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Posted by Emily Knox
Not long ago a participant on a listserv that I am on asked if she should consider getting a Ph.D. in library science. The answers were swift and almost all were negative–the poster should get a Ph.D. in anything but library science. Although it’s hard to believe now, this was something I considered before starting my Ph.D. program. Would I be boxing myself in if I studied library science? Should I get a doctorate in an area that is primarily identified by a professional master’s degree?
I told that poster that she should get a Ph.D. in an area that interests her. Ph.D.s take so much time and commitment that it is difficult to finish if you start one in an area that doesn’t interest you. According to the Council for Graduate Schools, the average completion rate for all Ph.D.s hovers at around 50%.
My area of interest, intellectual freedom and censorship, is a classic field within the library and information science. If this area were part of another discipline, I would be in another department. However, what has been most surprising to me throughout my coursework at Rutgers is how much I love studying libraries. I enjoy thinking about them, researching them, and having arguments with my fellow students about their status in society. Even the information science classes weren’t as bad as I had anticipated since they broadened my understanding of how people interact with data/information/knowledge in the world.
I find it disheartening that other librarians think research in our field is only necessary for teaching other librarians and has nothing to say to the wider academic community. We must encourage research in LIS in order to have a stronger voice in academia and to boost the status of libraries throughout the world. If we don’t believe that a doctorate in LIS is as worthwhile as one in another area, who will?
A post by Marie L. Radford
Nothing thrills a writer/editor more than the joy of finally being able to see a finished book that you have had in the works for many months. I am delighted to announce that Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends is now available from Neal-Schuman! I had the privilege of working with co-editor Dave Lankes of Syracuse University on the book which captures the latest in the work of researchers and practitioners, updated from their presentations at the first (hugely successful!) Reference Renaissance Conference. Dave is the creative, intellectual, and dynamic force behind the ground-breaking Virtual Reference Desk conferences and books which have provided inspiration and models for the Reference Renaissance events and publications.
Anyone interested in the latest buzz should take a look at this book which features current research in reference, including virtual services like IM and live chat, innovative service models, and philosophical approaches. In addition, numerous “reports from the field” chronicle innovative service models, virtual reference successes, marketing, initiatives in staff development and training, and using search engines and other virtual tools.
I have authored a chapter with Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC called: “Getting Better All the Time: Improving Communication and Accuracy in Virtual Reference” that features results and recommendations from our Seeking Synchronicity IMLS, Rutgers, and OCLC, Inc. grant project. Here’s a sneaky – peek from our chapter… The top tip for boosting accuracy when you are providing live chat VR is the following: when asked for specific information, before you push a Web site or URL, check to make sure it contains the precise information requested by the user, not just a general overview of the topic. We found this simple verification step would have increased accuracy from 78% to90% for ready reference questions.
The book also contains the provocative keynote “Reference in the Age of Wikipedia, or Not…” by David W. Lewis, Dean of the IUPUI University Library, as well as the remarks from the plenary panel on “Theory Meets Practice: Educators and Directors Talk” featuring Dave Lankes and myself (the educators) as well as Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries, CO and Carla J. Stoffle Dean of the University of Arizona Libraries (the directors).
To heighten our excitement, this book’s publication comes as we are dead smack in the middle of planning for the second Ref Ren conference: Reference Renaissance 2010: Inventing the Future which will be held from August 8-10, 2010 in Denver, CO. I am again honored to be co-chair of the conference program, this time working with co-chair Rivkah Sass of Sacramento Public Library, and Justine Schaffer of BCR, who is the overall conference chair. The Call for Participation is out and we are upping our game, inviting a greater diversity of submissions in innovative as well as traditional formats. We seek papers, panels, reports from the field, workshops, and Pecha Kucha proposals to do with forward-looking initiatives and strategies in all types of reference service and from a variety of library environments.
April 1st is the deadline, and I encourage all LG readers to think about submitting a proposal and planning to join us in Denver!
A post by Cynthia Lambert
In the past I have blogged about what surprised me when I first came to libraries. Many people commented on the drunken patron—an unexpected customer service challenge if ever there was one. One thing I expected, but three years later still have no idea how to deal with, are the mentally ill or chemically altered patrons. I am not alone.
