Friday, December 15, 2006

Eye Candy

True story:
I was wrapping up a reader's advisory session with a patron who remarked, "I've never seen a male librarian before." In a nonchalant manner I replied, "Yeah, we make up roughly 20% of the profession." She seemed fascinated by my presence in the library. I was a curiosity, a novelty. The reference interaction ended and she made her way up to the circulation desk to check-out her books. I overheard her say to the circulation assistant, "I see you have a male librarian working here now. It's nice to have some eye candy around here." The circulation assistant said nothing.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kathy Sierra is Smart

It's been a while since I've posted about Kathy and the blog she is a part of: Creating Passionate Users. The blog is mostly geared towards software development and making products that people are passionate about instead of just users of (i.e., the iPod).

Toady Kathy makes a great point:
Things I learned from my horse trainers #42: practice saying, "Hmmmm... how interesting." Say it when you're frustrated. Say it when you're mad. Most importantly, say it before you say or do anything else (including hit the "send" or "post" button).

It should be the first thing out of your mouth when things go wrong--or don't meet your expectations--because:

1) It inserts a pause and gives you a moment to think before you react.

2) It keeps you from taking things too personally
Think about it, this might be a way to deal with a difficult patron, or when you run up against library policy that you don't agree with but need to enforce.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

censors in civilization

Senator Robert Byrd makes no secret of the fact that he walks around with a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket. I suppose it serves as a constant reminder of the ideology that governs our Legislature.
At times, I consider carrying around a copy of the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights" (and its Rule Interpretations) with me. Say what you like about the ALA, I am a proud member and fully support the organization. As corny as it may sound, the text of the "Library Bill of Rights" inspires me.
I've always been a bit of an ideologue, a trait which can sometime be a liability if you habitually let it cloud your ability to render practical solutions. However, there are times when my tendency for the abstract is steadfast, like when library materials are met with challenges from the censors.
We've all heard: "I don't want my tax dollars to be used towards the purchase of materials that I (or anyone in my family) might find objectionable." This is the argument that the censors make and it's a troubling one because that logic does not hold up when you extend it to other areas. For instance: "I don't want my tax dollars to be used to fund the school system because I don't have children so why should I pay to educate someone else's child according to a curriculum that I didn't write (or even approve) in the first place."
If you don't want your tax dollars to be used in a manner that you do not deem appropriate then your best option is to move to a part of the planet where a taxpayer-funded government does not exist. This will likely be a very remote location where other human beings do not currently reside and will thereby accomplish the secondary objective of never having to be offended again since you will be in a position to avoid human contact entirely. Those of us that remain in civilization will feel pretty good about the arrangement too.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Felling Groovy (but not like Simon & Garfunkel)

So I've been away from the reference desk for a few weeks. We're finalizing our move, and I've been needed elsewhere. However, with the end of the year crushing down on us quickly, there are a lot of us trying to use up floating holidays. Story short, I was on the reference desk yesterday afternoon.

And I saw a gentleman who I'd helped in the past who was trying to get custody of his step-children. Not to get too specific (and not that I know a lot of specifics), but he's trying to get these kids away from a bad situation.

I and the head of reference helped find all the forms he needed to fill out so that the courts could do what they needed to do. Since he's not a blood relative, he needs to make sure that he cross all his 't's and dots all his 'i's.

So yesterday I found out that he's been able to get weekend custody of the young man involved (he already has the twin teenage girls [who are just awesome kids]) and if that goes well he may be able to get more.

It felt so good to hear from him and know that the information I gave him was helping him and his situation.

It's always nice to know that what you're doing matters, isn't it?


do libraries make you hungry?

I have to get something that's been troubling me off my chest.

Am I the only one who is shocked by the library staff's complete preoccupation with food. It's probably just me, but it seems like food creeps into conversations among co-workers a lot around here. I never knew it was possible to have a conversation about what you plan to have for dinner--or, even worse, what you had for dinner the night before--until I began working at a public library. Staff get so worked up over these discussions that you'd think they were discussing a solution to the war in Iraq. And judging from their conversations, it seems that I'm the only who considers half a can of Pringles and some grape soda as a proper dinner. My nutrients come from multi vitamins.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Filter the Fear

The Internet filtering policy at the North Central Regional Library (WA) is being challenged by the ACLU. Read the story at "American Libraries" online.

In the article, the Director of NCRL, Dean Marney, is quoted as saying: "The internet is so huge, and we carefully choose the books for our libraries. Shouldn't we try to be as careful with the internet?"

Wait a second...! Did I read that right? Employing filtering software does not make your library as careful as it is with regard to its collection development because individual libraries aren't writing their own filtering software. Their making their own decisions regarding which books to buy, but not the website to which they deny access.

Look, I have no problem with filters as long as they work. The problem is that they don't work. The bigger problem is that legislators and parents think that they do. Until filters become as smart as human beings, they'll always be problematic. Sorry, parents; I think your job is only going to get harder.

What really worries me, however, is the danger in associating collection development practices with internet filtering. Apart from the fact that they both fall under the heading of "access," the two have very little in common beyond that.

Perhaps we should also let software do all of our collection development for us. All we'd have to do is write an algorithm and fire all the librarians. (Google can handle all of the reference questions.) While we're at it, we could fire the circulation staff and install a dozen self checkout kiosks.

The solution to all this? There isn't an easy one. All we can do is challenge programmers to write better software. Of course, we could also push for legislation that would abolish the Internet.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pat Wagner of Pattern Research

Last week, my library brought in Pat Wagner of Pattern Research to talk to the staff about customer service. I saw Pat just about a year ago when I was an intern at the Princeton Public Library finishing up my Master's degree.

Pat is just great. She really re-energizes you about working with the public. I'd been feeling kind of down in the past month. We're getting ready to complete our construction and I've been busy with the anthology and the zine, and really just taking too much work on. I was driving myself nuts trying to stay on top of everything.

While I haven't learned to take on less work, something that Pat said stuck with me: "I can only do what I have time to do." What Pat meant by this wasn't that you should not do work, nor that you should try to do as little as possible, but rather to realize your limitations as far as time constraints, and do the best job you can in the time you have. It doesn't matter if you could do an awesome job on a reference question if you had four hours when you really have fifteen minutes (or two!). Take the time you have and give the person the most complete answer you can in that time. Don't give them fifteen minutes of a four-hour answer, give them a fifteen minute answer.

This is not an easy thing to do, but it is important to keep in mind. And, if the patron needs more from you, let them know that it will take more time and you will get back to them later. If they aren't willing to wait, then they will have to take your fifteen-minute answer.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Library Catalogs

I've been spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about our library catalog recently. We're nearing the end of a large (dare I say huge?) construction/renovation project. Right now, most of the adult books (that aren't in storage) are crammed together in one main area (young adult and biography share a space that is not their final resting spot). The children's books are crammed into one square of space.

Eventually, the space where all the fiction/nonfiction adult books currently reside will be only fiction, while nonfiction, biography, and a few other areas will be moved into the new nonfiction/reference area. The children's book will spread from one square of space to three. And the young adult collection will be moved into its own room.

In addition to physically getting the books in place, we need to make changes to the catalog so that patrons can find the books (they'll be lost for weeks with just the physical move, but we'd like to give some sort of chance to find their books...more thoughts on this in a future post). Some of that is simple. We just need to change the description of the location in the catalog so that it'll refer to the new location. Some are more difficult.

We have a few collections that are currently in their location that will be incorporated into other collections (i.e., our non-reference LAW books are being integrated into nonfiction). So, we're taking part of this separate LAW collection and moving it into nonfiction, but some of it is staying separate. So, we need to move the books in the catalog from one location to another. Right now, we have LAW, BUSINESS, CAREER, FDC, and a few miscellaneous collections that are being split like this.

We also have a few collections that will need to be split because we are physically moving them to different parts of the library (the library used to be a children's section and then everything else; now we'll have three main sections: children's, fiction, and nonfiction). For example, we have educational videos, (as opposed to entertainment videos like Star Wars and The Sopranos) that include things like the BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice," but also things like "8-minute Abs." Right now, they are in the same room. BY the end of the year, they will be in separate rooms. Right now, they are in the same location in the catalog. By the end of the year, they will need to be in separate locations in the catalog.

