Last night when I was perusing blogs I saw the spider out of the corner of my eye on the corner of the wall. I decided to let it be for a bit.Side note: I try to let spiders live (especially daddy long legs). I even went so far as to let one live the whole time I was in grad school in my bedroom because he ate those pesky scout ants. I even gave him a name Norman (After Norman Mailer) . But then at the end of my grad career Norman Mailer came to campus and when I came back after the talk ( talk about timing)  Norman the spider decided that he was being adventurous and left my room and was squashed by my roommate. Poor Norman, hope you are well.

Back to Story

 I then went to youtube because I was taking a break and was watching Green Day’s “St. Jimmy” from the bullet in the bible. Anyway the spider started to creep forward until it was on the spot on the wall not to far from me and sat there for most of the song. If he or she came on the desk it was toast. (Sorry little Spidey) So after Greenday I was in an upbeat poppish type of mood so I played “get ready for it” “Upside Down” by A*Teens. (Corny I know, but itis so catchy) Anywhoo, as soon as the song came on Spidey whizzed up the wall and into the farthest corner of the room. So then I played Mary J. Blige and U2′s version of “One” and Spidey came back to me and then I played the Spice Girls, “Wannabe” and it ran for the hills.

So I guess the moral of the story is if you want to keep at bay European pop you must play!

I was not tagged but wanted to play so here is mine. Hope no one minds! For those who are not aware of this exercise I first learned about this from Michael Stephen’s Tame the web  blog. Pretty much the blogsignment (see I made up my own word) is to “Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title” Then tag five others to keep the quilt going. However, everyone I read already had an entry ( I am fairly new to the blogging community) so I have not tagged anyone. (sorry!)

flexible guy!

Be Flexible

Fact: I am 24 years old. fact: I guess that makes me a millennial. Fact: Many of us are afflicted with the dreaded quarterlife crisis (yes it does exist). Fact: We sometimes feel as though every minute of our life is planned out! (Sorry, suddenly the Lysol commercials were popping up in my head :) ) Last month I was sitting in Barnes and Noble in one of those insanely comfy chairs ( the ones you can curl into a ball and fall asleep in) and one of my buddies was in the next chair over from me and she was reading a book. In the other two chairs that made up a little square were these two teenage girls who looked to be either juniors or seniors in high school and they were discussing their lives. One said, “I know exactly  where I am going to be in five years.” My friend wanted to roll her eyes so badly and later was lamenting on that sentiment. She along with many of my other friends are planners and now that things are not planning out exactly how they like, it is as if their world comes crashing down, and that somehow they have failed as human beings. I often notice that students I work with self destruct if a class, test, or thing in their personal life does not go the way they planned.  I also notice that if students choose a database or a type a term in the catalog and it does not work they think the library does not have anything. I try to tell them to look around and experiment and they will be amazed at what they find.The truth is things are not going to always go as they planned but it is important to realize that it is okay. Believe me I fully expected to be working a full time job and not two part time jobs after grad school, but I have met some really great people and have had some amazing opportunities for personal and professional growth. I had this biology professor once always encourage us to step off the treadmill every once and a while and examine other options. He said we all have tendencies to stay on the treadmill with tunnel vision and miss everything around us. Pretty much he told us to breathe.

 I would like to instill in students the idea of when life closes a door, look for a window, which can be a window of opportunity. When they take that window they can do even more amazing things than they ever dreamed. I think the only thing you can really plan is to plan to be surprised!

 

 

 

Libraries are AWESOME Places…

 

Over the last week I have read so many examples of outreach events that libraries are doing. All I can think is how creative us library people are. I mean a mini golf course in the library! How COOL is that! Discarded books as art! Students serving as models for PR? Are you kidding me?

 

Her are some of the fantastic ideas: (I am shaking with excitement)

 

  • Monster energy drinks and other foodstuffs in conjunction with writing center and health and wellness center. I’m on my library high!
  • Librarian bakers extraordinaire bake cookies and get donations such as coffee, hot chocolate, and tea from the dining center. Now that is a sweet collaboration!
  • Poker/Scavenger Hunt where each item found gets a hand at poker and the best hand wins. I bet that gets a full house
  • Murder in the library! This is a mystery type hunt with the students broken into teams and they solve the mystery. I guess you can never trust those librarians!
  • Book cart races. What else is there to say?
  • Students making their own READ posters. I’m ready for my close-up!
  • A blank wall serving as a graffiti canvas for artists. Amazing!
  • A palm reader, belly dancing lessons, pizza/drinks, and pop a shot. I see information literacy in your futureJ
  • Amazing Library Race where students do activities to win prizes while learning about the library. There are no losers in this marathon.
  • Stress busters. At the end of the semester putting out coloring books, games, and all sorts of things to calm the kids down. I can hear the campus calming down now!

