Tag: Librarians

About the Canada story….

There’s a story going around about how a knitting group has been ousted from a library.

Several people have passed this on to me as I happen to not only have a little yarn issue but I have a pretty healthy knitters group here at work. (And in the interest of full disclosure, we’re going on a four month break after today– we’re going to do scrapbooking for a few months. Knitting will resume in January.)

I have a feeling we’re not getting the full story. It’s unclear if the knitting was library sponsored or was an outside group using the space. The Yarn Harlot mentions in today’s post that this is a small branch open only part-time without a lot of programming space or staff. That is a very different space to try and coordinate as opposed to my children’s department, where we have several spaces we could use for programming and I’m fortunate enough to have the time to take ninety minutes out of my schedule to supervise a small group of attendees while other staff is available to help patrons find books/check things in and out/etc. I have a solid group of knitters but not a huge one and that can be both positive and negative in the eyes of those higher up or in the community.

It is always difficult to know what to cut, what to change and what to promote. Libraries have missions and mission statements, with a focus on literacy and information literacy. Most libraries have increasingly restricted budgets and sky-rocketing materials costs, with patrons who think they should never have to wait more than five minutes after a release date for the latest best-seller or block buster movie. It’s a delicate balance of buying copies to meet a need and spending all your money in one place. And trying to make space available to public groups while still having space/time for library programs is an even bigger headache.

I hope the library is successful in being able to create more literary focused programs and events that will appeal to their community. I hope the knitters step up and create a book group. I hope people understand this isn’t about hating a specific craft or punishing anyone but trying to meet their mission and the literacy and information needs of their community. And for that book club may I recommend:

Shall I Knit You a Hat?
by Kate Klise


Chicks with Sticks (Knit Two Together)
by Elizabeth Lenhard


At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

to start?

(Stephanie even has audio books–they might be able to get together and listen to her read!)

Thought Challenge Response

As yet, I have had the good fortune not to have a book challenged specifically to me. Occasionally, if asked, I’ve discussed more controversial books with parents (why was there so much fuss about the Higher Power of Lucky?). I’ve also found myself explaining a suggestion to a parent and seeing them shut down on me when they realize the book has a quality they find unacceptable. This I usually don’t take personally–there are books that would have deal-breakers for me as well. But generally, I’ve been pretty fortunate.

Blogger/Librarian Jamie Larue provided the transcription of a challenge response for a new picture book that he expects will be challenged over the coming year. I share the link with you and strongly encourage you to read it–even if you’re not a librarian. It’s thoughtful, open minded, and practical. And I hope that I am able to be as thoughtful and considerate should the need arise.

Official Posting Notice for Youth Service Manager Job

Madame Director informs me that the formal job posting is up and I’ve seen it on a number of job boards. To the resumes!!

Seriously, if you are interested at all, I do recommend applying. There is a lot of potential for growth and development of this department. There is also a lot of potential for baked goods and (if I’m productive) occasional knitted surprises.

What do I think we’re looking for? Someone dynamic, enthusiastic, leadership, whimsy, forward thinking, and ready to experiment. Are we willing to look nationally? Absolutely. I came from IL/NY, another reference librarian from OR and a new hire starting next month in another department is from FL. So there’s an interesting mix between people who have lived here their entire years and people brand new to the area (and yes, brand new lasts the first 10 years of residence).

Please check out my other post and the job ad. Again, please feel free to send questions my way (email on the blog site) and pass to those you think should be applying.

Want to Work With Me? Head of YS at LPL Position

I’ve been given a green light to start circulating this information though I don’t have a formal job posting available for you as yet.

My immediate supervisor, our Head of Youth Services, will be retiring the first week of August. We are beginning a search for a replacement.

La Crosse, WI is a town of 50,000 on the banks of the Mississippi with a Main Library and two satellite branch libraries. Our youth services department is very lively, with highly attended storytimes and I’ve got a healthy knitting group that meets on Wednesdays. Our teen librarian does a lot with gaming, which draws in a high number of young men, and we’re doing a lock-in in August. The community heavily uses the library and loves coming into our bright and cheerful children’s area, where we have computers, puzzles, highly beloved bean bag chairs, and a vintage giraffe. It’s a space built and intended for children and has the added benefit of being a little bit separated from the rest of the building, allowing for children to be a little noisier.

