Thursday, April 26, 2012

Libraries are Obsolete: an Oxford-Style Debate

It's an entertaining video, albeit long: 1 and a half hours. 

Here's a summation/ TL:DR : Libraries are Obsolete
Proponents: Technology
Opponents: Digital Divide.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Biddies: Library's Good Ol' Boys

Not to be confused with Bitties.
Every long standing organization has an exclusive network of members, better known as Good Ol' Boys.  The Library is a woman’s world, there is no denying it and it will stay this way to the end when these myopic librarians run the field into the ground.  Within the few levels of the public library hierarchy, there, not-surprisingly, exists a network of these women who have banded together and only look out for “their kind.”  

I always knew how clique-y my library coworkers were when I first started out as a page.  You can see them huddled together, whispering about coworkers at the desk and in the backroom.  I never had the proper word for them until my friend mentioned one of her older coworkers refer to them as “the biddies.”  Brilliant.

In order to "be down" with The Biddies you have to look like them, whether in physical appearance or dress.  You have to act like them, think like them, manage like them, and talk just like them.  Something I don't find easy to do when I see them mismanaging left and right.  You have to play by their rules even if they don't make any sense at all.  It's their way or the highway. 

Within the library system, there is not much room for any employee movement, vertical or horizontal.  If it isn't bad enough that one can't work their way into a management position, you could be stuck at one of these mismanaged branches with no choices but to suck it up and stay or leave the system in the hopes for greener pastures.  Nowadays, when a position opens up, there are a lot more applicants than ever before.  That is if your resume even gets any consideration in the first place.  Even when positions are only open to current library staff, you can still get screwed over by the biddies.  As the saying goes, it’s not about what you know, but who you know.

The Biddy Network has done nothing but erode staff moral throughout all the branches.  Two employees apply for the same promotion, both currently work the same position and have similar education and experience, but only one is forwarded to interview because the other is deemed, "unqualified."  An employee jumps from being a page to a circ manager when other better qualified circ people applied as well.  If this only occurred once or twice, I would chalk it up to a poor pool of candidates, but this happens every single damn time a position opens up, no matter what level it is.  I could go on and on with examples I've collected during my time at the library.

Even when your name gets forwarded for a position and you set up your interview you can't help but feel it's a waste of time.  Management already knows who they want for the position, but because of requirements/laws, they have to hold interviews all under the pretenses of "fairness."  Sitting at the end of the table as an interviewee it feels very patronizing.  I feel like cutting through all the BS and saying, "Let's keep it real, you already have someone in mind for this position and it isn't me.  So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time."  Sure, I could turn down the interview to begin with, but that would just give the biddies further reason to blacklist me from the beginning of the hiring process: "Bibliotecher - doesn't show any motivation."  I falsely tell coworkers who ask how the interview went that, "it was good for experience."

You don't have to be someone who doesn't follow rules or is a complete pain to work with in order to be blacklisted by the biddies.  One of my old coworkers would repeated get turned down for positions, while those around her would move up.  She's smart and a hard-worker, something that never gets any recognition.  She just isn't a carbon copy of what the biddies look for.  They are very judgmental and narrow-minded; you could describe them as xenophobic.

The way the biddies run everything it can be considered organizational inbreeding.  Hiring and promoting more "yes-people" to appease their group ego or whatever their delusional motive is.  Because libraries have been run like this for so long, they are constantly fighting for relevance, for the institution as a whole and the profession.  If libraries actually let in and promoted capable people who "think differently" they would realize how complementary it would be to their mission.

Diversity breeds stability...

Friday, April 20, 2012

TGIF - 420

Feel like celebrating but want to keep your lungs clean and liver happy?  There's a book for that.

I don't smoke, so my friends and I are planning to get drunk and watching season 2 of BBC's Sherlock Holmes.  I'm sure we would have ended up doing this regardless of the date.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bet your OPAC can't do this...

Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thank goodness the ALA president has no real power or authority...

Flawless Logic

In between the lulls from answering questions at the Info desk ("Where are the bathrooms?"), I spend a lot of time browsing the interwebz.  I try to keep it library related lest Johnny Taxpayer see me browsing electronic websites and complain about their tax dollars being wasted.  There really aren't a lot of interesting library related websites out there, at least not enough to quench my ennui, so I read even the "boring" stuff.  That is how I came across the Library Journal interview with the ALA presidential candidates.

What disturbed me the most was Gina Millsap's response to the question regarding paralibrarians damaging the elite and pristine status of the Almighty MLIS of which was blessed to be accredited by the infallible ALA.  Okay, so that's not completely verbatim but I could read the underlying tone the question was trying to evoke.

She says, "There are more MLIS graduates than there are entry-level positions, but we’re having trouble finding managers and library administrators who are really qualified." 

Okay, first thought, why is there such a dearth of qualified librarians if the supply is so high?  Would it be because current managers did not do a good job, or any for that matter, of training and nurturing their potential successors?

She ends her answer with:  "I think we are going to have MLS librarians moving right into management from their studies, especially as we boomers retire.
How do you prepare a librarian to be a manager if that is their first job? 
There are library schools working on this, but part of it can only come from experience, or from a practicum. 
LIS programs will have to provide more opportunities for MLIS students to work with administrators and managers."

