Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Librarian Passive Aggressiveness Threat Level 1: Signage.

Don't make me use size 72 font!

This new school year has brought in a new bunch of regular patrons: newly licensed teens.  They come in around 4 or 5 and end up staying til we close at 9.  They study for the most part, socialize for the rest.  I mean, why wouldn't they?  The library has free wi-fi, plenty of seating, and it is a safe place to hang out.

There are only minor issues when it comes to them, they can get a little too loud, but they will quiet down if you talk to them.  They also sneak in food.  All you have to do is tell the teens to eat it outside and they will.  I find it funny how upset/freaked out some of my older coworkers get, I think they've become coddled by working at this branch for so long.  They've made such a big deal out of it in staff meetings and emails. 

These signs are the latest product of such staff discussions.  I say, if these are the worst offenses these teens commit: sneaking in french fries, then I welcome it.  At least they aren't procreating in the stacks, dealing drugs in the bathroom, graffiti-ing the walls, fighting in the study room... etc.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Good Guy Library Patron and their Donations.

Every weekend I work, I find myself inundated with donations dropped off during the day.  It seems that my branch's local community treats every weekend like "Spring Cleaning" season.  Some patrons don't even bother parking properly, they just pull up to the front of the library, ignoring the yellow curb and numerous signs saying not to "Park or Stand."  They block part of the sidewalk and entrance road while they bring in their boxes and bags of donations.

Bad Patron, Bad..

Some don't even bother bringing them in to the library, they just drop them off in front of the branch and leave.  I guess it is our fault because our sign only says not to drop off donations IN the book drop, it says nothing about dropping stuff off OUTSIDE of the book drop...

I was surprised when a patron came in with a stack of National Geographic books and first asked me if the library would have any use for them.  I checked the ILS and told him that we could actually add them to the branch's collection.  He seemed very grateful that they would serve a purpose and then asked if the library would want or need his 15 year collection of National Geographic Magazines.  I know how sentimental some people can be with their collections, so I tried to put it nicely that the library didn't need it.  He replied, "Do you know who would want them then?  I've asked local schools, Goodwill, other libraries."  I didn't want to be that guy who had to break it to him that his meticulous collecting was all for naught, I could only tell him, "Hmmm, yeah, I'm not sure who would want them then."

But seriously though, some donations are pure crap, either completely outdated items.  Or literal crap, people treat book slots like their personal garbage bin.  Sometimes you will find gold, a newly released book with hundreds of holds in mint condition.  We'll take what we can get with these nonstop budget cuts, the collections budget has really taken a hit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You know it's been a long, busy day at the Library when...

You know it's been a long, busy day at the Library when a patron comes up to the info desk asking for a specific book. I found it listed as being on the 'Shelves' in the ILS, so I walk the patron back to the stacks.  As soon as I get halfway through stacks, I stop and turn to the patron and say, "I'm sorry, what were you looking for again?" (=_=)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Old Librarians vs. New Librarians, What about the Middle?

I only thought that a few select readers visited my blog, because quite frankly, this blog is generally all over the place.  My personal thoughts and views mostly come off as negative and snarky, and the majority of librarians/library workers disagree, sometimes vehemently, with me.  So it was a nice surprise to see a reply from Miss Gina Milsap about a post I made about her comments when she was running for ALA Presidency this past year.  I really do believe there needs to be more open discussion and debate within the profession if it is to make any progress in the digital world.

I wanted to make my reply a post instead of a comment to bring this to "The Front-page" so to speak.  Seeing as how comments on this blog are open to the public, I'm going to repost the comment here [edited to insert line breaks]:

"Sorry to be so late to the party. I just found your post. With respect, you've misinterpreted what I meant. That's the problem with not having a real conversation and not seeking clarification. In my library, we've created a cohort of librarian leaders. None of them are in formal leadership at this time, but we are investing in them with training and assignments to be leaders and to demonstrate the value of librarians within the institution and in the community. I had wonderful mentors as a new librarian and I'm paying that forward with less colleaguesin my own library and around the country.

 Here's what I meant with my statement about new graduates moving into management. Look at the data --- we are graduating more entry level librarians than there are positions available. So, what does a new graduate do? He or she either seeks a job out of the profession or seeks a position for which they may not have all the qualifications, specifically experience. My point was that we need to look to library education to help prepare newly graduated librarians for the reality of the workplace they're coming into. If the only job available is supervisory, how do we help them improve their chance to stay in the profession?