 

Last but certainly not least is what we did at one of my places of employment. We got candy, cookies, and some music and had an art book raffle on the Friday of library week. We only have about 140 students and 70 (yes 50% of the population) came to the event. We are very blessed because our students love the library and love books. When they came in, they said if there is free stuff I am here! We do not have a big area so 70 people in our library makes it quite full. The tables were all filled plus the 2 side rooms, plus the floor, and the floor in the stacks. To get anywhere you had to step around students (we were in heaven). My coworker and I who planned it were like on some type of high we were so excited. Faculty even showed up and said they had a really great time! Faculty and students were asking us what we are going to do next year. I smell pirates…

 

I feel so lucky to be in a field where people are so creative and passionate for what they do! J

 

In a few weeks I it will be one year from my grad school graduation. It means then it tis time to reflect, and after reading Meredith’s blog (The Monkey song) there is no time like the present. Currently, I am working 2 part time jobs and it is an interesting thing working part time. In one job I am technically classified as a clerk even though I work alone most of the time and do many librarian duties. The other job I have a librarian title. Being a part time librarian can be interesting because you are a librarian but you are not faculty. Ergo, you do not have the same requirements as faculty (scholarship, committees, and interaction with faculty members) and are usually there for a purpose. (In my case it is to sit at the reference desk) After reading about new librarian involvement I can say that other part time librarians use their part time status as a reason for not getting involved in the profession. (I don’t have time, library organizations are too expensive, they do not pay me enough.)To be honest part time status can make getting involved a little stickier (not impossible) but stickier. There are questions that arise because of part time status. Am I stepping on someone else’s toes? Am I doing too much? Will this disrupt the hierarchy? Will my ideas be considered because I am not faculty? Will other faculty respond to my ideas? Do I have the time to carry this out? Will I be here long enough to carry it out? Questions and concerns can crush you, but at the end of the day the only question that is important is “Why did I become a librarian?” My answer to that one is that I love students and want to improve their educational experience through the library. Knowing that gives me the ability to go around the obstacles I face and get involved so I can help those students succeed.

During the summer I love to take a short jog. Not a marathon mind you, the trek is between 1- 3 miles and at most a half hour. Running is so therapeutic because there is a mentality of getting through obstacles that calms me deeply. Every step is one closer to my goal. This mindset gets through a lot of things. So much so that when I am stressed or tired all I think is I wish I could go for a run.

This mentality helps me in my library career. Being librarians a lot is put on our table. People often ask me what do you do with yourself now you are done with school? Like I am lounging around and twiddling my thumbs all of the time? (Somebody forgot to tell me!) Especially because I am part time, and do not have faculty status I guess I am free. Here is the thing, I am still learning so much every day. Not only I am I learning how to do better reference transactions, to make handouts, and thinking how I would do instruction, learning management techniques, coming up with possible projects for myself and student workers, I am trying to learn as much as I can about fine art and business. Now most of you are going, fine art and business? What in tarnation does a former English major and history minor doing with fine art and business? One job I work in an art school and the students expect me to know everything there is to know about the art world and when I do no they are severely disappointed. Case in point: last week a student asked me if I knew anything about printmaking and I thought about it, and I really did not. (oops) I knew where the books are but not the content. I showed the student the books and was a little embarrassed, because as a librarian I am a chronic helper. It simply kills me if I cannot help someone find what they need. So after the student left I pulled out a book and got crackin’. Now at my other job I have become the defacto person for business. You never quite think you know a subject until you have to weed it. So in my spare time at that job I am reading blogs and keeping up on the business world as well. At the same time trying to keep up with what is going on in the field. So back to the point (after a long explanation) , my brain lately has been running a marathon. Some days I get overwhelmed: Frank Stella’s work from the 70s? Movie about Basquiat? Who killed Andy Warhol? Why do ticker symbols exist? What constitutes a recession? Why are food prices so high? Is corn ethanol really cheaper? Where can I find articles about all of this content? Gah! Whoever said, you should have learned everything you need to know in grad school is crazy.

