Library Day in the Life #6

I’m participating in the Library Day in the Life project again this year!  Started in 2008, the Library Day in the Life has really taken off…It’s grown from a single day snapshot of what librarians are doing all day to a week long look.  Librarians from all over the world have participated, and from all variations on the librarian job.  It’s a fascinating project, and I’m happy to participate.  I’ll probably be posting at least twice this week, because this week actually includes our state’s “Library Legislative Day”, so I’d like to talk about that this week as well.

For my past “Day in the Life” posts, you can check out my “Day in the Life” category.

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New Year’s Resolution(s)

I’ve made a variety of New Year’s resolutions in my life….some of them successful (taking better care of my mental health) and some not very (see various failed exercising attempts).   The most successful “resolutions” I made weren’t even New Year’s resolutions, but goals I set for myself.  Since it’s that time of year, I thought I’d take a look and see how things were going.

In March of 2006, I set the following goals:

1. Figure out Library 2.0
2. Get involved in local and maybe national associations
3. Find out about the Alumni Board
4. Learn about web/electronic services librarian positions

Results:

  1. Well, I’m not sure anyone can really “figure out Library 2.0”, but I’d say I’ve done about as well as most of the librarians I know.  I’ve helped quite a few librarians around the state figure out this “Web 2.0” thing as well.
  2. I’d say I’ve pretty much blown this one out of the water…I’ve been incredibly active in several state library associations, and I’ve been pretty involved in NMRT (ALA) stuff as well.  I’ve learned that I enjoy the state level stuff much more than the national level, so I’ll be focusing more on that for a while.  I’m not dropping my ALA membership, but I’ll be exploring more options there to find a better fit for me.
  3. Since these goals were the result of an Alumni Day at my library school, this made sense at the time.  I’ve since learned some things about the Alumni Board that have made me change my mind.  I also haven’t really had time to pursue this, since #2 went so well.
  4. Again, hit this one out of the park.  I’m now an Electronic Resources librarian.  Is it all I thought it would be?  Maybe not, but it’s where I am, and I’ve made the decision to stay here for a few years longer.  I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s certainly been a challenge (and still is).  I’m just not sure it’s where I want to be forever.

It’s now been over four years since I set those goals.  I’d say it’s time for some new ones!

  1. Get a second master’s in instructional technology or non-profit leadership.
  2. Find a better fit for me in ALA, if there is one.
  3. Continue to be active in statewide library activities.
  4. Find more opportunities to teach or train.

I’m not going to say that I’ll be a better, more consistent blogger in the new year.  That’s just not me.  At least not right now.  It’s just not the most comfortable way for me to interact online.  I much prefer FriendFeed (and Twitter), so if you’d like to hang out virtually, you can find me there.

Vendors, libraries and change

So the latest hubbub over in the LSW FriendFeed room is all about database vendors and how libraries (and librarians) respond to them…Steve Lawson has written about it on his blog, See Also…, and received some FriendFeed comments as well.  (All of which started with Meredith Farkas and Sarah Houghton-Jan aka Librarian in Black)

This issue – how vendors treat their library customers, and what libraries & librarians should do about it – is one I’ve seen several times in the recent past.  Attending the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference this year, there was a lot of discussion about the costs of individual journals and how they’ve continued to skyrocket.  And what can we do about it?  And what about databases?  The prices for those keep rising and vendors keep making exclusive deals that mean that if we want to keep the same content we’ve had we have to pay more for more databases.  Which, at least for my library, puts us over a barrel.  We can’t afford to just add a new subscription every time the database vendors decide to change or remove content.  This is why my library doesn’t have a subscription to the newspaper of record in our town.  We can’t afford the price for the exclusive content.  We do receive it on microfilm, and can use the newspaper’s search function on their website, but that only goes back about 10 years.

So what *can* we do about it?  In the FriendFeed discussions, there’s been suggestions of voting with our feet – don’t use the vendors that do this sort of thing.  Okay.  But will the vendors notice?  There’s also been suggestions of getting the major consortias involved.  Have the member libraries let the consortias know that they’re not happy with certain vendors and would not like to deal with them.  This could make a dent.  As could the suggestions of creating some kind of list of unacceptable license clauses (I’d love to see this, personally, and think that it fits in with the other licensing standardization projects that are happening).

