Come see me at ALA?

I’m going to my first ever ALA Annual this year!

Want to say hi?

Come Ride with Librarians on Friday, June 26 at 2 pm (or just meet us for happy hour at 4 pm)

Everyone is welcome – librarians, those who love librarians, those who just like to ride bikes… No one will be turned away, and no rider will be left behind.

We’ll leave from the Moscone Center then: Ride to Mission Bay Branch Library/AT & T Park ->
Ride along Embarcadero ->Ride up Market Street ->Stop at San Francisco’s Main Library ->Ride along Market Street to Valencia Street ->Stop at Mission Branch Library ->Tour Mission Murals ->Ride back to Moscone Center and ->HAPPY HOUR! at Thirsty Bear

New Members Round Table 101 on Saturday, June 27 at 8:30 am 

New Members Round Table leaders and experienced members welcome current and prospective NMRT members to the NMRT 101 session. Learn about what NMRT does, NMRT events happening at the ALA Annual Conference, benefits of membership, and how to get more involved. This will be a great place to make connections and network with new members and experienced leaders alike.

I’ll be part of a panel discussion on topics relevant to new librarians.

Lessons From Hiring Librarians on Saturday, June 27 at 3 pm

Emily Weak, founder of the blog Hiring Librarians, will reveal lessons learned from interviews with hundreds of people who hire librarians and nearly 600 job hunters. The workshop will use the Hiring Librarians survey format to also look at the job hunting experiences of attendees, in order to help develop personalized strategies for finding work.

Silicon Valley Grows: Seed Libraries Unite on Sunday, June 28 at 12:30 pm

This poster session brings together librarians from Silicon Valley Grows, a multi-library project that takes the “one city, one book” concept into the world of seed libraries.

In case you don’t know, I look like this:


National Forum on Women and Biking, Tuesday the 10th

I recently went to the National Bike Summit/National Forum on Women and Biking.

Tuesday the 10th was the National Forum on Women and Biking.  There were a lot of women!  And a lot of passionate activists.  And a lot of upcycled crafts (the”exhibit hall” was actually the hallway between conference rooms, which I thought was much more effective than the traditional style.  On Tuesday, this included the Women Bike pop-up shop, with vendors like Recycle a Bicycle and Elly Blue publishing.  There were a lot of upcycled bike part jewelry pieces, but also things like books and clothes.  It was very cool).

The opening plenary was:

A Case Study in Leadership: How Mentorship and Bold Leadership is growing the mission of Tulsa Hub

with Ren Barger, Tulsa Hub CEO and Barbara Bannon, Tulsa Hub Board Immediate Past President, President of Human Resource Investments

Ren Barger uses bikes to fight poverty, and is passionate advocate for bikes as vehicles of empowerment and community change.  She founded Tulsa Hub, which takes earn-a-bike programs to a whole new level, expanding the target demographic and educational aspects.

Barbara Bannon is a consultant on organizational structure.  She worked with Ren Barger to take her “start-up” nonprofit, and build a healthy workplace culture.  Bannon is nearing retirement, and picks her projects selectively.  She wanted to work with Barger because of her vision, passion, and because she was a risk-taker.

They worked to create  a “working board” (versus a “policy board”), with a culture of service and participatory leadership.  The organization had a small staff, so everyone needed to pitch in.  Lessons learned included:

  • Ask for help if needed
  • There’s only way out and that’s through
  • Awareness precedes choice – figure out how you’re contributing to an unhealthy organization and stop it!
  • Be what you want to attract
  • Find the right people
  • If you want to create a certain environment, you have to work to create by providing feedback, guidance, and correction

An unhealthy organization is characterized by low trust, fear, and infighting.  A healthy organization requires that you recruit the right people, create a solid organization structure, and specific bylaws.

Looking forward to the bikes + libraries presentation I would do on Wednesday, I considered the parallels between the Tulsa Hub story and what libraries provide.  Aside from the lessons about entrepreneurial leadership, which are echoed in some of the changes taking place in today’s libraries (and could do a lot of good in some of our more staid and change-averse libraries), Tulsa Hub’s vision of bikes as fighting poverty is consistent with libraries’ work to provide free resources that really help improve people’s circumstances.

