Author Archive

Officially Weighing in on QandANJ

Posted by: Janie Hermann

Tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm the Reference Section of NJLA will hold a meeting at Princeton Public Library so that the library community can have a dialogue on QandANJ.org and on the state of virtual reference in New Jersey.

I personally hope that the room will be packed to standing room only so that we can get as many opinions and ideas as possible. My fear is that attendance will be much smaller than it should be. I know that some will not be able to attend due to other work commitments, desk schedules, or travel distance (NJ is a pretty big state). If you are in that category, please take the time to share your thoughts with Michael Maziekien, the chair of the NJLA Reference Section, or leave comments in this post.

If you are still hesitating about attending for other reasons — such as apathy or not wanting to “rock the boat”, so to speak — then I encourage you to reconsider and take the time to come tomorrow. The key issue with this entire kerfuffle is not the decision to end funding for QandANJ, but the manner in which it was done. A decision about a statewide initiative that is staffed by librarians from over 50 libraries was made without any input from the stakeholders. This our chance to rectify the situation and have our say.

Until today my involvement with this issue since it surfaced about 5 weeks ago on April 4th has been to make several (some quite lengthy) comments based upon posts by Andy Woodworth and Pete Bromberg and to speak with other in our library community who are feeling the same sense of betrayal and shock over this decision. Pete and Andy have done an excellent job of framing the entire situation so I will not repeat what have they have said, but I did want to go officially on record as supporting their efforts to get the conversation started and not let the closure of a long-standing and beloved service be done without giving it a full and considered examination.

Tomorrow is not a “Save QandANJ” rally. It is a chance for open dialogue in which we can take steps to decide the future of virtual reference service in our state. It may very well be that the time has come to sunset QandANJ and even those of us who have been most vocal about this issue recognize this reality. Or it may simply be time to retoool the service, find new a funding model and/or scale down the service to recognize that many libraries have their own VR service and no longer need to be a member of the project.

The point is that we need to examine figures and facts, collect opinions from all sides both pro and con and then come to a consensus. This process won’t happen in one day or one meeting and I am very relieved that QandANJ has been given a reprieve to allow us time to figure this out.

I am also grateful to the NJLA Reference Section for taking the initiative to get the conversation started by calling this meeting and to Pat Tumulty and the NJLA Executive Board for issuing a statement that began with this sentence:

NJLA believes the library community must have a voice in determining the programs and services provided by state and federal dollars to the residents of New Jersey.

I have long been an advocate of the NJ State Library and have served on several committees for them over the years, including the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Future of Libraries. I continue to be proud of the innovation that is sparked in the NJ library community with the leadership of our state library. The NJ State Library has led many successful marketing initiatives that have raised the profiles of libraries and shown our value to our stakeholders. My disagreeing about the manner in which this one decision was made does not mean that I am no longer an advocate for their work or any less proud of the innovative services they provide. It simply means that we do not see eye to eye on one issue.

Some in the library community feel that those who are being vocal in their opinions are “betraying” the NJSL to openly call for a reversal of this decision and to request a meeting to discuss the future of the service. I do not see it as a “betrayal”. I see it as a way for all of us in NJ to grow as a professional community and am hopeful that the outcome will be a new way of doing business, one that is transparent and open and important decisions are given due consideration.

This has been a divisive few weeks for many, of that there is no doubt and it was evident at the NJLA conference last week. I know it has been very upsetting for many people for a variety of reasons. Let’s put that all behind before 1 pm tomorrow and work together towards a solution. If you have yet to feel free to speak up about your feelings on this issue, please find your voice and give us your feedback. Your ideas count and can impact the future of service for all New Jersey residents.

May 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm 1 comment

A Quiet Month in the Garden

Actually, it has been almost two months since a new post went up here at Library Garden. We have had slow periods before in our four and a half year history as a blog, but never this slow. Several popular or longstanding library blogs such as It’s All Good, See Also and Tinfoil + Raccoon, have closed up shop in the last few months for various reasons. I must admit that lately I have been pondering hanging up my blogging hat, but I am just not quite ready for that step … I have lots left to say and I like knowing that this platform is here for me when I need it.