Grad school did give me a good base, but it is up to me to add to the knowledge to become a valuable resource for students. My friends no matter what area of librarianship tell me that what we are all doing is nothing what we expected. We should all get tshirts that say Expect to be surprised!

At the end of the day I think we should all deal with it like we would a run, one step at a time.

Now almost  year out of grad school, I ponder what type of information I need to know to be a good librarian. After reading countless posts in blogs and forums, it seems every person has a different opinion. Some say we should be up to date on the latest technology, other say (if academic) must specialize in a specific area such as history, science or business, yet others say we should think about interactions with patrons, and other say we should keep up with literature. This got me thinking what do we really have to know. Other professions are different, if you are a teacher you have a subject. If you are a doctor then it is medical type knowledge you must know, a trucker mainly knows the rules of the road, a construction worker must know how to make things.  However our business is information which can be the most challenging because it is so ever changing. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do and one of the perks of the job is that it is never the same. (I’m one of those geeks who does the search over after I have helped a patron to see how I could have done it better.)There are some days when I have felt like I have just run a marathon in my mind. Some examples of what I have needed to know so far:

–When a member (Bradley Nowell) of the band Sublime died and how to find articles about him?

–What is the DOW?

–The science of cosmetics

–What happens when arbitration breaks down?

–Which tax forms are best for college students?

–What is the new tax legislation?

–How much are students getting back with economic stimulus plan? Sorry kids, if you are a dependant than nothing

–Who wrote P.S. I love You?

–When do ILLs come in?

–What is wrong with OCLC?

–Who is Jasper Johns?

–How to make a staff wiki?

–How do I fix the pesky printer?

–Recite something by Walt Whitman for me (this one came from a parish priest who was extremely disappointed when I could not :(

I’m sure my colleagues in the academic and  public libraries could come up with many more things to know too!

On top of all that looking at the research and trying to find ways to serve our main priority, the patrons better. Some days I want to put my head down and take a nap. Part of this I am sure is because I do about 10 hours per day at the reference desk. (I work 2 jobs) The thing that has kept me sane is that I make a ton of lists and take things one thing at a time. (or try to anyway)

Sometimes I read articles just for fun and then the other day I came across many articles about women’s princess complexes. At the end of next year there will be a new Disney movie out called, “The Princess and the Frog,” which is set in New Orleans. There was a big brouhaha about the fact that the main character Tiana (used to be Maddie) was going to be a chambermaid. (not the smartest idea for Diney’s first african american princess) Anywhoo, thinking about jobs here is what I think the different heroines would have chosen for a profession.

Snow White: I think she would have been a teacher with her skills with shorter people and animals. Just look at her storytelling skills and musical ability!

Jasmine: I think she would have gone into politics with her ability to go out to the people and see outside of her ivory tower.

Sleeping Beauty: I think she would have been an actress with her dramatic ways and her penchant for dancing with animals.

Cinderella: She would have been a fashion designer. Look at all the cute little clothes she made for the mousies and birdies.

Pocahontas: Environmentalist for sure. She would have been lobbying congress to go green for years. (maybe she was from the beginning?)

Mulan: She would have been in the leadership in the military.

And of course since this is a librarian blog…

Belle so would have been a librarian. She probably fell in love with beast because of that humungous library!

After reading Dorothea’s posts on the technical skills of public services librarians and the insightful responses of many including Meredith Farkas, and Laura K, just to name a couple. I pondered many things. Many postings included where the blame should go. Is it library schools’ fault for lack of preparation? Is it librarians’ faults for not making it important? Is it the administration’s fault for not letting us explore? Or is it the library students themselves for not trying? These are all important questions to ask, but the real question should be why is there so much hesitation? What is so scary about learning about technology?

