Samantha's blog

fun website for friday

I want to pass this site on because I keep playing with it. I'm not sure how relevant it is to library work but I'm sure you all can find a use!

10 x 10 (click on where it says This is Now)
I think I got this from boingboing, but heck, maybe it was from a story here and I'm just very ready for it to be the weekend!

Geeking out over C-SPAN

I happened to catch this lecture last night while working out (am I the only person who watches C-SPAN on the treadmill, outside of DC?) and it was super cool. I'm posting the schedule here so maybe more people will get the chance to geek out over discussions of how to classify blogs and if they can ever be authoritative resources. Can you believe we get paid to think about this stuff (in between answering reference questions and/or cataloging that weird serial and/or all those other things we do)?

***

Subject: New Series on C-SPAN: "Digital Future"
C-SPAN Special Alert!

Nation's Top Thinkers on the Digital Future to
Present Series of Lectures at the Library of
Congress

C-SPAN will be covering the Library of Congress'
new evening lecture series, "Digital Future,"
presenting some of the best known names in
digitally networked communications. The series
begins with a talk by David Weinberger, an expert
on blogging, who will discuss how and in which
situations blogs work and their value in
children's education. The lecture airs this
Monday, 6:30 - 8 pm ET, live on C-SPAN.

Participate in the series by emailing questions
to digital@loc.gov, or find more information
about the series and archived video on our web
site
at http://www.c-
span.org/congress/libraryofcongress.asp.

Future lecture topics include:

Monday, December 13 - Brewster Kahle, a digital
librarian & director and co-founder of the
Internet Archive. He will explain how and why
capturing material on the Web is important, and
discuss the challenges of selecting pertinent
content.

Monday, January 31 - Brian Cantwell Smith, dean
of the Faculty of Information Studies at the
University of Toronto. The title of his talk
is "And Is All This Stuff Really Digital After
All?"

Monday, February 14 - David Levy, professor at
the Information School of the University of
Washington. He will discuss the shift of the
experience of reading from the fixed page to
digital, and the effect that has had on
language.

Thursday, March 3 - Lawrence Lessig, professor at
Stanford Law School & founder of the Stanford
Center for Internet and Society. He will discuss
digital copyright issues.

Monday, March 14 - Edward Ayers, dean of the
College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at
the University of Virginia. He will address the
implications of creating and distributing
knowledge in today's digital environment.

Monday, March 28 - Neil Gershenfeld, director for
the Center of Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. His talk is titled
"From the Library of Information to the Library
of Things."

Series dates and times subject to change. Visit
http://www.c-
span.org/congress/libraryofcongress.asp for more
information.

books ARE dangerous

I was teaching a class today (a Journalism class, a first for me!) and I brought a volume of Readers Guide to Periodical Literature to pass around since the students will need it for their assignment, and I guessed that perhaps they had never seen it before. Dang whippersnappers. As I handed it to the guy in the front row, it ripped off half my thumbnail. Ouch. I think the book was just bitter since I was going to show the students how to access Readers Guide online.

In other news, there was a person in my first class of the day (a freshman orientation) who had never used Google before. That was also a first!

The new job is going well, injuries aside. I really enjoy teaching and working the desk. I miss cataloging though...

Depressing!

Between the dead pets and the bad election news, things are downright depressing in the LISNews Journals. I'm not sure I have much to cheer you all up--dead pets and 4 more years of W are pretty grim. Apparently the news that Kerry would clean up your library wasn't enough for 52% of voters! Here's a knock knock joke to cheer you all up, or at least annoy your co-workers.

Person 1: Knock knock.
Person 2: Who's there?
Person 1: Control freak.
Person 1: Now you say "control freak who?"

job talks/presentations for job interviews

For all you academic librarians out there, how did your presentation/job talk go? Did you have a prepared speech, a power point, handouts?

I had all those things. But the two candidates we're interviewing here for a librarian position did not. It's kind of strange. I just always assumed that for your job interview presentation you'd do something formal and polished, like you were presenting at a conference or teaching a class. These two candidates used the presentation to give us a personal bio, show some of the projects they've been working on, and take questions. They were very informal and not at all organized. One guy went waaaaay over the time limit too.

Maybe it's my public speaking background but this seemed very odd to me. What are other librarians' experiences with the job talk/presentation? Am I just a fuddy-duddy? Is this the new big thing? Or did these guys miss the concept?

Okay, maybe there are stupid questions

Today I got one of those fun ref desk phonecalls asking me to settle a bet. The caller asked, "What year did the Trade Center go down?"

I said, "You mean the year it was destroyed?"

She said yes, and I said, "September 11, 2001," because it was a no-brainer for me and I would guess most Americans.

She replied, "I knew it! Will you tell my friend? He doesn't believe me." Being the impeccable public servant that I am, I said that would be fine.

