Hello and welcome to Stacking Up, a blog for the "modern" librarian! The great thing about today's librarians is that we are so diverse: different ages, backgrounds, personalities, looks... this blog is here to share this diversity with ideas, insights, stories, experiences and opinions for anything and everything having to do with being a librarian!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Patrons, Computers, and the Red Tape In-Between

I was working at one of the city branches the other day and I had a patron come up to the circulation desk and say that she needed to use one of the computers but she had left her library card at home. My initial reaction was to simply ask her for some form of I.D. so I could look up her card number so she could get on. Simple, quick solution to make the patron happy, right?

Um, well, the branch manager wasn’t too happy. Right after, he took me aside to say that’s not how things are done (at that specific branch—as I’ve mentioned before, all the city branches are supposed to follow the same rules and policies, but they almost never do. I highly doubt this is an issue only in my local library system!). The rule was: no library card, many hoops to jump through to get onto a computer. Ask for I.D. Has the patron already been given a guest pass to use the computers without a card before? Then we can’t give them one again. Is the patron’s account delinquent? Has it gone to collections? Can’t issue a new card. If they want to pay a dollar, they can get a temporary paper card with their library card number on it to use the computers (which is, essentially, what I did—only I didn’t ask for a dollar and I didn’t bother looking at anything besides the patron’s I.D.)

So… I don’t know about you, but I have some serious problems with this whole convoluted procedure of giving patrons access to the computers. Now, obviously, I don’t think it should be a free-for-all where anyone can come in and sit on a computer surfing facebook all day while other patrons need to get on and look for jobs or work on their online classes—but at the same time, I really believe that if a patron comes in and asks to use a computer for the given 60 minutes—we should let them, library card or not. I think we should encourage patrons to get library cards, and I think there should be certain consequences for overdue accounts that have over a hundred dollars worth of fines on them—but I don’t like the idea of taking away the Internet as a way of doing that. I believe having equal access to computers in libraries should not be considered a “privilege” with lots of red tape barring the way to getting on one—it should be a basic service that we offer to anyone and everyone, regardless of the status of their library card.

What do you think? Should we restrict computer and Internet use to only those patrons that 1.) have library cards, 2.) bring their cards, or 3.) have no fines on their account? When is it O.K. to give a patron their library card number in the case where they forget it? Is it a big deal to hand out their numbers if they bring proper I.D. or does this lead to security issues? Should there be a limit as to how many times a patron is allowed a “guest pass” to get onto the Internet without their own card?

These are all questions that I have been asking myself lately, because I think it is important that libraries offer certain things to their patrons that have little to no strings attached—we are here to serve our communities and grant access to information, especially to those that have no other way of getting it. While I can see both sides of this issue, I lean more towards making it easy for patrons to use the computers without lots of red tape. This not only helps them; it also puts libraries in a more positive light, supporting the ideals that we uphold- namely, free and equal access to knowledge and information. As librarians, I think we should be doing all that we can to support this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Who Needs Libraries?"

I just finished reading a short yet passionate article on the increased need for library services in the midst of budget cuts during difficult economic times. The article (don't let the length of the title scare you, it's only like a page)-- Let-Them-Eat-Cake Attitude Threatens to Destroy a Network of Public Assets-- was written by Scott Turow, who is an author as well as president of The Authors Guild. I believe that every librarian should know and understand the points that Turow brings up here, since we are living in a world where so many people have come to believe that libraries are completely out-dated and out of place in a society as "developed" as our own.

If you are a librarian or library-student, I am sure that you have experienced the same reactions from people as I have when you get asked the question, "What are you majoring in?" or, "What do you do for a living?" I have found that about 80% of the time, when I say "Oh, I'm a librarian," they give me an awkward look and say something equally awkward like, "Oh... that's-- nice." (This is usually followed by the sound of crickets in the background.) I may as well have said that I'm a telephone switchboard-operator. Sometimes, a person will stop and say something along the lines of: "Huh. But don't you think libraries will eventually fade out? Along with books? I mean, we have the Internet..."