I have wanted to post over the last two months, had several brilliant posts written in my head during the drive to work, but my life has been consumed with planning and organizing the huge centennial birthday bash for Princeton Public Library that is happening this weekend and juggling all that happens on a daily basis between home and work.

Planning the library’s birthday party has pretty much been all of my focus for the last few weeks (as well as that of several of my colleagues).

Centennial Weeekend at PPL

Our mantra has become ” we just need to make it to 10-10-10″. I have lists… and I have a list of lists. I have spreadsheets and schedules and hundreds of emails. In the end, it will all be worth it and we will have celebrated in style with a gala event that includes 500 people dining at the library and a community birthday party for thousands the next day.

I just needed to post today as the tents are going up on the plaza to mark the milestone of having made it to 10-8-10 with my sanity in tact — just two more days to go and I can collapse (for at least one day, before I begin my next big project). The forecast for the weather is looking great, only a few dozen more emails to send to confirm details, supplies are lined up on my desk, schedules are printed, banners are hung, staffing is in place… yup, I am ready to party (and for life to return to normal on Monday).

As for the future of Library Garden, even though I can’t say for certain as I have not had time to ask the blog team, our intent is to keep on keeping on — even if we go through quiet spells every once in a while.

October 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

Friday Fun: Stuffed Animals “sleep over” at Princeton Public Library

Posted by Janie Hermann

The youth services department at PPL hosted a “stuffed animal sleepover” last week — such a simple program that was much loved by the kids that participated so I had to share.

Here is how we advertised this program:

Bring your favorite stuffed animal or doll for a sleepover at the library. After a lively evening of stories, music and poems at Family Story Time, tuck the animals in and say goodnight. Come back the next day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to pick them up and find out what mischief they got into during the night. This 45-minute program is geared to children ages 2-6 years

After the library closed, the real fun began when the animals roamed the third floor and found lots to do. Enjoy this adorable photo set of our mischievous stuffed friends romping through the library after dark!

Each child got photos of their stuffed animal to bring home as a souvenir. Hope other libraries will try this program and then post photos to share.

This is my favorite photo from the set:

Pokemon has fun on the photocopier

August 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm 16 comments

Congratulations to Peter Bromberg!

by Janie Hermann

I am thrilled to be the one to break the news that Peter Bromberg will be joining the executive team at Princeton Public Library starting August 2nd, 2010. A press release has just been sent and it is official. The entire staff at PPL is thrilled to have Peter coming on board and we look forward to seeing what new services and ideas we can implement with Pete on board!

Below is the official press release that was just distributed to media outlets:

MEDIA RELEASE

Princeton Public Library
Sands Library Building
65 Witherspoon St.
Princeton, NJ 08542
609.924.9529
princetonlibrary.org

May 14, 2010

CONTACTS:
Leslie Burger, Executive Director
609.924,8822, ext. 253

Tim Quinn, Public Information Director
609.924.8822, ext. 258

PRINCETON PUBLIC LIBRARY NAMES PETER BROMBERG ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Princeton Public Library in New Jersey has announced the appointment of Peter Bromberg to the position of assistant director beginning Aug. 2, 2010. Named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2008, Bromberg is assistant director of the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative.

During the past decade, Bromberg has worked with hundreds of libraries to enrich the customer experience, implement cutting-edge technologies and social media, and develop transformative services such as Trading Spaces, Books by Mail, Teen Spaces, Qand ANJ.org and downloadable audio books. He has also led many continuing education and staff development programs.

Prior to joining the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, Bromberg was the head of reference services at the Camden County Library in New Jersey. He has also held positions at Environmental Protection Agency Region II Library in New York, the Spokane District Library in Spokane, WA, where he worked as a reference and teen services librarian, and the Nordstrom department store, where he became passionate about customer service. He writes for several blogs, including Library Garden and ALALearning, and has written several articles for library publications. He speaks frequently about topics related to leadership, change, collaboration, and other library-related topics.

