Monday, December 21, 2009

Roots and Routes

There's an interesting Wiki project on the interwebs that pulls together people's stories about how they became librarians and how their careers have evolved. This might be worth browsing - or adding to as you find your way into the profession.

Meanwhile, because it's the season, here's a bit of cheer from some clever librarians at Loyola Marymount. The whole Flickr set is a hoot. The tree is built from a massive set of volumes, the National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Permission to Read Granted

This sounds like a challenge I could get into. A graduate student in library school has declared December 20th "Do Nothing But Read" day. You can read all about it on her blog. Or in local media - she got into the newspaper and on the radio for her radical suggestion.

Here are the requirements:
-you must read more than one book (they can be short, and short stories count!)
-comfy clothing (jammies preferable)
-no shoes (slippers are ok)
-mugs of beverages and snacks

-sleepy cat(s)

I think I might just be able to sacrifice and take a stab at this one....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why Do We Need Libraries? Go!

Feral Librarian has a quartet of handy answers should you have to quickly respond to the challenge, "in the age of the Internet, why do we need libraries?" Hat tip to Jenna for the link.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Advice for Would-Be Librarians

Erin, the Library Scenester, likes talking to prospective librarians about the profession - one that she's fairly recently joined herself. She says this about her job:
I see my place as helping students on their educational journey. I want to help them become better, more educated and experiences citizens who can achieve their goals. I want their experience with the library to be a positive and beneficial one so that they will become library champions, utilizing their public libraries in the future and with their children, appreciating literature and reading, using technology to interact with the global community and being knowledgeable about the viewpoints of humanity. These are some of the things I hope to achieve.
The librarians at Gustavus are happy to answer your questions - even if we might not be quite so profound. Feel free to ask us anything you want to know about the field. We have experience in many different kinds of libraries and some of us graduated fairly recently. (Some of us . . . well, cataloging those clay tablets was done differently in my day, and when papyrus came along . . . )

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bradbury on Libraries

Ray Bradbury of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and many other imaginative books is a great library supporter, as profiled in The New York Times:

“Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury said. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
He's helping California libraries, hit hard by plummeting property tax revenues, stay open. His opinion of the Internet is just about as favorable as it was toward television in Farenheit 451. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Radicalizing Experience

First, an introduction. I've had permission to post to this blog for quite awhile but have been a hesitant blogger - a combination of innate shyness and a tendency to take forever to craft a paragraph. (For example, I started this post at eleven this morning. Granted, I've stopped for a leisurely lunch and a couple of meetings, but still.) The breezy spring air and a severe lack of sleep (thanks to a new, amazing baby) have lowered my defenses. I've been a librarian for a couple years and, after a few trips through the public and community college library spheres, am happily employed at an academic library. My job duties and responsibilities are so diverse that I can only talk in terms of a typical month, not day, but by then it's all a blur. My main interests are information literacy and new issues in library automation (really).

This article came through one of the listservs this morning: Best Careers 2009: Librarian

Well, obviously, I thought when I saw it. I love being a librarian for many reasons, although I'll wax poetic about it during another post. What intrigues me are the number of reader comments discussing average salaries for librarians. They are, typically, low. It's a touchy subject. While I didn't go in to librarianship for the money, and while there are a number of rewards far greater than the salary, I suspect there are many reasons why our salaries are on the low end, not the least of which is the profession's history (and present) as being a female dominated profession. I'm the daughter of a nurse, after all. This is nothing new to me.

In today's economy, I'm thankful I have not only a job, but one I love. I try not to stay up nights engaging in "worst case scenario" thinking (this means going against my nature, but I'm working on it). But when the salary discussion comes up, I find myself thinking about my sister. She's a church musician in geographical location that doesn't have a huge demand for musicians with graduate degrees. She interviewed for a job at a church and they offered her a rate that was about half what she (and her professional organization) charges for her talents. In a move that made me even more proud of her than I was before, she told them she could not in good conscience take the job for less than what she would normally charge. "One of my jobs as a teacher of other musicians is to advocate for our profession - that we are taken seriously and paid a fair wage," she told me. "I can't tell one thing to my students and then take a job that pays me far less than I'm worth." Amen, sister!

I'm not faulting our profession, and those who have gone before, for not advocating enough for librarians. And I know first-hand that sometimes you need to take the low paying job. Or that the funds just aren't there, even if the powers that be want to pay you more. But my sister's experience made me wake up to the fact that I have a responsibility to the profession and to future librarians. I need to advocate for fair wages for librarians in my community and beyond, if the opportunities present themselves. And maybe I need to seek out those opportunities more. (This probably will be more effective than my previous plan of becoming Bruce Springsteen's personal librarian.)

They say that motherhood is a radicalizing experience. It's been that way for me, so far. (Look for future posts on why the heck there's no day care at my institution.) For me, librarianship is too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy (End of) National Library Week

Perhaps a little late to the party, but here are some pop-culture references to librarians courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

Or on a more scholarly note, you might enjoy reading this article - or this one - though neither appears to be freely available online. Guess you'll have to get them through your library.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Movers, Shakers, Shovers, Bakers . . .

