Tag: Madame Director

Mixed Management…

Jenica has a very thoughtful post about management, and the general attitude of library professionals towards management and managers. The attitude is skepticism, fear, mistrust, anger, and general frustration and she makes some excellent points about the comments that have been made to her since taking on a directorship for one of the SUNY schools.

The comment that best struck me was the “don’t forget where you came from.” Her answer is somewhat indignant and rightly so. And while I don’t expect her to overnight turn into someone completely incapable of remember how to answer a reference question, it pointed out something that I have witnessed with managers and educators within the library profession. When moving into management or education, it seems to become beneath many to actually perform the everyday tasks called upon by the majority of your staff or students.

I have had the unfortunate experience of watching a reference librarian I respected advance to the directorship of a library. The power went to her head and I’ve watched her not only find the work of the library beneath her, including the work that falls into her job responsibilities, but also run off the good people who worked for her. It’s become a toxic environment where the focus seems to have become building her legacy, as it certainly doesn’t seem to be patrons, materials, staff or anything else. I’ve met managers who were firmly of the belief they should only ever work bank hours and certainly never on a public service desk (not because they were needed elsewhere–but because it was beneath them, keep that in mind). But then, I worked for a system that adamantly argued that I as a professional wasn’t to shelve but conversely the pages who only shelved weren’t allowed to do a “shelf check” for an item for someone from another location. If that isn’t convoluted and setting people up with a “beneath me” mindset, I’m not sure what is…

And then there’s the story that hit a week ago from Tulsa–where the Library CEO has had her position restructured so that she has no day-to-day responsibilities in the building and gets to work from home two days a week–with the same pay. They say it’s having an effect on employee morale. Without day to day responsibilities in the building, or even having a presence in the space, it’s rather unclear how the CEO is planning on staying aware of what is going on and what the needs of her staff are.

But for the ones that scare me to pieces, there are managers I have to point out my admiration for.

At present, I have the pleasure of working both with Madame Storyteller and Madame Director–neither of whom despite their lofty titles and extended experience–find shelving and checking out books beneath them. Granted, shelving isn’t the everyday task of these two women, who have a lot of other things on their plate, but Madame Director takes a shift on the circulation desk nearly every week. It’s one of the best places to catch her when I need something signed, because for those two hours, I can guarantee she’ll be pretty much in one spot. But it also shows to our aides and the other managers that she values that work just as highly as any other professional work, and it’s noticed and appreciated.

And there is a branch manager at CPL that I would have stayed for, had they let me work for her. She has the management of a west side branch and works, works with and for her staff, and is pretty awesome. As a result, people really want to work at her branch.

We do need a shift in our view of management, on that I agree with Jenica. But we need to find a way to highlight the managers who are doing it right, doing it well, and training other good leaders–as opposed to those who are most concerned with getting things out of it only for themselves, such as those banking hours and relief from the ref desk. Myself, though management wasn’t my initial goal on entering the field, I see it as somewhere I’d like to go. I’ve managed people before and it’s one of the few promotional paths available to me. I just have to remember what the Incredibly Patient Mother taught me about management long ago: one leads by example and a good manager won’t ask you to do something he or she won’t do*.

*with the caveat of course for things one physically can’t do or don’t have the appropriate training to do

I Have a Difficult Question….

There’s a difficult question sitting on my desk in the form of three books.

The books are from an engaging children’s fantasy series. It’s not a series I’ve read but comes recommended by other children’s librarians I know.

The author is currently on trial for possession of inappropriate imagery of that age group for which he writes. (Link may not be safe for work) Forgive the obscure language as I try to figure out how not to be picked up in searches for the actual phrase.

At least one coworker strongly disagrees with my concern, believing the books should stand on their own merit and citing other author bad habits. Yes, Poe was a drunk and Orson Scott Card has been raked across the coals for his opinions, and we still read and suggest their works. I may not agree with their behavior or opinions, but it’s not illegal. And it’s true that I could come up with a long list of authors who have done illegal things–certainly some of them have gotten book deals BECAUSE of their illegal acts. But this is the accusation of an act against the young patrons I work with every day. And that triggers all kind of squeamish for me.

I’ve not yet worked somewhere that we were frequently challenged on books so I’ve not had the opportunity where I needed to borrow from Jamie LaRue’s reasoned points.