So the guy gets on the phone. I said, "Hi, you were asking about the World Trade Center? It was destroyed in 2001."

"Are you sure?" he asks. "I think it was 2002. I saw it on TV."

"I'm positive. They probably showed footage on the anniversary"

"How do you know?"

"Uh, I was there. Do you want me to get you a cite?" He did, and so I looked up World Trade Center in Encyclopedia Americana. Sure enough, it was destroyed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. This seemed to finally satisfy the guy.

Geez. Have we come to this already? How can someone forget WHICH YEAR THE WTC ATTACK HAPPENED IN???? Especially with the Republicans reminding us every day! Especially when it was only 3 years ago!

Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

PS--I wasn't actually in NYC on Sept. 11--I said that I was there in the sense that I assumed all Americans were there. No one I know will ever forget that day. But apparently one guy in Montana did!

There are no stupid questions, part 526

During my first solo shift on the reference desk at my new job, a student asked me, "Where is the book return?" Guess what wasn't covered in my training? It's probably part of the great circ vs. ref divide. So we went on a journey of discovery together and found the book return about ten feet away.

It's a good thing the question came up because I got the same query two more times after that!

Circ vs ref--the showdown

Even in mild-mannered Montana libraries there are still controversies. Okay, this is probably not a controversy but a difference in opinion. At my last reference job, all the librarians were expected to know how to work circ. It was a small library and I was often working on my own, so it was necessary to know the rudiments of circulation.

In my new job, the circ manager would also like the librarians to know the rudiments of circ. It's pretty rare that a librarian would be working alone, but it would be helpful to know how to check out a reserve item or something if there's no circ person to be found immediately. She was super excited that I know how to use the system already (since it's the same as my old library) and hoped that I would be some sort of example to the other librarians.

But, the librarian who manages the circ manager doesn't want librarians to "mess around" with circ. "I don't want anyone to be a dilettante," he said. "Circ people work circ and reference librarians work reference." He doesn't even want the librarians to check out their own items for themselves.

Hmm. I'm not sure where I stand on this. I understand where the librarian is coming from, but I remember, back in my days as a paraprof working circ, how annoying it was that the librarians were seemingly above it. Checking out a book isn't exactly difficult and I would imagine most librarians can manage it, but I can see the advantage of maintaining clearly defined roles.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Crossing the continental divide

Hey 'newsterz,

I meant to post last week but I've made it over to my new home in Missoula and now have a week of work under my belt. Today I get reference desk training! Orientation can be a little dull but it's definitely worthwhile later when I'm out on my own and some professor wants the "red book, you know, that one."

last days

Today is my last day at the community college reference job. I couldn't have asked for a better one, either. I had a BI session with an ESL Writing class and those students were the most involved, enthusiastic group of people I have ever taught. Wow. I'm so used to the glassy eyed stare that I get absolutely psyched if the class shows any signs of life! It was a load of fun.

They had a little going away party for me here and I was worried I would cry. I haven't yet, but I fear I may get a bit sniffly on the way home. I know that my new job will be a great experience but it's hard to uproot myself from a place where I've spent most of my three years in the Midwest, where I know most of the people and where it finally felt like I was fitting in this summer...

One more "last day" at the museum job tomorrow, then I pack it up and head it out to Missoula!

Library scavenger hunt season

We have an instructor here at the community college who always gives her students a library scavenger hunt assignment the first week of class. Normally I would be all for anything that gets students in the library but there are a few problems.

First off, the instructor doesn't let any of the library staff know what questions will be on the assignment. We find out when the first frustrated students ask us for help in finding weird little facts. This year's hunt asks for the first step in deboning a chicken, for example. That one's throwing a lot of the students.

The second problem is that the instructor created the scavenger hunt at our main library, assuming that we at the branch library had all the same print resources (the required way of answering the questions), which of course we don't. So there are two questions on the hunt that we can't answer at this campus. If we had some advance warning, we could have tried to figure out a way to get these resources here, or suggested alternate questions.

The third problem is that the students are coming into the library with no idea of what to look for or how to find it. So either they stumble around for a while, get frustrated, and ask for assistance, or they just come in, grab a librarian, and have us show them where to look for each question. I'm not sure it's teaching the students anything except to ask a librarian for help, which is a great lesson, but not worthy of the frustration all around.

Anyone else have any fun back to school assignments?

long time no write

Hey all,

Thanks for all your support and well-wishes! I ended up getting the job in Montana and decided to accept it. I'm super busy making arrangements now but hope to have some spare time for LISNews soon, especially since my spouse is staying behind in Iowa for at least three months.

More updates soon!

Mental Decathlon!

If anyone is in the doldrums of summer and trying to keep awake at the reference desk (maybe that's just me) check out the New York Times' Mental Decathlon, in honor of the Olympics. It took me four hours (if I didn't have any reference questions, it would have taken less!). I'm curious whether others will do better.

