In honor of Einstein’s birthday and Pi day, some life lessons

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Posted by John LeMasney

Yesterday (March 14th) was Pi day in Princeton, a celebration corresponding with Einstein’s birthday, and I saw (a little bit too late, I’m afraid) a suggestion from Janie Hermann to repost a great article which I sent her on “10 amazing life lessons” that one could interpret from Einstein’s quotes.

The article is at http://www.dumblittleman.com/2010/03/10-amazing-lessons-albert-einstein.html and the ideas from that article are listed in this illustration here.

In keeping with my visual posting plans for LG, I used Inkscape to make this image. I started with the famous Lucien Aigner image of Einstein at a chalkboard, and bitmap traced it in grayscale mode with 4 layers, which results in a posterized, if very recognizable image made out of points and lines. I extended the blackboard and using the calligraphy and gradient tools made a smooth transition between what’s in the photo and a gray neutrality. Then, I took the content of the post and laid it out in the right side of the image.

Thanks Albert, for all you brought to our lives. Thanks Lucien for the great image. Thanks to Janie for the suggestion. Thanks to you for taking a moment to remember Einstein with me.

March 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm 6 comments

Missing Mayors and Freeholders in our Libraries

This is less of a post and more of a request for comments.

I’m just curious how many of us have seen their mayors in the library recently?  How many librarians have seen any state/city official in their library over the past year or so?

Is he/she a regular user? 

For that matter, do you think he/she is aware of libraries increase of patrons, circulation and services?

Personally, I’ve generally thought that most city officials do not use their libraries ( I would love to be wrong about this).

A few years back, when I worked in Trenton and we were experiencing the first wave of a budget crunch, employees joked that they had not seen their Mayor at the library in years.  While we felt he talked about libraries in a positive light we were not sure if he actually knew what problems and condition his city’s libraries were in.

That said, I am happy to say that I now work in a library where we do see our Mayor.  In fact, we see several of the administration and township employees on a regular basis.  They are enthusiastic, supportive users and it clearly shows.

I would love to hear how other people view their elected officials and they feel their library is supported.  Remember, you can always comment anonymously 😉

Posted by Tyler Rousseau

March 12, 2010 at 9:56 am 9 comments

A Ph.D. in Library Science?

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?

March 4, 2010 at 11:21 am 5 comments

Reference Renaissance Twofer — New Book & CFP for 2010 Conference

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!

March 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm 1 comment

A quote by Alfred Mercier

Mercier on Learning

Mercier on Learning

Author:  John LeMasney. As a supporter and fan of libraries and librarians, I find it a privilege and honor to be able to post on Library Garden. I also sometimes find it just the slightest bit intimidating. I’m always just a little bit reluctant to post something that I think might be too far outside of the librarian’s perspective. At the same time, I’ve been  working closely with libraries in New Jersey and elsewhere for the last 3 or 4 years as a presenter, trainer  and consultant, and I love the topics that I’ve been able to put into my personal Venn diagram with Libland.

Topics such as technology, design, blogging, open source, outreach, and learning all have been focus points for my work with libraries, but my favorite by far has been design. As a result, for the posts I’ve created here at LG, I’ve made them about design. In order to increase and maintain my posting numbers here, I’ve decided that I’m going to not only write about design, but to actually do relevant designs for this blog. As inspiration, I’ve discovered many pages of quotes about libraries, learning, media, and librarians that I thought would be the perfect muse for illustration.

This is the first of what I hope will be well received posts in this vein. Mercier’s quote here about indelibly learning that which is pleasurable rings very true in my experience, and I thought you, dear reader, might agree, so I’m sharing the thought with you.

This was made in the open source illustration package called Inkscape. I typed out the quote in several single word blocks in order to have the most flexibility with their placement and manipulation. I kerned each word very tightly, as to add some speed to the reading. The font, one of my all time favorites, is Gill Sans. I added several rectangles overlapping in the background, in various woodland hues and tints, and then converted them to paths, so that I could add curves to them. Finally, I added translucent gradients to each of the blocks to create a misty effect.

You might wonder (or at least that’s my nagging suspicion) how this relates, exactly, to libraries. I’d say that if you do design in your work of attracting patrons to programs, and maintaining posters or fliers, that it very directly relates to you. I’d go further to say that if you’re using Word or Publisher to do that work, you’d have a rather difficult time of doing this particular design there, despite the fairly simple design. Even if you don’t recognize doing (or feel that you) design directly in your work, I’d argue that everyone who faces a blank page on a screen makes design decisions. That’s probably you.

