Diedre Conkling, one of the subjects in the article, is a librarian in Oregon who has spent most of her career working to encourage public libraries to embrace progressive social change, environmental issues, and politics and spurred them to be part of the movements that make those changes possible. She very graciously took the time to answer a few of my questions about the role public libraries should take in this time of great social and political upheaval.
Posts Tagged ‘librarians’
In public libraries, most managers have an impressively broad range of duties. Our training and background may be primarily in some audience or service specialty and our day-to-day responsibilities may still include significant quantities of work related to that area. Whatever our duties, they can leave us little time or energy to develop our supervisory, management, or leadership knowledge and skills.
Amanda Brennan, a content and community associate at Tumblr, is perhaps better known as the “meme librarian,” thanks to a recent feature in the Washington Post. Brennan studies memes from their inception to their inevitable disappearance into cyberspace, looks at real-time trends and conversations across the site, conducts data analysis, and works on large-scale projects such as Tumblr’s Year in Review. Prior to taking the position at Tumblr, she catalogued memes for Know Your Meme, a website devoted to tracking the popular graphics. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Brennan about her experience.
Librarians are very fond of pointing out that we are not our stereotypes. We’re not all shrill older ladies in horn rimmed glasses with a wicked “Shhh!” We’re not all meek or mild-mannered men in V-neck sweaters. We like relaxed dress codes, and we’re very comfortable with tattoos and bright blue hair. When we’re not getting people books, we’re putting on pub trivia nights or showing off 3D printers. These are not our stereotypes.
Another thing about us is that we’re far more snarky than most people realize. Truth is, a sense of humor is a prerequisite. Like so many other service jobs, sometimes we need sarcasm to relieve tension and get through the day. I suspect we’ve always been this way. But while librarians in Alexandria were presumably just as snarky as we are, the modern world has given us a new place to express it: Twitter.
In the Library Journal Salary Survey for 2014, 16 % of public librarians noted that they work at their jobs on a part-time basis. This trend is here to stay for a number of reasons (budget cuts and reorganization of staff responsibilities, to name a few). Many librarians (myself included) have had stretches in their career where they are employed at multiple libraries, each on a part time basis. Working as a part time librarian provides both challenges and rewards that ultimately can enhance your career.
For me, the discussion raised another issue: is the library’s obligation to the existing demographics of the community or to a more diversified perspective? Specifically, consider collection development, programming, and displays. Should we offer only that which applies to our known community’s demographics? Or should we try to broaden outlooks and horizons? Many times our decisions in these areas are shaped by our users. We might put up a holiday display because we believe our community expects or supports that perspective. But are we sure? Should we, in fact, be displaying alternative views as part of an obligation to support lifelong learning? Would we draw more users if we expanded beyond our perceived local culture? Is this not part of obligation, also? While it may be easy to say we should do both–support our community’s demographics and expand on the status quo–the finances and/or politics of many libraries may not allow for such a broad spectrum of activities or materials.
If you’re looking for a place to read and share great library stories, Gina Sheridan has you covered with her Tumblr, I work at a public library.
You know the month. Talk of love and chocolate and red flowers. Romance is planned, discussed, and celebrated. Love stories are shared in the middle of the hottest month of the year—What? Wait! No, we’re not speaking of chilly February’s Valentine’s Day but rather sweltering August’s Read a Romance Month.
Many shows and movies have highlighted the significance of librarians and challenged preconceived stereotypes of them. Which pop culture librarians are your favorites?
Building a connection between authors and libraries, the Authors for Libraries website also cements the bonds of support and advocacy between them.
There have been a few articles written from a negative perspective lately about so called “rock star librarians.” Most notably these articles appeared in Publishers Weekly and, ironically, Library Journal. Library Journal, it is important to point out, just released their annual ranking of U.S. Libraries, and are gearing up for their annual Movers and […]
If you’ve worked in a library, even for just a few days, it’s likely you’ve heard some of the misconceptions people have about what we do.
It’s deceiving, the library world. After a recent tour of my public library, an individual stated, “I had no idea how much work you guys do.”
What would the world be without librarians in it? Many see Google or Bing as modern day replacements for a librarian at a much cheaper cost. They fail to see a librarian’s true worth in a technology driven world and fail to see what would be the loss.