Dog sighting

A dog just ran by the library door, panting and grinning and having a great time. Not something you normally see here at the community college, so that was cool. Some days I suspect dogs would be better than students to have around...

Still no word on the job front. I have a couple other jobs to apply for if I don't get this one so I'm not too worried. It'd be nice to know though.

And now, the waiting

I got back from my interview in Montana yesterday. It was an interesting experience to say the least. The two part time jobs I have now I got through a very different process. The first I got because I worked as a circ clerk for the library before I left to get my master's, and the director had an opening when I finished my program. Bada-bing, no interview or anything. Very nice. The other part time job was through a connection the director at the first job had with the librarian at the second. I had an offical interview for that one but it was mostly just showing me around the building and telling me about the place.

The two-day academic interview process was a whole new concept for me. I flew in on Saturday night and was given a university car for my use on Sunday to "familiarize myself with the town." Missoula was pretty much how I left it four years ago, but with better shopping. I looked at some apartments so as to be prepared in case I got the job (think positive!). I had dinner with the Dean of the library and his wife that night. It was pretty informal and seemed to be a "getting to know you" kind of thing. Other than developing a migraine during dinner, it was pretty painless. I went back to my ritzy hotel room with its view of the wall by the pool (which everyone was very sad to hear about; apparently I was supposed to have a river view) and took some migraine meds and went to bed.

The next day I was busy from 8 am to 8 pm, with regular feedings every four hours. I got taken to breakfast, then was subjected to the normal interview questions for about an hour. I got to get my presentation out of the way after that (yay!) and the Dean was very impressed by the topic I chose of copyright issues in distance education library services (double yay!). Then I met every single person that works at the library, or so it seemed, in a series of meetings and q&a sessions and so on. I also got several tours in. I met the vice-provost of the university, who seemed to be a very busy lady who really wanted me to know she was busy. She wasn't unfriendly exactly, she was just...busy. It was kind of weird. Everyone else was super friendly and very casual and open. It really didn't feel like a grueling process after I got the presentation over. And I got lots of great food out of it.

I don't know how it went. I can never tell. People seemed like they thought I'd do a good job. UM would be a great place to work and I would be pretty happy to get the job. At the end of the day I asked them (they said to ask them anything at all) if my husband could get work at the U and they weren't sure. That would be my only concern about taking the job if it were offered. Then again, he's had three years of being employed while I've struggled. Maybe it's his turn to struggle again :-) We could switch off in three year increments, or after we each get tenure or something.

Thank you all for your advice and good wishes, and I'll keep you updated!

Stress levels rising...

Yay, I got an interview at UM next Monday! I'm really happy about it, but also a bit stressed out.

The Good:

  • Free trip to Missoula (Free room, Free food, free HBO, Free Willy! --Homer Simpson)
  • Might get to see my parents (if I have time)
  • Two days off from work (yay!)
  • Might get a cool new job

The Bad:

  • Leaving my sick cat for a few days (which is a whole 'nother stress producer right there)
  • The stress of the interview, including
  • Giving a 20-30 minute presentation (eek!)

Well, hopefully I'll be able to put together a presentation that is semi-decent this week. I'm freaking out a bit about it. I think I will talk about copyright's effect on distance education services since there is lots to discuss and it's kind of interesting, plus it's a neutral topic of sorts (not like "How to evaluate your distance ed program" might be).
As always, advice, good wishes, and stress reducing techniques are always appreciated!

venting

I just have to vent about this...my boss at the cataloging job keeps asking me where books I've cataloged are at. My response, which has not changed in the 10 months that I've worked here, is that when I'm done cataloging them I put them on the processing shelves he designated back in August '03. The problem is that these shelves are full and now my desk is full from the past three or four months of cataloging. I won't even mention the ten cardboard boxes full of books. I hated boxing them up but there is no place to put them. So he keeps asking me if I know where in these piles of books and boxes things might be located.
I've offered repeatedly to process cataloged books--I used to be a page at a public library and used to be able to cover a book in less than a minute. My boss says that's a "volunteer task" and my time is too valuable. So as it is now, I've spent nearly a year cataloging books that are completely inaccessible. He can't find them, I can't find them. What is the point? Why should I even continue to catalog stuff if there is no way to use it once I'm done with it? Today my boss decided to clear up some more shelves to store items to be processed. Soon there will be more shelves for items to be processed than for actual processed, ready to go items. I nearly lost my temper with him today because this seems like such a dumb solution to the problem. Why not just let me cover the books and label them and put them on the shelf in call number order???Anyone have any ideas on how to deal with this situation? I'm at the end of my rope. I partly hope I get the job I applied for so that I can leave this mess behind!

interviews and interviewing

I think my phone interview went all right. It's so hard for me to tell with those things. I have a bad habit of rambling on and on if I can't get visual feedback that those listening understand what I'm saying. I think my eagerness (possibly my desperation!) for the job came across though, and the fact that I felt capable of doing it. We'll see if I get an on campus interview.