The breakout session I went to was:

The Future of the Women’s Market: Product and Marketing Plans from the Industry
How is the bike industry responding to the call to get more women on bikes? Hear from women leading the industry in the development of women’s product and developing the marketing plans that will entice more women to participate in bicycling.

  • Elysa Walk, Giant Bicycle Inc.
  • Lauren Smith, Specialized
  • Maria Bousted, Po Campo
  • Jody Koch, SRAM

Elyssa Walk introduced the talk with some general discussion about the state of bicycling and marketing.  She described some results from the recent People for Bikes Rider Participation Survey: 87%  of women and 88% of men who are not current riders have at least ridden a bike at some point in their lives.  Of adults who rode in the last year 44% are women and 56% are men. 42% of those women ride “frequently” (25+ days per year) and 49% of men.  People biking for social and shopping opportunities represents a larger percentage than people commuting to work.

Current marketing for bicycling is often some version of pain/pain face, which women don’t respond to.  Men and women are different and need different marketing.

I found it interesting that while the Women’s Forum did have a focus on diversity, this presentation opened with such a traditional view of men and women as discrete opposites.  For example, Walk showed a fruit bouquet and a pizza-and-beer bouquet, as a humorous example of the difference in what men and women might want.  But frankly, I’m a woman, and now I really want a pizza and beer bouquet.

Giant bicycle Inc has created the Liv brand, which are women’s bikes.  They are designed for women in fit, form and function (based on biology such as women being stronger in legs and using those rather than arm strength). As part of the marketing for this line, they created an ambassador program.  Ambassadors are 80 women who work in shops, run rides, hold clinics, work with personal networks, and use social media to promote the Liv line.  In return they get swag and other stuff.  Women need to be marketed to in a more social way, this addresses that.  They also created a “Liv certified dealer” status.  These dealers are certified when they attain a certain number of points on a checklist – having things like clean bathrooms, dressing room, female staff members, displays of women’s items, etc.  They are added to a list of women friendly stores and given additional PR incentives.  Liv also does demos and ride camps (where people learn skills, etc.).  Has celebrity spokespeople.  Can’t afford ads (Shape magazine costs $250,000) , but can give editors a cycling experience – media camp where they learn about cycling.  Sponsors Tour de Pink – breast cancer ride.  The Today show rode the ride and then did an 8 minute segment on it.  Then they pull it all together on social media – 35,000 followers on FB.  Strategy is to engage not push.  Lastly, they employ women.

Overall message: in order to market to women, Liv engages women.  You can push men, but not women.

Specialized What we know: Word of mouth is more important for marketing to women (men = print and product reviews).  Women are social – they go on line for a brand experience, not quick information.  They don’t click on ads.  Stories are important. (***library tie-in***)

Women want to be independent yet connected to others. 71% of women think how brands portray women and girls is important, more than 50% use that as a purchasing criteria.

Strategies: #YourRideYourRules, Ambassadors, Women’s ride day – May 31, targeted website, partnerships with other brands (Lululemon for Bike + Yoga events), with professional cyclists and grassroots teams, with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

Po Campo bags – founded, owned and designed by a woman.  Bike commuter who needed a bag that looked more professional.  She needs to make sure that there are women (people like her) that she can continue to sell bags to year after year.  So she works to encourage women to bike commute and ride for transportation. Women on a Roll survey from the League of Bicyclists ID’s barriers to riding: comfort, convenience, consumer products, confidence, community.  Po Campo marketing addresses these barriers.  For example, they ran a Braid bar, where you can get your hair braided so you can wear it under a helmet and not get helmet hair.  They have a series of How-to videos, such as how to fold your suit jacket and not get wrinkles, which Po Campo bags go with the bike share

A lot of the things Po Campo is addressing here are things I want libraries to address – how-tos and info that’s probably not in a book.

Their marketing aims to show how bicycling fits into the customer’s life.  They had a pop-up shop in West Elm.