Honestly, I never really know how to respond to this because, first of all, where do I begin trying to point out that libraries are not exclusively synonymous with BOOKS? Secondly, how do you make someone understand the incredible importance of libraries in communities that are not entirely made up of nice, middle-class families with 2+ computers at home and unlimited access to the Internet all the time? Thirdly, how do I explain that the Web is hardly the greatest source for many kinds of information without making it sound condescending?

Well, studying this article might be a good start.

Turow points out the many great things that libraries provide for the communities they serve-- and how those services are now being threatened by so many disproportionate budget cuts from local and state governments. Here are a few things that Turow highlights:
  • Libraries are one of the greatest ways to "guarantee that we can maintain a well-informed citizenry."
  • Having the "mistaken belief that [libraries] are somehow anachronistic in an age when so many Americans have instant computer access to information through the Internet... is, frankly, a let-them-eat-cake attitude that threatens to destroy a network of public assets that remains critical to our society."
  • Two-thirds of libraries have reported that they are the only source for free access to computers, computer training, and the Internet in their communities.
  • For thousands of American kids, "libraries are the only safe place they can find to study, a haven from the dangers of the street..." (I know this all too well from working at over ten city branch libraries!)
  • "For the elderly, libraries are often important community centers that help them escape the loneliness of old age."
  • "Most important of all, perhaps, a library within a community stand as a testimonial to its values, and its belief in universal access to literature and knowledge."
Hopefully, we can work to peacefully tear down the elitist attitude that says libraries are no longer relevant in America-- because it is clearer than ever that they are not only relevant; they are integral to the very fabric of our society, and they are continuing to bring aide to millions of people in our troubled economy. As a public librarian, I fully support the message Turow presents here in this article, and  hope I will be able to share that message with others.

You might also want to check out SaveLibraries.org and ALA's ILoveLibraries.org to learn more about advocacy for your local libraries :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"You Know What Really Grinds My Gears...?" A Much-Needed Rant from a Substitute Librarian

**Long, heavy sigh**

OK, I don't want to include too many "rants" here, but there's something I have to get off my chest. Let me preface this by saying- I am a substitute librarian for a city. As such, I am sent to sub at approximately ten different branches. Now, these are all under central administration, so technically they're all supposed to follow the same rules and policies, but in reality this usually isn't the case. Each branch has a slightly different way of doing things, different places where they keep things, completely different layouts, and about 50 different names I have to remember to match to faces. I really don't mind working in such varied circumstances- in fact, I enjoy the experience of getting to see the unique character of each library and the community it serves, while also getting really good on-the-job training as a newer librarian. I consider myself pretty lucky to have this job.

But here is what I cannot stand: I am sent to a new branch I've never been to before and the staff treat me 1.) like I'm a complete imbecile who has no clue how to work in a library or 2.) like it's incomprehensible that I don't know something specific to that branch. Usually, though not always, this is an issue I have with the clerks. And today I got to work with some real gems.  The two clerks there had clearly been working together at this branch for a long time and were not too thrilled to have to work with someone new (ie. me). The entire day I was there they either ignored my presence completely or acted like I was a nuisance/in their way. And forget about asking simple questions like, where do you put the holds, or what is your policy on computer use? Each time I received the most condescending answer ever- like how could I not know how they do things? And get this: they actually said I needed to be initiated! Now, I don't mind some good-natured joking around or poking fun but really? C'mon, this isn't a sorority, although I kind of felt like I was in one with these two...

I took it all in stride but by the end of the day I was super frustrated. Even worse than their incredibly unprofessional behavior towards me, they were very unpleasant and abrasive towards patrons-- and even justified being rude and grumpy because "they had been there so long." Apparently I was supposed to be impressed that they had such a long record of working there. Ugh.

Honestly, I very rarely run into library staff that act this way, and in most cases I receive the greatest help and understanding from librarians and clerks who get the fact that, hey, how they do things at one branch can be completely different from how they do things at another, and it can be very difficult to keep tract of all those things. To all of those wonderful library staff, I am very grateful, because they have taught me a lot and have been very supportive as I learn the ropes at all the different city branches.

I guess what really irritates me is that I try at all times to be as professional as possible. I am only 26 years old, but I still expect the people I work with to be equally professional and to treat me as their colleague, not as their inferior. I don't know if any other younger librarians, or substitute librarians, or other professionals for that matter, have experienced less-than-desirable treatment from certain people who assume that age is an indicator of competence and ability to perform well on the job. 

I will end this on a positive note: besides the two "sorority sisters" I worked with, I really had a great day working with patrons. There were a lot of reference questions dealing with all sorts of different things, which kept me on my toes and made the time go by really fast. Thanks to my patrons, I left in a good mood, knowing that I had been of some useful service to them :)

And that, after all, is what really matters.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Are You An Approachable Librarian?

                                                       "Don't bother me, I'm working."

I was reading this short article in American Libraries the other night, and it made me react in two ways: 1.) It made me kind of ticked off and 2.) It made me look more closely at how I act and behave as a librarian. The article was called Approachable You and it was written by a guy, Will Manley, who has been in the library profession for a long time (the way he talks, since the 1800's-- since back in his day he had to walk 3 miles through snowstorms, up-hill both ways to work...). His rant is that librarians today pay zero attention to their patrons because their eyes are glued to a computer screen while they waste time surfing the Web. Thus, the major problem we are having in today's libraries is that patrons no longer want to come in and see us because the librarians give horrible customer service and act like they can't be bothered...

OK, well first of all I have to disagree with Mr. Manley. I can't speak for all librarians, but the ones that I work with-- while yes, they do use their computers at their reference desks-- are very friendly and approachable. I personally use a computer at my desk pretty much the whole time I work, unless I am teaching classes at the college library or helping a patron at the public library, but I don't think this means I am not paying attention to patrons. I do look up and scan the library on a regular basis and whenever someone comes in my direction I try to look up and smile-- I think Manley would find this kind of "customer service" laughable. But OK-- what are we supposed to be doing exactly? Breathing down the necks of our patrons? Waiting with baited breath on the edge of our chairs for that next reference question? I mean, c'mon, it's not realistic that our entire day is going to be spent waiting on patrons. Yes, they should always be our number one concern but when they aren't asking for our service, well, we patiently wait for them to come to us at our computer desks.

I really don't like how pompous and condescending Manley's article is. But I understand it is meant to be a wake-up call to all librarians, and so it did make me assess my own ability to seem "approachable" to patrons. It makes Manley "really flippin' mad" to see librarians staring at their computer screens. OK... well, I think patrons would be kind of creeped out if we were staring at them instead? Maybe getting away from the desk and taking a walk around the library to just see where patrons are and asking them if they need any help would be better? Still, I am one of those people who hates it when I am at a store and a sales associate asks if I need help- if I need help, I'll find someone and ask when I need it. Until then, leave me alone! Maybe this is just how I am, and so I assume that no one likes being approached in that way. Maybe that's a mistake on my part.

What do you think? Do you think Manley is being unfair to us librarians? Or does he have a point?? Furthermore, has technology made us better at our jobs- or has it become a barrier to quality customer service for our patrons?

Photo courtesy of Yeepet.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Information Literacy: APA Citation and Format

I know, this sounds like such an exciting topic right? Well, here's the thing: I graduated from SU's library school last May and then this last October I was hired at a small satellite campus for an adult-education college for the position of "Reference & Instruction Librarian." So, I knew that "instruction" was going to be a major part of my new job, and I can remember at the interview I was asked how I felt about teaching classes. Of course, I said that I didn't mind (which I didn't, I was just kind of nervous about it). I figured that once I got the hang of it, it would be fun.

Last night I helped teach a half-hour instruction session on APA citation and formatting for student papers-- we try to make it as "riveting" as possible. APA, after all, isn't really all that fascinating, but it is something that all our students need to know for citing sources in their papers, and oftentimes to be honest, they are really horrible at it. That's not to be mean, they just don't know where to go to find the right way to cite-- I didn't know it all that well when I started using APA either. So our session went well, but I still do get pretty nerve-racked right before any instruction session, no matter how short it is, or how many times I do it. Not sure if that is something you just "get over" eventually. (As a side note, I have put together an Online Library Guide for APA that our faculty and students have found to be pretty useful-- if there are any academic librarians who need to know the same stuff.)

It has been my personal experience that library school did not prepare me at all for information literacy instruction. I don't even remember professors or others from the school recommending an elective in it- like teaching just wasn't something we needed to worry about. And I am not trying to bad-mouth my school-- Syracuse was an amazing library school and I got an awesome education there-- but I am not sure that there are many library school students who have been sufficiently trained in teaching, considering just how big a part it is of many kinds of librarian jobs.

What has been your experience? Were you offered any electives in instruction (like putting lesson plans together, learning best-practices of library instruction, doing assessments, etc)? I know we did a lot of presentations, but to be perfectly honest, there is a BIG difference between presenting something to get a good grade and actually being expected to teach a bunch of people something they need to know. I really think that library schools need to focus more on preparing their grad students for this kind of work, since it's not just school media librarians involved in teaching! I know I would've greatly benefited from a class in information literacy instruction.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Library Decisions: The Slow Death of the VHS Tape

I was just reading some discussion on LISNews about how many public libraries are now weeding out their VHS tapes completely, even though there are still VHS titles that circulate. I have actually personally tossed VHS tapes out the door (well, I didn't physically toss them out the door, although that does sound like fun...) at one of the city branch libraries I work at. This was not my decision-- I only sub there so I take care of whatever tasks need to be done for that day. I then spent some time trying to see whether those VHS titles were available on DVD-- many of them were not, but on the other hand, those titles were very often completely out-dated and had not circulated in a really long time-- like, since 2000 or before.

I think that some libraries donate their old VHS tapes to places like Goodwill or put them out for sale at their book sales-- our branch decided to just throw them in the dumpster-- the reasoning behind that being that, if someone got  an old VHS tape stuck in their VCR and it got ruined, they could hold us responsible for the damage. Again, none of this was based on my decision-making.

VHS tapes are no longer being made. Therefore, if a VHS title is not available on DVD that means the library will lose that title. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, if it never circulated that much to begin with. I personally haven't used a VCR since I was living at home as a teen. The thought of waiting a painful 1-2 minutes waiting for a VHS tape to rewind makes me cringe to think about. (Side note: remember the good ol' days when you wanted to watch something only to find out the last person didn't rewind it?? soooo annoying!) I have seen VHS tapes circulate in some of the library branches that I work at, but it isn't all that often and I can't help but think that they are just taking up much-needed space. DVDs on the other hand are hard to keep on the shelves.

What do you think: is it a good idea for libraries to pitch their VHS tapes? Is this an effective way to move forward in the digital age and project the message that we are staying current by only offering patrons the most up-to-date media formats? Or is it a waste to throw away VHS tapes that still work perfectly well and might even be circulated a few more times?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guerrilla Weeding and Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today has been pretty stressful but there were some good things that happened (having my exhaust pipe fall out of the bottom of my car while on a main city road was not one of them). I subbed at one of the city public libraries today from 9:30-2pm. It was a quiet day starting out so one of the librarians, Jean, gave me a weeding project. Even better, she gave me a little weeding lesson. Pushing over a cart of rather decrepit-looking juvenile fictions, she taught me all about "Guerrilla Weeding," a term that she coined herself and a method that she uses to get rid of a bunch of books in one swipe-- it's for some of the more serious-case books in the library's collection. I mean, you could tell that the titles on this cart had not circulated in YEARS. Basically, Guerrilla Weeding is when you take a birds-eye view of your books and based on how they look, you stealthily wipe out a whole group of titles in one attack. Sounds brutal, huh? But very effective, and it's a real time-saver-- after all, who wants to spend lots of time with books that haven't circulated since 1995? Guerrilla Weeding gets the job done, making way for new editions of titles that are still in demand and getting rid of titles that never circulated. A new librarian trick of the trade! 