As I investigated this issue earlier this fall, I learned that this was no way for me to do this on my own without scanning each book manually. I find it hard to believe that moving collections from one place to another is not standard in an ILS. We have a workaround that we're building right now, but I can't believe I had to get a workaround made. In a multi-library system, you would have the ability to 'move' the books in the catalog from one library to another and then back again, but changing locations along the way. I don't know why I can't do this for a standalone library; they're creating a fake library for me to use for this exact purpose.

How many libraries out there shift books from one location in the library to another? What if you wanted a separate travel section? Or you wanted to combine two existing collections?

Don't even get me started on close dates for loan periods while we're closed. :)


Saturday, November 11, 2006


So I was ordering books for the library when I decided to see if Logorrhea was listed in Baker & Taylor. You can tell I'm not really an author since it hadn't occured to me before to look. Well, lo and behold, there is was. With an ISBN and everything. (it's 978-0-553-38433-8 [or 0-553-38433-3 for you pre-ISBN-13 phillistines]) And, it's obviously available at Amazon, so that's cool. If you don't know, Logorrhea is an anthology of original fiction that I'm editing for Bantam. The stories are all based on spelling-bee winning words. It's due to come out next May in time for the National Spelling Bee.

I've been on the other side of things hundreds of times. But this is the first time that I've been responsible for the content of a book that's being published. I'm somewhere between excited and a nervous wreck.

I'm honestly overwhelmed. I have to thank my editor, Juliet Ulman, for making this all possible. And of course, you should all go out and pre-order your copies today. :)

Here is the final line-up, in order:

Hal Duncan - "The Chiaroscurist"
Liz Williams - "Lyceum"
David Prill - "Vivisepulture"
Clare Dudman - "Eczema"
Alex Irvine - "Semaphore"
Marly Youmans - "The Smaragdine Knot"
Michael Moorcock - "A Portrait in Ivory"
Daniel Abraham - "The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics"
Michelle Richmond - "Logorrhea"
Anna Tambour - "Pococurante"
Tim Pratt - "From Around Here"
Elizabeth Hand - "Vignette"
Alan DeNiro - "Plight of the Sycophant"
Matthew Cheney - "The Last Elegy"
Jay Caselberg - "Eudaemonic"
Paolo Bacigalupi - "Softer"
Jay Lake - "Crossing the Seven"
Leslie What - "Tsuris"
Neil Williamson - "The Euonymist"
Theodora Goss - "Singing of Mount Abora"
Jeff VanderMeer - "Appoggiatura"


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feeling Green (but not like Kermit)

American Libraries magazine is reporting that the newly constructed public library in Bozeman Montana will reserve its prime parking spots for hybrids, car pools, "low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles." This is one of the requirements that the library must deliver in order to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Why comply? Well, apart from the obvious reasons, a private donor has promised to contribute $500,000 to the library if they do.

All of this talk of low-emitting vehicles is really starting to make me wonder. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hybrid vehicles and car pooling, but those of us who ride motorcycles are starting to feel a little unappreciated. Our machines have been low-emitting before the practice was formally sanctioned by actor Leonardo DiCaprio when he granted it his "official blessing of cool" by driving around Hollywood (and, more importunately, being seen) in his precious Prius. "What about cycling or walking," you ask? Well, that's just down-right uncivilized; I might break a sweat.

Anyway, I just hope the local parking authority in Bozeman doesn't ticket any innocent motorcyclists who park in the good spots. Incidentally, just in case you're wondering, motorcyclists do use libraries. But I'm not sure about DiCaprio.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Je vous presente...

Operating under the sound advice of The Editor, I'd like to take a moment to briefly introduce myself. The Editor and I met in graduate school where we soon discovered the uncanny similarities that exist among our respective professional backgrounds and future aspirations as librarians. Like the Editor, I am a career-changing 30-something who is new to the LIS field. My previous career was in the corporate world where I worked in corporate communications, advertising, entertainment marketing (a.k.a., "product placement") and media relations. Despite my brief tenure as a practicing librarian, I can report with complete certainty that I have never been happier. Some of us are just made to be librarians. It's in our DNA. I suppose this makes me one of the lucky ones; many people spend their lives in search of the same level of professional satisfaction that I have been fortunate enough to find in the LIS field. Lastly, I think you'll find that my take on things is fairly non-traditional. Of course, that stands to reason; I'm new to the profession and have yet to become captivated by the status quo. With any luck, I never will. I sincerely hope that my contributions to this blog will provide both entertainment and educational value--all the while maintaining your interest.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2007 NJLA Salary Guidelines

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) Executive Board has adopted new recommended salary guidelines for 2007.

The new recommended minimum salary for a librarian starts at $45,787.


Sadly, these are only recommended salary guidelines.

Tags: need a degree to do this?

True story:
As I was wrapping up a reference interaction with a patron a couple of months ago, she asked, "By the way, how did you get a job working here? I love this library and I'm here all the time. Maybe I should start working here too." I said, "Well, I started off by first going to graduate school...." She interrupted me there and said, "Oh, you need a degree to do this?"


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pop Goes the Library

So here's some news. I've been invited to be a contributor to the way cool Pop Goes the Library blog. I've very excited about this and looking forward to posting.

This will likely mean that this blog will slow down in its posting regularity, and it may well mean that this blog will stop having posts. I don't know what will happen and it depends on my schedule.

There are things about librarianship that I would post here that wouldn't necessarily fit under PGTL's umbrella. We'll have to see!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

School Library Journal October 2006

I received a few copies of the issue today (I mentioned my podcast previously here, here, and here; hmmm, I think I need to mention something else here...) and was able to see my name in print. How cool. (see below for my mash-up of my name and the cover of the issue)

I'm very proud (obviously!) of getting the chance to do something like this so early in my career. I hope I continue to get chances. There are some other projects I am working on along these lines that I think are very cool. I'll unleash them here as they come to fruition.

SLJ Oct 2006 mashup

Next week is Teen Read Week, and I'm excited that I will be hosting a reading/Q&A session with the awesome Libba Bray, and following that up with an event wherein the teens and I will make an 8-page zine out of one sheet of paper. I'm excited and a little nervous that this stuff is happening next week already! Got to get prepared!

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Monday, October 09, 2006


Here it is. My first ever podcast. For now you can access it at:

I don't know how long the podcast will stay up there, but go listen to me blather on about Library Thing and how I'm using it in the library. You can also see a cheesy picture of me:

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Couple Things

First, I've recently recorded a podcast for School Library Journal about technology uses in the library. In my case, specifically Library Thing. I'll post a link when it's up and available.

Second, I've added my name to the people who will be discussing Summer Reading 2008 for New Jersey. I thought I should get involved and help shape what happens.

Third, I'm going to start reading for the Garden State Book Awards. I don't know exactly what this will involve. I know books will start coming my way and I'll have to read them. This is part of NJLA's young adult section (correct me if I'm wrong).

Fourth, I have offered my services in helping write a manual for YALSA (I was asked if I would be interested in authoring or co-authoring and I said yes). Whether my help is needed is not known at this point, but there you are.

Fifth, not library related, but I turned in the manuscript that I edited of short stories based on spelling-bee winning words to my editor at Bantam. More later as I know more (there is a acceptance portion that needs to happen).

Sixth, this will be vague.... I've been asked to be a regular contributor to another blog. For now I'm keeping it under wraps until it officially happens. That will most likely spell the end of this blog since I won't have time to keep it up and maintain all my other projects.

Seventh, more non-library stuff, I'm currently editing issue #11 of my science fiction, Electric Velocipede, as well as putting together a chapbook, both of which I hope to have ready for World Fantasy at the beginning of November. Which is why posting here will be slow and vague.

And there are no more numbers as I had WAY more than I thought I would.


Thursday, September 14, 2006


UPDATE: I have what I need to create this podcast. However, I've been thinking it would be nice to be able to create podcasts at some point in the future.

