Recently a friend of mine made a list of things not to say to a school bus driver. It got me thinking about all of the things people tell me when they hear what I do for work.It’s funny the preconceived notions people have about certain professions when they hear about what you do for a living. I understand librarians and books go hand in hang to a degree, but I don’t actually get to spend my entire day reading books. A lot of the reading I do on the job is trying to figure out the solution to a technology question or MARC records. Why is it when people hear you are a librarian they automatically think your job involves very little work? Have other librarians encountered this before? Don’t get me wrong I love the work I do and I do like to read books but that is not the whole of my existence. These days I don’t read as much as I would like too and in a few months a lot of the reading I will be doing will involve lots of pictures as I read to my little one. Sometimes I debate about writing up a list of things not to say to your local librarian. Maybe one of these days I will write a list and post it here on the blog. So many thoughts going through my mind these days.
So there are a lot of exciting things happening right now in my life and yet at the same time I feel as if my thoughts are scattered in every direction. One of the new big things in my life is that come the end of January / beginning of February I will be starting a new adventure as a first time mommy. Big right?! Well before I go into full time mommy/librarian mode, I really want to finish up my certification. Luckily I will be able to do this in September when I am taking a class all about technology and libraries in the digital age.
This is something big to look at because the role of libraries and librarians is forever evolving in the digital age. What was important when I was a kid may not be as important today or in five years. These are all things we have to think about in the evolving role of librarians and libraries. It is very easy to argue the need for more space and more computers within the library to accommodate the growing population needs, but you also have to think about what questions may arise with the increasing number of technology advancements being made every day.
Change is never easy and it doesn’t happen over night. Yes there are a few things you can begin to incorporate within your library without breaking the bank. You can advertise to the public of the availability of one-on-one appointments where a staff member works with them individually on questions they have. This is a great way to connect with community members who may be unsure of how to use e-mail, load e-books to their e-reader, learning Facebook to stay in contact with friends and family all over the world, etc. It is possible by starting small it will increase the awareness of what the library has to offer and what it can offer in the future with more funding, increased number of devices available for public use, and encouraging the continuing education of staff members.
Some people think because I am young, that technology comes easily to me. This is not always the case. There have been plenty of times I have sat there and glared at something because I was frustrated and couldn’t easily figure out the solution to my problem. It is only because I play around until I figure out the problem, consult the user manual, and help page on the given items website that I am able to solve the problem in front of me.
As I said my thoughts right now are very scattered and hopefully with the help of making a lot of lists and putting pen to paper theoretically, I can begin to feel organized again.
What are your thoughts of libraries role in the digital era?
This past week has been a very busy one for me. On Sunday I hosted my sister’s bridal shower and with the help of my two best friends we were able to successfully pull it off. Two days later I attended the Vermont Library Association Conference. It was a lot of fun, though I look forward to attending it again minus crutches. VLA is a great way to network and see what other libraries around the state are doing. I attended a few different lectures. They were all interesting in their own ways. One of the lectures I attended was titled “Rapid Reviews” this is one I try to attend every year because its great to hear actual people review books they have read over the year. The books are broken into categories and suggestions are given. I have hopes to add some of the titles reviewed to our collection, they will be a great addition to our collection and I feel our patrons would like the titles. Another program I attended was all about the Red Clover and Dorothy Canfield Fisher books for next year. While I am not a children’s librarian it was great to stay up to date on what books are on the local children’s award lists. This appeals to me as I studied children’s literature while I was in college. It was funny when I would talk to friends from home and tell them I was reading Winnie the Pooh for homework.
Another thing I did this week was to teach a very basic introductory class to PIntrest. While there were only two people who attended, at least I was able to connect with them. When I am working with someone one-on-one it forces me to slow down and think things through. I have to mentally translate things in my mind and try to explain them in a way anyone can understand. I have hopes that I was able to explain why so many people are drawn to using Pintrest and how it can be useful.
When I was talking to my roommate last night we were talking about college degrees and who of our friends are actually using their degrees. While at school I received an English degree. While it may not seem like I am using my degree, I actually use it on a daily basis while at work. My knowledge of children’s literature is great when I am talking to patrons about certain books and being able to say which one comes first in a given series. There are so many projects and crafts that can be coordinated with children’s books. Pintrest is a great source of inspiration if you want ideas for projects to pair with books.
I have not forgotten about the blog, but I do apologize for not posting lately. My life has been extremely crazy lately. I am finishing up the last of the credits (hopefully) that I need for my Vermont Library Certification. To me this is a pretty big deal because it is something I have been working towards for the last three years. My last class (fingers crossed) will be on Friday, May 16th! Outside of work and classes I am also busy planning my sister’s bridal shower and doing a lot of running around for that.
So as you can tell I have a lot on my plate right now. The class I am currently taking is all about basic cataloging. As a cataloger it’s great for me to be able to work with others to learn the new rules of RDA cataloging as opposed to AARC-21 cataloging. The class is a lot of hands on work mixed with lecture. This is great because of the repetition and breaking down the fields a little at a time to have it drilled in my mind what fields correspond with what type of information about the item in front of me that I am going to catalog. A lot of the cataloging that I do on a daily basis is called “copy cataloging” but there are the few rare occasions when I have to do original cataloging. In all honesty I try to avoid doing original cataloging like the plague. (Sorry listening to Dan Brown’s Inferno right now).
