owlmoose: (library - sign)
The real question is, what's not so great about libraries? ;) This was [personal profile] forestofglory's post topic request, and I could probably fill up many screens with an answer, but I'd feel a little like I was preaching to the choir -- I can't imagine there are many people reading this who do not already love and appreciate libraries. So if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a direction that's a little more personal.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, going back as far as I can remember. There was no way my parents were ever going to keep my book appetite fed, so naturally we were regular patrons of the public library. None of the small Iowa towns I lived in ever had libraries of their own, which meant regular pilgrimages -- every few weeks, or however long checkout periods were in those days. I graduated from picture books to chapter books around first grade, starting with the Oz books because I loved the movie. (I didn't know this at the time, but the librarian once asked my mom if I was actually reading the books or just looking at the pictures. Mom assured her that I was reading them -- every word, often several times over.) Library day was always my favorite, because library day meant more books: more stories to read, more imaginary worlds to visit, more lives to try out for a brief time, more old favorites to revisit (it was rare for me to get out of the library without at least one book I'd read before). So it's no wonder that libraries are my happy place, or that I gravitated toward them when it came time to pick a campus job as a college student.

So that's one thing I love about libraries: that's where the books are. Of course libraries are about much more than books -- I could go on in that vein, too -- but I have no problem with the brand of libraries being books. Because books are great, and despite what people keep saying, books aren't going anywhere. They may decline in importance for some purposes, and they may change format sometimes, but the basic idea of the book will continue to matter. As a librarian, and a library lover, I embrace the book, and the mission of matching readers with their book (see the Five Laws of Library Science). (If I had time to start over again, I might write a whole new post riffing on those five laws, and why they describe what makes libraries great, but it's getting to be bedtime. Maybe another time.)

I could list many other reasons, but that might be the most important, to me. How about you, my fellow library lovers? What is so great about libraries?

Good day

Nov. 15th, 2015 12:39 am
owlmoose: (library - sign)
Today was a good day. SE and I went with a local librarian group on a tour of the Sonoma County Wine Library, which is part of their public library system. It was interesting -- not so much for the space, but to see what can be done with such a specialized collection. Lots of books, of course, including this 16th century book on agriculture from Spain, as well as more modern texts, but also magazines, clipping files, wine labels, a really hilarious drinking game from the 1960s, and a selection of cool old bottles. Also I was happy to be hanging out with librarians and talking shop again, something I don't get to do much these days. Afterwards we went to a wine bar and just chatted, and I really appreciated it.

Of course I can't go up to the wine country without having some fabulous food. We dragged our husbands along (although they absented themselves for the librarian portion of the festivities), and had delicious lunch, tea, dinner, and dessert. Then I came home just in time to lend a hand to a last-minute Wind dominance victory on Flight Rising! Literally at the last minute; it was glorious. And now it is late and I must sleep, if I can come down from the victory high.
owlmoose: (library - evelyn)
Quick note: with this question answered, I only have two remaining for the entire month. Anyone else?

Today's question is from [personal profile] radish: "Talk about being a librarian. Just general, but also were there any defining moments throughout your education that pushed you toward librarianship as a career?"

I can point to three events in my educational history that help nudge me on my path to becoming a librarian.

The first was during my senior year of high school, after a particularly annoying and contentious English class where we were arguing with a substitute teacher -- who happened to be a former lawyer -- about the picayune details of some text or another. After class that day, it hit me that I had no desire to follow through on my future plans, which up to that point had been to major in English, and then become a lawyer.

The second was during my junior year of college, after I'd finished up my year-long architecture studio course, and I realized that, at some point during the year, I'd realized that I really didn't want to be an architect, either.

The third event actually happened earlier, at the start of sophomore year, when I signed up to work two shifts a week in the Reserve Room at the main campus library. At the time, I was looking to get out of my food service job (all first-year students were required to work for Dining Services; I got lucky and snagged a job at the Campus Center Cafe rather than one of the cafeterias, but the library was far preferable), and the Reserve Room was in truth not the most exciting position I'd ever taken. But to round out my hours, I also signed up for a few hours per week of shelving duty, and I discovered that I really enjoyed doing it. The next semester, some hours opened up at the Circulation Desk, and that was much better: more stuff going on there than in the Reserves, and I got to know the Circulation Manager, a wonderful lady (and sister alumna) with whom I am still in touch. I kept my Circulation Desk and shelving jobs through graduation, and added on a few hours in the Cataloging Department a couple of semesters.

