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Dont Be That Boss

Nowadays, I consider myself really lucky because I have an extremely level-headed boss. She might tell you her opinion and will definitely let you know when things need to improve but, in doing so, she never speaks in a way that I’ve construed as offensive. It’s always been direct but not demeaning and I have never left her office feeling like I just got pummeled.I haven’t always been so lucky though, I used to have one of the worst types of bosses imaginable: A Screamer.

On a near daily basis, I would hear my boss yelling at someone in her office. To put that in perspective: the distance from her office to my desk was through one room, then a hallway, up a flight stairs and then behind a solid oak door… a distance over 100 feet. To put this it in further perspective, I have a moderately severe hearing loss. If I could hear the screams just imagine what other employees and patrons actually heard her saying! I left the position almost exclusively because of her and took the first job offer that came my way… Fortunately, it lead me to my current boss.

But some of my friends aren’t so lucky. Just having to listen to the nightmare stories and thinking back on my own experiences I am dumbfounded as to how these people wind up in management positions. What quality did they possess which made the administrators willing to go with such a nasty and ineffective communication skill? And what possibly makes that boss think that their method of management is, if not effective, is constructive or pragmatic in the overall scheme of running business!? Furthermore, how do these screamers possibly think they are actually good bosses!? And yet, it seems that I always have at least one friend who is plagued by such a boss.

So, why is this being put up on our library’s blog? Because we are certainly not immune to such poor managerial practices and maybe some of us are active participants, and I have been offered a promotion to the Head of Youth Services in the Library where I work. As excited as I am, this had led me to really reflect on the poor bosses I’ve had in the past and my own managerial skills.

In hopes of being proactive against the habits of “poor bosses” I have compiled a list of, shall we say, ethical goals I would like to instill upon myself in hopes of becoming a quality supervisor. By all means, please add your own advice.

Do not panic: Even when things are at a panic stage, it is my job to present level-headedness, which leads to the second point…

Do not play into histrionics: Situations should emit their own sense of emotions and do not need my help.

Do be approachable: If staff and I cannot talk openly, then we are already on losing ground.

Do be pragmatic: When problems arise, find ways to ‘fix’ them.

Do be clear with expectations: Make sure that staff knows what is expected of them and their job details.

Do not micromanage or get bogged down in minutiae: nobody likes someone looking over their shoulder and critiquing their work to the very foundation.

Do not personalize: Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy and some times people will goad you… but do not let it sink in.

DO BE POSITIVE: Remember that your leadership will affect how the department runs.

October 15, 2007 at 9:34 am

2007 Summer Reading Program… in Review

This time of year is always a happy and sad time for me. I’m sad because the summer is so close to ending, and I have an annual tradition of regretting not doing more outside. But then again, I am happy because the frantic pace of our Summer Reading Program is over… and that means I can actually take a moment to relax a little, perhaps breathe a bit as well.

All in all, it was a great summer for me. This was the first time that I had full reign of our teens’ Summer Reading Program. I packed it with programs, volunteers, last-second planning, fix-ups, movies and an occasional-running-with-scissors moment… if you know what I mean.

But how did it all go? What worked and what didn’t? Let’s review it in a hot/not fashion.

Hot- The average number of books read by teens who signed up for the Summer Reading Program was 18!

Not- Actual number of participants in the Reading Program was down.

Hot- The “You Never Know What You Can Do With Duct Tape” program. We made wallets, cell phone holders, a couple flowers and even attempted sandals. It was probably my most attended program on a week to week basis. By the way, if you try the sandals, make sure you don’t accidentally expose the duct tape adhesive to the hair on your toes… Yowwww!

Not- The whole “YNK” theme. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed silly. People may have used the theme but few actually used it as “YNK” (and not without having to clarify what YNK stood for).

Hot- The End of Summer lock-in. It was the first after hours party we had at our library. The teens ate about 8-feet worth of subs, partied heartily and every single one of them was actually picked up on time!

