Library Links (15 July 2010)

Some people (like my brother) are political wonks, some can’t get enough celebrity news, me? I’m a library news junkie. These days, anytime one of my non-library friends mentions anything library-related in the media I just tell them to hold it right there, I’ve seen it, let’s go ahead and discuss. My Google Reader is full of library blogs that I’ve either been reading for a long time or I’m trying out to see if the content appeals to me. From that mountain of reading, I’ll cull a few articles a week that I’ll keep on file by either printing them out (if I think they’ll be useful in the far-future) or saving them to my computer or e-mail. I used to keep up a delicious account to hold these finds together, but ever since the Firefox plug-in quit on me and I switched to Chrome, my link list there has fallen by the wayside. Seeing as constantly saving links to my e-mail is not a very sustainable way to keep them, I’m going to begin doing occasional round-up posts. Now that the explanation is done, let’s proceed…

…An article that really drew me in was the May 31st piece from the Edmonton Journal called Library a powerful draw for newcomers. It’s about Community Librarianship, a topic for which I have some affinity. I love the idea of librarians circulating among community members, in this case, immigrants. “It’s one of a series of library initiatives that are the stretching the institution’s traditional image, pushing it away from the idea of a quiet place built to house paper. Something newer and more fluid, yet less well defined. Something that will see the library serve more people in more ways: in the community, online and in buildings where books may not always be the point.” The larger view of this initiative is clear, meet people’s information needs wherever they are, it takes the idea of roving reference (another subject with which I am well acquainted, albiet academically) to another level. On a personal level, it just seems like a job I would love to have – spending my day evangalizing for the library, talking about our collection, getting feedback (good and bad), it really does put reference service on a greater plane. Brian Mathews, The Ubiquitous Librarian, talks about a similar idea in this Next Steps column. A fairly recent piece about Embedded Librarians also takes up the idea of a distributed service model, though what’s most interesting about that article (other than the job title informationist) is the Library Director’s expectation that her library will go building-less in 2012.

I had only known England’s Poet Laureate Andrew Motion through his literary work, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him defend libraries in an article about a civic study that suggested libraries be run by volunteers. He said, “Whether we are traditionalists about libraries or not, and I consider myself not, we ought to be able to accept that libraries are very important pieces of machinery for delivering to human beings what they need – information, pleasure, instruction, enlightenment, new direction in life. They’re also joining up with services which help people with difficulty reading, and working with people learning English – to put all that in danger is exactly the wrong thing to do…” I love how he doesn’t just stick to the ‘libraries are educational’ argument; Motion just says it straight out, that people need pleasure, and libraries provide it. Yes! Not everyone goes to the library to learn something, some people like to be entertained by our collection and that major point is too often ignored. Towards the end of the quote he turns to literacy programs – I am very sad to say that both of the library systems (the Palmdale City Library, and the County of Los Angeles Public Library) in the Antelope Valley, where I work, have completely cut their Literacy staff. Being that I see person-to-person Literacy training as one of the major missions of all public libraries, I believe that budget or no budget, cutting it is as Andrew Motion said, “exactly the wrong thing to do.”

After the ALA Conference, there were a bunch of wrap-ups posted all over the place, I thought Librarians Can Change Society was an excellent reminder that as a profession we must look look to history as much as we look ahead. Our professional past is full of inspiring figures who took action to better society and we must recognize these librarians. The more we do, the more we are reminded that our actions do matter; what we say during our reference interactions, the stands we take on national issues, the displays we make, the materials we help curate – taking a class on Paolo Freire in graduate school taught me that everything is political – individual actions do make a difference. “The question occurs: what would this world be like without the stands these librarians have taken for what they believe in.”

Here’s a link to Stephen Abram’s slides from a deck called “PR Forum: Next Practices in Communication @ your library. His slides got me thinking about how we represent ourselves. The main takeaway for me is the idea that everything PR or advocacy-related should be in support of the stories your library is telling. The seventh trick you can do right away is to “Develop a STORY collection strategy.” Seems to me that we must constantly shape what we’re doing as individual librarians and as an organization into a narrative. Technology and word-of-mouth are ways we can disseminate our narrative. There are also some cute pictures throughout the presentation, which I support. seems like a nice complement to the Opposing Viewpoints database for students writing issue papers. (via The Centered Librarian)

In library school, reading articles by Lawrence Clark Powell made me realize that one of the main things I love about being a librarian is being a yea-sayer. In Librarians Are Easy, Abby the Librarian expresses this sentiment perfectly. The post should be a mission statement for librarians everywhere.

As an Angeleno, former LAPL employee, and friend of many current workers, I’ve been following the cuts to the Los Angeles Public Library very closely so I was pleased to see (author of This Book Is Overdue!) Marilyn Johnson’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. U.S. public libraries: We lose them at our peril takes a firm approach to expressing the importance of libraries and identifies a major problem: “I’ve talked to librarians whose jobs have expanded with the demand for computers and training, and because so many other government services are being cut. The people left in the lurch have looked to the library, where kind, knowledgeable professionals help them navigate the government bureaucracy, apply for benefits, access social services. Public officials will tell you they love libraries and are committed to them; they just don’t believe they constitute a ‘core’ service.” Which has me asking, what’s up Councilmember LaBonge? What’s up Councilmember Krekorian? What’s up Mayor Villaraigosa?

A nice article about Sean Hurley, a reference librarian. “He shares an easy camaraderie with patrons, making silly jokes and chatting. He enjoys talking with people about their research, like the young man he recently helped who was looking for information on Vietnam because he’d learned his father was there during the war.” I don’t know him personally, but he sure sounds like a yea-sayer to me.

Whoa, this wrap-up turned out to be longer than I thought. I have a few more articles stirring in my e-mail, but cutting off at this point is probably best for all of us.

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