Thursday, July 24, 2008

Library Funding -- More responses to blog posts

I feel like after not posting for a bit, I am finally catching up. I have a post in my head about ALA, one about driving, and one about food. Stay tuned.

This one, however, continues the theme of library funding. One post showed up in my blog reader and the other in AL Direct.

The first was about library funding and starts out with reflections on why library referenda fail. [I hate that Microsoft/Google does not recognize the proper plural for referendum!] Jeff Scott call this post From Awareness to Funding Part I. The post includes both some findings from quantitative research and some good graphics to explain support for libraries. It is a good summary, and he promises more analysis.

The second post addresses the value of libraries in an economic downturn. The Consumerist itemizes seven ways that your library can help you. This is great ammunition for library advocates, and there are a slew of comments, almost all favorable. REad it!

Books Read -- January - June 2008

Here is the list of books which I have read from January - June 2008. I have now clipped then off the sidebar.

Alive: The story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Reid

Marketing that Matters: 10 Practices to Profit Your Business and Change the World by Eric Frienwald-Fishman and Chip Conely

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger Uncorrected Proof Copy

Maximum Ride: School's Out -- Forever by James Patterson free book from PLA Conference

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson free book from PLA Conference

Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska by Seth Kantner Advance Reading Copy - Uncorrected Proof, free book from PLA Conference, a review is here

Skinny Dipping by Connie Brockway free book from PLA Conference, signed copy

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet Eau Claire Big Read title

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Burnt Bones by Michael Slade

Jamaica Me Dead by Bob Morris

The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre

Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story by Rachel Kadish

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum

The Vagabond Virgins by Ken Kuhlken

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Whiskey Straight Up: A Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery by Nina Wright

The Mile High Club by Kinky Friedman

False Fortune by Twist Phelan

An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor Advance Reader's Edition

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities by Katherine Schneider

What are we scared of -- Censorship

In my last post, I talked about public library funding, in the same issue of AL Direct, there was a link to a post on the YALSA blog titled "What are we scared of?"

This is a critical issues, not just for librarians serving youth, but for all librarians. However, it seems that it is those who serve young people who are most likely to feel under fire.

Linda Braun does a great job of covering the topic, and as of this morning there are several thoughtful responses. Sue Wargo made a particularly telling admission when she wrote "I found over the past few years that since I took greater risks and provided a broader selection that my circulation has gone up dramatically." The public, particularly the teen public, recognizes when we take risks. Ellen Snoeyenbos had a great comment about her having been "banned" from doing book talks at the high school after she talked about a book that "made parents nervous." She noted several areas: "In our community issues such as cutting, suicide, and depression are worrisome to parents - not just sex." I look at that list, and I think about some of the young people (and even some in their twenties) for whom all three of the issues are important, and at the same time very hard to find information on. I have a friend here in Eau Claire (who is actually a smidge older than me) who has recently discovered that she not only has issues with depression, but also ADHD. These are medical issues which are not limited.

It is a critical role of the public library to have the information which people need -- even if it makes other people "uncomfortable."

Now, I worked only briefly as a "Young Adult Librarian" (back when I actually was a young adult). I have been an administrator for the past quarter century (wait, make that 25 years, it does not seem as long then). One of my cardinal rules has been that if "my" library does not have at least one thing which is not liked by every person in the community, then the collection development team has not been doing its job. As the library, and the source of information for the whole community, we must take on this role.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Library Funding -- i.e. Public Library Funding

I was reading the latest issue of AL Direct. Several stories jumped out at me, but this is the first I will blog. It is about the funding issues facing the Hartford (CT) Public Library. But first some background.

Over half of the "public" libraries in Connecticut are not municipal libraries. What? I can hear my non-New England colleagues cry. Well, in Connecticut, and other primarily New England states, there is a tradition of having public library service provided by an organization which is a legally incorporated, tax-exempt [501(c)3, usually] corporation. Besides Hartford, other notable cities in Connecticut with this arrangement include Stamford, Darien, Wilton, New Canaan, Redding [the Mark Twain Library], and many others. Each community has a unique history and different level of funding. I am intimately familiar since I was the Library Director for the Wilton Library Association for almost a decade.

So, the Hartford Courant ran a story that the City wants to take over the public library because the Library Board is closing two branches. Well, HELLO!!! The reason why is that there is not enough money!!!

Look at what is happening in Bridgeport, which is, by the way, the LARGEST city in Connecticut by population! Here is the Library Journal article (which is not the latest news, but the latest I could find using the Connecticut Post's inadequate web site and search engine).

I have news for Eddie Perez and other mayors/city managers. It costs money to keep the Library open. If you don't provide the money, choices will be made. They are hard choices. They are not what Library staff members want to do.