I need to make a podcast, ASAP. I don't know what I need for equipment, etc. I've been asked by a library trade magazine to record a podcast talking about some technology-oriented stuff I've been doing. Sorry about being vague, but if I can't record the podcast I don't want people to be looking for it. The magazine will be hosting the the audio, so I don't need to worry about server space, etc.

Anyone local (central NJ) to me have equipment I could borrow or use?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Floppy Disks

So here's a question for those of you out there in library land. What do you do with floppy disks that get left behind by patrons? In theory, we hold them for a few months, then dispose of them. However, we have no system in place to do this. They build up until there's a stack of 30 or 40 and then we go through them. Many of our patrons are switching over to flash drives (we have a mix of machines, some are not USB capable), but there are a lot (mostly younger people) that still use floppy disks.

We're thinking of getting an official floppy disk holder with month separators to slot the found disks in. But until we do this, we just have a stack.

Anyone do something different? Does anyone reformat the disks for patron use?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Library Appreciation Days

Many of you (particularly in the state of NJ) already know about this, but this next weekend--Friday September 8 and Saturday September 9--is Library Appreciation Days in NJ. This event is a partnership between NJLA and Barnes & Noble.

Patrons bring vouchers into B&N this weekend and have them filled out with the dollar total of their purchase. A percentage of sales from each store goes to NJLA, which in turn is returned to the libraries for Summer Reading.

Part of me is always surprised when B&N teams up with libraries for things like this as I always think that the two are opposed to each other. However, conversations with the manager of the Princeton B&N lead me to believe that the people at B&N understand that bookstores and libraries provide different services and that there is plenty of room for both of us. Now we just need to educate the public.

You can find a PDF here that explains the program and the voucher is available here.

I will be at the North Brunswick B&N on Saturday from 2:30 to 6:30 to talk to people about services the library offers. Any suggestions on what I should talk about? We have downloadable audiobooks, great Summer Reading, historical township information, etc. But what's something I might be overlooking?


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is it just me?

Or has everyone else's library gone crazy in the past week and a half?

Did summer camp let out or something? (e.g., I need to finish this summer reading now!)


Monday, August 28, 2006

Reference Desk

So, what exactly are you supposed to do with the woman who wants you to put her floppy disk into your reference computer and make some changes on her resume for her?

I first explained that I could set her up on a computer and get her file open, but that I wouldn't have time to sit with her. That was ok, she didn't want me to sit with her.

She wanted me to do it for her.

There were at least four people behind her (this was after I went back and forth trying to find the mailing address for Lego [hint: limit search to CT] for about five minutes and let the line build up). She said that I could see if all they wanted was to work on a computer and then I could help her.

In some ways I feel bad because we don't have tech people, we don't have a tech room, we don't have a good way to help this lady out if I don't help her.

However, I am the only person on the desk, and I don't necessarily have the time and freedom to help someone like this. If the phone rings, if someone has a computer question, if someone else has a reference question, I need to help them. And in my mind, those needs take priority over someone who obviously doesn't want to learn to use the computer herself.

I did help her, because I think it's my duty, but also because it was easier than arguing with her over it.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Summer Reading

fear factor jello
(yes, you are seeing olives in Jell-o)

Summer Reading is over. We wrapped up with a pizza party last night. I had no guidance from previous teen summer reading organizers to have any idea of how many teens would show up. I got: "get the number of pizzas you need" to "lots of kids show up for free pizza."

The first comment is perplexing because it would be helpful to know that in the past they typically ordered four pizzas, or twenty, or six, or something.... I tried to be mathematical and use the number of kids who had signed up for Summer Reading (~80) versus the number of kids who actually in turned in hours and took part during the course of the summer (>45) and I ended up with the idea of 8 pizzas.

It was at least twice as much pizza as I needed. But, some of the girls were having a sleepover, so they took pizza with them, and another had a brother (who's a big reader and active in the program) who couldn't make it so she took a pizza, and another had some younger brothers who thought they were coming to pizza until I told them they had to be signed up for the Teen Program (this was my stipulation for the pizza party since June) so she took a pizza. And the rest went to the staff. And they didn't complain.

The photo above gives you a small insight into the madness and fun that was Fear Factor. Some weird things happened at the end of the night to almost sour the event for me, so I won't post about it at length. Needless to say, I'm keeping in mind that all the events worked better than I thought they would. You can see more photos here, alongwith other photos from library events and so on.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Yet Another Post on Summer Reading Programming

So today I had a conversation with a patron about a Summer Reading Program I have coming up. It's the event for next Monday, where an editor from Bantam Spectra is coming in to talk to the teens. She wanted to know if she could come to the event.

I told her no and that the event was only open to teens. When she asked why that decision was made, I told her it was my decision. That it was part of the Summer Reading program I developed for teens and that I didn't want to open to the rest of the library patrons.

She then asked to talk to a supervisor. While this request normally makes my skin crawl, today it was even worse since my supervisor is out through next week. I knew that she would not be happy to hear that. The next person in line is the director, who has more important issues to deal with than this. I told her I was not able to connect her directly to the director and that she would have to call back to get through to her. The woman was in a rush for time and said she couldn't wait for that.

I tried to get out of her the reason for wanting to talk to a supervisor. She first claimed that it was not my concern (not exactly true since I assume she wanted to complain about me, but perhaps there was some issue she wanted to discuss that I could help her with), but then she said that she wanted to suggest that we have a program for adults on this topic.

I've had a lot of interest from adults in my two publishing programs, and I suggested to adult programming person that we run an adult program on publishing. Right now we don't have the space or means for that, but once the library's construction is done, we will.

She seemed surprised that I would not let her into my teen program. First, I have no idea who this woman is and I need to protect my younger patrons. This concept may surprise her, but I have to be distrustful of adults who want to take part in teen programming. What is their purpose behind wanting to be around the teens? Is it truly interest in the program, or is it something else? Second, as soon as I let adults into the program--as one of my colleagues correctly pointed out--the teens would be overwhelmed by the adult presence and get nothing out of the program. The adults would have questions and concerns that would be different from those of the teens and the adults wouldn't be shy about asking questions.

I was almost going to suggest she come by on the day of the event and I could see how busy it was going to be, but then I decided not to. I planned the Summer Reading program events for my teens. The events are not geared towards adults and not intended for adults.

I do think we need to hold a program for adults about publishing, especially based on the interest people have shown.

I'm curious to see what happens on Monday and if this person shows up.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Summer Reading Programming #3

Sorry to post these so fast on top of each other, but I'm a little behind in getting this stuff online. I had a career speaker in to talk to the teens about publishing. I was originally going to have two editors come in and talk together about publishing and have an author come in to do a reading another week. I started my Summer Reading planning so late that I was not able to get an author in (although I have many promises from people to help out at future dates...) so I asked the editors to come in on different days.

This is the first editor, Jim Minz from Del Rey, who came in to talk. Unfortunately for Juliet Ulman--the next speaker--Jim covered a wide variety of things publishing. But, Juliet is very resourceful and I'm sure she'll have something to talk about when she comes in.

Here are some photos of Jim talking:

career speaker jim minz

career speaker jim minz

career speaker jim minz

The numbers of teens showing up at my events is slowly dropping. I don't know if it's due to the fact that the teens have other committments or that my events are no fun. :)

I know that some of my teen patrons are doing different sports camps, or like this last week, several of them share a birthday and they opted to do something other than come into the library.

I don't have a post for Programming #4 as there were only three teens and I took no pictures. Next week is my second editor, and then I have Fear Factor in the Library and the wrap-up pizza party.


Summer Reading Programming #2

We made Gocks (Goth Sock Puppets) except for me. I made a Pock (Punk Sock Puppet) since there were no Goths when I went to High School, I had to go with what I knew.

Here's some photos:

pre craft

my gock

the back of my gock

me and my gock

gock craft

gock craft

It was pretty fun, but it was quick. I wish I had known that the craft was only going to take about 40 minutes; I would have planned something else. As it was, I just had the teens make more Gocks. They really liked the concept, so they had fun making them.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Summer Reading Programming #1

Monday, July 10, 2006

me and my monster pillow

We made monster pillows. I was a little nervous going in to the event. I had never run a YA program before. I had never run a craft before. Heck, I'd never made this craft before in my life (yes, I'm sure you're surprised to learn that I am not into crafts).

