Monday, September 29, 2008


Here's a picture of the lovely flowers that arrived today from an English professor. She was at a teaching conference over the weekend, and we took her two classes and discussed Web evaluation. I had a great time with the classes, but it's so nice to know we were appreciated. We're leaving them at the library reference desk to share their beauty with all who pass by.

Banned Books Week 2008

This is so incredible, I can't get over it and I can't account for my own success this morning. I came into work for a few hours yesterday and assembled my Banned Books Week display and Web site. I sent out an e-mail to all faculty, staff, and students inviting them to vote for their favorite banned book on our Web site. This morning I had 95 e-mails waiting for me, 90 of them were votes. I thought maybe one person voted many times, or that we had gotten spammed, but almost all of them are unique votes by our own community. I have never had nearly so many votes in an entire week, let alone a single day. The highest number was two years ago when I got 72.

The only think that I can attribute to myself is the animated advertisement I put on our Web site in addition to the e-mail I sent out with the subject "Sex, profanity, and immorality at the Snowden Library!" But can that make all the difference?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Coming together

I have held back on this blog the past few days because I feel I have so much to complain about (...grrr LibQUAL is all I can say about that...), or sad news to tell about deaths and health crises among our faculty and their families. It's the first time in a long time I haven't looked forward to Friday since we're going to a funeral tonight... I'm nervous about crying as hard as the family even though I don't know them well just because she was way too young to die.

But today there are a few things that are a positive. First is how much I love my office-mate who took over reference for the entire day as I covered for one late-scheduled class and helped cover for another librarian who is at the hospital taking care of her daughter. I had asked her to take over just while I was in class, and without asking she took over the whole day.

Second is I had some good classes today that were enjoyable with lots of participation.

Third is that I just got one more person to sit on my panel and two people asking if they could bring posters to our SLC workshop next month. Oh can you ever! I am so excited, their topics sound great.

Fourth is I got a call saying my pre-ordered copy of Inkdeath arrived at our local indie bookstore. I didn't think it was coming out for another two weeks.

And the fifth thing to be happy about comes from a conversation I had with my mentor yesterday about what women students lives were like even when she went to college. I can't imagine my father not being able to help me move into my dorm room, or having to be back in my dorm by 9, or not being served dinner because I was wearing pants rather than a skirt, or not being able to go to Harvard just because of my gender. I know it's not really equal yet, but I was reminded how much progress has been made even in my parents' lifetime. I'm grateful for my parents and teachers who said I could do whatever I wanted and wasn't limited by my gender.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Censorship in healthcare

My cousin sent out an e-mail about a scary health care bill that would allow medical professionals to object to proceedures that go against their conscience. According to the comments going around the Web, this goes beyond the abortion proceedure to not informing a patient of what their options are, or possibly witholding any treatment if the medical provider doesn't agree with their lifestyle choices. While there is information in newspapers in LexisNexis about the bill, it sounds vague as to what proceedures beyond abortion count.

While no one should be forced to perform an abortion, you should be forced to treat a lesbian fairly, or give referal to services that will give comprehensive information on AIDS or prescribe birth control. In short, every patient should get full, accurate information regardless of what health issue is involved, which is a separate issue from whether that particular doctor or nurse is willing to perform it.

Mixed feelings

How should a good reference librarian feel when the student worker calls him/her for help in the break room at lunch or on an evening/weekend when she/he is not scheduled to work but is in his/her office? I suppose an excellent one is delighted. When people actually ask for help, reference is my favorite part of being a librarian. I am very happy to help when called during the day, even if I'm not the person on call. But lately I have been working later in the evenings and coming in on weekends to try to catch up on all of my projects without the usual disruptions, and I am being called to come out for not only reference help, but to un-jam printers and figure out computer questions as well. I'm only mildly and temporarily annoyed with the requests for reference help, I am less gracious for technical problems.

