You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2008.

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.  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.”

That’s right, you heard me. Rachel is not in the third mummy movie “The Mummy 3: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” as the librarian Evelyn. Instead she is being played my Maria Bello. Now while I love Maria Bello, I  hope they are going to at least dye her hair for the movie. I mean, I think people will notice that the dark haired Evelyn from the first two films is different than the golden haired Maria Bello. Realistically I am amazed they are doing a third Mummy film at all. I thought they would be done after the Scorpion King, but oh well.