Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A great tribute to libraries

I Love Libraries by Michael Jinkins

This lovely tribute to libraries was writen by Michael Jinkins of the Louisville Seminary

Whenever I drive through a town and pass a public library or walk across a campus and see the school's library, I can almost hear the community's heartbeat. I love libraries, from neat little Carnegie libraries tucked into small villages to the vast New York City Library's main building on Fifth Avenue to our own seminary's library across the quadrangle from my office.

My love for libraries dates to my early childhood. I can still remember the first book I checked out of the little library at the Redland Elementary School. I mean the first real book with real chapters. It was the second grade. I can't recall the title or the author, but it was about the most wonderful adventure of serving on a merchant sailing vessel in the nineteenth century.

It is impossible to describe everything I felt when I closed that book on its last page. It was as though I had discovered a whole wide world beyond the hardscrabble red clay of Deep East Texas. It felt like doors being flung wide open. It wasn't the joy of reading. It was the joy of going to other places, walking in other shoes, experiencing realities that were unimaginable until they unfolded on the page. From that day onward, libraries were not places where books were stored, but treasure houses where dreams were kept.

The love affair only deepened over the years. When I was in junior high, my daily routine included walking from the middle school into downtown Lufkin where I would go to the library until my mother got finished in her office and was ready to go home. I would sit for hours, day after day after day, reading whatever I fancied and checking out as many books as they would allow. I still recall the minor scandal it caused in my religiously conservative family when I brought home several volumes of Ian Fleming (whose James Bond had already inspired me as a fifth grader to write a series of short stories on the adventures of Toron McKillan, Scottish secret agent) and Sigmund Freud (who even wrote about dreams!). At fifteen, I found both Fleming and Freud fascinating, for not entirely dissimilar reasons. Perhaps most interesting of all were the books I could not check out of the library.

In a large reading room, the library had stacks and stacks of large format art books. These couldn't leave the building. Everyone was there: Picasso; Monet; Pollock; Rothko. There were collections of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. There were volumes that carefully compared and contrasted Picasso to Matisse to Modigliani to Miro. Cezanne's deep rich colors, blue mountains and strange houses. Marc Chagall's floating lovers. Mary Cassatt's gentle portraits. I would sit in one of the huge comfortable chairs absorbing beauty and wonder.

They say that if a child reads a book that makes her laugh, she will probably be hooked on reading forever. For me, it was having a place to read where reading was the normal and ordinary thing to do that meant the most to me, a place where it wasn't odd or strange or lazy to sit and be completely absorbed in a story, in a subject, or in a good reproduction of a painting.

There are folks today who will say that libraries are a thing of the past. I suspect that most of the people who say this never had much of a relationship with a library in the first place. But I may be wrong. They, at least, don't know much about what libraries are today, or in fact, what they've been for many years. Contemporary libraries are vast high-tech search engines dedicated to connecting you with a world bigger, wider and more astonishing than ever before. They still invite the curious. They still ignite the imagination. They still make knowledge, beauty, laughter and adventure available to anyone who will enter. They still dispense dreams.

If you haven't visited one recently, I encourage you to do so. Better yet, take a child.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Where Did the Pictures Go?

It appears that about 90% of my blog photos have gone MIA. I deleted my Picasa account because I was tired of every stupid thing I might snap with my phone camera (the steering wheel and one foot; that poster I was going to remember to tell my daughter about; the one where my finger was over the lens, EVERYTHING!) was being posted to Picasa. This was in spite of me turning off all of automatic settings I could find. I had visions of all sorts of things I didn't want to see the light of day winging through the ether for Tom, Dick, and Harry to enjoy. So, I deleted my Picasa account. All of it.

What I did not realize was that my blog photos lived in Picasa. Now they too are gone forever.

Not exactly forever. Most of those files are stored elsewhere on my computer or a CD archive disc. Slowly I am reconstructing the evidence. This will not be an overnight restore because I have multiple blogs and some of them have many, many posts. (There is a reason this knitting blog has had over 9000 views-- so far.)