At my community college job we are interviewing for a part time position, and I'm on the committee for that. It's very interesting to be on the other side of the desk and to realize that rambling a bit and saying "um" doesn't make one hate an interviewee. It's kind of disenheartening, however, that these people we're interviewing don't take the time to dress up a bit. The guy we interviewed today had baggy, dirty jeans on. Crazy!

I promise you, UM, that I will wear a nice professional suit if I get an on-campus interview. Okay? :-)

yikes!

The unthinkable has happened--I have a job interview.

Actually what I have is a telephone screening interview. But it's still tremendously exciting and somewhat terrifying. It's for the "Reference Librarian/Outreach Coordinator" position at the University of Montana in Missoula.

The first reason that this is so exciting is because the job would be only three hours' drive from my parents and brother (and cute little nephew and niece), and two hours' drive from my spouse's dad and grandma. We're currently a 6 hour plane trip away. Plus, Missoula is beautiful and a great place to live.

Secondly, I'm excited because I would love to have an "actual" job. My two part time jobs are great, but I don't feel like I really am part of the team at either job. At the cataloging job, I sit in a cubicle by myself all day with a huge stack of books and my iPod. I often come into work to find that someone has decided to use my cube as a storage closet for museum artifacts. The reference job is a bit better by nature, but still there are days that I'll come in and everything will be all moved around or there'll be a new person working, and the full time people will say, "oh, but we thought you already knew what was going on." Plus the job sounds super cool. Check it out.

So I'm hoping some of you LISNewsterz could send me advice and good wishes, and think of me at 4 pm central time on Wednesday. If there are any distance ed people out there, let me know what you think they'll be looking for!

ALA Annual Roundup

Here's a brief rundown of my ALA Annual Convention that I posted on nexgenlib. If anyone wants me to elaborate or has questions, feel free to ask!

On Friday, I goofed off and went to Kennedy Space Center. When we got back I made a brief stop at the NMRT get together then hung out with a friend of mine from my undergrad days for a while.

I attended the "Service, Disney Style" on Saturday morning. The protesters were very polite and I took their flier and read it. It made some excellent points but I was too curious about Disney to stay away. The session was very interesting (if somewhat creepy).

Next I hit the NMRT Membership meeting, which was less a meeting and more a job search seminar. I grabbed relevant handouts, then left early to go to another job search seminar. I was going to go to the NMRT President's program after that, but I decided lunch and exhibits were more tempting.

I went to the Saturday afternoon ALA Membership I meeting about activism. It was quite interesting. I'm pretty liberal and I'm all
for taking a position on issues that affect libraries like CIPA and Patriot Act, but the activists at this meeting mostly wanted ALA to
take stands on things like torture and the war in Iraq. I just didn't feel like we needed to go that far, and I'm well aware that ALA's stances on issues are already pusing librarians away. I kept wanting to offer my opinion, but there were lots of others also voicing their thoughts and they usually prefaced them by saying "as a 30 year member of ALA" or "as a 25 year member of ALA," which made this newbie feel a bit unwelcome.

After that, I attended the opening session with Richard Clarke (and cheered loudly when Sandy Berman got his award!). I felt that the
opening session was another example of how ALA's activism could turn people off. I'm a liberal, like I said, but I would have preferred a
keynote that talked about issues in libraries and librarianship rather than what Bush is doing wrong in the fight against terrorism.

The Scholarship Bash was super cool. There were nearly no lines so we got to go on every ride except Earthquake (I chose Twister instead at the last minute which was totally lame).

Sunday I attended a session on recruiting new academic librarians. I was glad to see a good turnout of us younguns, saying that we're right
here looking for jobs and there was no need to worry about recruitment.

In the afternoon I got a start on the committee I'm chairing. In the evening I attended the NMRT Social, which was a blast.

Monday morning I went to the NMRT Leadership Workshop entitled: FISH! Catch the Energy, Release the Potential. It was a fun program based on the Pike Place Fish Market's customer service philosophy. I'm not sure why customer service = leadership, but it was worthwhile in any case.

I also attended ALA Membership II on Monday. This session dealt with ALA's strategic plan. They had us break down into small groups and
discuss what we thought would be important in ten years. Again, we had some new librarians who wanted to make sure the need for more librarians was not overstated.

I finished up the day with the PLA President's program's keynote, Carl Hiaasen. He is a super amusing guy with lots of insights into Florida. The only better speaker I could have imagined would be Dave Barry.

The next day I went to Disney World, but I'm sure no one wants to hear about that! :-)

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