My Pretend Zeitgeist (linkdump)

You know how people do those “here’s what I’ve recently read on the web” posts?

Sonoran Man Pretending to be a bull

Well, I haven’t read or looked at any of this stuff yet.  But I wish I had.

Birmingham’s new library is a modern behemoth that encases the past

TWIL #101: Cyling for Libraries (Jukka Pennanen & Mace Ojala)

The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations – Final Push

The Magic Vest Phenomenon and Other Tools for Talking to Strangers

Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In (Page 2)

Creating a Library/ LIS Feedback Loop | Office Hours & The User Experience

Things I read, and wanted to blog about, and didn’t:

weeding: how i did it

Does Customer Service Go Both Ways?

Here’s the link for a job I wanted to apply for and didn’t:

and a place I thought about moonlighting at:

A writing opportunity I wanted to take advantage of:

Become a Contributor to Public Libraries Online

Digital services I’d like to try:

Immersion: A people-centric view of your email life

Songza – Listen to Music

A TV Show I wanted to watch:

Family Tree

And a YouTube:

Popped in Oakland

Research I wanted to dig in to:

Planning for 2015: The Recent History and Future Supply of Librarians

What about you?  What haven’t you read or done around the web recently?

Will Manley’s Magic Bullet

Tumblarians were passing around this quote the other day:

“There are no short cuts to [Readers’ Advisory] work. You have to read, and you have to love books. Reviews and read-alike gimmicks only take you so far. I know it’s old fashioned, but readers’ advisors must be readers.” -Will Manley

The quote comes from a Booklist column, at the end of which Will Manley meets you down at the crossroads with the one book that all sixth graders will love, The Westing Game.  In exchange, you have to promise to read ALL THE BOOKS, so you can tell hipster tech librarians where to shove it.  It’s a pretty good read.

I Tumblr’d back that I disagree with that quote (I’m still learning Tumblr, so that’s probably not what I did at all).

Librarian PezMy main problem, and this is obviously my own weird head canon, is that this quote conjures up this cozy world where the librarian and patrons are all holding hands and kissing their copies of Pride and Prejudice.  Where everybody likes the same books, and all the librarian has to do is read and dispense.

Readers’ Advisory is not about saying, “I read this book and I know you’ll love it!”

Readers’ Advisory is, “What books do you like?  What did you like about them?  What do you want this new book to do for you? Sometimes people who want that, like this book.  Take a look, what do you think?”

To do that, it’s more important to be able to ask and find, than it is to have personal experience.  Because frankly, it’s not about your taste.

Reviews and read-alikes aren’t gimmicks.  You need tools like reviews and read-alike sites to help open your mind to the way that other people read and think about books.  That’s the main skill of Readers’ Advisory, empathy.  You have to teach yourself Readers’ Empathy.

Reading widely does help librarians to be better readers’ advisors.  But reading about reading, and reading about books helps even more. Also, talking to people about books is wonderfully enlightening.  There’s nothing wrong with showing a patron LibraryThing, or NoveList, or any other site they’ve never heard of that can help them be their own Reader’s Advisor.  That’s part of the job too – teaching skills so that patrons can do things for themselves.

I read and I love books.  But I read and love books because that’s my joy, not because it’s my job.  My job is people.


The Westing Game is pretty awesome though.  I’ll try it with my twelve year olds.  They’re pretty tough, so I don’t know.  If it works I’ll go push a hipster into a mud puddle.

Firefighters, FTW

Recently I organized a library field trip.  Patrons met in the lobby, and then we walked (or rolled, in the case of those who had cushy stroller transportation) just under half a mile to a local fire station, where they have a wonderful vegetable garden, and even some fruit trees.  The Firefighter/Gardener told us how and why he started his garden, and then gave us a tour of what he was growing, explaining his processes.

Fire Station 1 GardenIt’s a really cool story actually. The firefighter grew up gardening in Napa County, and so it was kind of natural for him to put in a small garden at his previous fire station, just taking advantage of a weedy side area.  His garden was so well received, by the neighbors as well as the city, that when the city built a brand new fire station, they deliberately included space for a garden.  The firefighters enjoy fresh vegetables with their staff meals, and the neighbors even get a share in the bounty.  It builds community and strengthens the connection to our food.  Several articles have been published about it, and the local news team visited.

The field trip was awesome!  Despite a bit of a disorganized start (mostly due to me trying to manage too many things at once), it was a beautiful day and a nice walk.  It was such a treat to be able to do some easy exercise with my patrons, to enjoy the neighborhood, and to discuss what people were growing. The firefighter was charming, funny, and super nice.  One patron said, “I used to have a garden but it got really buggy so I got rid of it.  But this is really inspirational, I think I will try again.”  We even got some press – an article was published in a local paper a few days before, and a photographer for another local paper joined us on our visit.


There was a little crimp for me the librarian though.   Both newspaper articles are about the garden, rather than the library field trip, although the first one did mention our visit as upcoming.  I’m very happy to see the garden in the news (again).  But what about the library?  It reminds me that I’ve got library-vision.  One of the reasons I was so excited about the program is because it is something I’ve never done before.  I felt revolutionary: We’re leaving the library!  We created a program that people of all ages could enjoy!  We’re supporting lifelong learning in a new way!  We’re working with other city departments!

But really, the cool part of the program was the fire station garden, and the firefighter.

Here’s the next challenge I’m working on.  Make a cool program that does all those things, and have people see and talk about why it’s cool that the library is doing them.

Fire Station 1 Garden Scarecrow