In the meantime, dear reader, please accept my apologies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shutting Down This Blog

One day's produce ready to can
As some of you may know, I retired from the position as SEKLS Library Consultant in Dec. 2008. I intended to make random posts to this site even after I was no longer working, but I'm finding my mind is no longer running in library circles.

The smallest things might trigger a blog entry when I was working. Now I go weeks on end without considering library issues. I've been busy gardening, canning, freezing, and now dealing with a divorce (no fun) and a new puppy (lots of fun).

I'm going to declare this blog closed and not try to add more posts, but I will leave it online because I feel there is valuable information here that can still be useful.

Happy Booking, folks!

Monday, July 27, 2009

RDA, AACR and Change

I have just read a tribute to catalogers and cataloging that was written by David Badertscher on his blog, Criminal Law Library Blog. You can find the posting here


Not only does David tip his hat to catalogers for the work they do describing materials and organizing collections, he gives an explanation of the need for cataloging rules. It's a great article and I heartily recommend reading it.

Cataloging rules are changing. This is a natural evolution. They have always changed because ways to store and retrieve information have changed and because librarians have always worked to find clearer ways to describe the materials being cataloged.

When I was in graduate school in the early 1970s librarians were excited by the first cooperative set of rules created by American, British and Canadian library associations. The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules of 1967 wasn't perfect, but it was a great step forward. Even though there was a British edition and an American edition to allow for areas where the groups couldn't compromise, it set standards we could all follow. These standards affected libraries beyond England, Canada and the US because catalogers in other countries look to the Library of Congress and the British Museum for leadership. The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, generally called AACR, had worldwide impact. In 1978 the 2nd edition, soon to be called AACR2, came out. This revision brought cataloging into line with the International Standard of Bibliographic Description and changed the way corporate bodies were described.

Change is still in the wind. The third revision of AACR will be coming out in 2009. The committee charged with revising AACR found so much change needed that they have written an entirely new set of standards called RDA or Resource Description and Access. Since the formats of information have changed from print media, such as books and magazines, to electronic forms, such as databases and web pages, the new cataloging rules have had to develop more efficient ways to describe them. This isn't as easy as it seems, because the rules have to be written flexible enough to embrace the next generation of information storage, too, whatever that might be.

I haven't had a lot of exposure to RDA. When I was a full-time cataloger in Texas I subscribed to the AUTOCAT list. AUTOCAT is an online list where catalogers can chat with their peers worldwide. It's a wonderful group and helped to keep me, a solitary cataloger, in touch with the larger world of cataloging. It was great to be able to ask the group about things that stumped me.

Proposed sections of RDA would be posted on AUTOCAT from time to time and discussed in detail, but I didn't understand it well enough to join the discussion. I could see that its going to be quite different from AACR2 and will put many of us outside our comfort zones. Ah, well, why not? AACR, and AACR2 did that as well, but the result has been better service to our patrons in the long run. Come on, RDA, let's see what you can do.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

You Know You Are an Urban Librarian When...

This list of attributes was started by Scarlett Fisher-Herreman, Consumer Health Librarian
Librarian Extraordinaire, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, who says "My Superpower is Information." Response to this began "My gosh! What a contrast!"

...people routinely ask you the hours for the Burger King one block from the library.

...kids arrive by skateboard.

...the bike rack is completely full every summer afternoon.

...you move heaven and earth to get a book delivered at the last minute to a departing Bookmobile so the patron can pick it up and not drive all the way across town to the main library.

...you have panic buttons installed at every service desk just in case of an emergency.

...your bookdrops occasionally get graffitied by urban street artists.

...you have real cops with real guns on your Security staff.

...you have microbursts of crazy people converging at the service desks at least once or twice each day.

...you recognize library patrons at every bus stop in the city.

...you know homeless people by name and what they like to do at the library.