WTF lady!?!?  Thanks for giving the middle finger to every librarian out there who "is stuck" at a Librarian I position or the countless other underemployed and unemployed MLIS holders.  Do you know what this is?  This is a clear symptom of Library Management Syndrome.  It is a sign of the complete and utter lack of touch management has with branch employees. 

If  my current supervisor was replaced with someone right out of library school I would go ape-ish.  Forget Going Postal, I'm "Going Biblio": I'm kicking over book carts, jamming all the public printers and copiers, I'm going to circulate the Reference collection, hell, I'm going to tear down every single one of those damn Kitten Calenders in the backroom!  

You have to be crazy to think that just because someone with no library work experience, who just "earned" an MLIS, must mean that they can go from the classroom to the Info Desk successfully, let alone one with a II or III at the end of their title.  You are just the visionary role-model the world's biggest library association needs!  If this position had any real authority what-so-ever, you would see me on the next episode of "Doomsday Preppers."

Yet another example of how current and past librarians are screwing over the profession and field in general.  YOU LIBRARIANS WILL BE THE REASON FOR LIBRARY EXTINCTION!  My friend is going through this right now.  She has been in the library system as a Librarian I for about 5 years now, she's put in her time and hard work.  She's joined numerous committees (not like there's any shortage of them to join but still), she has taken the training and shown the initiative to lead.  And it has all been for naught, she is now looking out of the system, out of the region for a chance to climb the library managerial ranks.  She isn't the power thirsty/power trip type either.  Do libraries not care about succession plans for employees and managers?  It will be the library's loss when she leaves and they'll end up hiring Jane Greenhorn as a branch manager.  You know they don't teach you how to handle "special patrons" in library school.

How about this, now this is just me spit-balling here, brainstorming, you know, using my BRAIN/COMMON SENSE, how about instead of having LIS schools attempting (wasting time) to train students for these managerial positions, the library, you know, take a serious look at the current supply of able-bodied MLIS holders who already have library experience.  Crazy sounding, I know, some might even call it revolutionary, put a pin in that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Librarian vs. Librarian

So it looks like my friend and I will be going head to head again for a job.  I told her that if she gets the job, I will hate her and we won't be hanging out getting drunk together for awhile, I'm pretty sure the feeling's mutual.

Last time we interviewed for the same position, there were 3 open spots and we both got it.  Unfortunately there is only 1 position open, time to Hunger Games it out!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My response to the patron who said The Hunger Games was "The Best Book They've Ever Read"...

Yesterday a patron returned a copy of The Hunger Games at the check out desk.  When my coworker was checking the book in the patron remarked how "it was the best book she ever read."  The instant I heard this my face looked exactly like Fry's. 

"Are you kidding me!?!?

I wouldn't have reacted that harshly if the patron was a tween or teen who has not read much, but this was a middle-aged patron.  Unless you're Suzanne Collin's agent, we need to have a one-on-one Reader's Advisory session.  There are tons of other books on the library's shelves that are better written and tell a better story. 

Yeah, yeah, "to each their own," but it utterly depresses me to think that sometime in the distant future, because of the power of hype and the hive-mind, Twilight and The Hunger Games could potentially be considered the "greatest works of fiction" or "classics" of our time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beware the Ides of March.

Last month my supervisor told me that she would be leaving the Library at the end of April. She had mentioned about wanting to leave before, but I never expected her departure to be this soon.  Honestly, I was hoping to have found a full time librarian job before she left.

There are 5 people who are interested in her position and through my meager inter-branch networking, I have 2 names.  I just hope that whomever replaces her is just as great a supervisor as she is.  She is the best supervisor I have had while in the library system.  She's young, she's into technology, she has excellent people skills, she's very intelligent and has a high emotional intelligence.  The Library is doing a horrible job of preparing/nurturing/encouraging current employees for succession into management positions. 

Libraries are HORRIBLE when it comes to planning for the future.  If public libraries ever go the way of the dinosaur, the giant asteroid would be the librarians at the helm.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


1311, the number of current holds for The Hunger Games.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Oblivious Patron says Library Fines Should be Tax Deductible...

A few years ago, while working the circ desk around this season, a patron came in to pay their late fees.  It was in the double digits but nothing too serious.  After she huffed, puffed, and paid, she rhetorically told me and my friend, who was working the desk with me, "Why aren't library fines tax deductible?  They should be." 

Even though it was a slow night, I really fought hard to not feed the troll, and just told her, "That's the way it is."  Apparently, this left her unsatisfied so she turned to my coworker/friend and asked again, "Why not?"  My friend, who had taken some MLIS courses at this time, gave her the textbook response of, "Well, we are not tax experts so we cannot answer that question."  The patron replied, "Well, I am a tax expert and I think they should be."

Well, la-dee-da Miss Fancy Pants CPA over here.  Not sure where she got her credentials from, but I'm pretty sure anyone who has gone through any sort of training or received any level of education would grasp the basic fundamentals of penalties/fees/fines and why they are in place.

I would not be surprised if this patron has asked this same sort of question to the police officer who ticketed her for speeding in a school zone.