Tag Archives: librarianship

I’ll bet you write beautiful letters.

Hello fair readers!

Last night I went to a planning meeting for a super exciting concept that is in the works. Let me direct your eyes over to the Info Activist website for a little more detail…


A Chicago version of The Desk Set is in the works. There will be plenty more details to come. In the meantime, I have been given some homework…

That’s right. I’ve never seen it. Shame on me!

Have a lovely week fair readers!


Dealing With Chatty Cathy

Hello fair readers!

As some of you know I am in the process of doing a little research about cell phones in libraries.

taken by the Travelin Librarian

taken by the Travelin' Librarian

If you are a library worker, please feel free to take my survey

But since I’m still in the process of collecting and analyzing my data, I thought I would share a couple of extremely intersting answers to my questions!  A little update of sorts!

For those who have already taken the survey, you will know there are several open ended questions.  One being

What is your library’s policy, if any, on cellphone use in the library?

Here are some interesting answers:

“Go out in the frigging hall”

“Cell phones not permitted on the 2nd floor (Reference Area). Cell phone permitted on lower level (Circulation), in Multimedia, and in Youth Services. So pretty much, it’s ok everywhere but Reference and Readers Advisory/Fiction. We have REALLY scary signs everywhere that say “NO CELL PHONE USE!!!” on all the study tables. This scares me.lol.”

“We ask readers to leave the reading rooms and take phone calls in “common” areas like hallways, staircases or the lobby. We allow study-use-only cellphone camera photography if readers cite in writing the collection materials they are photographing. We don’t prohibit or even monitor texting or other cellphone usage, provided that readers aren’t disturbing others.”

“We shall chop the heads off of people who use them. With a rusty fork.”


“We recently re-evaluated our “procedures” for handling disruptive patrons. We have not “policy” per se, other than our standard patron conduct policy – as long as you’re not distracting others or being disruptive, feel free to conduct your approved library business. However, prior to this paradigm shift, we had dozens of “no cell phones” signs all over the building.”

A very common theme among respondents was something similar to this:

“no policy” or “I don’t believe we have an official policy”.

Another question that gathered some thought provoking responses was the optional question at the end of the survey:

Do you have any other passions/comments/ethical issues that you would like to add about the usage of cellphones in libraries?

ready for it?

“It is frustrating dealing with patrons who insist on taking calls in the library. It is distracting to other users especially since my library is a small space. Additionally it is a privacy issue. Staff and other patrons DO NOT want to hear other people’s business…”

“My dream is that public places (libraries included) would bring back phone booths/rooms for customers to get a little privacy.”

“The camera phone feature is the only issue and that is true in or out of a library. What are people taking pictures of, how are the photos being used, etc. Not a problem for us but something to keep in mind.”

Both of these comments make a really interesting points about privacy! Something librarians love, right?

Here are some flipside opinions:

“It is wrong to asked patrons to not use their cell phones in a public library. Case in point, a parent was waiting for a call from their teen so they could be picked up. Should not allow the parent to answer a call from their teen… Get over it. Join the 21st Century.”

“i feel very strongly about this. i sort of hate monitoring cell phone usage (and we only monitor talking/loud ringing. i could care less whether people are texting, using the internet, etc. on their phones). i think that libraries should make policies addressing the behavior rather than the technology…”

What I’m finding the most fascinating issue with this research is that very few people are in the middle.  Most people feel strongly one way or another.  Like this person for example: “I don’t know why it’s not common sense not to use a cell phone in a library, but where I work it’s a “students tell you to jump, we ask how high” sort of environment.”

So my next step is going to be surveying library users about their opinions on cell phones in libraries.  More cell phone postings to come! I promise.  And again, if you are a librarian and haven’t taken my survey yet…..

feel free to participate!

I love this sign.

Have a lovely week fair readers!

Librarian Mythology From Within

Hello fair readers!

In my new position, I have had the opportunity to have some really interesting discussions with other new Librarians about our field, our realities, and more importantly, our myths.

And lots of the myths are not just coming from people’s stereotypes of the profession but from the community itself.  We have built up a certain amount of untruths about the profession, perhaps in an effort to up recruitment.  However these myths, in this writer’s opinion, can be destructive to the profession.  Recruiting people who maybe are just not suited to modern librarianship and do not understand how much the profession has completely changed.

For example:

1) There are lots of librarian jobs because all librarians are old and retiring.