Partnerships – MS society, sent kids to the youth bike summit, Bikeshare programs, world bicycle relief, new Non-profit initiative which partners with non-profits and donates a part of sales to the NP.

She also talked about wishing that bike shops were more like other shops, instead of a just a bunch of parts on pegs.  She wanted a more inviting shopping experience, and made the point that traditional shops can be intimidating or unwelcoming for certain people.

SRAM makes all of the parts you can put on a bike other than the frame.  Parts built to go on any bike.  Founder had small hands, and wanted parts that would work for him.  Turns out, that’s also good for women.  Parts are adjustable so they can be personalized – adjustable sizing.  Starting to include women in bike ads.  Marketing focused on integrating women into business.  Creating ride experiences for women riders – rides, camps, etc.  Not about racing, just a safe space to learn and socialize.  Sponsoring women’s racing too.  Women’s bike mechanic scholarship. Advocates for better infrastructure.  World Bike Relief – educational empowerment for women.  Educate a girl and you educate a community.

Normalize, don’t necessarily need to feature.  Just including women in bike ads is a step forward.

There were two lunchtime talks:

Women Ride: New Numbers
A new national survey provides insight into riding by women: how many ride, how often, types of riding and some top concerns. Commissioned by PeopleForBikes to set a national baseline on biking participation, the information deepens our understanding of our challenges and opportunities, and will help us tell better stories.

  • Martha Roskowski, People for Bikes

People for Bikes surveyed 16,000 adults, who also spoke for 9,000 children.  They determined that 104 million Americans rode a bike in the last year (that’s 1/3 of all Americans).  45 million were women, and 42 million of those rode for recreation – a smaller number rode for transportation.  Most were riding for social reasons.  More than 50% of all wanted to ride a bike more often.  Women were more likely to be infrequent riders.  Very few people feel safer riding now than they did 5 years ago.  People with children ride bikes more frequently than those without. 48% of US adults do not have a working bike.

The conference in general, and this talk in particular, made me rethink my ideas of who bikes and why.  Bicycling is strongly associated with racing and bike commuters, but women are riding for fun and to socialize.  Bike events should be social events.  Community engagement and community building are increasingly important  concepts in my professional life – here is another instance.

There is also a lot of room for providing access to working bikes.  In libraries, this could take the shape of bike clinics, making room for Bikeshare programs, and even creating bike libraries, where people could check out a bike.   

Advocacy Through A Gender Lens
When we advocate for bicycling through a gender lens, does it lead to big ideas or does it limit our thinking? Hear from women working to get more women on bikes on how and when to use gender to amplify your advocacy efforts.

This panel talk was moderated by Barb Chamberlain.  She advised people to “stay with the ride” even if the talk made us comfortable or got difficult.

  • ID people by the pronoun they prefer
  • If you hear “everyone is welcome” do you feel as welcome as “women-only space” or “women’s voices are prioritized”?
  • Rio-Jill Contreras talked about creating an event for gender queer youth of color who were bike mechanics.  Despite the specificity of the demographic, people attended, and it created a little paradise for people who are in almost every other space, an “other”
  • Be intentional about the inclusion of trans* and gender queer folks
  • Intersectionality: “People ask if I identify as a woman or an African-American. When I look in the mirror, I see both. Every time.”–Odessa Philip.  She went on to talk about how she emphasized different aspects of her identity depending on context, but how her identity was a constant.
  • The bike is a tool for connecting folks
  • Clitoral Mass

I have recently been on the fence about women-only events.  This talk reinforced the idea that this space can be very valuable, and a little paradise for people who need it.

Then I went to:

Building the Movement: Constructing a plan for Women Bike Advocacy in Your Community
How do we increase women ridership? Women working in women specific encouragement initiatives from across the nation will share lessons learned, and how to design effective encouragement initiatives driven by results.