Should I feel guilty that this annoys me? Does it make me less than a good reference librarian?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reimbursement woes

The hoops that one has to go through to get reimbursed are incredible... and heaven forbid you forgot the right procedure... I used my own credit card to buy my plane tickets and registration for ACRL, then submitted the forms to the business office. They're throwing a fit and saying since I didn't use a company credit card, they might not reimburse me until 30 days before the conference... that's a lot of money to go without for six months...

I'm tired now, I hope to have something more intelligent to say tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

IM Frustration

I have gotten so frustrated with how often Meebo isn't working (like last night and today). I think it's time to switch to something else, but it needs to be something that doesn't require users to login. I got so confused with because their instructions are so vague. I found AIM's WIMSI widget, which seemed great until it started displaying that I was offline even though I was online and carrying on a conversation with myself.

I can't easily see if Pidgin has a widget, or if it's just an aggregator and you need a Meebo account to use it, like what seems to be. I don't like's widget anyway, it's almost invisible.

Help, if you have any advice!


Book Review: Library 2.0 and Beyond

I just finished a new library book and want to share my notes about it. This book is an anthology of articles on different aspects of library 2.0. Each article has a different author with a different focus and different style, some practical, some theoretical. There were three chapters of this book I got a lot out of, two that had good information that didn't seem relevant to me, and many that were not very memorable. Here are my notes:

Library 2.0 & Beyond: Innovative Technologies & Tomorrow’s User
Edited by Nancy Courtney
Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited (2007)

The term “Library 2.0” first appeared in 2005 and, to put it simply, is a concept where the trends and tools of Web 2.0 are applied to libraries. Web 2.0 is broader than just the tools we associate with it. A comprehensive definition is hard to achieve, but it includes:
  • wisdom of crowds
  • age of the amateur
  • many people contributing just a little to get impressive results
  • participation; constant change; collaboration
  • self-service
  • two-way flow of information between the people and the organizations
  • **democratizing of communication

These virtual communities support physical ones. For libraries, this means we should make the library available at all points of need, and integrate the library with services outside of the library’s walls.

Here are the highlights of the book:

Chapter 4 on podcasting by Chris Kretz
It explains the difference between a mere audio file and a “podcast,” which must include RSS. Things you can do with podcasts include

  • book reviews
  • highlighting collections
  • reading books (one library read the entire Frankenstein in 27 podcasts over a month, featuring different faculty members’ voices)
  • leading a treasure-hunt exercise
  • “Library Audio to Go” (focuses on specific information resources and topics related to research in a conversational manner)
  • “Computer Tips” at Providence PL (hands-on tutorials for stuff like Google Earth, Flickr, Craigslist, and go with screen shots)
  • live programs hosted at library
  • local history, story time, teen show

Of course there are legal issues involved. You must get signed permission from speakers, permission from authors/artists, podsafe music, copyright of books, etc. To promote podcasts, you should submit the RSS feed to a podcast directory (Ed. Podcast Network, iTunes, Podcast Alley), include information in the ID3 tags, add graphic or logo to the ID3 tag. Also be sure to make it clear at the start of each podcast who/what will be presented.

Chapter 8 on user-based tagging by Ellyssa Kroski
This was also a good chapter, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of letting the masses “tag” items on the Web in order to organize it. She argues there’s just too much information on the Web to be cataloged by professionals, so why fight the amateur organization?

Advantages- inclusiveness (no bias), currency, discovery potential, nonbinary nature (no one preferred term for all synonyms), self-moderation/democratic, shows what users want and insight into their behavior, community, low cost, usability, and resistance is futile.

Disadvantages- non synonym control, lack of precision, lack of hierarchy, lack of recall, susceptibility to “gaming” (like spamming).

Advanced features are making tagging more useful.