Anyone else told this when they began to consider library school?  Well…let me debunk this for you.  Librarianship is a profession in which you can spend a great deal of your life.  It requires brain power and, for the most part, little physical power.  So yes, there are many older individuals who are librarians.


They are *not* retiring!!  Despite what some journals would have you beleive, the job market is just as difficult and frustrating for librarians as it is for everyone else right now.  Something I have learned is that having your Master’s degree does not mean you are going to swept up by a library as soon as you receive that degree.  That is just plain not true.

When you get into our field, like most other fields, you need to face the reality that after school you are going to have to compete with many other library graduates *and* librarians in the field.  This is exactly how other fields work.

The idea that a library degree is the golden ticket to employment is just plain false.

And anyone who has graduated in the past year can tell you that.

2) “Why do you want to work in a library?” “I love to read”

Okay.  I love books too.  But it is certainly not my reason for becoming a librarian.  If fact, this is probably one of the *worst* reasons to become a librarian.

Repeat this with me:

“Librarianship is service, Librarianship is service”

Being a librarian means you have chosen to work in a service industry.  If you like to be surrounded by books all day reading, become a scholar…not a librarian.

There are lots of types of librarians. Corporate, legal, medical, media, school, young adult, public services, and more.  One thing that connects all of us is that fact that we all serve a certain community, whether law school or the public, and we provide information services to that community.  This is a difficult and complicated job and commonly, we have very little downtime.

So if you love to read, hurray!  That is grrrreat!

But you might want to consider that being a librarian requires a great deal of social interaction, services, talking in front of groups, and presenting of materials.  If the idea of this scares you, please do yourself and all library patrons a favor, and consider a different Master’s program.

I became a librarian because I love helping people.  If you love to help people and connect them with their information needs as well?  Then perhaps this field is for you too!

That’s right. Those dudes? Librarians.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This might seem like an uber hater post but I would not argue that these are reasons to avoid the field of librarianship.  Not at all.  Mythologies exist in most cultures right?

And if there is one thing I can say about librarianship?  Our culture rocks.   🙂

But I would argue that perpetuating these myths, can be destructive to the profession and to the patrons we serve.  It’s important for everyone going into librarianship to realize what the field really is….

librarianship is service, librarianship is service, librarianship is service


Have a lovely Winter week fair readers!

Lessons. Week One.

Hello fair readers!

I have officially finished one week as a librarian!  And how do I feel about this?

Pretty damn tired.

But! I’m also so excited and learning so much.  I thought I would share with you some of the things I’m learning as my first week of as a Reference Librarian.

Lesson #1:

Not all libraries work completely from their website.

I’m just going to be fair and say that some libraries websites are just more useful and stronger than others.  I came from a library where the majority of questions I would start from the website.  However in my current library, I work almost completely from the Metropolitan Library System‘s website.  And specifically from SWAN, the shared library catalog of 80 member libraries.  And SWAN rocks.  It corrects mispellings, has pictures of books, and even enables users to pay their fines online, a useful thing some other urban libraries (ahem CPL! ahem) should really add to their system.

Lesson #2:

People love….let me restate this….LOVE urban fiction, romance, and mysteries.

Seriously.  I had no idea how popular urban fiction was.  It is damn popular.  I have placed probably at least 50 ILL requests and located just as many in our own library.  And you know who is really popular?  Zane.  Omg Zane.  I didn’t even know who Zane was before this week.  I think she rides the lines somewhere between Romance and Urban Fiction.  I”m not sure.  Now I must say that I’m fairly tempted to place a hold on Dear G-Spot just to see what the big deal is.

Lesson #3:

At a small public library you actually can get by with just a few essential databases such as Reference USA, ESBSCO host, and OCLC databases.

OK I’m going to be honest.  I was frightened to go from Northwestern University Libraries’ massive electronic resources to 6-7 databases.  But you know what?  I’m getting by.  And not just getting by, it’s going fine.  I’m actually pulling out all that book knowledge gained from my Reference courses at Dominican University and utilizing it.  And a lot of people are actually more comfortable roaming the reference section than launching into databases.  I had no idea.  I understand this lesson doesn’t always apply.  But it was a big lesson for me this week.

So those are the main lessons so far.  And I will certainly keep you updated.  But you know what rocks?

Being a real librarian.  I love it.  And it feels so good.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.