  • Kim Foltz, City of Boston
  • Nelle Pierson, Washington Area Bicyclist Association
  • Amy George, Women & Bicycles Richmond
  • Lesly Jones, Black Women Bike D.C
  •  Tyler Frisbee, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition | Women Bike SF
  • Casey Ashenhurst, WE Bike NYC

WE Bike NYC is volunteer led and run.  A lot of their work is to find leaders in the community

35% of bikers in Boston are women is not as positive of a message as “everyday, more and more women are biking.”  Programs included a women’s bike riding festival – rebranding this year as bike and bites.  Subsidized Bikeshare members.

Ride Richmond/Women and Bicycles Richmond sponsored a women’s cycling summit.  Jump in where you are then ask for help.  Leverage your loudness – share other people’s events with your network.  Safe space in a familiar place (use popular places  to drum up participation). Celebrate the weird – ride to a donut shop (donut crawl, ride of shame), ride to look at tacky Christmas lights.

Women BikeSF (6 months old) – 34% of SF bikers are women, and 40% of SFBC members are bikers, in the Netherlands, 55% of regular bikers are women – women are the indicator species of safe biking.  Gals with Gears – women’s bike group.  Ibike initiative.  Women respond to protected bike lanes more than men, but infrastructure isn’t enough.  Women want community support and a social structure.  So, the Women Bike SF initiative kick off happened out of the SFBC office, with a social hour.  Found that women wanted a program that was bikes plus social.  Asked, “would you like to lead something in this initiative?”  They said yes, and these events are member driven. Coffee rides with social aspect, once a month with about 30 people.

Bike mentor programs.

Event-based fundraising can be successful.  One way to get around not having money is to have an all volunteer organization.  Women-run businesses  are a good target.  Have a specific ask – I need $300 for jerseys is better than I need $1000 for women in bicycling.  Breweries need to give away some stuff for the tax break.

Finally, the closing plenary was:

Our Biking Connections
Outdoor Afro is a social community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more! Join CEO and Founder Rue Mapp as she shares her own experience biking, African American historical perspectives,  and the many ways and existing opportunities we have today to get more people involved in leading the bicycle movement.

  • Rue Mapp, Outdoor Afro

Mapp talked about her background and experiences with nature, emphasizing its transformative and healing effects.  She also talked about her experiences showing up to nature events and being the only African American present (when she found the Oakland Yellowjackets, it was a wonderful experience).  Mapp used her early adoption of social networking sites to form groups that reached out to other African Americans interested in connecting with and in the outdoors.  Some things that jumped out at me:

  • Lake Merritt is the US’ first wildlife refuge – this lake is in the center of Oakland, a predominately African American city.  It is heavily used for recreation.
  • Trust your feet
  • Nature is a powerful teacher
  • You don’t need special gear to experience nature – just go.
  • Red, Bike & Green: The city is the destination
  • Trail riding as an answer to food deserts
  • Evaluation method:  have participants stand in a circle, ask for one word to describe the experience
  • Connecting people to nature is connecting people to the opportunity for a lesson
  • Healthy risks
  • To connect people to nature, you need to connect into the family narrative (ex.  everybody has at least one relative that fishes)
  • Adults need wonder too – give the opportunity to play (ex. guy with banana slug in his hand)
  • You have to create a relationship to nature before you ask people to clean up nature – cleaning parties should not be people’s first experience
  • Healing hikes – Mapp is not really a “protest in the streets” kind of person.  After the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, she led healing hikes, where people could go into the wilderness and try to address the situation.
  • Show up when you’re needed and carry those movements forward
  • What is the relevance?  Is it the biking?  Or are they looking for friends?  Have a fitness goal?
  • Partnerships – plan together, don’t just invite someone in
  • Take the long view – not just what happens in a grant year.  Change takes a generation (look at smoking).

This was probably my favorite day of what was overall a very cool conference.  I heard a lot of stories from women who’d gotten involved in women’s biking because they’d gone to an event, looked around and thought, “those are cool girls I’d like to get to know.” Tuesday I spent a lot of time looking around saying to myself, “those are cool girls I’d like to get to know.”


Oh yeah, the World is a Rotten Pumpkin

Today I went to the Library of Congress and it made me cry twice.

