Sunday Wrap-up

So far San Antonio has been good to me. We are staying in a great hotel that is very nice for the price, feeds us a good breakfast, and they have free wifi. Internet is a must, but free wifi is very nice. It is cloudy today (oops make that raining), but I am planning on visiting some vendors and laying low until the Top Ten Tech Trends this afternoon.

Later in the day….
I spend most of the day talking to various vendors and missed the Top Ten entirely. I am sure there will be plenty of blog coverage so I am not too concerned. I was able to chat with some very nice people I met at Annual including:

Better World Books – I love these guys. They take discards and unwanted gifts from libraries and sell them, returning a portion of the profits to the library and recycling the rest. As a bonus, they are super nice.

EBSCO – I told them to get rid of some thing in their link resolver, called LinkSource, that is distracting, unhelpful, and placed foolishly. The nice lady I talked to wrote it all down so I hope she was seriously giving that to the programmer.

Greenwood Publishing – They have a new database coming out that I want for my African American Studies collection.

Those are the ones I remember off the bat, but there were many more. Karen talked to a group that has an open source federated search tool that looked really neat. I am saving the best schwagg for a separate post.

We ate a very late lunch, came back to our hotel, and napped. We have to be our best for the Blog Salon.

–Jane, rarin’ to go

Midwinter Odds and Ends

Last night was the LITA Happy Hour and, as seen in these pictures, a good time was had by all. Karen G. Schneider bequeathed upon me a “radical militant librarian” button so that none might mistake me for a calm reasonable person.

After some fellow librarians from MPOW realized that we were the last LITAers in the bar, we found our way to a recommended sushi place down the road. The meal was excellent, the sake warm, and the discussions hilarious.

This morning I attended the Information Commons IG, which was less diverting than I would have liked. I spent the majority of the talks looking at other things and trying to rework my notes from the OCLC Extreme Makeover: Rebranding an Industry session, which was very diverting.

I attended my Instruction Section committee (Professional Education Committee) meeting which was not quite as bad as anticipated. I was mostly anxious because this committee coincided with BIGWIG. The former meetong was over by the time I got to it. The Professional Education Committee is reviewing the list of library schools that teach an information literacy classes. The data is interesting, but because we are constricted by being an ACRL affiliate, there is very little we can do with it. Thank you, ALA bureaucracy.

Tonight, I am off with the crowd from the previous night to my very favorite Mexican food place, (that distinction means a lot in Texas) La Fogata. I can not wait for those margaritas.

–Jane, they even put pretty flowers in the drinks

Information Commons IG

Midwinter 2006 – Saturday 10:30-12:30

MPOW is moving towards an information/learning commons type set up. I think there are a lot of advantages to us moving this direction because it will add support to many things that we already do.

For the PPT of this presentation and more information click here.

The session gets off to a somewhat rocky start as we are all deprived of our hearing by very bad microphone bounceback.

Russ Bailey and Barbara Tierney from UNC
In this library, they worked hard to integrate all services through a full service information desk. The desk is a quick fix information point, staffed by paraprofessional staff who refer more in depth questions to librarians. This set-up was loosely based on the Brandeis model. This has freed up the librarians to work on more professional activities.

They have a ““Presentation Support Desk” which includes 1 FT library assistant, 1 PT library assistant, and 10 PT students. Most of the computer support comes from students. They are cheap and if you give them authority, training, and support you can often keep them for four years.

The ““reference” work is centered around the “Information Commons Desk” which is run by one FT librarian coordinator, 2 FT para staff that work on the desk, and a varying amount of temp PT students (each hour, they have 1-2 students).

Training: It seems that UNC had trained their paraprofessional staff to handle the work that I spend about 90% of my time doing at my library’s information desk. I think that this is a good model for reference. There is no reason that we can not train our students and paraprofessional staff to troubleshoot computer problems, give directions, answer questions about policy, give basic searching instructions, and generally give good public service.

Barbara and Russ emphasize that training is very important. UNC included a cross training aspect to their orientation so that people working other desks can properly direct users to the correct service point. This method of cross training could alleviate the bouncing around that some users have to do to get a simple question answered.

Ydesk, “No you need X desk.”
X Desk, ““Sorry, you need to go to Y Desk.”

Michael Whitchurch at BYU
This is a library that services a larger campus than my library and they are truly dealing with the same sort of problems that we face. It seems that they have about half the number of computers, though they serve more students.

“No matter how many computers you put, you’ll have lines.”” A truth that will endure through the test of time.

They have a ““no Shhh”” zone and their main area is very loud at certain times of the day. It is important to hire staff that have a customer service personality.

Faculty (librarians) get paid more, have more degrees, so they know more. At BYU, they have used this justification to create a tiered reference model. They have a position in their library that is centered specifically on staff training for the information commons. (This is the position that I would like to have.)

