Posted tagged ‘libraries’

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.

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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.

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.

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).

Beards

August 13, 2009

I stumbled into an annoying little project yesterday concerning ghost/co-writers.  Now, one of the ramifications of our budget cuts is that I am now responsible for cataloging adult fiction (which I love doing by the way, but I still dearly want my co-worker back).  

I’m flying through our latest order yesterday when I come across a copy of “Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game” (that’s the title, it’s not actually written by Sheldon).  Problem time.  Our Tom Clancy books that are like this are cataloged under Clancy’s name, but the Eric Van Lustbader written Robert Ludlum novels are under Lustbader (with one copy erroneously under Van).  After much discussion it turned that everyone thought everyone else knew how we were supposed to handle these, and it was time for a new project.

So now we’re cataloging these as, for example, Fiction Ludlum/Lustbader.  But we’re only doing this for the books in which the author that patrons are more likely to look for (Ludlum) is not actually given credit for being an author.  Thus the Womens’ Murder Club books will still be cataloged as standard James Patterson books, and likewise the posthumous V.C. Andrews ones.  It’s a slightly annoying compromise, but I think it’ll work for us.

Now I just have to spend this morning tracking down 10 billions fake Tom Clancy novels.  ::grumble::

The Future of Meetings

August 11, 2009

Today I went out east for the first MLA tech services section meeting of the term.  It was a fairly productive meeting, despite being at a slight stand still due to the recession.  Mostly it’s becoming evident that barely any libraries in the state have a professional development budget at the moment.  So, we’re looking at an immediate future of scaled back conferences, online meetings, and a possible workshop on how to run online workshops (we were sort of joking that we should bring in a speaker and have them teach from behind a curtain for that one).

Something is definitely being lost by making these movies.  I know of at least one co-worker who admits to not getting much out of online lessons, and I know she’s hardly alone.  But we’re gradually reaching the point where traditional learners are going to be left in the dust, and I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to avert that.

Now in slightly cheerier news, I just have to share that thanks to a friend I’ve got a random Twitter appearance over on Macworld.  The Tweet in question, is of course from a conversation about killing zombies (although of late they have given way to to unicorns and pandas).

The Day Twitter Died

August 6, 2009

As has been reported everywhere today, Twitter was hit by a DDoS attack, which crippled the service for a few hours this morning and drastically slowed it down throughout the day.  What was really amazing to me was how much I have aparently come to rely on it throughout the day.  

Over the course of the last few weeks an enormous network of Tweeting librarians has developed via #followalibrarian.  Besides the incredible networking opportunity this has provided (Massachusetts library Tweetup on August 17th), this network has become an invaluable tool for me in my job.  To paraphrase one of my favorite obscure X-Men characters, librarians know stuff.  Yesterday for example, I had a question about a random book I needed to catalog in Urdu.  Turns out I knew three people on Twitter who had the answer I sought.  That one just floored me.

Working without that contact with my peers today was actually a bit rough after having grown so accustomed to it.  Hopefully tomorrow everything will be better.