Posted tagged ‘library’

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.

Orgainizing By Subject

May 1, 2009

As reported by the Swiss Army Librarian, the Chelmsford Public Library has started a rather ambitious reclassification project.  They’re aiming to gradually migrate over to a system that maintains some of the structure of Dewey while becoming more akin to BISAC.  

I wish them the best of luck, and they’re in great hands with Brian Herzog, but honestly the system seems a bit of a mess to me.  The designers clearly want to move to something a bit more user friendly, a very admirable goal certainly, but they’re still essentially sticking with Dewey’s organization.  For example why keep a subject begging to be broken out into it’s own grouping like computers within the general information section it resides in with DDC?

I’ll definitely be keeping up with Brian’s post to see how this project progresses.  Again, good luck.

Happy 35th Anniversary

March 27, 2009

The current building for the Berkshire Athenaeum turns 35 this year, and to celebrate the Friends have commissioned a portrait of the building.  The artist Marguerite Bride, will work on the painting within the library, and has begun a blog to document its progress.


March 24, 2009

Yesterday was yet another one of our Rock Band nights, but something felt different this time.I think we’ve finally crossed the tipping point.  Turnout was great!  And we were on an off day thanks to being kicked out of the auditorium to make room for our book sale.  A few regulars were absent, but we retained all the new faces from the last one, and picked up more through word of mouth (our advertising really isn’t doing anything).  I particularly liked that we had one group come simply because they were following some of the others to see what was going on, and they stayed for all three hours!  

I think more fun was had by all this time too.  There was tons of socializing, a surprising amount of headbanging (unfortunately literally in one instance), and just a great vibe in the air.  Everyone asked about next time, three people volunteered to bring extra equipment (including an x-box), and one even offered to make a donation.  By the time it was over I felt completely and totally elated (and subsequently had trouble falling asleep, but still managed to wake up at 6 am like usual).


January 8, 2009

The new Darien, CT library is about to have it’s grand opening after a $24 million renovation, and by all accounts they may have created the ideal library environment.  It’s designed as a community center first and foremost, has a cafe, built in placements for laptops, patron friendly stacks, and the roaming librarians have tablet pc’s with them to help answer questions on the fly.

Everyone, pay attention to what they’re doing, this is our future.

Q & A

November 24, 2008

For something a little different, a user question from Daniel:

Why do libraries group graphic novels/comics in trade paperback all in one category, rather than have them delineated into categories similar to – if not within – those of the rest of the library. What I mean is, why not put something non-fiction, say a memoir like Blankets, or Fun Home, in the non-fiction/memoir section, instead of simply alongside other comics. Is it simply something to do with ISBNs, or along those lines? I ask because I have always wondered this, and think that such a categorization of comics would be beneficial in the long run to their growth in libraries and academia. Not all, but much of what is in a library seems to be organized by content, not form; besides that, it just seems silly to have to wade through a bunch of superhero junk to find the great, literary-quality graphic novels (and I say that as a huge reader and weekly purchaser of said-superhero-junk). Anyway, thanks for your time!

First of all Daniel, thank you for asking, this is actually a huge pet peeve of mine.  I actually wrote a paper back in my cataloging class arguing that no one has figured out how to handle comic correctly.  That was 4 years ago and not much has changed in that time.  Basically the problem is that cataloging practices change at a pace that could perhaps best be described as glacial, especially in regards to call numbers and subject headings.  And comics are a form that are relatively new and annoyingly unfamiliar to many in the profession so problems happen.

On to the long answer.  I work with Dewey at my library and I’m most familiar with it, so I’ll use that as the example.  The Dewey Decimal system was not designed with much room for future expansion and all newer subjects had to be shoehorned into it somewhere, and not all of these have been done well.  The books on computers are particularly awful, getting forced into the early 000’s, pretty much just because there was unused space there.  

Comics are another of these, but in this case they’re also done a disservice by the library of congress subject headings.  All comics get labeled as “comic books, strips, etc…”, and if that’s assigned to a book then it’s bound to be assigned the respective call number while undergoing its CIP (cataloging in publication) entry by the library of congress.  Libraries are not bound to use this information at all, but pretty much everyone takes it under advisement, and many have their books automatically labeled by the distributors they use, who all use CIP data.