I bought material that I thought would be sufficient for 15 people. Why 15? That seemed like the most I would get at a craft event. I've been running Summer Reading by the seat of my pants for weeks now; just finishing stuff the moment it's needed, changing plans mid-stream, you know, all sorts of a mess. So, there was not a lot of time to advertise for this program, and I had a conflict and needed to move it to another room (we really only have one room for programming right now, anyway).

So, I scrambled around all day getting ready for the craft, not sure what I was going to do and how it would turn out. We used to have a middle school across the street from the library (they built a new high school and the middle schoolers moved into the old high school) so we had a lot of young YA people in the library every day. We don't now. The books circulate a lot, so I know that we have people coming in, but I don't sit near the YA section so I don't see who's coming in.

Seven o'clock arrived and I was sitting along with all my crafts. In some part of my mind I felt like no one was going to show up. I prepared for 15 at most, but realistically I felt like it would be zero.

Then about five minutes after seven, ten teenage girls walked in and we got started. I didn't introduce myself, I didn't ask for volunteers, I didn't mention that I want to start a Teen Advisory Group, nothing. I just started the craft and off we went.

The young ladies had a lot of fun. Several of them made two pillows. They asked about upcoming programming, and we even rescheduled an event due to the teens availability. (I figured it wouldn't hurt to cater to the people who were actually going to be showing up)

I had fun, too. I'm looking forward to our remaining crafts and non-craft programs. I don't expect to have a big turn-out (at least not until the pizza party at the end of the summer) but as long as anyone shows up, it'll be good.

I figured I needed to add some more to this blog to talk about what I've been doing. Lots of information on here about what I think about what others are saying, but I need more here about what I'm doing and what I think about that. I don't have a library background, so things that may seem obvious to some of you, are not clear to me.

And often I'll try something without the mindset of 'that'll never work here, we've tried it before' and it works. Or it doesn't. I don't mind. You learn from mistakes. And you can't (particularly when working with YA, since you always have new faces) just try something once, you need to try it again and again. Just because it didn't work with the current group of kids doesn't mean it won't work with next year's kids.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ranganathan in the Hiz-ouse

Like Jessamyn, I am a huge Ranganathan fan. I've bemoaned the fact again and again that his books are not in print. I read his Five Laws of Library Science for fun my last semester of my MLIS. I found it endlessly fascinating and educational. For a book that is nearly 70 years old, it still has a lot of information in it that is useful today.

So, it was with unprecedented excitement that I read that open source versions of his work are being created by The Digital Library of Information Science & Technology Classics Project. And here's chapter one! How cool!

And, as promised many months ago, here is a version of the list I made for myself for my library, using the Five Laws as its backbone.

To explain the document a little bit, it obviously shows some very simple things that I needed to do--such as getting business cards and getting a shelf for my desk--but also has many things that are more forward thinking--such as allowing patrons to tag the catalog and starting an anime club in the library and creating a library PayPal mobile account so patrons can pay fines with their phones. When I finish an item, I change the font to strikethrough so that I can see what I've accomplished (and revisit things if they aren't working out) but still know what I don't have to focus on.

I'd love comments on my crazy list if people have them.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006


I thought it was just me, but apparently there are lots of librarians who encounter trouble with Hotmail attachments. At my library, I cannot download/open anything attached to a Hotmail e-mail. I have a dickens of a time explaining this to the poor patrons who are trying to open resumes, school papers, photos, etc.

Anyone have any solutions or experience with this? I've encountered this at other libraries as well. None of the other e-mail problems--AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.--seem to have this problem.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Boxes and boxes and boxes of books

Every time I move, I assess my belongings and whether I need them or not. This time, we're moving from an apartment with a lot of storage (it had a full basement) to a place with no storage. We're really going through things with strict guidelines. Any hesitation, and it's gone.

However, I find that I have dozens of boxes of books. Everything from all the science fiction I read to cookbooks to the set of books from my Grandmother when she taught in a one-room schoolhouse. Parting with books is difficult. I can't get rid of a box wholesale; it needs to be sorted and examined. It's a slow process and I normally end up keeping everything.

Recently, the talented Carleen at Library Shrine had a post on whether librarians should own books. There was an article written years ago that posited that librarians should not own books:
[T]he author believed that librarians, quite frankly, shouldn't own books and if they did own books then they should donate them to the library right away. His thinking, as I understood it then, was that the only way for a librarian to truly support and promote their institution was to use the library for all of their reading material and information needs. I finished the article with rather mixed feelings. On the one hand I knew he had a point, that librarians should do all they can to support their instutions but I just wasn't entirely sure whether I was prepared to sacrifice my own personal collection in order to do that.
An interesting idea, but I don't like it. I love books. There are books I've published, that are signed to me by the authors, that mean things to me personally that I would never give up. Also, this is not a good argument. You could use it for any profession: chefs should not have food, cab drivers should not own personal cars, etc.

It just doesn't make sense. Am I really not promoting my profession if I own my own books? What about the chef that eats at someone else's restaurant or the cab driver who also drives his own car? Are they being detrimental to their profession?

It's true that I don't buy the volume of books that I did before I joined the profession (and certainly not NEARLY as many as when I worked in publishing); now I just check things out of the library. I'm able to read a wider variety of material than I ever did just using my pocket book.

For Carleen, she's preparing for a new baby, and wonders:
As far as I'm concerned, there's no better gift for a baby than a book but as I place each book on my registery I can't help but feel a little guilty that I'm potentially asking many of my librarian friends to purchase books that we have at our library that I can check out for free and without the penalty of fines, no less (perk of being a staff member).
Like me, Carleen is going through her books and deciding if it makes sense to have so many:
In addition, I'm currently trying to clean out our overflowing bookshelves in order to make more space for babythings and I'm at my wits end trying to locate another spot in the house to put them. The practical and right thing to do would be to donate them to the library, of course, but I'm having a lot of difficulty parting with any of them.
It's tough. My wife is a High School English teacher, and she loves books, too. Our daughter has a nearly full adult-sized bookshelf of books (she's three months old) in her room. How crazy is that? However, I feel that as a librarian, it behooves me to read, and even to own books so that I know more about what's being published and what my patrons might be interested in. Who else is going to promote librarianship and libraries better than a librarian who knows a lot about books and can speak to his love of books through his own collection at home? Carleen puts this more eloquently (and therefore gets the parting shot):
Books are great conversations starters...they connect people. A visitor catches eye of Me Talk Pretty One Day and immediately know a little more about my sense of humor. They see all my books on art or Chinese religion, Scandinavian history, whatever, and realize that I did actually do or study something else before going to library school.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Update RE: Moving

Well, we moved. Mostly. All the big stuff has made it to our new home. Most of the little stuff. Except stupid things like shoes. And dish detergent. And our plants. And I'm sure something we'll need tonight.

Phones are coming soon.

The internet, coming by the 21st. Yikes! No home internet service for another ten days almost. Hopefully I can make it that long! Hopefully we have the house set up by then so that I can get to a computer.

I should take photos of the boxes in our living room. If it wasn't so annoying it would probably be stunning.

Thanks to Minz, Craig E., Bill Shunn, Laura Chavoen, Sondi, and Hanley who was out on the East Coast from MT to visit Minz on vacation. What a way to spend your vacation...lugging boxes of some guy you don't know.

At least the kitchen is half unpacked so we can eat....


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sorry for the silence

And it's likely to continue. I'll be moving over the weekend to a place that has two bedrooms (one for me and my wife, one for the baby, everyone's happy) and I don't know when I'll get Internet service set up again.

I'll be able to check stuff some from work, but that's limited. No posting to speak of unless I get super inspired by some topic.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Reference Interview vs. Poor Website Design

So Friday afternoon I get a call from a woman looking for the phone number for "any Lion's Club in Somerset County." She tells me she's in a hurry. I decide to go to the Lion's Club website (surely a national organization has a website where you can search for Lion's Club clubs?). I chose English as my language and click on the link to find clubs.