When I get together socially with librarians both new and seasoned, often the talk of customer service turns into laments about the homeless, the mentally ill, drug addicts, and the unwashed. No one it seems has any idea how to properly help and/or deal with these people. Why is that?
A March, 2009 article in Public Libraries gives a list of 10 tips for dealing with the mentally ill, all of which suggest training. In library school—only one class, a class on communication, even touched on the issue of mentally ill people at the library. Of the four libraries I have worked in, not one gave me training, despite mentally ill, homeless, and drug addicted patrons causing problems—some small, some very significant. In fact, at one, most of the staff simply will not deal with the issue. Rules in place against sleeping or pornography are ignored and management explicitly stated that maybe it is best to just let them sleep unless another patron complains.
The San Francisco Public Library is trying something new to deal with the problem. They have hired a full-time social worker. While I think that is fantastic, the reality is that very few libraries have the money to hire adequate library staff these days, let alone getting into the business of health care. So what is there for the rest of us?
Other than a handful of articles, I have found no indication of a training program in place to help library staff identify and deal with the mentally ill or drug addicted. I am sure there are many programs out there, I simply cannot find them. I found programs for educators, for families, for children, for teens, and for law enforcement, but nothing for libraries and library professionals.
The literature I did find is limited, suggests speaking to experts, and provides a list of ‘tips’. Much of what I do know, I have learned informally on the job or from other librarians. (For example, never yell, speak harshly, or seem upset–simply speak in a calm voice, speak clearly and in short sentences, show respect, enforce the rules).
Librarians love training. We love meetings. How many offers of training on Twitter or Facebook have you seen in the past year? Now think about how many you have received for dealing with drug addicts or the mentally ill? How many hours have you spent in endless meetings discussing the best way to support e-books? Now consider how many hours have been spent on dealing with difficult patrons in a safe and effective manner (and get management does not cut it given there lack of availability at night and on weekends).
So I ask you dear readers—please send me your training programs, your tips, your tricks, and your coping strategies for dealing with the mentally ill or drug addicted. It is my goal to create an online professional directory of services, training, tips, and discussion to assist library professionals in dealing with the most needy and most challenging of patrons.
Posted by Tyler Rousseau
Sorry, I love a good alliteration.
I came across this article on my traditional morning tech-news search and thought it was a pretty decent article. Originally posted at CNN, Richard Galant presents 10 ideas from TED2010 that he feels are worth special note.
Overall, I think he is right on the money with most of these choices, which have a somewhat humanistic tone to them.
-Money can’t buy happiness but it can relieve stress.
-You are what you eat.
-Many children die needless because we choose not to fund programs and distribute the monies poorly.
-People will spend what it takes to believe in a placebo.
-A ukulele is good for any occasion… especially when stopping a war.
I think what I liked about the choices are that they can easily promote discussion and even a little outcry. Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.
by April Bunn
The tables are cleared, the mini-cash registers are closed and balanced, and the wheelable bookcases are packed and closed. The library looks a bit empty after our PTO’s Scholastic Book Fair closed last week.
Don’t get me wrong, I am always relieved to get my circulation desk (also my personal desk) back and unpack when they leave. It is a challenge to move out of the place and teach my lessons on a cart, but overall Scholastic makes it pretty easy to “wow” the kids. They market with a theme, which this year was Destination Book Fair- reading around the world.
You should see it- the students arrive with books circled in the flyer, chomping at the bit to get in the library and spend every cent of the money they’ve brought in envelopes and Ziploc baggies. It’s priceless to see the excitement in their eyes when they walk into the wonderland that the PTO members create with these book fairs twice a year.
Despite the economic conditions, the sales were good. Of course, we quickly sold out of Jeff Kinney’s latest hit, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Also, it was great to have a parent purchase and donate the picture book, Dewey: There’s a cat in the Library! which I had on my wish list.
I didn’t have the experience of my library transforming into a Book Fair growing up- the bookmobile came to our school and impressed us. Can you remember visiting the bookmobile? Do you remember the buzz in the school when it arrived?
