Ah, Tuesday… somehow this morning I got confused and fleetingly thought it was Thursday (if only!).
I can’t believe it but it’s almost time for Round 8 of Library Day in the Life Project! It will run January 30th through February 5th.
What is the Library Day in the Life Project?
It’s a chance to share your day, or week, with other librarians and hopefully the public at large. It started when I come discovered someone had searched “What’s a librarian’s day like” to find my blog so I wrote a blog post suggesting that other librarians and library workers blog what we do all day at work. Then we (and maybe patrons) could see what we do all day. A second objective is to escape the library echo chamber where we’re talking to each other and reach others outside of libraries.
Some excellent points are made about what to consider when you are given the option to participate in a committee (though I’ve realized that, in many cases, you aren’t given the option of saying ‘no’).
This is where public libraries provide an invaluable and potentially life-saving service. These are places where a person can go and browse the books and other information literature, and borrow what they need, or looks relevant, without having to discuss why with anyone. Much easier, less fearful, than talking to your friends, family, employer, or even your doctor.
The only interaction comes with the borrowing of the book, or asking for what books or information is available. A professional, experienced librarian will know that this is to be kept absolutely private, how to be discrete, and put the patron at ease so they won’t be inhibited or frightened at asking for, or borrowing, material that could help them and might possibly swing them onto a path where they can make further steps to managing their condition.
Excellent, excellent post.
The current economic situation is bumming me out to a degree I haven’t experienced since the Spice Girls broke up (shush, I was 10). Frankly, I’m just sick of hearing about it. I’m not the type to stick my head in the sand, yet I’m so tried of the news reports, tired of hearing about yet another library facing budget cuts or even closures, tired of watching my friends at the NYC public libraries pour their hearts and souls into fighting budget cuts, only to have to repeat the fight six months later.
After finishing library school, I was one of many who left my happy grad school bubble and was slapped in the face with the reality of, “oh crap, what now?”. I knew things were bad, but really I wasn’t worried. I watched as regional libraries slowly regained funding and ended years long hiring freezes. I had gained nearly two years of library experience and had gotten myself not just one, but two jobs actually getting paid to work in libraries. I had forged strong relationships with some of the top librarians in the city, was working on getting published, attended three major conferences, got appointed to a committee, and had a strong online presence. I even had a major library recruiter look at my resume with surprise and say “this is fantastic. Don’t change anything, it looks great”. I watched as she then tore apart everyone else’s resume in the room. I was convinced that I would find a full-time professional job shortly.
Six months later, and that hasn’t happened. The logical side of my brain knows the facts. Fact: it’s only been six months. Fact: I have not just one but two jobs in my field which makes me better off than many others. Fact: I have a paying job period, which makes me better off than others. Fact: I have a huge professional network that I’m very good at growing. Fact: I am now a published author and my resume looks great. Fact: My future in this field that I love is bright and shiny. However, the other side of my brain gets into the way. I get scared of never finding a FT position. I think about how I could make more money bartending. I wonder if it’s possible that by the time the jobs come back, my skills will be too outdated and make me a less attractive candidate then newly minted grads. I am envious as I watch my peers succeed, instead of being proud. I don’t share jobs leads with my friends also seeking jobs, because I’m being competitive. These last points make me feel like a bad person.
I know these problems are not specific to our field. I hear countless stories of people from a variety of fields having trouble: scientists, engineers, accountants, teachers, nurses, even dentists. Their ages and experience range from new grads to mid-career people with 10, 20, 30 years of experience. Major cities are struggling as well as small rural towns, from coast to coast. The problems are world-wide. This does not make me feel better. I was told in school that the fight of my generation would be convincing everyone else that libraries were still relevant. I was not told that the real fight of my generation would be making sense of a global economy being turned on its head.
[Cali: Personally, I have absolutely said ‘I don’t know’ but always followed it up with something like ‘I’ll ask’/’let me look into that for you’]
Nice list of just some of the functions that librarians serve for their communities.
The next time Band Books Week comes around, it would be less selfrighteous and much less annoying if the ALA and its minions stopped going on about nonexistent censorship in America, and instead started publicizing all the places in the world where censorship really does occur, where books really are banned, and where librarians who toed the ALA line would be imprisoned.
Instead of patting ourselves on the back for showing false courage in the face of nonexistent oppression, solidarity with librarians in intellectually unfree countries would show more awareness of what censorship really is, and why it’s not librarians who are special heroes of intellectual freedom, but a whole country.
The energy of students, faculty, and staff members moving from the sheer beauty of a question to a strategy or to a resource – or to a series of strategies and resources – and then on the path to a firm (or tentative) answer is for me the heart of what a college represents.
So why celebrate the library — and the librarians — and, for that matter, the whole team that holds the place together?
Excellent post about a difficult topic.
There are a lot of parallels between journalism and librarianship and between newspapers and libraries in the digital age. In a recent article, one journalist has suggestions for journalists that, I believe, have analogies for librarians. One useful idea: the need for mentors (with lots of experience) for the new generation of librarians.
Balance can mean a few things. I urge librarians to find the balance between online pursuits and physical world pursuits. Both are important and necessary. I’m revisiting a charged statement from the first “Office Hours” column – “If the online world is not for you, then neither may be a career in librarianship” (http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/community/libraryeducation/886961-272/office_hours_october_15_2010.html.csp) – and it still rings true. For one thing, no librarian is beyond benefitting from the online LIS professional commons – that meeting place that stretches across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+. I’ve been exploring this idea with Kyle Jones, my former graduate assistant and now a doctoral student at UW Madison. In the commons, you’ll find support, advice and sharing of ideas. I’m recognizing now how beneficial my own participation has been in the last few years and how it’s illuminated my teaching.
What I am not suggesting, however, is to focus all of your attention just on the Web, social networks and the next big thing. Being out in the world is equally important. The online and the physical should complement each other in a cyclical fashion. It troubles me to think some still see advocacy for online participation as an either or proposition: you can *only* be online “in the cloud” or on Facebook or you can *only* be performing your librarian duties in the building. Again, a balance between the two makes for a well-informed, capable library professional. These concepts should be part of every LIS student’s learning.
We all have our own standards of excellence. Some people’s bars are set higher than others. We also have different priorities and what motivates me to put in 100% won’t necessarily be the same for you. Whatever your own standard of excellence is in your work – whatever you passionately believe in doing – that’s what you should be true to. Be yourself. Don’t stop volunteering for things just because some of your colleagues’ standards of excellence are lower than yours or their priorities are different. Your measuring stick for your own achievement should be based on what you want to achieve, not how much or little other people are doing.
Sally Stern-Hamilton’s literary work — a disturbing look at life in the library — wound up on the shelves at Mason County District Library.
It got her shelved there as a library assistant.
Now, Stern-Hamilton, a Ludington woman whose “Library Diaries” chronicles unsavory characters in a place she called “Denialville,” has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the library violated her free-speech rights by firing her.
“While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community,” the AP quoted [library director] Dickson as writing.
There are several places online that librarians vent about their work and its frustrations (yes, including frustrating/mind-boggling patrons and staff). I suppose it’s somewhat unavoidable that someone familiar with the situations and people might recognize the scenarios no matter how many details are tweaked/obscured, but on the other hand it sounds like very few readers of the book outside that community would have any idea who the characters were…
It will be interesting to see what comes of this.