The youth services staff (head, 4FT, 2PT, 5 aides) is based at the main branch with forays to the branches for programming and collection development responsibilities. We had a dozen at tie-dying at one of the branches last week and eighty for a program on bi-lingual bugs. We are supported by the community and are blessed with an extremely dynamic director. The staff as a whole is coming to embrace social networking tools with internal blogs, wikis, etc. Our current website is being revamped, yours truly is responsible for the new youth and teen sites when they go up (October).

As many of you know, I came to LPL from Chicago Public Library last November. The staff has been very welcoming. The winter was one of the harsher ones I’ve survived–but the natives were saying that too, so apparently it wasn’t just me. Three local coffee shops within a ten minute walk of the library–one of which makes good soup, another good donuts. If you want to buy there are a lot of houses for sale or there are a number of nice apartment complexes. And I know where to get good waffle fries but have not yet explored the banana splits.

If this sounds interesting, please email me questions and I’ll be happy to answer what I can (my email is on my blog website). If you know someone who would be interested, please forward this on to them.

Once the official job posting goes out, I’ll let you know.

And, as I said with our last position: We’ve got a hedgehog and a raccoon— what can you add to the mix?

A View from the Pigeon Hole

A bit of rant this morning.

As noted before, I have to re-up for ALA this week and I’m not especially pleased about spending another year getting my email filled with yet more ads and having them send me shiny magazines with, at best, two articles each that are written with someone obviously other than me in mind. I understand not everyone has the fascination with RSS feeds that I do but the fact that I’m still seeing a proliferation of “understanding the very basics of xyz 2.0” articles and presentations scares me a wee bit.

I’m still frustrated at the base price of ALA, which provides me with said shiny magazine, a membership card, and discounted prices at conferences where I still have to pay to present. Assuming, of course, that I’d like to spend $1500+ hauling off to each of the bi-annual conferences. [Have you seen airline prices these days?] But what really irritates me is that there is very little place for involvement that doesn’t shunt one into a division (at least $35-$50 extra dollars per division) based on library type. I could just join roundtables, which I’ve done in the past, but I feel like I’m not getting enough out of all of this library networking that we young professionals are supposed to be doing.

Others have tried to argue to me that “you can get cross-library experience in any division.” I’m sure that may be true to some degree. However, I generally disagree. In a division you’re focused on the problems and needs of that type of library and while some of those problems are universal (funding), many of them are not (best in early literacy). And really, if you’re an academic librarian hiring another academic librarian, are you going to be looking with more interest at a resume of a public librarian who was in ALSC or an academic librarian whose name you’ve heard through ACRL? We are a profession of networkers and that still primarily comes through our divisions. Nothing says pigeon-hole to me like the ALA divisions.

I understand the necessity of grouping like things with like. Certainly college libraries are faced with different challenges than public libraries. But this strongly forced wedging of us means that it is at relatively great expense that we try to branch out to other types of librarianship. Also–my business card says Youth Services Librarian, La Crosse Public Library. Tell me, how many people on appointing committees for ACRL and RUSA would take me seriously? Would I truly be welcome in those divisions? Am I the only one hearing the sound of “Oh, well, she’s just a children’s librarian” with a polite pat on the head and shuffling me off back more appropriate divisions for my current work? I’ve already encountered professional condescension because I just work with children. It seems to baffle quite a lot of people that, while yes, I enjoy working with children, it might not be my only aspiration in my professional career.

Librarianship is supposed to be a flexible profession. And certainly I have met, heard of, and talked to librarians who have worked in all manner of libraries. They seem to be, however, the exceptions. Perhaps this is the choice of the professionals. But without our national organization (ALA) strongly encouraging and providing opportunities for us to find what else is out there, isn’t it shunting people into neat boxes?

Though not presently job hunting, it is a concern I’ve had in the past and a legitimate barrier that I’ve run into that people get hung up on my current job title and forget the flexibility of the training we all underwent. And while I think there are many people in PLA who would be amazing to work with and fascinating to learn from, I wonder as I contemplate that check box on my ALA renewal if it will make me that much more pegged into a specific job type. Of course, professional involvement and professional development will always be what you make of it. I know that and I know I can only reap whatever I’m willing to put into my participation at ALA. I just wish there was a better way to explore more of ALA and more of librarianship without spending the equivalent of a month or two’s rent, or at least more easily realized returns which made the investment feel worthwhile.

For those non-library people:
ALA –American Library Association
ALSC–Association for Library Service to Children
ACRL–Assocation of College and Research Libraries
RUSA–Reference and User Services Association
PLA–Public Library Association