librarian pet peeves

E-books are books. They are not like books. They are not almost books. They are books. The digital format is their container, just as paperback and hardcover formats are containers. Some books are born digital, some are published in multiple formats and include digital options. They are still books, whether reference books, textbooks, fiction, or picture books. It’s just a publishing format. Authors do not like it if you say their e-books are not
“Real” books and librarians whose libraries have e-content licensing agreements to offer ebooks don’t like it either.

Format preference is a personal matter. I prefer to read certain materials digitally, but will buy a hard copy of others. Whether you prefer to read on a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or hold a hard copy is irrelevant. This is a matter of preference and content availability (and cost). Doesn’t mean that the book on your laptop is any less real than the one in your hand.

End library rant.

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Why I deserve my office space – a manifesto

My cubby hole is under siege! Or near siege. I have been told that another department is eyeing my office with ill intent. It seems they are seeking to promote one of their own to an office at the cost of someone who already has an office and does not belong to their department–namely, me. I refuse to give up without a fight! I am a vital part of my department and serve the university’s students well by providing all manner of support services – from telling them where to find help for all manner of financial or educational issues related to the university, to providing help with assignments (including but not limited to research, how to write/respond to their assignments, technology and computer help, emotional support and encouragement, and help with all manner of issues and questions that arise).

Here is why I deserve to have an office space of my own (with a door and four walls): 

  • I need a quiet spot to read student theses and dissertations. I provide editing and proofreading for the final stage in the publication process and students in graduate programs requiring these cannot graduate until one of the reference librarians approves the final copy.
  • I also edit articles for the university’s academic journal. This is a process that takes time and requires care in producing a clean copy. The journal is one of the ways the university puts itself in the public eye–I help make it presentable.
  • I need a space in which to write policies, tutorials, manuals, pathfinders, articles, reviews, blog and web content. This is not possible in the middle of the reference area.
  • I maintain and write content for the library’s new website. I need a space in which to focus.
  • I help clean up the library’s records. Any task that requires delving into a library’s main access point for content retrieval (ie – the catalog) necessitates a space where the worker can concentrate.
  • I plan library events, conduct research on trends and happenings that might interest our students and faculty, and identify ways to engage students through interactive programming while working in my office.
  • I conduct research on new materials and resources for the library’s physical and digital collections while in my office.
  • I need a space to meet with students and faculty to discuss their needs – whether this involves content editing for papers, questions of collection development, or just a meeting to talk about school/life/goals.
  • I need an enclosed area in which to attend online conferences and webinars for professional development. I definitely can’t do this in the reference area.
  • Everyone needs a place to unwind and let the creative juices flow. I love my office and produce some of my best ideas in there. Just because no one can hear me does not mean I am not in my office a lot of the time (except when I am working my hours at the Reference desk, meeting with a patron, or working on a project that takes me into the stacks), it just means that I realize I am in a quiet part of the library and comply with our patrons’ need for silence.
  • Sometimes, I even turn up on the weekends to finish working on projects that I could not complete during the week because of distractions. This is why I need a private spot.

I am going on vacation next week, I expect to have an office when I return or there will be a rucus.

This is my library happy place.

First week

My first week at the new job seemed to go really well… at least for me. I am still getting used to the earlier wake up hour–I was spoiled by my midday schedule, but it’s not bad and it feels good to get things done earlier, though I’m still figuring out how to balance full time work, school, and personal endeavors. Sadly, this has meant less time for some of the things I like to do, such as reading, writing, and blogging. Partly, this is because it’s also nearing the end of term and all my major projects are coming at me at once. Perhaps things will settle down a bit once the term is done. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing up library school. I love learning, but I’m tired of assignments and tuition costs.

It feels a little strange being a supervisor, but I’m starting to settle into it and am coming up with projects and ideas to set my students to work. I try to let them in on what I’m planning, so that they know that they have a part in the planning as well as the doing. That was one of the things that I really liked about my previous supervisor–he always consulted with us, even if he had the power to just tell us what to do and leave it at that. I’m also trying to connect actions with results, so my students know that there is a purpose behind the tasks that I’m setting. Several mentioned that they felt as if some of the tasks assigned to them in the past were pointless because they couldn’t understand how it served a purpose in the library, so I’m trying to help them understand. I don’t want them to think that I am giving them “busy” work just to give them something to do. I hate doing that kind of work and wouldn’t like to assign it in turn.

Of course, being the new person in the group, I’ve become the puzzle to be cracked. The results are kind of fun. Some have also taken to mentioning who I remind them of… my favorite comments:

1) One student says I remind her of Kat von D… I wonder if it’s the nose?

2) Another says I remind him of Evie from The Mummy… it must be the librarian look.

Oddly, no one said I remind them of Michelle Williams… which is one I’ve been getting since her Dawson’s Creek days.

donating to the collection

I may bitch and complain about the mess I go through every day to find a parking space on campus , but I really do enjoy my job. Finally, I’m working in an environment that is relevant to my chosen field, where I can gain insight into the daily workings of a library.