Although my library job wasn't technically part of my Bryn Mawr degree, I still consider it a key component of my Bryn Mawr education. Not only because I learned so many library skills there, but because a year or so after graduation, when I was working as a secretary at an architectural firm (having decided not to become an architect, I'd wondered if maybe I'd be interested in the business side of architecture, and the answer was definitely NO) and wondering what I might like better, I thought back to my previous work experience and realized that the library job was by far the one I'd enjoyed most. So I applied to library school, got in, and pretty much never looked back.

Is it odd that none of these formative experiences occurred during library school? Probably not, since the only reason I went to library school was to become an academic librarian. Although I certainly learned things in library school that I use in my library work, as far as I was concerned, the degree was the price of admission, the piece of paper I needed before anyone would even look at my resume.

So, now I am a librarian -- and I still say I'm a librarian even though I'm not working as one, because "librarian" is part of my identity even if I'm not employed by a library. As a former co-worker once told me (during her interview, and no wonder I hired her), librarianship is as much a calling as it is a profession. Maybe not for a librarians, but it's certainly true for me. Which is why I continue to apply almost exclusively to librarian jobs, even though after over a year of unemployment I probably ought to be branching out more. I'm not done being a librarian yet. So even if it takes me a while to get back there, I hope to keep trying. Being in a library, surrounded by the books and the knowledge and the people seeking same, is the place I belong.
owlmoose: (library - sign)
A full day at FogCon! Getting down the notes quickly while it's still in my head...

This got long. )

One more day. Now to decide whether to go back out there or crash a little early. Right now I am leaning toward the latter, but we'll see! Maybe a second wind will present itself.

At FogCon!

Mar. 30th, 2012 06:11 pm
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro jump)
I am here, just taking a few minutes in my hotel room between events. I arrived around 3:30 and have gone to one panel so far, on genre fragmentation, and I spent most of the time with my librarian hat on, listening to people talk about classification and tagging and recommendations, and I wanted to say something brilliant about it but never managed to come up with a thought coherent enough to share. Still, food for thought about how to make recommendations to people, and how to get your writings found online.

Next is the Social Media Meet-up in the con suite, at which I may meet some of you who will read this! *waves* I haven't exactly been active online in any FogCon related venues -- mostly I just follow the Twitter hashtag and friended a few people right after last year's con -- but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to connect with people IRL.

This year, I'm staying in the hotel, even though Walnut Creek is only about 45 minutes away from my home. I like the idea of being able to disappear into "con space" for a few days, hide out from the real world a little bit. As long as I hide out from the real world within con space, rather than my hotel room. This will be the challenge...

I hope to do a writeup at the end of each day like I did last year, and I'll probably also post tidbits to Tumblr (#kj at fogcon), if anyone is interested in following along. And if you're here, come say Hi!
owlmoose: (quote - library from hp)
So in my last post, I wondered why there are so many librarians in fandom, and suggested that I had some theories on why. Folks asked me to elaborate, so here are some random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Librarians read. Okay, this is pretty much a statement of the obvious. More usefully, librarians are passionate consumers of media. Books, movies, television. Games admittedly less often, but I have known other gamer librarians, and games are gaining more traction in libraries all the time. Could that passion translate into a predilection for fannishness?

2. Librarians share content and information. This would seem to be a natural match for fandom, which is so much about sharing enthusiasm for content. Recommending books and films to people is a huge part of my job.

3. Librarians find each other. It's like belonging to a club, or a clan. Whenever I meet someone and discover that they're also a librarian, it's an instant bonding moment (just like in the comment thread that kicked this discussion off). So it may not actually be the case that there are more librarians in fandom; we just may be more likely to know that about each other.

Just some off-the-cuff suggestions. Any other ideas? Are there actually more librarians in fandom, or does it just seem that way?
owlmoose: (library - evelyn)
Notice this thread of librarian convergence in the Doink! friending meme. Did I already know that there were so many librarians in Final Fantasy fandom? Is that unique to us, or are other fandoms filled with librarians also? Speak up, if you are out there!