I first have to agree that I'm not going to misuse any information I find on the website. This is quite laughable; it wouldn't take much to get past this point and find and misuse their information if I was someone prone to be that way, but I'm not. I click on 'accept' and head straight into my search.

I can narrow it down by state, but then I run into problems. There's no furhter narrowing. You then click on the letter of the alphabet which starts the name of the club. Most clubs are named after the city they're in, but still, I should be able to narrow it down by county at least. (it would have helped me some in this case)

I click on 'S' for Somerset, the town and county I am in. There is no club for Somerset. I'll be honest, I freeze. I become reference deer in the headlights. There are a lot of cities in Somerset County, and I don't know where to go next. (my mistake is not clicking on 'F' for Franklin Township, which is an alternate name to where I am, more about this later) I tell the woman I cannot narrow my results by county and start to explain what the website is showing me.

She reminds me that she is in a hurry (and her tone of voice adds 'I can't believe you are stupid enough to not remember that'). I state that I remember her being in a hurry and that I'm searching as quickly as I can. An aside: this is a reference desk, I am alone, there are patrons who come into the library that need my help, I don't have time to sit and have a conversation on the phone. I then again try to start explaining to her what I'm seeing and what I'll have to do to search for clubs in Somerset County. I want to ask her if there are particular cities she wants me to look for when she says 'I'm not asking for your opinion, I want information.'

Reference interviews can be frustrating even with a helpful, pleasant person. But when the person is nasty, they are unbearable. I say that I can't use the Lion's Club website to look up clubs by county. She tells me she doesn't believe me. If I wasn't annoyed before (and I was) I am now. I decide to switch tactics, very aware that she is in a hurry.

I go to a resource called Reference USA, which gives business and personal addresses and phone numbers, etc. I search for Lion's Club in NJ hoping that I can scan their list quickly to find a city in Somerset County, give her that phone #, and send her on her way.

I get back nine results for the entire state.

What I didn't know/didn't think about, is that many Lion's Club clubs do not have permanent addresses where they would have a phone number. They meet in restuarants and other places. I tell her the closest club that I have a phone number for is Woodbridge. (you can go to google maps to see distance from Somerset to Woodbridge if you want)

She tells me--for the second time--that she doesn't believe me.

I don't know why I would want to lie to her, it's not like I was enjoying the phone call. She was not in a good mood when she called, and I'm making it worse; not intentionally mind you, but I might as well be.

I hesitate. Reference deer in headlights again. I want to explain to her what I've done, what I'm looking at, but she already has shown that she does not explanations from me. I fire up SuperPages (Verizon's online phone book) and look for Lion's Club that way. Same results as Reference USA.

I tell that every way I search, the closest club I have is in Woodbridge. (this is not technically true, the closest club with a phone number is in Woodbridge, most later) She is--I suspect--actually angry at this point. She then says 'forget it, give the phone number for a woman's non-profit orgranization like the Lion's Club that is in Somerset County.'

This is worse than reference deer. This is reference overload. This question/request is so huge and vague that I blurt out that I don't even know where to begin. I think she thinks I'm saying something along the lines of I don't even know where to begin to tell you how stupid that request is, but I literally mean that I'm not sure--for someone in a hurry, this is twenty minutes into our call--how to start this search.

She questions whether she has the library, whether she has the reference librarian, she wonders what I know at all, etc. etc. She wants to talk to my supervisor. I'm more than happy to do that, except my supervisor is out until Tuesday. She is not happy to hear that. She can't believe that we're closed on Sunday and Monday. She is mad. She tells me to give her the Woodbridge phone number and hangs up.

After we're off the phone, and I'm staring at the page in the phone book that lists non-profits in Somerset County (and by name, I don't know that I'd know which ones are women's non-profits like the Lion's Club). There is no Lion's Club in the list. I decide to click on 'F' on the Lion's Club website, and see that there is a Lion's Club in Franklin Township. However, it has no phone number. It meets at the restaurant that is next door to the library.

I think back to the agreement I made not to misuse their information and I can't think of a way I could misuse this information. The worst I could do would be to show up for a meeting and buy everyone a drink. There is a contact name, but had I gotten this far with my reference interviewee, would I be expected to find the person's personal phone number and give that out?

While the reference interview was handled poorly by me (becuase really, the whole impetus of making the reference interview work is on the librarian), there is no excuse for the eggregious website design by the Lion's Club. There should be other ways to search for clubs than to click on the letter that starts the name of the club. What if I was moving to a new area and didn't know the names of the towns around to search that way? Would it be possible to get a list by county? How about a list derived from X city and everything within Y miles of it?

Both of those things would be easy to do. It might not have saved my reference interview, but it wouldn't have made it any worse.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Collection Development & Purchase Requests

From one of my new favorite blogs Super Patron (how awesome is it that a patron is blogging about libraries from their point of view? this is one of the most important blogs about libraries to be created...ever), a quick post about libraries ordering books from patron requests:

'At FCL - if there's a new book a patron wants - we'll order it. That's how some of our collection development is done.' [this quote is from Kevin Yezbick, a student near where the Super Patron lives, and was quoted in the Super Patron post]
Now, that's not too spectacular. I suspect almost every library buys books that patrons ask about that aren't in the catalog. The patrons are always surprised that we would buy books (at least at our library) based on their requests, but are pleased that we do so. To be honest, even with the wide variety of interests that the staff has, there are LOTS of books we miss and I'm glad that the patrons can bring them to our attention. Here's the real deal of what the Super Patron's post was about [still from Kevin]:

'My friend was dreaming of a tool that would enable patrons to purchase books for the library that they wanted the library to have--and be put on the hold list for that item automatically. Now--books are already purchased by the patrons through the library funds--but she wanted to see how patrons could purchase books specifically that they wanted...over and above taxes and whatnot.'
Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I know that the Princeton Public Library uses an Amazon wish list to maintain a list of books that the library would like to add to its collection. It wouldn't be difficult to also have these books put on hold for the person who buys them.

However, to me it would seem that having the library place purchase requests is still the easiest way to do this. At our library, a hold is placed for the book for the person who made the purchase request. That way, when the book comes in, it gets set aside for them.

Mayeb it's just me, but having the patron buy the book in the first place (why wouldn't they just keep the book?) seems counter-productive. Of course, it could be that the library has a small collection development budget, or the patron is looking to create some sort of tax write-off (although you'd need to buy a lot of books to make that worthwhile!) and in that case, the patron buying books makes sense. Unless you use some sort of service like the Amazon wish list or the purchase request system(where the books are bought and sent directly to the library without the patron handling them) there's no point in putting the book on hold for the patron. Obviously if the patron physically bought the book, he/she already has the book in his/her possession and it would be silly to give it to the library and then expect it to be placed on hold.

My question is, why didn't I learn about these types of things in my collection development class in college? How come we didn't have some sort of a project where we developed a way to organize collection development? I.e. do you write all your purchases down on note cards, or in a spreadsheet, or in a notebooks? How do you keep track of purchase request books? Of replacement books? Your library may or may not have policies (it probably doesn't) and every librarian likely does something different. I think it would be very cool to have a project for class wherein you develop a strategy for keeping track of your collection development. You could try to develop a contact at Baker & Taylor to get test/student accounts to place orders for books and then track them. Just something I've been thinking about. Maybe I should adjunct. :)

This isn't to say that I didn't learn anything in my collection development class. We talked a lot about how to determine what should go in your collection based on your community's needs. That's important, but it's also important to get some practical advice/experience (even in a school oriented assignment) on how you actually do collection development: do you submit your purchases to one librarian who does ALL the buying, do you do your own buying, do you have to get purchases approved, etc. You could set up different scenarios for the students and have them come up with ways that they would work in those situations. Again, just me thinking out loud.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

FAQ updated

I've updated my FAQ to reflect some of my experiences in searching for a job.

Thanks Andrea!


