Save Library Funding

Once again, California libraries are facing tremendous budget cuts. The current state budget removes all funding for libraries, which is bad enough, but cutting state funding also jeopardizes federal funds for libraries – a double whammy. Please take the time to send a letter to the Budget Subcommittees expressing your support for libraries and the need to restore state funding for libraries in this year’s budget.

To make it really easy for you, I’ve put together a sample letter that you are free to use. This PDF document includes letters addressed to each of the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittee members, ready to print, sign and send. If you prefer, you can feel free to adapt this as you see fit, or write your own letter. Please send via fax or snail mail (this still carries more weight with our legislators than email) to the addresses and fax numbers on the letters. The Senate Budget Subcommittee meets Thursday, April 19th, so make sure to get your letters in by then!

SaveCaliforniaLibraryFunding.pdf

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April 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Library Day in the Life 7/27/11

Day 3 of my Library Day in the Life project

I’m the Reference and Web Services Coordinator at a public library

8:00 – check website to confirm yesterday’s problem has been resolved. It has.

8:05 – email; notify staff of problem resolution

8:25 – check new website & project management site, test more bug fixes

8:40 – supervisor inquires about status of our policies on the library website; discussion ensues

9:00 – meet with Library Director and Library Services Manager (my supervisor) to discuss changes to how we show library policies on the website

9:20 – make changes to website policy listings

9:25 – email

9:45 – break

10:00 – communicate with potential speaker for staff in-service day

10:30 – test new database on external connection to make sure customer authentication is working properly

10: 40 – send reminder to staff about new database; launch new database

10:45 – email

11:00 – 1 hour shift at Reference Desk – some readers’ advisory (mostly audio books), questions about construction (new Civic Center being built behind the library), booking study rooms, etc.

12:05 – respond to comment on library Facebook page re: lack of cleanliness in public computer area (ugh! When people post a comment like that to Facebook, it indicates a breakdown in the system. Huge bummer.).

12:30 – talk to supervisor about customer complaint and where the system is breaking down; figure out best way to approach the problem

1:00 – lunch

2:00 – Admin Team meeting; this is the weekly meeting of the Library Director, Library Services Manager and Library Department Heads to discuss various and sundry library business. Notes from these meetings are distributed to staff. A few items I brought for information and/or discussion: volunteer recognition; staff in-service day; website project update; complaint about computer area not being cleaned properly; new database launch; retirement party arrangements for Information Systems Coordinator, etc.

4:00 – set up meeting with staff member to discuss customer incident

4:05 – email

4:15 – approve time sheets for my staff

4:30 – follow up on vendor query re: database renewal

4:40 – answer questions for website vendor

5:00 – done for the day!

July 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

Library Day in the Life 7/26/11

Day 2 of my Library Day in the Life project

I’m the Reference and Web Services Coordinator at a public library

8:00 – email

8:30 – prepare second floor for opening at 9:00

8:45 – go over notes for conference call later in the morning

9:00 – 1 hour shift at Children’s desk – quiet hour, gave out some SRP prizes, answered a few questions and worked on my LDITL post

10:00 – conference call with California Library Association Leadership Development Committee – love this group! Very productive call.

11:00 – 1 hour shift at Popular Library desk; answer lots of questions, place lots of holds, check Google Reader in between customers

12:00 – lunch (brought lunch today – baked ziti and a brownie – my husband is an awesome cook); read A Dance with Dragons

1:00 – email

1:20 – met with marketing person to discuss different ways of promoting Summer Reading Program on the website

1:40 – met with Information Systems Coordinator who is retiring at the end of this week (yikes!) to get information needed for a couple of projects and talk about coordinating issues with City IT department (they are taking over his duties)

2:00 – figure out project management system that website vendor set up; communicate with website vendor about bug fixes and project status; answer necessary questions

2:15 – test and approve bug fixes on new website; farm some tests out to Web Team for more thorough evaluation

3:10 – talk with Information Systems Coordinator, Library Services Manager, and Systems Librarian about issues with changeover to City IT

3:30 – break

3:45 – set up authorization for new database (Gale Directory Library); don’t have time to test access from outside library – put off until tomorrow

4:00 – 1 hour shift at Popular library

4:30 – get report of problem with placing holds in our OPAC; cut desk shift short in order to resolve the problem; realize that a feature we’re not using got turned on by our ILS vendor, resulting in odd messages appearing for customers; discover we can’t turn off the feature ourselves, has to be done by ILS vendor; ISC places service call while I notify staff

5:00 – done for the day! Head home.

