Library Advocacy

Library Advocacy: A topic of great interest to me,
whether it be Academic, Public or School.

Lately I've been reading about so many library cutbacks, that I wonder what we, the Information Professionals, are doing right and what are we are doing wrong.

Specifically, when the public libraries were spared from the chopping block in Ohio, was it the protest rallies held at the Capitol and letter writing campaign to legislators that made the difference? Or was there other inside politicing going on?

Tommorrow , Sep 9, the Pennsylvania Legislators start their session to decide the fate of Governor's Reindell's budget PDF , which proposes a 50% decrease in funding to Pennsylvania public libraries, spending 37.5 million instead of 75.2 million for fiscal year 2003-2004. What will need to happen for the public funding decision makers to spare the library budget as proposed by 71 of the 203 Reps in HB 1590 ? What information will sway their decision? Will it be a letter writing campaign from the PA library advocates ? Editorials expressing outrage? Or will other groups' lobbyists present their cases more effectively?

It is paradoxical to me that we make our living as Information Specialists, yet, I don't think we are getting the specific information delivered to the audience that needs to see it in order to keep us afloat.

Governor Rendell hates this budget but wants to balance the 600 million dollar deficit. He believes these are the tough measures needed to bring the state back to prosperity so that he can reinstate the funding to the public libaries.
I believe he likes libraries, because he posed in front of library shelving for one of his photos that randomly appear on his web site.

You see, Governor Rendell explains his reasons for the tough choices. One of his sources cited was a report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) , a non-profit, non-partisan Foundation. Titled the Development Report Card (DRC) , it summarizes economic benchmarks for decisionmakers and is succinctly subtitled "How to Govern in a Recession ". The report "provides ten guidelines to help state policymakers make wiser choices in what programs to cut, what investments to sustain, and what taxes and fees to raise."

Each state gets a report card and is graded using raw data collected for 71 measures. You can then compare your state's performance in the recession to other states on such indicators as "Average Teacher Salaries" , "Crime Rate", and "Unemployment Rates". Also, you can check your state's individual strengths and weaknesses.

The 71 measures are grouped into three Indexes: Performance, Business Vitality and Development Capacity.
The Performance index hopes to answer the question, "How well is the state's economy providing opportunities for employment, income, and an improving quality of life?" Colorado (it got straight A's) had favorable data in the measures that make up that category.

Index 2: Business Vitality question, "How dynamic are the state's large and small businesses? Index 3: Development Capacity, What is the state's capacity for future development?

Now, if you think like I do, you'd want to find how effective public library systems were figured into the 71 measures. Surely, a state like Ohio, with its largely state funded public libraries got a few points for improving the quality of the lives of their patrons with job search strategies and improving the literacy levels of children through library programming. I supposed that a public library system that is successful in meeting it's mission statement (especially with state dollars) would be figured into the first index question, "How well is the state's economy providing opportunities for employment, income, and an improving quality of life?"

But, after searching all the measures, I could not find a single one that included any public library statistics. I called the CFED and they confirmed that they had not included public libraries contribution but, were open to the idea of including PL data next year.

Now, here is a project where ALA or PLA-types could lend a hand. Will the CFED really make these changes on the basis of one librarian's request? How can I assume she will find all the wonderful sources of data already collected?

ALA does address federal funding issues , but I think either PLA or ALA could come up with some strategies for dealing with the state funding crisis affect on public libraries. This brings up the question, to quote Blake
"Does the ALA need to do More for budgets and worry about Filters Less?"

State library associations like PaLa can only do so much with their limited funds. Compare the PaLa web site to the < a href=""> Ohio Library Council budget update and Advocacy Handbook (PDF) for an idea of the inequity of state level organization and support.
Iowa Library Association complies Library Success Stories and the grass roots campaign by MaryLaine Block to collect library success stories looks promising, however I did not find a compilation of the stories, I wonder if anyone sent any to her.