Chapter 9 on learning from video games by David Ward
This had some great stuff in the section on “Games as an Education Tool.” I think most library educators agree that straight-out lectures don’t work anymore, you have to get them active. Video games involve learning; the players have to learn to solve problems and will spend hours doing so. We should use off-the-shelf games or make our own that get students simulating the research process to give them practical albeit virtual experience.
The definition of a “video game” is:

  • visual digital information to 1+ players
  • takes input from players
  • processes the input according to programmed game rules
  • alters digital information based on input

He writes that you don’t need to use actual video games, just characteristics of the games, where players learn by doing and discovering… a.k.a. “active learning.” You must keep telling to a minimum, to allow for discoveries. Allow them to get feedback from environment to inform them for their next action.

Furthermore, 2.0 involves collaborative relationships. Try to provide opportunities for “peer-to-peer creation and transfer of knowledge.” This provides newbies a stronger support system. Let students build their own research guides.

Less memorable chapters for me included: Virtual Worlds (Second Life), Social Networking, Mashups, Handheld Computers in Library (including cell phones), Wikis. The chapter on future catalogs was good, but not of personal interest as we can’t build our own catalog. But much of what it suggests will be available in Indigo, which I hope we will switch to over winter break. The chapter on digital storytelling was very good, and written by academic librarians, but I found it difficult to see how it would be applied to our library. I would like to see examples of this.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Phone Books

The latest edition of the Williamsport phone book arrived, as did the big bins for recycling the old phone books. I stopped using phone books for a few years, instead looking everything up on Yahoo Yellow Pages. But I've come back to them. I like that we don't have to pay for it, nor any other service to allow us to use it. I like that it's limited to our geographic area, and that it allows you to browse if you didn't spell something right (a common problem with me). It also always seems to have more options for any given Yellow Pages category than the online version seems to.

Of course there are advantages to the online one, like links to Web sites and maps and full mailing addresses. Plus it doesn't kill as many trees. But I still love quaint, old-fashioned phone books.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taking 2.0 to the Faculty

We read a good, brief article called "Taking 2.0 to the Faculty" for our instructional librarian meeting this morning. I thought it was a great article, and particularly relevant to me since I'm the 2.0 person of the group.

I think every public services librarian should make time for blogs. I don't understand how you can run programs and improve on instruction without reading what other people are doing. I find blogs to be so much more helpful than formally published articles. You miss so much of the practical stuff that doesn't get put into the scholarly literature. It makes me sad for people who don't create the time to browse other librarians' blogs from time to time.

Helping faculty

One of the biggest faculty users of just called because she forgot the class password and can't find it on the new interface. I can't find it on the new interface either, but as the administrator, I could look it up. I read it off to her. Her response was, "Who the f&#% came up with that?!"

I cracked up. It wasn't the response I had been expecting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So Let Just Not Talk About It?

This is an old example of censorship, but illustrates previous points I have made on the issue of censorship of books like Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. It seems to me that the teacher led an excellent discussion of the book and the use of racial language. Yet a student wants to take this discussion out of the classroom and never be able to talk about it. How is anyone (particularly Caucasians) ever supposed to learn when you censor the hard truths of the not-so-glorious past? And if 1/3 of their school is African American, they must hear racial slurs over and over again in the hallway and in their community. Shouldn't they know the history of those words?

I'm sure I have many ideas that are offensive to other people on the issue of race and ethnicity... maybe even just the fact that I'm white. But why can't we push forward with open, un-censored talks so that we can all learn what's offensive, why, and take the fear out of the issue? How can we move on from where we are now to something better without these talks? How is this desire controversial? It's a sincere question that begs for comments from any readers who have more experience than I do.

Reference Question Stumper

I just had a student at the reference desk whose professor is offering extra credit if they can figure out what the significance of the number 39 is in the movie Blow-Up. He said there's a book in the library that will tell them. She had already searched out a dictionary of symbols, and we looked through some others. I also used Reference Universe. When I write out "thirty-nine," it returns several reference articles on the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. She read about them in one of our reference books, but doesn't see the connection. I didn't know what else to try, and am not having any luck on the Internet either...