My first cry was when we watched the video about all the cool stuff that’s in the LOC.  The first map with the word America on it!  A Gutenberg bible!  A picture book of Mother Goose printed in the depression that had fantastic colors.  I started to get choked up and excited about the breadth of knowledge all gathered in one place.  I loved how proud and enthusiastic the librarians were.  The tour was full!  Everyone wanted to see the library!


Then we went out on the second floor and looked at all the paintings, which glorify the march of knowledge through history, and have all sorts of symbolic representation of things like Knowledge and Science and Literature.  I can just eat that stuff up.  I love it.  We are smart!  We love to learn!  What a beautiful country!


The tour guide took us to see the exhibit of Jefferson’s library.  His library was once the core of the LOC collection.  Unfortunately, much of it was destroyed in a fire.  Now the library is trying to recreate it.  His books were arranged in a circle, and there was a cool system of ribbons to tell you if you were looking at something originally from his library, something that had been purchased later, or a placeholder for a book they were still looking for.  I got to stand in the middle of all these books, and enjoy being at the center of ordered knowledge, in attractive leather bindings.

After the tour, I went back up to the second floor to see the exhibit on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It was in the room right in front of Jefferson’s library, and I’d caught a glimpse of some Freedom Rider ephemera that looked cool.



The exhibit was really powerful.  This is the second time that I cried at the LOC today.  There were letters and photos of civil rights leaders, but there were also a lot of items that detailed our country’s history of atrocities.




Following this exploration of civil rights, the exhibit dumped me back out in that beautiful cocoon of books created by the slaveholder Thomas Jefferson.


(This is a bill of sale for a person, from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison).

*Sorry about the photos.  I’m the world’s worst photographer.

Out and About

I’m doing some cool things and going some cool places!

I’m ridiculously excited to have been a guest on the most recent episode of the Silicon Valley Beat, the Mountain View police department’s podcast.  If you’re interested in how police departments work, I suggest you check out the other episodes.  The one with Karla Knightstep, who handles dispatch and emergency calls, will blow your mind.

Last month I did a maker station at the California Museum Association Conference in San Diego.  I taught museum professionals how to make bike lights out of tin cans.  Notes from the first day of the conference are here.  Notes from the second day are…still being transcribed.

Next week I’m going to the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.  I have the chance to do a 10 minute Bikes + Libraries presentation, as part of a Big Ideas panel.

I’m working with two other libraries to present a webinar called Many Paths to Conversation: Techniques for Successful ESL Clubs.  Join us on April 8 at 12 pm Pacific.

I’ve been invited to present at the 2015 Symposium on LIS Education, taking place Friday April 10 and Saturday April 11.  My presentation will most likely occur virtually on Friday afternoon.  The conference is an interesting, progressive, student-led look at successes and challenges in LIS education.  What will I talk about?  It’s a fun mystery!  (seriously though, I take requests).

I *want* to present a conversation starter session at ALA, on Bikes and Libraries.  But, we need your vote!

Oh yeah and,

I got a knuckle tattoo:



(it’s itchy.)

Writing Round-Up

I’m not doing a lot of writing here, nowadays, but I’ve got some writing other places:

MVPL Bike Stop

I’m writing a series for BayNet, a local library organization, about a bikes-and-libraries initiative at my work.

Simple Steps to Starting a Seed Library

Print only, at the moment.  An article for Public Libraries Magazine.

seed liberry

What Candidates Want: How to Practice Compassionate Hiring

Some lessons from the Hiring Librarians job hunter survey.

Library Jobs Math

Refuting the idea that there will soon be a “shortage of librarians and sea captains.”  Numbers don’t lie folks.

and finally, not a piece of writing but a fun project I’m working on:

The Library-2-Library Bicycle Tour

Please join us for a morning of bicycles, libraries, and fun.



A Man Made Process

I run that blog Hiring Librarians, so I read a lot of job hunting advice.  Not just on the site, but other places too – I tend to scan for it on my library social media haunts (Reddit, ALATT, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.).

One reason I started the blog is because I kept seeing a lot of people dispense really bad job advice in a very authoritative manner.