I would go onto a tangent about why, but I'm running out the door for chorus so you are all spared. For now. ;)
owlmoose: (library - sign)
Let me set the scene: It's a Monday morning, early. I'm a little cranky because I worked Saturday and now I'm working Monday and it's going to be a long day, not to mention how it's kicking off a six-day workweek.

Then a new student comes up to the desk and asks me an intelligent and interesting question, one that I've never thought of in the five years I've worked here, and I am, one again, reminded why I'm really here. Sometimes, my job rocks.

(The student who confesses to having a two-month overdue book and pays her fine with nary a whimper helps, too.)
owlmoose: (library - evelyn)
Some months ago, I offered to switch schedules with the other librarian, who has been covering Saturdays for many years now. Recently, she decided to take me up on it, and so as of this week, I'll be working Tuesday through Saturday (with a few exceptions) for the next few months.

I would never have offered this if I wasn't willing to do it, and I can see definite upsides to having Mondays off. And Saturdays are a good time to get projects done. And there are advantages to having one workday per week on which no meetings can be scheduled! But I can already tell that it's going to take awhile before I don't see dragging myself out of bed and to the library on a Saturday morning as an imposition. But who knows; once I get used to it, I may not want to go back! We'll see how it goes.

Fortunately, I am not alone. One of the things you accept when you become a librarian is that you may have undesirable work hours from time to time -- early mornings, late nights, Saturdays and Sundays -- and you can follow our adventures on Twitter at #saturdaylibrarian.

Edited to add the other upshot of this, which is that I am likely to be online and looking for distractions most days. If you're around, come say hello!
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
It occurred to me yesterday that I have now worked in the library for longer (five years and two months) than my former boss did (four years and five months). I haven't yet been the director for longer -- that's about half a year off -- but still. And yet, there's a part of me that still feels like I'm the temporary custodian of her library. I'm sure that's largely because it's named in her memory, so in a very real way, it is her library and always will be. Still, it's a weird feeling. Especially when I consider how many people there are around now who never knew her at all. Students, of course, since the student population is ever-shifting, but faculty and staff, too.

In less discomfiting news, I got a whole stack of DW invite codes today. So if anyone is interested, let me know.
owlmoose: Librarians Against DRM (library - no drm)
Copyright is the place where my interests as a fan and as a librarian are most likely to collide, so it's no surprise that I came out of the two talks on the subject I attended this afternoon energized and excited.

The first was a presentation by the founders of http://readersbillofrights.info/ on the subject of ebooks and the danger they present, in their current form, to the rights of readers. It was more of an affirmation to me than a learning opportunity, but sometimes it's useful to know that I'm not alone in my opinions. I do not have and will not purchase an ereader, especially not a Kindle, because of DRM, and they articulate all my reasons beautifully: the fact that I can't sell or lend the book, proprietary software that limits what computer or device I can use to read the book, draconian user agreements that criminalize fair use, etc. I came out with a cool button (see icon), a renewed commitment to my decision not to buy ebooks for personal use, and an extensive list of articles to read (see website).

The second was the presentation from which the post takes this title, a call to action from librarian James Neal in which he asked academic librarians not to abandon our fair use rights. Fair use is not an act of defiance, nor is it a way to skirt copyright law. Fair us is built in to American copyright law, and it's the cornerstone upon which many academic, artistic, and even business pursuits are built. The more we let the fear of lawsuits scare us into not exercising fair use, the more we let restrictive licensing agreements and DRM ignore fair use, the more we enter into international copyright treaties that don't make room for fair use, the more at risk we are of losing it. But if enough librarians band together to fight, he is convinced that we can make a difference, and I believe him. (Much like the OTW provides a platform for fans to stand together on the same issue -- I wish I felt more comfortable combining my personal and professional life score, because how awesome would Fannish Librarians for Fair Use be?)

Food for thought; motivation to continue and extend my efforts as a copyright activist. If I care this much, I should do more.
owlmoose: A bright blue butterfly (butterfly)
I am off to a librarian conference tomorrow! Leaving ridiculously early in the morning. First a few days in New York to visit M, and then I'll be in Philly for the conference through Saturday. I'll probably be mostly offline for the New York portion of the trip, and only in the evenings during the conference. So if it seems like I'm not around... it's because I'm not. ;)

I do wonder why library organizations keep scheduling these conferences for early spring in locales that have winter. C'mon, folks, how about Hawaii? Or Florida? Or the Bahamas? I've never been to the Bahamas...