Part of the message I’m trying to send is that some of the best tools in life are free (as in cost, and in freedom) and that with just a few key skills, you can greatly improve your designs. Another part is that what we learn with pleasure, we never forget.  Another part is that I firmly believe that design can change your life, bring you pleasure, and alter how you see the world forever.

February 27, 2010 at 9:00 am 2 comments

The Training Not Given…

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.

February 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm 9 comments

Name Change from Media Specialist to School Librarian- moving forward?

by April Bunn, Media Specialist, Teacher-Librarian, School Librarian

NAME CHANGE ALERT!

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL)  decided to change our job title. We’re going to be called School Librarians… again.

The board of directors voted for the change at  January’s  midwinter meeting in Boston. The response has been heated.

Response to the news:

What’s in a Name?, LearnCentralWebinar

Nancy White’s Calling All School Librarians!

Cathy Nelson’s Techno Tuesday

School Library Journal

Many feel this name change represents a loss in a long-standing battle with our image . University of Washington I School professor and school library advocate  Mike Eisenberg responds, “To me, it’s retro – conjuring black and white images of stereotypical 1950s librarians.”

My first response is one of fear.  Taking the words ” media specialist” out of my title will just give the powers that be (Board of Ed. or the state) more juice to eliminate my job. Public and academic libraries have held on to the traditional title without change through the years, so what’s the difference? In schools, we’re in a crises of unknown identity- Administration still doesn’t know exactly what we do.

“Branding” the Name and the Space

In New Jersey we are School Library Media Specialists- at least that’s what’s listed on our teaching certificates- but not necessarily the name listed in our outdated job descriptions and contracts. In other places the most common title is Teacher-Librarian. In a power-house packed webinar, called What’s in a Name?Mike Eisenberg encouraged us to find a consistent “brand” in what we do. Our librarians, our spaces, and our local and national organizations all have different names (i.e., Media Center, School Library, Information Center).  In the Garden State, we were ahead of ourselves when the Educational Media Association became the New Jersey Association of School Librarians in 2006, to match the national organization of AASL, and help people understand who we are. Maybe we just didn’t see that this change was always in our future?

Do we need the word “Teacher”?

As an elementary teacher, I would prefer to have “teacher” (Teacher-Librarian) in the title, but either way, it’s a “kinder and gentler” name for what I do- Media Specialist was always a foreign concept to young children.  It also coordinates much better with my colleagues in public and academic libraries.

What do we do?

The problem continues to be that the public doesn’t understand all that we do in a 21st Century learning environment. As a single-operator school librarian,  I wear every hat, from traditional storytelling and book searches to Web 2.0 infused lessons,  and I work every day to keep my program afloat and dynamic.

In an effort to include advocacy in this post, I looked for a good job description for our position. I like this one, by Sara Kelly Johns, President of AASL (and currently running for ALA President), describing our essential (and varied) role in the school-

Media Specialists:

  • work with educators to design and teach curriculum
  • create curriculum and promote an engaging learning experience tailored to the individual needs of students
  • evaluate and “produce” information through the active use of a broad range of tools, resources, and information technologies
  • provide access to materials in all formats, including up-to-date, high-quality, varied literature to develop and strengthen the love of reading
  • provide students, educators, and staff with instructional materials that reflect current information needs.

Budget Cuts  & Lost Jobs

If the state and school boards really understood what we do, they wouldn’t approve massive job eliminations during budget cuts, like the local situation in Woodbridge, where they eliminated all the elementary school librarians, serving 16 schools,  in a massive budget cut this year (by the way, in that article, they called them “librarians”).

If there is a person in the position of school librarian who is indispensible, making an impact (and showing it!) on student achievement, creating a culture of collaboration, and being a leader in the integration of 21st century skills – whether that person is called a school librarian, library media specialist, or teacher-librarian – they will survive this and any future budget crisis.

– Nancy White, on CASL’s blog

Advocacy tools:

I love my job, no matter what the name or the place is called. I pledge to continue to work as hard as I can to keep my board and community aware of what I am doing as Media Specialist, Librarian, or Teacher-Librarian in our Media Center, School Library, or Information Center.

