Employment & Work Stories

Norfolk (Canada) Deputy Librarian Walks Out On Her Job

The deputy CEO of Norfolk’s (Ontario) library system has resigned. Terri Pope, a branch librarian in Simcoe before she was promoted in 2006, left her post last week. Officials close to the situation suggest her departure was abrupt. "All I know is she cleaned out her desk, dropped off her keys and left a voicemail saying she would no longer be part of this organization," Bill Hett, acting CEO of the county library system and Norfolk’s general manager of community services, said yesterday. "I don’t know her future plans."

Library board chair Tom Morrison, of Port Dover, also suggested yesterday that Pope’s departure was abrupt. Morrison said Pope provided no notice. "I would have expected more professional courtesy," he said. "But we’re fortunate that, with the administrative team we have in place, we’ll be able to get through this with a minimum of turbulence." Canoe News.

CA Political Candidate: recognize this [fired] librarian for her noble resolve

Conway should back library assistant:

"It is reckless and irresponsible in a predominantly Christian community such as our own, to allow a good person to to be targeted and punished for a selfless act of protecting our children and our families from sexual predators. Thank God for people such as this librarian, I only wish those who act supposedly on our behalf were as selfless and beneficial to our community.
I firmly believe that the death penalty would make a fine deterrent to those that act in such egregious capacity against our children."

Here's the backstory in a March LISNews report on the firing of Brenda Biesterfield.

An Indomitable Spirit: The Eight Hundred of CUPE 391

Anita Galanopoulos sent over a Link To An Indomitable Spirit: The Eight Hundred of CUPE 391. The article documents the three-month strike for pay equity by the Unionized workers of the Vancouver Public Library.

Successful Novelist Began As A Librarian...at Harrod's

If you've ever been to Harrod's in London, you're not likely to forget it (love those Food Halls). Penny Vincenzi remembers it fondly.

From The Independent UK, here's Vincenzi's story. She is the acclaimed author of 14 novels and chair of the new £10,000 Desmond Elliott (first novel) Prize, but her very first job was to hand out other people's books in the Harrod's store in Knightsbridge.

"There were far more private lending libraries then," she explains. "Boots had one. At Harrods, you got a book straight away; you just rang up and ordered it and it was delivered that afternoon, sometimes by horse-drawn van." As a humble member of staff, young Penny did not enter the main Harrods building like the smart customers but used another, over the road, connected to it by a tunnel.

She would slip into a green wrap-around garment, "a horrible green, so unflattering, like joke cleaning-ladies' overalls". Emerging from the subterranean route, she would go to her appointed desk in the library on the fourth floor. There were 12 desks, each with one senior and two junior librarians who dealt with customers in person or over the phone."

One More on Biesterfield

This story from KMPH and another from the Fresno Bee concludes that Tulare County CA library aide Brenda Biesterfield was fired for cause, that being her inadequate job performance.

Specifically: "Ms. Biesterfeld received an evaluation following three months of her employment and received an overall rating of 5 on a scale of 10. Goals for improvement included the proper completion of the cash report, proper documentation of the collection of fines, the importance of seeking clarification of policies and procedures, developing clerical skills, working on assigned tasks and keeping her supervisors informed of all problems and community complaints. Ms. Biesterfeld failed to improve..."

"Regarding the specific incident... Ms. Biesterfeld did not tell her supervisors that the patron was accessing child pornography, and thereafter she neglected to notify anyone in management of the events which transpired, including the suspect's arrest until after they had occurred and failed to advise that the library's computer had been seized... There were additional performance deficiencies and policy violations that were discovered which led to her release."

Today's LA Times features an op-ed by Christopher D. Greene in support of Biesterfield's actions here.

