Librarian


Keystone CollegeI am so happy to announce that I’ve been named the Evening Technical and Public Services Librarian at Miller Library at Keystone College.  I will be responsible for assisting students, faculty, staff and other library patrons with research, overseeing the library’s computers, printers and other electronic equipment as well as developing the library’s presence on the web.  And I couldn’t possibly be any more excited at the possibilities.  I look forward to working with the Keystone students, faculty and staff.

I had my interview on Friday, 10 September and I have to say, it was one of the most pleasant interview experiences I’ve ever had.  Honestly, HR peeps, if you’re paying attention, this group knows how to handle an interview (and I’m not just saying that because they hired me).  Here are a few things that I enjoyed about the interview process:

  • Everyone was friendly ~ it’s a hiring committee, not a death panel, everyone smiled when I entered the room and they exuded warmth
  • They created a relaxed environment ~ going on an interview is nerve wracking enough, the hiring committee talked to me and each other before the “official” questioning began
  • They took the time to “know” me before the interview ~ on my resume, I indicated that I blog here and at Living Outside the Stacks, and the panelists asked questions about my blogs (it shows that you’re interested in me as a person and not just as a spot filler)
  • I received immediate feedback ~ I heard back from them the hiring committee the following week.  That’s important.  People’s lives are on hold when they’re waiting to find out about a job, get back to the candidate and let them know one way or the other what the committee has decided.

The Miller Library was built in 1968 and was named in honor of the former Keystone President Dr. Harry K. Miller, Jr.

Fox Chicago News recently asked “Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?”  Really?  The article by Anna Davlantes goes on to talk about how libraries “eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars” and as proof of the irrelevancy of libraries, an undercover camera crew recorded library visitors for an hour.  During that hour, they recorded 300 visitors with most of them using the free internet.  Hmmm…

This is your proof that libraries are irrelevant?  Three hundred visitors with “most” of them using the free internet?  Did you ask them why they were using internet access at the library instead of in their homes?  Could it be that they can’t afford internet access?  In case you haven’t noticed, the economy has tanked and internet access is a luxury that some people truly cannot afford.  Did you ask the computer users what types of sites they were accessing?  How many of them were applying for jobs?  Many jobs now require that you apply online.  Were some of them looking for continuing education opportunities?  And so what if they were just spending an hour or so surfing the web?  Escapism helps people cope, no matter what form that escapism may take.

Libraries are more than book repositories, they are gateways to information and entertainment.  Just ask any librarian what he or she does all day and you’ll find that more often than not we’re not just pointing out the latest best sellers.  We’re helping people put together resumes, we’re showing them how to care for loved ones, we’re introducing children to books and creating lifelong learners through story time and we’re demonstrating the latest in technology.  And, yes, we’re helping people find books.

Rather than trying to point out how libraries “eat up tax dollars,” how about taking the time to get to know your local librarian and see how their services help those in need?

Monkey in the Stacks

Monkey in the Stacks

Every now and then I like to take a look at the search terms that people used to find my blog and some of them are pretty funny and some of them are scary (ok, I really don’t know why but whenever I see my actual name in the search I get paranoid….are the black helicopters going to start circling the house?).  Anyway, I’ve noticed that recently people have found my blog by typing in “dancing monkey.”  That, to me, is hilarious.  Especially since I have madcrazyinsane love for monkeys.  So to all of you who find me via the monkeys, much love!  And thanks for the chuckle.

 

Celebrate Banned Books Week
27 September – 4 October 2008 

For more information:

American Library Association

Amnesty International

Freedom to Read Foundation

ilovelibraries.org

Thanks to Friendfeed, I found out about WarMaiden‘s new meme in which she dares librarians to write an unofficial biography of themselves that they’d like to send out but can’t due to political correctness, the desire to obtain employment or, as in my case, the sincere belief that people really can’t handle the awesomeness that is me. 

Anyway, I decided to play along with all of my other Twitter and Friendfeed friends and come up with my own unofficial biography.

Dani (also known as curiouschild and/or curiouschild34 on the interweb — but not all over, there’s another curious child out there who makes me blush–ok, they’re song lyrics, but still…) is a librarienne extraordinaire with the research skills of a librarian, the preservation skills of an archivist, the organizational skills of a mother and the domestic skills of a Stepford wife.  When not manning the Reference Desk or trying to organize the Archives, I can be seen doling out fashion advice to the many contenders I see vying for positions on What Not to Wear.  Known for my flashy bags (purses, for those of you not in the know), I can be seen strolling around campus in impossibly high heels (nothing like a pair of platform peep toes), while juggling an armload of books…   

My hobbies include people watching, resisting the urge to correct people’s grammar in their email and returning it to them and trying to maintain a healthy distance between the local pastry shop and myself.

This post was inspired by a tweet from Librarian By Day to let people know what librarians do on a daily basis.  There is also a wiki set up with information about other librarians who are participating in this project.  If you want to join, add your name, job title and blog link to the list.  The invitation code is:  library.

Like most librarians, I am a multitasker and often do jobs outside of my “official” job description.  Officially, I am the University Archivist, which means that I maintain the University’s history.  I am also a reference librarian and liaison to the History Department.  So I man the reference desk, answer questions, help students with their research, make sure the History Department’s reference section is up to par, conduct bibliographic instruction and keep the printers printing and the photocopiers photocopying.  Lastly, I am also an instructor for the History Department.  I teach American History since 1865.