Not- The one single teen at the party who decided to push the boundaries and threw her piece of cake into the face of another person.

Hot- The Shoprite Deli. Originally, the store lost our sub order for the party. So, Dan, the Deli-guy, made good by not just making 10 subs but only charged us half-price because of the mix up.

Not- Shoprite in general. I’m sorry, it’s a Marrazzo’s thing.

Hot- My teen-volunteer coordinator’s ability to have all but 5 of our teens complete the required number of hours and set a record for most volunteers sign-up and completed.

Not- The teen volunteers constantly referring to me as “Hey Mister!”

Hot- The song “Hey Delilah” by the Plain White Ts being constantly played.

Not- Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” being constantly overplayed.

And finally….

Hot- Our brand new Teen furniture finally came in!

Not- Gaylord messed up the color of the furniture and has yet to fix it. But they did offer to let us keep the furniture they sent us in lieu of having to send the right ones.

So, how do I rank the summer on a whole? I’ll go with an 8/10. Better than average but let’s leave some room for improvement.

September 8, 2007 at 9:19 am 2 comments

The Future of Gaming

I am part of the original gaming generation. I can remember when I was six years old, my father bought my mom an Atari for her birthday. I can remember becoming one of the first players to be printed in Atari magazine’s 20,000 Pitfall club. The Christmas that I was eleven, Santa brought me a Nintendo and my brother a Sega… and I still consider Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! one of the greatest and hardest games ever created.

And my 19 month-old daughter has followed in her father’s gaming footsteps already as she asks to sit and watch me play the Wii.

Video games are experiencing some of the greatest success since the Arcade days. And to call it a reborn fad for our kids would be greatly misunderstanding just how far the passion for gaming goes. According to the ESA’s 2006 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data report, the average age of gamers is 33. In fact, 25% of gamers are over the age of 50. As much as we like to portray games as a child’s play, there is little that is childish about it. Video games are a part of our society at all levels. Overall, video games took in just under $10 billion dollars last year. I have a guess that the overwhelming success that the Nintendo Wii has with casual gamers will put it over that milestone this year.

By the way, that $10 billion is just for the United States; worldwide is estimated around $38 billion (not including consoles).

And as a self-proclaimed First Generation Gamer, the changes we’ve already seen in games have been awesome to witness. Games have changed from running-to-the-right scrollers into entire virtual worlds, and there seems to be a virtual world for just about any enthusiast. The controllers have changed from a joystick and a single button into eight button and directionals that can control all three dimensions. And let’s not forget motion sensitive controllers, like the Wii, to specialized controllers like Guitar Hero and the upcoming Rock Band. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that a game’s storyline has changed from unbending objectives into flexible stories that allow the player to choose their own story lines, decisions and really make the character their own. Because of these developments, game manufacturers are finding renewed interest and new players in the gaming culture.

So where does it all go from here? I’m not sure, but I have some guesses.

Obviously, graphics and sound will continue to improve. The dropping prices of surround sound systems will influence how players and game developers use sound in the gaming experience. As TVs continue to move towards better picture quality, console makers will be sure to be on the cutting edge with them.

The casual gamer will continue to influence the development of console gaming, price and strategy-wise. If there is anything that Xbox and PS3 have learned from the current sales-war, it is that even the most passive gamer is willing to spend a little money for a couple hours of enjoyment.

Games will become more about buying the right to play rather than levels. What do I mean? Think in terms of World of Warcraft; you buy the software and the ability to create characters but the game itself is housed online. Game developers are going to start using this for console games as well, thus allowing them to continually add and improve the games as the characters grow. So your game is not limited to the hardware it is housed on. The advantage of doing this is that your story lines never have to end and, for all intents and purposes, the character will live as long as you do.

Social networks and support groups will continue to play major roles. World of Warcraft is as much about the people you play with as it is about the game. People join groups in the virtual world and it is like a sacred bond. Real world friendships and even marriages have resulted from WoW meetings. As games continue to allow players to flesh out their own characters, the socialization platforms that come with the games will be used in the same ways as Facebook and Myspace, perhaps stronger.

