Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Hiatus

June 15, 2010

I’m going to be taking a short break from writing here for a few weeks, as I have just received a new job and need to move across the state.

I’ve spent the last 4 years working as the technical services head at the Berkshire Athenaeum, which has been an incredible experience, especially for someone fresh out of school like me.  Besides getting to work on all the standard cataloging challenges, I got to toy with an enormous local history and genealogy collection, a collection dedicated to the work of Herman Melville, the library of Oliver Wendel Holmes, lead a number of workshops for patrons, host a number of sing-along to Journey nights (Rock Band) and of course drive a dump truck across Connecticut.

I can only imagine what new challenges await me when I get to the Worcester (sorry Wistah) Public Library in a few weeks.  I can’t wait!

Team Unicorn

March 18, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post this for a few days now.  I’ve gotten involved with a new blogging project.  I’ve joined forces with some of the greatest librarians across Massachusetts to create Team Unicorn.  So go and check it out.

And no worries, I’ll still be updating here as well.

On Video Games

September 29, 2009

Over the last few days I’ve had a few people ask me about possibly building a circulating video game collection at my library.  And much to my surprise I’ve wound up as someone who is strongly against the concept.

I think games are great for libraries and I would love to start this collection, but I just think this is a really awful time for us to do so.  After budget cuts our YA, DVD, and music budgets are nearly non-existant, so why do games rate over those?

I think the answer is because they’ve suddenly become trendy in the profession.  Every conference includes a game night, every mailing list has a games thread, and every issue of American Libraries seems to have an article on the subject.  So now games are important, although many of the librarians who have been given this belief don’t really know much about them.  Over the last few days I’ve had to explain the differences between the multiple consoles, that our standard vendors (with the exception of Amazon) don’t really carry them, and that the average gamer is 35 and not 8.  

There’s also the logistical side of things.  I spend an enormous amount of time testing out a/v items for damange.  To do that for games we would need one of each console unless I start taking work home with me (which is hardly ideal).  Somehow I don’t see the money for this coming our way in the near future.

So building a games collection for now is bad, but I’m still looking forward to our Rock Band night tomorrow.

Bookless

September 15, 2009

I’ve avoided talking about the Cushing Academy bookless library bruhaha thus far.  Mostly this is because there is really nothing that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  But also because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation.  The mere thought of a bookless library makes me shudder, but on the other hand libraries really do need to start thinking a bit radically and this certainly qualifies as that.

But now my local paper has gotten into the act, and has associated my library (as well as the nearby Lenox Library) and our budget difficulties with Cushing.  However, Cushing’s decission to turn their library into a techie information center doesn’t exactly speak ill of their budget.  What it does say is the Academy felt the books were being underutilized and that they were desperate to get students in the door.

Now this is a plan that just reeks of desperation.  The original globe article indicates that the library’s books were not circulating (albeit with fairly scant supporting evidence).  But let’s be generous and take this statement at face value.  If the academy is pumping thousands of dollars into a book collection that isn’t justifying that expense, then it’s not too hard to see how they could reach the conclusion that the books should go.  

This is sad, and horrifying, and despicable, but all too understandable.  I’m really hoping that history will eventually show Cushing to have been far too short sighted, but that may not be the case.  And I’ll be really surprised if another library doesn’t follow their example.

Review: Dark Entries

September 3, 2009

It’s been said elsewhere but it bares repeating, Dark Entries marks the low point in publisher marketing this year.  A little history is needed for this.  A few years back when Denise Mina was writing Hellblazer she managed to connect Vertigo with her friend, bestselling writer Ian Rankin.  Before too long word started to leak out of Rankin writing the book.  Then Vertigo started thinking of launching a line of crime books, and with Rankin already commissioned to write for them it made sense to launch the line on his name (which appears in a font roughly 5 times the size of the title).

The only problem, THIS ISN”T A CRIME COMIC!!!!!  It’s not even much of a mystery, despite the god awful “graphic mystery” logo on the cover.  Also worth noting, the title of this book comes from the name of a reality show that is central to the plot, however the plot description calls that same show “Haunted Mansion”.  Nice to see that people are paying attention.

OK, enough with the rant, what about the book itself.  It’s a pretty routine Constantine story.  There’s a haunted house, a damsel or two he fails to save, a few demons, and a lot of British snark.  Rankin also performs admirably for a first time comics writer.

The art from Werther Dell’edera suits the material well, but suffers at the begining because I’m guessing the first 40 pages or so were originally intended for the ongoing series.  There are pretty clear chapter breaks, and the art feels like it was inteded to be colored (later in the book the pages gain a lot more detail).

So, this is a pretty good Hellblazer comic and it seems better suited to a graphic novel format than it did a serial.  However, if you buy this expecting an Ian Rankin mystery you’re going to be very disappointed.