The real problem is simple “librarians and library schools  are afraid they will be no more jobs.” In some people’s minds the more digitized libraries get, the less people are needed to do the job. My nonlibrarian friends tell me all the time that my job will be extinct because of the digitial revolution.  This also gives administration a headache because administration people usually like things that are neat and orderly that they can put in a box. Change scares them. Think of it as the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory complex ( the new version with Johnny Depp where Charlie’s dad loses his job at the toothpaste factory because of the new machinery.) I am a recent graduate of library school and in one assignment was to create a landing page for the library of the future. What would be on it? How would the library cope with this new digital world we are in? The assignment thoroughly freaked some people out. The professor started talking about how less people are coming to the library and they are instead accessing it virtually. This really scared people because those who felt they lacked an aptitude for technology saw it as an enemy. In other words they feel it threatens their livelihood.  This fear caused a division amongst graduate students. There were the techies who separated themselves from the “library people”, (like we were a separate species) the ones who were completely against any form of technology, and then there were people like me who are in between. I was even jokingly accused by the non-techies as going to the “dark side.” Dark Side? What like Darth Vadar? Am I the enemy now because I want to know how a webpage is constructed? The fact of the matter is that every generation has changes in the library. Heck, at one point typed catalog cards were revolutionary! Realistically public services librarians knowing more technical services type things should not come as a surprise since technical services librarian are expected (for the most part) to do some public service type duties. The question should not be how are we using these new technologies? Technologies will fade and someday be “so five minutes ago.” Instead we should be asking, “how are we staying relevant? If we are not meeting our patrons’ needs, then will they continue to use our services? I am not saying you have to adapt every technology out there for your library. Every technology does not serve every population and I do not think it is helpful to assume that technology will solve all of our problems. It is a tool that can be used to make a solution happen, but it is not a solution in itself. However, you have to look at what can improve your patrons’ library experiences. Also it is important to note that if we know too much, IT depts may feel that will take their jobs as well.

Going back to library school, the question of the future of the library once again came up. One of my classmates responded, “librarians are like prostitutes we will always be around.” (Side note: I originally started writing this post yesterday and read Jenica Rogers Urbanek’s post about the Spitzer scandal and libraries and laughed out loud when I thought of this comment) Anyway, there will always be a need for people to digest information and trust me students still need our help, yes they do.

Lately I have been using the phrase “I’ll figure it out” Before I was in grad school I was so sure of what type of work I would be doing, but now I am not so sure. If you had told me I would be cataloging, doing circulation, playing around with systems, doing statistics and ILL to boot I would have told you, you were a wild and crazy guy (or gal). Sometimes one of my bosses ( I work two part time jobs) will come up to me and say do you know how to do this? (Make a wiki, do ILL, find out why the computer is making the sound of a wookie) I will say I don’t but I’m sure I can figure it out, and I have (miraculously). It used to drive me crazy when people in grad school would say in tech or cataloging classes that they only have to get through the course and will never use any of the information anyway. To be honest I have used more information out of those classes than I have me reference courses. Sheesh! The other day someone asked me how I am faring in my library career and I told her I was figuring it out.

Okay, I know the title is corny but I came across this article on a listserv I am on. Jessica Hupp wrote an article called “25 Useful Social Networking Tools for Librarians” which talks about all different sites that librarians can connect to patrons and each other. Some I had heard about (myspace, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, PBwiki, Del.icio.ous, Meebo, and Ning) and others I had not. I am still in the process of seeing what they do.

Footnote : is a site that lets people upload their original documents for others to see. There are a ton of photos and documents and it is free for a basic membership, but be cautioned because many photos and documents are only for paying members. There is also a feature for people to attach little annotations to the image.  The site does make it difficult if you don’t have the premium package. 

Stumbleupon: allows you to browse and see what others are looking at as well. You set up a profile and state your interests and the site looks for things for you.

Lib.rario.us  Kind of a combination of Library thing and Del.icio.ous. This is a site that allows cataloging of favorite books but unlike Library thing it is totally free.  All you do is look up something, it looks it up on Amazon and when you click on the image it types in the ASIN number for you and you can write a review and rate it. Then it adds it to your collection. A neat feature about this website is that it allow you to transfer it to an excel document so you can print it out for your records.

Teachertube: A teacher version of Youtube! Yes it does exist.  When I type in libraries, a few videos come up by Dr. Looney which include librarian parodies of American Idol and Blind Date.  This is a useful site because it pares down the videos to only instructional videos that education type people can search.

Whew! With so many options we librarians can at least try to be connected.  “We hope.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.