I did join the ALA Advocacy Now, (ALADNOW) "A discussion list of the ALA Library Advocacy Network for idea sharing, updates, and legislative alerts." to find out more about the ALA's Advocacy programs . For example, who do I talk to about this issue of a national think tank missing the PL data? I e-mailed someone at ALA but there must be something else that can be done.

I am new to this profession and have a lot to learn about the professional organizations. I welcome your comments.

Speaking of passwords

Password Rage is a fact of life I suppose. I am trying to figure out how many username/passwords I need to keep track of.

Children &amp; Adults

I mentioned I'm a public librarian. I work at both the Childrens and Reference desks. I don't have a favorite because I like both for different reasons. I like the kids because they're so thrilled when you find what they want. I also like that if you don't find the exact book (it's checked out), they'll consider other books on same subject. Some of the adult patrons aren't that open-minded. They can't seem to believe that someone else has an interest in the book they want, and that we let them check it out. More on frustrating patrons in the future.

first two weeks of school

School, work and the baby ...... the juggling went well until the mini suv went caput :S i'll be shopping for a minivan this week ...... hmmmmm ..... this week is going to be a learning experience ...... i'm finishing my last week at my job, looking for the new mommy mobile, doing homework & entertaining the little bundle of joy .....hmmmmmm it doesn't look that bad written down.

Oh btw if anyone is interested my classmates and I are making pathfinders and doing 5 minute presentations on various topics. My topic is the Book of Hours.



I'm probably not going to be using this journal feature at lisnews very much. You can catch my thoughts at my own site.

My first post

This is my first post here at

filling space &amp; time

So, I'm probably not going to use this journal thingy much, at least not until I figure out what to say here. I have a blog over on my own site, and even that doesn't get updated on a regular basis. I think I'm spending too much time reading and other librarian blogs.

Getting Started

This journal will be a combination of thoughts on the librarian profession and "slice of life" entries.
I'll be in touch soon!

Ich bin drin

Das ist mein erster Eintrag im System von LISNews. Aber eigentlich schreibe ich mehr in 8-)

RSS descriptions breaking

The RSS feeds that include descriptions (descriptions.rss and others) seem to be breaking whenever there are ampersands in the descriptions. Can something be done to XML-encode ampersands?

Numero dos

The toughest part about going back to school is ....... waking up at the crack of dawn to join the morning rush into Honolulu. I would say 'beat the morning rush' but that would mean waking up at 3 in the morning. LOL I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon.

Week 3 With The Slash Code, or is it week 4?

Busy Week!

Job #1 right now is to figure out why the same stories keep coming up on the metamod page.
I need to make a better page that lists the RSS feeds I think.
I'll be sending out a request for editors soon I hope, each editor will get a section.
Still need to write up the XB email.
I think the older stories might still need a bit of help. A search by topic fails for some reason.
The old polls and comments are still lost in the old Db.
The mailing lists are still seperated.
Still need to kill the edit link.
Categories for the vars? How I'd do that remains to be seen.
Figure out the contact us thing.
Can I have a form to allow people to contact other people?

Need to do the ENT feeds for Shifty, and the RSS to email thing for Stuffy.

Stats? The numbers are still lower than a couple months ago, but maybe it's just that time of the year?
I've bump started the moderation by giving everyone who has posted a comment points.
The old quotes are now working! Damn that was a pain.
docs are updated nicely, the FAQ, authors help file, and Moderation FAQ have been rewritten.
Hits display on the stories. It doesn't seem to be at all accurate... but it's better than nothing.
The User List is much improved.
Most 404's have been fixed.
Killed relocate.
Added links and # of user accounts to login for me.
The RSS Leaks have all been plugged now I think. No more sneak peaks!
I figured out to edit just section templates.
I rewrote the About Us Page.
There's now a contact us form. I should've just done it that way to begin with, until I figure out how to make a new "real" one.
Cleaned up the duplicate topics.
Adding links to each section.
Added links to all the current feeds, and added a couple new feeds.
Fixed the stats page, I think all us authors should be able to see it.