A little while later...
With some tweaking of the search terms in Google, I found the number thirty discussed in a book called After Hitchcock. It's either a reference to Hitchcock's 39 Steps, which has similar themes in its plot, or that Antonioni was living in Europe in 1939. Long live Google Books. Now if they'd only let me print a page or two...

Countdown Begins

I set up a countdown widget for myself to remind myself how much time I have left before Harry Potter Night. It's my big event for the year. This clock goes onto my iGoogle page, which I use as my home page. I may put it on the library's Web site, too, but I'll have to wait until the week of for that...

I need to pick a topic for a panel on Web 2.0 technologies. I'm thinking of talking about widgets, and how they do really cool stuff without needing to know any programming languages or even much about Web sites other than where to place your code.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First step to Seattle

I bought my plane ticket to Seattle for ACRL in March. There was a flight for $300 including taxes, and I know if I waited until a reasonable time to buy the ticket, it would cost $900, which I couldn't afford. I got some money from the provost's office, and it will cover my plane ticket now and early-bird registration, with just $5 coming out of my pocket so far. Everything else will be my expense, but I have a place to stay in Seattle (and people to see!) and that's the biggest expense.

So ACRL, here I come... though it would be nice if you would let me register to keep our business office happy...

On a side note, I'm a little disappointed on something. One of the other librarians runs the local chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. It seems to be a big headache for her, so I contacted the Miami U. chapter to see if I was eligible. Each chapter has its own rules, and Miami doesn't allow alumni to join. That's fine. But I hate that the national standard is the top 10% of graduating class, but Miami's chapter says only the top 5%. I wasn't in the top 5%, but I was probably right around the top 10%. IU's cutoff for Phi Beta Mu was higher than the national cutoff. Though satisfying that was not a problem.

Thinking about this, I just realized I don't have any of these on my staff page...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quiz Night at the Snowden Library?

I haven't run this by anyone at my library yet, but it sounds like a good idea. Sami from the Sprylibrarian wrote about her library's Big Brain Bash event recently. I asked her for the materials, and this morning I had a big, wonderful e-mail telling more about the event and the various Word and PDF documents associated with it. I am so excited to pitch this to our director and other librarians.

We have two big outreach events at our library, but both are in the fall. Harry Potter Night will take place on October 24, that's as close as we can get to Halloween this year because the 31st is Long Weekend and we won't have any students that day! The other big event is Snowden 'til 2. This takes place the last day of class, and runs from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. (hence the name). Professors come give review sessions while we order enormous sheet pizzas, serve cookies and coffee, hire professional massuses, coordinate video games on projectors, Play-Doah smashing, and pictures with Santa. This draws 400+ students on a campus of 1,400.

Perhaps there is enough in the spring to draw their attention... spring is so busy, and I get the impression that students don't take anything as seriously that semester as they do in the fall. But this event seems labor-intensive, but inexpensive, and if it was successful there, then it should be successful here.

Productive Weekend

I had every intention of putting a few hours in this past weekend, and I didn't. But I was productive, anyway. I am nearly done with this year's batch of Harry Potter costumes for Harry Potter Night in October. I finished the Grey Lady's costume, made myself a new black Victorian walking skirt to go under my green robe, and the green robe got some improvements... well, actually minor simplifications that make it look soooo much better.

My birthday is coming up and I told my husband I can't handle not having a digital camera anymore. We're going to look for one this week, so soon I will be able to put pictures up of the new and improved costumes.

The next project will be sponge-painting bricks onto a huge piece of muslin to turn into the wall leading towards Platform 9 3/4. We plan to hang this over the front door to the library... though we'll have to remember to lock the sliding doors open so people don't slam into the glass... though it would be appropriate for book 2, wouldn't it?

Friday, September 12, 2008

What would a librarian superhero look like?

