Employment & Work Stories

Am I sorry I became a librarian? No, but....

Am I sorry I became a librarian? No, but....

So, am I sorry I became a librarian? No. Am I sorry about some of the bullshit and outright rudeness, disrespect, and other nonsense I get from the higher ups? Yes, but sadly it is not something I can really change so I just take it a day at a time. In the end, some days are better than others. Sensei Girl and I have our successes, and we have our off days. In the end, it is about those we serve. We are happy letting someone else run the library; we just hope they don't run it to the ground.

NPR's Longtime Librarian Kee Malesky Writes a Book

Interesting profile of NPR's longest-serving librarian (over twenty years) who has fielded questions for NPR reporters, editors and hosts. She has compiled some of her favorite bits of "inessential knowledge" — such as which building did Elvis leave last? -- in a new book, All Facts Considered.

All Facts Considered: The Essential Library Of Inessential Knowledge
By Kee Malesky, Hardcover, 288 pages, Wiley List price: $19.95

Check out these 'odd queries': during her two decades of service in the NPR reference library, reporters have asked Malesky to look up some fairly obscure, though fascinating pieces of information.

The first non-Native American to set foot in what is now Chicago?

That would be an African man from Haiti by the name of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, whose trading post was the first permanent dwelling there. Chicago has since named a high school after him, which few residents can properly pronounce.

And how about the "the rockets' red glare" referenced in the Star-Spangled Banner? Where exactly did the red glare come from?

The British army's Congreve rockets, Malesky explains. They were effectively very large bottle rockets — the kind you might set off in your backyard on July 4 — but in the early 1800s, they were a novel development in weaponry.

And watermelons — fruit or vegetable?

On the Great Myth of the Librarian Grays

On the Great Myth of the Librarian Grays
And so, in closing, yes, the cake is a lie. The profession may be graying, but gray doesn't mean dead or retiring. There has been published work decrying this myth out for the better part of a decade or two, and older librarians remember being fed the same hogwash in the 70s. This does not mean you should be pushing your leaders down stairs in the hopes you'll get their jobs. It does mean that you need to drink a great big glass of suck-it-up-atine, work extra hard at the job hunt (you know who I'm talking about - I am STILL seeing Comic Sans, clip art, and crappy cover letters, people), and developing skills needed in places other than libraries.

What The Directors Have to Say, On-the-Fly and Off-the-Cuff

Last week six public library directors answered surprise questions about the future of libraries on-the-fly and off-the-cuff in Castle Rock, CO. Featuring: Shirley Amore (Denver Public Library), Kari Baumann (Elbert County Library District), Jamie LaRue (Douglas County Libraries), Eloise May (Arapahoe Library District), Bob Pasicznyuk (Cedar Rapids Public Library, IA), and Marcellus Turner (Jefferson County Public Library).

Lunch & Learn Super Summit: Public Library Directors from Douglas County Libraries on Vimeo.

Presented by the Douglas County Libraries New Professionals Committee and reported at Save Libraries.

Job Security at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library

Yesterday, employees at Buffalo and Erie County Public Library were offered this survey before the start of the this year's Staff Development Day. You can view the survey at:

Bridgeport City Librarian Inspires No Confidence Vote

BRIDGEPORT CT -- The city's library staff has taken a vote of no confidence in City Librarian Scott Hughes.

Officials with the National Association of Government Employees Local 200 and the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association informed Library Board Chairman Jim O'Donnell of their vote several weeks ago.

According to the identical letters sent by each union, library employees claim Hughes has created a "hostile work environment" and "an unsafe workplace." Staff members also question his managerial skills, claim his communication skills are nonexistent and accuse him of violating union contracts.

Frank Bisogno, president of NAGE, said all 26 library employees in the union -- mostly custodians and library assistants -- participated in the vote.

"All of a sudden he is starting to violate contracts that he at one point was following," Bisogno said. "He's got part-time volunteers coming in and doing the work of experienced volunteers. Our contract allows for volunteers, not to supplant what we do but to assist."