July 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

Library Day in the Life 7/25/11

Hi, blog, I’ve missed you! Figured I’d use Library Day in the Life as a re-entry opportunity, rather than trying to catch up on what’s been happening over the past several months.

If you’ve ever wondered what a librarian does all day, check out some of the blogs and twitter feeds listed on the site above – you’ll see a real variety of job duties and get a good picture of what we do (HINT: it’s not “sit and read all day.” I don’t know of a single librarian that gets to do that at work, although many might like to :-).

I’m the Reference and Web Services Coordinator at a public library. Here’s what I did yesterday:

8:00 am – check email

8:15 – discussion with colleague re: schedules and prep for a meeting later in the day

8:25 – more email

8:30 – prepare second floor for opening at 9:00 (log in staff computers, put money in cash drawer, check that all equipment is turned on and working, etc.)

8:45 – troubleshoot downloadable book problems for two different customers

9:00 – prepare for book discussion podcast recording later in the day (REALLY should have done this further in advance); quick skim to refresh my memory on character names and major plot points

9:45 – email

10:00 – 1 hour shift at Information Desk in what we call the “Popular Library” area (high-demand items like new books, DVDs, magazines, CDs, etc.) – help lots of customers find books and DVDs; teach one customer how to download ebooks to her Nook

11:00 – 1 hour shift at Reference Desk; lots of computer questions and  a little readers’ advisory; talk to one frustrated customer who just found out he has to pay for email addresses from Reference USA because they aren’t included in the library’s subscription – help him find free alternatives, none of which are exactly what he wants;  in between questions, try to take a look at the project management software that our website vendor is using for the final stages of our project but quickly realize I need more time to be able to focus on that alone – put if off until later

12:00 – prep for meetings with a couple of staff members

12:30 – meet with staff member about change in job duties; touch base with another staffer and set up meeting for later in the day

1:00 lunch

1:50 – touch base with my supervisor, get his first impression of one of our new board members

2:00 – lead book discussion of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the library’s monthly podcast (recording went smoothly – yay!)

2:30 – meet with two Web Team members to discuss screencasts and training classes to help with the launch of our new website in September

2:50 – email

3:00 – meet with another staff member to discuss change in job duties

3:35 – more email; follow up with customer on downloadable books troubleshooting progress

3:45 – break

4:00 – 1 hour shift at Reference Desk; mostly computer and book-finding help

5:00 – done for the day!

July 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

Gratitude and rumors: the power of the Internet

About 20 years ago, a T.A. in one of my college classes said something to me that affected me deeply and profoundly for years afterward. I often wished that I could tell her thanks, but I never saw her again. Over the years I’d think about her periodically, and once even attempted to find her online but was unsuccessful (probably would have helped if I had spelled her name correctly).

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a TEDTalk on his Facebook page. The speaker’s name rang a bell, and when I watched it, sure enough it was my former T.A. I looked up her bio, found out where she worked, and sent her a “you will probably think I’m crazy, but I just had to thank you for something you said to me 20 years ago” email. Being able to say thanks after so many years was truly a gift, and to top it off, she responded very thoughtfully and graciously.

I was awed at the amazing connective power of the Internet. I know there are plenty of people out there who say that Internet connections are shallow and meaningless and actually serve to distance us from each other, but in my opinion the chances of me running into Johanna and having the chance to say thanks in a non-Internet world were pretty much nil. For a couple of weeks I was floating on a cloud of Internet love.

I’m trying really hard to remember that feeling right now.

A couple of days ago a local reporter wrote a story about one potential service model that’s been discussed for one of our smaller branches. The original article gave, at best, a very incomplete picture of the multiple proposals being considered, but it got picked up by a larger news outlet and the rest is Internet history. The news is getting reused and re-edited and two days later major websites and national news organizations are reporting that the Newport Beach Public Library is getting rid of all its books.