And now, we pack.
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
So, how about this kerfuffle over the Bitch Magazine recommended reading list of YA literature? It's been all over the Internet for a couple of days now, and it probably deserves a more thoughtful post than I have time to write tonight. But this story hits me in so many places that I live: as a reader, as a writer, as a feminist, as a free speech advocate, as a librarian, as a long-time reader of and some-time subscriber to Bitch. In the end, I couldn't just let it go by.

The background: over on its blog, the magazine's librarian posts a list of "100 young adult novels that every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table." As such lists always do -- as, in fact, I would argue they are meant to do -- it raised questions of what's on the list and what's off and why, and there was lively debate in the comments. So lively that the magazine actually decided to take three books off the list.

Cue the author outrage. For a number of reasons, but I think the big one was this, as articulated by Maureen Johnson in comments:

But I have been incredibly disheartened to see your process for removing books. It mirrors EXACTLY the process by which book banners remove books from schools and libraries--namely, one person makes a comment, no one actually checks, book gets yanked.

The parallel isn't exact, because the editors stated that they did read, or re-read, the books before deciding to remove them. But the comparison is still a fair one, particularly in the appearance of a single critic having the power to get a book off the shelf, or in this case a recommended reading list.

As I put my librarian hat on, I have to wonder if they really thought through the purpose of the list, or about what the selection criteria ought to be. Any librarian will tell you that, before you start collecting materials, you have to have a selection policy: a set of guidelines that you use to decide which books belong in your library. These policies exist for two reasons. First, they help you choose the books to buy. Equally important, they give you a baseline to help you respond to challenges when they arise. Then, when someone comes to you with a concern ("This book is too violent! This book is triggering! This book is not feminist enough!"), you're prepared with a defense, even if you ultimately decide that picking the book was a mistake. The quick capitulation (especially since the stated reason for removing the books was concern about triggers, which could easily have been rectified by adding warnings to the list) is what leads me to to believe that there probably was no formal selection criteria.

Some folks have criticized the original author of the list for posting it without having read all the listed books. I'm less sympathetic to this argument. No librarian has read every single book in their library, or even on the "recommended titles" display; it's simply not possible. To a certain extent, we have to rely on the judgement of others: reviews, back-of-the-book synopses, word of mouth. Yes, I have even been known to judge a book by its cover. But all this just strengthens the argument for selection criteria. When you can't answer a challenge with "I read the book, and therefore I can say it is appropriate for these reasons", you need to have something more specific, more detailed than "my friend read it and said it was good." Which is how the initial defenses for having added the books to the list in the first place read to me.

Librarians take risks in content choices every day. Sometimes, avoiding controversy is the best route to go for yourself, for your institution, or for the community you serve. But when the controversial path is chosen, I really think that we owe it to ourselves, to readers and to writers to stand by those choices, not to cave in to the first or the loudest complaint. We are the defenders of knowledge, and we are at our best when we act like it.
owlmoose: (quote - back to work)
Dear student workers and library patrons,

I know the finer points of the Library of Congress call number system can get fairly arcane. Not everyone can be an expert, and there are a lot of call numbers that look alike at a glance. But still, what makes you think that a book about soup belongs in the pattern making section, no matter how similar the call numbers are?

(And then they wonder why we ask them not to put the books back on the shelves...)

This rant brought to you by an afternoon spent in the stacks discovering lots of things that were not remotely where they actually belong.
owlmoose: (library - evelyn)
I am going to exert meme-writer's privilege again and switch around the order of topics, because the question originally slotted for today is one that will take time and research, and my schedule today is more suited to tapping out a post on my iPhone. (There's a post idea: the ways in which owning a smart phone has affected my life, for good and ill. Hmm.) So: [personal profile] justira asked me to talk about the things I love and do not love about being a librarian.

Getting this out of the way first: I love being a librarian. A colleague once told me that librarianship is not a job or even a career; it's a calling. And that stuck with me, because it really is like that, not just for me but for most librarians I know. I cannot, at this point in my life, imagine wanting to do anything else with my life. So take that as a given.