And sometimes, it’s just fun.

Everyone who works in a library has interesting stories to tell, about patrons, about reference questions, about the strange things that are found in reading areas and/or books. We’re a new department within the main library, but we already have some of our own stories to tell. Among our latest reference questions: Can I donate my body to the collection?

Being a medical library, we are in the business of providing a body of medical literature… this does not mean actual human bodies. Why this person was directed to the library remains a mystery.

I’m waiting for our first mystery organ in a jar to appear.

How do you tell your boss “No.” without making it seem that you don’t want to be a “teamplayer”?

I have this side job that I really enjoy. It’s in the field that I have chosen to pursue and I’ve met some great people. However, the director of the program has approached me twice regarding duties that are unrelated to my job and that I feel are absolutely wrong for me.

He first approached me about a possible teaching position, and I explained that my recent decision to quit teaching had led to my applying for this position; as such, I am not looking to return to that field.

Tonight he approached me to see if I would act as a sort of student motivator, making calls to students who have stopped attending class. I tried to tactfully explain that I feel that I am not an adequate person for the job, as I do not like making phone calls and am not someone with that sort of sales-pitch personality. He insisted and advised that I give it a try and see how it goes.

I don’t want to give it a try.

I know this is not something I want to do. Partly, because I have a laissez-faire attitude to teaching – if you don’t care enough to show up, that’s not my problem. And partly because I have no desire to bother people while they are working/eating/relaxing/whatever.

I don’t want to seem like I don’t want to be part of the team, but this duty has nothing to do with my being a library assistant, and there are others who are better qualified to handle such a task.

I am hoping that it will not come up again, but if it does I want to be prepared to tell him no in a professional and well-argued manner.

I don’t want to lose a job that I actually enjoy, but I know that this is a task that will stress me out and make me feel as anxious as I feel at my other job.

Is it wrong that I do not want to do this? Should I accept a task that is unrelated to my job and most definitely not part of my job description? Do I offer to not work on the two nights that the other librarian is there, if it is a matter of my being superfluous?

the scent of paper and ink

Found this post through LISnews

It’s about books lovers and those who put up with them (sort of).

I’m a book lover. My home is overrun by books. I try to get rid of them – sell them, donate them, give them away – but the collection just keeps growing. Is it any wonder my dream is to work in a bookstore or a library?

These two lines were particularly amusing to me 🙂 because it describes my particular brand of bibliophilia very well…

A bona fide book lover is someone who loves the smell of paper. He or she loves the feel of the book as much as the look of the book.

Book lovers don’t care where the books are, just that they are close by. They don’t have to be orderly; sometimes a lack of order is preferred. Books can be piled horizontally or vertically, stacked in rows, squeezed together or layered in a pyramid.

I have to admit, even my mom thinks I’m a little nutty when I tell her I simply have to go to a bookstore to smell the books.

at the library

Yesterday, I was catching up on my google reader subscriptions when I noticed this short piece posted on librarian.net:

When the economy is bad people go to the library. We know this. Here’s two different media mentions: serious (Grand Rapids Press), funny (Colbert).

It got me thinking… as an avid reader dealing with the strain created by the economic crisis, I recently started to cut back on my book purchases. Let’s face it, I’m a bibliophile. I crave the scent of books. I can’t walk by a bookstore without going in an buying a new book. So, a few months back, I started avoiding bookstores. 

I’m not much of a TV person. Other than “Heroes” (my most recent tv obsession) and the morning weather forecast, I rarely watch television. Netflix has me covered as far as movies. And last.fm has me covered musically. What’s left… my bibliophilia.

When I evaluated my spendings, I realized that if I wanted to limit myself to the essentials, I would have to restrain my enthusiasm for book collecting. 

This is where the library comes in… 

You would think that for someone with such an obvious love of books, I would be a dedicated library patron. I love libraries. I just never particularly cared for checking out books. As a kid, I was limited to the selection at our local library, which was not very extensive and rarely had what I desired. As a result, I got in the habit of buying books, and created my own collection (a collection that has grown out of control in our tiny apartment…). I buy them. I stack them. I read them when the mood strikes. I always have a new text on hand.

However, the occasional $10, $12, $24 book purchase is no longer feasible for me. Unless it’s something I’ve been anxiously awaiting (like Inkdeath) or a fantastic bargain bin find, I am no longer adding to my collection. At least, until the crisis passes.

Instead, I’ve turned to the library.

And it seems I’m not the only one.

The Miami-Dade public library system has been expanding across the county, so a number of small, local branches have cropped up. Many of these are more like computer libraries and inter-library loan stations than traditional libraries, but they serve the community.

One of these outposts is located near my home, so I have been taking advantage of its proximity and using it as my preferred pick-up location. This afternoon, I popped over to pick up a text that arrived for me, and the place was packed. Packed with kids and tweens. This area is not known for its scholarship and we have many of the lowest ranked schools in the county, but it was a pleasant surprise to see that kids going to the library, if only to conduct research.