I was catching up on Google Reader and through Please Be Quiet, I came across yet another fun avatar site, this one helps you create your own superhero avatar. It's called the Hero Machine. I played with it for way too long yesterday afternoon, considering that I have plenty of other stuff to do. I've added another 30 minutes to the time I will be coming in this weekend.

Anyway, as I was playing with what I wanted to be a superhero librarian, I started to wonder... what would a superhero librarian look like? I was really stuck on the eyes and eyebrows. Comic book heros are always scowling, angry at all of the evil in the world. A quizical or inviting look is just wrong, but we don't want librarians who scowl!

And what would she wear? I do think my superhero librarian is a woman... and I do think she needs purple hair that blows in the wind. Beyond that... I'm just clueless. What conveys smart, helpful, and yet still powerful as a guide to the universe of human knowledge?!? How about angel wings? A cat companion is a must, and if the superhero can fly, then what use is a companion who cant?
Anyone else have any opinions?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I had two really good classes. This is good, since I got evaluated by the library director and a co-worker today. I hope they think the classes went as well as I did, even if I ran out of time at the end of the second one.

The first class had six theatre students in it. They were very engaged and happy to participate. At the end, I had some review questions and told them I would divide the small prizes in accordance with how much they participated. I didn't tell them what the prizes were, but it was enough of a motivation that almost every one of them raised their hand for every question. Not every answer was what I was looking for, some were better than I was looking for, some answered to their interpretation of what must have been a vague question. But they all participated, and they all did a great job. I passed out $1 coupons to the campus coffee shop, and they said, "this isn't a small prize, this is great!"

One student asked about why I wrote AND instead of using the ones EBSCO already had. I had been waiting to add an OR statement and was explaining why you want to keep OR words all in one line. I told them funny things would happen, and they'd probably not even know those funny things were happening. I asked them if they had seen the original Ghostbuters, they all nodded enthusiastically (which is good, considering that movie is older than they are). I said "Mixing AND and OR can be dangerous, kind of like how they kept saying in that movie 'don't cross the streams.'" Okay, so it's a bit of a stretch of an analogy, but they all got it. When I tried to clarify by saying it was like Math where addition and multiplication are mixed... they interrupted and said they were theatre majors and didn't get math analogies. So I asked if Ghostbuster analogies worked, and they all agreed that it had.

As they were leaving, one girl said, "This was my favorite library session ever." I had to be honest with her and said it was one of mine, too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Library's role in student retention

Our director passed out the latest issue of Library Issues. The article is entitled "Keeping Them Enrolled: How Academic Libraries Contribute to Student Retention" and is written by Steven Bell. Retention is a big issue here this year because we have a very small class and don't know when the general economy will recover. Fortunately, we're in good financial standing due to very conservative trustees and president. But we still need to make an extra effort to all do our part in student retention. I doubt that we are alone in this issue.

I have been wondering since Monday's faculty meeting if we shouldn't explore how the library could get involved with prospective student days. Don't ask me how, but would it make any difference? The administration wants us to think about what makes us stand out, and we have an exceptional library. My husband, a biology prof., doesn't think that's really a big draw to students. It wouldn't have been with me 10 years ago, I just liked the pretty brick buildings and lots of trees (and being the furthest state school from my parents helped, too... I love them, really I do!).

In the article, Bell says the most commonly stated reason for leaving (or probably for staying) is the people. Some studies have been done that link library spending per student to successful retention rates. But it's difficult to argue. One of the big names in retention research is George Kuh, who writes that librarians can help by being involved in freshmen orientation, teaching 1st year seminars, collaborating with faculty, and getting involved with students in other ways.

One suggestion he makes is to work with the parents in various ways. To at least get them to contact us when the student is calling them for research help (and studies show they do!!!).

Librarians should do what they can, along with other campus employees, to help new students establish roots. Libraries should host social activities and programs to allow librarians to reach out to students.

There is a call for greater study, particularly a survey to graduating seniors on how much contact they had with librarians, how helpful the librarians were, and if that led to their academic success.