Ageism

September 1, 2009

The other day an article on ageism in the library profession made the rounds on Twitter, and generated quite a bit of conversation.  Long story short, there is a lot of ageism in the profession.

As the converstaion went on a few trends became apparent:

Employers are resistant to hiring young librarians for fear that they will not remain for long.

Young librarians are often given unreasonably high expectations, leading to inevitable burn out.

Newer librarians often feel belittled by their more experienced peers.

Personally I think that while I have experienced some of all of these issues, I’ve generally been pretty fortunate.  I do however have my own observation on how the generation gap affects librarians based on my library.  I find that the difference between generations manifests primarily as conflicting approaches to librarianship.  The experienced librarians think in terms of the library’s patrons, the younger librarians think about those not being served.  And I guess I’m not alone, based on a recent post from frequent commenter Wolfhowl on the need to advertise libraries to those who aren’t already using them (such a novel concept isn’t it?).

I know quite a few colleagues that have entirely given up on attracting new patrons to the library.  They won’t think of it in those terms, instead they’ll talk about how there are so few teens in the place, or how many of our regulars have begun to die out.  On the other hand it seems to be the young librarians who come in and immediately want to find ways to make the library relevant to a younger audience (thus ensuring a steady stream of library n00bs).

So, I know budgets are tight right now, but if there are any jobs out there, please get over your hang ups and seriously consider a recent graduate.

Going Public

August 31, 2009

I Twittered this earlier, but it certainly bares repeating.  The Berkshire Eagle has finally decided to cover our budget cuts, and our hours reduction in particular.  Although as a commenter points out, the article never mentions what that reduction is (a gold star to the commenter who guessed we’ll be closing at 5, albeit only on Mondays).

So there it is, read the comments, and puzzle over why exactly someone thinks we should start selling lottery tickets.

On Decertification

August 27, 2009

The word is finally out.  In a report in the Boston Globe, nine Massachusetts libraries have been decertified by the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners due to the recession (four were named in an earlier article).  In Mass. decertification means that those libraries are inelligble for state aid and for membership in the regional resource sharing consortia.  It is also highly suggested that other libraries refuse to issue library cards to residents of decertified communities.

Before continuing, I think a moment of silence for the fallen is in order:

Besides these communities there are also two long standing one, Hancock was decertified back in 1975, and Tyringham’s decertification goes all the way back to 1961.  Then there are also the handful of towns that have simply never had a library.  These last two categories are the ones that give us pause at my own library.

I’m a supporter of the decertification blacklist, it gives an incredible incentive for municipalities to want to fund their libraries, some of which (I’m looking at you Fitchburg) really need the kick in the teeth.  However, my library is uniquely situated right by both Tyringham and Hancock, as well as 2 more towns that simply don’t have libraries.  We’re also often thought of us a county library, although we’re not (this is why our website is pittsfieldlibrary.org and all our stationary strongly proclaims us to be Pittsfield’s public library).  But as the largest library in the region we sort of are by default, and we still receive many patrons from these neighboring towns who have always considered us to be their library.

Turning away a patron from a town that has never had a library is very different to doing so to one from a city that thought it could cut 68% of the budget without repercussions.   And unfortunately the way the system is built refusing service to decertified communities really has to be an all or nothing prospect.  But by and large libraries across the state have shown a lot of solidarity on this issue, and the blacklist has remained.  This is probably as it should be, but it does leave a few towns unfortunately screwed, and they will stay screwed even when the economy turns around and budgets start increasing again (so I’m an optimist).

Changes

August 26, 2009

Since starting this blog I’ve been trying to write five posts a week (Monday-Friday).  I no longer feel that I can sustain that pace.  Partly, a lot of what I say here is just recapitulating the content of my Twitter feed.  But mostly I’m thinking that fewer, but better posts will be preferable to my usual free form venting for the sake of making a post.

So keep checking back, there will be plenty of posts to come, just only when I actually have something to say (or you know, just finished a book).

Loving What You Do

August 21, 2009

In keeping with my theme this week of rhetorical diatribes, how important is a librarian to have a well rounded knowledge of the culture around them.  That’s a long winded way of asking must a ya librarian read Twilight?

I don’t think anyone would argue that a librarian must be able to relate to their patrons, but just how much does that require?  A colleague mentioned to me recently that they were looking forward to being able to read an adult novel over a vacation.  Let’s think about this comment for a moment.  A librarian is never going to be part of the target audience for any childrens or YA book in our collections, and while many adults can enjoy those books anyway (I’m certainly one of them), you can’t expect that from everyone.

So, how much exposure is necessary?  And is it bad if watching/reading/playing like a child or a teen becomes work?  Particularly as that’s work that must be done off the clock.  Or, is it possible to get by on the How to Talk about books you haven’t read approach?