To explain something from the podcast further: podcasters-in-residence

I imagine that the opening to this week's podcast was a little jarring. All I can say is that that was necessary. I will try to explain such further. What was in the script was:
The production team for Listen is looking for a new home. Due to workplace uncertainties we want to move the show soon. Any library, whatever the type, willing to host the production team that might have related tasks the team could work on is asked to think about it. Provided that work visas are possible, we are willing to consider moving to locations in the Commonwealth of Nations. Our main preference is to stay away from Lake Erie Lake Effect Snow areas within the United States. With a former federal contractor computer technician on the production team, we have knowledge and skills that could bring value to your institution. To talk about this, hit us at the contact form on LISNews but please make sure you complete ALL options shown so Blake is not flooded. You can also send us faxes and e-mails by following the instructions found at lisnews.org/podcast.
Perhaps I might have been too delicate in writing that. Unless we hear otherwise my father is out of a job on April 28th. To use a slang word popular in local television ads, we do not need a blamestorming session for that. Efforts are underway to keep him in place but due to the budget at work being in deficit for the second fiscal year running his departure may be unavoidable. In my own workplace environment things have become unstable due to circumstances beyond my control and the likelihood of a RIF is increasing. Can the team find new work locally? Right now the mix of available jobs is not pretty in Las Vegas. I do not see either of us able to pull off being waiters all that well. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot out there. For the purpose of having it on-hand, I put together a budget showing hold-in costs to keep us in place in Nevada until the end of the calendar year. The budget would assume that we would handle the podcast full-time with other production duties mixed in. The total budget including payroll, fixed costs like rent and utilities, and other such expenses came out to a little under sixty thousand dollars. The budget assumed nothing for benefits as frankly nobody here has that at the moment. So, what was the pitch about at the beginning of the podcast? A potential way around that hold-in scenario would be to have the production team relocated. If there happened to be a library that could host us we would be happy to join your team on a visiting basis. The podcast audio engineer has a few years experience as a computer technician making all sorts of things work ranging from old boxes running CP/M to Sun SPARCStations to SGI Indy and beyond. I have limited experience in electronics and have been a serving cataloger. The notion would be that a library, preferably academic or public, would host the production team on a visiting basis. The team would have normal and appropriate day to day duties but also have podcast production included in the mix. In terms of relocating, we will be free pretty soon to do such I fear. Some areas we would consider relocating to include:
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Areas of the southern United States not prone to hurricanes and otherwise not California
  • West Virginia
  • Mid-Atlantic states except for Lake Effect Snow areas
  • Canada
  • England
  • Guam
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
I am trying to be prudent in bringing this up. If anything I want to throw the notion out there for folks to consider. There are several ways to reach me. You can find those at http://lisnews.org/node/29265 with telephone numbers in standardized format. If anybody has interest in exploring this seemingly radical notion that is somewhat old-fashioned outside librarianship, please let me know. Life sometimes throws curveballs. Living is not always a matter of determining how one might act. All too often this modern life requires more attention to how to react.

Woodland CA library board could have "done better job at hiring"

In The Daily Democrat - Woodland,CA - Gregg Atkins isn't happy with The Woodland Library Board. The job announcement asked for "five years of increasingly responsible experience in professional public library administration "

But he says the new librarian brings no actual library management experience to the city library.

She has never managed a branch, a department, or a regular library program area. And, actually, apparently brings no professional librarian experience: Has never worked a reference desk or done readers' advisory, never selected books or other materials, never designed and carried out children's and young adult services, managed circulation and patron services, never trained and supervised library staff never done the work she is now responsible for managing and improving. Talk about on-the-job training!

Library union, management work together to get ready to reopen

Back To Work! Susan Henderson was in a comfy fleece top and leggings, not the business dress she usually wears as manager of community relations. Much of her day Friday was spent in the dark returns room at the Central Library on Broughton Street, packing up books and CDs that were being pushed through the return slot.

“Look at their poor spines!” said Henderson, quickly picking up the books that shot through before they became too piled up.

Holmes too was ready to do whatever needed to be done to get the libraries ready for opening. Union and management agreed that to prepare for reopening, managers could do work normally done by employees.

More on Brenda Biesterfeld

Follow-up on Tulare County librarian Brenda Biesterfeld from the Visalia Times, informing us that records for both the fired librarian and the library from which she was fired can now be seen on-line. Here's the letter from the attorneys representing the library(a pdf file).

To download the personnel file and supervisor drop file regarding former Tulare County librarian Brenda Biesterfeld, go to this website, LC.org.

Oh, and that LC's not for Library of Congress, it's for Liberty Counsel whose motto is "Restoring the Culture one Case at a Time by Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life and the Traditional Family".

Should the public library no longer be public?

The Tewksbury Advocate - Concord,MA - Has A Good Look at outsourcing. “The cost to run the library is half of what it was before, but of course they are open half the amount of hours they were before,” said Olney, adding that the Jackson County Library Foundation has been run by LSSI for six months. “All the people who work for the library now do not have the same benefits,” said Kinard. “I don’t have a retirement program anymore. We are no longer public employees, we are now private employees.”


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