Overall, things are still ok. Some days I just want to do "rm -rf *" but it's coming along. I am slowly, very slowly beginning to understand the code. I hope with the moderation points scattered about we'll see more people participating.

Less than 2 months left till I get married.

First journal entry

Library school starts tomorrow. I have my notebooks, my pens, my lunch, my textbook (for some reason I only have one yet - go figure) and my cold care kit packed and ready to go.

You must be wondering what my cold care kit is ..... basically means I'm packin' my medicine cabinet in my backpack and I'm gonna be smellin' like menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus all through class. LOL

This is exactly how I imagined my first day of grad school. NOT!

Moderator points expiration

Checked in today and noted the availability of moderator points. Familiar with the process from slashdot, so no real surprise. A significant difference, however, lies in the expiration of the points: one month vs. three days on slashdot. Not sure the reasoning for this. Taco gives his support for the three days in the moderator guidelines (used here on lisnews as well).

Started wireless blog

I started suing the wireless blog set up by Blake for me. It has been heavily visited and viewed already. I am wondering about extracting statistics from it.

Introduction to me

Welcome to my first online journal,
Thanks for clicking on my link!

I feel a bit like I did when I joined a dating
service back in the 90's. Potential is great to make some friends, but, I only want to share great and wonderful things about myself,
since it is out there for anyone interested to see.

Well, the dating service gig was a good thing, so
what the heck.....

Week Three With The SlashCode

So week three has brought few changes. I am rather dumb when it comes to makes any changes on this code yet, there's still a rather long list of things to do. A couple of interesting things.

1. There's about a million (well it feels like it) RSS feeds now. Thanks to the new sections that I've added, each one adds a new feed. Speaking of the new sections...

2. My big idea with the new sections, each with it's own URL, will be to have "editors" take care of each section. Now I need to finish up adding sections, and find some editors. Speaking of people posting stuff...

3. How 'bout those journals?! Getting used much more than I had though, already. Interesting posts from Oghma, Surfer Rosa (is that a Pixes reference?), sabine01, Great Western Dragon is leading the pack, quite a few more good ones In There.
RTeeter let slip a little secret, bug, I need to fix.

4. It seems that it's possible to use the new code as a Discussion Board independant of the stories and journals. Interesting...

5. There are some really funny User Names so far.

6. I took a peak at the stats, and it looks like we are down about 1000 people a day since the new code started. Not as bad as I had thought.

7. Moderation is not quite working like I had hoped yet. I guess we need more users, more users with higher karma, more users metamoderating, and more comments. The moderation code doesn't seem to scale down well, or at least, I can't get it to do that yet.

8. Got a great email from XB I need to write up.

So good I think. I really need someone with mad PERL skills to help me for a few hours.

What we do

This is my first blog-style entry, so I'll make it more of an introduction than a journal entry. I’m a director in a small public library. I’ve worked in libraries since 1985, first as a shelver and technical processor at the University of Wisconsin, then as an acquisition assistant at Plymouth State College after a move to New Hampshire, where I achieved my MLIS from the University of Rhode Island. After a move to Florida, I started working in public libraries, first as a reference supervisor and eventually as a library director. I’ve been involved in four expansion projects as a librarian, three as director.

I titled the subject line “What we do� because I’ve read some recent entries questioning the frustrations of the post-master’s job search, and the state of the profession, especially surfer rosa’s journal at rosa/journal/. I remember what my job search was like, and believe me, I feel your pain. At one point I applied to four jobs at the same university library, which I didn’t get, and then they hired me as a temp to work one of the jobs while the person they hired over me went on maternity leave. Ouch.