Friday, May 12, 2006

Creating Passionate Users

This is something that libraries do well. When a librarian connects with a patron, that patron becomes a passioniate user of the library who will always, always, always come to the library for information, pleasure, fun, curiosity, etc.

But how do you make that connection? Part of it is just being a good person to everyone who comes through the door. Your patrons are paying--either directly or indirectly--for you to be there. How would you want to be treated if you came through the door? Well, do that to each person who comes in. Even if they're teenagers (why alienate people just about to become tax-paying adults? that makes no sense to me), even if they're a different socio-economic group from you, even if they're homeless, even if you can't understand what they're saying, welcome them all and treat them like people.

OK, you've done the tough part. Now comes the difficult part. A great place to get ideas is the Creating Passionate Users blog will give you many. At one point, I had more than 20 entries from this blog that I wanted to make reference to. In the end, I decided that I should just link to it and tell people to go there. Most of the time, Kathy Sierra is the person who posts the most on the site, although there are technically others who post (I've never seen anyone else).

Kathy mostly posts from a software development side of things, but I think you can take her ideas and relate them to any professional area. Since software development has an end product that wants to insinuate itself into people's lives, whether it be an iPod or Google or whatever. The library should follow some of the same pains to market itself and make itself useful to the patron. She has posts like what if you were watching a movie and the Microsoft paperclip came up to help you watch the movie? You would stop watching the movie because the experience of watching the movie has actually gotten in the way of watching the movie. So, if the experience of searching your catalog gets in the way of the patron searching the catalog (the user needs to put the word 'AND' between words for example [hello Ebsco! get with the 1990s!]), why should the patron come to the library to look for books when Amazon does a better job of helping them find their book (other than the patron doesn't need to buy EVERY book they have mild interest in)?

I can't tell you how much I love this blog. It's witty, clever, simple, informative, everything I want from a blog. Kathy draws really great diagrams to get her points across, and I know that visualization is really helpful when making points. Go to Creating Passionate Users today, you won't regret it!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

John Iliff

I only just met John last month at the NJLA conference. He was exuberant, excited, and effusive about podcasting at the panel. He was so full of life. Because of this, even though I hardly knew him, I was shocked to hear that he passed away recently.

What a loss for the field. What a loss for his family. We need people with his devotion to their craft. I wish I had gotten to know him better.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Nebula Awards

The Nebula Award winners can be found here. Congrats to all the winners, but kudos to Kelly Link for winning two of three short fiction awards (Best Novella for "Magic for Beginners" and Best Novellette for "The Faery Handbag" [which also won the Locus Award and the Hugo Award])!

This was also the first year for the Andre Norton Award (created to honor young adult SF/F novels). The award was given to Holly Black, for her novel Valiant.

If your library doesn't have any of the Nebula Award winners, this would be a good time to get them. Kelly's book would be a great addition to any collection, not just science fiction. Her book was one of five books chosen by Time magazine as best books of 2005.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

What Do Your Teens Read?

I'm in the process of finding out what my teens read. Ahem. I should say, the teen patrons at my library; they are not my teens. They are their own teens. If I remember nothing else that my parents tried to teach me, remembering that I am an individual is worth all the money in the world.

Talented YA author Justine Larbalestier (also all-around cool person and someone I'm glad to count as an acquaintance/friend) blogged about an article that irritated her today. The article claims:
[M]ost of the stuff published for children and adolescents is abysmal, self-regarding trash. Part of the fault rests with the packagers such as Alloy and in the way they do business. A larger part of the problem stems from publishers’ misguided belief that kids want to read about people just like themselves, living lives just like their lives.

Cassandra Clare fires back:
The publishing industry has always been a profit operation, that's why it's an industry and not a charity. Publishers publish books they think people want to buy and read, full stop.
There's also an excellent response here that mentions how some of canonical works of American literature started as books written for young people. Books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Justine adds her own fiery bit:
Lots of teenagers want to read about people like them, lots don't, and some of them want to be transported as well as read about teenagers like them. It's not an either/or. Very few things are. Some of those transporting books also happen to be about teenagers like them.

There is a lot of YA literature out there that is just amazing. Transporting (and not necessaryily in the 'let's all get aboard the space ship' type way) you to a whole new plane of thinking. Many of us thought the way John Green's teens talk/think in Looking for Alaska, but when you read the book, you are moved. I'm not sure if it's a newer arena of publishing or something I missed when I was a teen and had my nose shoved into Stephen King books. Were there books like The Giver or Speak or Peeps when I was a teen in the 1980s? One of the reasons those Stephen King books drew me in was that Mr. King used teenage protagonists in a whole lot of his stories. This wasn't an accident.

Like I said, I'm still learning what my teen patrons are reading. They read a lot of manga, of which I know very little. They read the sef-referential dreck books A LOT. Like I said above, I liked reading books in high school that featured characters I could relate to. I also liked reading books that had things happening in them that just couldn't happen in reality.

What are your teen patrons reading?

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Just Because it's Not New to You

I went to a panel at the NJLA conference that was hosted by Nancy Pearl. Yes, the Book Lust Nancy Pearl. Yes, action figure model Nancy Pearl. The panel was called Book Crush, which is the title of Nancy's next book. Written in the style of the Book Lust books, this book will focus on books for teens and younger. She said something during the panel that I've often thought over the years. It was:
"Any book that someone hasn't read is new to them."
This is very true. It's why books for children and young adults stay in print for a long time. If it's well written or if the kids just like them (I can think of a few books I loved while in grade school that I think are absolute dreck these days), the publishers will keep them in print.

I thought of Nancy's comment again when going through some older posts over at Pop Goes the Library. The post in question was wondering aloud about the latest King Kong movie and its subsequent DVD release, and that many libraries would be carrying this new DVD since that's what the patrons were looking for. Did that mean that the 1933 and 1976 versions of the movie should be weeded from the collection? PGTL says:
[I]magine how the various versions of King Kong, from 1933, 1976, and 2005 reflect the time when they were made. I mean, wouldn't it be interesting to have a women's study class watch these three versions, and see if our perspectives on women have changed with time? And you could only come to the library to get all three versions of the films, more likely than not.
While some libraries question whether DVDs belong in the library, I have no question in my mind whether they should. They are something the patrons are looking for. We are here to serve the needs of the patrons. I know that often a library carries titles (whether in print or in video) that you cannot buy/rent from a new chain store. As PGTL pointed out in the quote above, the library would be the place to get everything in one stop.

Remember Ranganathan, rules 2, 3, and 5:
2. Every reader his or her book (you could rephrase it: Every person his or her information need.

3. Every book its reader (rephrased: Every information need its person)

5. The library is a growing organism
That last one I'm going to shove down people's throats. It's my repsonse to "We've always done it this way." What if when you wanted microfilm someone said no? Or when you wanted to subscribe to EBSCO, or to HeritageQuest?

We should not be in the business of maintaining the status quo. We need to be ahead of the curve and anticipate the needs of the patrons. If they want DVDs, look we have them already. They want downloadable PSP files? We have them already. They want video games? We have them. They want coffee? We can have that, too.

No it's not what libraries have traditionally done, but when did the profession become to be all about traditionalism and staying the course.

I thought we were radicals.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blog Moved

You can now find this blog at Word Press. There's some added functionality (specifically categories, but other things as well) that Blogger does not offer.

The Electric Velocipede blog will remain on Blogger as I have no interest in moving a five-year-old blog somewhere else and having to resort/organize the whole thing. Maybe in the future. When I get all that free time everyone talks about.

John Klima

UPDATED: For now, this blog is staying here. Wordpress has a lot of limitations on its free accounts (and I don't have the means to have a host where I can load my blog and open up all the cool Wordpress stuff) so I'm stiking with Blogger where I can at least customize the look of my blog and add stuff like my Bloglines blogroll, etc.


1. Why did you start this blog?

I've been blogging since 2001 for my science fiction zine Electric Velocipede. I started library school in the Fall of 2003. I'd posted occasionally on the zine's blog about library stuff, but I felt it was confusing to the science fiction people who came. It was time to take my library thoughts and put them together somewhere.

