this (and every post). Even though I'm living in library sin I am very open to hearing why I should NEVER share my resources. I'd also like to hear arguments on why it's ok to do what I (and others) do.

Check out this and other posts at my "Knowledge is Cool" blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The allure of the library job vs. the ever-destructive force of the unions.

Every time I see a job posting from the listserve in my inbox, I think, "could this be the one?" Quickly scanning the subject for job title and location, I am assured that it is not. Let's face it, there aren't many jobs in Michigan, let alone jobs for students. I came to the conclusion long ago that if I wanted to find a cushy library job I'd have to move out of state.

Which is not to say that I don't already have a cushy library job. Well, I did...

It surprises me even today how much faith we put into unions. I WAS working at a fantastic library with a fantastic boss and fantastic fellow employees. But since a "certain" library can't control their spending, they ended up having to move one of their employees into MY position, and I was therefore bumped down to a lower-paying, less-hours job.

I don't understand how it becomes my fault that an "unnamed" library director wasn't doing her job. Because of her, my life is now in shambles, and what could have been a very promising position is now gone in a cloud of smoke.

My question is - do we really need these unions? Am I going to have to deal with this from every library position I get, regardless of how far out of Michigan I go to get it? Why is it that the hardest, most dedicated workers always seem to get the shaft? Is there anything we can do about it? Is there any way to make it so that the unions STOP protecting those that screw up, slack off, and otherwise make our lives harder?

More to the point - can I please have my job back?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

An interesting thing happened today...

This morning, I visited my local 7-11 to buy a coffee. I was wearing my supercool LIS tshirt, and the middle-aged clerk behind the counter asked me, "How is library science going?"

I replied that it was going well.

He then proceeded to tell me how he was going to go into library science but decided not to because he thought there was no future in it. It was a dead-end.

Well, it took me a few seconds to realize that I was a litte bit offended that this stranger was talking down about my profession.

He then told me that everything is on the internet now. I really didn't want to argue the finer points of what is and what is not on the internet; I just wanted my coffee. Later I thought of all the different answers I could have given him from rude buzz-offs to sacchrine pleadings to learn what the library really has to offer. Instead I took the safe route and hurriedly answered, "Not everything."

His next comment was that he uses the library, the library at his home, which he apparently spends $50 a month (or was it $50 a week?) at the bookstore on. I told him that I haven't bought a book in years.

"Well, they don't have everything," he replied.

"Some library, somewhere has what you need" I said, as I walked out the door.


This same evening, a seemingly simple virtual reference questioned was posed to "my" library, "What did Douglas McGregor die of in 1964?"

Hmm. Well, the internet certainly helped me narrow down which Douglas McGregor I should be researching, but his cause of death was nowhere to be found amongst all those html files. I tried all kinds of keyword combinations, free and fee resources, different search engines, but the answer eluded me. (Perhaps, if I was at the library, I could break policy and search through indices and microform for a newspaper obituary - spending an inordinate amount of time finding the answer to one person's question at the expense of other patrons.)

My colleague, I discovered, was also searching in vain for the answer, and she had reference books at her disposal. Still nothing.

Although we never did find the definitive answer (we did find a couple of promising referrals), I answered a much more personal question that I had been asking myself all day: "Is what I do 'dead-end'? Do I have a future?"

All I needed to help me answer this existential investigation that I'd been tossing about for a few hours was one question that I could not answer, one patron that posed one seemingly innocuous query that the internet, encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and biographies could not answer. I don't always have the fast answer, the simplest answer, the right answer, or even the answer at all. But I'm always there to pose the question to, and I'll do my best to help you find the answer using all of the tricks up my sleeve.

Is what I do "dead-end", "no future"? Not until people stop asking questions, using computers, reading books, coming to classes, writing papers, and needing resources that they don't even know exist.

And when that happens, I can always be a clerk at 7-11.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ok I have to admit that I wasn't too thrilled with the whole 'hipster librarian' article. But when Jessamyn West (one of the librarians quoted in the article) mentioned it in her blog, it brought everything into a new light.

Earlier this year, in the poster session class, our final requirement was to attend the Literacy Workshop at WSU. The keynote speaker was Jack Lessenberry, a 'hardcore' journalist who spoke to us about how cool we all were. Why? Because we promote literacy every day. Unfortunately, he had to mention (and dwell upon the fact) that we are the absolute worst at self-promoting.

My point? Any publicity is good publicity. And if people see the stereotype start to change, all the better for us, as we'll be attracting attention. In the long run, we'll be attracting more people to literacy of every sort, even if we have tattoos, piercings, and Dewey Decimal numbers for drinks.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Librarian Stereotypes - So What?

So this popped up on a couple of discussion lists this week.

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers
Published: July 8, 2007
New York Times

And then I ran across this from Jet City Orange.

Now, is it just me or does anyone else have no problems with librarian stereotypes? Don't all occupations come with some sort of stereotype or another? And if the stereotypes of library professionals are changed, doesn't another one just replace it? To me, this is really a non-issue. As long as I can get people to keep coming into the library and helping them while they are there, I don't really care if they think I'm a bun-haired shusher or a hip chick. The best thing about these articles is that people are talking about libraries and their benefits to individuals and the community. If that message has to be cloaked in an article about what color hair, styles of dress, or music tastes new librarians are all about, so be it. But what is it that makes what we like to do outside of the library so fascinating?