Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Information Revolution?

In a recent View Point that appeared in Information Today (“Library Sales Revolution” June 2012, vol. 29 issue 6) Barbara Quint acknowledges the financial crises both libraries and information vendors are currently facing. Further complicating the situation, Quint argues, is that libraries are being confronted by a “more focused assault of the new all-internet, all-end-user, and all-the-time information technological revolution” which is having the same effect on those who provide libraries with content. Quint offers a solution: create a new business model that will allow vendors and libraries alike to prosper. Important to this solution is for libraries to “maximize the value that their budgets buy for them. In fact, they need to add revenue-building as part of that value. They need to sell (emphasis mine) data as well as buy it.”

It is no secret that libraries all across the United States are suffering financially, some more so than others. This situation has forced us to consider new ways of functioning. The bottom line is librarians are being asked to maintain current levels of service with less. Librarians are creative and there have been many innovative ideas implemented to ease the burden. We have had to step out of our “traditional” roles to learn and do the jobs encompassed in the library (see “The Multi-Tasking Librarian” February 13, 2012). I think, for the most part, we are willing to do what is necessary to ensure free and unfettered access to the information we provide.

I am always open and welcome new ideas that will help sustain and advance library service. But I cannot imagine a situation that would allow libraries to begin charging for information. When the technology revolution gained momentum, it readily became obvious that another dichotomy in society was forming, the “digital divide.” While the digital divide still exists, it was mitigated when libraries made technology available to the public. For those idealistic librarians, such as myself, we hope to end illiteracy and the digital divide (Ok, maybe not end but we certainly want to make a dent!). We recognize that the public we serve come from all walks of life and from a variety of economic situations. We serve the rich and the poor, from the homeless to college students and everyone in between. So, to begin charging for information, we will be adding to the divide and disenfranchising a significant portion of those we serve.

I will close with a quote from The Federalist Papers that is attributed to Alexander Hamilton: “the wealth of nations depends upon an infinite variety of causes.” Among these are the “genius of the citizens [and] the degree of information they possess” [emphasis mine].

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Post-PC Era @ Your Library?

I have taken a break after the death of my father. My intention was to be back at it sooner then another serious family medical problem hit us. Nevertheless I am determined to press on. I wrote this post a while ago but it is still relevant:

Sarah Perez at TECHCRUNCH has an interesting article about the Post-PC Era (”When Will the Post-PC Era Arrive? It Just Did” . She argues that current trends suggest that the Post-PC Era has indeed arrived as evidence by two important benchmarks. Perez notes that “smartphone shipments outpaced PCs for the first time ever, and Apple became the world’s largest PC maker” (this number includes iPads). It looks like consumers are shifting away from desk top and laptop PCs to smaller more portable computing solutions.

This will most definitely change how libraries provide technology to their patrons. Librarians should be attuned to this as it will be a crucial factor in library planning. So, will libraries replace desktop computers with iPads or other portable devices? (3M has a portable eReader option for libraries that subscribe to its new eBook platform). How will your library adapt?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Russell Joseph Livingston 3/25/1928-3/12/2012

Russ was born in Troy, New York to Nettie Seil and grew up in Schenectady. He held his first job at the age of 16 at the American Railroad Company. Not long after, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served out the remainder of World War II. After he was discharged he drove over 2800 miles to start a new life in Los Angeles. He met the love of his life, Nancy, and they were married on August 29, 1958. They started their family in Norwalk, California and, in 1973, moved to Arvin, California.
Russ was a very skilled worker and had a much disciplined work ethic. While living in Norwalk he worked at Lockheed Aircraft and had the opportunity to work on the SR71 Blackbird. After moving to Arvin, he worked for the American Fertilizer Company and J.R. Simplot. He retired from the Arvin Union School District.

Those who knew Russ loved him and his sense of humor. He was a devoted son, husband, father, and grandfather. He was preceeded in death by his mother Nettie Seil Baker, his father-in-law George Sterling, and his mother-in-law Mary Sterling.

Russ is survived by his wife Nancy of Bakersfield. They were married for 54 years. He is also survived by his daughter Terrie Reese and son-in-law Tim, his son Chris and daughter-in-law Tina, his grandson Bram, and granddaughters Caitlin, Candice, Sarah, and two great-grandchildren Abbi and Johnny, all of Bakersfield.
There will be a private viewing followed by private graveside services. Interment will be at Bakersfield National Cemetery 30338 East Bear Mountain Boulevard, Arvin, California.
You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind be empty and
turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins 1959

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Multi-Tasking Librarian

For those of you who don’t know me I have two master’s degrees. One, of course is my M.L.I.S. The other is in History. I feel compelled to mention this because it is an important factor to my library philosophy and to this post. I began working on my History MA before I went to Library School. My focus was Modern European History, but more specifically I focused on 19th Century French Antisemitism. I began my graduate education pursuing what was called the “Thesis Track.” I soon realized that if I stayed on that track that It would take me years (I would probably still be procrastinating) to finish. So, I switched to the “Exam Track.”

This, I believed, was a good move because not only would I finish grad school sooner but the change would also give me more breadth in knowledge thus making me more marketable. After I graduated I learned that my decision was a good one because the community colleges I applied to wanted me to be able to teach any of the history classes they offered.
This was a great learning experience for me because it led me to take a broad approach during my library school studies. Many told me that this was a mistake and that I should specialize as that was what potential library employers were looking for. Nevertheless I stuck with the approach I began with and was able to secure a position as a reference librarian.  

The broad approach I took paid off and I find myself utilizing a wide variety of skills in my daily routine.  As time went by I began noticing that multi-tasking was the norm.  The lines between librarian, library assistant, circulation assistant, and “shelver” became blurred. In addition to my wide range of “librarian duties,” I often work at the circulation and audio-visual desk and shelve books.
What is multi-tasking in the library world? For librarians it means having the ability to perform any task in the library. We check out books, collect fines, clear printer jams, address patron complaints, answer directional questions, plan programs, supervise and train volunteers, trouble shoot computer problems,  and the list goes on and on and on.

The point is that in today’s library climate, with ever shrinking budgets (California Governor plans to zero out the state library budget: ) and doing more with less, it is vital that librarians, indeed all library workers, be good at multi-tasking. It is critical, however, for library administrators to carefully consider which tasks should consume library workers’ time.  Service should be the priority. Programming should be reassessed with emphasis on children’s and young adult programs. Obviously, what works for one library may not work for another. This is why it is important to be in tune with your community’s needs and wants. A successful library is one that involves the community it serves.
So, how is your library multi-tasking?