Employment & Work Stories

The Perils of Automatic Copyright Protection

A cautionary tale about copyright, and the automated systems that enforce it.

If you post a video on YouTube, using one of their very own video creation tools, don't you expect it to go up and be viewable without any problems? Because of YouTube's Content ID system, it might not be so easy ...

Read the full story here.

For Reference Librarians...No Two Days the Same

OXFORD, Ohio — “Do you have the latest Danielle Steel book?”

“Who is the district manager at Kroger?”

“What is the weather like in New York?”

No two questions are alike for a reference librarian, meaning each day on the job is a drastically different affair.

Rebecca Smith, branch manager at the Oxford Lane Library, said in her 10 years of working she has heard just about every question under the sun.

“There is no typical day for me,” Smith said. “People will come in and ask their question and it’s not always clear what their information needs are. Sometimes knowing the question is just as difficult as finding the answer.”

In the age of Google and Wikipedia, is there as much demand for a reference librarian? That is one of the few questions Smith can’t answer.

“We’re still used, just in a different way,” Smith said. “The amount of homework questions for kids has decreased and we’re not sure if it’s because teachers are focused on a more specific curriculum or if students are just using Google for everything.”

Middletown (OH) Journal.

From Social Worker to Librarian

Story from the North Jefferson News.

GARDENDALE NJ — Gina Robertson has a lot on her plate at the Gardendale-Martha Moore public library.

She works in adult services, meaning she specifically helps adults with doing things like ordering books and videos, as well as working the front desk occasionally and cataloging books into the library’s computer system.

“I like that it can be very different day to day,” said Robertson.

Robertson was a social worker before she got her master’s degree in library science.

“You put a lot of heart and soul into a job like that, and it’s easy to burn out. I loved what I did, but I wanted a career change,” she said. Robertson said there was opportunity for social work in her library job as well.

“People come in here and they want help with resumes, and finding jobs, they can’t find their books, they need to get something for their kids... The library is a place where the community can come and all share the same resources,” she said.

Union Out in Cincinnati

From LJ: After librarians of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County faced staff reductions in 2005, they agreed in early 2006 to join the Service Employees International Union, District 1199 (SEIU), by a vote of 74–65.

Last week, however, they decertified the union by a 66–50 vote. The move came after a staffer filed a Decertification Petition with the State Employment Relations Board, with signatures from more than half of the members of the bargaining unit.

The library has steadily opposed unionization in part because of its reliance on seniority as a basis for promotion and retention—a challenge for an institution facing change and cutbacks. In a press release last week, library director Kim Fender said the seniority and bumping system could cause five or six job reassignments. SEIU has not responded to LJ's request for comment.

Former law librarian sues W.Va. Supreme Court

Former law librarian sues W.Va. Supreme Court
A former Cabell County Circuit Court law librarian has filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit against the state Supreme Court. Elsibeth McCoy's suit also names the Cabell County Courthouse's administration. McCoy says in her civil complaint that she was harassed because of her race and in retaliation for complaining about nepotism in the court system.

The Secret to Having Happy Employees

About 10 years ago I was having my annual holiday party, and my niece had come with her newly minted M.B.A. boyfriend. As he looked around the room, he noted that my employees seemed happy. I told him that I thought they were.

Then, figuring I would take his new degree for a test drive, I asked him how he thought I did that. “I’m sure you treat them well,” he replied.

“That’s half of it,” I said. “Do you know what the other half is?”

He didn’t have the answer, and neither have the many other people that I have told this story. So what is the answer? I fired the unhappy people. People usually laugh at this point. I wish I were kidding.

Full article here.

Dionne Mack-Harvin Is Out @ Brooklyn Public Library

The New York Daily News reports that "there's a scandal in the stacks at the Brooklyn Public Library."

The head of the system abruptly quit last week after a plan to lay off 13 employees backfired and ended in a very public embarrassment. Insiders said the firing fiasco was the last strike against Dionne Mack-Harvin. "The board was not happy with her," a source said. It wasn't supposed to end this way. Mack-Harvin took the post with great fanfare and a fabulous back story - the African-American daughter of a sharecropper who loved books and rose to her dream job.

Embezzlement or Cash Advances? NY Librarian Due in Court

Record Online reports: (Upstate NY) TUXEDO - Town police said a former librarian in the Tuxedo School District embezzled more than $12,000 from the district’s teachers union while serving as its president and treasurer. Police said Teresa E. Haslam, 45, of Chester, issued herself 20 checks and one electronic transfer from the union’s account between November 2008 and May 2009, when she left the district. According to the union, all but $645.98 has been repaid.

Haslam, who’s charged with grand larceny, a felony, turned herself in Wednesday. She was issued an appearance ticket and is due back in Town Court on March 18.

LJ: Allison Sloan Paralibrarian the Year

From Library Journal: They call them “paralibrarians” in Massachusetts now. The main reason for that is Allison Sloan, the 2010 winner of LJ's Paraprofessional of the Year Award, sponsored by DEMCO, Inc. Her outstanding service and her championship of the term paralibrarian illustrates her passionately held and most fundamental belief: “This is not just a nice job, this is a career.”

Each year at the MLA conference, Sloan is instrumental in developing new and exciting programs to bring librarians and paralibrarians together in a partnership to grow library services, open communication, and demonstrate the strength of teamwork. The 2005 program, “Extreme Customer Service: Springfield College Builds a New Desk,” recounted an innovative project to combine the reference and circulation desks—and cross-train paralibrarians to answer reference questions and librarians to provide circulation tasks.

Sloan's enthusiasm connected a dedicated group of library staffers who rejuvenated the MLA Paralibrarian Section.

NYPL Librarians Take Questions 24/7

The crack team at the New York Public Library is where to go when the Google machine leads you down a dead end. Today the NY Post talks to the six senior librarians who field hundreds of questions a day from their station in the Rose Reading Room. While the most common calls are simply inquiries about obtaining library cards, there are also several dozen "cherry questions" a day.

Those cherry calls often come from the writers of Mad Men, who have been making sure their portrayal of the early '60s is accurate. Bernard van Maarseveen says it's questions like those that "keep us coming in each day." Recently the writers have asked when taxis got their "off duty" lights, and what programming was scheduled to be on TV the day Kennedy was assassinated.

Story from the NYPost.

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