“We’re delighted that Pete will be joining us as we begin our second century of providing service to Princeton,” said Leslie Burger, the library’s executive director. “Pete’s expertise in managing change and his extensive knowledge of library services and technology will be invaluable assets to our community going forward.”

“The Princeton Public Library has long been a model of excellent and creative library service for the whole state,” Bromberg said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Leslie Burger and the talented staff of PPL, and look forward to joining the library team and providing service to the Princeton community.”

Bromberg received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in library science from Rutgers University. He lives in Haddonfield with his wife, Suzanne.

Princeton Public Library is in the Sands Library Building at 65 Witherspoon St. in Princeton Borough, NJ. For more information about library programs and services, call (609) 924-9529 or visit http://www.princetonlibrary.org.

May 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm 37 comments

I Love a Good List!

I love reading and exploring a good list almost as much as I enjoy making a list and one of my favorite annual lists has just been released: Best Free Reference Web Sites 2009

I have just spent a very fun hour or so perusing the picks for this year and am pleased to see some of my standard favorites listed and also to discover a few new good finds for future use.

Some new discoveries I am sure to find use for are Business & Human Rights Resource Centre as well as Local Harvest and LocalHikes.

Some of my favorites that I am happy to see included this year are ePodunk and Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

This annual list has been published for 11 years by the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association — say that five times fast!  Visit this link to access the combined index of the selections from the last five years of this valuable project.

submitted by: Janie L. Hermann

September 30, 2009 at 10:59 am 1 comment

What I Learned One Weekend — thanks to Twitter!


More and more often it seems that Twitter is becoming my de facto “source of all good bits“. Having all but abandoned my bloated RSS reader a few months ago, I find now that Twitter is filling that desire to keep up with what is going on in the world of libraries, technology and beyond.

I know that many still question the validity of Twitter and others have written it off as simply a place where people share what they had for breakfast. I, however, find it a place where I can get quick links to topics that interest me and keep me current. More than 90% of those I follow are librarians or techies and I purposely keep my following list to a limited number so that noise ratio is never too high for a quick scan to cherry pick the good stuff from the stream. When I have time, I join in on the conversation and that is fulfilling too.

This past weekend I spent quite a bit of time inside due taking care of a sick child. I decided to do a little experiment and make a list of all the really cool and/or educational bits that I encountered over the weekend from Twitter.

Here is a baker’s dozen list of the top links from Saturday and Sunday — provided with minimal commentary, in no particular order:

How I Find the Very Best of the Web : Very useful tips for keeping current, several of which I plan to put in to practice!

Twitter for Libraries
: As someone who has given similar workshops and who also maintains the Twitter account for MPOW, I found this list to extremely valuable.

Why Teresa is so proud to be a Romance Writer
: I am not a genre reader in general and romance fiction is not something that I have ever read at all. This thoughtful article brough a tear to my eye and made me appreciate the value of this often maligned genre. In fact, I think I might try reading a romance or two thanks to this article.

Who is Copying and Pasting Your CC Content? Discover More with Tynt’s Tracer Tool
: The title says it all in this case.

Getting Boys to Read
: I actually read about a dozen articles from this site over the weekend. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as my 5 year old son begins his reading journey. So far he is loving reading and doing well, I just want to make sure we stay on track and the articles on site will do just that.

Teen Podcast: Episode 7
: I am loving the new video format of these podcasts from Justin the Librarian at Cape May County Library. The three questions format works well too and the 5 minute length is perfect. Well done!

Want! The Orb, a bluetooth headset that turns into a ring
: I love gadgets and jewelry. Nuff said.

The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years: Interesting reading for the gadget lover — and brought back lots of nostaglic memories of gadgets gone by.

