FYI: In 2008, Jamie LaRue posted the contents of a letter he'd written in response to a patron's request that Uncle Bobby's Wedding be removed from the picture book area (it's cataloged as a picture book in LaRue's system). The letter is polite, well-considered, careful, concerned, solidly argued, and awesome. You can read it here.
I've been slogging through the hundreds of "saved to read/bookmark later" posts in my doomed Bloglines account and came across this faux newscast generator, which seems ideal for Banned Books Week (replace Dave & Jan with staff photo?):
Tuxpi [Photo Effect: Newscast]
We've used free online image generators from time to time at my branch to beef up ye olde 8 1/2" x 11" book display sign in the Lucite frame. This license plate generator helped for a display of Minnesota Book Award-winning books last Spring--
Public domain images make good sign inspiration, too. My genius coworker Marni (also responsible for our Eden Prairie Library by the Numbers Display, which was great for bringing home what the library accomplishes during a budget crisis) used some in my favorite book display signs from this year:
Posted by Emily Lloyd at 9:21 AM
Still no new toon--just feeling kind of brain-beat this week. But this rerun is for my colleague JC, who was hit hard with requests for "multicultural books" today (first week of high school in our town):
[Says JC: "To all the teachers out there sending their students to the public library for a book, please, for the love of God, "multi-cultural" is NOT a genre. What is multi-cultural to me is someone else's culture and to call it multi-cultural is insulting. Be specific! To the white kid, the East Indian kid and the Somali kid all standing in front of me, I say what? 3 books on Inuits, here you go."]
Posted by Emily Lloyd at 8:17 PM
Banned Books Week 2010 is coming up on September 25, and a coworker and I recently compiled a display of banned and challenged books. Another coworker, spotting A Light in the Attic on the display, asked what on earth Shel Silverstein's books had been challenged over. The answer? Cannibalism!
I understand what Andy was getting at in discussing image--how librarians are perceived. I think "I didn't go to library school to end up having to [fill in the blank]" is never a good way to phrase it. No one goes through pregnancy to end up having to clean up baby puke, but it happens. A lot. It's not the reason you had a baby, but it's part of the job, especially if you're short-staffed. I think the impression some people have that "librarian" is not a job you need a master's for, though, might come less from having witnessed a librarian help with a copier, and more from the general public just having no idea what librarians do, especially NOW--now that there are computers and databases and more than just books and quiet. There is still a widespread assumption that librarians get to read books at work, and that libraries are peaceful places to work.
Folks having no idea what librarians do is similar to the image problem I think we work harder and focus more on, which is folks having no idea what libraries offer. We market our programs and offerings and there are still people coming into libraries wondering how much a library card costs, or shocked that our computer classes are free, or that with a library card they can access thousands of full-text journals and magazines from home. We do our best to publicize what we offer. And, if it bothers us that folks think librarians don't need degrees, than it is on us to publicize the degreed-level work we do.
Unfortunately, the general public is not as likely as we are to spend hours at the Library Day in the Life wiki reading up on all the different ways to be a librarian and all the different projects on which librarians work. So how do we publicize what we do?
Posted by Emily Lloyd at 5:40 PM
It is exceptionally rare that I get offended enough by a librar* blog post to respond to it with more than pulling a coworker over and saying, "Get a load of this," but Andy Woodworth's The Master's Degree Misperception at Agnostic, Maybe, got--as we used to say in high school--on my tits. Read it, but here are two excerpts:
On any given day, I can be standing at the circulation desk side-by-side with a support staff member doing the same thing that they are doing. So long as this arrangement exists, the perception that librarianship does not require an advanced degree will continue to taint the image of the profession.
It is a disservice to the education, to the degree, and to the profession when the bulk of a librarian’s daily tasks could be performed by someone with a GED...[H]ow can we separate the MLS from the paraprofessional? Should the profession insist on a greater separation of duties? Should we surrender the reference desk over to the paraprofessional and adopt “research hours” where we can sit down with people who have actual reference questions? What needs to change in how we approach the job in the context of the library?
Woodworth concludes his post, "I’m not ignorant of the fact that this post will not apply to some libraries that have a smaller staff; nor that there will be times when there is a crossover of duties between librarians and paraprofessionals. I’m simply saying that this will continue to be an image problem so long as it is found [that paraprofessionals and librarians often do the same work] in the majority of public libraries around the country.
To my mind, the best way to solve an "image problem" is to provide patrons with knowledgeable, kick-ass, "I can't believe how much time you just saved me," "I can't believe you were able to find a book series that my reluctant reader devoured"-type service. And to have a good, helpful, I-want-to-make-your-day-easier attitude when, yes, telling folks where the bathroom is or helping them figure out how to make double-sided copies. Because they'll remember it, and when you seem friendly, they might (they often, in my experience) decide to ask you another question, a more, in Woodworth's words, "actual reference question" (that they may not previously have felt comfortable asking, or as if it was worth "disturbing" a librarian about) after they take their leak.
(please also see follow-up post)
Posted by Emily Lloyd at 7:59 AM