And, since I have a lot of thoughts about librarianship, and I want to grow professionally, and possibly be published professionally, where better to hone my chops and get my thoughts out than on a blog?

Plus, all the cool kids were doing it.

2. Who are you?

My name is John Klima. I was born and raised in WI and moved to NJ about nine years ago to work in publishing. Deciding I wasn't going to strike it rich in publishing, I switched to computer programming and did that for a couple years. Then I had the revelation to follow the idea I had when I finished my undergrad and applied to MLS programs to become a librarian. I still keep my finger on the pulse of the publishing world (science fiction to be specific) by working freelance for some small presses and publishing my own small science fiction zine: Electric Velocipede. I am married and have a seven-week old daughter.

3. Where did you get your MLS?

I earned my Master's in Library and Information Science (an MLIS) at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. It was hard coming back to school some ten years after I finished my Bachelor's degree, but it was worth it. I worked really hard, and was invited to join Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society for library science.

Many of my classmates who already were working at a library (I was changing fields) asked me why I cared so much about my classwork. I always said to them, 1, it was a way to show that I was serious about making the career switch, and 2, that I think librarianship is just as important as working in a library. I want to give back to the field. I want to write papers, present at conferences, etc. To me, the best way to prepare for that was to work hard in school. I think if you're unhappy with a MLS program or MLS course offerings you should do something to make them better. (N.B. I'm not going to get my PhD any time soon)

I will add, that if you are thinking of getting into the world of librarianship, I recommend that you earn a degree from an ALA accredited Master's program. This is often required for full-time library jobs, so it's not worth going another route.

4. Where do you work?

While I've waffled back and forth in my head on how to answer this--i.e. wondering how much information about me to present here--I think the best policy is to be completely truthful since I want to use this blog to further my library career. I work the Franklin Township Public Library. Recently (as of April 2006) I was promoted from part-time reference librarian to Teen Librarian and Systems Administrator. I started at FTPL working part-time in December, and completely enjoy working there ever since.

5. What are some of your favorite books?

I usually dislike questions like this since my tastes depend on what I'm reading at the moment. And, since I still sort of work in publishing, I'm always seeking out new writers and trying new things. That said, I think I can provide a top 5 list of books that I continue to like to this day, but it could be a different list at any given moment:
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Night Shift by Stephen King
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green

6. Well, how about some favorite authors?

OK, this is easier for me to answer. There are a lot of authors that I like and always seek out their work. So, here goes:
  • Jeff VanderMeer
  • Jeffrey Ford
  • Alex Irvine
  • Lucius Shepard
  • Kelly Link
  • Frederik Pohl
  • China Mieville
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Liz Williams
  • Ken MacLeod
  • Robert Charles Wilson
  • Robert Sawyer
  • Charles Stross
  • John Barnes
  • Glen Cook
  • Joe R. Lansdale
  • Norman Partridge
  • Hal Duncan
There are most likely more, but that's a good starting point for people looking to find some different, original fiction. I'd like to point out a couple names on the list of people who I feel are over-looked by a lot of readers. John Barnes and Glen Cook write some of the most exciting, inventive science fiction and fantasy out there. There's usually a new book from them every year, and it's always a good bet.

7. What authors have you worked with?

Too many to list. Almost everyone in the list above and many, many more.

8. OK, so what books have you worked on?

Well, we're moving away my library career with these questions, but since books are integral to libraries, I'll indulge you. The list of books that I've worked on (worked on always means editorial work, but in some cases includes acquiring the title for the publisher, too) is short, but good. I'm not listing the books I worked on as an editorial assistant since I did about 100 books a year for a few years as an assistant, and that involves ferrying manuscripts through production, writing flap copy, etc. Here they are in order:
  • A SCATTERING OF JADES by Alex Irvine
  • THE FOURTH CIRCLE by Zoran Zivkovic
See, short and sweet. I did some work on a few story collections that ended up going to different publishers than the ones the collections started at. I am editing an anthology of original short fiction that should be published in 2007.

9. Recommended by Andrea: Can you explain how you got your job?

July: interviewed with Franklin Township Public Library for part-time job
August: did not get job at Franklin, but head of adult services called me and said that I should keep them in mind (and that I should stop in and get my library card since they are my local library)
September: Starting my internship at Princeton Public Library; this was one of my classes, but I must strongly recommend doing an internship at a local library, even if you already have library experience (and especially if you don't) since it never hurts to see how other libraries do things)
October: received call from head of adult of library services at Franklin Township Public Library asking if I was still looking for part-time work
November: interviewed with reference staff and director of Franklin Township Public Library; got job offer from Franklin Township Public Library
December: started working part-time at Franklin Township Public Library
December: Completed internship at Princeton Public Library
January:Started working part-time at Rutgers Scholarly Communication Center on the New Jersey Digital Highway Project
February 15: interviewed at Palmer College in Davenport, IA
March 3: Not relevant to the job search, but our apartment was broken into (my laptop got stolen)
March 5: not exactly relevant to the job search, but our daughter was born (huzzah!)
March 24: offered full-time job at Franklin Township Public Library
March 29: telephone interview with Michigan State (won't know any more until end of April)
March 29: spoke with director of Palmer College library, no answer, no inclination as to how/where job search is; informed him of other job offer; he tells me that I should do what's right for my family
March 29: asked to give answer to Franklin Township by Friday the 31st
March 29: not relevant to the job search, but it's my birthday
March 30: told I was the second candidate for Palmer job and first candidate had accepted job (they were waiting until that happened to give me a final answer)
March 31: not relevant to job search new laptop arrived via Fedex before I went to work
March 31: accepted job at Franklin Township
April: Stopped working part-time at Rutgers & Franklin Township Public Library and started full-time at only the Franklin Township Public Library

Note that between the trip to IA and the final decision by Palmer College, six or seven weeks passed. Keep this in mind for your job search. Things may not go as quickly as you'd like. And there you are, or more precisely, there I am.

More questions will be posted as people ask them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NJLA Conference

I went to the NJLA conference today. Very cool to be in a place surrounded by fellow professionals. I am very passionate about librarianship, and it's nice to know that I'm not some crazy freak sitting all along thinking about ways to better market library services to the world. There's quite a few of us freaks out there.

Tried to go to as much programming about YA that I could, but of course there was conflict among items and there were non-YA specific things I wanted to see, too. All in all I'm very glad I went. I'm looking forward to next year and hope to get the chance to go to the big dance one of these years.

This conference was very different from all the science fiction conventions I normally go to. The biggest thing was that there was no one in costume. The whole thing was different. Instead of people arguing about books and characters on TV shows there were...librarians arguing about books and characters on TV shows. No seriously, it was great to be there and hear fellow professionals talk about things that they've encountered in their libraries and what they did to fix the problem or to enhance services to their patrons. A lot different from hearing four or five authors talk about world building or making the vampire story new and inventive. Both types of conventions have their merits and I enjoy both, but for very different reasons.

It was great to see a bunch of former classmates and catch up on what everyone's been doing since we finished school. Also nice to meet some people who I've only seen virtually (like Sophie Brookover). And of course, it was great to make some new contacts and hopefully start to network and get my name out there.

You see, I'd like to do something to give back to librarianship. Whether it's presenting at conferences, or judging books for an award, or writing papers, I want to take my new career and make a splash. I want to be noticed. I guess that's part of what this is.

I'm new to the library world, but I've been working for a long time and there's a lot I know that could be applied to libraries. One of my former classmates and I were talking about some of the resistance to change that exists in librarianship (and any field that people have worked in for a long time) and how coming into it from another field opens your mind to change and the willingness to try something new, even if it fails in the end.

There's a lot out there to try at a library (from blogging to wikis to RSS to podcasting to marketing and so on) that I think I'll never grow tired of my new career. Libraries are in transition and I find that very exciting. I like the challenge of taking a venerable (and important) institution and making it fit into modern lives.

OK, it's late, I'm tired, and I've rambled all over the place. No good specific information about NJLA here, just me typing like mad off the top of my head. Thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far. :)

And back to yesterday's post, I started my Five Laws list today at the conference during some down time. I have almost 50 items on my list. I'll work on getting that up here in a few days.