Talking Points on Library Use
: This was not something new to me having used it in the past, but it did remind of several good statistics that can be used when talking about the importance of public libraries (especially crucial at this juncture for many libraries and many states).

100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About
: The world of technology continues to change at a rapid pace and this article from Wired drives that point home. I really do believe that it will not be long until most children will not even know how to use a road map or atlas and/or use a print encyclopedia given the current usage that these two items get in our reference collection.

Giving up my iPod for a Walkman : A teen boy experiments with using a first generation Walkman. I had a device just like the one he is pictured carrying (which means I am revealing just how old I really am…yikes).

Screenjelly : I have experimented with ScreenToaster as a free online service for screencasting, now it looks like the toast will be getting competition from some jelly. I plan to test this out soon.

Amazon, Zappos and Libraries
: In this brief blog post the point is eloquently made that for libraries … ” the future isn’t in content, really…it’s in service.” I could not agree more.

Basically, this is just a random sampling of what types of things I discover and learn on Twitter on any given day. I would love it if others shared a “good bit” or even two that they discovered recently thanks to Twitter (or FriendFeed or Facebook or any other social networking site).

I would like to thank those that I follow for providing me with such good links and food for thought on a daily basis. My learning is enriched every day by my “tweeps” — feel free to give a shout-out in the comments and lay claim to the link from your orginal tweet if I posted it above.

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July 29, 2009 at 11:11 am 4 comments

Run Brett, Run

This is awesome on so many levels that I just had to share:

I found out about this video from Sophie Brookover via Facebook. Sophie reports that she is planning to run the race — and perhaps even throw the race all for the cause.

I love it when a clever fundraising idea is promoted so brilliantly and I hope that this will be a huge success for Brett Bonfield and the teens who need a space to hang out at the Collingswood Library.

Click here for more info on the 5K Race and Collingswood Book Festival.

July 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm 8 comments

Blogger’s Block

For the last few months I have been suffering from a writer’s block of sorts that has made it impossible for me to write a blog post of any length or substance. I have done other writing, just no blogging so it is a true blogger’s block. This has never happened to me before and I have spent the last few weeks honestly trying to figure out the cause is behind this blockage.

It is not a lack of ideas. I have lots of ideas for posts, they come to me at odd moments and usually when I am nowhere near a computer (or even a piece of paper and pen to jot down a quick outline). Lately, however, when I finally sit down to write a post one of three things seems to happen:

1. I start writing and suddenly I feel as if it has already been said before. What seemed like a brilliant blog post when I thought of it, now feels like it is just rehashing the same conversations that we have been having on libraryland blogs for the last few years. Is it possible that we have blogged to death the whole Library 2.0 movement? I am pretty sure we have. If we have, what is the next big discussion topic on the horizon?

2. I start writing on a timely topic but I don’t have time to finish and by the time I go back to polish it off it is no longer relevant or timely. My responsibilities at MPOW have increased greatly since I was promoted to Programming Coordinator, my son is older and involved in activities that require me to be the chauffeur, our older home is undergoing some renovations, and I have begun doing a lot more speaking engagements once more . All of these factors leave me with no time for sustained thinking or writing. I used to blog late at night, but lately my brain is exhausted by that point and when I do write it is mostly gibberish (trust me on this).

3. I start writing and feel like I am writing too much about MPOW and all the awesome things we do here. This is not the intended focus of Library Garden — all the bloggers on our team agree that we want it to be a broader conversation about libraries rather than a simple “how I did it good” type of reporting. Not that we haven’t posted occasionally about cool things we are doing at our libraries or places of work, but we want LG to be more than that and I am aware of this. However, I am so focused these days on planning and running programs that I have little left in me at the end of the day to discuss.

So, this brings us to this particular post. This is my “break the blogger’s block” post. It is the post to get me posting again. I can’t stay in this rut of not posting and so I sought advice online on how to break writer’s block. Here are the 3 of the most common pieces of advice I found:

1. Write on a Schedule: This is not likely to happen unless I start getting up at 5:30 am as is my only free unscheduled time at this moment that I could regularly guarantee nothing else happening in my day. I am a morning person, but even that is too early for me.

