Feb 22

Ask a Librarian…and get an answer via YouTube

Sophia is going to answer questions sent to her by email about information resources and research. She introduces the idea in a video here.

(Embedding of the video, to my disappointment, is disallowed)

Sophia has also set up a blog for the project.

It is an interesting idea. It would be especially neat if Sophia were to reinforce answers given verbally with text appearing on-screen, or if answers included screen captures.

Sophia’s YouTube channel

askalibraiansophia.png

Feb 16

My Name is Dotty

The NBC sitcom My Name is Earl broadcast an episode this season called Buried Treasure in which voice-over narration kept switching from character to character. For each switch, a gentle parody of the show’s opening sequence was created. Dotty, the town’s librarian, was a supporting character in the episode and got this treatment:

You know the kind of woman who seems like the quiet librarian, but when she removes her pencil and lets her hair fall down, she looks all wild and sexy?

[sigh] I wish that was me.

My name is Dotty…

Click here for similar moments for other characters in the same episode.

Feb 12

Correct Use of the Word: “Shushing” or “Shhhing”

From LIS-MEDICAL (UK):

A member of the list asked:

“When used in the written format, would you use ‘shhhing’ or ‘shushing’ – I have seen it used both ways.”

Responses included:

  • ‘Shushing’ is aptly used here –

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/West/09/08/offbeat.librarian.ap/

  • Surely it depends upon what you’re actually saying. If you’re saying “Shhh” then it’s “Shhhing”. If you’re saying “Shush” (pronounced shoosh) then it’s shushing.
  • …have come to the conclusion it’s Shhhing.
  • A quick Google shows that ‘shushing’ is the preferred option, but I don’t have an English grammar to hand

But here’s my absolute favorite response:

I’m intrigued as to the context in which you’d actually want it written down…. Perhaps a memo to Purchasing: “To avoid excessive shhhing by staff, please find attached an order for 144 chloroform-soaked handkerchiefs…” ?

Thanks to anonymous for sending this my way. :)

Feb 05

The Library Ninja (doesn’t have an MLIS)

The Library Ninja should not be confused with the previously mentioned Ninja Librarian.

Here’s is what I think differentiates them: The Ninja Librarian has an MLIS, while the Library Ninja is an information/assassination paraprofessional.

Video about the former can be found on the other end of this link and embedded goofy video about the latter follows:

Where is this Ninjitsu/Librarianship meme coming from? I know that the ALA is talking about library education again, but are there rumors that ninjitsu courses will be required for accreditation? Will there be ALA accredited dojos in which one learns to fold a library card into a throwing star?

Other places this meme pops up:
Brandy Danner's awesome graphics
Above: Awesome graphics from Brandy Danner.


Above: Graphic from the Manga and Anime page of the Lake Oswego Public Library’s Web site.

staceywhittington.png
Above: Stacey Whittington describes herself as a “Library Ninja”

LNDS
Above: Library Ninja Death Squad gear

http://libraryninja.livejournal.com/
http://ninjalibrarian.blogspot.com/
http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Ninja_20Librarian
http://wiredfu.com/2006/06/19/ninja-librarian/
http://ninja-librarian.deviantart.com/
“I wouldn’t mind being a ninja librarian…”

Conclusions:

In the same way that we now like we like pirates for their daring, bohemian fashion sense and enjoyable way of talking (Arrrr!) the legendary skill of the ninja is more memorable and important to us than the fact that they were assassins. Calling a librarian a “ninja librarian” is sometimes merely a compliment, like “rockstar librarian” or “superhero librarian,” and has nothing to do with assassinating people.

This is a relief, but it doesn’t completely explain away the meme. Any other thoughts?

Note to self: The next time you can’t sleep, try doing some homework instead of blogging, schmuck.

Jan 29

Video: Why I Love My Library (Updated)

Update: The final version has been posted, and you’re invited to add your three reasons why you love your library.
___________________________________

This is great:

From http://www.njlibraries.org (Sponsored by the NJ State Library), the video appears to have been posted to YouTube by Nancy Dowd.