What is pinging about my brain:
* Merit of the book v. Opinion on the Human Being who wrote it
* A man is innocent until proven guilty
* It is violence against children
* The news story is particularly strongly worded
* Censorship based on my reaction to the author
* Children like to contact the authors whose books they enjoy–guess what comes up when you type this author’s name into a search engine.

Censorship is one of the strongest negative words in information. It’s one Judith Krug spent her professional life fighting against, to the notice even of the New York Times.

Where I’m at now:

1) I need to go home this weekend and read the books. I don’t imagine I’ll find anything insidious in them, they’ve been read by many librarians before me but, as with any possible book challenge, it’s good to know exactly what is in the pages.
2) I need to sit down with my immediate supervisor, Madame Storyteller, and possibly Madame Director and discuss all these questions. I’m a firm believer in gleaning wisdom from people I respect.
3) I need to review how the books have been circulating, as this is one of the collections I manage.

What I expect:

The books will probably go back on the shelf. So no one is blindsided by the issue should it arise, I’ll make sure my youth services coworkers, Mesdames Storyteller and Director are aware of the trial and of what happens at the end of it.

And I personally will continue to be revolted at the idea of what this author is accused of having said and done.

Knitting in Public Day: The Results Show

I feel like an episode of a reality television show, only there wasn’t any voting.

There were, however, knitters. Back up with me to the last week of March, won’t you?

Tuesday evening I picked up Franklin from our local Amtrak station, which is very nice and old fashioned. It’s also home to a really good BBQ place, in case you care to visit. We went downtown though for Mexican food (Tres Compadres was recommended) and had a lovely chat. It was unusual to be able to pull out my knitting at a meal and not have the other person look at me strangely. Granted, I’d brought only my “walking knitting”–garter stitch/log cabin afghan squares that yes, I do knit while walking.

Wednesday dawned early and it was off with a bang. By 10 a.m. I was through a trip to the grocery for fruit and veggie trays, had a coworker agree to pick up the coffee that was coming from a local shop, and was charging about the library. The first knitters (and a breakfast/lunch donut, courtesy of same sympathetic coworker) arrived just before noon.

Knitters trickled in. About half of my kids group arrived as well as a machine knitter who has brought her machine the last couple of years for demonstration. One of the ladies brought fiber and a drop spindle and by one p.m. had a pretty good circle going learning how to spin yarn. I’m a little afraid the kids are going to ask to learn that next fall. A lady from the local women’s magazine dropped by to interview me about having a kid’s group here at the library and encouraging kids to do handcraft. It was a good moment to talk about how knitting helps with self-esteem and self identity. Here’s a chance to let a child choose how and what to make and design and to show that they can create. It’s a very tangible reward to finish a hat or scarf or washcloth, which makes the craft highly appealing.

Raffle prizes also started at 1 p.m. I was very fortunate to be drawing from strong local businesses willing to donate. Overall we had more than 26 gift certificates, books, packages of yarn, etc to give away. I don’t remember who got all of the gift certificates to the yarn stores–one of the mom’s from my Mom Knit Mornings got one and one of the kids got another. To keep things surprising–each winner got an envelope. If they got a yellow post-it note, they got a package (book, yarn, patterns, etc). Otherwise it was whatever gift certificate they’d drawn.

The afternoon sped quickly by and I even had a little time to sit with my kids and correct a purling problem. The kids group had gotten a mention and a BIG picture in the paper the day before, so the Knitter Boy Age 10 was getting a lot of questions about his projects.

At 4 p.m. I made the call for yarn. Had you brought yarn for the swap? Many knitters had and it poured onto two tables. Tina helped me sort and pass out tickets. Then came one more question–how were we giving people access? I pulled off another strip of tickets, took note of first and last numbers, marked the backs and let each knitter who had donated grab one. They then picked in order of their tickets. This of course after they had to wait until 5 p.m., drooling over the selection.

And the yarn went!! I pulled last, having brought 30 skeins of my own that needed to leave the stash. What I pulled was for my kids group. I also received two big boxes of partial skeins in donation to the kids group and promise of more, so I’ll have a refill of my work stash, which is definitely a good and needed thing! At the end of the swap I had two big garbage bags of yarn that will be donated to a RSVP, a local seniors volunteer program. I also, I looked up to see, had a speaker.

