Librarians by the Numbers

As I was finalizing my conference schedule for the ALA Annual conference this year, there was a blurb for one of the programs that caught my eye. It’s for a program entitled “Passing the Baton: Who Will Take It?” on Sunday morning.

There are 72 million baby boomers, 11,000 Americans turn 50 every day, 4.6 adults turn 65 each minute, and almost 60% of librarians are 45 or older. There is little balance: only 7% of the library work force is age 20-29!

My first thought was one word: “Really?” -- Read More

Hide 'n Seek

Camouflage. Both prey and predator species use it in nature for their own purposes.

Prey species use it to hide or blend in. Whether they match with the foliage or the rest of the herd, it's a survival technique. You can't get picked off if you don't get picked out. Never stand out, that's the name of the game.

Predator species use it to hunt. They meld in shadows and landscapes, either by coloration or clever disguise. The deception is revealed only when it is too late for the quarry. Lure them in and then strike when they least expect it.

To a librarian, the library is our natural environment. Amid the desks, stacks, computers, and other benign furniture, we work as a greater part of the information exchange. We dress the part, looking (more or less) like we work and belong at the library. To our patrons, we are part of the institutional landscape.

As you think of yourself as part of the overall library scene, consider about what your library camouflage means: are you just fitting in to go without notice, or are you biding your time for the right opportunity to impress patrons with knowledge of materials and resources while demonstrating how it fills their needs?

Are you that of a prey or a predator?

(Author's note: The alternative title to this post is "An ode to Seth Godin" since I think it closely resembles his style of postings.)


What to do with your rainy weekend

Spring is here and for rainy weekends around the country I would like to propose that we all get away from the gloomy news of melting economies and shrinking budgets and have some fun by watching one or all of the ten most notable movies that have scenes with libraries and librarians in them. Please feel free to add to this list, here is what I found

Library Day in the Life Round 4 Announced

Bobbi Newman announced on Thursday the start of the 4th round of her Library Day in the Life Project. Like the title suggests, it is a blog post detailing the day in the life of a librarian. Round 3 (for which I wrote an entry) had a fun array of takes on the library day, from Marianne Lennox’s Photo Diary to Julie Strange’s multipart post of the week (more of a ‘week in the life of…’).

I’m looking forward to another round of the project. It’s an interesting insight into the lives of my peers; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s serious, but it always has a lot of heart to it. I find that I like these kinds of posts the most because it shows how much librarians love what they do.

Be sure to read the directions and then hop right in!


True Stories from a Library Near You...No "Shh!"

If you work in a library, you know that the most outrageous, unbelievable, disgusting, heartwarming things happen in libraries every day. Librarians receive the most outrageous reference questions , witness incredibly awkward patron interactions , and overhear hilarious conversations every day.

Now there is a website designed exclusively for librarians to share the true stories of all the crazy things that happen in libraries! The Merry Librarian ( is hilarious, heartbreaking, outrageous, and down-right entertaining to anyone who has ever worked in a library.

Check it out today, and send in your own outrageous stories!

The Merry Librarian
True Stories from a Library Near You...No "Shh!"
submit your stories at

Libraries are a path to future -

In hard times, they have become centers of access to information, communities, and jobs.

By Amy Dougherty

"A recently released report by the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, "Help Wanted: Knowledge Workers Needed," included a stunning statistic: Almost 50 percent of the citizens of Philadelphia lack the basic skills needed to perform in a knowledge-based economy. Given that, our state and city leaders have shown a remarkable lack of vision in threatening to reduce library services.

We need to enlarge our workforce by teaching workers the skills that will enable them and the city to make the transition to the new economy. And the infrastructure to do so already exists in our libraries.

Recent data show that Americans are flocking to local libraries, often waiting in long lines for help and computer time. They are searching for employment, job-training information, and, if they are able, rewriting their resumes. Librarians are the new career counselors, sometimes taking the brunt of patrons' frustrations and fears in these turbulent times."

Read the full Commentary from the Philadelphia Inquirer at:

Libraries are a path to future

Gradual Shifts In The Libraries

We are seeing a gradual shift from desktop applications towards web hosted clones that run in browsers. For instance , microsoft office live, google docs, zoho & think free. We will see a shift from organizing information spatially (directories, folders,desktops) to organizing information temporally (feeds live streams, & microblogs. The biggest ultimatum is not retrieving information but keeping up with it.
Desktops will be more concerned with helping users manage information overload. The interface will be created to help the user understand what the trends are instead of how things are organized. Users will shift from acting as librarians to acting as day traders.
Information creation and distribution continues to precipitate. The capabilities of the human brain are limited, we will rely on tools that help us manage our attention more productively. Librarians are currently struggling to cope with the problem of filtering what is truly pertinent or what is relevent now or in the near future. Librarians have to be cautious in what they are looking for. Such is the mindset of the day trader. A wrong bet could cost you to end up wasting valuable time and resources.
Addtionally there will be a shift in the role of IT in libraries. Librarians will play an active role in IT governance in their institution. Library & Information Science educators will have to address the changing needs of IT/Library hybrid and enhance the skill sets of future grads. Toss out the notion that getting a MLS degree means you sit in a room all day full of dusty books

Librarian, a profession by any other name...

Is the term “librarian” antiquated? The term derives from the Latin word librarius meaning “of books.” That hardly seems sufficient any more, does it? Why, with the advent of the Internet, the Kindle, and Google, books aren’t all we do any more. Should we be called Information Specialists? Or perhaps Information Professionals? Or how about…Informarians!

I’m only half joking about this. Really, more and more librarians are working outside of conventional libraries…away from books. Now, I LOVE books, so I’m not advocating anything against them. I’m just asking a simple question…does our title clearly define what our job is? As an avatarian (my term for an avatar librarian in Second Life, feel free to use it), I question this. I, myself, am proud to wear the title of librarian, but I thought I’d ask your opinions…Any thoughts?

Bunny Burnstein

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