Jan 25

Librarians and IT Professionals

Via Tame the Web, a funny video about librarians and IT professionals in the model of the recent Apple Mac television advertisements:

I think the tensions between IT and libraries are much more pronounced in a hospital setting than in, for instance, a public library- don’t you? Systems security is a much more serious business when systems data includes PHI. Our CIO keeps our hospital’s systems locked down pretty tightly, and that makes browsing the web for information outside of the library very inconvenient for users…but I can’t generally find fault with his policies in this area. If our network goes down, that could threaten patient safety- so the stakes involved in network security are much higher than in a non-hospital setting.

Jan 22

Online Behavior and Real Life Effects

The Hedgehog Librarian (who subscribes to more listservs than I do) has an interesting post on managing one’s online identity, and rightly points out that what one does online does (and should) matter to one’s reputation and career.

Particularly in the small profession of library science, where we do all know each other, people network and remember. An insult or slur goes much further online than it can in person because now there’s an archive of it.

…I understand the frustration…but not the tone. Do you think I won’t remember when you insult a librarian younger or older than you? Do you think I won’t remember when you verbally attacked another person? Do you think your name won’t trigger a warning bell if I ever see your resume? I think of it less as personal bias than professional preservation.

It is a good reminder that what one writes in blogs, leaves as comments, or writes to listservs is a permanent part of one’s professional reputation.

[Read the whole post here]

Jan 15

The NYT (again) on Maplewood Memorial Library (updated)

Update: Steven Cohen has the scoop, the library WON’T close in the afternoons because local government officials (rightly) came up with solutions.

The NYT has now published an editorial (registration required) on the Maplewood issue. Some highlights and why they annoyed me:

From the NYT Editorial:

In the meantime, there are things the library can do on its own to accommodate the students. Leslie Burger, the director of the Princeton, N.J. library and the president of the American Library Association, points out that youngsters started frequenting her library’s new facility shortly after it opened a couple of years ago. She then hired three retired persons with skills in handling young people to work part-time with the youngsters in a positive rather than just a disciplinary way.

What the writer of the NYT Editorial failed to note is that the library already hired additional staff:

We have hired after-school monitors to help with crowd control and behavior issues. We have reached out to students through TAG, our Teen Advisory Group. We have notified parents of the problem through Home and School Association publications. We have made public officials aware of the on-going issue. And we have worked closely with school officials and law enforcement. In spite of these efforts, the problem persists.

(my italics)

You’d think that the NYT editorial author might’ve…y’know…done a little research and reviewed the library’s statements on the issue.

Back to the NYT editorial
:

At a time when student reading scores are declining and young people are spending more and more time tethered to all manner of electronic screens — everything from text-messaging cell phones to video iPods to computers and, yes, TV’s — librarians have a responsibility to do almost anything to welcome students to their facilities.

The author of the editorial must not have been to a public library in some time. He/she seems to think that libraries AREN’T full of “all manner of electronic screens”! Does the author perhaps believe that the library’s role is to be a champion of the printed word?

Everything about the NYT coverage of this story seems to indicate that NYT writers don’t visit public libraries and have no idea what they’re like.

Jan 04

Maplewood Memorial Library

I have to comment on the story about how the Maplewood Memorial Library is closing its doors in the afternoon after school lets out because they are over-run with misbehaving students they are not staffed to serve.

Too few bibliobloggers are posting the link to the announcement from the library’s Board of Trustees explaining the decision. Please, don’t leave any comments here or elsewhere without reading it. Here’s an excerpt:

Over the years, an increasing number of families have been sending their children, primarily of middle-school age, to the main and branch libraries after school and using the facilities as a substitute for childcare. Most of these students are not using library resources but are congregating in the building to socialize with friends. Having as many as fifty young people with nothing to do creates an untenable situation. It interferes with patrons of all ages who want to use the library and with the staff members who are there to serve them. The library can no longer deal with large numbers of students who come after school and wait, sometimes into the late evening, to be picked up. We do not have the staff or resources to address the needs of these students.