Games will continue to influence education and professional training. Games like Trauma Center are a lot of fun (the player is a surgeon who performs everything from removing cysts to heart surgery) but they have a greater potential if applied to the medical field. The military uses a gaming interface to help train their soldiers for life-or-death situations. From a marketing perspective this is a major yet-to-be-tapped resource but one with serious profits if they make the right games.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; I love the age I am growing up in. It’s not just gaming revolution, it is evolution. We’re going from static to dynamic and creating games that are not just one-dimensional stories but true interactive experiences.

So, if you are not part of the gaming culture, I recommend you check it out… there is something for everyone. And if you are, I hope we meet in the virtual worlds.

Incidentally, if you are ever smitten by someone named Rex Libris in the virtual world, I apologize now.

August 15, 2007 at 9:45 am 5 comments

What the RIAA can learn from They Might Be Giants

I just picked up They Might Be Giants new album, The Else, and got a neat surprise, a bonus CD. The disc contained 23 songs they previously released on their podcast site, and almost all were never previously released on any of their other CDs.

And as excited as I was to receive more music than I anticipated from my favorite band, my initial reaction was “Finally, someone gets it!”

Suing fans is a bad incentive for buying the album, especially when the laws are somewhat contradictory, you can legally copy an analog tape but not on a digital CD. It’s no wonder that many people who get their music from p2p networks don’t believe they are doing anything terribly wrong. After all, how can copying be legal in one format and not another?

Y’know, I’ve always wondered how much money the actual artists get when the RIAA wins a lawsuit for pirating. If anyone has information on this, I would love to know.

They Might Be Giants tried a different approach (as are other musicians)… give the fans something in exchange for their support. A bonus CD of already recorded songs might have cost them a dollar a piece to manufacture but in doing so, they will start a buzz around the official CD and bonus tracks which will creates an interest for people to want to buy it. And even jump their sales a bit.

On a semi-tangent, some Nintendo products are trying the same approach. When I bought Pokemon’s Battle Revolution for Wii (please don’t judge me) a card fell out asking me to register the game. The reward for doing this was extra pictures, wallpapers and tips for the game. Imagine what more powerful systems like Xbox or PS3 could do with registration; give the registrants extra levels more characters, unique weapons, etc.

July 13, 2007 at 12:50 pm 1 comment

Librarian 2.0- The new professional or the responsible one?

Reading the Librairan 2.0 Manifesto was both an inspiring and frustrating read. Inspiring because it iterates goals that make me love my profession. I love outreach, I love working online and I love sharing new web 2.0 finds with peers and patrons.

But frustating too because I was left wondering how we got to a point in our profession where some of the goals needed to be written. Take the following examples:

*I will not fear Google or related services, but rather will take advantage of these services to benefit users while also providing excellent library services that users need.
*I will let go of previous practices if there is a better way to do things now, even if these practices once seemed so great.
*I will recognize that the universe of information culture is changing fast and that libraries need to respond positively to these changes to provide resources and services that users need and want.

These are new goals for our profession!? We actually had to put in goals that state we need to be open to efficiency, convenience and we need to provide resources our patrons need and want? As public servants in information resources, it would almost seem as if these goals were a mandatory. And yet, I can also see why we needed to specify these goals; there are quite a few among our profession that need to be reminded.

But how did we get to this stage? Why do we have professional librarians who refuse to keep up with the professional and technological requirements? How did we reach a point where the patrons’ needs were less important than the traditional way of doing things?

All along, the job of a reference librarian has been to find the information patrons need. We are in the business of connecting people to the information they require… so why care about the format that information is found in?

Although traditionalists’ argue the Internet is 90% junk, it was originally built as a means to convey information and expedite the communication process between people. Even among the copious amounts of junk found on the web, legitimate information has rooted itself firmly in cyberspace as well. For some reason or another some in our profession dismissed this technology as non-important, despite the visibly growing applications and use among our patrons. And because of this lackadaisical and rejective approach we are left with professionals so far behind the curve that waiting for retirement is as an easier path than training.

