woodshedding in libraryland II

image of a woodshed from the library of Congress collection

Been thinking about this blog and how a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately doesn’t always lend itself to longform reflection. When I looked up “woodshedding,” a term I use for talking about going back to library-school type activities (i.e. more learning, less doing) and found this post from 2008. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “What I’m up to.” work report, so here we go. Continue reading “woodshedding in libraryland II”

Ask A Librarian: Librarian Resistance tips?

sign that says PRAXIS in big letters on the side of a building

From the Mailbag, a UVM grad: I’ve always had a deep love for libraries, reading, and learning. In college, that love coalesced into a passion for leftist politics and I hope to direct this love into constructively making a difference in the world. I’ve been researching and working on applying to graduate school to get a Master’s in Library Science. In conversation with one of my favorite professors… she recommended I look you up. Your work as part of the “librarian resistance” as you call it is super inspiring to me as a firm believer in libraries as having massive potential for advancing social justice as far as they spread free access to knowledge and technology to the community they exist in. I’m wondering if you have any advice for an aspiring librarian?
 

Hey there — always good to hear from another library-interested person in Vermont. I should note before I go much further that I have a lot of interesting jobs but do not currently work in a library, so I may not be the best person to talk to about actual library work. I do have a lot of advice though. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: Librarian Resistance tips?”

But this IS what a librarian does – the rhetorical value of being a librarian

Marjorie Barnard (1897-1987) was an Australian writer, historian and librarian.
It doesn’t matter what we look like, what matters is what we do.

You may have seen the news, my small claims case against Equifax was mostly successful. This delights me. Mostly because the whole campaign was effective at what I set out to do: raise awareness about online privacy, data brokers, your right to access the court system and seek a redress of grievances, and generally help people understand the world of interconnected systems that we exist within whether we want to or not, whether we opt in or not.

And, for various reasons, the fact that I am a librarian always made it into the headlines: Continue reading “But this IS what a librarian does – the rhetorical value of being a librarian”

Ask a Librarian: File management

old files in leather bindings on a shelf

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog post.

From a local librarian:I get to take over the duties of someone very beloved by patrons who recently left us and this includes computer help. I’m trying to create a repository of ‘self-help’ documents both for staff who often need it and for patrons to take home with them when we do something like set up an email address and they need the steps repeated. I’d rather not reinvent the wheel… it occurred to me that maybe you already have some that you can share? If not, can you provide me some pointers on what to include?

I’m also charged with cleaning up the staff file system on our server and coming up with good practices for file naming, document organization, and teaching our staff how to do it…. I’m hoping you know of some examples of local libraries with excellent file management in place or a set of best practices somewhere so I can give more models of what I’m trying to fix. Where might I find something like this?

Those sound like challenging tasks. I am happy to help as I can. Some of it is really going to be moving people to a “digital readiness” place where they feel deputized to do some of this themselves and that is challenging and needs to be as much an emotional task as a physical one. Lots of positive “you can do it” feedback and lots of “ok let’s try this again….” sorts of stuff, patience, etc. Trying to view improvement as improvement, even if it’s ever-so-slight as opposed to “Man, this is just a MESS.” I know I’m not telling you things you don’t know, but I have found that if I reframe some of the “work” as just being supportive and patient, I can feel better about what I do manage to get done. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: File management”

Ask a Librarian: the relationship of library work to social justice

scene of a protest with a woman holding a sign that says "Down with this sort of thing"

Email from a library worker, paraphrased: I am deeply committed to social justice and anti-oppression principles. I am radical in my politics. I am interested in literacy as a feminist issue. I am also interested in knowledge, access, critical thinking, community impact, etc. I worry there isn’t room to work at the intersections of these interests in library spaces…. Is there room for me in librarianship, and if so, where?

I feel like librarianship is a “big tent” sort of profession, especially public librarianship, so I often feel that there is space for people, but some of it depends not only on politics but on temperament. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: the relationship of library work to social justice”