...someone comes to the desk looking for someone with "crazy hair and a lot of tattoos" and you realize that could describe any number of people currently in the library.

...you have an urban fiction collection.

...you are hailed as "Librarian sista!"

More from other urban librarians:

...you think nothing of developing special collections, such as a Job Resource Center, a Spanish Collection, or a Parenting Collection, to assist your patrons. Some of these collections may have nearly as many materials in them as some of the smaller libraries have in their entire library.

...you help a patron with an intricate college research paper. He comes back to tell you "WE got an A!"

...a patron who is away at college calls with a reference question; you find the answer and direct him to the online database that will help him complete his paper -- all without ever seeing him in person.

...your Tech. Department keeps a note posted by the delivery door telling how the reach the 4 addresses most commonly confused with your address, so they can re-direct delivery men.

...you Tech. Department receives a damaged book with a bullet hole in it. (It was on the back shelf of the car when someone drove-by and shot at the occupant.)

...you grew up where it was nothing to drive 30 miles to the grocery store, but your patrons complain it is too far to drive the six miles from their branch library to the main library.

...patrons compliment you on the friendliness and helpfulness of your staff and confide they prefer using your library over the one for their own town (10 minutes away.)

... you have patrons who have been shot, died of overdoses, given birth or conceived children, all in your library.

... you have kids who virtually live in your library because it is one of the few safe places to go, and even safer than home.

... there are at least three very poor and neglected children that you would steal away with if nobody could find out.

...your Senior Circulation Aide "accidentally" runs over a lecherous old man with her book truck. He had lain down on the floor to try to see up women's skirts when they climb steel stairs to your upper stacks. (This took place when women didn't wear pants as often as they do now.)

...you visit a smaller library, and look around for ethnic faces. Where are the East Indians, Tongans, Samoans, Somalians, Vietnamese, Hmong, Mexicans, Cubans, blacks, Native Americans and other nationalities that make your library interesting?

...you have to call the police because a 3 year old was left behind at closing. His father brought him to the library and left, forgetting the boy was with him. The hardest part is getting the boy to name his parents because you don't speak his language.

...you compare notes with area librarians and find out your top ten problem patrons are also their top ten problem patrons.

...when you're followed around in the Library by two teenagers who are probably gang members, and when you ask them where they're from and it's a school across town, you know they are, and they're here because they thought your library was part of the high school next door. So you know they want to cause trouble. When you offer them hot coffee (because it's freezing outside), they lighten up and talk. Soon you tell them they have to go to the main office if they're interested in classes. You contact security who contacts the police in the high school next door. And they're gone.
-Rita from Kansas

...when the students' life histories contain "time", parole officers, case workers, living in their cars, and lots of hard-luck problems, but they're still positive and willing to make a new start. And they love coming to the library to see the "Library ladies" and we love seeing them.
-- Rita from Kansas

...one of your favorite patrons confides he forgot his meds today so he may be getting a little strange.

...And you still love the place.

You Know You Are a Rural Librarian When...

This list has been circulating (and growing) on the KanLib-L list. I've compiled all the contributions here. For privacy, I'm identifying the library or region of the contributor, but not the names.

...the "traffic" on your commute to work is 3 coyote and 2 deer.
- Southeast Kansas Library Consultant

your patrons arrive by 4-wheeler, tractor or lawn mower.
-Hepler (Ks.) City Library

... you sometimes get to work late because of the large farm implements going 15 miles an hour down the two-lane county road to your library.
- Eager Free PL, Evansville, Wisconsin

...you slow down for a parade of field mice -- 15-20 of them -- crossing the road.
-Pleasanton (Ks.) Lincoln Public Library

... your genealogy materials are rarely used because everyone knows each other and their family histories.

...the highway snowplow stops by your library for audio books.
-Stanley Community Library (Idaho?)

...you have to drive behind the herd of sheep that have to be moved down the main highway.
- Valerie

...you hear gunshots in the distance because it is turkey hunting season.
- Claremont, NH

...the explanation for overdue books is "there was overtime at the meat processing plant and Mama didn't have time to bring in my books."
- Kathleen

...fire engines go roaring by several times a day because it is pasture burning season and the fires have gotten out of hand.