And so I grow frustrated when I read the goals and responsibilities of the 2.0 Librarian, it should’ve been part of our profession all along.

July 12, 2007 at 1:19 pm 11 comments

Friday Fun: Your Road Trip Mix Tape

There are songs which help keep highway hypnosis at bay. The energy, the fun, the sing-along potential make them great for those long hours in the car, particularly if you are stuck in the chaos of Friday vacation traffic. Sometimes, in order to keep your sanity, it is important to have a collection of songs that will make the time fun, or at the very least, tolerable.

Here is my top 10 selection, go ahead and add your own.

On the Road Again by Willie Nelson- Mandatory, probably for any mix tape but especially this one.

The Way by Fastball- You wouldn’t think a song about packing your bags, leaving the kids behind and all responsibility behind could be so fun. ;)

Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues by Eels- It’s not the best lyrics that you’ll ever hear but it’s nearly impossible not to chime in when they sing “God damn right it’s a beautiful day!”

Crash by The Primitives- “Here you go, way too fast. Don’t look out you’re gonna craaaash.” Quite possibly the most energetic song to have sha-na-na in the lyrics.

Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chilipeppers- You need a downtime song on the mix tape… and I gotta go with this one.

Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty- Is there are song about bigger possibilities!?

I Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night by Kiss- This is the last resort song. If this one can’t wake you up, pull over and get some sleep.

Song 2 by Blur- Whoohoo! ‘Nuff said

Basket Case by Green Day- “Do you have the time to listen to me whine…” Hey, I’ve got as long as this trip is gonna take.

Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana- I haven’t a clue what Cobain was saying but it doesn’t stop me from screaming “Hey… wait!”

June 15, 2007 at 9:20 am 5 comments

Singshot.com- Karaoke Singers Unite!

To me, Karaoke will always be known as the revolution that brought amateur singers out of their showers and into the limelight.

I’m not saying whether that was a good or bad thing… but local drinking establishments did clean up on it!

Singshot brings the karaoke movement for the glitz and glamour of your local dive-bar and onto the electrified waves of the Internet. No more smoke, no more booze, no more people to appreciate your erm… lovely voice which has yet to bring you fame or fortune. At the very least, perhaps a highlight real on American Idol’s audition episodes.

Singshot is an online community for singers who are looking for feedback from other singers. There are also groups and contests available to any member choosing to participate. The collection itself is not the best but there are literally thousands of songs to choose from and you will be able to find something in your range.

For the fun of it, I joined and tried the recording system. It was okay but could run into some serious lag issues as well; I mean, I know I wasn’t perfect, but I definitely wasn’t a whole measure out either. Once the lag was fixed though, I did post the song and got immediate feedback from people.

Uhhhh, let’s not talk about the feedback.

One of the better features on singshot is the webcam option, which has produced some rather funny vidoes. There really isn’t anything like watching the moment of a person trying to look their coolest and achieve rock-stardom… yet, completely failing to capture it.

June 13, 2007 at 7:41 pm 1 comment

8 Things Meme (Tyler)

I’ve been tagged for the 8 Things meme by my Teacozy “real life” buddy. The rules are as follows:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I’ve been working on a book for about 2 years now. Since I am anal retentive, the plotline is written out and yet I am only on the second chapter of the book.

2. I’m a guitarist who is unable to tune the note B. I have a gap in my hearing pattern that makes me tonedeaf to the frequency which is known as B, and the higher the frequency of B the worse my tuning ear gets.

3. I have a bad habit of leaving closet doors, silverware drawers and kitchen cabinet doors open. I claim it is to test whether we have ghostly spirits in the house (if the doors slam shut by themselves, that’s a hint)… it’s a total lie. I’m just lazy and forgetful. What’s strange is that:

4. Oddly enough, I am fanatical about making sure the doors and windows are locked and closed when I go to bed.

5. I almost became a received a degree in Organismal Biology and Evolutionary Science. I decided to go with an Science and Education degree instead. If you ask me now, I wish I went with OB instead.

