Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is Your Work Life Yours to Share?

This week's American Libraries includes an article about a former library assistant in Michigan who wrote a book. The book, available through a print on demand service, probably wouldn't have caused much of a stir, had the author not promoted it via e-mail, postcards and in person to patrons, many of whom are featured, not so favorably in the story.

While I haven't read the book and certainly can't speak to its veracity, this brings up an interesting conundrum.

Many librarians and other library staff vaguely ponder the idea of writing down stories of their experiences, but how much protection do library customers have? How much right do we, as library staff, have to the stories we, in fact, share with our customers? That is, we all participate in the same story, so whose rights matter most?

I try to keep things anonymous around here, but there a few readers who know me in real life. There is a chance that they will be able to identify a certain customer that may drive me particularly batty. Do I have an ethical right to share information that may easily identify someone who is unaware that their personal experiences are being shared online?

It's an ethical dilemma, and one already faced by the famous Dooce, who was fired after her website shared a bit too much about her workplace, but how does it apply when we're dealing with the general public on such a regular basis?

How much of my day is fair fodder for the sharing?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get That Girl a Milkshake!

Over a year long, and my gaming programs are still going strong. They numbers vary from month to month, and our committee is hoping that it will be possible to get separate systems for each branch.

Even barring that, I have good news.

My gaming program got coverage in the local newspaper! My ebbing and flowing numbers may just get the jolt they need! Hurray!

Oh, that bit about me needing a milkshake?

That comes from the fact that I learned about the reporter's visit just a few hours before the start of the program (at least I got notified at all!), and my numbers this month were certainly not as high as I would have liked. So, two, count them, two, whole teenagers showed up for the program. I ran around like a mad chicken, grabbed some young-ish departmental aides to fill the room, made two global announcements, and soon had nine authentic teenagers in the program.

Any newspaper photographer worth his salt can make that look like a full room, right?

The reporter didn't seem too disappointed, and, fortunately, I had told her that my numbers vary and haven't yet topped 20. She had plenty of folks to talk to, including my loyal volunteer who runs the "board" and ensures that people of equal skill and/or age compete against each other in early rounds, and at least one parent.

The departmental aides, young though they looked, were stomped by the authentic teenagers, and a triumphant teen took home the final prize, gloating all the while.

And yes, I did get a milkshake.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Librarians Change Lives!

Wow! Two posts in two days. I must be doing well :).

Anyway, I just learned that the fabulous t-shirt I bought at ALA last year, the one with the Unshelved graphic and the tag-line, "Librarians Change Lives" is available for purchase through the ALA online store.

All proceeds to go to benefit Friends of YALSA (FOY). FOY provides funding in five distinct areas:

*Continuous Learning: creating opportunities for all members and library workers to grow through grants, providing scholarships to those in need and offering distance learning and institutes.

*Advocacy: educating members, library workers, the general public and policy makers about the importance of providing excellent library services to teens, and the critical role that library workers and libraries play in helping teens develop key literacy skills and a lifelong appreciation of reading.

*Research: guiding and promoting research in the field of young adult librarianship through grants, publications, and other means to ensure that the field of librarianship has the necessary knowledge to meet the needs of teens.

*Teen Literacy & Young Adult Literature: sponsoring literacy initiatives such as Teen Read Week, YALSA’s booklists and book awards, guaranteeing YALSA's place in the forefront of our nation's adolescent literacy campaigns.

*Planning for the Future: helping to attract new members and retain existing ones, creating public awareness campaigns, planning and carrying out new initiatives to pursue excellence in library service to young adults, and more.

Now, hurry, go buy yours today so you can be as cool as me :Þ.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Career Building

Perhaps I expected this to be easy. I may have had too much book knowledge in my brain for my own good.

Being a librarian, particularly one who works with children of any age, takes time and patience. Gradually, I have developed just a bit more of the latter, and it's done me a world of good.

During my first year as a librarian, these thoughts frequently entered my mind, or, worse, came out of my mouth:

"Yes! A new program! Awesome! Let's book all the computers!"

"Of course more than three people will come."

"What do you mean I can't handle doing teen programs in a month?"

"Desk hours? What desk hours?"

Nearing the end of my second year, I have gone through a few phases.

Do you recognize any of these in yourself?

Phase 1: The over-educated, over-enthusiastic, under-experienced newbie
Phase 2: The exhausted librarian who feels confused and just a tad misled
Phase 3: The newly cynical librarian with a tinge of bitterness towards empty seats
Phase 4: The balanced librarian who does what she can, to the best of her ability, and accepts that every program has its purpose, even to just six kids.

I am building this career one block at a time. In the past almost-two years, I've learned more than I thought I needed to about collection development, program planning, dealing with the public and standing up for myself.

To anyone fresh out of library school who may wander across this, I say from my place two years out of those hallowed halls, have'll all work out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

There's Something to Be Said for Central Selection

I've met librarians from across the country whose libraries approach collection development from a myriad of directions. In my library, we have both central selection and branch-level selection.

