Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Many Librarians Could Do This?

Originally posted to the SELCO Librarian Blog
I find the premise of this article, from a librarian that decided to forgo purchasing books for an entire year, fascinating. One of the things that surprised me most about entering the library profession was the number of librarians that needed to "collect" books even though they were in charge of collections and surrounded by books all day. One of my favorite parts of the library goes beyond the fact I can get the material of my choice easily-- it's that I can also RETURN it. I get the pleasure of reading or watching the material, but there is also a limited time it will remain in my house before its on its way to someone else. The return concept has especially been reinforced now that I'm a parent of a two-year old. Nothing makes me happier than returning a Barbie movie to the library with the hopes that I will never have to see it again. The same thing holds true with books. As much as I love Max and Ruby, I was thrilled to move from Bunny Cakes to Bunny Money with a simple trip to the library. As a result of my desire to have an "end date" on my materials, I find the idea that anyone would look at Amazon before a library catalog utterly intriguing. I know I'm in the minority, but it was interesting to get a glimpse into the other side. If you are a collector and a librarian, this might be an interesting challenge. As the writer points out, being a regular library user does give you insight on the experience our patrons receive.

I didn't put this on the blog of the company I work for, but I will here on my personal blog: if you as a librarian don't regularly borrow from a library, why do you expect your patrons to?

Sunday, July 06, 2008


So maybe it's the fact that my walk tonight was just me and Turbo. And poor Turbo wasn't going fast-- the humidity gets to him.

For whatever reason, I started to think about push to merchandise libraries like bookstores phenomenon. I've had this nagging doubt in the back of my head ever since I was first acquainted with the idea. Tonight it stopped being wisps of thoughts swirling around my head and turned more concrete.

My problem is that it thinks of libraries purely as a business, with our capitol being purely circulation. While it IS true that many cities and counties use circulation data in their funding decisions for libraries, it is not as simple as 1 circ = x dollars. The circulation data is primarily used to give an overall picture of use.

At PLA, I heard Cathy De Rosa give a talk about an OCLC study on library referenda and how the patrons that are most likely to vote to fund libraries are not the primary users, but the users that have had a library experience that really changed their life. Circulation really isn't a good measure of that kind of experience.

I'm not knocking the value of having a welcoming, comfortable space-- I see the need for that, too. But I don't think that extra book someone is grabbing off a display on their way to checkout is what is going to make or break libraries. Changing people's lives will. That is not the corporate goal of Barnes and Noble or Borders-- number of units moved is. Can we now stop pretending like they are our competition?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Found with a Google Alert

I love this article about undergrads in the British Library Reading room on so many levels.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thing 23

I loved this project-- I thought it was a great idea.

That said, I'm so relieved I'm done. Now I can go back and work on commenting on some other blogs. Monitoring the blogs while trying to complete the 23 things was a bit overwhelming for me.

I wish we could find a way for this community to stick around longer, and I hope it does. I really liked having the blogs of members to read and learn about who they were, how they learned, and what they were like when they weren't around a table discussing traditional library issues.

I hope we can continue the momentum.

Thing 22

I resolve to give myself 15 minutes every day, guilt free, to try something new. I resolve to get back to some tech-oriented blogs and podcasts to help inform my knowledge and guide me to new tools.

I hope we have more opportunities like this one to try out new things. Without an incentive, it is too easy to concentrate on a task list and not focus on the new knowledge.

Thing 21

Fine. I'm pulling rank here. I created the Ning account for 23 Things. I'm considering that enough work for this thing to be done.


Thing 20

I have a confession to make-- I think I'm becoming a Facebook addict. I have started checking it several times a day, just to see what people are up to.

My involvement started small-- creating a profile to sort of show a coworker. Then I found one of my friends, and another, and another. The next thing I knew, I was doing almost all of my communication with my babysitters in Facebook. Then my relatives started talking about Christmas, getting some anticipation going before the big event. Then more people I knew started using the status updates, and I had to visit the page regularly to see how their status had changed. Yes, I see the appeal.

I also see how many places are using this to build events-- from races, to social causes. There is great potential here for the right person to tap into and create some good promotional buzz.

Thing 19

I love podcasts, especially those offered by NPR. I never seem to be in my car or at home at the right time to listen to a whole hour of some of my favorite shows. I love to receive Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and This American Life through iTunes so that I can listen to it as I fold laundry or make dinner, or putter around the house-- all at my convenience. I also regularly watched Mobuzz TV to keep thinking about newer technology for awhile, but I seem to have trailed off on that after a couple of host changes. Maybe I should go back?

Thing 18

I'm putting this video in, since my daughter asks to watch it semi-regularly and I appreciate the break it gives me from the Wiggles.

I do generally like Vimeo better, though for its much better video quality. It doesn't have nearly the content of YouTube, though.

Thing 17

I really like all the elements that exist in these ELM resources and I wish more people knew about them. I already use the RSS feed and journal alerts in EBSCO, since it contains the resources that are the most relevant to my day-to-day work. I hope others find things they love here, too.

Thing 16

Clearly, I was a procrastinator in school, so something like the Research Project Calculator could've helped, if only to tell me how behind I was in the project. In fact, I might try to use it the next time I have a presentation I need to give, to keep me on task.

Thing 15

I tried Puzzle Pirates for this one. I poked around a few places, tried bilging, and worked with a team on moving my ship. I didn't make it far enough to launch any attacks or anything.