...you are working late and someone drops by to make sure you are all right because they know the library should be closed...then offers to walk you to your car.

...automotive repair manuals are filed under "landscaping".

...the two books enjoying the highest checkout in the library are The Chicken Health Book and How to do Your Own Divorce in Texas.
-Texas librarian

...if a perfectly valid reason for calling off work is "my road flooded out again."
- Brad

...you get to work in the morning and the bunnies scatter from the parking lot as you pull in.
- Lambton County Library, Wyoming, Ontario, Canada

...you're late to work because you were stuck behind a tractor, or a combine.

...the UPS man knows to drop off your packages at the library if you are not at home.

...you are happy to adjust employee's schedules around their county fair competitions.

...your whole area's Internet connection goes down because a farmer's horse dies. (The farmer used a backhoe to dig a hole for burial and accidentally cut a cable in the process.)
-Beaufort Branch Library, Beaufort, SC

...a boy's book is overdue and his excuse is his mother kept him at the hospital day after day while she was sitting with her brother who had a log run through his stomach. (The man lived. EMS confirmed the story.)
- Alexander County Library, Taylorsville, NC

...you enjoy bird watching on the way to work --and can identify the birds you see.
- Pleasonton (Ks.) Lincoln Public Library

...Someone comes into the library asking direction to a person's house without having the address, and the library employee can give correct instructions for getting there.
- Stanton County (Ks.) Public Library

...a patron comes in and says "I want to read that book by that author that I liked last year..." and you just know what book s/he is referring to.
- Osawatomie (Ks) Public Library

...if the state library consultant is asked to run the library for a few minutes because the librarian is the only one on duty and a patron called needing help canning beans (true story).
- State Library of Kansas

...if staff members know the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of the kid checking out books. - Iola Public Library/Southeast Kansas Library System

...if you know -- and call-- the owner of the dog that wandered into the library.
- Iola Public Library/Southeast Kansas Library System

...if staff members can walk to any store downtown during their break.
- Iola Public Library/Southeast Kansas Library System

...if patrons bring you vegetables from their gardens.
- Iola Public Library/Southeast Kansas Library System

...your director wants to have a "living display" for National Dairy Month and brings in a cow to show the college kids. Then when she says "Who has milked a cow before?" all three other staff members chuckle and raise their hands.
-Technology Center, Kansas State University at Salina, Kansas

...when your patrons see you coming in your vehicle and hold their returns out the car window for you to grab as you pass by.
- Weir (Ks.) Public Library

...UPS delivers to your home because the library is closed.
- Bison (Ks.) Community Library

...your maintenance man/courier is late getting from one building to the other because he had to wait 15 minutes for farmers on horseback who are moving a herd of cattle down the only road between two of your libraries.
-Coffey County (Ks.) Library

...you are stopped at the Casey's Convenience Store in a near-by town and are asked if you have such-and-such book.
- Bison (Ks.) Community Library

...you have a newborn baby goat in your office at the library because it was rejected by its mother, and you are bottle feeding it.
- Kansas librarian

...you come to work with chicken poop somewhere on your person.
- Kansas librarian

...you are late to work because you had to drop animals off at the sale barn.
- Kansas librarian

...you need to leave early to take your kids and their livestock to the 4-H weigh in.
- Kansas librarian

...a patron had to pay for a damaged book because it fell in the sheep dip.
- Kansas librarian

...you stay open when the electricity is out because people will be in for books to read until the power comes back on.
- Kansas librarian

...it doesn't surprise you when the reason for the power outage is a combine took out a telephone pole.
- Kansas librarian

...the book is dirty "because I was reading it in the field why I was waitin on..." makes perfect sense to you.
- Kansas librarian

...you suggest checking the trucks and tractors for that missing audiobook CD.
- Barton County Community College Library, Great Bend, KS.

