Category Archives: Library

Library 2.oh

Hi! If you’re looking for the post mentioned in the Library 2.0 Issue of Cites & Insights, here it is – Library 360. I enjoyed reading Walt‘s overview of the Library 2.0 meme, which has certainly spread all over the biblioblogosphere. I liked the timeline and blog post round-up as there were quite a few posts I’d missed reading before.

I’m not sure if I’m finding the whole thing to be very meaningful to me personally. It seems like many people are writing Library 2.0 commentary and manifestos, but I’m not seeing many practical applications, or even proposals or roadmaps for practical applications. Web2.0 at least has gmail and flickr and other social software applications to point to as examples. I think that the Library 2.0 thing might come in handy for people who want a conference presentation with buzz.

I still find the whole thing very amorphous even after reading a list of reasons why “it” exists. I think it is very easy for those of us who are comfortable with libraries and technology to automatically assume that just because we’re doing something new, it needs to be transferred to library patrons. The latest development in social software is probably not of much interest to the average public library patron, and I don’t think it should be. As a library patron, I don’t want my public library to be “2.0”, I just want it to be open on the weekends during the summer so I can actually be able to go there and check out books. I think the example over at Information Wants to be Free of a library stocked with popular fiction at a mall does much more to make the library more relevant to people than any kind of technology.

library videos

I wonder about using videos on library web sites. Many libraries have video virtual tours, but I’m not sure if they ever help anyone find their way in the library. I don’t think that using videos for library instruction works all that well, although I do like the idea of using screencasts that show an animated search in a library database. I haven’t developed many screencasts, although I do have Macromedia Captivate, and I’ve used it for some very short tutorials.

I’m not sure what purpose tutorials like this serve. Although it is always nifty to see libraries experimenting with technology on their web site, I’m not too crazy about the content of the videos. There are a couple amusing bits (like the professor appearing in a cloud), but most of it looks like a skit that someone might act out to show future librarians how NOT to do a reference interview. This video triggered one of my big pet peeves – if you give your library catalog a cute nickname and joke about how people can’t understand the cute nickname, why not just drop the nickname already?! The most informative parts of the videos were the animations of how to use the library web site, and the image was too small to actually see any of the search examples.

An Almost Empty Library

The library where I work is almost about to transition over to holiday hours. It was totally dead tonight at the reference desk. I had only 4 questions. I walked someone to the stacks to help him find his book. I answered a question about reserves, told someone where the books were, and I discussed the holiday hours with a telephone caller.

There are still a few students around, checking their e-mail. One person looks like they’ve abandoned a paper half-written on one of our workstations that has MS Office software support. A couple people are actually looking up books in the library catalog. Vacation reading maybe?

ALA has now sent me 3 notices to renew my membership. I received one notice after I renewed, and I received yet another notice today, when I got my new membership card in the mail several weeks ago. I renewed, but only at the most basic level. I dropped all my division memberships. If I thought I was going to any ALA conferences this year, I probably would have maintained my membership in ACRL and LIRT, but I just decided not to spend the money this time.

I was helping a student out last week and I ended up having the perfect reference question that called for the use of google book search. The student had already done plenty of research, and he noticed that several of the articles he found were referencing a chapter in a particular book. We didn’t have the book here, and I explained the ILL options to the student, unfortunately he was under a bit of time pressure because his paper was due fairly soon. The student went to work at another computer and I tried google book search randomly just to see if I could find anything at all. By typing in the title of the book and the chapter author I was able to get a few pages. This is one case where the ability to purchase the chapter would have come in handy, because the student probably would have spent money to avoid waiting for interlibrary loan. Or maybe a library could have some sort of slush fund for times like these? If the cost of buying a chapter for a student would be about equal to acquiring it through ILL, there would be no reason to avoid doing this.

