Friday, July 31, 2009

Library Day in the Life...

Emily 1 min ago

A Day in the Life of a Library...

Whether you are a librarian or library worker of any kind, help us share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library. Join us by sharing details of your day for a week on your blog. Not only is this a great way for us to see what our colleagues are doing and how they spend their days but it’s a great way for students who are interested in the library profession to see what we really do.

  • Round 1 July 2008
  • Round 2 January 2009
  • July 27th 2009 begins the Second Annual

Don't have a blog? Feel free to add a page to the wiki with your activites!

If you are interested in sharing your day/week in the life:

  1. Create a PB Wiki account (it's free)!
  2. Add your name, your job title (so we can see what you do at a glance) and a link to your blog.
  3. Start blogging.
  4. Tag your posts with librarydayinthelife.
  5. After your first blog post come back and edit this page to change your blog link to a link to your tagged posts.
  6. Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr

Thank you to Bobbi Newman for this wonderful idea! You can read the post that inspired librarydayinthelife on Bobbi's site Librarian by Day.

Theory and Practice in the Library Workplace

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

Every so often I hear someone remark that they didn't learn anything in library school; that their real professional learning happened on the job, or worse, that they think that the need for a library qualification is just gate keeping and protectionism. This always causes me some concern because it ignores the important role that library and information science theory plays in the workplace.

It is true that when you start working in a library there is a wealth of on-the-job learning to do. There are process and practical skills to master, and local policies and procedures to absorb. The daily improvement as we gain hands-on experience brings an immediate sense of achievement and an obvious increase in knowledge. The relevance of this behavioral learning is clear because it is needed to do the job. In contrast, knowledge of theory and principles is about understanding why we are doing the procedure. This understanding is important when making decisions to change local policy or practices, or in deciding how to adjust local practices in response to the impact of external factors.

Practical processes and procedures are there to help the library achieve its goals. The theory of libraries (or cataloging, reference, etc) is what is taught (and hopefully learned) in the process of gaining a professional library qualification. And in turn, that theory informs the daily procedures and practices. Furthermore, this library school learning gives library professionals a shared theoretical basis and often a shared value system, on which to make decisions in the workplace; decisions about what the policies will be, and what practices are most appropriate for helping a library achieve its purpose.

Of course, such knowledge is not set in stone. Over time, the theories and principles will change as the professional body of knowledge changes to incorporate new understandings of the library and information world.

In for-profit organizations practical measure usually exist to judge performance. Did more widgets get sold? Are widgets being produced more cheaply? Did the company make more money as a result? The bottom line is more complex however, in not-for-profit organizations like libraries. How do we know that the library is achieving its purpose? More people through the door? More books issued? More information literacy classes taught? Such quantitative measures are useful but they seldom express the real value libraries contribute to their communities. And because there is not a clearly agreed, black and white measure of the bottom line for libraries, many staff make assumptions based on their own value system. That is, they may assume that the purpose of their work is defined in terms of their value systems.

Changes in processes, policy or practice can be particularly difficult for those who are comfortable with their daily routines and who are working hard in the belief that their actions are contributing to the greater good of the library. Principles, theories and values can be difficult to articulate because they are often deep-seated, intuitively known and taken for granted. As a consequence, some people may be protective of a given activity because it is representative of their values and beliefs about libraries. A threat to an activity becomes a threat to their values. Resistance or obstruction to change can easily result if those affected belief that a proposed change is going to have a negative impact on their library's core purpose.

Library managers, or those leading change (even at the process level) may find it helps to take time to explore the commonly held beliefs and assumptions of their staff. Consider whether they are disagreeing with how things should be done, or if the conflict is at a more fundamental level. Do participants have differing theoretical perspectives on what sort of action adds value to the library's community?

This is important because changing beliefs and value systems is a far more challenging proposition than changing daily routines. Yet all too often in libraries the focus is on the more tangible behavioral learning rather than on the intangible theory that underlies practice. Of course, it makes sense on a day-to-day basis to focus staff training on how things should be done, but when a significant change is needed, time needs to be given to talking about why the change is being made and how it fits into the theory and principles of libraries and librarianship.

It seems that this kind of talk is not that common in libraries. Perhaps there is a tendency to assume that we are all working from the same set of core principles and theories, because most of us are as a result of our library school learning. But problems arise when time or external changes make some of our theories obsolete or irrelevant.

In recent years libraries have faced a constant stream of change. Changes are occurring not just at the operational level (think of the impact of the Internet, the web or Google on our local practices); there has also been a paradigm shift in how libraries are perceived. For example, these days libraries are often seen as social spaces with a focus on customer needs, rather than the quiet, scholarly environments of the 20th Century. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this shift in thinking is not universally accepted. The rate and extent of change means that we should not assume that there is a shared understanding of the principles on which our practices and polices are based.

Talking about theory and principles may seem abstract, 'wishy-washy' and unnecessarily time-consuming to practically-oriented library staff who just want to get on with the task at hand. But without such discussions conflict and resentment over change can endure longer than necessary. Taking time to dwell in the theoretical area could serve to bring staff together with a better understanding of the value of library activities and services. It may also be that some people will discover that what they know is as important as what they do and this link between theory and practice means that their professional education was not a waste of time.


Vye Perrone is Associate University Librarian, Collection Services at the University of Waikato Library in New Zealand. She was President of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) in 2007/2008 and has just finished her year as Immediate Past President. Vye completed her MLIS from Victoria University of Wellington in 1998.