Later, a coworker asked me if I'd changed my character's outfit. I told her I hadn't, and she encouraged me to go back. It took me a little while to convey to her why I was refusing this simple task-- I could so totally get addicted to the game. My IM, Facebook and Flicker addictions are enough for now.

Thing 14

I tried out LibraryThing a couple of years ago. I like the stuff they have there, but not so much that I've been active in the site. In fact, I remembered my username and password, but I didn't have any items remaining.

I'd heard about this happening before, and it is one of the things that makes me nervous about the use of LibraryThing as a replacement for a catalog-- it is meant to be just like all of these other social networking sites, meaning they can't store your content forever and once you catalog things on their site, they are the ones in control of the information.

I am much more interested in the LibraryThing for Libraries and stopped by the booth at PLA to talk to them about the content they can add into your catalog.

Thing 13

I've been using MyYahoo for a couple of years, but it is starting to show its age. I tried iGoogle and it seems to have some potential, but I'm not totally sold yet. I was greatly amused at how much higher quality the content on the "technology" page seems to have over the "art" page.

I've tried Google calendars before. If I had sole choice, this would be the take away tool I'd use. I can't ever seem to get our family organized, figuring out who is going where on what day. I like that I can export Outlook to Google (although it has got its flaws) and I wish we used it more at home, but I can't get us away from the paper calendar in the kitchen. I think the same might be true of the to-do list. They seem easier to use than sharing a task in Outlook, but their true use probably lies in getting someone else to play with you.

Backpack looked like it had potential, but would require some start up time and you wouldn't know if it was worth it until you had a couple of weeks into it.

Thing 12

I found these news sites vaguely interesting, but I don't see myself using them soon. First, all four sites had completely different stories-- so it seems like it would continue to be impossible to keep up. Secondly, just because there aren't formal editors doesn't mean the content isn't being edited or chosen, or subject to political influence. I've heard stories about what a group of dedicated users of these sites can do-- say Ron Paul supporters burying any information that shows that he does follow the Republican line on a number of issues-- in order to influence other users to see the news through their own lens.

I chose to Digg this story because there should be more press about Children's Literature.

Thing 11: Del.icio.us!!!

This is one of my favorite tools in all the 23 Things. I've been using it for a couple of years, and I adore it.

I'm a browser-- I kind of browse around at different sites, follow some links, find something interesting, and maybe never make it back. I would never bookmark every site I find interesting, because I just don't find it manageable. However, if I can tag those items and return to them by keyword, it makes dog-earing them manageable. Currently, I have nearly 600 items tagged. I obviously don't go back to all of those sites regularly, but I have revisited enough of them regularly to understand the true value of this concept. Often, the sites I think I'm looking at temporarily end up being the things I visit them most.

Thing 10

The best part of the wiki concept is its use for the collaborative stuff we all work on. I talked to a library that is using a wiki to store all the library forms and various pieces of building-wide information they want all staff to know about. Hearing that made me think about all the notebooks we used to have at our reference desk and how hard they were to stay up with. A wiki sounds like a much better option. I edited the 23 Things wiki for this exercise, although I have edited other wikis in the past, as well.

I don't think banning Wikipedia is a good idea. I enjoy using Wikipedia for basic, entry level information before I travel on to more authoritative sources. User education seems like a much smarter alternative.

Thing 9

My preference is for Zoho Documents. It seemed like there were more features and a slightly easier to use interface.

The changes on the document were sort of interesting and reflective of the years we've had to evaluate and reflect, but may still be too tied to our own generation's mentality.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thing 8

My favorite practical tool so far is Slideshare-- I've already gotten the chance to view and borrow some slides from that site from various presenters I've seen in the past few years. I looked at the other slides sites, too, but they looked like their target audience was people that may not have powerpoint at home. I found Slideshare easy to use and I would recommend it to others.

I sort of enjoyed the picture flicks I've seen on other people's pages and I could see using it for the purposes that were suggested, so I'll have tuck that away to remember for later. I'm sort of curious about the origination of the eFolio, since I remember a friend in college getting into grad school by distinguishing herself with something similar-- and then working on a project to develop something like that for more people.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Thing 7

E-mail is one of the key tools in use in our organization. We work with libraries in 11 counties, so e-mail makes a convenient way for us all to keep in touch. I know sometimes the sheer quantity of e-mails can be overwhelming in an effort to keep everyone informed. Sometimes e-mail can also be misread or misinterpreted to cause more harm than good-- but so it goes.

I love the idea of alternative forms of reference-- especially as a user. I would love to be able to connect to my public library from my laptop or with a text message whenever I felt like it.

And, yes, I do use IM. Too much for my husband's taste, in fact, but it is a mode of communication that I enjoy using. It's value was most aptly demonstrated when it allowed me to stay connected through the first year of being a new mom-- when you feel like you can't make any solid plans for socializing, because you aren't ever sure what your life is going to contain next.

I've also attended Webinars-- one from Minitex on their databases, some other professional development Webinars, and various training Webinars offered by our vendors. They can be useful, if taken correctly. When I take Webinars, I need to remember to give them the same concentration that I would during a person-to-person training session.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I've read some Erdrich before and have always found her charming, so I took the advantage of getting to hear her speak at PLA last week. I found the letters she shared charming, and I have one of her books (about the first year of motherhood) on order through the library system. In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about a quote from one of her own books that she shared:

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could."
Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum)