show us the numbers re: new librarian jobs

If the numbers are there, I’d like to see them. Otherwise this speculation about the graying of the profession doesn’t really seem to be fact-based.

“ALA is still promoting the idea that we are approaching a librarian shortage and cannot possibly train enough people to continue on the grand tradition of librarianship. This information was suspect a couple years ago, and considering the state if libraries right now–academic, public and special– it’s a damn lie.” [via @librarianmer]

the beginning of school

I’m adding another microjob to all the microjobs I have. Starting next week I will be the super-part-time IT lady at the vocational high school that I work at. This means that I’ll be the triage lady between the IT troubles at the school and the expensive tech consultants that do the networking and account management and mail server for the school. This is good news for me. I’ll even, sort of, have a classroom because there’s an empty one. I’m going to dial back my adult ed teaching in the evenings for a semester so that I can be around at night. So, for anyone curious or keeping track at home, here is my “what I do for work” list at the moment.

  • I run MetaFilter – I am one of two full-time moderators. In addition to the guy who owns the site and the coder who builts a lot of it, we’re it. Running Ask MetaFilter has taught me a lot about how people look for information and how they do or do not find it.
  • I give talks – as other people have observed, public speaking opportunities seem to be dropping off somewhat. I was turning down offers last year because I was overbooked, now I’m doing maybe one a month? Works out well for me, but it’s hardly a reliable income stream.
  • I am still automating the Tunbridge Library using Koha. It’s slow going. Some of that slowness is me, some is not. I work a few hours a week on it. We’re at the point where everything’s got a sticker and now we’re linking records to items. Exciting.
  • I’m writing a book for Libraries Unlimited about teaching people to use computers over on this side of the digital divide. Due in March and I’m doing my own index. Wish me luck!
  • I’m still doing drop-in time at the local vocational high school which is a different job from the IT job though also just a few hours a week.
  • I got a royalties check from Mcfarland for about $20 so I guess that’s sort of like a job.

I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting. As usual, is just a hobby blog and not something that brings in any money which is AOK by me. This is post #3001 after 10+ years of doing this.

Best Careers 2009: Librarian

US News and World Reports says being a librarian is one of the best careers, right up there with clergy, locksmith, veterinarian and 26 others. Unlike clergy, clocksmith and vet, the librarian article currently has 109 comments. [thanks mike]

aaron’s job, let me show you it….

Aaron Schmidt got a new cool job: Digital Initiatives Librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library. Sounds big and exciting. DC is really trying hard to dig themselves out of years of bad management and terrible funding crisises, it will be interesting to see if new people plus some infusion of new money can help with this. Congrats Aaron.

Cool job: answer questions for The Explainer on Slate

Slate is looking for someone to work two days a week writing the Explainer column, answering questions about issues in the news. The application seems simple enough. You have to send your sample answers to a address which seems a little weird. All you people looking at how to become a freelance librarian, start here.

rollergirl shes taking chances, they just love to see her take them all

“The following would be the best job ever for a rollergirl/librarian type.” Director/Curator, National Museum of Roller Skating. [pubhist]

technostress and jerks in the library

I have two things to talk about that seem unrelated until I explain more. I wrote a chapter in the book everyone’s been writing about: Information Tomorrow. There are a ton of excellent chapters in it, and I am also pleased with mine It is about Technostress. My general thesis is that technology stresses us out when we get stuck in between other people’s expectations of what we need to do with technology and what we are actually able to do with it, for whatever reason. This covers a wide range of problems including

  • Reference staff being seated nearest to the public access computers and being continually asked for help despite not haivng enough free time to actually help patrons.
  • Staff being expected to offer training to patrons without getting trained themselves
  • Designers and IT people being expected to build 2.0 tools without any clear sense of WHY they’re building them.
  • Managers getting snippy with staff for explaining technology in a way that is over their head, and both people being unclear whose responsibility it is to clear up the lack of knowledge.
  • Vendors rolling out new features without fixing core functionality issues in their software
  • Updates, from anyone, that break things.
  • Everyone needing to recognize that in order to improve a lot of the technology we deal with, we may have to admit that some of it is lacking.

In any case, it’s a decent chapter. I think for many of us at home with our computers, we don’t get as stressed out as when we’re at work because we’re using it for whatever it is we want to do. We have the time we need and most of us are savvy enough to track down the resources when we hit a wall. However when someone is breathing down our neck to tell us to get Office 2007 on the public access machines and then deal with the patron issues with it and all the while doing the same things we’ve been doing every other week, you can see how it might make us stressed, even jerkish.

Which brings me to my next point, Ryan Deschamps’ post Jerk: The Current Library Brand. It can be hard not to take out technostress and other stresses on patrons, especially trying, complaining, angry or jerkish patrons. Over time as I’ve been reading the library_mofo group at LiveJournal I’ve been surprised just how many of these encounters are the result of the library worker trying to enforce a somewhat confusing or counterintuitive policy and the patron reacting with confusion or doing something “wrong” as a result. Granted, some people in the library are just being jerks, but with 20/20 hindsight a lot of these bad patron/librarian interactions seem like the result of odd, misguided, confusing or outdated policies. The library workers have to try to enforce these policies or get into trouble themselves, and yet when viewed from the outside at least some of these personal interaction disasters seem avoidable.

We get more positive accolades from our jobs if we uphold policies and protect materials (and our bottom line) than we do if we do all the warm fuzzy stuff that always makes the local papers. Being a patron asking the librarian to bend the rules is likely to result in you being branded a mofo, even if the rule is stupid. I enjoy reading the blogs of librarians who show the human side of the difficult work that is librarianship and public service. When I did my lifeguard training a few months ago, I was surprised that one of the things we learned, that was on the test even, was how to convey the rules to people in a way that actually tried to ensure that they hear and understand you. This included limited use of the whistle, a friendly and approachable tone, and keeping a level head when there was a crisis. While I think some of us excel at these sorts of things at our jobs, it seems rare that solving these sorts of patron-librarian (or patron-librarian-technology) problems in a way that keeps everyone’s dignity intact is the desired outcome. To my mind, if you can’t both do your job and not be a jerk you may be in the wrong line of work or working with the wrong ruleset.

ALA finally hiring Usability Officer

You can get 75K plus decent benefits to be a usability officer at ALA. They say “senior” but to the best of my knowledge there aren’t any other usability officers there currently. I’m not sure where officer actually comes from, maybe some ALA-er can explain? In any case, if I were the Usability Officer after I changed the job listings to not spell Website with a capital W, I would ask very specifically what this requirement in the ad means.

The ability to work in a team environment and between two universes of Information Technology and Librarianship is essential in order to maintain an outcome-oriented, global vision.

I’m curious why those are deemed to be two universes instead of, say, two moons orbiting around one big planet of helping people do the things they want to do and go where they want to go. I’m sure Jenny is asking the same questions. I hope they find someone, but I wonder what affect that person will be able to have on the in-process-for-many-years-already website redesign?

number 5: OH NOES! There aren’t enough librarian jobs!

There are only five types of librarian news stories and Anna tells us what they are.

The well-rounded librarian

I sometimes feel that people look at me and my laptop and my typa-typa routine and think I don’t have another life outside of computers. This can be the good news — when they need a computer expert, I’m there — but also the bad news because my life is deeper than just computers and libraries. In fact, I’m certain that’s true for all of us.

Just recently I was delighted to read Karen Schneider’s piece that was in Nerve. I heard about it on Twitter, but she also talks about it on her own blog. It’s called Range of Desire and it’s about guns and sex. It’s great. If you like Karen’s bloggish writings you’ll love it when she’s less (or differently) constrained by form and gets to tell a long story. Karen used to be in the Air Force; it’s part of who she is. Similarly the librarian I worked with today is married to a farmer and I saw her carrying around a bag of maple syrup containers. For my own part, I have a sculpture/welding background back before library school, and a huge coin collection in the attic.

One of the things I like so much about meeting other librarians online or elsewhere is a chance to get to see a bunch of other parts of them, not just their “work faces.” I think it helps the whole reference and information exchange if our patrons see us as people first and librarians second, or maybe they just see us as librarians and people at about the same time.