Open Thread Thursday: School’s Out Forever

As the education year winds down with the start of summer, there are school librarians across the country who will not be returning in the fall. Whether they have been determined to be “not teachers” by an administrative court, being cut from the budget, or still working to save school libraries, these past two weeks have been wicked evil to this end of the profession. On top of that, the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was eliminated from the Department of Education. (I presume the innovation that the President spoke about at the State of the Union address will be for student to find new ways to develop research skills.)

What the fuck is going on here?

While I’m happy that ALA has put an open letter out there for the LA school librarians, it still makes me wonder: how’d things get to this point?

This week’s open thread suggested topic: school librarians. How to help them and how to save them. Why? Because they are part of the library ecosystem.

If you’re a school librarian, share what other librarians should know but maybe don’t and what the rest of us can do to help.

If you’re not a school librarian, share what you think can be done to increase awareness and communication with our school librarian peers. What do you want to know and be kept up to date about?

While this is the suggested topic, this is an open thread. Share what’s on your mind. And anonymous comments are still welcome.

(h/t: Cathy Jo Nelson, since I stole liberated a number of links from her Facebook page.)

Open Thread Thursday: Save Our [fill in the library name here]!

In the last twenty four hours, I’ve been asked to save two different libraries. The first was the Brooklyn Public Library from a blog post by Rita Meade (if you are not reading her blog, you should be). It has the familiar budget-pocalypse to it that reminds me of the fight in New Jersey last year. The second was a link on Facebook to save the Oaklyn Public Libraries by Amy Sonnie (another librarian who I had the pleasure of meeting at the NJLA conference last week). There’s certainly more budget news around the country in the past month, but the way these came across my feeds like a one-two punch inspired me to write about it for the open thread.

I can remember back a year ago being chest deep in the New Jersey advocacy efforts. By this time last year, we had the rally at the State Capitol buildings (a first for the organization) and were pressing hard to get people to sign postcards, call, write, and do whatever. I can remember passing news back and forth from Twitter and Facebook as people shared every shred of news that came out.  It was a tough time to think about losing the regional library cooperatives and just trying to climb back from a 74% cut. School libraries got creamed all over the state as the education funding was cut back severely; it was cringeworthy as school librarians (considered administration, not teachers) got chopped left and right.  Academic libraries held on but I’m sure there was less materials on their shelves and less services offered overall. NJ libraries did relatively well this year (with some very notable exceptions going on right now), but it makes me think of the road ahead.

That brings me to the topic: what do you think we should do to get off the yearly budget drama cycle? What are you doing now to accomplish that? What are the trends you see coming out?

Just a reminder: even though I have suggested a topic, this is an open thread. Anonymous comments are allowed as well as other topics. Now, share what’s on your mind.

Open Thread Thursday: 641 Edition

At lunch on Tuesday at the conference, the conversation was dominated by cooking. Perhaps it is only natural to be that hungry and wanting nothing more than to talk about food, perhaps it was the tasty Greek food we were going to devour. It wasn’t so much a recipe swap as it was about cooking philosophy and what foods people love. Hell, the conference even had a session called “Recipe Reference 101”. It might be my own hunger right now as I get ready for work that is guiding this topic right now, but I think something a bit on the lighter side (no pun intended) would be good.

For myself, I take the Anthony Bourdain approach as I read it in his book, Kitchen Confidential: simple, good ingredients. Not too many, just enough to bring out the flavors that you are looking for. I’ve taken this approach to heart by picking up The Flavor Bible and using that as my starting point for cooking. I’ve discovered many simple and fun flavor pairings while doing my own experimenting. It turns the cooking experience into a creative experience.

So, do you cook? If so, what do you love to cook? If not, what food moves your soul?

As always, this is an open thread. That’s the starter topic, but if you have something else in mind, go for it.

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.