Take an overhead look at these old J-Fiction titles: Water-damage, warped pages, dirty stains, yellowed pages, dried and yellowing tape... time to strike! They never even saw it coming...

And on a different and completely unrelated note, I came home after a very stressful ride home in which my car sounded like a motor boat, to make Organic Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. I figure most of us librarians like to bake, and I'm pretty into eating Organic, so here is an awesome recipe that is healthy (AKA: REAL food- no chemicals, preservatives, hormone-additives, or other junk). Delicious!

Yields: approx. 48 cookies

2 sticks organic, unsalted butter
3/4 cup organic brown sugar (I use Woodstock Farms)
3/4 cup organic sugar (again, Woodstock Farms pure cane sugar)
2 organic eggs 
1 tsp organic vanilla extract (I use Simply Organic Madagascar pure vanilla)
2-1/4 cups organic white all-purpose flour (I LOVE Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 9 oz. package organic semi-sweet chocolate chips (I thank SunSpire Fair Trade organic 42% Cocoa Chips for this recipe)
1 cup organic chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream together sugars and butter until smooth, beat in eggs one at a time, add the vanilla. Blend in flour mixture slowly, fold in chocolate chips and nuts. 

Drop rounded spoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 9-12 minutes or until edges are nicely browned. Cool on baking sheets  for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Mmmmmm.... organic goodness...

Voila! Very easy, and soooo good. My husband got home from work and promptly ate 8 of them, at which point I reminded him that Organic doesn't mean low-fat... but hey, whatev haha.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Publishers vs. Libraries: Facing the E-Book Debacle

This is an article that  I just read.  I think it was very well-written and speaks to some of the major issues libraries are facing right now as they struggle to stay current and relevant in their respective communities-- while also looking to and planning for the future. The title of this article is a question I think we all ask ourselves, and there are so many different opinions that attempt to answer it...

One thing that stuck out to me was this whole HarperCollins policy of restricting the use of library e-books to 26 check-outs before the library has to pay more money to renew their license. This is clearly going against our values and even our raison d'etre of providing open, public access to information as freely and readily as possible. Josh Marshall, the president of sales for HarperCollins, says that the "26-use" model is supposed to make the cost-per-circulation of titles less than the cost for physical books. Well, that's great, but I'm pretty sure there is quite a BIG difference between renting and owning a book... Just like when you rent an apartment, you shovel lots of money into living someplace, and then when you move out, you're left with nothing. On the other hand, when you invest in buying a house to own, you can choose to do what you like with that house and in the future, you can sell your property. With this 26-use model proposed by HarperCollins, libraries will be left with exactly what the person renting an apartment is left with: NOTHING. There is an actual investment when a library buys a physical book-- and I'm not saying all books are worthy of long shelf-lives, but what do you do when a patron comes in looking for a book that long ago ran out of it's 26-use license? Do you shell out more moolah so that the patron can access the book he/she wants? Or are they out of luck?

I also dislike those saying that, once E-Books become the norm for all readers, libraries will go the way of the dinosaurs. First of all, not everyone likes reading from a screen, even a Kindle. Many readers like their old-fashioned ink on paper, and I don't think I'm being idealistic or sentimental when I say that  physical books will not soon be replaced by E-Books in any case. Second- as this article points out- these people are grossly misunderstanding the purpose of libraries- they are not simply peddlers of books. As Nora Daly, digital curator of the British Library so succinctly puts it, "[Libraries] exist to collect, sometimes create, but always preserve... knowledge, regardless of what format it is in and to help make it grow through advocating and assuring free and fruitful access to it." The increase in use of digital and digitally-born material is not threatening that purpose, it is simply redefining how that purpose is carried out.

The last point I want to highlight from this article is that made by author Cory Doctorow: How are publisher's bettering their relations with libraries and their users when they are pushing for policies that basically offend by insinuating suspicion and distrust? As Doctorow states:

"In an increasingly digital world, there is no way to coerce someone into paying for something if they want to take it for free... The only mechanism we have for convincing people to do the right thing, the legitimate thing or even the profitable thing is to appeal to their sense of ethics. I don't think you start doing that by saying that 'by the way, we don't trust you, we've developed this book that explodes after 26 uses and you can no longer own books anyway'." 