Top three awesome things about being a librarian )

Top three non-awesome things about being a librarian )

This question comes at a weird time for me, because that last point has recently manifested itself quite forcefully at my place of work: book budget cuts, centralization of some services, and just this week a reduction in staff. So right at this moment, I'm not feeling too positive about my job. But my confidence that I've found the right line of work (and there is a difference) is unshaken. I'm proud of what I am, and what I am is a librarian.

30 Days of... Project! Complete list of questions / Ask a question on LJ or on DW.


Apr. 25th, 2010 04:56 pm
owlmoose: (Default)

One more session to go, conference-wise. But before I forget, I want to note a talk I saw earlier, by a librarian-artist who considers blogging a integral componant of her artistic practice, and it struck me how much I feel the same way about my LiveJournaling and how it relates to my writing. Feedback, community, keeping notes on progress and process: it's all there. I don't have time to get in-depth on it now, but I'm throwing it out anyway, in part as a reminder to myself that I want to come back and say more.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

owlmoose: (Default)
New quarter + upcoming travel = one busy KJ.

It all kicked off this week, with a messy mix of switching around shifts, working short days and long days, meetings galore, cumulating in a full day of work today. I'm not sure why it's been so exhausting, but I'm really fried -- I could barely keep my eyes open at my desk. Tomorrow I get my one-day weekend, the centerpiece of which will likely be an afternoon of laundry.

Then I work three days, during which time I have a half-dozen projects to wrap up. Thursday morning I leave for Boston, where I'll spend the weekend attending a librarian conference. Monday I hook up with [livejournal.com profile] amybang, we spend a couple of days hanging out, and then it's back home on Wednesday, where I immediately head back to three days of work, including another full shift on a Saturday, two weeks from today.

So basically I lose three weekends in a row: two to working on Saturdays, and the one in the middle to the conference, which, while not exactly "work", isn't exactly "not work" either. I'm not complaining, exactly, but it'll be hectic. And if you wonder why I'm not around as much in the next little while, now you know why. I might have to steal myself another three-day weekend sometime next month.
owlmoose: (Default)

My work project for the last couple of days has been going through the magazine back files: putting them in order, rescuing mis-shelves, pulling really old issues that we need to get rid of to make more space. It's the kind of mindless busywork in the stacks that I like doing from time to time, both to share the load with the student workers, and because I find it oddly relaxing to put things in order like that -- creating order out of chaos. But this time, I'm finding it somewhat depressing, too, because I keep coming across magazines that have been shut down. Magazines start and fold all the time, and keeping track has always been part of the job, but it's been epidemic in recent months, and some really venerable titles, too: Gourmet and I.D. (a very cool design magazine) both come to mind. It seems like almost once a week, lately, that I head or a title shutting down or moving to online-only. Also, we had to cancel a bunch of titles for a lack of student readership lately, which is sad for different reasons. Although, it occurs to me, possibly related ones.

The death of publishing? Only time will tell.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

owlmoose: (Default)
Library linkspam! It's been awhile...

  • Hayward Public Library tries the Netflix model. For a small fee, patrons can check out three items for an unlimited amount of time. Libraries have tried the "items by mail" aspect of the Netflix service, but it appears that this is the first time one has implemented the "no time limits" model. The hope is that charging people a small amount upfront rather than levying fines will bring more people into the library. I don't think this would work at all in an academic setting, but it has possibilities for the public library. Keep an eye on this one.

  • Can video games get kids interested in history?

  • What is the library if it's not the place where we keep the books? Here we go again. Is there a role for the library in the paperless future, round #3,497. If we're a paperless society, why have I jumped up about half a dozen times while writing this post to help people with the printer and the copy machine?

  • Are digital diaries bad for our brains? The idea, I suppose, is that if we outsource our memory to the Internet and portable devices, we'll lose "muscle tone" in our brain. I disagree, though. The power of being a librarian isn't that I know everything. It's that I know how to look everything up.

  • Cheat on an exam, set yourself up for eternal damnation.

  • Last but definitely not least, one of my new favorite blogs: Awful Library Books. Two public librarians, showing the worst their stacks have to offer. Computer careers books from 1985? Etiquette guides for the modern teenager from 1947? Tips for CB radio and preparing for Y2K? It's all here, and more!

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