It is easy to say “I have hired people and here is the one thing you should never do.”  It is easy to believe a person who talks like this.  Getting hired is a social process, and it is a common thing to suspect that there are hidden rules we know nothing about.  Especially if we have never done hiring, or never hired in the LIS field.  Especially if we are desperate for a job.

The person dispensing the advice often believes that they are doing a favor by explaining the rules.  For example, there’s this ALATT post where the poster provides a list of seven no-no’s for job applicants.  It’s not necessarily bad advice, but it’s just one person’s list.  Her rules are HER rules, not THE rules, no matter how authoritatively she states that they are true. For example, the 4th point, no monograms or images on a resume, comes up for some interesting debate in the comments.

Here is the thing.  The whole process of hiring, all the conventions, the idea that a resume should be a certain number of pages, the idea that a resume shouldn’t have photos, the necessity of a cover letter -we just made all of that process up.  Hiring is not something that occurs in nature, it’s a man-made process.

And, frankly, it’s often a badly designed process.  For both the hirer and the hiree.  Being able to conform to unwritten social conventions, ones that vary widely from region to region and institution to institution, is not really a good measure of whether someone is going to be a fantastic librarian.  It sometimes indicates whether someone will fit into a workplace’s culture, but the hiring process is often very divorced from the day to day – it is it’s own particular set of rules and expectations.

And if we made it, we can change it.  Right?



Beyond the Book Brand

As books evolve, so must libraries.  As information needs change, so must we.  Thus begins another chapter in As the Library Turns.

Books are intrinsically linked with libraries, in the minds of our patrons.  As much as I hate the whole concept of branding, I have to admit it perfectly describes our situation.  Books are our brand.

We must expand the brand.  You probably know that.   For a recent reason, check out the article published a few days ago in Forbes that was written by a man who thinks the Amazon unlimited subscription is a good replacement for libraries.


Some librarians are pushing to substitute the concept of “Information” in to replace books.  This is the kind of thinking that gives us “Librarians: The Ultimate Search Engine” and “Librarians: Better than Bing, but not Quite as Good as Google,” etc., etc.

Information sucks as a brand.

Maybe one reason why librarians like “Information” as a brand so much is because librarians really like information.  It fills us with secret glee.  But folks, friends, comrades, this is not normal. Loving information is a trait that is much more common amongst librarians than it is in the general population.

In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, Gary Vaynerchuck writes,

Information is cheap and plentiful; information wrapped in a story, however, is special.  Brands need to storytell around their content to make it enticing, not just put it out for passive consumption like a boring platter of cubed cheese. (p.86)

Books don’t just tell a story, they have a story.  They are a story.  Books inspire deep emotional connections.  They are tangible things, things we can touch, smell and taste (maybe not that that last one with the library books though ok?).  Books inspire deep love and nostalgia; in the eBook versus print discussion, the print side inevitably ends the discussion by sighing and saying, “there’s just no substitute for a real book.”

But even eBooks are more compelling than “Information”.  “Information” is vague.  It is not something you can viscerally enjoy.  Possible connotations include the informational talk your doctor gives you when your cholesterol is too high, Excel spreadsheets filled with meaningless data, and those annoying passive-aggressive emails your co-worker sends that end “Just FYI.”

I don’t know what the new library brand is.  I don’t think we will know until something has stuck, decades in the future.

Another new brand option is the place for the community to meet, the library as “third place.”  I don’t think that’s quite right either.

I think the new library brand will look something more like literacy.  And not just “I can read” literacy, but life literacy – digital skills, financial skills, engaged-with-the-world skills.

Literacy is engaging.  It is action oriented.  It is attainable by everyone.  It is improving skills and changing in a changing world.  That’s the library I’m interested in.

It’s the library where people’s stories become our story.





The Semiotics of Organizing

Librarian confessions time: we like to organize things.

When you’re in the biz, occasionally a colleague will sidle up to you and whisper, “This weekend I alphabetized my spice cabinet.”  Then you’ll both sort of sigh contentedly at the idea of such domestic order.  It’s not just spices either. You might hear, “Last night I organized my spoons by degree of roundness” or  “My towels are now in thread count order.” It seems to run in the family too.  The proudest moment in the life of a librarian parent might be the day they walk in on their child pulling books off the shelf…and then putting them back, in subject groupings.