We have struggled with this problem for over ten years. We have worked with legal counsel to study our options as a public institution and to develop a behavior policy. We have hired after-school monitors to help with crowd control and behavior issues. We have reached out to students through TAG, our Teen Advisory Group. We have notified parents of the problem through Home and School Association publications. We have made public officials aware of the on-going issue. And we have worked closely with school officials and law enforcement. In spite of these efforts, the problem persists.

I have sympathy for the library administration and staff, who should not have to be police and parents to these children who have been abandoned to the library by parents unable or unwilling to parent. I have sympathy for the kids who aren’t getting the supervision they need from their families. I have sympathy for the library patrons who are being cheated of use of the public library by the presence of too many misbehaving kids or by the afternoon closings.

The real problem:
The parents and families of these kids are unable or unwilling to provide the supervision the kids need. The problem isn’t that the library needs better teen programming. If that was the case, there’d be NO teenagers in the building.

Who is responsible for finding a solution?
Depending on your politics, this might be a problem for which the state, county or town is responsible to find a remedy, there are multiple government agencies responsible for addressing public nuisance and absentee parents. Their responsibilities should not be foisted off on libraries.

I don’t think that those who abuse a library should be pacified into good behavior, they should be tossed out. Pacifying them takes too much money that is better spent serving information needs. Libraries shouldn’t ADAPT to the problem of unsupervised, undisciplined teens, they should REJECT it, and demand that the appropriate government agencies who can address the problem do. If the problem was that no teens ever came to the Maplewood Memorial Library, I’d accept as reasonable the criticism that they need better programs for teens- but that’s not the problem they’re having.

I was really surprised by this comment from Michael Casey:

“How ironic that the best solution appears not to be coming from within the library itself but from the community that is fighting to keep its library open.”

This surprised me because it isn’t at all ironic- not even a little bit. The problem isn’t the library failing in its mission, the problem is that the community has families who cannot or will not supervise their children. The library can’t build a youth center. The library can’t pass laws making parents more responsible for the misbehavior of their kids. The library can’t raise the minimum wage. The library can’t convince absentee parents to reassess their responsibilities and finances. It isn’t ironic that the town takes responsibility for a solution, it is entirely and utterly appropriate.

What might some solutions be?
The town or state might pass laws that might make parents take greater responsibility for the behavior of the children they cannot or will not parent. The town or state might fund a lot more security (how about uniformed police officers?) for the library so that those who disrupt its use are ejected promptly. The town or state might build a youth center staffed for dealing with misbehaving kids. All of this needs to be funded by the town.

Additional thoughts:
The original NYT article (taken apart a bit here) begins and ends with the assumption that the library staff and board are wrong. Since most of us commenting don’t work there, we should be very skeptical about embracing that assumption as truth. It isn’t a fair assumption to make, and I dislike seeing bibliobloggers criticize the Maplewood Library from afar.

I should point out that I really respect Michael Stephens for acknowledging that he “lives in a bubble” and for attempting to offer actual suggestions for tackling the problem, but it seems to me that the problem isn’t caused by a botched analysis of usage patterns. The problem is that parents are dropping their responsibilities on libraries. There are some social ills that libraries are not responsible for solving. They’re not funded for it, equipped for it, or trained for it.

Want to read more opinions on Maplewood Memorial Library’s plan to close its doors in the afternoons?
Here’s a list of posts from biblioblogs.
(I liked Liz B’s post at Pop Goes the Library.)

Want to keep up with new discussions and posts about Maplewood?
Subscribe to this feed.

Nov 29

Sliders: Library Rap

Why can’t some really talented hip-hop artists do library promotion? How about Jurassic 5? I’d love to see a Chali 2na READ poster.

Look at the lower left corner of the screen. This fictional hip-hop group (from the television show Sliders) is called MC Poindexter and the Study Crew.

(Embedded Video below)

Lyrics:

Yo homes, what up?
What up with you?
What we gonna say?
What we gonna do?
Where we gonna go?
What we gonna see?
We’re goin’ to
The Library.

I’m moving down the aisle with my homeys in tow
We’re groovin’ in the home of the librarian (yo!)
She checks us out from behind thick glasses
We walk right past and we wiggle our asses.

Hemingway, Lawrence, Chekhov and Miller
Fitzgerald was a freak, Mailer is a killer

Quiet please!
Quiet please!