Currently, due to both procedural and staff changes, I'm selecting for three branches as well as serving as a central selector.

I love my duties as a central selector. I ask for suggestions from my colleagues. I peruse the selection and review material. I rarely have trouble spending my budget. That said, as a central selector, I have specific guidelines that I must follow, and I'm generally only choosing paperback fiction. I have a wide selection within a narrow topic.

I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to select materials that are specific to my demographic. Having a healthy budget for my branch means that I can respond directly to the shifting needs in my community. Need more urban fiction? Okay, I'll find some new titles. Middle school science fair coming up? Alrightee, I've got it covered. A flexible branch budget provides nearly infinite opportunities to address the unique requirements of my branch.

Still, selecting for three branches on top of completing central selection is exhausting. It's a bit more exhausting this month as we had the added responsibility of buying our prize books for the summer reading program.

So, to reiterate: I really appreciate that I work in a library system that embraces both modes of collection development. I receive books selected by another central selector that I may never have thought of purchasing -- especially in the graphic novel area -- that are amazing choices. I'm glad that I'm not the only one buying books for my branch.

After completing two big orders for three branches and a central order for eight branches, however, I'm a bit loopy. I've read so many reviews, looked at so many covers and typed so many ISBNs in the past two weeks that I'm mildly convinced every single YA book is about the same exact thing and written by one author using 99 pseudonyms.

So, forgive the loopiness for now. Soon, I'll dive back into finishing Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy. After I finish this series and know all there is to know about the Realms, the Order and the Rakshana, I predict I'll be refreshed and ready, once again, to conquer the glorious wealth of books available for YAs these days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

As I've relaxed into a regular YA reading pattern of two or three YA books a month, not counting the books I review for School Library Journal (no fear that I'll be leaping at the opportunity to be on an awards committee and read upwards of 200 YA books in a year), I've begun to recognize the patterns in the books I choose.

I would have enjoyed Laurie Halse Anderson as a teen, so I listened to Twisted on CD. Ms. Anderson has the signature ability to tell a poignant story without going overboard, and Twisted proves no exception. Tyler Miller had a surprisingly good summer, considering that he spent it doing community service after spraying grafitti all over his high school in an attempt to garner positive attention from his classmates. In addition to the community service, he worked a landscaping/gardening job and bulked up considerably. He's gone from a scrawny junior to a tall, buff senior, and he's caught the eye of his longtime crush, Bethany Milbury. The crush crashes after Bethany spends a drunken night hitting on anything that walks, and Tyler decides to move on...but he can't. The night of the drunken escapades, someone took sexually explicit pictures of Bethany, and since Tyler has a record and, rumor has it was sent packing by Bethany, he's the prime suspect. The fact that Ms. Anderson uses Tyler as the narrator brings a real edge to the novel, and it's worth a look.

Next up, Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah. At 16 and attending an elite (mostly white) private school in Australia, Amal decides to begin wearing the hajib, the traditional head covering and conversative style of dressing of Muslim women. It's fully her own decision, though she wrestles with what her crush, the uber-intelligent Adam, will think, not to mention how her snobby, WASPy classmates will respond. They respond with a mix of emotions, ranging from the curious to the outright racist, but the novel retains its teeny-bopper tone, never crossing into preachy or over-the-top. Amal's story is standard fare for YA fiction - she's in an awkward phase, has something unique about her personality that she dares to show in public and has a crush that she knows can only ever result in a friendship. In short, it's a fabulous read, but it hasn't stretched my literary boundaries in the way I would have liked.

I have yet to venture into reading urban fiction, and I may have to gradually dip my toe into different genres. Maybe one of those pirate books (Bloody Jack, anyone?).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Magnet Madness

A colleague asked if I could think of any way our particular teens could get involved in our Poetry in the Park event in May. I mulled over options ranging from the ridiculous (open mic poetry! thousands will come! let's do it!) to the completely simple (poetry display! that's enough, right?) and finally settled on one of my favorite things in all the land: Magnet Poetry.

Now, that program is nearly three months away, and I simply can't wait to do a magnetic poetry program until then. So, I'm planning two more. One today with my book club, and one with my teen moms (I'm running out of ways to make cover letter writing fun, haha).

I happily perused one of my favorite sites, Craftster and found links to a two very helpful resources.

The first is HP's creative site, and I found a list of Shakespearean words for use with magnetic poetry -- perfect for our discussion of Alex Flinn's Beastly.

The second is a list of basic words teachers use with new readers. The list works quite well for constructing simple poetry, and I think it's an option that I'll have available at the larger magnetic poetry event in May.

Armed with my lists, I feel rather excited about this activity.

Other materials needed include:
*Self-adhesive magnetic strips
*Clean tins for storing the magnets (think Altoid tins)
*Poetic teens :)