Revamping a profession

To quote a friend: “I don’t understand why a field that hinges upon continuous information turnover and constant education is being headed by so many people who hate technology and hate learning.”

There does seem to be at least one librarian in every organization for which this is an accurate statement. It really don’t make any sense. Why do these folks choose this industry? To sit around staring at books? As I’ve said before, down with the seat-fillers!

I, for one, love learning. When asked about my knowledge and interest in fundraising today, my first thought was, I can’t wait to research and learn more about effective ways to contribute to major fundraising efforts. Education shouldn’t be intimidating. Those who feel it is are only a hindrance to our profession’s efforts at making lifelong learning an innate process throughout the human experience.

Humans are just animals after all. They can all smell fear. If we continue to allow staff to shy away from their own development as librarians, we’ll scare off those who are gingerly exploring their own educational progress.

To prevent your own decline and to help your colleagues, explore this page developed by the ALA for topics in staff development: http://www.ala.org/tools/atoz/staff-development . Keep learning please. Let’s revamp this situation.

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My first published chapter!

My goal last year was to get published at least once. It’s a bit delayed, but my chapter “Google Alerts, Trends, Chrome in Public Relations” in Carol Smallwood’s Complete Guide to Using Google in Libraries is finally available!

Unfortunately, I can’t post the content here. I signed those rights away. Hope my copy arrives soon, though, so I can share it in-person.

UPDATE: The editor of this volume shortened my chapter’s intro and didn’t bother to show me. The edits she published completely change the meaning of the language I used! So now it’s incorrect and makes me look like a moron. She also proved my point that librarians generally have no idea what branding is and clearly refuse to learn.

I will never submit anything to this woman again because she is terrible at editing. So disappointed.

Resilience makes a successful professional

I like to think of myself as a resilient person. Yes, things frustrate me. Often. There are days and even weeks when I want to cash in my chips and go home. But overall, I enjoy my profession and want to succeed–if only for the fact that my job has the capability to help change someone’s life.

Our library, along with hundreds of others across the country, is undergoing rapid changes both physically and in the services we offer. It seems like libraries were stagnant for a bit, and we’re all trying to squeeze in what should have been years of gradual progress.

This doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially for those who have worked in libraries for decades. There’s a natural fear that comes with reassignments and complete job facelifts. None of the demands that library leaders insist on are meant to discourage or force longtime staff out, despite what it may seem.

I don’t believe that anyone is born resilient. While some of us may appear to be tough cookies, most of that hard shell was developed over time. It takes practice to build the character that enables us to say, “Well this is a sh*tty situation, but I will overcome and be stronger for it.”

While searching for some articles to share with a staff member who has shared her concern and frustration with me over the months, I stumbled upon this: http://www.liscareer.com/hourston_resilience.htm

This article gives some great resilience tips :

  • Change happens: bring it on!
  • Relationships and support: ask for help!
  • Perspective: is the glass really half-empty?
  • Be brave! Believe in yourself
  • Know yourself and take care of yourself

Most professionals cannot expect to remain in the same role throughout the duration of their careers. I think it’s easier for young worker-bees like myself to navigate these waters because we expect that. So while older library staff have decades of experience that we can learn from, it is our job to co-mentor by openly practicing and sharing these strategies for accepting change.

So here’s to the many metamorphoses we will all encounter and librarians building the resilience to survive and thrive.

Mobile Wifi Hotspots

I’m getting ready to kick off a few of my new outreach projects this Spring, including roving business reference and a book bike. The one common thread with all of these projects is the WiFi issue. I want to be able to do reference and borrowing services on site no matter where in town I am.

Currently, the library uses Comcast for internet services. While Comcast has some hotspots throughout town (train stations), I’ve found that it’s not always reliable. It seems to go in and out often, and I wonder if this has to do with the volume of use. Some local businesses offer WiFi, too, but I’d prefer to use both of these free services as backups to a personally controlled device.

It took a few searches to come up with the appropriate keywords. It appears that what I’m looking for is a “MiFi,” and Novatel’s device was “Editor’s Choice” a few years back: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385018,00.asp

xfinity MiFi

xfinity MiFi

According to some articles published in 2011, Comcast only charges $25 for the device. Naturally, a search of their site doesn’t show any pages with purchase details. When I chatted with a rep, she said that Comcast still has the MiFi. I can find it by looking on “comcast.net.” Ha. I didn’t have time to ask for a direct webpage and signed off. I plan to look more into the costs, etc. after the holidays.

Here’s to 2015 being the year of fun, busy, effective outreach!

Librarian censorship, just in time for Banned Books Week

A fellow librarian texted me something pretty ironic the other day. Her editorial about Banned Books Week, written for a library association newsletter, was censored. It’s important to remember that censorship exists in all circles, even within our profession, and must be challenged as quickly as parents challenging “bad” books.

Happily, I haven’t witnessed any censorship in northern NJ libraries since I arrived last year. However, I am aware of a book being banned from a school curriculum due to complaints in 2012. The Absolutely True Story of Part-Time Indian was removed from Westfield High School due to “inappropriate” content.

Forget that it’s “a story celebrating a love of learning, and the struggle that we all face between making others happy and finding a life worth living; about a young boy trying to find a better life than the one he is destined for.” Forget that it won the 2007 National Book Award and the 2009 Odyssey Award. Forget that high school kids talk about things much worse than the masturbation references in the book.

Our communities need to get back to the focus of what literature represents: the freedom of ideas, and the ability to get readers to discuss and debate the themes of a novel. How can we expect our youth to be adults at 18 if we prevent them from talking about and experiencing real-life content just a couple of years earlier?

Cut the umbilical cord already and support your child’s right to a rounded education. This isn’t a liberal idea. It’s an American one.

And for those librarians who refuse to uphold statement two of the ALA Code of Ethics (“We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”), find a new profession.

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org

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Libraries Transforming Communities

Here’s a great article with a Q&A from one of the initiative’s participant libraries:

“Turning Outward”: How Well Do You Know Your Community?
Thu, 07/17/2014
Editor’s Note: Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) — an initiative of the American Library Association — seeks to strengthen librarians’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents by sharing tools to help them “turn outward,” an approach developed by the The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. All of these resources are available, free of charge, on the LTC website.
Libraries around the country are already putting the “turning outward” approach to work in their communities. Alice Knapp is director of user services at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.; in October 2013, she attended a Harwood Public Innovators Lab. Here, Knapp tells ALA about her library’s experience with “turning outward.”…

Earlier this year, I toyed with the idea of submitting our library to take part in this. Unfortunately, the time demands were pretty high. Maybe next year (if it gets continued…). It seems like a great way to redirect the focus of library services for continuity.