...your first reference question is from a 4-H member asking how long to leave a rooster with hens before what he wants to happen, happens.
- Hays Public Library, Hays, Ks.

...the regular library person forgot that it was her day to work, so an 8th grader who volunteers on Saturdays finds the key, opens the library and runs it.
- Sabetha, Ks.

...you are late to work because the railroad crossing was blocked by railroad cars moving forward and back while switching to the grain elevator tracks (this can take 20 minutes or more!)
- Abilene (Ks.) Public Library

...patrons use your car as a bookdrop, anywhere within a 60-mile radius of the library
- Kansas librarian

...you are late for work and kids knock on your front door to ask why you are not at the library.
-Courtland and Formoso (Ks.) Libraries

...people meet you at the grocery, then run to their cars to find library books to return to you.
- Carbondale (KS.) City Library

...you come home to find book donations on your front porch.
- Carbondale (KS.) City Library

...patrons ask you to bring books they have on hold to meetings and baseball games.
- Carbondale (KS.) City Library

...patrons come to your house when the library is closed and ask to check out a book because they have nothing to read.
- Carbondale (KS.) City Library

...staff members bring chickens, calves and horses to visit storytime.
- Belleville (Ks) Public Library

...you carry bits of paper in your pocket when going to the grocery store, etc., because you know someone will request a book or have a question.

...you check out and take books to an elderly patron because she kinda, sorta threatened to tell your Dad if you didn't.
- Cedar County Library

… a firefighter stops a young vandal from damaging your vehicle by saying "No, that car belongs to one of the librarians

-Greenfield (Ma,) Public Library

… the only time you lock your car is in the summer so people won't leave bags of squash in it.

- New Braunfels (Tx.) Public Library

… when delivery people bring packages to the library, not your home, irrespective of what the address says.

- Debra, a former rural librarian

… your library has a hitchin' post.

- Allen County Public Library

… your library has a watering trough. Though no longer being used.

- Darla

... the grandfather across the street is your security system (True!)

... you list the names of probable readers next to every book you order (in the order of their VIP standing or watch out!), and if there aren't enough possible readers you won't be ordering it. (Sadly, also true)

... you know every card-holder by name, and could take a stab at age and ancestry for two generations in either direction.

... you walk to work (because you CAN), every car stops to ask if you need a ride and what happened to your car?

- Quincy (Ill.) Public Library

… patrons are personally affronted if you ask to see their library card at checkout.

- Melissa (another former rural librarian)

you refuse to issue a card to Billy Bob jr. because the picture ID he brought in is his father's. You know this because you know where both he and his father live, and the address on the driver's license is the father's.

- Decatur (Ill.) Public Library

... a patron asks to trade you either a dozen eggs or a freshly baked pie in lieu of paying a fine.

- Algonquin Area (Ill.) Public Library District

… in the winter, "I can't get out of my driveway" is due to the snow.

- Beaufort (SC) Branch Library

… Everybody knows you have not been walking very well and one night as you leave and head for your car a pickup going the other way stops and just sets there until you are in your car then goes on their way.

… the Chief of Police lets you park in a no parking spot while you are at work in the library.

- Sedan (Ks.) Public Library

… "there's a (grizzly, porcupine, moose, name your wild animal) on my porch and you can't get out."

- Great Falls (Mt.) Public Library

… you cannot open the library's dumpster because a bear was jumping on it and smashed the top, and you have chipmunks living the ceiling of the library eating the wiring (both true stories from another library I worked in).

- Benton County Public Library, Corvallis, OR

… every other patron asks about your mama-by name.

- Institute of Museum and Library Services, Washington, DC

...a man walks in with a shoe box in his hands, asking for the Reader's Advisor. He then takes the top of the box and says, "Can you identify this (very much alive) snake? I've never seen one like this around here.