From a business standpoint, maybe HarperCollins thinks that this model of temporary access to digital content will be profitable. However, I don't know how profitable it will be when they have driven away the majority of their customers- namely, libraries- with such restrictive policies. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Joys of Being a Substitute Librarian

OK, it's definitely not nearly as bad as being a substitute teacher. In fact, I like being a substitute librarian and it's probably one of the best starting-out jobs a newly-graduated library student can get (besides, you know, a full-time job) because it really gives you the chance to see all the different aspects of many different libraries serving unique communities- their programs, their layout, their policies... but the job still requires a good deal of patience and a high level of adaptability in order to make it and not get too stressed out- rolling with the punches is kind of par for the course in any kind of substituting-role...

I have been subbing at the city libraries for 7 months now, and have been to at least 7 out of the 11 branches in my area. This has really broadened my scope of how libraries function in a very short period of time. However, the job is not without it's share of difficulties. Case in point: yesterday.

I was asked to fill in at a branch I had never been to yesterday at noon- it was an easy 3 hour shift and I always like working in a new environment, switching things up a little. I was asked to sit at the Reference Desk (with a nice big friendly "Ask me!" sign on it, which kind of made me feel stupid). It was a pretty easy day except for this one phone call. A lady called in and said she was with a task force that was supposed to meet the next day. Apparently one of the librarians-- named "Jen"-- was supposed to be sitting in to moderate the meeting. Now, based on my limited knowledge of this particular branch, having worked there a total of 2 hours and 20 minutes, I assumed that the woman was talking about "Jen" the branch manager. Jen was on vacation and would not be back until next Monday...

This information did not please my patron. "I don't understand, I need to get Jen a message, this is urgent, I need to postpone the meeting." At this point I put the woman on hold to figure out what the heck I should do, since telling her I'd leave a message for when Jen got back was not at all what she wanted to hear. So, the clerk said there was no way Jen could get any message- she was in Texas forcryingoutloud- and the lady from the task force was just out of luck. Crap. Back to the phone. This repeated message did not make task force lady any happier and she hung up.

At this point I tracked down the only other librarian there, who, nicely informed me that there were TWO "Jens" that worked there-- yes, two Jennifers who both  happen to go by the name "Jen." Turns out, Branch Manager Jen is not who was sitting in on the meeting it was--aha!-- Young Adult Librarian Jen.

About 20 minutes later, task force lady calls back. I apologize profusely for the confusion and explain that "I'm new." Like she didn't gather that already, I'm sure. I probably gave her a near heart-attack when I told her her meeting-moderator was somewhere in Texas all week! Oops...

So anyways, it all worked out: the right "Jen" got in touch with the woman later in the day... but it just goes to show some of the frustration and confusion that can go into being a substitute librarian. It's a great experience but I suppose there's a "paying your dues" aspect to it, I mean it's not like I want to be a sub for the rest of my career. Moving about from place to place not only makes it so a librarian can never get comfortable with the rules and policies and norms of one place; it also means that I can't have a consistent presence at any one place long enough for me to start a project or program or really get to know many of the patrons at that location. Which is kind of sucky. I want to get involved and be connected with a community of people, and have some permanent impact, which is nearly impossible to do as a sub. But for the time being, I will try to enjoy these experiences-- even the confusing, awkward ones that make me feel like a bumbling idiot-- and chalk it up to being in "new-librarian boot camp!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Librarian Outside the Box (I am not a "bun lady")

So I have decided to start writing about my own personal experiences as a young, newly-graduated librarian who is now out in the world, trying to meander my way through the many different pathways, opportunities and pitfalls of my field. Do you know that feeling of having about a gazillion things to learn/discover/experience and yet not knowing where the heck to begin? Yeah, that's me to some extent. Well, I will begin with establishing who I am and what I have under my professional belt so far...