When I haven’t been in class, at work, or running around like crazy getting things done for the bridal shower, I have been able to spend a little time with friends. One friend in particular and I have been arguing about the roles of libraries in today’s economy. The reason for our argument is that we stand on different sides about our local library and a bond vote of three million dollars to redesign the current library. Being a librarian I do openly admit to being biased and also I know some of the people who work in the library we are arguing about so that adds additional bias to my side of the argument. I feel that libraries are important institutions in today’s economy because we offer so much more than just books. We provide technology to those who may not have access, programming, databases, technological help, classes, and so much more. We also see people of all ages come through our doors every day. Libraries are changing the way people see us and we are becoming more of a community center and the heart of towns.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the fact that my friend feels strongly enough to argue with me about this because it’s not often I get to argue about the importance of libraries to someone who does not work in the field. It’s also great that as one of my best friends he can see something that is important to me and makes a conscious effort to argue and agree with me about the importance of libraries and books.
OK that is enough rambling for today. Until next time!
I apologize to everyone for my lack of blogging lately, I had a serious case of writer’s block and an extreme lack of creativity. This week I attended a Tech Unconference with other librarians from around the state. The very fact that this was an “unconference” and not a normal conference was a great new experience for me. So you may be reading this going what is an “unconference”? It is similar to a conference, the only difference is we were able to vote on the topics we wished to discuss. The part that was great about this is there was not a single person or a panel of people at the front of the room talking to everyone. Instead we gathered around as a group and discussed things we do in our library and how we have tackled problems. To be able to discuss what is going on in your library and to get inspiration for programs with others, who are not a part of your staff is a great experience.
Here’s a little insight into what it means to be a librarian, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel fifty million times. We LOVE to share ideas with others and share resources with each other. Yesterday I found a great article on Pintrest, another library had shared about things your librarian does that you may not be aware they do. The title of the article is “5 Things That People Don’t Realize Their Librarians Do”. I recommend looking up this article, it explains what it means to be a librarian. I agree with this article in so many ways. People think because I am a part of the younger generation that I intuitively know all about technology. Yes I’m not yet 30, I have another year to go, but that does not mean all of technology is intuitive to me. The only reason I am able to troubleshoot things is because I had a boss who believed in me and said I want you to learn this. Honestly it’s as simple as that.
When I first started college, I thought I wanted to be a teacher and I even took a few education classes. Once I decided that was not for me, I switched my focus to business classes but felt that was not for me either. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I found my niche in English. As I was going through the journey of finding where my interests lie, I had been working in the college library for two years. My Marms will joke the best thing about my college education is that I found a job I can be passionate about. I honestly think it’s because I was surrounded by people who were willing to teach me new skills and allowed me to take charge on projects.
Don’t worry I will get back to writing about different programs I use on a daily basis at work and in my personal life. I will even write a blog post about Pintrest another day.
P.S. How great is that Steampunk Librarian picture?
As much as I would wish some days I had a magic wand to wave that would read all the book reviews out there for me and magically catalog and cover the books for me, alas there is not one. To some it may look like we have an odd way of deciding what books to add or not add to the collection. Insider secret…there is no secret formula and we don’t throw darts at book reviews. What we do often do is listen to our patrons and observe who is currently on the New York Times bestseller lists. That is the real secret, we simply talk to people and look at what books they may have heard reviewed on a local television show or radio show. We also do our best to try to keep our nonfiction collection as up-to-date as possible. Dinosaur books from the 70’s are extremely out of date with the information we have at our fingertips today.Which is why we try to weed out nonfiction more often or look at the copyright date of books before adding them, to make sure we are providing to the best of our ability, the most current information out there.
We are extremely fortunate to have a very generous community who donate books, DVDs, and audio books on a daily basis to either be added to the library collection or to be put towards our annual book sale. By going through donations we often are able to find copies of books we already own but may be in better condition than our own very well loved books. If you recall in the previous post “One way NOT to weed your collection” I talked about how Mother Nature took it upon herself to do a little weeding and redecorating at the the library. The good news is we have gotten the wall all fixed and new flooring in our conference room. We have also been able to slowly begin to replace the books through donations.
We also have a two person concept when it comes to what we decide to add to the library. To explain this concept is we have different staff members who either read a book review or have a book recommended to us, we will write a card out with the Title, Author, ISBN, price, release date, and a few notes as to why we think it would be good to add to the collection. We share these cards with the director who either has written out a card for the same book, always a good thing to have everyone thinking alike, or will further research the title and decide “yes order now” or “let’s hold off on this for the moment”. We take this same approach when it comes to donations. This is a system that we have found works for us as a staff and as a library to provide the best possible service to our community and patrons.
Possibly this has cleared up a few questions you may have had for how we decide what to add or subtract from our library collection.
So I was going to write a post about collection development and how we decide what to add to the library collection, until I realized how uninspired I was to talk about it today. So I’ll talk about that another day. My personal life lately has been absolutely crazy, which is possibly why I was feeling a case of writers block. So bear with me as I try to free myself from my creative block.
On Sunday I was driving around with two of my best friends from high school, its been over ten years since we have done anything like this, and we talked about books we read and how we remember the old card catalogs. One friend shared a story with me about some kids on her bus who were talking about something and she overhead one of them say “just Google it”. As I was listening to her tell the story and how she suggested to the kids they go to the library the next day to find a book to answer their question, it made me think of when we were children and our lack of Google and technology at our fingertips. I pondered this throughout the day as we drove around going from shop to shop, using our phones for GPS instead of a physical map. On our way to one store the GPS misdirected us and it struck me to go through my “passport” to see if there was anything for directions or landmarks to help us find our way. Thankfully there was and we were quickly able to locate the shop within a few minutes.
To my amusement, across the street from the store was the local library. Throughout our drive we either saw signs for the local library or drove past the library which greatly amused me. All in all the day was a lot of fun and it was great to spend some time with friends who I do not get to see very often. Lets hope I can overcome my writer’s block soon.
P.S. It might come as a shock to some people but librarians don’t actually live at the library. Try to let others down gently if you choose to share this surprising fact.