So now to a breakdown of my day:

I arrived at work at 8 o’clock in the morning.  The first thing I did was check the archives email account to see if I have any requests.  If there are any, I reply letting the requestor know that I’ve received the message and I will contact them again once I have the requested information.  Then I go through the rest of the email and save all emails that are relevant to the university, the Sisters of Mercy or the Back Mountain community.  Next I check phone messages for requests and I return phone calls.  For the most part, people usually contact me by email because it saves them from having to rewrite requests and it saves on misunderstandings.  After I finish responding to requests, I check my personal email and reply to those.  Last I check Google Alerts to see if there’s anything about our university in the news.

If I have a request for information, I’ll start research immediately.  If not, I check Bloglines to catch up on what I may have missed at a conference or on another librarian’s or archivist’s website.

Today, I had a research request.  Recently, our county underwent a reassessment of property taxes.  The reassessment has left many folks devastated because, in some cases, their taxes have almost doubled.  So I had request for information about appealing the taxes.  This was not an overly involved search, but I wanted to make sure that I provided links to the appropriate documents and fees as well as information about the appeals process.

Next, I put together information about the difference between primary and secondary sources for a history class.  I’m also in the process of putting together an information sheet on evaluating sources for the same course.  They also requested information about APA — that was pretty easy, I just pointed them to the link on Blackboard.

By now, it’s 12:45 and I’m getting ready to go to lunch.  After lunch, the second part of my job begins:  Reference Librarian.

At the Reference Desk, a couple of students come and ask me questions about finding backdated journals.  One journal is available online, so I show the student how to search Journal Finder to find the journal and then how to access it online.  The second journal is stored with the printed materials, so I show the student where those are kept. 

Another student asks me how to create a PowerPoint presentation.  This is the third request like this that I’ve received, so I’m thinking I’ll put a little something something together and see if I can get Tech Services to post it under the “How To…” guides.

Things slow down now so I start putting together reference material for the history course that I’m teaching.  I’m hoping to introduce information literacy into the course, but I’m not sure how to do it with only 4 weeks left in the class.  Maybe it’s something I can work on now and then implement next time I teach.

It’s nearing the end of the day, so I check all of my various email accounts to see if there’s anything I need to respond to before I go home for the day.  There’s nothing, so I log off the computer and say my “good byes.”  It’s 5 PM.

Now to my other job:  wife and mother.  A woman’s work is never done.

We are in the process of hiring a new director for our library, so naturally the  conversation amongst my co-workers is focused on what kind of person we need to run our library.  Of course, everyone agrees on the basic things:  no micromanagers, open door policy, easy to talk to, etc.  But on a deeper level, we know that we need someone who is innovative and is willing to move our library and, ultimately, the campus out of its technological comfort zone.  We need someone who is willing to try something new and explore new avenues of providing information to our students.

As the conversation about the qualities we are looking for progressed, I began to think very specifically about not only what I want in a director, but what I need in a director.  In theory, we are supposed to be patron focused, but I think we need to be a little staff focused too.  We need to be a bit selfish in thinking about the qualities that we are looking for in a new director.

I come to the library field at a strange place in my career.  For five years I worked in an academic library as an Archivist’s Assistant and Reference Librarian but because I was part-time, I was left out of the loop.  Therefore, I’m not up on the workings of academia and how the wheels turn.  So I’m basically learning by trial and error (and, trust, there has been a lot of error).  Furthermore, I wasn’t as driven to be active in librarianship because it was a part-time job that was helping me to meet the needs of my family.  That’s not to say that I was any less dedicated to the profession than full-time librarians, it just means that my focus was on raising my children and not being a mover and shaker.  Therefore, I know that I am in need of a lot of mentoring from whoever becomes our director.

With this thought in mind, I have created a wish list of the things I need in a library director:

  • Encourages professional development and lifelong learning.  Working at a small private institution has taught me one thing:  money doesn’t grow on trees.  Not that I didn’t know that before, but I just assumed that money for professional development would be a given, especially in an academic institution.  I was wrong.  So I’ve had to be creative in finding my own opportunities for professional growth.  I want someone who not only encourages this, but can help me and the other staff members find ways to develop professionally without it costing a lot of money.
  • Has a web presence.  I want to be able to google the individual and see that he or she has contributed to the field of librarianship and continues to contribute using new and emerging technologies.  Our library has opportunities for growth technologically and we need someone who is not afraid to get their hands dirty and try new things.  I like technology and I think it can be incredibly useful in providing access to our students and we need someone who understands that libraries are more than brick and mortar.
  • Can advocate not just for the students but for the staff.  Our institution has a lot of people on campus who are looking out for the students but there’s no one really looking out for the library staff.  We need someone who can go to the administration and state what we need and why we need it.   Sometimes libraries get put on the back burner because people really don’t understand that the library is (or should be) the heart of the campus.
  • Has marketing skills.  Other departments have people touting their virtues and letting students, community members and administration know what they have to offer.  We need someone who can go into the community and tell people this is what we have to offer to our students and to you, the members of our community.
  • Understands that their job isn’t done behind closed doors.  I want someone who doesn’t spend all of their time holed up in their office without bothering to connect to the students, staff and faculty.  For example, I am a big admirer of our president because he is one of the few people I have met who has an honest-to-goodness-true-blue open door policy.  His office is in the administration building and when he’s in there, the door is open.  If you have a problem, you can talk to him.  If you want to stick your head in the door and say “hi,”  he knows your name.  That openness contributes to the sense of family and community that we are known for.

So those are some of the things that I am looking for in a new director.  What would be at the top of your list if you were hiring a new director or even a new staff member?

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