2. Set Deadlines and Keep Them: I have a lot of deadlines in my life to keep and I am pretty good at meeting deadlines. Blogging is a hobby and a creative outlet and somehow a deadline makes it feel like more pressure on me and I don’t write well under pressure (actually, I evidently don’t write at all as can be seen by my lack of posts lately).

3. Work on more than one project at a time: I am always working on about 10 projects at a time at a minimum. Maybe not writing projects, but I always have too many things to juggle. I actually think working on too many things is my problem. I can not sustain a single train of thought long enough to write a cohesive and coherent post. I get distracted by too many other pressing tasks.

Hmmm… okay, so three common tips down and none are working for me. I worked my way through many more tips such as those above, and none seemed to be the solution. Until I found a good article called How-To Break Writer’s Block on Buzzle that seemed to actually have a few ideas that would work for me! So, this post is courtesy of tips # 7 and #10 from this article:

7. Write when you are tired. Write at the end of the day, when you are so exhausted that your mind isn’t interfering with the flow…

and

10. Lastly, write about having writer’s block. Seriously! Write about why you feel stuck. What is it that seems to be keeping you from writing? Free associate and write about it. When you get down to the reasons why you have writer’s block, you can address them and correct them.

I wrote this post when I was exhausted. I know it is not perfect or the best writing I have ever done, but at least it is a post to get me out of my rut. I have also analyzed the reasons for my blogger’s block and now that I have one post out again I am already excited about another post that I started working on recently. So, with any luck, I will have another post out within 48 hours.

If anyone else has experienced blogger’s block, I would love to hear stories, tips and advice on what you have done to overcome it. If anyone is currently suffering from blogger’s block, try reading the above article to see if it helps you like it did me or else read through this helpful list of resources I consulted to get me back in the blog saddle again:

20 Types of Blog Posts – Battling Bloggers Block

LEO: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

How to Overcome Writer’s Block – 15 Tips

I am looking forward to attending the OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Annual in Chicago this year — and now that I have actually written a post I won’t feel like a fraud for attending. Oh, and if you plant to attend the blog salon, there is a Facebook page so RSVP today!

Creativity Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alun/253596595/

June 28, 2009 at 8:00 am 8 comments

Nancy Promotes Public Libraries

This was just forwarded to me by Leslie Burger, the director at MPOW and a past-president of ALA, with a comment that really says it all: “Check it out – great advertising for libraries”

April 21, 2009 at 9:55 am 3 comments

Pres4Lib2009: Registration now Open!

Looking to hone your presentation skills, become a better speaker, or develop your training/presenting toolkit? If so, you will not want to miss the inaugural Pres4Lib Camp on June 12, 2009 in Princeton, NJ. The camp, hosted by the bloggers of Library Garden and friends, is being sponsored by SJRLC, CJRLC and the Princeton Public Library. The camp is open to anyone who works in libraries or with libraries and librarians.

Pres4Lib2009 is a presentation camp and will be conducted as an unconference. This will be a great opportunity for presenters and trainers (and those interested in presenting and training) in the library community to network and share their tips, technologies, best practices, and experiences.Highlights of the day will include two rounds of lightning talks, three breakout sessions, and a chance to witness Battle Decks in action.

A Pres4Lib2009 wiki (http://pres4lib.pbwiki.com ) has been established to answer questions about the camp, allow for collaboration and suggestions prior to the day and to record the happenings on the actual day.

Registration is limited and the cost is free, except for a nominal $25 charge to cover the cost of food (breakfast, lunch and snacks). The day will culminate with an optional dinner outing to The Triumph Brewing Company, a local favorite in Princeton.

Don’t delay and register today at http://tinyurl.com/pres4lib2009
… and remember, you heard it here first at the Library Garden!

April 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm 2 comments

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