Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Official Reorg begins!

I came home from Minneapolis with the thought that I was going to "reorg" my life. I have way too much going on and not enough time or energy to do it all. So I decided that I needed to start thinking about the things that were really important to me and what I really wanted to focus on. So I've started with the lists. I have made a couple of them.

Lists are so satisfying to me. Especially the kind I can cross things off!

These lists are different though. The ones I started with are the "local" obligations and the "regional and state" obligations. I still need to do the personal ones.

But here is the local:
  1. Work at my lovely library 35 +/- hrs per week (and all it includes!)
  2. Municipal Alliance Against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse (1 Wed/month)
  3. The BB Chamber of Commerce (2nd Monday)
  4. The Friends of the BB Library (1st Monday)
  5. Board of Trustees Meeting (4th Monday)
  6. Memorial Day parade committee
And here is the regional/state:
  1. CJRLC exec board (3rd Thursday)
  2. NJLA exec board (3rd Tuesday)
  3. NJLA- YA Section
  4. NJLA - IT Section
  5. NJLA - Small Libraries Roundtable
  6. NJLA - Conference Committee
  7. NJLA - Leadership and Education subcommittee (Chair)
  8. Emerging Leaders facilitator and organizer
  9. NJLA Special Populations Roundtable
Wow! No wonder I am tired! And the truth is not all of these things are as important to me as others. So it becomes a selection process now. Choosing what best fits with my current interests and desires and needs as a small public librarian, who is also a self-confessed "leadership junkie"!!

I won't do the whole personal list but it involved blogging, which is something that I have always WANTED to devote time to. So now, with this, I am making it a priority. Even before the personal list is complete.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NJLA Conference Keynote Speaker!

I don't always watch the Colbert Report, but I did happen to see this episode (and have been meaning to blog about it since that night!). This guy, John Perry Barlow is the keynote speaker on Wednesday at our very own NJLA conference. How fun! And he wasn't even on there to discuss libraries or librarians and yet, it was this episode where Colbert tries to trademark "Librarians are hiding something!"
Check it out from Jenny, The Shifted Librarian. Then come listen to him at NJLA, Wednesday April 25th.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

is this what programs @ your library look like?

Louise, a member of my staff who assists with the monthly teen programming said the caption to this picture should be: "If you aren't having this much fun at your library, you're doing something wrong!" And I think she's right. Which of us hasn't been to a library (past or present) where we haven't thought about needing to be more quiet (if not silent)? And not that quiet is necessarily NOT fun but there is usually a fair amount of noise (in the form of laughter, at least) associated with fun.

The teen programming at the library is one of my passions right now. When we began doing monthly programs for the teens, I worried that no one would come. Now I worry that so many will come that I will have to turn them away or I won't have enough supplies for everyone who comes at the last minute. If only we all had such worries!

They are among the more appreciative of our user groups. I've done a number of different programs on different themes, with different amounts of involvement required from the teens. And they look forward to all of them. Henna tattoos. Murder Mystery Party. Getting more out of your search engine (THANKS ROBERT LACKIE!!!). Hip Hop dance class. I've found that they just enjoy knowing that there is something that we are doing just for them.

Fun at the library . . . it IS possible. But the trick is that YOU have to be having fun before anyone else can!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

So is the word "scrotum" really the problem here?

My sister called me the other day to talk to me about something she saw on The View, a show I normally do not watch. She wanted to talk to me about the banning of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Higher Power of Lucky. Much like me, my sister is very strongly in favor of intellectual freedom and parents making decisions regarding what their children read, not necessarily teachers, librarians or legislators. Barbara Walters brought up the controversy and the co-hosts all weighed in. The guest host, Sherri Shepherd was bothered that the author, who is also a librarian, used the word because its "delicious." I tend to think that most kids aren't thinking "delicious" when they read the word scrotum. View a clip here. An AP article claims that the book was defended on The View. I'm not sure that I would agree with that assessment but it certainly brought the issue to the attention of the general public.

I'm not sure where Barbara Walters heard about this, but I suspect it may have been The New York Times article from 2 days before. What I find particularly interesting is that it doesn't appear (from this article) that the word "scrotum" is the problem with this book in the eyes of those that will not purchase it or otherwise censor it from their collections. It is a short coming on the part of the teachers and librarians, in my opinion.
“I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. “If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that.” (NYT article)
Is it really that the author doesn't know her audience? Or is it that some people would rather her audience not hear the word? There is a real distinction here. Its not the word. Its that no one wants to have to EXPLAIN what that word is to a student.