The silence is golden
To books I am beholden
I know I’m bad,
‘Cuz of the knowledge that I’m holdin’!

And I give you one warnin’
There will be no repeats:
Get out of my face
While I’m readin’ my Keats.

(Lyrics found here)

*Sigh.* Such whack rhymes. If you like it anyway, there is an mp3 here.

Nov 22

Updated: “Final” Poll Results

Update: Well, I’m not thrilled with the winning title, but it won by a significant margin:

___________________________________________________________

Well, I have to say that I’m a little disappointed.

Recap:
Alex Aiken, a Westminster council official and “former policy director for the Tories,” expressed to a conference of the Public Library Authorities his belief that “[t]he concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.

davidrothman.net requested suggestions on what new and sexier term might replace “librarian,” and posted a poll with those suggestions.

Update:
With 35 votes recorded, there is a clear favorite: Information Goddess/God. C’mon, folks! Can’t we be more than egotists? My personal favorite is “Information Alchemist,” but I like “Indagatrix”, too.


Poll results as of Friday, 11/21/2006 11:21 PM EST

Here’s the poll again, I’ll leave it open through the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Nov 18

Poll: What title should replace “Librarian”?

Recap:

Alex Aiken, a Westminster council official and “former policy director for the Tories,” expressed to a conference of the Public Library Authorities his belief that “[t]he concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.”

We shouldn’t take offense to the guy’s assertions, we should be amused by them and mock them. In that spirit, davidrothman.net requested suggestions on what new and sexier term might replace “librarian.” Before you vote, remember that we’re looking for sexy, and the opposite of “middle-aged conservatism.” I’ll refrain from commenting until we’ve left the poll open for a few days, but you should feel free to comment to your heart’s content after voting.

Nov 16

Librarians ‘should be sexier’

Update:

The poll is posted here.

UPDATES- NEW TITLES SUGGESTED:
(Suggested substitute titles for when “librarian” is abolished)

1. Bibliodominatrix
2. Information Alchemist
3. Indagatrix (Latin, f. investigator, explorer)
4. InfoWarrior
5. Imperious Knight of the High Knowledge
6. Information Goddess (/God)
7. Knowledge Hacker
8. BookWench (/BookWretch)
9. Faithful of Wiborada (the librarian)
10. Circle of Wiborada (librarians) (Wiborada is the patron saint of the librarians.)
11. Chosen of the Information Matrix
12. Infomagineer

——————————————————–

I should probably find this annoying, but I don’t. I keep giggling.

Via lo-fi librarian, I came across this article from thisislondon.co.uk, with interesting ideas on how how to improve the perception of Britain’s libraries.

Alex Aiken, a Westminster council official and “former policy director for the Tories,” expressed to a conference of the Public Library Authorities his belief that “[t]he concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.”

(A Tory complains about middle-aged conservatism? I don’t know a lot about UK politics, but isn’t middle-aged conservatism sort of the bread-and-butter of the Tories?)

But the response wasn’t entirely negative:

“Librarians come in all shapes and sizes – and that includes the very photogenic,” said one library chief, adding that some of his colleagues are “incredibly exciting”.

[Insert here David’s snorting and snerking sounds as he imagines how fast this would get a library director fired in the states and constructs mental video of a middle aged, balding Englishman calling his colleagues “incredibly exciting” with a straight face and an English accent.]

Anyway, I propose a contest: If the word “Librarian” was to be abolished, what title would we use instead? Remember that Aiken said that “racy” titles should be stressed.

Information Alchemist? Knowledge Engineer? How do you make a title both accurate and sexy?

Any ideas? If I get a few, I’ll post a poll so we can vote on the new, sexy title for librarians in the UK.

Nov 14

Video: Judge orders library to reinstate fired Savannah librarian

LISnews posted about this story more than a week ago, but I ran across a local television news report (after advertisement) this morning that includes a bit more detail, including comments from Connie Rehm, the librarian herself.

This line bugged me

Scanning library books and watching children read behind a library desk is Connie Rehm’s dream job…

This, it seems, is what the local NBC affiliate thinks librarians do. They watch children read and scan books.