OK, so my educational experience goes something like this: I graduated from high-school in 2002 with typical pie-in-the-sky dreams of going to some prestigious school, getting a degree in who-knows-what and then living happily-ever-after, making lots of money and having some grand purpose in life. After graduation, however, I took a detour and lived in France as an exchange student for a year, partying hard and acting French (whatever that means). When I got back to the States, I continued along the same lines of not applying myself to anything that serious for another 4 years, studying as an undergrad at SUNY Geneseo (Majors in History and Art History). Around my (second) senior year I finally did start to get serious and reached that "oh crap" moment that probably many undergrads have (especially those majoring in the humanities) when they realize they now need to figure out what to do with their degree.

This is the point where I decided to go to library school and become a librarian. I had spent the last 5 years doing research and studying in a library, and I had met librarians who were really nice and seemed to like their jobs, and plus I loved reading and I had an interest in things like preservation, information literacy, etc. so library school seemed the most logical next step. This, I know, is very cliche: I went to library school because I love books. Not terribly profound, but hey, that's what got me there. (As a side note, though, I also am very passionate about public service and helping people, so that also added to my career decision).

So off to Syracuse University I went (my acceptance being what I considered a miracle considering my sub-par performance at Geneseo up until my last year there) and I spent the next two years learning the basic principles of the Library and Information Science profession. I enjoyed grad school, and yet I did struggle during those two years, trying to figure out 1.) How I wanted to use this degree and 2.) How serious I was about the field. Don't get me wrong- I was working hard but I was also worried that I wasn't applying myself enough, that I wasn't pursuing my career-- all-out, full-steam ahead-- the way I thought I probably should. I wasn't terribly involved while a library student: I had my free memberships to ALA and NYLA, but I never did anything with them. I got A's in all of my classes (except that darned management class) but I never really did anything extra to stand out above the rest, and I think I struggled with feeling somewhat inadequate among my fellow classmates, many of whom were older, returning students who were already veterans of the working world, or others who were my age, but seemed a lot more... excited and driven than I was-- they just seemed to have more direction. I worked hard to do well at SU and graduated with a 3.8 GPA when I received my MSLIS in May 2010. Now the hard part began.

What do you do when you are armed with not much more than a Master's degree from a really good library school (that cost you vast sums of money btw), and now you have to go out and impress employers? Does this MSLIS really make someone "qualified?" Is it even enough to be merely "qualified" in today's job market? Eh, not really...

It's now March 2011 and I am in a good place. I have been working as a part-time Reference & Instruction Librarian at a smaller adult-education college since October (so 6 months now) and also as a substitute Public Librarian for the city I live in since September (7 months). So I'm getting that experience that is essential to not only building my own identity in my profession but also increasing my value as an asset in the job market.

Now I am working on discovering exactly what my "niche" is (if I even have one), and finding out what my strengths, passions, and my purpose are in this field that I've chosen to work in. These things seem like they should be obvious, but they really aren't. I want to be insightful, innovative, creative, committed, and all of those other qualities that I see in people who are truly successful and happy with what they do for a living. And so this is what I want to record: my journey as a librarian, trying to stay relevant in today's mad world, where the majority of people think that libraries are as outdated as VHS tapes or the clickety-clack of typewriters...

I would call myself a Librarian Outside the Box because I don't fit any kind of "librarian mold." As much as I love the humorous stereotype of the "bun lady" who "shushes" everyone, I'd like it if more people saw us as being individuals and professionals with ideas, opinions and personalities. I think there are many librarians outside the box. We're kind of an odd breed-- there really is no stereotype for today's librarian: we like to read Jane Austen and learn about emerging technologies as much as we like hitting up the local pub and going to Lady Gaga concerts. We like the idea of permanency over long periods of time as much as we like exploring the newest trends and being "cutting edge." I think that's what I like most about this field: there are no two librarians alike!! This profession is constantly evolving and we're all together in trying to reshape how we see our jobs and ourselves and looking to new ways that we can be important in today's busy, dynamic world.

I want to explore as many different areas of library development as I can, and hopefully get ideas and insights from other librarians as well about "stacking up" as a modern-day librarian...

So that's my introduction! Nice meeting you :)