Are we as adults really that immature that we can't use the correct anatomical term for a body part? Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View suggested saying that the "dog got an ouch in its pouch." Why can't we openly discuss body parts, especially those that may have a sexual connotation? We're doing a disservice to kids by trying to "protect" them. Maybe its just me, but I'd rather kids learn the actual names and proper functions of body parts than to resort to learning the slang terms and being uncomfortable discussing what amounts to biology. Kids, especially teens, are keenly aware when a conversation makes an adult uncomfortable. All the anti-drug and anti-smoking ads advocate parents talking openly with their kids about these topics. Why is sex so different? We're worried, as a society, about the oversexualization of kids at younger and younger ages. And yet very few are willing to openly discuss these issues with kids, giving them an open forum to be curious! The truth is they will be curious, even if they don't read about it in a book. They will want answers. Wouldn't you rather them hear about it from a teacher, librarian, nurse, their parents than on the school bus?

Friday, February 23, 2007

CJRLC Tech Challenge

Central Jersey Regional Library's Tech Challenge is a an easy and painless way to bring a lot of librarians into the web 2.0 fold.
I have to admit that I wasn't particularly thrilled about starting my own blog. I'm busy in my own library and I don't always have time to post. But lately, I've been feeling like I have a lot to say. So this tech challenge is a great excuse for me to get it all out there.
I won't be blogging exclsuively on traditional library issues. Sure, there will be posts on books, programs, and library issues. But I'm sure other subjects will come up that I'll feel the need to weigh in on.

The Tech Challenge Tasks:
1. Create a blog.
2. Flickr account AND check out Moo Print, where you can use pics from your Flickr account for really cool business cards that you will LOVE (and hate) to give out!
3. Subscribe to an aggregator. I subscribed to Bloglines in the summer after the CJRLC meeting on Web 2.0. It has been so helpful in keeping track of what everyone else is talking about! And not just library related blogs . . . I've also subscribed to some teen and tech ones, in an effort to continue to bring non-traditional library topics and concepts into our libraries!
4. Read about web 2.0 and library 2.0. There will be a separate post on this!
5. Learn to use . . . LIBRARY THING! How fun! I started working on this in December. And I love the idea of it. Of course, I haven't had a chance to add everything. But I have added to my ever-growing list of books to read.
6. Teach someone to use one of these technologies. Just today I was talking to my staff about YouTube and showing them videos. And I'm planning on teaching the teens in my library about podcasting and blogging before the summer, giving them the summer "assignment" of creating a 'zine.

Yes, I really AM a librarian!

"You're not really a librarian . . . are you?" It's a great game when I meet people for the first time. Only once has anyone ever guessed that I am a librarian, and I suspect that he said it as a joke.

I don't fit the stereotype of what the majority of our culture identifies as "librarian." If you ask, most people will tell you that the idea they have of a librarian is an older, frumpy woman who is stern-looking with glasses on a chain. While our profession does not resemble this as much as it maybe once did, it is still easy to pick out a librarian from a crowd in an ALA or PLA conference city!

We'd like to think that the stereotype isn't true, that we've moved past it. But how can we expect society to take our stereotypical image less seriously if we can't even laugh it off? Think of the Nancy Pearl action figure. Or NJ's Super Librarian marketing campaign. Both sparked much debate over how we want to be perceived. The truth is that as a profession, I don't think we'll ever reach a consensus.

I'm not the only one considering the "image thing." Its the subject of Francine Fialkoff's editorial in Library Journal.
Nevertheless, the traditional librarian image persists. “It’s in the American psyche,” Joan Bernstein, director of Mt. Laurel Library, NJ, and president of the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), said when we discussed “the image thing.” “I don’t think it’s ever going away.” At the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference last fall, the NJLA booth was staffed by a twentysomething librarian wearing a short skirt and high black boots. “I don’t want to fall into the trap of having 'booth babes,’” Bernstein said, at the same time acknowledging the positive effect. The Image Thing 2/15/07

This editorial is on my radar because of Joan. She called me today to make sure that I knew she didn't mean anything offensive by her comments, which I knew. I'm the librarian to which she's referring. (I love that I can still get away with being called "twentysomething" by the way!) I'm not a "booth babe." When I think about the idea of a "booth babe," I think about the vendors that HIRE attractive people (think models) specifically to work their booths, knowing that their traffic will increase. There's a main difference here. Yes, I wear shorter skirts. Yes, I wear boots. And high heels. But that's not what makes me an ideal person to staff the NJLA booth
, or even a great librarian! Initially, the fact that I am young, fashionable and personable will entice people to visit our booth (or at least not to just rush by!). However, what makes them STAY to talk to me is my love of this profession and my excitement over the changes we're seeing in our libraries.

Everyone is concerned about image, not just librarians. But I think that if we focus on our work and not spend so much time trying to thwart the stereotype, we'll stop drawing attention to the stereotype we supposedly loathe.
We need to just be so amazing at what we're doing that, over time, people remember what we're doing as opposed to what we look like or what we're wearing!