The suggestion that libraries should give preferential treatment to upperclassmen is ridiculous, though. I really doubt such unfair treatment will entice freshmen to stay at the college longer, and it breaks every code of librarianship. If anything, we should be more indulging to freshmen as we try to help them "establish roots" and encourage them to come back to the library. However, this article is of great interest and I recommend it... and it's short!

This is an interesting opener to a discussion I hope will bloom on our campus and in the library community.

Left Out

Again from LISNews, Walt at Random is making a list of librarian blogs (and NOT library blogs). I want to be included on that list. I fit all of the criteria, except he wants at least one post from 2007 and I started this blog in January 2008. Oh, and I guess I'm not "visible" enough according to my Technorati rating... and I was so proud I was up to a 6.

I'm happy to have this list of library-related blogs, but I feel so left out :(

Harry Potter Decision Explained

I love LISNews for such things as pointing out this wonderful summary of the Harry Potter decision by Chris Meadows. It all came down to the fact that the Lexicon copied or paraphrased too much, including almost all of the two small books that Rowling wrote on Quidditch and magical creatures.

The decision does not prevent another lexicon or any other reference book. It clearly states (according to Meadows, I don't have time right now to read the original) that Rowling cannot ban reference books on the topic of Harry Potter to protect sales of her own future encyclopedia. She can only protect her original works from being overly copied.

The NPR story can be found here, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.

Finally, a satisfying explaination.

New Marketing Idea

Here's a novel marketing idea for the library... put advertisements on the back of bald people's heads for two weeks. I wonder if the airline will find any takers. I don't know who would do it for so little money... less than $700 for two weeks of embarrassment. In New Zealand, you probably can't get a single flight for much less than that. As for libraries, too bad more of our students aren't bald.

BTW, this is my 200th post!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Second job out of consideration

At the end of the day yesterday, after getting on Walden's prospective student list in my search for information, my friend wrote and said the job is 20 hours per week. I am looking for 10, I could probably stretch to 15, but I'm almost positive I could not do 20 hours no matter what the schedule. It would interfere with my work here, it would not be good for my new marriage, and I don't need that much of an income augmentation.

Furthermore, I looked up what undergraduate programs they have, and they are business and information services degree completion programs. These aren't my most comfortable fields.

I'm a little sad this morning because I miss the work. I love my job here and would not give it up just to go back to distance librarianship. I love working with the students face to face and interacting with them casually. I love the students here and have an enormous amount of school pride (for the first time ever!). The new head librarian there has done some amazing things that I would love to be a part of, and I have been meaning to pick up her book on library Web site design. But I'm still basking in how lucky I am to be in the job I am in. So each job has its benefits and drawbacks. Overall, where I'm at wins hands down. So while the description suits me perfectly and I really miss the work, I will not be applying.

J. K. Rowling wins court case

So I was wrong... or she has better lawyers than the publisher does. I'm sure there are some longer stories out there, I'll link to them when I find them. I really hope there's a lot more to this case than there seems to be from the newspaper stories, because it seems to set a bad precedent for reference books.

Here is the article from the New York Times, which is more descriptive. Perhaps more interesting than the article itself is the 82 comments (as of 8:25 a.m.). The exerpt of the judge's decision gives a different reason for the final decision. Whereas the above article says the publisher's lawyers didn't make a sufficient case for "fair use," the NYT article states the judge decided he copied too much of the content. Perhaps the difference is when something is outright copied and when something is paraphrased. I'm not sure if a lexicon has to be entirely copied. But I am familiar with the online version and don't feel it's unreasonable. Just as he piggy-backed on J. K. Rowling, she piggy-backed on his online work to complete her later novels... But this opinion is based on the assumption that the print was identical to the online version, and I am not sure this is true. Here is another NYT article on the same topic.

