Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Book Love

When going through my mother's old things on the weekend, came across an old book of wise sayings and quotations (published 1923). Book fell open at this quotation:

Book love, my friends, is your pass to the greatest, the purest, and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for his creatures. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will support you when all other recreations are gone. It will make your hours pleasant as long as you live. - Anthony Trollope.

Ah, the good old days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In praise of library assistants

This week is a big one at the main branch - we had the "Sillies" (Silly story time) today; it's the Babies tomorrow (Lap club for under 12 months) and then the Armchair Traveller for adults tomorrow night (we're off to the Galapogos Islands with a community member who has just visited there.) And all of this conceived and achieved not by the professionals in our library service (numbering a grand total of 2 I should point out), but by our wonderful library assistants. My role is simply to offer encouragement, and an environment where the innate and very considerable abilities of the non-professional staff can flourish. I recall an episode of Dilbert when he leaves his dysfunctional company and joins a utopian firm. He meets the "Vice President in Charge of Immediately Implementing Good Ideas" - that's the position (sub)title I aspire to.

It is a matter of some pride also that all of the library assistants in the main branches now have some form of paraprofessional qualification or are working towards one - even our casual staff (who we like to call "support staff" as a more accurate reflection of their value to the library) all have Certificate level qualifications. And they are also actively involved in planning and participating in the library's activities.

I remember some years ago (all of the people involved have moved on so I think it is safe to blog this) the State Library was conducting a review of our library service, when I was the only Librarian employed. They were impressed by our complete lack of a cataloguing backlog (it's simple really - we don't have room for one so therefore there isn't one). One of the librarians conducting the review expressed admiration for my skills as a cataloguer , to achieve all of my other functions AND do all of the cataloguing. "Oh God, I don't do the cataloguing!" I blurted out. Guess who got a bad report for allowing non-professionals to do professional work. Luckily attitudes have changed a lot since then.

Nurturing the relationship between library assistants/paraprofessionals and librarians would have to be one of the most important elements in the success of a public library service, and yet I don't recall seeing any academic papers about it.

Library assistants in public libraries everywhere, you are wonderful.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The simple pleasures

While working this Saturday, I had time to reflect on the things I really enjoy in public library work. Saturdays are the days I generally avoid "managerial" work (the rest of the Council are off for the weekend so there's no urgency to do that stuff anyway - it can wait til Monday) and I can just enjoy working on the circ desk doing the mundane things like talking to customers and helping them find stuff. In the afternoon when it's not busy I indulge in tackling the tricky requests put on my "spike" - the ones that the other staff haven't been able to find or the ones that need decisions about purchase or ILL. Some of these are great for exercising my skills of detection, (like, the new Matthew Reilly book "Schofield" - I've never read Matthew Reilly but a quick search of the Internet reveals that this is a character in three of his books, which, of course, we have.) I wonder if the staff at the book suppliers are impressed that I manage to send in an order for 20 or so reader requests on a Saturday afternoon? Probably not as the whole process is automated. Then maybe produce a new flyer for our upcoming Library and Information Week activity - free subscription database training for the public - and rearrange the posters in the foyer to make room to display them. All round a nice relaxing day. Back to the bureaucratic part of my job on Monday - rosters, budgets, reports. But I relish the simple pleasures of being a "real" public librarian on Saturdays.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Rambling Librarian :: Incidental Thoughts of a Singapore Liblogarian: April 2005

Rambling Librarian :: Incidental Thoughts of a Singapore Liblogarian: April 2005: " 'Libraries have a strong association with storytelling and folktales, or more precisely, the communication of ideas and thoughts through words, sounds, and pictures.'"

That's a neat rationalization for hosting an adult storytelling group at the library.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Surfing the blogs/Youth Library Names?

Since discovering blogs exactly 2 days ago, I have spent many hours surfing blogs looking for like-minded librarian blogs, and have not been disappointed. Particularly like "Rambling Librarian" from Singapore. He really seems to share my philosophy of the public library's role of connecting people to people and people to ideas. I'm sure there are many more in the blogosphere. I have found a couple of youth/YA/teen librarian blogs I'll be keeping an eye on as our library is about to embark on a stand alone, main street Youth Library. (Our main challenge at the moment is nailing a name - as the facility is a collaboration between the Council's Youth Services and Library Services we have agreed not to use the word "library" in the title as it is thought this might turn some young people off. However, to young people who know and love libraries, they will obviously see that it is indeed a library, albeit very different from the main library. The name is critical to our branding and interior decoration.We are canvassing young people for a suitable name so have high hopes of something soon.)
Will keep surfing the blogs til I get the hang of them...figuring out how to post comments, atract readers and link to blogs I like...

Friday, May 06, 2005

in the teen zone

in the teen zone This is the site of the Pawtucket Librarian who reviews young adult titles entertainingly. The Blog is also connected to the Library website. Also the site of my first blog comment!

Rambling Librarian :: Incidental Thoughts of a Singapore Liblogarian: Youth blog site - (or, the case for NLB libraries to get blogging)

Rambling Librarian :: Incidental Thoughts of a Singapore Liblogarian: Youth blog site - (or, the case for NLB libraries to get blogging). Note to self - Something to consider - getting into blogging/ maybe training in getting into blogging? Young people teach other young people about blogging? As we have received funding to produce an "E-Zine" to "tell young peoples' stories" I wonder if blogging has potential in relation to the e-zine?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Exploring Blogging

I'm a librarian in a small public library trying to discover the potential of blogging by using it. I am also trying to discover a stupendously radical new paradigm for public libraries. Or maybe I'll be content with a few great ideas for a better library service.