That is what I'm seeing as a library administrator with 35 years of experience in the profession and 16 years as a public library director. Not all librarians will make good managers, regardless of their tenure in the profession. The goal should be to identify those folks whether they're already in libraries or in library school and make sure they're prepared to lead and manage effectively. Thanks for the opportunity to comment."

First off, thank you for the reply!  Better late then never and thanks for the dialog.

Okay, I wish I had more library mentors.  I have latched on to my supervisors and more experienced librarians and I constantly pester them with questions and bug them for their opinions about the library and the profession as a whole.  I love that they all have completely different backgrounds; ie, not an English or History major, worked outside of the public library realm, etc.  

I still have to disagree with the idea of hiring newly minted MLIS grads with library management positions, and this is coming from a recent MLIS grad (Dec 2011)!  Even if there were drastic changes made to MLIS curriculums, which I doubt would ever happen, it would be foolish to do this.  I know this isn't a direct comparison, but you don't see recent MBA grads stepping into CEO positions.  Book smarts =/= Branch smarts.  I never believed that a MLIS grad could go from the classroom straight to the info desk successfully and efficiently.

Personally, I believe there are many issues with the current state of MLIS schools; letting everyone in and graduating everyone.  There are A LOT of MLIS students who have no experience working in library, I am not saying that they don't belong in MLIS school.  It is just that they have no idea how the library day-to-day goes.  Okay, so we both agree that there is a deluge of MLIS holders and a drought of entry-level jobs.  Even if there are only supervisory positions open, what about those who aren't technically "old librarians" nor "new librarians."  There is black and white, but there's also a lot of gray in between.  It's not like MLIS schools haven't been continually pumping out MLIS's.  There has always been a steady stream of graduating librarians every year.  There are a lot of librarians with between 5 and 10 years of solid working experience in the library.  I am sure that some of them would be excellent for these supervisory positions.  It would be a huge disservice to this select group of qualified librarians to not promote them.  Especially after all the crap they've gone through with the recent and on-going budget cuts, changing hours and procedures, trudging through this "new normal" and "doing more with less."  I was with the library before it all hit, I have seen staff morale take a nose-dive.  How much more damage will be done when you bring in a new graduate to supervise older, more experienced librarians?  Or does library management not even care about its greatest asset --- the employees, not the branches or collection.

I have also seen several of these "middle librarians," for a lack of a better term, jump ship to other places because library management is doing nothing to retain and nurture them for their positions.  I am extremely worried that libraries do not seem to have a solid succession plan in place for when this "greying" takes place, nor do they care to seriously consider it.  They seem to be more obsessed with the right now and not about the near future.
Now, I'm not saying that just because someone has worked in the library for x amount of years that they should automatically become a manager.  I'm saying that the odds of finding library management material already within the library ranks is astronomically higher than someone sitting in the classroom right now or in the future.  I also believe that current library management is to blame for the lack of entry-level librarian jobs because they are the ones who have begun hiring paraprofessionals instead of librarians.  Is this the future plan for libraries now?  MLIS holders for management only positions and paraprofessionals for the info desk.  But that is another blog post for me to rant in.

I admit that I'm only a lowly info desk worker who doesn't know what upper management does during the day.  But I see first-hand how their decisions affect the bottom-line.  Again, I really am grateful that you responded, it is nice to hear from upper management, I doubt that my library director would have been so open to discussion. Thanks again Miss Gina!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back To School: Summer Slacker Edition.

This is the epitome of the "Back to School" season.  I hated this commercial when I was younger because it was a reminder of what was in store: early mornings, trudging heavy backpacks home, HOMEWORK.  But now, this is my all time favorite commercial, "Back to school suckers!"

My favorite library reminder for Back to School, is the last minute rush of student slackers.  Some will walk up reluctantly to the info desk with their summer reading list, they might need prodding from their parents, who  give them a shove towards me saying, "You go ask the gentleman."  I can't help but smile because that was me, I can't even lie and say I never slacked from school-work during the summer when I was their age.  I have nothing but sympathy for the parents who come rushing in right after work asking for a book for their child's project that is due in a few days.  Sorry Mom & Dad, that was me...

