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?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Post-PC Era @ Your Library

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?