School Libraries Work!-outstanding resource,  including research statistics on the impact of school libraries on student achievement.

NJASL Advocacy Wiki– great resource, including procedures and contacts divided into areas of concern

I hope we can save ourselves before it’s too late, and stop this nonsense of cutting positions that are essential in the 21st Century.

February 20, 2010 at 8:09 am

Ten TED Things to Think About

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.

February 12, 2010 at 11:10 am 3 comments

Using Inkscape to make a text based portrait

Hi, all. I got an email recently from an attendee of my GIMP and Inkscape workshop (which I’ve had the pleasure to give on behalf of a few of New Jersey’s finest Library Consortiums). This attendee  asked how I had performed a particular effect in Inkscape during the workshop in which I use a bit of text as a brush in order to render a portrait. An example follows:

text based portrait

Text based portrait

Instead of writing out the answer in text (I myself am a visio-audio/experiential learner, and tend towards those kinds of solutions), I decided to use the question as a starting point for an entry in a daily project I’ve been working on at http://365sketches.wordpress.com, in which I’m trying to make a quick sketch a day in 2010 using free software to demonstrate the power of those tools.

You may want to check it out from time to time (or subscribe to the feed, if you’re into that kind of thing) to get ideas for how you can use free software like Inkscape to create interesting designs for your library’s fliers, posters, and other advertising materials and platforms.

If you’ve seen me talk on the topic of Best Practices in Design, you also know that I feel strongly that design, and tools like Inkscape, can change your life, your attitude, and your view of the world.

At any rate, I made the following screencast to demonstrate how I make images like the one above. Enjoy, and if you have questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Author: John LeMasney

February 4, 2010 at 10:15 am 4 comments

How to ignite your passion

How to ignite your passion

By Peter Bromberg

Do you want to ignite more passion in one or more areas of your life?  The always insightful Kevin Eikenberry offers six passion-igniting suggestions, in his latest post, Unlocking the Passion Paradox.

If you’re in a situation where you’re feeling less than passionate, try these strategies…
Flame

  1. Look for good
  2. Look to serve
  3. Look at the big picture
  4. Look at your attitude
  5. Look in other parts of your life
  6. Look at your choices

Eikenberry fleshes this out a bit and I highly recommend reading his short, excellent post.  I just spent a few minutes applying each of these six suggestions to a collaborative project that I’m involved in that has been starting to drain, rather than ignite, my passion, and let me tell you–it worked!

  1. Look for good: This project will have a direct and positive affect on hundreds of people.  It will actually make a difference in people’s lives in the short term and the long term. YAY!
  2. Look to serveThis project is not about me, it’s bigger than that.  It’s a great honor and privilege that I was given the opportunity –invited, even– to share my time and energy on this project with some truly talented people.
  3. Look at the big picture: Although some things aren’t going in the direction I’d like, as fast as I’d like, the overall impact remains large, and there are still unexplored paths of influence.
  4. Look at your attitude: My attitude was getting whiny and victimy.   Yuck!  Now I’m reframing and looking at this as a creative leadership challenge: What are my choices?  What actions can I engage in that will make it more likely rather than less likely that my desired outcome will emerge?
  5. Look in other parts of your life: Friends, family, health, food in the fridge, a roof over the head.  Books to read, a guitar to play, and a tennis racquet to swing. Check!
  6. Look at your choices: Honestly, I jumped right to looking at my choices when I was looking at my attitude.  But it probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up a pen and actually list out some strategic choices and begin narrowing them down to 3-5 actions that I could do and one or two that I will do.

Ready to re-engage!  I’d be interested in hearing from any readers who have suggestions:  What do you do to reignite your passion when the blahs come to town?

Image by Flickr user jasondirks.  Some rights reserved. CC 2.0

December 8, 2009 at 7:53 am 5 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts


Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed on this blog are those of the authors and are not intended to reflect the views of our employers.

A Note on the history of posts

Please note that all Library Garden posts dated earlier than September 13,2009 originally appeared on our Blogger site. These posts have been imported to this site as a convenience when searching the entire site for content.

If you are interested in seeing the original post, with formatting and comments in tact, please bring up the original post at our old Blogger site.

Thanks for reading Library Garden!

wordpress
visitors