Franklin arrived around 5:30 to mingle and meet and greet. We space checked the auditorium and then slowly encouraged the knitters to go downstairs. (I might have done some herding.)

At 6:30 we presented knitted afghans, a community project spearheaded by one of my coworkers, to Place of Grace and the Salvation Army. And then I handed over the floor to Franklin.

He was wonderful. Amusing, engaging, open and honest about being a knitter, particularly a male knitter, and all the challenges that brings us. He reminded us how lucky we are that I take for granted having 4 (technically 5) stores in under a 30 minute drive. Franklin showed off his knitting (a lace shawl he claims is easy), the “angry baby” hood, and a Victorian night cap which has what was then “retro lace” edging.

Afterwards he signed books (a local bookstore sent over an employee with 2 dozen) and we adjourned for dinner with a small group of the knitting faithful. Even Madame Director was able to join us (she’d had to make an appearance elsewhere in the evening).
(Franklin and I)

Overall it was an incredibly successful day, welcoming a large community group and drawing in a lot of interest from passing patrons. And I’d have Franklin back to speak in a heartbeat. The following morning saw us to one of the independent coffee shops and then off to the train. And me back to work to tidy up before heading out to New York.

One note for next year though–in 2010 I want a dedicated all-day minion. Wonder if I can locate a uni or high school student needing volunteer hours.

Knitting is Part of My Job Description, Right?

I just keep finding new ways to sneak knitting into my day and job description. I’ve added Mom-Knit-Mornings, a child friendly parents knitting group to encourage some of the pre-school moms who have approached me curious about getting an opportunity to knit. It’s a small group thus far, which I’m perfectly okay with. We’re putting it in the newsletter for the first time for April.

And then there’s the annual Knitting in Public day which is….next week. Wow has time flown since January, when I sent a polite and very hopeful little email towards Chicago. Said email was fruitful and last night I sent out the “one week out” email with details and final itinerary.

It’s my fan-girl pleasure to welcome Franklin Habit to La Crosse Public Library next week. Franklin, author of a popular knitting blog, minder of a rather troublesome sheep named Dolores and some sock yarn named Harry, photographer, and cartoonist, is coming up to speak to us. Our theme for the day, coined by co-partner with pointy sticks Madame Director, is Keeping You in Stitches: Knitting and Humor. Franklin published a fabulous book of knitting cartoons: I cried from laughing so hard the first time I read it. I’m so excited about next week.

There will be raffles and snacks, we’ll be doing a stash swap, a gentleman who learned to knit in Korea is dropping by to talk about his experiences, it’s going to be a crazy fun afternoon/evening. I just have decide if I wear the shirt with the knitting ninjas or the shirt that says “Seize the Wool” in Latin.

Last weekend, all in the name of handing out flyers and talking up the event, Our Lady of the Business Office and I went over to the Madison Knitter’s Guild Knit In. Seriously, getting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee to sign the rest of her books for me, catching up for a few minutes with last year’s Knit in Public Day speaker Joyce Williams, and possibly getting some of world’s squishest alpaca yarn had NOTHING to do with it. Just because everyone I’ve shown the yarn to has tried to sneak off with it.

I hope I’ve remembered nearly everything we’ll need, the clock is ticking. And unfortunately all this knitting doesn’t include the really fast approaching deadlines of knitting I have to do before next week.

My life’s been taken over by my pointy sticks–that’s a good thing.

Have to Keep Hopping….

There’s an interesting sorta-meme going around called “Day in the Life of a Librarian.” While I will refrain from a full minute by minute, I thought I’d share an account of yesterday, so you have an idea.

Times approximate

8:35 –Call WebGuy to let him know that I will be a few minutes late for the meeting: I have to drop the car at the shop because the power steering has decided it doesn’t want to play nice.

8:37 –Since the walk from the car shop to the library takes me right past the doughnut shop…well….

9:05 –Hustle upstairs, box of doughnuts in hand (people in my dept duly doughnuted)

9:06 — Meeting with RA and WebGuy. Discuss some details for new website. Conclude with need for me to draw squares and return them to WebGuy as promptly as possible.