I hope now the author will go back to mending the online version, which has fallen into disrepair in the past year. Many updates from book 7 haven't been entered, and half of the links are dead. This is an incredibly useful resource... and maybe I'll just send him $25 to show my appreciation.

On a side note, a very loud thunderstorm rolled through Williamsport at 6 a.m. When it was clear I couldn't sleep through it, I got up early. I was sure our library's basement would have water spouting through the walls, yet when I got here at 7:15, it was bone dry. Absolutely amazing. If it rains anywhere in the surrounding states, the carpet at least gets damp.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Promiscuous Searchers

I'm reading an article a co-worker gave me that I'm having difficulty understanding. It is called "The information-seeking behaviour of the virtual scholar: from use to users" by David Nicholas. On the third page, it describes one of the traits of online searchers, and that is their promiscuity. I do a lot of online searching, so does that make me promiscuous?

Okay, so this word doesn't have to involve sex. also has definitions that include without discrimination, haphazard.

Even as a professional researcher, I also do a lot of searching that is haphazard, and I bounce in and out of sites. I'm wondering if this is avoidable on the Internet or within a scholarly database. Even when I am searching for articles, I may get into the abstract page or the article itself, and quickly realize it isn't relevant.

But is this really so different than print? If I am looking in books, I may pull ten books off the shelf, and realize only three are at all relevant.

Does any of this really matter... I guess that's the final question.

Tempting second job offer

I was notified by a friend that Walden University is looking for a part-time librarian. I worked with this friend at the office that Walden contracted reference services at Indiana University while I was in grad school. It was the best experience ever, and while it was utterly exhausting, I loved it. I have mentioned before on my blog how much I miss the intense reference that I did with their graduate students.

Unfortunately, the ad doesn't say how many hours per week "part-time" is. I believe I am perfectly suited for this job and would love to do it in the evenings/weekends. I have been thinking of getting second job, but I need some flexibility and I need to make it worth my time to be tired a lot. We could use the extra money to pay off student loans and utilities... maybe even a trip to Europe next summer... This job makes $20 per hour, and that's definitely worth it!

They surprisingly do require the person to attend residencies. They mention this very casually, mixed in with a bunch of other things I would love to do. I don't think I could travel to many residencies. My current job takes top priority, of course. But it would still be nice to work this in.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Travel Fund Request

I thought my travel fund request was in the dean's office, but once again, I misunderstood the proceedure and hadn't filled out the official form. I am trying to go to ACRL in Seattle, where I have a place to stay and I'm willing to cover some of the cost, but can't cover everything with a new house.

The two librarians who plan to travel in the fall got approved for $700 each. I will be very happy with $700, esp. if it is approved soon and I can get a plane ticket for under $300. I have now turned in the form and we will see what happens. I'm already getting myself worked up for the chance that the money is not distributed evenly among the librarians. I tend to be like that and wish I wasn't.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Avatar

I created my avatar on this morning. I've been trying to get to that site for days and it has been down. I played with Yahoo Avatars yesterday afternoon during my break. It is a full-body avatar and has lots more choices, including a library background. Still, this one has more charm and it's not a bad likeness other than I part my hair on the side. That wasn't an option if I wanted curly hair.

I also created one for each of my co-workers... I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but they're so cool!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Registered at last

As much as I hate to say this, we are officially registered for LibQUAL. Let me say before we've even done it, I HATE LibQUAL with a passion. First of all, as a small library with a small budget, I hate seeing $3,200 disappear for a product I don't believe in. We pay the same price as the Indiana Universities and Ohio State Universities of the world, it doesn't matter that we're 40 times smaller. Also, I believe their price has gone up $700 since last academic year, which was up about $500 from the year before. That is ludicrous inflation.

Furthermore, when I attended the first half of training session at ALA annual in 2006. We were told this was required, which will be interesting as I'm not planning to go to any ALA meeting this year for the other half. Someone asked what a good sample size would be. The responded 1,000 students and something like 300 faculty. Someone else asked about a small institution, because hers only had 2,500 students. They responded that 1,000 was still a good number to shoot for. Asking for nearly half of the student body to respond is not reasonable. What about for us, we only have 1,400 students, and how can we get 300 faculty when we only have 85 including the librarians?!?

