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No, I do not think that librarians are like rocks and that if you turn them over you will find all kinds of interesting things crawling around. I do know that librarians (or most of them) are multi-dimensional individuals that do know a lot of interesting and amazing things, if you just ask they may well tell you. In using the phrase “turning over librarians,” I am referring to the term often used by businesses, “turn-over.” This will be a two part post. In the first one I will discuss turn-over in lower level employees and in the second I will discuss turn-over and the lack thereof in upper level employees.

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Recently there has been a bit of media coverage on incidents that have happened in public libraries [2]. As a public librarian I find myself a bit bewildered by the tone of these articles and the outrage expressed by some citizens and librarians. What do they expect to happen in a public space? Where have they been for the past thirty years?

Are libraries safe places? I would argue that libraries in general are as safe as any other public space. Does this mean that it is a good place to just drop off your kids or to leave your purse sitting around? No. You should not expect your local public library to be any safer that the local shopping mall.

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Kindle Update

For those of you who read my original Kindle report, you know how my experience with it went. If you did not read it you can find it here: My Short Life with Kindle.

Since then the kindle has been circulating through the library staff and four more people have had the opportunity to experience it. Reaction to date has been completely positive. Some of the issues with usability/ergonomics that I originally pointed out have been repeated by other staff members. But along with the criticisms there have been many more comments from my fellow librarians like: Continue Reading »

Presentation

Yes this is a filler post and is basically self promotion!

Last week I had the opportunity to give a 15 minute presentation and participate in a panel discussion at the Midwest Library Technology Conference. The session was called “Avatarbrarians: Librarians at the Point of Need, Virtually” and my presentation was titled “Learning to be Avatars.” If you forget the first part with the puppets (inside joke) things went well. If you would like to see the slides from my presentation you can view them on SlideShare.

This was my first presentation at a library conference, buy not my first presentation. I had a great time at the conference and recommend it to all librarians in the Midwest, think about adding it to your calendar for next year. After many discussions between sessions and over food, I have several more thoughts on presentations I am gong to be developing, some I have already touched on in previous posts here and others are thoughts I have been developing lately that play off my technology and marketing backgrounds. I look forward to sharing them with you.

DRM is Evil?

I heard it at CiL 2008 and have heard it talked about on blogs. There seems to be and obsession with DRM (Digital Rights Management) with many librarians and with some of the general public. Since I come from a business background I don’t quite understand all the huff amongst librarians. Following is a reply I made to a post on another blog regarding DRM that kind of encapsulates my current thoughts on the issue:

The above comments offer great insights into the whole libraries and DRM issue, but I have a little bit to add, even though I am a public librarian.

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My Signature

Recently over at ACR Log blog StevenB posted the following:

Most academic librarians go through their careers performing a host of jobs and filling a multitude of functions. From selection to reference to instruction and more we are true workplace multi-taskers. But amidst all these different activities have you ever stopped to ask yourself what’s at the center of it all? What defines you as a librarian? What’s your signature statement?

Now I am not an academic librarian and I have not been a librarian for very long, but I found this thought provoking. I am aspiring to be a reference librarian along with the technology side that takes up most of my day. I say aspire, because I have a long way to go, even though I do work the reference desk several days a week. Even though Steven was addressing academic librarians, I think public librarians should attempt to come up with their own signature statements as well.

I originally came across this idea on the Librarians Matter blog, where I posted my signature. My hope is that my signature is a reflection of my personality, job and professional goals. It serves as guide to the way I approach each and every day. I am sure this will change over time, but currently mine is:

Absorb everything, challenge everything and take the risks needed to get it done and excel.

You might have noticed that I did not include the words, library, librarian or technology in my signature. I hope my signature is more about who I am than what job I do. Can I take this signature with my when I leave the library? I think I can.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your signatures.

Feed success

I was part of an interesting conversation the other day that stemmed from a post made by Greg on his blog Open Stacks. For today the most relevant part of his post was this:

The children’s librarian was unable to keep it going as she needed to start gearing up for summer reading.

So I did what any father/librarian would do. I offered to keep it going myself. Well, let me rephrase that. I suggested that the parents who were in attendance might do well to try to keep the momentum going and organize our own weekly storytime at the same time and in the same place as the program that was ending. There seemed to be enough interest for me to pursue it further.

It is what happened to an apparently successful program that concerns me. I do not know all the details of the situation, and never will. The apparent abandoning of a program that was working for another touched on some of my own experiences this week at the library where I work.

In two days, I encountered no less than three “because we have always done it that way” statements. This is apparently much more acceptable/common in the library profession than in the business one I come from. Businesses that stick to this mantra seldom last long and are very vulnerable to “sea changes” within an industry. Successful organizations have a culture that honors tradition and their core mission, while allowing for flexibility.

I know that Greg’s library may have been sort staffed, low on funds or in any one of a dozen other situations that may have precluded the continuation of the program he and his son where enrolled in. My point or maybe challenge is to encourage libraries, especially my own, to feed successful programs the resources and staffing need to keep them going and not end them “just because we have always done it that way.”

Libraries that can honor tradition and be flexible/responsive to the needs of their customers will be successful libraries. Not to sound to flippant, but a lot more “can do” in libraries would be refreshing.

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