Open Thread Thursday: The Skills to Pay the Bills


On Tuesday, Eli Neiburger’s article about ditching reference for IT shot around the online librarian world. So, what are the skillsets that the libraries of the future will require?

Directors and administrative types, what are you looking for in your hires?

Librarians, what did you learn on the job? What did you learn in graduate school that helped?

Library students, what do you think you should be learning about?

This is an open thread, so feel free to ignore my starter questions and name your own topic. (I hear porn in the library is back on the front page again.)

Open Thread Thursday: Vendors

I was reading Sarah Houghton-Jan’s post about Freegal* this evening when it reminded me of the wiki/website that Sarah Glassmeyer had set up called The idea is to make vendor transactions a bit more transparent and the capability of comparing notes about pricing and practices. This is a bold move considering that some vendors ask for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as part of the price negotiation. But in terms of making better decisions on behalf of our communities (whether it be taxpayers, student fee payers, corporate backers, or school boards), it’s an excellent idea to show additional financial responsibility for the money that we spend.

Personally, I haven’t had any issues with the sales reps and vendors that I’ve had the chance to meet either at conferences or in trainings. They’ve all been outwardly cheery people even when I tell them about my lack of buying power. (I have stopped saying that I can relay whatever they have to someone who does since that’s like saying, “I’m not going to go out with you, but I have a friend who might be interested but probably not.”) Most tales I hear are either first or second hand accounts with a skew towards the negative ones. (Which, let’s face it, tend to be more interesting than all but the most positive stories.)

So, this week’s open thread is on vendors. Good stuff, bad stuff, excellent stuff, mediocre stuff. Share with the crowd (and, while you are at it).

(*Note: Brian Downing from Library Ideas, LLC, the owner of Freegal, has posted a reply to Sarah’s entry.)

Open Thread Thursday: Fashion Police

All things DO keep getting better…

Last Saturday, there was some drama about the ACRL closing keynote speaker, Clinton Kelly. The host of the television show What Not To Wear was the subject of discussion as to why there was a non-librarian chosen to give a keynote at a major conference and the subject of fashion within the library community.

In tackling the first point, I don’t see the problem with having a non-librarian give a keynote. We invite authors to do it all the time; as Clinton was there as part of his book tour (which knocks down his speaking fee to dirt cheap), it sounds like business as usual to me. I would certainly hope that we could get more non-librarians to speak at our conferences. And for that matter, why not someone controversial? Why not speakers like PZ Myers, Rick Warren, Al Franken, or Bill O’Reilly? For a profession that proudly touts how libraries should contain material that is potentially offensive to everyone, the inclination to pick the least offensive speaker seems to be a conference norm. Break out of the echo chamber, people.

In addressing the second point, I’ll just relate my experience. When I started, I just wore some inexpensive dress shoes, a button down shirt, and khakis or slacks to work. After a couple of months, the attire really made me feel (for lack of a better term) unprofessional. I felt like I was dressed for a high school presentation. In looking to add something, I bought a few pairs of decent dress shoes as well as added sweaters and sweater vests to my wardrobe. In coming to work, I felt that I presented more like a professional. I’m thinking about taking another step and adding ties and vests to my wardrobe to give me some other options (especially in the summer). I’ve come a long ways from the grungy jeans and flannels of commercial nursery work.

I know that my attire works for me as an adult services librarian at a branch library; it may not work as well with other jobs and positions within the library. The point I am reaching for is that there is a benefit to both dressing and looking the part within the profession. The attire works towards self-image and self-confidence; it also influence how the public perceives the librarian. Like it or not, personal appearance matters and it is judged; how librarians come across in those initial non-speaking moments matters as a first impression. You really don’t get a second chance for that.

So, pick your comment poison: non-librarian speakers at conferences or the fashion of the profession. And let’s hear it.

Open Thread Thursday: Conferences

Earlier this week, I spent several lovely days in Washington DC at the Computers in Libraries 2011 conference. I have a conference reflections post still marinating in my head as I process everything that I saw and heard, but I thought it would be an excellent starter topic for this week’s open thread.

What makes for a good conference? What makes for a bad one? Share a story of either if you have one.

Or drop a comment about something you want to talk about that went on this week.

A reminder that you can make anonymous comments, just don’t be a dick.

Open Thread Thursday: Boycott, #hcod, etc.


[Note: the actual website still says "YES”. Click the picture to see for yourself!]

It’s an open thread. The starter topic is the HarperCollins boycott. The encouragement is to call it like you see it. Will it work? Will it fail? What do you think will happen?

Or talk about something else. And now, your comments, please.

Open Thread Thursday: Sparta Edition


[Click the picture for the explanation of the meme]

On the heels of winning the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books lolbrarian contest, I thought another lolbrarian style graphic might be a nice way to kick off this Open Thread Thursday. In working with Sarah to polish up and issue the eBook Readers’ Bill of Rights over the weekend and blogging on the HarperCollins timeline (1, 2, 3, 4 entries), it feels like I’ve been doing nothing but reading and writing in my spare time for the past five or so days. While I’ve been enjoying watching the issue move through the libraryland blogosphere, I took off Wednesday night to do other things and take a break from the keyboard. I really need to recharge the battery for the next round since I think it’s going to get, well, more verbose.

So, as a starter topic for this week’s open thread, I’ll toss out the concept of madness in library science (real or fictional). Bonus points for weaving the HarperCollins stuff or eBook rights into your comment. Triple score if you link a real libraryland behavior to Rita Mae Brown’s quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”.

And now, your comments.

Open Thread Thursday: Third Rails

Since last week’s Open Thread had some great discussions, I’m doing it again this week. I liked having a theme, so this week will be the third rails of librarianship. (Sorry, unemployment has already been covered.)

So, what gets left unsaid? What gets pushed aside? What’s the buck that gets passed? What’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about? What’s the topic that gets everyone up in arms?

Personally, I’d say intellectual freedom is a third rail for librarianship. We tout it as a principle, but when it comes to the practice it gets a bit muddled. For all the times that we seek to preserve different viewpoints within our collections, opposing viewpoints or perspectives that are not popular in professional discourse tend to get marginalized, ignored, or vilified. There is a difference between well meaning people disagreeing and personal indictments of differing viewpoints.

A reminder that anonymous comments are allowed in case you just want to point out the third rail and not grip it yourself.

Open Thread Thursday: Library School

I’m going to try something new and make an open thread. While it is generally an unguided discussion, I’d like to toss out a topic for people to gnaw on for this experiment. Just like the title suggests, I wanted to go with an easy one: library school.

So, what’s good about it? What’s bad about it? What topics do you wish they covered more? How do they handle the modern library issues?

Or you can just rant. Hey, it works for me.

For myself, it’s hard to have an opinion on library school after going to law school for a year. It bothers some people when I say it is easy, but after you’ve been reading five or six 1,500 page books at the same time, memorizing legal concepts and cases, and writing and researching legal briefs to exacting standards under a Paper Chase pressure cooker (and working full time as well), your perspective on what is academically hard is forever altered. I wouldn’t say it was a cakewalk, but it would be like a marathon runner that starts doing 5k races. In library school, I never had to study till I couldn’t feel my face. The only time such facial numbness occurred was after a bunch of beers at the local bar after class one night. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.

And on that note, have at it.

(For the moment, I’ve taken off the comment setting that requires prior approval before people can comment without moderation in the hopes of encouraging discussion. Yes, I do allow anonymous comments. Don’t make me regret it later.-A)