Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank you for your donation of "Erotic Art of India"...

Well, that escalated pretty quickly --- they get busy on the cover, spoiler alert.

Some kind patron donated this book this week.  Unfortunately, I do not think we will be adding to our collection nor will we be placing it in our book sale.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Damn English, Why You So Quirky?

I have had my second successful Literacy Council tutoring.  I almost half expected my student to walk out calling me a horrible teacher.

During our first tutoring session, I was extremely nervous because I felt like I had no idea what to do.  Sure they supplied me with a book, but I was not sure how well the book would fit in with my tutee's literacy level.  So I was completely open and honest about my confidence in teaching at the beginning of the first session and I told them, "This is my first time teaching anything, so I am not exactly sure on how to go about this, but I promise that I will try my best to help you reach your literacy goals."  Despite what my online persona might come across as, I really do want to and like helping people.

The Literacy Council held training sessions for new tutors, but there was a lot to cover and only so much time.  Teaching someone to read and write at any level or age is not an easy task; it also takes a lot for these adults to take on the role of student and face this challenge head on.  It is not like these adults have low intelligence, the Literacy Council trainers mentioned this over and over.  The majority of students are non-native English speakers, and a lot have received formal, higher education back in their home countries.  I can understand why people say that English is the hardest language to learn.  During our readings, my tutee asks specific questions about who and why certain phrases make sense: "for a stretch," "wind down," etc.  It is really hard to explain how or why they make sense, I've taken their understandings for granted having grown up with them.  My already profound amount of respect and gratitude for all of the teachers I have had in my life has grown exponentially these past two tutoring sessions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Good News: Library Job Growth Exploding!" ... et tu Library of Congress?

According to this blog post on the Library of Congress website, library job growth is exploding.  Exploding?  Really?  I'm not quite sure the blog author is using the right term.

This is an example of something exploding:
This would mean the contents were expanding so quickly and/or vastly, that this poor lemon could not contain it.

I personally would describe the "growth" of library jobs as imploding:
The internal structure was weakened to the point where the whole structure and everything attached to it crumbles unto itself.

The reasoning behind that blog post is that there are other jobs titles that share the same characteristics as librarian positions.  Using this thought process, librarians would make great "Computer and Information Systems Managers."  Let's see what tools and technology are related according to the same source that links the top 4 tasks between the professions.

Tools used in this occupation:
Bar code reader equipment — Barcode scanners
Film projectors
Microfiche or microfilm viewers — Microfiche readers; Microfilm readers
Photocopiers — Photocopying equipment
CIS Managers:
Tools used in this occupation:
Computer servers — File servers; Mid-range computers; Netware servers; Web servers
Facsimile machines — Fax Machines
Floppy drives
High end computer servers — Workstations
Network analyzers

Technology used in this occupation:
Data base user interface and query software — Ex Libris Group Aleph; Microsoft Access; Saora Keepoint; Thomson Scientific Dialog
Information retrieval or search software — Classification Web; LexisNexis software; Westlaw
Library software — Online Computer Library Center OCLC; RCL Software Media Library Manager; Surpass software; WorldCat *
Web page creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver; Really Simple Syndication RSS; Wiki software; Yahoo Flickr
Web platform development software — Cascading Style Sheets CSS; Extensible HyperText Markup Language XHTML; Hypertext markup language HTML; PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor *

CIS Managers:
Technology used in this occupation:
Customer relationship management CRM software — ACT! software; Microsoft Dynamics CRM; Oracle Siebel Server Sync; Performance Solutions Technology ManagePro
Development environment software — C; K2 Business Process Automation; Microsoft Visual Basic; Progress OpenEdge ABL
Enterprise resource planning ERP software — Infor ERP Baan; Microsoft Dynamics AX; Microsoft Dynamics NAV; Oracle E-Business Suite
Object or component oriented development software — Borland Paradox; C++; Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services SSRS; Practical extraction and reporting language Perl
Web platform development software — Hypertext markup language HTML; JavaScript; Progress WebSpeed Workshop; Ruby on Rails

O*Net Sources: Librarians, CIS Managers.

The blog author mentions that that they personally know more librarians who match the CIS Manager description more so than the Librarian one.  You don't say, you work at the LOC.  You're not going to see the regular, run of the mill librarians.  Let's face it, the public library sector employs more librarians than any other flavor of libraries.  Also, a lot of my core MLIS courses were also public-library centric as well. 

Oh, and yes, even though the position description may seem "parochial" and outdated, but librarians still use "cash registers, microfilm readers, photocopiers and public address systems and technologies such as email, spreadsheets and desktop publishing software."  I'll say it again, "Librarianship" is so damn broad that you cannot try to define it efficiently and succinctly without alienating one facet or the other.  I would also question the currency of the CIS position, "floppy disks"?  Are you serious?

On a related note, I think it is a double edge sword when librarians try to sidle their way into core IT positions.  There is just no way librarians can compete with academically disciplined computer science grads.  Library schools that offer these so-called "tech classes" are a joke.  I took some of these classes and what they taught was basic 101 undergrad material.  Leave the IT/Comp Sci stuff to those graduates.

With that kind of article title and overstatement of facts, I would expect this sort of erroneous and out of touch library propaganda to come from the likes of ALA but not the LOC --- for shame.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Public Library, the Public's Personal Whipping Boy

Yeah, I get it, the public pays our wages, unfortunately that gives the public a sense of overreaching entitlement when they come to the library.  After awhile your skin gets thicker and you don't take it personally.  I have also witnessed these type of interactions take place at the Post Office and I'm sure the DMV employees go through this as well.