Oy vey.

You can read the City’s official response if you’re interested. I was struck once again by how the Internet has made it so easy to connect and spread information. And yet, that amazing power has this really dark side. Does anyone think the City’s press release is going to go viral? Me neither. The damage has been done. Ironically, the misinformation quickly spread nationwide through the Internet, but the cleanup is going to be labor-intensive, local and personal.

Believe me, I’m not trying to argue that the Internet is evil. It’s a tool. It’s all in how we use it. So please don’t believe everything you read. Make sure your B.S. detector is properly calibrated. Check sources. I know it’s a pain, but do it. And be careful what you write. The Internet has put incredible power into the hands of ordinary citizens, which is awesome. But as we all learned from Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Read. Think critically. Dig deeper. Share thoughtfully. Use the power of the Internet for good.

March 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Being Indispensable

You get paid to go to work and do something of value. But your job is also a platform for generosity, for expression, for art. – Seth Godin

I read Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin about a year ago. I meant to review it right away, but perhaps it’s better that I didn’t because now I’ve had some time to chew on it and digest it. I love the basic concept – the idea that people (regardless of their position) need to commit to being indispensable linchpins rather than mere cogs in the machinery of their organizations.

I read a few articles and things that Godin wrote about this book, and he seemed to think the chapter on Resistance might be the most powerful. It is powerful.  But the idea that resonated most strongly with me was his discussion of emotional labor. Being a linchpin is about more than just completing a list of tasks. You have to put in the emotional effort to turn your work into art, into a gift. It’s how you add the value that only you can add, and what makes you indispensable. And he’s right – it’s a big investment to make, but the emotional labor pays tremendous dividends for your organization and the people you encounter in your work, not to mention yourself.

Emotional labor is hard. Really hard. But I find that the more emotional labor I exert, the more energy I seem to have. When I start phoning it in and just doing the job, I’m exhausted at the end of the day even though I haven’t worked as hard. It seems like a great paradox, but it’s not that hard to figure out  – one path feeds your soul and the other doesn’t.

I also love what Godin says about optimism:

Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow. And all artists have this optimism, because artists can honestly say that they are working to make things better.

This is why organizations under pressure often crack. All parties can see that their current system isn’t working, but they’re unable to embrace a new one because they’re certain that it won’t turn out perfectly, that it can’t be as good as what they have now. Organizations under pressure are stuck because their pain makes it hard for them to believe in the future.

I know a lot of people and organizations experience this. We fall into the trap of waiting for the “perfect” solution. Our inability to tolerate failure or even uncertainty holds us back. Godin again:

What does it take to lead?

The key distinction is the ability to forge your own path, to discover a route from one place to another that hasn’t been paved, measured, and quantified. So many times we want someone to tell us exactly what to do, and so many times that’s exactly the wrong approach.

The higher the stakes, the harder it is to take that risk, to go off the map. I found this book was a good reminder of how I want to approach my life and work on a day to day basis. It’s not a perfect book. The chapters are broken down into short chunks and stories that don’t always gel into a cohesive narrative. But you could turn that weakness into an advantage; read a chunk or two at a time for inspiration – your daily kick in the butt.

I was given an extra copy of this book, and I’d like to give it to someone who’d really like to read it. If you’re interested in a free copy of Linchpin, leave a comment on this post by noon on Monday, February 14th (Pacific Time). I’ll do a random drawing on Monday to determine the winner.

February 11, 2011 at 12:25 am 7 comments

Beginner’s Mind

My friend Paul posted a link on Facebook to an interesting little article about the advantage of being a newbie and not knowing the rules – you don’t realize that something’s “not possible” and you’re not confined to an established set of constraints. I haven’t been in my profession all that long, but it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day operations and I find it harder and harder to see things with new eyes – I want to keep seeing the potential in things the way I did when I started, but it’s not easy. How do you maintain that “beginner’s mind” state?

The more experience I have, the more I need to interact with a group and bounce ideas around with others to start seeing things in a different way. A group of passionate, intelligent people always revives me and helps me see the possibilities again.

February 1, 2011 at 1:30 am 1 comment

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"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." - Pearce

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