The Library Society of the World (which exists in multiple Web 2.0 locations here and there - and everywhere!) has a tongue-in-cheek approach to librariana and has decided to create an alternative to Library Journal's Movers and Shakers -and you can be one, too. The beauty of the Shovers and Makers award is that you nominate yourself. This is totally consistent with the non-organization's values which include "humor and a sense of playfulness and creativity about our work and upcoming challenges" as well as "crazy's okay."

It's fun to browse through the profiles of Shovers and Makers - and see how many ways librarians enact their playfulness and creativity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sad News

I read the latest issue of American Libraries Direct with great sadness:
If these kinds of cuts continue, who will provide access to information to a citizenry that needs to be more informed than ever before? Who will provide instruction to students needing assistance in navigating the sea of information available to them? Who will continue to champion access and literacy?

Call me a worry wart if you must, but this news makes my stomach hurt.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Literacy Plus

The New York Times's correspondent covering the publishing world, Motoko Rich, has been gradually presenting a series on "the future of reading." In her latest installment, she considers the role of information literacy as a cause related to the plain old literacy that librarians have long espoused. It focuses on a New York school librarian and makes a good case for the need to have professionals in schools.

It's a little shallow for the Times, though - all of the articles in this series seem to be skimming the surface. I miss the days when David D. Kirkpatrick was their insider for the book world. His coverage of the "serials crisis" - the factors that have jacked up the prices of scientific journals and eaten library budgets whole - remains a well-sourced, thoughtful overview of the issue even thought it was published back in 2000.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is it Getting Hot in Here?

It is, if you're a digital archivist. Or, in the words of one of them profiled in The New York Times, an archivist.

“I don’t think there’s any day where I would say I’m the digital guy,” [Joe Nadel] said. But he concedes that he’s not really an analog, ink-on-paper guy, either, and that is increasingly the case in his field. These days, he noted, “if you want to work in a library, you have to deal in electronic resources.”

He also describes his accidental career path:

Befitting a nascent discipline like digital asset management, Mr. Nadal, 32, said he went into it almost by accident. Unsure of his career ambitions, he began work on various book-scanning and preservation projects as a student at Indiana University, then took them over when the head of preservation left. After that, he said, it “took a year or two for me to realize my career in preservation had started a year or two past.”

He reckons that many of his peers have had similar experiences. “Among librarians, I think that happenstance may be a typical career path,” he said.

But the best part is Nadel's rousing defense of working for the public good.

As much as it might help his bank balance, Mr. Nadal cannot envision leaving U.C.L.A. for a corporate job. He finds the challenge of taming a vast collection of information for a major academic institution too appealing.

“We belong to the people of California and hold our collections in trust for them and for future generations of students, scholars and members of the public,” he said. “Public-sector institutions just strike me as far, far cooler. They have better collections, obviously, and they are innovative, connected and challenging in ways that seem more substantial to me.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What a Bargain

There's a post on the Freakonomics blog (via New York Times, which I found as a link via Tim Spalding's Facbook Page - and if that doesn't challenge the Information Literacy Standards insistence that research starts with identifying an information need, I don't know what does ... but I digress, as I almost always do when finding information) about the soaring use of libraries in tough economic times. Read the comments. It will do your heart good to hear how much people value their libraries and the whole idea of public libraries as a communal resource. There are notes on the proposed closure of Philadelphia library branches (a huge controversy in the city) and some about closures of entire library systems in Oregon due to lack of funding and a reluctance to increase taxes that lasted nearly two years (!!!!), but there are also proud descriptions of libraries that provide their communities enormous value.

There is also a comment that amused and dismayed me. (It's comment #52 on page 3.) At a newly-opened library in Connecticut there are all kinds of innovations, including this one:
The Dewey Decimal system is gone. Books are arranged by subject.
That qualifies as the most inadvertantly damning critique of library organizations I've ever encountered.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"among our society's most empowering people"

US News once again points to librarianship as one of the best careers.

Librarianship is an underrated career. Most librarians love helping patrons solve their problems and, in the process, learning new things. Librarians may also go on shopping sprees, deciding which books and online resources to buy. They may even get to put on performances, like children's puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders. On top of it all, librarians' work environment is usually pleasant and the work hours reasonable, although you may have to work nights and/or weekends

The job market for special librarians (see below) is good but is sluggish for public and school librarians. Nevertheless, persistent sleuthing—that key attribute of librarians—should enable good candidates to prevail.

That effort to land a job will be well worth it if you're well suited to the profession: love the idea of helping people dig up information, are committed to being objective—helping people gain multiple perspectives on issues—and will remain inspired by the awareness that librarians are among our society's most empowering people.

In the interest of objectivity, this week a post about the difficult job market in academic libraries at ACRLog has generated lots of comments from the trenches. The effort to land a job is not to be taken lightly.