One other suggestion is to tell the patrons – the true database customers – why they can’t access the things they want and have them complain to the vendors.  I’m not sure that would work so well, as I’m not sure that enough patrons would actually complain.  I can imagine that academic libraries could get faculty to complain, but I’m not sure public libraries would have the same luck.

All of these issues – e-resource costs, vendor attitudes, etc. – are wrapped up in a larger issue, in my thinking.  The entire publishing industry, at least for academic publishing, is either broken or breaking.  It’s been this way for a long time, but it seems that more and more people are starting to realize it.  Not including the vendors themselves, who seem to want to hold on to the old way of doing things as long as they can, much like the RIAA and movie industry have.  It hasn’t worked so well for them.  We’ll see if it will work for the academic publishing industry.  There are some major changes that have to happen in faculty tenure and promotion before there can be too many other changes in academic publishing.  The real question is – who’s going to change first?

Day in the Life #4

I’ve participated in the Library Day in the Life meme before, but I decided to do it again because some things have shifted, at least slightly, in my work life.  So here goes nothing!

I’m the Electronic and Educational Resources Librarian at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

8:30am arrive at my desk after finding a parking space and chatting my way into the building

  • Fire up the computer and make instant oatmeal while waiting for the computer
  • Clean up desk and unearth papers that need to be dealt with today
  • Catch up on social networking sites (Twitter & FriendFeed mostly) and read a few links that look interesting.

9:00am Start to get on with the work of the day

  • look up who’s paying for new ebooks
  • fax ebook order back to OCLC
  • check work email and deal with unfinished business from last week
  • consider what kind of books and information the art education class will need tomorrow
  • answer a random chat reference question
  • pondered the schedule of events for the conference I’m attending next week (Electronic Resources & Libraries)

10:00am Off to man the reference desk!

  • refilled the stapler, loaned out scissors
  • added events for the TnLA annual conference to the Google calendar
  • updated my conference schedule for next week

11:00am still at the reference desk

  • started catching up on Google Reader feeds….still not done 🙂
  • answered questions about how to use Word 2007
  • directed a student to the photography books
  • helped a student access a more specific database for her accounting paper

12:00pm back to my desk

  • 13 emails in 2 hours!
  • sorted, answered, deleted emails
  • made some adjustments to the conference calendar
  • played a couple games of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook

12:30pm Lunch!

1:45pm back from lunch

  • Sorting through Choice cards
  • talking with Music librarian
  • shelving new materials

2:45pm

  • pulling books for Art Education instruction session tomorrow
  • entering December reference stats for music library
  • helped reference librarian with the “Track Changes” function of Word 2007
  • updated library’s pages with Caldecott & Newbery winners

4:00pm

  • one last round of email checking
  • check in on social networking – Twitter, Friendfeed
  • make sure things are set for the morning

4:30pm Go home!

Why Libraries Rock

I’m reviving this blog (however briefly) to join the LFPL Blogathon! As you may have heard, the Louisville Free Public Library in Louisville, KY, suffered major damage from the more than FOUR FEET of flood water in their building in July. The water was a result of a flash flood. Steve Lawson, of the Library Society of the World kicked off a PayPal drive to raise $5,000 for the library foundation by tomorrow, Sept 1. Then a blog-a-thon was created by Andy Woodworth to push the fund drive over the edge. So, go, give, and support a library in trouble.

Why should I support a library, you ask? Because Libraries Rock! (c’mon, you had to see that coming, with the title and all). Libraries rock because they are a haven. Public libraries, especially, allow anyone to come in and learn. Read, discover, learn, talk, get online – all of that takes place at your local public library. Storytimes for small kids, book groups for bigger kids (aka grownups), teen programs (gaming! comic books!), computer lessons for seniors (and others), a warm dry place in the winter, a cool one in the summer. All that is your local public library. Librarians and staff who will help you find almost anything, whether they agree with your views or not.

In these times of economic stress, the library can be so many things to people. You can use the library to find a job, “rent” a movie, check out books on tape for that commute or vacation trip, improve your skills in *whatever* to fix your house, your job, your marriage, your life. Whatever you want to do, chances are you can find out how to get started at the library.