While I was showing the student how to use google book search to get the few pages up on his computer (he was happy to even have a short excerpt of the chapter), a friend of his stopped by and asked how to make the front and back arrows “work” on google book search. I explained that people were only able to get a few pages at a time from the service. The student then commented that he was able to text message google to get driving directions, and wasn’t that cool? This would have been the perfect opportunity to publicize a text a librarian service (if my library offered such a thing).

leisure reading

I really enjoy my library’s small but growing leisure reading collection. Plenty of college and university libraries have sections for fun books or best sellers, but this is a fairly recent development where I work. I think that every academic library should attempt to make a bit of space for fun books. I realize that the primary goal of an academic library is to support of research, but I think that we still have an obligation to encourage reading for the sake of reading. The leisure reading section at my library is tiny and unfortunately hidden away in a corner, but I’ve heard that the books circulate at an incredible rate.

I had a student in one of my classes who had discovered the leisure reading collection, but wanted more of a selection of fun books. She asked if she was allowed to request books from ILL if she wasn’t technically going to use them for research and was amazed when I told her that she should request whatever she wants. I did tell her about the public library down the street, because sometimes I do think people just want to browse and see what books are actually available.

Even if your library doesn’t have the money to buy a certain amount of frivolous books, I think that setting up a book swap corner might serve the same purpose. I’ve read of some libraries that set up sections like this with the borrowing period based on the honor system – if you see a book you like, grab it, keep it as long as you need it, and then bring it back or bring another book to replace it.

I’m glad that at least I have a place where I can tell people to go if they come to the reference desk wanting the “fiction section” or if want to check out Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince so they can unwind.

Library 360

I do think the technologies people talk about when they talk about library 2.0 (blogs, wikis, social software, instant messaging) are quite nifty, but sometimes I wonder about the terminology librarians rush to adopt. Someone comes up with web 2.0, so we must have Library 2.0, because it sounds all 2.0ish! Would any library user have any idea what “Library 2.0” means if you mentioned those words to him? I guess I have no problem saying “Library 2.0” if it just is an umbrella term passed back and forth among geeky librarians, but I wonder about adopting jargon that will make no sense to anyone outside the profession. So few people have any idea what a library or librarian does, I’m not sure how adding more layers of obfuscation helps matters any.

So I’m determined to start a new movement called Library 360. Features will include:

1) Greenness
2) 3 core processors ensue that OPAC searches are executed with breathtaking speed.
3) HD library services allow users to view citations with greater clarity.
4) Library 360 live creates a virtual marketplace that will raise money for library friends groups.
5) Spartan Armor replaces trusty cardigans.
6) Before asking a reference question, library users must spin around in a circle to experience 360ness and get dizzy.
7) All library directors must legally change their names to “Master Chief.”

B.I. Burnout

One topic related to teaching librarianship that people write articles about from time to time is Bibliographic Instruction Burnout, an overview can be found in this article Burnout and the Academic Teaching Librarian.
Part of me finds the idea of studying burnout among librarians a little laughable, because compared to other things someone could be doing, it is a pretty cushy job. The hardest job I ever had was working in a Leggs pantyhose repackaging factory for a one summer. 8 hours a day of sorting little packages of pantyhose wasn’t fun. In comparison to that teaching 14 or 9 classes for the past couple weeks really isn’t that bad.
But it is easy to feel burntout when you’re teaching the same class with small variations three times a day, and when you have to do a bunch of public speaking it can be draining. The past couple of weeks were my busiest time of the semester, and towards the end of it I started feeling very tired. There are a few things I try to do to help myself feel less stressed. I try to remind myself that library instruction is very cyclical. Usually there are just a couple of months where things are really busy, and after that I can turn my attention to other projects. I also feel absolutely no guilt about vegging out as much as I can at home when I’m busy at work. I’ve spent a good portion of the past couple days in pajamas, knitting, and rereading a Harry Potter book. I bought myself some tiny silver skull and crossbones earrings. I feel much better now, and next week things are starting to wind down. I’m only teaching 3 or 4 classes, so I feel like I’m going to be able to start working on some of things that I’ve had to put on hold during the busy teaching season.