From Both Sides Now Mentoring the next generation of librarians

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For most librarians, their first year working in a library is the biggest learning experience of their career. I remember coming into my first library job so clueless about, well, everything and feeling a year later like a completely different person: a professional. But that time in between was filled with cringeworthy mistakes and a whole lot of anxiety.

At the same time, I felt like I had unlimited stores of passion, energy, and ideas that year. My colleagues took me seriously even though I was green, and some of those rookie ideas became services the library still offers, like chat reference. I frequently hear about new-to-the-profession librarians who are treated by their colleagues as if they need to “pay their dues” before they
and their ideas can be given consideration. I can’t imagine how quickly my passion for my work would have waned had my ideas been met with cynicism and dismissiveness.

This attitude is not only harmful to a new librarian’s morale, it also prevents the library from taking advantage of an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on what it does. There is a golden period when someone new to the library can see everything that might be strange, confusing, or problematic. In time, we all become accustomed to our surroundings, and those problems become the barely visible flotsam and jetsam of our everyday work. We should make the most of that magical newcomer vision. I always make a point of asking new colleagues to keep track of problems they see because those fresh insights can push us out of our comfort zones and create positive change for our patrons. We want to encourage these audacious ideas, even if they’re not all feasible. Read more…

 

Top Five Skills Required For Librarians Today & Tomorrow

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Because today’s librarians must be experts in dealing with both physical and digital information, we have identified the Top 5 skills every librarian must have, or develop, in order to succeed now and into the future. I will touch on all five today and explore them individually in the weeks to come.

1. Information Curation

Since the primary role of any type of library is information curation, the need for that skill set will never go away. However it will evolve as volume and variety of information expands. As content creation becomes available to all, information curation becomes a more critical skill. Librarians are becoming increasingly vital in the process of evaluating and editing what is most valuable, as well as categorizing and classifying it for easy retrieval and use.

2. In-Depth, High Value Research

The digital information environment operates mostly on a ‘Find It Yourself’ paradigm, a model that has threatened the very existence of librarians. Yet finding what they need and want can be a significant challenge for consumers and users of information. Most people lack good research skills and all of us are dealing with a velocity and volume of information that is difficult to manage. As the proverbial haystack gets bigger, finding the needle gets tougher, making librarians a valuable go-to resource. Read more…

Three Questions to Ask and Answer Every Day | Leading from the Library

Steven BellFinding fulfillment in the workplace is no easy task. Leaders and library workers should routinely ask three questions to create the library environment they and their colleagues will want to come to every day.

Libraries should be great places to work. We provide our communities with essential services that help them maximize their potential as learners, workers, parents, citizens, and whatever else they desire. The library is the place where great discoveries and life-changing revelations can happen every day. Most libraries offer respectable working conditions. So why do library workers and their leaders, often pointing fingers at each other, ask why their workplace is so toxic? Our libraries should be amazing places to work. It demoralizes staff and leaders alike when there is discontent and dysfunction. Whether it’s bullying, annoying coworkers, or feeling ignored or unappreciated, library workers can become cynical, disillusioned, and angry about their work environment. Like a nasty virus, the toxicity spreads and envelops the organization. Leaders at every level in the library must make it their responsibility to create the climate that supports a workplace where we all want to be.

THREE QUESTIONS TO ASK

Library workers at all levels in the organization know it’s a challenge to create the right environment where everyone is working as one in achieving a clearly articulated vision. It’s up to library leaders to share that vision in a compelling way. What can the rest of us do to contribute to the culture and working environment that enables us to create the library where we all want to work? I’m going to answer that question by sharing three questions that every library worker should ask of themselves each day:

  • Am I thinking like an owner?
  • What did I do to make our director or dean look good?
  • How did I make a difference for our community?

Here is why I think all three can help us unite as a staff to develop a truly engaging library work culture.  Read more…

What Libraries Can (Still) Do James Gleick

Deutsches Historiches Museum/Arne Psille/Art Resource Heinrich Lukas Arnold: The Reading Room, circa 1840

Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analog to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as that bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments. Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object. After all, when you want the text of Magna Carta, you don’t track down the original. Same with books? “Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journalconference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.”

So is the library, storehouse and lender of books, as anachronistic as the record store, the telephone booth, and the Playboy centerfold? Perversely, the most popular service at some libraries has become free Internet access. People wait in line for terminals that will let them play solitaire and Minecraft, and librarians provide coffee. Other patrons stay in their cars outside just to use the Wi-Fi. No one can be happy with a situation that reduces the library to a Starbucks wannabe.

Perhaps worst of all: the “bookless library” is now a thing. You can look it up in Wikipedia.

Read more:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/oct/26/what-libraries-can-still-do-bibliotech/

Librarians as Agents of Transformation by R. David Lankes

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“Librarians as Agents of Transformation” Informatie aan Zee 2015. Oostende, Belgium.

Abstract: What can be learned from the U.S. librarians’ response to the economic crisis, and the importance of hope and optimism in librarianship.

Slides: http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/Presentations/2015/Belgium.pdf

Audio: http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/pod/2015/Belgium.mp3

Major Points: Major points