–Jane, almost out of juice, must go find outlet

Midwinter Schedule

I know you are absolutely dying to know where I will be so that you may stalk me as I mingle and gulp margaritas. The following is a list of places I may or may not appear:

1:30-4:30 OCLC Extreme Makeover
6:00 LITA Happy Hour
Jan. 21st    
10:30-12:30 IC Discussion Group
1:30-3:30 IS Education
1:30-3:30 BIGWIG
1:30-3:30 ACRL/ULS
8:00-10:00 Top Ten Tech Trends
8:00-10:00 IS Education
1:30-3:30 Top Ten Tech Trends
6 OCLC Blog Salon
8:00-10:00 LITA Town Meeting
10:30-12:30 LITA Emerging Tech IG
5:00 C&I Readers

You might notice that a few things are at the same time, indicated by italics. Due to committee responsibilities, the meetings in italics will only be graced with my presence should other meetings be cancelled or blown to smithereens.

–Jane, the above is a joke and not a real threat. seriously.

It’s A Job

The conversation seems to be steaming ahead rather than slowing down regarding speaker’s compensation at professional library conferences. And thanks to Technorati, I found that even non-library sites are picking this up and *gasp of not surprised* making fun of our profession. Again.

Something Steven Cohen wrote (same link as above) echoed what I have been thinking recently:

“…I wind up putting in 16 hour days, sometimes more, and I deserve to get paid for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but it is a job. Once we can get beyond that, the whole Jenny Levine situation seems a bit clearer.”

I also love being a librarian and it is a large part of who I am and how I approach life, but this is my job. J-O-B. At the end of the day, the list of things that are really important to me does not include my library, ALA, or what I have accomplished professionally and I will not be a Job for my profession, remaining faithful when obviously ignored. I think we should be compensated for our knowledge even if it is in some small way.

–Jane, do we want to be actual professionals or are we just pretending?

Money Woes

Meredith has a very long post in which she discusses some monetary policies at ALA, including why they make speakers pay for the privilege of speaking and the huge amount of money they waste each year. She makes the point that many speakers only go to ALA to speak, not attend the conference, and we get paid little enough to be charged for speaking. We do not have to be martyrs, according to Meredith, to be good librarians. Amen! The most amazing thing she points out is this:

Organization ALA NASW
Number of Members 64,000 153,000
Expenses $43,025,000 $19,591,637

Go read the entire post. It is long, but just keeps getting better.

I agree and, though I think her post well reasoned, I have a few things to add. Not only do I not always feel like ALA and other professional organizations represent me, but I am required by my institution to be both part of professional organizations and to present papers and speak at conferences. I am financially supported up to about 50% per conference by my library, but if I was not part of a two income household, I would not be able to attend the two ALA conferences all committee members are required to attend. Committee membership is required by the promotional guidelines of my institution.

Along with the above, ALA is in New Orleans in June and, regardless of the assurances that there will be plenty of places for us to stay, in addition to all those relief workers, I highly doubt there will be room for everyone. I can not afford to stay in the conference hotels and I do not think I will be able to find a reasonable hotel with open rooms. This is something I am very concerned about and I have seen nothing but platitudes regarding the conference industry in New Orleans from ALA.

Mr. Rochester told me I should just tell my committee I can not afford to go unless they paid for me to attend. I laughed heartily, patted him on the head, and said, “It just does not work that way.” He is an engineer, after all, and if they are required to go to a conference, their company picks up the entire bill.

–Jane, “it’s gonna take plenty of money”

Politics, Money, and ALA

Karen G. Schneider is one of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite people. I love to hear her talk and to discuss all those things that make being a librarian fun, interesting, and frustrating. Today, she has written a very good post on ALA, the Iraq Resolution, and politics.

We are lucky to be in a profession where what we do forces us to think about fundamental issues such as what a government should do with its resources and what rights and services people are entitled to as people. As librarians, it is also doubly meaningful when we raise the B.S. flag on a national policy.

I have to admit that I have been conflicted about ALA releasing these kinds of resolutions. ALA represents many different kinds of librarians and there are some of us that support the Patriot Act and our current administrations policies. I will say up front that I am not one of those, but I do respect that we all have a right to our opinions.

Karen is right when she says that librarians are the the people who stand up for those who are unable to make their voice rise above the crowd, but I wonder how hard it would be for me to support the resolution if it was against something I beleived in. I still have some mixed feelings, that are hard to put into tangible sentences.

What drives it home for me is a point that Karen makes, drawing the link between all our resources being in Iraq and having nothing at home when Katrina hit. Or when Rita came ashore. Or when libraries started closing and reducing hours because they could not longer pay their staff or afford their buildings. What does it really say about us as a culture that our libraries are closing, schools can not pay their electric bills, and we send troops into battle without all the proper gear?

–Jane, what indeed