Do What Makes You Mad

06/11/2013 § 7 Comments

In the library world, enthusiasm is not in short supply. I’d even go so far as to say that being excited about things is quickly becoming part of the new librarian stereotype, along with being 25, tattooed, pink-haired, and on a skateboard. Think about it—an abundance of library websites, blogs, and Twitter feeds focus on being clever, sharing new book finds, and poking fun at our profession. And while all this is great (and hilarious), I often wonder, where’s everybody’s indignation? Doesn’t something (other than rude patrons) make you mad?

I’ll go ahead and admit that I sometimes wonder why I’m in the library business at all. But then I meet people who remind me, like the 75-year-old woman who could hardly walk without breathing heavily who needed help applying for a job at Burger King. Unpack that one—digital illiteracy, elder care, unemployment, disability. That makes me mad. And when I get mad, I do what librarians do best—I start learning.

Of the five tracks my MLIS program offers (youth services, cataloging, management, reference, and technology), I originally chose to focus on technology because, honestly, I thought it would look amazing on my resume. But once I started working at a public library, everything I learned in my technology classes started to come into focus. Digital illiteracy became real to me, and I realized that my classes were preparing me to think about the big picture concerning the impact of new technologies on libraries, their patrons, and the world.

These classes and experiences prepared me to think critically about a topic that I hadn’t even realized mattered to me. They gave my studies a sense of purpose, and they reinforced the lessons I’d learned in core classes. And yes, as I predicted, they’re starting to make my resume look a lot better, too.

It is my advice, then, when designing your course of study, to specialize in something that makes you mad, something that will equip you with the skills to right the wrongs you see. I know that letting what makes you mad drive your decisions is usually a bad idea, but in this case, it makes sense. Enthusiasm wanes (Twilight, anyone?), but man, can people hold a grudge. And sometimes, that’s a good thing.

You don’t have to sink your teeth into an issue and never let go, but it’s not a bad idea to at least keep the issue where you can see it. Don’t ignore what you like—try tearing me away from display making, why don’t you—but don’t ignore what makes you mad, either. You may find something new to love.

What do you think fellow hackers? Is there enough indignation among library people? Is there anything that makes you mad?

Questionable Promotion/Advocacy

24/04/2013 § 8 Comments

I recently received an ALA Store catalog in the mail and was happily flipping through the pages, considering whether or not I should order my own supply of Love My Library buttons, when I stumbled across this t-shirt:

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

It has pictures of endangered animals (a giant panda, a mountain gorilla, a black rhino) and then the library symbol, the point being that libraries are endangered. I’m sorry to say it but something about this t-shirt does not sit well with me. It rings a little alarmist and reminds me of the Huffington Post “Libraries in Crisis” page which Turner Masland covered in an excellent Hack Library School post called HuffPo: Helping or Hurting?.

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Getting Political

13/02/2013 § 9 Comments

I’m always on the lookout for articles, blog posts, and anything else with some variant of “things they don’t teach in library school,” as I’m sure many of you are as well. These things usually fall into two categories: “things they should teach in library school classes, but don’t” and “things you have to learn outside the classroom.” As an LIS student who is trying to make the most out of her education, both inside and outside the classroom, I try to keep an eye out for both.

Thus, when I recently stumbled across an American Libraries Inside Scoop post by Chris Kyauk entitled “They Don’t Teach You Politics in Library School,” it really got me thinking. Should they teach us politics in library school? If so, how? Would that kind of education lend itself to a classroom setting? And aren’t library students and librarians already politically engaged as it is?

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Introducing EveryLibrary!

11/09/2012 § 2 Comments

Recently, library-land has been buzzing about the soft launch of EveryLibrary, a non-partisan , national organization dedicated to helping libraries at the ballot box. As we move towards election time, I’m sure we’re all reading about what measures and initiatives we’ll be voting for and against (because we’re all responsible citizens who will be voting in the upcoming elections right?). What’s cool about EveryLibrary is that they will exclusively be dedicated to advocating for library initiatives, connecting with local communities to get voter support. Libraries can use all the help they can get at election time. A vote for libraries means more hours, more funding, and more jobs. This is something all library school students can get behind.

Advocacy is a very important aspect of librarianship. We often hear about the doom and gloom of library hours being cut and budgets being slashed. Professionals, new and young, are finding themselves out on the frontlines to push for more support from the community. We’ve written about advocacy and being a locally grown advocate before, so this concept isn’t really new to us or our readers. As future professionals, we all need to pay attention to what’s happening in our communities and see how we can help our local libraries.

Right now, EveryLibrary is in the fundraising stage, trying to get enough money to register as a 501(c) organization and a non profit in the state of Illinois. As students, it’s hard to spare even a small amount of money, but if you have some to spare, you can donate here. More importantly, the best thing we can all do is to spread the word. Tell everyone in your classes about this, tweet the link, share it with your friends and family. Let’s #makeithappen!

Follow EveryLibrary on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us what you think about advocating for libraries and what you think about EveryLibary. Is this something that’s even being discussed in class? Have any other ideas about spreading the word? Let us know in the comments!

HackLibSchool on Occupy Wall Street: Part II

15/12/2011 § 13 Comments

A few weeks ago we wrote about how libraries fit into the Occupy Wall Street movement.  In the comments there was a discussion of emergency plans so I wanted to write a bit of an update on what has happened with the Audre Lorde to Howard Zinn (A-Z) Library at Occupy Boston.  

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