ALA-APA Rural Library Staff Salary Survey

The ALA-APA has put their rural library salary survey (pdf) online. This comes from the ALA Committee on rural, native and tribal libraries of all kinds. Here are some highlights.

  • The libraries themselves define what rural means. This can be tiny towns or larger towns that are very remote or just outside the city limits. The responding libraries were in Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas Montana, Pennsylvania and Soth Carolina. Oh, there’s also one rural librarian in Wyoming, hi Laura!
  • As far as technology, yes some of these libraries are still on dial-up. They also have populations with lower incomes and educations than in bigger libraries, according to some librarians.
  • One librarian describes the isolation “You really notice the isolation when you get an overdue e-mail or fax for an Interlibrary Loan book that has not even arrived yet. The bar and the library are the only source of entertainment in a tiny, isolated town.”
  • Resident and non-resident differentiation is something important to think about when your population doubles during tourist or fishing season.
  • On page 16 “What are the feelings about rural library staff salaries? Should they be higher?” I feel that this is a weird question. Who doesn’t want a higher salary? Most librarians responded that of course they should be higher but where is the money going to come from? The word “pathetic” came up more than once. One respondent “The salaries in rural areas definitely lagged behind others in my experience. We used to joke that it was worth $4,000 to have the clean air and clear skies.”

And then something weird happens and many of the comments in the “Have you heard about rural libraries that have raised their salaries?” (itself a really weird question, in my opinion) are copied from the previous question which makes for weird reading and pads out the survey in an odd fashion. So, upshot, some interesting things to consider, but I really wish there had been more representation from other states. I’m not entirely sure that what works for Alaska will play in Iowa and I am sure that some of the issues we have in Vermont are not at all the same as the ones they have in Kansas. That said it’s good to remember that there are many libraries in which getting a raise to $10 an hour (by cutting their education expenses) is a truly big deal. I’m hoping that someone in ALA comes out with some analysis and/or conclusions or projects from this. As it is it’s an informative but not very surpising data dump. [libact] now running on WordPress 2.2.2

I upgraded to WordPress 2.2.2. Did you notice? I used a nifty little plug in called Maintennce Mode so that if you did try to hit the site in the last 20 minutes or so, you’d see a silly photo of me and a note that the site would be back up in about 60 minutes. How very 2.0, no? If you notice anything gone kablooey, please email me and let me know. I’ll be around here kicking hte tires.

Also, another transition you may not have noticed. The Shifted Librarian is running on WordPress now too! While I can’t take all the credit for it, I did port the design over to a WordPress template and did a lot of the fiddley bits that make the site look and feel almost the same while working a lot better. Blake did some nifty back-end heroics and Jenny gave us both the guidance (and the passwords) to get it all done.

The world of Webinars and WebJunction

Now that I’m somewhat affiliated with the MaintainIT project I am trying to put my crabbiness aside and interact more with WebJunction. I’m thinking about even trying to attend a webinar about Practical Techniques for Supporting Public Computing. I stepped through the instructions for getting their helper applications set up and it went pretty smoothly albeit very slowly. I’m going to see if any of the librarians I work with here are interested in trying this process out, including the set-up which involves disabling pop-up blockers, sending and receiving audio via their application, as well as running a bunch of java applications. I’m interested to see if it was as simple for them as it was for me.

The only part I was dissatisfied with, from a personal perspective, was the overly-cute “door hanger for E-learners“. First of all, learning is learning and calling something E-anything really sounds like you discovered the Internet yesterday. Second, for a two page PDF that basically just says “I’m busy” with the WJ logo [actually it says “I am participating in an online course that is critical to my job performance” among other things, but I am overly sensitive to hyperbole so maybe this sounds normal to other people] why is it a 2.3 MB file? Just because most public libraries now have broadband doesn’t really mean we should be using it up with overly-large files. For the libraries that don’t have broadband, this is a forty minute download.

So, my constructive feedback, up to this point.

