28/09/2011 § 8 Comments
Britt: Of course, public and school librarians operate in different spheres of responsibility for a child’s access. Many teacher librarians may act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) depending on their state or district; public librarians have no such mandate. It is the common practice of public librarians (and the suggestion of ALA), particularly when processing a challenge, to place the responsibility for access on the parent, which relieves the librarian of that role. This leaves us free to collect for a broader audience, but also, I feel, limits our ability to be advocates for intellectual freedom for youth. Should youth librarians take a more active role when promoting access for children? Should we advocate for the right of the child over that of the parent?
22/09/2011 § 11 Comments
As soon as you start library school (or maybe before) people will ask you— “Why?” Besides asking why you specifically are going to grad school to get your MLS they will ask questions like: “Why does a librarian need a master’s degree to check out books to people?” or “Why do we even need libraries?”
If you are a first year student or a veteran librarian you better have a good answer at the ready—you are representing libraries and the profession to the “outside” world with your answer. We can echo reasons to employ librarians on this blog all day long— but the people who need to understand the worth of libraries and librarianship don’t read this blog or any library blog and they may not even go to the library.
Step one in changing their mind is to have impactful, well thought out talking points for these situations. Because an “Um….I like books and um….it’s not just the Dewey Decimal System” kind of answer isn’t going to cut it. A great way to be prepared for impromptu conversations about libraries is to develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a quick pitch (about as long as an elevator ride) that sums up why a product, service, idea, or institution is worth the listeners time, money or patronage. On The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries blog Kathy Dempsey shared a success story in which a library t-shirt and an elevator speech made a guy rethink his stance on libraries. Dempsey’s experience is a perfect example of why we all need to be prepared to talk up libraries whether it’s at the reference desk, on Twitter, or at the grocery store. « Read the rest of this entry »
17/06/2011 § 2 Comments
Polanka, Su, ed. No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries. American Library Association, 2011.
I have to be up front with you guys: I don’t have a Kindle. I’m certainly not a luddite and I’ve spent most of my life around computers. I remember first getting dial-up AOL at my house in elementary school, I had an AIM screen name and Live Journal account in middle school, my first cell phone at 15, and my mother still blames all her computer problems on Napster. You’d think someone like me who wants to be a librarian in the digital age would be fully seduced by the e-book. Heck, I even work for a program that implements technology instruction for teenagers. And yet, seduced I’m not. Sure, I have the typical complaints about missing the essence of the book–the pages! the feel! the margin notes!–but I’m also concerned about the implications of e-books for the preservation and perpetuation of knowledge. What does it mean for a library to no longer own a part of its collection but instead own licenses to it? What would it mean for OverDrive (or some other third-party vendor) to go out of business, or more likely consolidate with another vendor? How are e-books in libraries serving the mission of increasing information and technology literacy? It’s no joke the digital divide still exists, so how can e-books be used to serve this population? So, when I asked the HLS team for suggestions for books and Polanka’s No Shelf Required came up, I was in. “Convince me,” I dared it. « Read the rest of this entry »
07/04/2011 § 16 Comments
Lauren Bradley is in her final semester at the Pratt School of Information & Library Science in Manhattan. She works part-time at the Leo Baeck Institute and part-time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She enjoys costume librarianship, database searching, and government documents. Although her experience is exclusively in technical services, she dreams of crossing the divide to reference and instruction. Follow her on Twitter @BibliosaurusRex
Nearly all library school programs require students to take some form of these two classes: reference and cataloging. If you are like me and my peers, you immediately embraced one, declaring it your life passion, while disdaining the other, wondering why anyone would want to dedicate a life-long career to it. Library school seems to reinforce these notions…jokes about the poor social skills of catalogers and sneers about the customer service element of reference librarians comes to mind. A professor early in my own library education declared the divide between user and technical services dead; he said that we should gain skills in each to have a successful career. Although my own personal work experience and vision of future libraries affirm his declaration, I see library school propagating the notion of the technical-user services divide.
09/03/2011 § 13 Comments
“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” -Walter Benjamin
I work with digital collections and part of what I do at my job is digitize historical documents. As I handle these delicate materials, I see how they transform into a digital format, and I can’t help but wonder if something was lost in its translation. The quality of the digital image is wonderful, and yet very different from its physical form. Similarly, when looking at the difference between a book and a book on an e-reader, the relationship between the reader and the material also shifts. People have varying opinions on the rising popularity of e-books and digital media. Librarians, authors, publishers, patrons–we all see the inevitable digitization of media differently. We’re currently in a transitional phase and in light of recent events dealing with e-books ( Harper Collins anyone?) it’s clear to see that there is plenty of change to come.
The rising sales of Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers has many people pondering over the longevity of the book. Books can be damaged or misplaced, e-books can be downloaded at your convenience and are less likely to be lost. However, it’s my opinion that people have a special material relationship with their print materials that is hard to replicate in the digital format. I like to write notes to myself in the margins to help me sum up main ideas and the physical act of writing helps gel those ideas in my mind. But the issue isn’t really new, remember when people thought vinyl records would become obsolete? Now there is a niche market for those who see them as a collector’s item, perhaps in the future this will be the same for books.
E-books have plenty going for them, but there are a few issues that need to be worked out. Not all books lend themselves easily to digitization. I love art books and I hope that by the time I’m very old, I’ll have a wonderful personal library filled with them. Some artists see the creation of a book an art, and have done very innovative things with books that would be very difficult to replicate in a digital format. An additional issue, is that not everyone has the money to afford an e-reader, so it’s important and relevant that libraries would still provide physical copies of best sellers. The e-reader market will probably only strive to make up for these concerns by lowering prices and using emerging technology (like E Ink) to make its products seem like the real deal.
Taking all this into account, I also have to wonder about the future of books and their place in libraries, education, and our lives. Will our relationships with print materials transfer over to the digital? How will libraries accommodate these trends, especially with shrinking budgets and publisher’s e-lending policies? It’s hard to make that call now, but as future librarians, these are issues we will have to face.
What do you guys think about all this? Do you relate differently to print material as opposed to digital? Are these issues being discussed in your programs?