At my school, in suburban central New Jersey, we’d line up, a few students at a time, and head into the bookmobile to spend our money on a brand new book (I don’t remember buying the erasers, silly pens and pointers, posters, and all the tchotchkes they widely sell now).
Bookmobiles are back in, apparantly, because in 2010, ALA is celebrating bookmobiles and their 100 years of service on National Bookmobile Day, Wednesday, April 14th, during National Library Week.
Bookmobiles are more commonly used by libraries now, to reach out into the community, but the idea is the same. Drive up, open the doors, and let the excited patrons, young and old, enter the magical kingdom of books.
As librarians, we are lucky to have daily experiences with the joy of connecting people to new books. I feel extra lucky working with children, because they give us such uninhibited delight when they find the “perfect” book. Walking into a special place focused on books, whether it be a library, book store, book fair or bookmobile can be all we need to inspire our reading spirit.
Happy Holidays to all of you for keeping that spirit alive.
by April Bunn
I am working tonight–until 9:00pm.
When I mentioned the time we are closing to many friends, almost all were negative about us staying open so late. Fellow librarians were appalled. I will admit, it could be easy to look at this as a hardship. However, I don’t. I am happy I am working tonight.
The reality is this–there are many people in the library tonight. I know it will get slow as the night progresses, but even then, we will have people here. So far it has been a mix of regulars, visitors wanting to check e-mail, lots of phone calls for directions, phone numbers, and one caller asking for help finding a no-cook pie recipe (www.cooks.com has plenty of choices). .
People have been making copies of documents for safekeeping while they travel. Likewise, plenty of folks are grabbing that last-minute book for their trips. As always, the DVDs are flying off the shelves. My favorite person so far: the woman who is just trying to minimize the time she must spend with her in-laws. I feel her pain–we swapped stories and both laughed. I think I made a difference in her life, if only for a few minutes.
No one has been cranky (even when the copier was evil as it often is…). No one has been mean. In fact, the regulars are not even complaining about the ‘young kids who make noise’ as they normally do. Almost every person says have a nice holiday or something similar.
Right now, most people seem to be busy and rushed–they have places to go. As it gets later, I suspect it will be more people without places to go. This, more than any other reason, is why I am happy we are open and I am working tonight. I have the chance to make someone smile, laugh, or provide them with information they need.
I am thankful that I can be here if they need me. I am thankful that in these economically turbulent times, I have a job. So yes, I would much prefer to be home gearing up for tomorrow and getting ready to watch ‘Glee’, but I can not help but feel very happy tonight. Happy to help. Happy to serve. Happy to listen.
Lately I have questioned the wisdom of my decision to become a librarian. Tonight, I was given a very pleasant reminder that despite the difficulties, it was the right choice. I know many of you will work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. It is hard to do, especially when the rest of the family is home doing something more interesting. To each of you–and all the people who work the holidays, thank-you very much.
One of the most exhilarating things about writing and publishing a book is putting your name into Amazon and seeing the page with your book on it come up on the screen. When I started working as a librarian in 2003, I would have laughed if someone had told me that I would write a book on interlibrary loan. But in 2007 I wrote a short article on running one-person interlibrary loan service for the Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Deliver & Electronic Reserve. Later that year, the publisher at Neal-Schuman contacted me. He was sure that I had more to say on the topic of small ILL departments.
I was less sure, but after a few months delay, I sent in a proposal and finally started on the manuscript in the fall of 2008. Right when I was starting my doctoral program. Writing the manuscript and completing my coursework took quite a bit a bit of juggling. I had to save the most laborious chapters (policy!) for the winter break.
Throughout the writing process I learned more than I ever thought I would know about copyright law, interlibrary loan management systems, user-initiated services, and the correct name of the giant library service in Dublin, OH (OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.). I discovered that interlibrary loan has a long history and that ILL librarians were very excited about MIME, the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension which allows attachments to be added to email. When I finally finished the manuscript, the book ended up covering a wide range of topics including how to establish a paperless ILL office, how to interpret the ILL code for a small department, and tips for writing a policy when you don’t have a committee to help you.
