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Friday, September 13, 2013

A Day in the Life*, part 3

(With apologies to Lennon and McCartney)

I read the news today, oh boy
About some libraries that closed in schools...

Today's edition of www.philly.com featured an article lamenting the closing of libraries of two of its flagship schools, Central High School and Masterman High School.

I don't care about the reasons why, but everyone involved should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

The librarians who didn't stay relevant, or market themselves and their services aggressively enough so that hearts and minds were converted;

The teachers and principals who still saw their school librarian as Marian Paroo (The Music Man), not realizing that underneath the prim and proper exterior was the wily, crafty, intelligent woman who was able to help "River City out of the serious trouble that it's in";

The taxpaying citizens of any locality who think that the real work of a librarian can be done by non-degreed customer service associates; who think that reference work begins and ends with Wikipedia;

And don't get me started with elected officials.

There's a fine balance between doing what's expedient and doing what's right.  Right now, the balance is so skewed towards expediency I'm not sure it will ever be right again.  It could be argued that what's right is changing--I know the way in which libraries serve their collective patrons is changing, even if the basic mission remains the same--so we as librarians have to change our approach to marketing and service.  We can do that.  We must.

*--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What's New?*, opus 2

I figure since I haven't done too much writing about my library work lately, I would devote today's entry to just that, and in addition to that, job-hunting.

Our time at the Riverside Drive facility trudges on.  It's cramped to the point of claustrophobia, I'm getting cranky and bored; I've answered the same questions about the progress of the new library a hundred times and I wish to God I could change the answers.  It's frustrating to have to make the customer wait several minutes to check out if we happen to be doing something on the Internet. We can't run our circulation system and be on the Internet with the same terminal, simultaneously.  Yes, it's a gigantic pain in the tuckus. I did get an honest-to-God reference question on Saturday, though. 

A woman came in needing to order a textbook thru Interlibrary Loan.  After checking WorldCat and discovering that less than 100 institutions worldwide had the book, and none within a day's drive, I offered to check and see if her college bookstore had it.  Back ordered.
Checked Folletts: difficulty accessing website, gave up.
Checked Amazon: Available, but she wasn't particularly interested in paying $47 (not bad considering it's a fairly esoteric subject--American Deaf Culture and ASL)
Me: Have you considered renting that book?
Her: People do that?
Me (smiling): sure, and it's a lot less money than purchasing.
I check several rental agencies, finally settling on www.textbookrentals.com. I gave her the information and she left happy.  I encouraged her to let her classmates know about her experience and that she was successful in obtaining her book.

For those of you scratching your heads and saying, "that wasn't a reference desk question", well it wasn't at first, but it became one as I searched for ways to ensure that the patron got what she needed. It didn't help (although I understand the reasoning behind it, but that's for another day's entry) that it's a general rule of thumb for colleges not to do ILLs with textbooks.

JOBHUNT:

Most recent interview was mid-August at Manor College, a tiny Catholic two-year institution that specializes in pre-professional studies (Nursing, Medical tech, etc.) and that has a beautiful library. I don't think that the interview went especially well, but we did have a pleasant chat (NOTE TO SELF: stimulating conversation is not the same as an interview with a positive outcome).  No prospects on the horizon in the Academic Library world, but I continue to seek opportunities in the usual places, as well as some unusual ones.  For instance, I will start singing with the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Choir next week, and the director said (in what is definitely the most interesting thing ever said at an audition I've taken), "I don't care how crappy your voice is, you're going to be my librarian!"

I can't get a word out of any of my contacts regarding the West Chester U. position. The website still lists Paul Emmon's old job as "vacant".  The optimist in me says, "they're holding the job until you've graduated!", while the musician/neurotic in me says, "Yeah, sure, and Flo is driving her boat thru the intercoastal waterway complete with unicorns and glitter".  The mind reels...
UPDATE: As of September 9, West Chester U. had hired a new Music Librarian, according to my source.  I have yet to hear from the search committee.

Onward. Cheers.



*--Johnny Burke and Bob Haggart, 1939.  Notable covers include McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Frank Sinatra, and Linda Ronstadt.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Celebration*

Short post tonight--my reason to celebrate was not anything earth-shatteringly important, but I went to the store for some last-minute items for the Labor Day festivities.  I found Vernor's ginger soda, which up until now is not sold in Pennsylvania.  I almost started jumping up and down.  I gasped and almost screamed for joy--then I emptied the shelves. HA!

(cough)**

Cheers...

*--Ronald Bell/Kool and the Gang, Celebration,  1980
**--Michiganders will get this.