10:20 — Turn on computer, check email, check intranet for new incident reports and blog posts. Send emails to Madame Director and Madame Immediate Supervisor asking them for five minutes when they get it (separately–different topics/times); Add patron request to acquisition system; Email title to Teen Librarian to confer if I should buy a book or she should.

10:50 –Get call from Acquisitions Guru to understand that this particular sub-series in American Girl does not come through on the standing order but will be ordered today for patron requests. Bow to the wisdom of the Acquisitions Guru. Get call from machine knitter– should she bring machine again? What day? Yes, March 25.

11:00 –Write out children’s dept requirements for registration module for new calendar program

11:30 – 1 — Draw physical layouts for children’s website–where I want editable boxes for staff (draw squares–write in content specifications); Confirm some money details for Knit in Public day; Rewrite current to-do list and attempt to figure out what I can wade through in afternoon.

1 -5: On Desk– Answering reference questions, walking patrons to shelves, putting books on hold, pulling a teacher collection, create registration form for upcoming children’s program, reseting children’s game computers that require log out to get a game to end (several times), registering patrons for storytimes. Yes, we have tongue twister books –No, all of our copies of the Sneetches are out, can I put it on hold for you?

1:05 Madame Immediate Supervisor swings past desk to review layout of website main page and primary sub pages. Brief discussion on what will need to be updated, how often, and by whom. Meebo WebGuy to say I have my layouts ready.

1:15 Zooming on the computer screen doesn’t mean it’s going to print out a full sized page. It will print the original size of that image. No, we don’t have a color printer down here. There is one upstairs in reference.

1:30 p.m. Review Knit In timeline and other details with Madame Director. Get approval for some purchases, discuss possibility of interviews with unique knitters in the community, debate where to get snacks from and where we can keep snacks for least amount of mess.

3:00 p.m. Is it three already? I’ve been sending out emails and confirming with my speaker, hammering out other details, begging for flyer expertise from Sibling-the-Elder [a graphic designer: I am not], WebGuy makes flying pass through children’s to pick up layouts and point out immediate problems. I promise to discuss next week and have Parents/Educators site mapped out. As he leaves I advise not to lose my square layouts– he just took my master copy!!

3:30 Visit from one of my pre-schoolers who is in day care now and can’t come to storytime as regularly. I hear that the Mike Myers version of the Cat in the Hat movie was “Icky” and was turned off after ten minutes.

3:40 Teen Librarian comes by to discuss book purchases, make a recommendation, talk about Teen website layout, debate the hiring of new Gaming Assistant now that Former GA has moved across an ocean. Teen Librarian exits stage left serving as pied piper of gaming teen boys.

3:45 [phone] No I haven’t seen your brother and we’ve talked about the fact I can’t give out information like that over the phone –two minutes later brother walks out of the stacks–Your sister is looking for you. Brother mumbles okay and settles down at game computer with headphones on.

3:50 — Who’s working the weekend? Me. Learn of mayoral candidate to be in children’s room on Saturday for meet and greet. (We’re having all the primary candidates in for this little gathering. Not a debate, just a chance for voters to come by and ask questions in separate spaces in library.) Note to self: put on a little extra make-up Saturday morning–the press will be probably be here.

4:00– Attempting to locate various picture books for 3 themes a day care provider is looking for. Success on most of the books. One appears to have vamoosed somewhere between circulation and the shelf in the past 24 hours.

4:40 Do NOT vault over the side of the boat. [3 foot drop] You could get hurt and I don’t want anything happening. Alright? Look at me…alright? Okay.

4:42 Okay, off the boat. Yes I know it was him this time and not you but I just spoke to both of you and you’re done for the day on the boat.

5:00 Hello Reference? Me. Is Head of TS still up there? This computer won’t let me access the F: drive from a website. Yes the F: drive is functioning. On his way down? Awesome.

5:06 [phone] Hello Youth Services….yes, that was me calling from my cell. Five minutes? Okay…

5:10 He’s off the boat, she’s waiting for Head of TS–he’ll be down in five, this teacher collection isn’t fully pulled, I’ve got to get outside for the nice person driving me home. Would you list me on the intranet out until Saturday?

5:11 This pile on my desk; this pile in my bag. And there was no weeding done today. But I did get four things crossed off my to-do list!!