6. I still love going to zoos.

7. I have one major goal in life… I need to visit Australia at some point in this lifetime (see the connection in the last 3 things).

8. My dream job would be a golfer. I don’t need fame and fortune, just enough to play golf and raise a family. There is not enough time in the day for me and golf.

The people I tag are, and I apologize if any have already done so:
Amy and Mary of Pimp My Library
Tracy
Crazy Roommate
Sara

And since the rest of my buddies have all already been tagged… I’ll leave the list as is.

May 31, 2007 at 11:47 am 6 comments

MySpace to give up names of registered sex offenders.

Man, this is a tough one. My many sides are really battling each other.

The librarian side of me screams about the rights of privacy and shuns them for giving in.
My business side wonders if it was necessary in order to keep the website alive… one too many lawyers to hire and enough bad publicity.

My researcher side of me tells me that underage children are lying about their identities on the site as well.

My educator side agrees and says we need to teach or children about digital ethics and how not to invite trouble into your life.

My logical side agrees and knows that this wont stop unregistered pedifiles from getting to our children.

Which leads to my rational side of me wondering if there are better ways of creating profiles that help avoid these problems on Myspace.

And through all this, the parent in me says damned straight! It is amazing how strong that voice became when my wife gave birth to our child.

All in all, I really don’t know how to think of this. Yeah, in a way I feel that they are convicts and deserve what they get now; but they are still citizens and therefore have all the rights of any other citizens despite their past actions… and some people do reform and have the right to a normal life.

I simply don’t know… anyone else?

May 22, 2007 at 10:22 am 10 comments

Teen Librarians: Who we are and what we are not

As a Young Adult Librarian, I have made the professional decision to immerse myself in young adult culture; the books they read, the music they listen to, the resources they use for information. I have also taken on the responsibility to provide programming opportunities for the teen community to participate in, if they choose to do so. In other words, teen resources are my specialty.

But I am not the babysitter for every teen that enters the library.

And I am not the only person capable of handling teens’ questions.

I am not disciplinarian for all teens.

Nor are my job responsibilities significantly different from any other librarian.

I am not their babysitter- Teens that come into the library are my specialty, not my responsibility. Just because a teen enters the building, it does not mean they can only be in the Teen Section. Teens have the same rights as all other patrons, they are allowed to go in any other part of the library.

I am not the only person to handle a teens’ question- Listen to the needs of the patron first and then figure out if my expertise is needed. If they know the name of book they are looking for, help them. If they want to find out where the copier is, show them. But, if the teens wants book recommendations, programming information, research help… I’m your person. Remember, I don’t send every old person your way.

I am not the teens disciplinarian- If teenagers are acting up in the library, this is not my fault. Furthermore, don’t send me the rambunctious teen and tell me to “deal with them.” In doing so, you have negated your own authority in the teens’ eyes.

My job responsibilities aren’t significantly different- If you don’t expect the rest of your staff to work multiple nights, then it shouldn’t be expected of your YA Librarian. If your typical Reference or Children’s Librarian does two programs a week, don’t expect the YA Librarian to have programming everyday, or every moment that teens are present. If you don’t expect your other programs to have 100% attendence from members of the library community, don’t expect every teen to show up for every program.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of good Teen Librarians who leave the position because of they discover the job expectations are disproportoinate to other positions in the libarary.

Consider families, consider the lives outside of job and please consider the wear and tear you put on your Teen Librarian when you send them patrons you personally would rather not deal with.
We are programmers, we are selectors, we are outreach and we are staff members dedicated to maintaining the enthusiasm and interest of the library’s future adults, future taxpayers, and advocates.

We do not need a thank you for this… we just ask for your consideration.

May 21, 2007 at 7:42 am 10 comments

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