So that’s the call number side of things, but still leaves the arguement about the best way to group these items.  My own take is actually to continue keeping all comics/graphic novels in a single location, because a lot of patrons do single them out and because they lend themselves to slightly different cataloging practices (i.e. shelve spider-man by titles instead of author), but to treat that collection as one which can be subdivided into fiction and the various non-fiction numbers (i.e. comics/920/Thompson for Blankets).  But I have thus far failed to convince anyone at my own library that that’s the way to go so make of it what you will.

So there, a long answer and not a terribly good one, but I hope it helps to show how libraries can occasionally fail to work.  But at least it’s a problem we’re aware of and which many are fighting to resolve.

Trip Up North

October 7, 2008

Back from a roundtable held at the North Adams library, which is easily in contention for the title of nicest looking library in the Northeast.  The building is completely green, solar and geothermal powered, spacious, open, and somehow completely at peace with the historic home that was adapted to form it.  I’m very jealous, and that’s despite the fact that one of their tech services people is responsible for maintaining their power and heating systems.

The meeting itself was great as usual, and I finally had a chance to make my LibraryThing pitch (albeit with my backup slides instead of a live demo due to a temporarily downed server).  I always go into these meetings afraid of having a sparse agenda, and then we always run out of time.  And besides the opportunity to discuss workflows and spend some time in other libraries these meetings have been a great way to network.  The tech services librarians in my region are starting to form a fairly strong community.

The next one will be this February at the Westfield Athenaeum, exact day T.B.D.  If you’re in the area please come.

Fitchburg Revisited

August 7, 2008

The Worcester Telegram has an update on the fate of the Fitchburg public library, and this time it was picked up by the ALA’s weekly mailing list.  Things have not improved since the last time I checked.  They’re a month into having their hours reduced to 21 a week and neighboring libraries have gone on record saying they will deny service to Fitchburg patrons when the library’s state certification expries in January (as is standard practice in Mass.).

They are planning to begin a massive fund raising campaign shortly, and I wish them the best of luck.

The End of Year Tango Redux

June 16, 2008

So I few days back I wrote about our end of year budget surplus that allowed me to order a large batch of graphic novels for my library.  Well things sort of spiraled and people were struggling to think of things that we could get quickly on short notice without having to worry about wasting time looking at review sources.  Long story short, I got on top of the graphic novels I also got to add a bunch of classic films, a decent selection of BBC series, and I batch of f&sf art books (I can’t wait for the Jon Foster retrospective in particular).  This is yet another time that it has proven valuable to have a geek on staff.

However, that was last week.  This week we get the downside of all those orders, figuring out what to do with all those items when they come in at once.  Book carts are such coveted items right now, and I’m actually very concerned about the dvd’s because it wasn’t until today that anyone thought about if we had enough processing supplies on hand to handle such an order.  But the sad truth is that even had anyone thought of that, it still wouldn’t have been a concern as our one and only goal was to spend down the budget.

Still I enjoyed what may very well have been my one and only stab at real collection development.  And now it’s back to cataloging.


May 8, 2008

I’m back from two packed days at the 2008 MLA conference.  This year it was held in Falmouth, which was a pain to get to (I got lost 4 times, counting once in the hotel), but the conference was wonderful.  Except that I was fully intending to blog actively from there but didn’t feel like paying the daily connectivity charges at the hotel thanks to worrying about my car repairs (so I’m feeling cheap right now).

Which leaves me in the odd position of wanting the chance to digest what I’ve learned by discussing it here, while the events of the conference have already been described fully elsewhere.  Just like the previous year I was well and truly impressed with the depth of the presentations that were offered, and most importantly nearly every presenter was there to show how their ideas could actually be utilized by the attendees.  So often at these conferences I feel like the organizers have the heads in the clouds and only ever present the best case scenario.  Sure given an unlimited budget and a free hand I would love to build the ultimate library.  But MLA manages to remain practical, while not skimping on pushing for innovation and that is to its great benefit.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, but right now I can feel myself crashing hard.  In the meantime please read through the MLA blog linked above.  There’s a ton of great material there and the whole team of bloggers truly outdid themselves in their reporting.