- Alexander (NC) County Library

… when you ask a patron applying for a library card his phone number, he rattles off the last four digits (sadly we now have to dial the area code but natives or long timers still rattle off just the last four digits)

… you get a call at home on a Sunday to your unlisted (for personal reasons) phone number telling you the book drop's overflowing and it's raining

… you go to lunch and a patron hands you a book and asks if you can return it for her

… you get complaints about staff when you're at the roller rink in the next town

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do you CREW?

Do you CREW? CREW stands for Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding of your library collection. EVERYONE should CREW.

A library is more than a collection of books. It's a collection of books that are significant and useful to the population served by the library. If you blindly put every book donated to you on the shelves because you don't want to offend the donors; or you keep every item the library has every owned because it might be useful to someone someday, you are not doing your job as a librarian. You are merely maintaining a warehouse. If you are doing this your shelves are so full of clutter that your patrons can't find the things they really want. (Ugh. That's sounds like my spare room...)

What is the solution to the clutter? Weeding your collection. Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding -- CREWing. Determine your criteria for keeping material or withdrawing it. You might start with age plus circulation. If the book is over X years old and hasn't checked out in the last 5/10/whatever years, withdraw it. It is no longer serving the needs of your patrons. If that one someone who might have used a discarded book turns up next week, you haven't let him or her down. You can get the material back through Interlibrary Loan for the short time that person will need it.

But what about materials that don't get checked out, but are used a lot in house? What about classic literature? What about history books that keep their value longer that 5/10/whatever years? You don't have to invent the wheel. The State Library of Texas has been giving serious thought to the technique of CREWing for the last thirty years. Joseph Segal wrote the first CREW manual; it was later updated by Belinda Boon. The lasted revision has been released by Jeannette Larson. You can find it at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew/index.html

Read the CREW manual. Discover the philosphy of Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding. If your collection is very small, you may not be able to weed as extensively as first suggested by the book, but you can follow it's philosphy. You may keep a few titles that are older than the cut off date given in the manual because they are the only ones you have on the topic -- right now. That's part of your evaluation of your collection. Now you know you need to get some newer materials in that area so you can weed those older titles next time.

How often do you weed? Larger libraries have to review their collections on a rotating schedule. Fiction and 1/4 of non-fiction this year; Juvenile and 1/4 of non-fiction next year, etc. until it's done. Then start over again. Smaller libraries can review a section each month and cover the entire library in one year. Pace yourself, but always have something under review.

Does it work? Oh, yes. Patrons who come into the library after weeding find the shelves more open and inviting. (They will swear you have purchased new books instead of getting rid of old ones.) The books that are there are brighter, newer and more inviting. They can find what they want because the clutter is gone.

What do you do with the ones you withdrew? If they are in good condition, but not appropriate for your library -- say a college textbook offered to a small hometown library -- consider offering it to a larger library that might need it. Most of the books can go into the library book sale. You can use the money earned to buy something for the library. Never held a booksale? Check with your Regional Library Consultant or State Friends of the Library organization for ideas for organizing one.

If the books are still useful, but in bad condition, try repairing them. Again, your Regional Library Consultant can give you pointers on book repair. If you don't have access to a Library Consultant, check the library supply catalogs for book repair manuals and videos. My first exposure to book repair came from a Gaylord video. Some books may need to be rebound. Check with libraries in your area to find out what binderies serve your area. If you have a bindery budget and will be sending materials to bind regularly, you can invite bids from two or three binderies to see who can offer you the best prices. If you will only send a shipment rarely, you will probably pay regular prices.

Last of all, if the books are not useful to any one, or so damaged they can not be salvaged, THROW THEM AWAY. It's not sacrilige to discard a book. Even books are consumable items. Be certain to stamp them WITHDRAWN. Remove them from your catalog and remove any book plates or book cards from them before throwing them away. Send them to paper recycling or put them in the trash. If you have self-appointed dumpster-divers who retrieve the books from your trash and give them back to you, you may have to discard them in the dark of night in trash cans far far from the library. Do it. It's worth it.