Even though the chapters on ILL policies were the most difficult to write, they also contain some of the most interesting material. I would argue that the suggestions for policy writing might have some utility in other service areas of the library. If you happen to work at a small library, just remember that other staff members might be more willing to pitch in if you volunteer to actually write the policy and they just have to read it and offer suggestions. As Sandra Nelson and June Garcia note in their book on writing policy in public libraries: “Committees do not write, individuals write.” This is excellent advice for all administrators to keep in mind.
In the end, it turned out that the publisher was right about me–I do have a lot to say about running a small interlibrary loan and document delivery service.
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.
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
Are you like me and have a pile of books you’ve gathered this year and haven’t had time to read? Will you get to them all this summer? Maybe you participated in the summer reading program at your Public Library as a child and loved all the incentives, prizes and competition. I was a fixture in Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill each summer. That’s where the pattern of a summer reading plan started. I’m hoping that even just writing about this is the incentive I need to start finishing more books each summer. I’m excited to see that Adult summer reading programs are popping up all over. Library websites and Facebook pages allow the programs a great online presence and wider audience. I may have found the answer to my summer reading dilemma.
For me, summer seems to be the perfect time to catch up on reading- At least in theory. As a school librarian, I have my summers free (well, I’m using that word loosely- Those that don’t have summer jobs like most of us are free, that is) from my full-time work. So, every year, when school gets out in June, I set out with a noble plan to read hundreds of books before Labor Day.
My initial strategy for summer reading-
• Gather reading lists, YA, Adult, and non-fiction.
• Read recommendations on Shelfari, and pages for “grown-up” suggestions, like Katherine Day’s suggestions, found at
• Gather the piles of books I’ve gathered at ALA and BookExpo that I plan to read and then give away as prizes or promotion at school.
Then what happens?
I start my first summer book with high hopes and optimism and often finish it right away, then I get 2 or 3 going, eventually getting distracted by a fourth and next thing I know, I’m sitting on the beach in mid-July with unfinished books in my beach bag, and enough frustration to last until Thanksgiving. Would a summer reading program designed for busy adults help? I think so. Don’t you get more done on a day when you have several things scheduled? Time and project management are essential to my productivity. It sounds rigid, but I end the day much more satisfied when I accomplish more. That’s why I think summer reading program for adults are worth promoting.
When I make my reading plan in June, I never factor in that I’ll be doing outdoor activities every sunny day, traveling as much as my job allows, repairing my house, cleaning my garage, taking care of family, and generally just trying to get enough energy back to start another school year in September. Sometimes I need the freedom from so much “input/output” that goes on during the year that reading another “heavy” book in the summer might not be what the doctor ordered. When did my reading excuses become so “adult”? Gerie Madak posted this quote in reference to Bridgewater’s Adult Summer Reading Program, “Too often adults deny themselves the pleasures of reading for fun. They’re so busy taking care of everyone else that they begin to regard reading as a self-indulgent pastime they don’t have time for because of chores, appointments, and deadlines.” I’d like to find the happy medium between the guilt of not reading and the gluttonous satisfaction of reading more books than someone else. These programs aren’t designed to be competitive, they’re more like open book clubs for the summer months.
So, in creating this post for LG in early July, I’ve decided to stop being so hard on myself and celebrate each book I do finish OR start! I’ll do more walking, yoga, and reading for pleasure. Unlike my students, I don’t HAVE to read a certain number of books to complete a summer reading project. Unlike the summer reading program I promote in school, I won’t win a prize for reading 100 hours at my public library (that’s changed in many places and I honestly did not know that until I started researching for this post). Since I began writing this, I’ve learned about some great adult summer reading programs. Like a book club, I think it’s great to have deadlines and discussion when you’re reading. The prizes are cool, too, don’t get me wrong- like restaurant and movie gift certificates, and of course, books!
My Summer Reading Tips
- Make a “wish list” of books you’d really like to read, or mark up Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust with all your must-reads, like a book bucket list
- Read a book about a hobby, new or otherwise
- Hang out at the library with your kids or friends — you’ll be inspired
- Join a successful Summer Reading program for adults, like the one in Seattle (Their summer reading Facebook page:
) or Burlington County (
Happy summer- Happy Reading!
I’d love to know more about dynamic summer reading programs for adults, and if you have your own plan that you’d like to share.