Lets not forget academic libraries, special libraries and school libraries! They rock too! Academic libraries are full of people who want to help students succeed. All the academic librarians I know are passionate about helping students learn and improve the skills they need to do top-notch research so that they can be successful, both in academia and whatever they endeavor to do in the future.

Special libraries….the forgotten few. Tucked away in hospitals and corporate headquarters, these librarians and library staff have to continually prove they’re worth the money the company spends on them. They support research and development, patient education, physician education, and so many other things.

School librarians….we all hear about how education funding is cut and school librarians (or school media specialists, if you will) get cut. These are the people who teach your children not how to read, but how to *love* reading. How to do research. How to use a computer. How to avoid bad information on the internet. All the most basic skills that students need to be successful adults in this information heavy world we live in. They toil tirelessly in schools, loving the kids and working for them.

In short, libraries rock. Hard. They support all walks of life, from Kindergarten on into the corporate office. They help you find what you need, and maybe even what you didn’t even know you wanted! They provide the community with a place to gather and a place to find inexpensive entertainment. They’re, in my unbiased (yeah, right) position, one of the best values you can get for your tax dollar. Even if you don’t support Louisville Free Public Library with a donation, I hope you support your own local public library by stopping by. Get a library card! It’s free! You’d probably be amazed at what you can find there.

The Librarian Digital Divide

I was thinking yesterday about the digital divide. According to Wikipedia, the digital divide

refers to the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. In other words, it is the unequal access by some members of society to information and communication technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills. The term is closely related to the knowledge divide as the lack of technology causes lack of useful information and knowledge. The digital divide may be classified based on gender, income, and race groups, and by locations.

I realized that the digital divide applies to librarians as well as library patrons. School librarians (those in K-12 institutions) usually have very strict filters installed that prevent them from accessing various social networking and Web 2.o sites. Many public librarians also have filters (of varying strengths) that block access. Public librarians, however, often have the capability of overriding the filters to access certain sites. Academic librarians generally have no filters at all. This spectrum of access causes a disconnect (even more so than existed previously) between school, public and academic librarians.

As an academic librarian who is working on an outreach program to our local school librarians, I am faced with this spectrum regularly. Even if the school librarians would like to learn about and use social networking and Web 2.0 tools in their schools, they are not allowed to. So they must learn about them on their own time, and in their own homes. This hardly seems fair, since the school librarians I know already go above and beyond for their students. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about this, but with the growing push towards making libraries more user-friendly and present on social networks, this is going to be a bigger dilemma.

This digital divide is also preventing school librarians from being able to network and access professional resources that are not available through traditional channels. One of my most valuable professional networks is composed entirely of people that I have met almost exclusively online. Since starting that network, I have met some of them in person, but many of the librarians around the country that I talk to every day, I’ve never met in person. But these are the people that are my water cooler buddies at work. By not allowing school librarians access to these kinds of networks at their workplace, we are severely hampering their ability to grow and become even better librarians.

Another Day in the Life

It’s been a few months since I’ve done this, so I thought I’d share. I’ve had what I would consider a typically random day for me also, so here goes….

8-8:30am

  • chat with coworkers in the ILL office

9-9:30am

  • check email for overnight emails
  • prepare email address list for the local roundtable I am chair of

9:30-9:45am

  • compose email chairing a virtual business meeting/election for the roundtable, ensuring we are following both Robert’s Rules and our bylaws

9:45-10am

  • cleared off desk
  • keeping an eye on email for the virtual business meeting

10-11am

  • cleaned up emails
  • took care of missing payment for online resource
  • tallied votes for virtual meeting
  • sorted catalogs for Education collection development

11am-12pm

  • cleared bulletin board of snowflake display
  • put up spring & alphabet book display
  • organized display materials
  • emailed website suggestion to colleagues
  • rebooted my computer to fix mouse issue

12-1pm

  • attempted to find downloaded file for student that was saved in unfindable location
  • lunch!

2-3pm

  • poked on Envisionware to try to change guest pass settings
  • helped student find primary sources for her Education paper
  • started gathering titles for an updated professional collection for library faculty

3-4:30

  • showed Education students how to do collection development
  • tallied votes for roundtable meeting
  • ran invoices to acquisitions
  • contacted photographers about my wedding
  • wrote this blog post!

As you can see, there is a wide variety of activities during my day, and not all of them are directly related to my job title 🙂