That last is in bold, italics, and all caps because I am trying to yell!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Job Hunting

Many of you know that this is currently a topic near and dear to my heart.

In catching up with my blog reading I found several posts which cover the topic, and most interesting to me, they were all by people I have met or know.

I was standing in Lowe's in New Orleans a few weeks ago, and started chatting with a guy wearing a T-shirt which said "Info * Bitch." Who should it be, but Cliff Landis. He handed me his Moo card, and I thought to myself, "I know that name....why?" I later read Karen Schneider's post which talked about Cliff's original list. [Now Cliff is an interesting person. Visit his site. He covers more than just library stuff.] Cliff is also a good enough person to be able to deal with constructive comments, and even posted a second time about the comments he received.

It was good to read Cliff's list and has reminded me of several points which I think I have let slip a little. As I send out cover letters and resumes, I am reminded of the importance of tailoring each letter, and probably need to do that more carefully than I have in the past.

At the same time, I am in a different place than those to whom Karen offers her wise advice. I am primarily looking at jobs where I would be the director, there is not a lot more "upselling" that I need to do.

As I work on my job search, I have found some good reminders.

I also ran across this great list from a college web site listing over 100 places to look for library jobs. [I am sticking it here mostly for me to be able to find it, but if it helps others, I am happy.]

Management Techniques

I had been quite behind in reading my RSS feeds. Over the holiday, I caught up.

I don't remember where I picked up this one, but it could have been Karen Schneider's Free Range Librarian. It is about "Employee of the Month" programs. In several of the places I have worked, comments have been made about recognizing good public service. In offices and in fast food establishments, you often see plaques with photos. I know at least one car dealership I have used has a program. Even the grocery store near my apartment has a parking space reserved for the Employee of the Month. (Actually, so does Best Buy. I parked in it once when I was in a hurry and knew it would be a quick visit.)

Many times those parking spaces are vacant, and I have seen plaques which months or years out of date.

Once I informally proposed the parking space idea. I received immediate, negative feedback from the "middle managers" of that organization. I think that Ask a Manager is right when he/she says "Recognize employees who are doing a good job in ways that really matter -- with strong evaluations, great raises, good management, new challenges (if they want them), and ongoing positive feedback." I am beginning to realize that I have been successful because I have done all but give the "great raises." That is really tough in public libraries today!

It is an interesting and thoughtful post. If my list of RSS feeds was not already ridiculously long, I would add this. It seems to be a good source of thoughtful ideas and comments for managers.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Adventures at ALA Annual 2008 (Anaheim)

Those who read the blog from the web itself have seen the posting of my Flickr photos which show up in a bar at the top of the blog. The rest may or may not be aware that I spent an exciting week in Anaheim at ALA Annual. [My Facebook friends know about both, but I do not remember at the moment if I put all my ALA photos on Facebook.]

Some of you remember that last year there was the adventure of 96 hours to travel from DC to Minneapolis. I blogged it here and here. Well this year, the return was uneventful. The adventure happened in Anaheim!

On Monday when I had just left Membership Meeting II to attend the PLA Board, I received a call from the hotel. We knew that they had been working on the room above us, because we had heard the hammering, drilling, and (for me) the unmistakable sound of "BX-cable" being pulled through concrete floors and metal studs.

Well, it seems that they hit a pipe and water poured into our closet....all over the clothes!!! My roommate had purchased an outfit just to wear on Monday night at a special event. It had never been worn, and was 85% silk!

The hotel staff were great, however, they could not touch our belongings without one of us being present. And since the roommate had a shattered an ankle less than a week before, I got to go supervise. My suits were soaked (of course I went casual on Monday!), and my shoes were soaked, as well as all my dirty clothes which were on the closet floor.

Well, they packed all the clothes in plastic, took the shoes (and my suitcase, on the shelf) and promised to return them by 6 pm -- in time for our evening!

The room smelled damp. I asked for a new room. They gave us one on the same floor. [Of course, the next morning, we heard the unmistakable sounds of construction above us....] We drank a little and they did deliver our clothes at about 6:15. My shoes looked good -- then. One pair, however, has been ruined, I believe.

At about 5:30, we got a call saying "We have an 'amenity' to deliver, but you have a 'Do Not Disturb' sign. May we deliver?" I said, yes, and we got a food basket. About 15 mintues later, we got another, similar call, and received a bottle of wine (in an ice bucket, with glasses and a corkscrew!).

Afterwards, there must have been a note on the record, because almost every hotel staff member apologized.

When the clothes arrived, I was amazed. I had segregated the "dry clean" from the "launder." But my shirts (which I usually have folded) came back on hangers, as did my socks, and even my underwear!! Have you ever seen underwear on hangers? Well here is a look!

Content about ALA in Anaheim will follow!

Title edited 7/8 when I found an extra space. Added year and place.