Although I was a messy child, I grew to love a well-ordered house.  I think it’s because my husband and I have spent most of our life together in tiny spaces, from our first two years sharing a single room, followed by five years in a studio apartment, then six in a one bedroom.  When you have very little space, order is a necessity.  This is where my love of organization was born, from the need to fit in comfortably.

Somewhere in the last six months though, I stopped feeling the need to have my spray cleaners lined up by height.  My books aren’t even in any particular order (other than the basic non-fiction/fiction separation of course).  Nowadays, I only organize things for money.

In my mind I draw parallel between the work my sister does, as a professional actor, and the work I do. When you start out in acting, you work for free all the time.  You’re building your skills and your reputation, your “chops.”  Then you start to get recognition, and courtesy money.  You get paid for acting – not enough to live on surely, but enough to call yourself a professional.  You get paid a little more, and then a little more, and maybe you find a side job teaching acting, and then finally it’s your living, and you only do it for free if it’s a really good cause.

It’s such silly conversation to have with yourself, but it’s a common one:  Am I a librarian now?  Does reluctance toward amateur organizing mean I am finally a professional?  Or is it merely the fact that we moved, and have a bit more space, and oh yeah, I’m working a lot and busy. Maybe that’s the true sign of a professional librarian.

organized neatly

PS Librarians, have you seen Things Organized Neatly?  I know many who find it very soothing.


I kind of hate that whole “program in a box” thing.

It’s the death of creativity, right?  It’s an industrialized, one-size-fits-all librarianship. It’s that standardized bureaucracy that is killing our ability to be supple and responsive.  It’s programming fast food.  Here is your Big Mac storytime ma’am, made just like every other storytime in the system.

Here’s another niggling peeve: the library is not a theater, even though some librarians seem to think that their programming should consist of paying performers to come give a show.

Programming is the opportunity for the librarian to creatively engage patrons.  Programming allows us to create a stronger bond between our community and the library, both by providing an interactive library experience for patrons and by bringing community members in to share their passions.  We program for our communities, in response to our communities, and in partnership with our communities.

Originality is required.

Library programming helps us to create new stakeholders.  Inviting the community in to work with us creates a sense of ownership in the library.  Once someone, or some group, has attended or presented a library program (as long as it has been a positive experience) they will more actively and vocally support libraries. Programs can identify new user groups, as innovative programs may attract people who do not otherwise use library resources.

Care, attention, and weight should be given to program presenters and attendees.

Library programming gives us the opportunity to share the kind of information that is not well-recorded.  Take for example, gardening. While broader guidelines for when to plant and how to cultivate have been published, gardeners adapt to local soil conditions and microclimates.  They learn through experience what works.  This information is best shared person-to-person.

Programs allow libraries to share more kinds of information.



Sorting Patrons

The public library tries to be all things to all people (every reader his book; every book it’s reader)

Bobbi Newman wrote this interesting piece in which she talks about how certain people may support libraries, but they will never use them, no matter how many tempting programs or resources we dangle.

I agree with her, based on my personal experience. I know lots of people who *loooooove libraries* but have’t set foot in one since childhood. Do we really need to expend precious resources to try to get them in the door?

Newman suggests that we focus more on community support for the library, rather percentage of community with library cards. She says that we would be better off accepting that “some people don’t use the library for one reason or another.” 

Here’s the conundrum though, how do we sort the people who don’t use libraries because they just don’t want to, from the people who don’t use libraries because they’ve been turned off somehow (or because they don’t know we have what they want)?

It *is* impossible to be all things to all people. Trying is an exercise in futility and failure.

But then, at what point do we find someone unserveable?  What criteria do we use?

Accepting that we can’t serve everyone threatens the fundamentally democratic nature of libraries. When people become unserveable, we exclude them from what should be the most inclusive of communities.  Libraries are for everyone, even if everyone is not for libraries.

But this is an ideal, and given our limited resources, we need to exercise pragmatism.  Right?

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