As I start from the top of the list and run my way through looking at the catalog: "All checked out, all checked out, all checked out... Do you want to place a hold?"  Young student slacker: "Uhm, no, that's okay, what do you have here now that I can check out."  When I do happen to find a book on the shelf, the next inevitable question from them is, "Is it long?"  Me: "It's 256 pages."  Young student slacker: ::gasp:: ... "Do you have anything that's less than 100 pages?"

I also love the students who come in with their volunteer sheet in the hopes that they could volunteer right then and there for 5 hours or so.  Most libraries I have worked at, have a minimum amount of hours, mostly because of the training involved.  Yeah, it really doesn't take much to train someone to shelve picture books properly, but the library is so short-staffed that we actually cannot spare someone to keep an eye on these young ones.  Fortunately, our childrens librarian came up with a book report form that students can complete for some hours.  We are the only library in the system that offers this and you'd be surprised how quickly word spreads from student to student, and school to school.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Best Google Nexus 7 Case Isn't Actually a Google Nexus 7 Case...

Yeah, went all philosophical on your asses with the title but it is true, the one and only case I would only recommend for Nexus 7 tablets is actually a case I used with one of my past tablets.

Poetic Nexus 7 Case

The first style case design is by Poetic.  It holds the tablet by sliding it in and securing it shut with the flap and velcro.  This makes it too bulky for my personal taste.  I also don't like the bezel being covered in this ugly pleather.  It also isn't very snug so the edges rise up a little, hopefully later variations of this case have fixed that issue.

Another reason I bought this case was it's rotating feature.  Landscape mode is great and all, but sometimes you need to put it in portrait mode to crush your friends in 'Words with Friends.'
 The way the case rests when in portrait mode isn't the most stable, you have to make sure you don't press on the tablet too hard or it will dislodge from the cases ridges and your tablet will do a trust-fall on your desk.  

This particular case doesn't have the auto sleep/awake feature, which isn't a deal breaker for me.  It also has holes for the speakers.  Unfortunately, the one main feature I was looking for, rotating view, is also one of it's biggest downfalls.  The case uses a thick metal swivel for the rotation feature and it bulges out.  It swivels very easily too, if you have the case wide open, laying flat on a table, you can spin the tablet like a spinner, like a Twister selector.  This kind of sucks when you're laying down in bed reading, and you loosen your grip for one instant and the tablet swings into your face

Clamp Style Case
Here's a real first-world dilemma, if I want a rotating Nexus case, I have to use a quite fugly, bulky looking case.  The other option is to forgo the rotating feature in place of a clamp style case.  It has a sturdy hand strap, but a really thin strap to secure the case when it is closed.
The clamps do a good job of keeping the case secure, but in order to use the tablet in landscape mode, you have to disengage the bottom two clamps.  I can't see these two clamps maintaining their grip when you're constantly moving the tablet in and out of these two clamps.
The case is thin and clean looking.  It has holes for the speakers and the auto awake/sleep mode. 

Rotating HTC Flyer/View 4G Case

Thankfully, I had an extra rotating case from one of my last tablets, the HTC View (Flyer).  The HTC View is actually thicker than the Nexus 7, but otherwise it has the same dimensions. 

The tablet fits snugly and is very secure. Quite frankly, it looks much cleaner than the previous clamp style.

It doesn't wobble when you use your tablet in portrait or landscape mode.
The case has a perfect cut out for the micro-USB slot, even the slot for the Nexus 7 power button and volume rocker is in the same spot as the HTC View's volume buttons.  Unfortunately, you do have to cut the case to get better access to the Nexus' volume button and I did not have much finesse when I did this, but it works and the case isn't falling apart.  There aren't any holes in the case for the Nexus' speaker, and I didn't want to ruin the structural integrity of the case by doing so.  You can still hear the speaker pretty well and it's not like you're using this tablet because it has a "rocking sound system," so this isn't really a big deal.

The swivel motion is fluid but there is enough friction in the movement, that the tablet won't swing on its on. Sorry if the pictures and text show up all wonky, multiple picture and Blogger don't get along. So in the end, the best case for the Google Nexus 7 tablet is actually a case made for the HTC View/Flyer. With a little modification for the volume buttons, this case delivers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day to all the Library Workers out there...

Happy Labor Day to all the underpaid, under-appreciated, hard-working library workers out there.

To every library worker out there who has to deal with this BS of the "new-normal" of "doing more with less."

You are not alone in your struggle.  We are all in this together, so let's raise a full glass of top-shelf alcohol and enjoy this day off, you damn well deserve it!