Birmingham PL's Library Assistant III Sues the System

A library employee claims in a federal lawsuit that Birmingham's downtown public library is a sexually hostile place to work, with some patrons openly viewing pornography on computers, groping her and performing lewd acts in front of staff or other patrons, including children.

Barbara Ann Wilson claims in the lawsuit against the Library Foundation and the city of Birmingham that the library has not done enough to protect her from a hostile work environment.

"It is increasingly difficult for the Plaintiff to come to the work place on a daily basis to be confronted with the obscene and sexual misconduct that is ongoing at the downtown branch of the Birmingham Public Library," according to the lawsuit filed by Wilson, a library assistant III.

The lawsuit claims the library has violated her civil rights by creating or allowing a "sexually charged hostile work environment" by not providing adequate security. The lawsuit, which said Wilson has suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish, seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Lawsuit story from The Birmingham News; updates, including a meeting of the library board here.

Additional video coverage via CBS.

Academic Librarianship..."More Rigorous Than You Think"

Piece by journalist Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic:
A reader writes:
Donna Reed in the nightmare portion of "It's a Wonderful Life," be-spectacled, bunned, and timid, seems still to be the exemplar in people's head when they think of a librarian.

But librarianship is both more rigorous and less self-important than people think. My colleagues and I have advanced scholarly degrees (I have a BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from NYU, an MA and an M.Phil. in medieval history from here at Columbia, and an MLIS from Rutgers). We know how to do research better than most faculty, as professors often don't adapt to new methodologies or technology, preferring the tried-and-true (not all, but oh, so very many). But we are treated as service personnel by the majority of faculty and as punch-lines by those outside academia altogether.

At the same time, we are gregarious and resourceful. I tend to feel that my bartending experience was as important as my scholarly training: it taught me how to multi-task, to handle difficult people tactfully, and gave me an ethos of customer service. We are sympathetic, supportive, and often silly (when it works best, as in undergrad orientations). We are au courant with technological developments (like the porn industry, we are aggressive at adapting new technologies to our own ends). In other words, we are well-rounded human beings, not figures of fun. It would be nice if more people realized that.

The Best Advice On Finding A Librarian Job From Around The Web

on reading cover letters and resumes from Laura Crossett. She lists 6+ great ideas she's come up with after reading 40+ applications for a single position. She also adds "make one additional plug for social networking in general and for the Library Society of the World in particular. There are several LSW FriendFeed room denizens who are starting library school and/or new jobs, and I know they’ve gotten a lot of help from the people who hang out there. We’d be more than happy to help you, too." Laura also hit Cover Letters last year.

Over at Swiss Army Librarian Brian Herzog has Notes on Reading Resumes. He lists 15 ideas from reading over 50 resumes for a single position.

On Information Wants To Be Free Meredith Farkas has some DO's and DONT's listed on Tips for library job applicants in a tight market

The gang over at In The LIbrary With The Lead Pipe has a great collection of DONT'S: What Not to Do When Applying for Library Jobs. "This group post is our way of pulling together our collective experiences as both interviewees and interviewers and offering up some practical advice to our readers. "

Daughter Defends Fired Librarian Mother

In a Dallas Ft.Worth suburb, Farmersville, a fight has erupted after Pansy Hundley, the city's long-time librarian, was fired.

Hundley's dismissal for insubordination was apparently triggered by a comment she made to a City Council member. The librarian's daughter, Suzanne Schuschardt, publicly scolded that Council member at Tuesday night's meeting.

"This started with you and a comment you made to my mother dismissing her three weeks ago," Schuschardt said. "Nobody has a right to dismiss anybody. Is it arrogance? Is it cowardice? You didn't even look at her when you said it. I don't know." Hundley, 73, had been the Farmersville city librarian for 28 years.


Subscribe to Employment & Work Stories