Getting hired as a professional was very difficult, for some reason. All the experience I had pre-Masters suddenly didn’t count. The economy at the time wasn’t great, so I wound up volunteering and joining the local library association. Word of mouth eventually got me interviews, and the experience I had post-Masters as a volunteer got me the job. I just didn’t think it would be that hard. I think it’s because we what we do isn’t understood well by non-librarians, and as a result, we as a profession are undervalued, understaffed, and underpaid – so as a result, there aren’t a lot of jobs out there, the ones that are held onto, and there aren’t a lot of people who move out of it into other careers.

Understanding what it actually was that I learned in library school took me a while. I mean, I know the classes I took, which were typical of most programs: foundations, cataloging, reference, administration, etc. What did I *learn*, though? What did I know that I didn’t know before the MLIS. This is an important question, especially for those who rail against the “glass ceiling� of the “piece of paper� that the MLIS represents.

It took a while, using my skills and knowledge, making many mistakes, getting some things right, and learning again things I thought I’d already mastered. Talking to patrons, finding what they were asking for, and eventually learned to find what they needed.

I had learned how to help people.

That sounds too simplistic, so I’ll round it out with the closing of a lecture I gave on reference services during an in-service course.

We study the organization of knowledge. The word information has little character, because information, without relevance or context, is useless. Knowledge, however, is that piece of relevant information that has importance to that patron. It is the auto repair manual for the blue-collar man who has no money for repairs but has to drive to work or lose his job. It is the landlord/tenant laws that prove that a woman was illegally evicted so she can get back into her apartment and her daughter can sleep at home again. It is the fifth title in a romance series to entertain a reader. Our skills enable us to take the once piece of information from the vast cultural ocean our society has created and bring it to the individual who needs it.

It’s a great thing. To me, there is no greater thing – to share your knowledge for the benefit of others.

It’s what we do.


A brief history of a miserable job search.

At my library school orientation, I was regaled with stories of recent graduates who had prospective employers beating down their doors begging them to work for them. I was told that as an MLIS grad from Prestigious Library School, I would have absolutely no problem finding a job. After all, with the "graying of the library profession," lots of people at the top would be retiring, and people would move up to fill those positions, leaving a lot of good entry level jobs for new grads to fill.

Then September 11th happened, the economy went to shit, budgets were cut, and grads in just about every field found it difficult--if not damn near impossible--to find a job. It's been almost two years, but the situation isn't any better. The "graying" of the librarian population is definitely on target. I went to ALA this summer, and I was appalled at the number of coelacanth librarians--you know, "living fossils." But these people are never going to retire. They're waiting for their retirement funds to be worth what they were worth in 2000, and they'll die in their fancy chair in the director's office before that happens. Which means that I've got to wait for them to kick the bucket so everyone else can move up a rung so I can get an entry-level job. Of course, it'll take between two months and a year to fill any given position because of the snail's pace of library hiring.

I have a sparkling resume, and I give good cover letter, so I've been able to score a number of interviews. In a way, this is positive, because I have friends who haven't had an interview yet, and have been looking longer than I have. I'm so damn sick of the hiring song-and-dance at this point. I'm tired of describing my work experience and my management style and how I handle difficult situations to a committee who already knows who they're going to hire. The whole idea of interviewing multiple candidates "in the name of fairness" when an internal candidate is going to be promoted is silly. Don't dick me around, employers. I've had it.

Anyone else going through this same sort of hell? Anyone else out there irritated at the fact that complete and utter boneheads who graduated with you have jobs and you don't? Anyone else not afraid to be a little bit bitter and ranty sometimes?

Holla back, yo.

Articles in RSS, but not on Web site

In case Blake (or someone else equally powerful) is reading this:

Sometimes I see articles showing up in my RSS reader that don't show up on the Web site until hours later. Right now, I'm getting the story "What Librarians Really Mean." Also, I notice it's dated Friday, Aug. 22, at 2:00 a.m., a day and a half from now.

Is this a bug or a feature? Could it be a gift for "RSS bigots"? ;-)


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