– the webinar software works well, I’m pleased it works on my Mac
– I’m glad WebJunction is functional, I’d like to see it look decent on Firefox on my Mac. I sent in a help request about this little problem
– I wish WebJunction had URLs and filenames that gave me some idea what was behind them. Why isn’t the door hanger called webinar_door_hanger.pdf or something so when I dump it on my hard drive I know what is is? Why aren’t we optimizing our web pages for Google?
– If you’re in advocacy work, it’s sometime tough to draw the line between what level of branding is appropriate to keep you able to do your work and get grants and what amount is actively getting in the way of delivering services. I’m really happy that WJ is using more platform independent means of content delivery despite the fact that they’re at least partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (as is MaintainIT). I hope they continue to support libraries in whatever technology choices they decide to make. A search for Ubuntu on WebJunction only gets no hits in the site itself and nets a few discussion topics, though this one should be required reading for any library thinking about making the big expensive step to Vista.
– No more 2 MB PDFs please. Since we’re working with people who, in many cases, are not that tech savvy, I feel that every choice we make should specifically send the message that technology is manageable, understandable and hopefully fun. There are best practices for usability just like there are best practices for accessibility and we should be working hard to move from “hey it works!” to “wow, this works WELL.”

update: I take back what I said about cross-platform support. What I emailed WebJunction asking why one of their pages didn’t look right on my browser (see photo above) the email I got back said, embarassingly:


At this time, WebJunction does not support Macintosh browsers. However, I will make note of the display anomaly you reported for future implementations.

M____ B______
WebJunction Training & Support Specialist
800-848-5878 x0000

If it’s 2007 and you can’t design your web pages to be at least readable on a Mac browser, you should rethink your commitment to enabling “relevant, vibrant, sustainable libraries for every community” (emphasis mine) in my opinion. I appreciated the speedy response, though. update: and someone else explained to me how my browser was probably caching an old stylesheet from that page and if I just did a shift-reload it might clear up the problem. Guess what? It totally did. No love for the no-mac-supporting tech support, but at least the website isn’t broken. Cautiously optimistic I am….

A few things that didn’t make it to the carnival…

There was so much good stuff in the Carnival yesterday, that I didn’t append some of my favorite links from the week, but here they are.

– Two links about Google Books. One is Scott Boren’s long piece on LISNews about full txt serching in books. What you can search and how you can search it. Great well-researched piece. The second is Julia Tryon’s contribution to FreeGovInfo concerning the amount of government information available via Google Books. Google provides no statistics. This will be part of an ongoing project she’ll be working on there, stay tuned.

When looking at the search results in Google for publisher field has GPO, I found 141,600 items, only 82,487 of which were available in the full view. And although it is nice to think that we have the full text for 82,487 documents, not all of them can be used. I randomly picked a title to see how it looked and chose the Statistical Abstract for 1954. The pages were clear enough to read easily but on every even numbered page part of the right hand column was chopped off.

– Also from FreeGovInfo comes this analysis of Google Video’s closing and what happened to all those DRMed video files that people supposedly “purchased” Please read Part I: DRM Killed the Files and also Part II: Why the Google Video story should scare you.

– Karen Schneider has been writing some great stuff lately. It’s been fun to see her getting into what I see as the more technical side of librarianing because her explanations of techie stuff are clear and free of nonsense while still being readable and engaging. Her article in Library Journal Lots of Librarians Can Keep Stuff Safe about LOCKSS and Portico really helped me understand the fairly complicated world of e-journal archiving.

– Bryan Herzog’s always-excellent blog has pulled some Reader’s Advisory suggestions off of ME-LIBS the Maine Librarie dicussion list and added his own commentary. Brian also made a custom book review search using Google’s custom search function. Very very nice. I’d love to see someone toss together a page of Google Custom Searches that were useful to librarians. Has anyone done this? I’ve already made a Custom Ego Search but that’s not the same thing.

Despite my Very Large Skepticism of Google in general, the tool itself is very easy to set up and is potentially extremely useful (especially for librarians). Basically, it lets you limit searching to a select group of websites – in this case, book review websites

off-topic: see me be revolting at SXSW

South by Southwest is a big conference thing in Austin Texas in March. It’s made of music, movies and something they call “interactive” which is basically Internet. It’s an interesting conference that I went to once in 2000 and it changed my life pretty much forever. I met a bunch of early bloggers in the flesh and we became friends and the rest is pretty well trod-upon history. During SXSW since then I was often petsitting for my blogger friends while they went to Texas. This year I may be going. There is a panel called Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting! put together by Annalee Newitz who is all sorts of excellent. There is a good chance I will be speaking on that panel in my role as moderator of MetaFilter. IF… if the panel gets chosen. Fortunately, SXSW is a pseudo-democracy so you can vote for panels you’d like to see. And I say pseudo because you can also implore your friends to vote for you and/or your panel and it’s all kosher. So, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down here, please consider voting for my panel, or any number of interesting panels you’d like to see, whether you’re going or not. And the title of the panel? Pure coincidence.