They don't teach you this in library school.  My problem is, is that when I find myself being berated by a patron over something trivial and/or something completely out of my hands my natural reaction is to laugh, so I try not to make the situation worse and I try to suppress it but it just turns into a ish-eating grin.  I can't help but laugh at the fact that someone has gotten so angry at something I am not to blame for.

Most recently, it was a busy Saturday at the info desk and there was a steady line of patrons and I was efficiently helping each one.  A couple comes up inquiring about absentee voting, I give her a handout with the in-person option and her husband asks about the mail in.  I refer him to the lobby where our handouts reside, he thanks me and goes his way.  A minute or so later he comes back to the desk all red-faced and angry, he shakes a piece of paper and says, "This is an application for the absentee ballot NOT the ballot itself."  I was currently helping a little boy find some sports books and he continued to lecture me that I should learn the difference and explain it because "someone might take you at your word and think its the ballot."  Oh really?  First of all, congratulations on your reading comprehension, second, are you familiar with the electoral process?  The young boy I was helping looked like he was the one getting lectured, and I tried my best not to laugh.  Looking back, I should have told him that I was currently in the middle of helping a patron but he was more than welcome to wait to lecture me.  Damn you hindsight!  When I told my supervisor, his first reaction was, "Did he really think that absentee ballots are just laying around?" 

Speaking of absentee voting, I was at the desk with our new info desk volunteer when a lady came up to the desk and asked when absentee voting started.  Now we've been keeping a tally of voting questions we get at the desk, on average there's at least 40 questions a day probably more if we remembered to mark it down each and every time.  So it is knee-jerk reaction to say, "It starts at 2 pm."  She obviously didn't like this answer because she bristled and replied, "Your website says 8 am."  Yes, MY website.  I asked her if it was the library website that said that, because if it did I would have to get that fixed, she just said, "I don't remember, I had my husband check this morning."  She even said that there was a sign outside that mentioned 8am.  I told her that it was probably for a different location, so she goes back out to prove me wrong.  She comes back and makes no mention of said-sign.  There wasn't really anything else to say, so I just said, "Well, I'm not sure what site said that, but it starts at 2."  She of course tells me that she is a very busy person and that she couldn't come back in an hour.  Lady, I really don't know what you want me to do.  Before she stalks away, she tells me that she'll "print the website and prove me wrong."  The info volunteer had a look in her eye like, do I really want to do this?  I'm still waiting for her to come back with that print-out.

I had another patron who threw a full on grown-up hissy fit when our public printer wouldn't take more than $5.  When he tried to put in $1 over the limit, the machine just started spitting out coins.  He threw his other dollar on the table and complained, "What the hell!?  Why won't it just take the money and print my papers!??"  Our children's librarian was talking to me at the desk and she is completely allergic to any sort of confrontation so she just froze.  I ended up showing the patron the sign that showed the $5 at a time maximum and ended up doing it for him.

I had an elderly patron who walked straight up to the desk and said that she needed "help on the internet."  I have learned to decipher this phrase as meaning, "I am completely computer illiterate."  So I called for back up to cover the info desk for me and I walked her over to the public computers.  I usually have the patron sit down and I sit next to them, she told me that she doesn't know how to "do it," and told me to.  So I logged in for her and asked her what she needed to do.  "I need to get a travel visa to Brazil."....  okay, what have you done so far?  - Nothing.  Do you know what you need? - No.  So basically she as well as I learned all about the requirements to obtain a travel visa to Brazil.  Apparently, she's going on a group tour to South America and no one wanted to help her, and I figured out why.  She kept huffing and puffing after each and every question on the visa questionnaire.  "Why do I have to give them that?"  "Why do they need my parents' names?"  "I just want to travel there, why is this so difficult?"  Oh geez, no wonder your travel agent is suddenly, "unavailable" each time you called and the person at the Brazilian embassy kept telling you to do it online.  This person has gone through 70+ years of their life and still has not learned that you attract more flies with honey.  I seriously feel bad for her travel group, she's going to be the sour-puss that will try to ruin their vacation.

This was a long post, but then again this is my therapy.  Are the elections over with yet!??  If you're going to bitch and blame me for the rising gas prices, I can't promise I won't laugh in your face but I'll try.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My first comic, presenting 'The Library'

Since no one has read this blog in its entirety, its okay -- I couldn't finish 50 Shades of Grey, let me say that I go through these creative phases.  From using discarded library books as a medium to clay sculpting (as minor as it was), I get into these moods and I can't shake them until I actually go through the process.

Late one night a few weeks ago, I'm just about to go to sleep when I say, "Hey, I want to do a comic strip about the library."  Yeah, I know there's already one and it's pretty damn funny: Unshelved.  But who is to say that the current state of library-related comics is already saturated that and I'll do as I damn please thank you very much.   I mean, what's Coke without Pepsi, what's McDonald's without Burger King, what's OverDrive without... exactly!  Now may I present to you the first, of who knows how many, "The Library" comic strip.

Please excuse any grievous formatting issues, this is a first for me.

Yes, we did have someone call in to see if they could bring their cat with them to vote.  My supervisor didn't even hazard any form of response.  I guess he wasn't up for getting into an inane argument with a stranger so he just gave them the number to the elections board.  Mr. Huffle-Puff deserves to have his voice heard!  I mean, how else is our caller supposed to make the right decision on the ballot if their cat isn't there to lend a paw.