Behind the Scenes at the Library: The Journey of a Book July 24, 2009 - 8:04am — Blake

By Phila Rogers, Special to the Planet
Thursday July 23, 2009

When you visit the Berkeley Public Library you’ll see staff at the circulation desk, at the reference desk, and others who are shelving books. What you are less likely to see are all those library employees, mostly in offices on the second floor of the Central Library, who move a book along from the time it’s either requested by a patron or a librarian. These are the employees who select, order, catalog, and process the 50,000 items added to the library’s collection every year.

First stop on a tour of this labyrinth of activity is the office of Marti Morec, the Collection Development librarian. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Library School, Marti has been with the Berkeley Public Library since 1989, mostly in the Art and Music Department. “Though I loved working with the fabulous collection of recordings and books, I’ve also loved the last two years since I’ve stepped up to the exciting job of collection librarian. I still get a kick out of seeing a book arrive that I have steered through the whole process,” she adds.

A cart of new books sits next to Marti’s office and on her desk are a number of periodicals (Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly) along with newspaper book review sections. “All the librarians are responsible for suggesting titles to buy and, of course, we listen to our patrons. Knowing our community helps us select books,” she says.

Marti coordinates patron requests, plus book selections made by a branch librarian and the Central Library book teams—each team focusing on a broad subject area. She also keeps a close eye on the book-buying budget and monitors the progress of the high-demand books. “Though it takes about four to six weeks from the time we order a book until it gets to the shelves, a hot item may be on the shelf in two weeks,” Marti adds.

(The library also has an impressive collection of audio books, CDs, and movies, but books still make up the lion’s share of the library’s collections.)

Marti electronically forwards the lists of suggested purchases to Technical Services, managed by librarian Megan McArdle. Tech Services includes four departments: Collection Development, Order, Cataloging, and Processing.

In the Order Department, lists are further collated and the best sources determined for buying at particular item. The orders are sent off to an appropriate vendor or jobber using a computerized book ordering system.

Delivery trucks deliver dozens of boxes of books daily, all of which are opened and the contents checked and rechecked to be sure that what is received is exactly what was ordered.

A cart, groaning under the weight of two packed shelves of books, with tags sticking out of each book, is parked in front of Yvette Pleasent’s office. She is one of the three people receiving new books. An order tag sticking out of the top of a book titled The Banana Slug: A Close Look at a Giant Forest Slug of Western North America contains 16 items of information which Yvette enters into the library database. A red slip indicates that a patron has already put a hold on the book. (Patrons can check the library’s catalog for titles “on order.”)

Once Yvette is satisfied that everything is in proper order she pays the bill electronically and Banana Slug, along with the other books, is rolled along into the Cataloging Department.

“This is where a book is given a call number so it can be shelved with similar books,” says librarian Greg McKean. “A book is also given a bar-code and lots of other information about the book, some of which you see when you look up a book on a computer,” he adds.

Finally, the book is off to its last stop on this complicated journey—to the Processing Department, a big cheery room with certain aspects of Santa’s workshop, well stocked with tools, labels, tapes, and packaging materials. Sam Zhang, the head of the Processing Department, says, “If a book is one that should remain in our collection but needs repair, we try and repair it here. ... With five employees, someone usually has the requisite skills.”

At a work table, one employee affixes a mylar strip down the spine of a paperback book. A hardcover book is fitted with a protective cover, stamped “Berkeley Public Library” on the ends of the closed pages, and is given an electronic tag for circulation tracking and security.

At another table, a technician tries to repair a spiral-bound Russian book, while another employee cleans a dirty CD. “If we can’t repair a book that is both valuable and irreplaceable, we send it to an outside bindery for repair,” says Sam.

Processed books are finally loaded into crates for twice-daily transport to the branches or on to book carts for the trip to Central’s various departments.

Now it’s up to the patron, checking out a book, to complete the journey.

Note: If Banana Slug: A Close Look at a Giant Forest Slug of Western North America has captured your fancy, copies are available in the Children’s Library at both the Central Library and at the Claremont Branch. The call number is 594.3 H213b.

Clash guitarist Mick Jones has become a 'guerrilla librarian'

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The Clash's lead guitarist Mick Jones has swapped the noisy world of punk rock for a quiet life as a librarian.

The lead guitarist, who was a prominent figure in the punk rock movement of the seventies and eighties, opened his Rock-n-Roll Public Library in London yesterday.

Based in an office near Portobello Road, west London, close to where Jones formed The Clash with Joe Stummer in 1976, the "guerrilla library" will include 10,000 items from the guitarist's private collection.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Library fan nears 25,000th book

Louise Brown and Letitia Colvin
Mrs Brown is fast approaching her 25,000th library loan

An avid reader in south west Scotland is on the brink of borrowing her 25,000th book from her local libraries.

Louise Brown, 91, from Stranraer, took her first book on loan from Castle Douglas library in 1946.

Since then she has borrowed at least six books every week throughout each year and has recently increased that to about 12 volumes every seven days.

Library staff said they were amazed by the achievement, particularly since Mrs Brown has never had an overdue fine.

The Dumfries and Galloway pensioner first became a member at Castle Douglas library and has particularly fond memories of the staff there.

'Remarkable lady'

She began using Stranraer Library in October 2002 when she moved there to live with her daughter.

Staff at the library described Mrs Brown as a "remarkable lady" and said they looked forward to her weekly visits.

They also believe that her book borrowing figures could constitute a Scottish record.

They have asked any library with a more prolific reader to contact them.

Janice Goldie, the cultural services manager for the region, said they had not heard of anyone who could match her.

She said: "We are fascinated to know if Mrs Brown's record can be beaten.

"There may be other people out there who can beat them and we would love them to get in touch.

"We very much want Dumfries and Galloway to be celebrated as a reading region."

Story from BBC NEWS

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Librarian Song

Song from the Joe Uveges-When Freedom Calls concert on November 2, 2007 in Colorado Springs