More from me tomorrow.

John Klima

Monday, April 24, 2006

Five Laws Rule My World

It may not be clear now--particularly since I've posted only about a half dozen times on this blog--but it will become clear that I think Mr. Ranganathan was a pretty smart fellow. Best known for his Five Laws of Library Science (posted below) and his colon classification to organize a library's collection, Ranganathan essentially revolutionized the field of library science in India.

I think it's a shame that his work is out of print here in the US (I've ordered a copy of COLON CLASSIFICATION from India) and that more MLS/MLIS holders don't get the chance to read him. Of course, you can check the book out of your library; nearly every university that has an ALA accredited program has copies of his book in their collection.

I read THE FIVE LAWS OF LIBRARY SCIENCE this last fall, and found it completely amazing. To think that this book had been written in the 1930s when the concept of a computer only existed on the pages of science fiction novels. The five laws are so clear and concise and adaptable that they are as usable today as they were seventy years ago.

The laws are:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader has his or her book.
  3. Every book has its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.
The laws almost seem over-obvious today. Who would want to make a library of books that the patrons couldn't use? Who would want to make a library of books that no one wanted? Of course, I'm sure you can think of one or two people who would rather the patrons stayed home and books stayed on the shelf.

In honor of how I feel about Ranganathan and his five laws, I am going to use them to shape how I get myself oriented into my new jobs as teen librarian and systems administrator. I'll use the laws to learn about the positions and to make plans for the future.

For example, law 1, Books are for use. The YA section of the library was set up...let's say poorly and needs to be reorganized. The most-used books (the graphic novels) are buried in the section and my YA patrons are faced with the end of the alphabet as they walk from the front door to the YA section. So, one of the ways I will apply law 1 to my new job(s) is to reorganize the YA section. Also, we are undergoing renovation, so I will need to set up the new YA section in its own room once the library is finished. Therefore, I will be applying law 1 twice the organization of the YA section.

Continuing on law 1, I can think about other ways I can (and the library at large) organize its collections (and my specific collection development areas, i.e. should all the travel books be placed together in their own section?) and make them more conducive for patron use?

Right now I am brainstorming all the things I need to do and want to do and then categorizing them into the Five Laws. I'll be putting up an official post when the list is complete (at least complete enough to get started) and I'll post regular updates as I cross stuff off my list. If I get motivated I'll create a web page where you'll be able to click on each law and expand my personal to-do list from it.

Title Change Again

Despite wanting to use the name given to me by Andrea Mercado, I've find several other people who have attributed the phrase "Rock Star Librarian" to them before me (including Sophie Brookover (who, in the recent Movers and Shakers LJ special issue, was wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the words 'rock star librarian' and she looks better in that than I would by a long shot!) and a blog called Rockstar Librarian.

So I have a new title for this blog. Starting today, I will make a post a day until I clear out the saved blog posts from Bloglines. (currently sitting at 23 among library oriented posts) Tomorrow will most likely be about the NJLA conference, where I hope to meet Ms. Brookover and other NJ based librarians. Very excited to go to an actual library convention (as opposed to all the science fiction conventions I normally go to) and rub elbows with fellow professionals.

If you're going, I'll be easy to spot.

I'll be the guy.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Changes all around

I find myself gainfully employed--in a full-time manner--as the teen librarian/systems administrator for the Franklin Township Public Library. I have been working at FTPL since December, but only part-time. One of the full-time staff members is leaving, and I will be replacing her.

What does this mean? Well, a lot and not a lot. I'm really excited to work here full time. This also means we can start looking for a home and get settled a little bit. It's some great experience in two important (but very different) areas of a library. There's a lot in my background to help with me both jobs, but little actual experience in a library doing either at this point.

Now, instead of spending most of my time at the reference desk I will be spending time learning about the YA collection (and science fiction, travel, health, parenting, and computers) and figuring out what people like, what we should have, what I need to order.... I'm also in charge of creating all the programming for the teens in our library. I have a lot of exciting ideas, but I won't mention them here...yet. This means things like Summer Reading (for teens) fall under my umbrella. I have a lot to learn.

I'll also spend time maintaining patron and staff accounts, running reports, making sure the system gets updated if we create a new collection (i.e. we decide to have all the home and garden books in their own section), etc. When the library's renovation is finished, there will be a TON of work to get our books in storage back into the system.

So that's what's changed. What hasn't changed is I'm still living in NJ. The address for the zine is not changing. The zine isn't going anywhere (except to bigger and better heights that is!). Shai will return to teaching in the Fall. I'm continuing to work at a place I've been at since December so there's no new drive to learn, no new faces to learn.

While many things have changed, there's a lot that's the same. For example, with the help of Andrea I have a new title for this blog. (scroll down for the reference about me, it's the sixth from the bottom)

Just like always.

John Klima

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some tips

Check this list out. Does your library website meet its criteria?

If so, how did you go about meeting them? Any obstacles along the way?

If not, why not? Do you want to? What obstacles do you see in your way that you'll need to overcome?

A Great Idea

Again from Stephan Spencer, a great idea of a good use for metadata (instead of increasing your SEO):
Wouldn’t it be cool if business websites were all tagged with meta data like:

  • business hours
  • geolocation (latitude & longitude)
  • NAICS code (the successor to SIC code)
  • physical & mailing addresses
[I'd add a phone number and contact e-mail since I've had serious trouble looking for this info for many businesses lately]
Remember rule 4? Save the time of the reader? People shouldn't have to call the reference desk to get the library's hours. I'm glad to help out, but the information should be accessible elsewhere. N.B. I know that there are people who do not have Internet access and most likely they are the ones calling....

What if this information showed up in a search engine when they were looking for the library? It could be incorporated into your RSS feeds. You are doing RSS feeds at your library, right? This information should be front and center on every businesses website. And it's not.

Job of the Future

Or, what a librarian can do for you today. Stephan Spencer writers on his blog about potential jobs he sees in the future for his daughter. Of particular interest to me is this job:
Information Integrator/Abstractor
who will collect, compile, and index text, data and images so this content can be searched in a variety of ways
When I read that, it sounded like a job description for a librarian. To quote myself (I'm the only comment on each piece)
Caveat Lector: this wanders a bit here and there.

Your Information Integrator/Abstractor sounds a lot like what a librarian does. At least, what I think a librarian does. I just finished my MLS and am looking for a full-time job. I previously worked for about five years as a computer programmer/analyst and before that about ten years in publishing (with some current freelance/small press work). I work part-time as a reference librarian and part-time as a digital library assistant.

I and a lot of other librarians--like Jenny Levine, Jessamyn West, Michael Stephens, and Steven M. Cohen to name a few--are pushing librarians to embrace technology and become experts in information using new technology. It's not enough anymore to know which books you need to find a particular piece of information, you need to know anywhere and any means to find that particular piece of information. You need to know all the technology that your patrons are using and be able to use it as well as they do.

I'm new to the field so I'm not very well established yet. But I'll get there. It's interesting to note that the ALA is predicting that in 10 - 15 years (by your 2020 date) some 80% or higher of the current librarian field will be retired. In addition to people retiring from the field, I think the field will be changing to be something more like the job you describe in your post.

Lots of interesting material on your site. I think many librarians/libraries would serve themselves well to learn more about marketing and even SEO. If people don't know what services are being offered by their local library, what good does it do how great they are?

There's a lot for me to still learn. Even though I worked for about five years in computer programming, there is so much I don't know about technology. I don't know how to automatically generate an RSS feed (not counting the one blogger makes for me), I barely make use of technorati, don't know how to make a wiki, have only bare minimum use of ASP.NET, have never made a podcast, have done only the smallest bit of creating metadata for digital objects, etc. etc. etc. But I do know what those things are. And I do know that my patrons are using them.

Some days I feel overwhelmed trying to learn it all. Other days I'm completely energized and soak it up like the proverbial sponge. There is a community out there for me to learn from, to see what they think can be used in/for the library. That will help guide me towards what I need to learn.

See, I wander all over the place. Great site. It's in my reader so I don't miss any more.
Any thoughts anyone?