Based on this interaction and others, they are clueless about what it is to be a small college library. To these big, money-grubbing companies, small means 5,000 students. 1,400 doesn't exist, or is a bug they take sadistic pleasure in squashing... okay, I'm getting a bit dramatic. But you get the picture.

Furthermore, it breaks every rule of a good survey. I find the survey sheet confusing as all heck... what's the minimum, what's the maximum, and where does your library actually fall... Each of those for each of the 20-something questions... that's a lot of questions. And what on earth would I put for maximum level of service I could expect?!? Apparently not everyone picks the highest level for that one, and it makes me think they're all idiots.

Additionally, I have had issues with their Web site several times. Currently I have their confirmation window that has frozen one instance of my browser window and I cannot get it to close.

Yes, we do have accreditation coming up soon. Yes, LibQUAL is the big name in library assessment... the ONLY name in library assessment, and it needs to be stamped with the LibQUAL name. And my director keeps reminding me there are just certain things you have to do "because we're a library." I just think we could probably come up with a more meaningful survey on our own, and $3,200 is a lot of money to spend to just get access to other people's results. Can't we just call some of those libraries up and ask them to send us their results? That would just cost the price of a long-distance call.

I have never been so frustrated to spend someone else's money. Every interaction I have had with LibQUAL has left me unimpressed... or maybe depressed is a better word.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No one ever reads me...

Every time I resign myself to accepting no one ever reads my blog, someone I know in the real world mentions something about it. My husband will make fun of something I wrote on my blog, my friend IMs me from the Meebo widget I just installed, or my internship supervisor who never responds to e-mails or Facebook messages posts the best comment ever...

To qualify my last post... I loved almost all my "bosses" in Bloomington. You are all the reason I defend the MLS and say to anyone who thinks that it is a joke, "It's exactly what you make of it." Okay, and a little luck. How many people get to work with three geniuses in such a short period of time? I just have a hard time thinking of the three of them as bosses because I also consider them friends.

A bit relieved

I'm heading into my third year as a professional librarian, and at my current job. I also have the best boss I have ever had at any job (that not being a huge number, but still). For the first year, I met with the director for a half an hour each week to chat about what I'm doing. I decided last year that I didn't need to do that, since my office is right outside of hers and she's easy to find. But I got frustrated about many things last year, so I decided it would be good to start meeting weekly again. I had my first meeting this morning, and while I hadn't given much thought to what I would talk about, we talked for the full half-hour.

It's a relief. My goal is to tell her what I'm spending my time on as I do it rather than just at the end of the year, or when a particular project is done. I want transparency, so that she can re-direct me, give me feedback, etc. as I'm doing it and to be able to tell her why I'm doing it. I feel like I got some transparency back, which is what I've been missing and has been leading to my frustration.

I got a compliment from her that I'm very proud of. She said as she's starting to teach, she has been impressed with the layout of the Web site and how everything she wants to show students is very easy to find and only one or two clicks.

Maybe it doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but I did a lot of restructuring of the Web site last year and I feel this is a deep compliment. If you have ever struggled to provide logic to a relatively large Web site, you would understand someone admiring the functionality you have created.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reference Universe Case Study

Over the weekend I got an e-mail from Reference Universe about their updates. I'm excited about the new code for a search box. We had code some school created on our Reference Portal, but it doesn't work well off campus. I'm hoping the new code works better off campus.

More importantly, last spring I did an interview with them for their case study. We were to be their first baccalaureate library. I never heard from them when or where they were going to publish this, but the link to Baccalaureate Library case studies leads directly to the interview with me! I'm very excited about this. I had thought I had botched the interview, but the writer took everything I said and made it sound really smart.