Ask A Librarian: How does library presenting work? Who pays and when?

collage image of a woman's feet and part of a map, a postmark and some stamps
Travel image by Tyler Hewitt on Flickr

Email from someone asking about how to merge librarianship and public speaking. I may not be the right person for this question…

Does your employer (if you’re employed at a Library) pay (travel, salary and credited work time) for you to attend those conferences when you’re presenting or do you pay out of pocket?

I mostly freelance. So when I worked in a library, I had a part time job at the library and if I was not presenting for the library then I’d just get unpaid time off. If I was presenting for the library like at a local event, they’d give me (paid) time off and usually it was an either/or about who would pay for things like travel and expenses. If it was part of my job, the library would usually pay for travel or at least reimburse mileage. Occasionally, rarely, I’d get paid for my time by the organization, and that money would go back to the library if I was getting my time reimbursed by the library.

This is definitely a tricky issue with full-timers and it’s worth making sure you’re very above-board with your library about doing professional work like this. Some libraries are thrilled to have staff doing a lot of professional development (teaching or attending) and some are less into it.

If you’re giving a presentation at another library (such as staff day or as part of Library program) how are you contacted? Do you pitch a proposal to those libraries or do they contact you first?

I’ve been in a weird lucky place where I think people mostly have heard about me and so reach out? So I got started in 2004 being asked to give a talk for a local ASISt event and then people saw me and invited me to more stuff. I have a lot of flexibility because of my freelancing and my rates are attractive/competitive (honestly they are probably too low) which always helps. Occasionally I pitch presentations, especially for my local conferences. Now it’s primarily word of mouth. And here’s how it breaks down: Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How does library presenting work? Who pays and when?”

Ask A Librarian: Options for Remote Librarianship

stained glass in the Lincoln Library
A portion of an email I received: “It seems you’ve been able to piece together disparate threads to form an unusual career. That’s exciting to me. I see the economy shifting toward a new model i.e. multiple income streams/work when you want/remote employment, and feel like there is for potential for me to carry over what I’ve learned in the library world, I’m just uncertain as to my options, and among them, which are lucrative and/or worthwhile.”

The trick mostly is learning to live on not much money and making sure you have a consistent profile online even if you don’t have a geographically bounded one. And staying in touch in a consistent manner even if you’re doing it from many locations. Have an email and a phone and a twitter that you ANSWER.

For me, it’s having a home base, at least, so I do get in some of that “terroir” thing of actually knowing a place. My general MO that I say is that librarianship is primarily a very very grounded profession, both in the philosophical sense and in the staying-put sense. Most librarians only cross-pollinate with people outside of their systems at professional development opportunities or at infrequent conferences and special events.

Accordingly, I think it’s a useful thing for some librarians (a small subset) to actually do more moving around, talking about libraries to other libraries. It’s tricky because you can wind up sounding like a
“Here I am someone who doesn’t really know what your job entails, telling you how to do it better” person. So it’s good to have a set of librarians, whoever they are, who really know you. For me this is the librarians in Vermont. I work with the profesisonal association, maintain their website and go to (and help plan) their conferences.

So picking a few things

  • Whatever your “local” is, might be an online community, might be one library or place where the people know you
  • Having a consistent online presence that is maintained since more people will know you through this than in person
  • Gigging with things that don’t require in person stuff (maintaining association or other websites, social media stuff, writing). I don’t know where the email/social media lady for VLA is and it doesn’t matter to me as long as she gets the job done.
  • Maybe some regular stuff that isn’t glamorous but pays bills. I write for Computers in Libraries, a regular column in a print magazine, and it keeps my health insurance paid

And realizing that it’s all about choices. If travel is the most important thing to you, other people with work to offer may realize that and say “Eh that’s not what we want” and that is also okay. Having a consistent self-narrative so that even if you’re not in one place, you are one person, will make a difference in how people feel about tossing money your way. Being professional in what you do for work, no matter what you’re doing in your life, is to me what people want to see.

I get a lot of mileage out of presenting at conferences, both in getting the word out but also meeting people and learning about them and their lives. Depending on what your traveling scenario looks like, having something where you travel between library conference gigs is a workable thing if you don’t mind having your travels being bounded by work responsibilities. It’s pretty easy to plan ahead of some of this stuff, especially at a national level, so thinking about having a thing or two you could do at these events that other people might pay for would be my first “plan of attack” in seeing if you can make this work for you.

National Library Week starts now

meme generator image of Game of Thrones for NLW

Happy National Library Week. This is the week that encompasses a few more days worth celebrating including National Library Workers Day on Tuesday, National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday and Support Teen Literature Day on Thursday. Oxford University Press is giving away free access to the OED for folks in North and South America through Saturday. That’s sort of neat. I just got back from a very fun time giving a keynote speech at NETSL (more on that later) which was the first talk I’ve given all year. This was after Flavorwire’s “Coolest librarians alive” list which made me go “Who is Flavorwire again?” and then “Oh, neat” But my favorite thing about that accolade was what happened afterwards. A bunch of people instead of being normal crabby internet people in the comments section, actually started naming other librarians who they thought were cool, or great, or excellent, or important. And people talked about it online in the usual places, a lot. The article (more of a listicle really) was so popular they added a second set of librarians a Readers Choice with 10 more cool librarians.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I become a big goofball during National Library week and bug all my friends to get cards and take themselves to the library and why I stopped at the Somerville Library to check out their Awesome Box yesterday when I was nearby. Because I get to work with and around a lot of neat people and in many ways we’re a team. Sure there are some showboats and various rockstars in various areas and niches, but it’s great to see people being not just happy for whoever some website thinks is cool but also to talk about the other cool librarians that they know and why they’re people you should know. It’s a great group of people.

Should it be okay to sue librarians for saying your books are bad?

Learned about this story two days ago and by the time I could put something together it has zipped around the internet already. Long story short: blogging academic librarian (and librarian.net favorite Dale Askey) makes negative probably-factual statements about a publisher. Publisher sues librarian and his current employer (who was not his employer at the time of the blog post) for millions of dollars for libel. Not okay, right? While the suit will probably prove groundless, it’s a waste of people’s time and money and an assault on the idea of academic and intellectual freedom. Please inform yourself and spread the word about Edwin Mellen Press’ wrongheaded decision to sue a librarian for writing about his negative impressions of their products.

  1. I first read about this here. Additional links including the “notice of action” are here.
  2. Specifics at Inside Higher Ed here
  3. Read the deleted-but-archived blog post in question here.
  4. McMaster’s public statement is here.
  5. A very nice “What can be done” assessment. In short: consider removing any automatic purchases from Mellen Press
  6. Dale’s blog and his twitter feed
  7. BoingBoing and Gawker have taken notice.
  8. If you are the petition signing type, please sign this petition.