effinglibrarian's blog

If you don't read my dog, I'll shoot this book.

So I haven't been contributing to LISNews for a long time. Hooray for LISNews.

But the bad news is that I wrote a book. And it's free. Or about a buck, depending on your need to make Amazon richer... I almost wrote reicher, which probably isn't wrong.

FASTER patron-driven acquisitions (PDA): a library model

OUR LIBRARY has pioneered what we believe is the first program of its kind in patron-driven acquisitions.

One of the problems with most library collections is that although they may be extensive, they can never be complete. And when the patron requests books on a topic, for example, "theoretical experimental particle physics," although the library may pride itself on its exhaustive collection, with current on-demand and online publishing it can't ever call its collection complete. So when the patron is given ten current books on "theoretical experimental particle physics," it is still a common occurrence whereby the patron will respond with infantile disappointment.

So the current model of collection development is broken. Libraries can't ever hope to meet every need. We buy and buy, but it's never enough for some people. So our library has adopted a new model that reduces our inability to fulfill our patrons' requests down to nearly zero. If the material exists, we can get it.

Here is a typical PDA transaction at our library:

The patron has expressed a need for some online content and the librarian assesses the system requirements of the content and the system configuration held by the patron to verify a match. When a match is found, for example, an iPad, the librarian will initiate the purchase by locating the item in the app and downloading it to the patron's device.

"Enter your password."


"This is how it works. Just do it."


"Now tap that."


"And it's downloading to your iPad. And you can read it right now. Pretty cool, huh."

"But I didn't want to spend *my* money! That book was four *hundred* dollars!"

"But the library already spends your money through the taxes you pay. This is faster."

"You DICK!"

As you can see from the model, the patrons get what they want, when they want it, but the cost to the library has also been reduced to nearly zero.

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian

Holy Crap. Some guy at Forbes wrote an article called, "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." Why a poor, black kid? Why didn't he just say, "If I were a kid"? If you remove "poor black" from his essay, it still makes grammatical sense AND it doesn't sound like some WHITE guy just got total amnesia about our history. So if you read the article, just try to ignore that it's completely misplaced advice, but try to focus on the details. Otherwise, damn, he sounds stupid.

With that in mind, I'm going to attempt to solve all the problems of the out-of-work librarian. And it will probably sound just as stupid.


If you're a librarian and unemployed, I don't need to tell you that there are lots of other librarians out there looking for a job.

If I were a poor, out-of-work librarian, I would read "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." And I would do what the author says to do about "getting technical." Most of this stuff can be learned through your local library. I hope you knew that.

If possible, I would learn another language. As much as I could. I would give up my free time and devote every second to making myself the most attractive candidate for the job. But for now, I'll assume you've made it past the application stage and have been called for an interview.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Go the F*** to Sleep, the library edition (NSFW)

I didn't make any pictures, but I got the idea from a cartoon by Emily Lloyd and the research from that story about students not knowing how to search on the Internet. Maybe I'll find some public domain pix of tigers and stuff and illustrate it later... enjoy...

Edit: (NSFW = NOT SAFE FOR WORK which means if you're easily offended don't read it)

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Libraries: Widening the Digital Divide.

So I don't know if you've noticed, but there seems to be a digital divide. The reason why I ask is because I don't know what the digital divide is supposed to be. I thought the digital divide was about access to digital and electronic resources. But if that's the case, then why are libraries working to make access to information even more difficult for anyone without the technology to access it?

I don't understand how it happened, but libraries are actually, make that ACTUALLY, widening the digital divide.

First, a little simple understanding: I feel, and I feel this is a truth, that the more steps it takes to reach a goal, the farther that goal is from achieving.

So if information is shared from person to person, the steps are small. We should speak the same language and not be insane or not eating food or any other logical thing that normally happens when people communicate. Remove idiotic barriers and we communicate.

If we print out the information, similar rules apply. We don't print the information in the sand inches from the rising tide that begins to wash it away; we don't spell it out with breadcrumbs so that birds eat it; we don't brand symbols into another person's skin with hot iron, unless they've signed a release, and we don't intentionally scribble the text in characters that others can't understand.

So in this world, we print with inks onto sheets of paper and we share those ideas with others who understand the languages we use. And that, I think, is a very short path between having information and sharing it with others.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

"Yes, Virginia, Google was Screwing with You." (The Filter Bubble)

In 2009, I wrote posts where I suspected that Google was screwing with me when it showed me search results.

"Do a search for yourself one day and Google will use its standard search algorithm to find standard results. But do that same search a different day, and Google will run its special beta algorithm and return results that it thinks you want. Then it looks to see what you do next. If you click on page after page of results, it assumes you, the person, are somehow related to those results since you read through more of them than a casual searcher might. And Google learns from this and becomes smarter."

So I'm glad that the new book, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, is confirming my suspicions: the internet knows who I am, but it loves me, anyway.

But as librarians, this hidden internet sucks. What happens when you share a computer at the service desk? And you do a search and click some links and the Google wraps you in that safe, protective bubble? What happens at the shift change? A second librarian sits at the desk and enters your bubble. And now all the searches are filtered for you, but the second librarian isn't you... won't is seem to the second librarian that Google suddenly started sucking? That it can't find anything the second librarian wants?

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Why love books.

Yes, your iPad is great. And your PS3 with Blu-ray is awesome. And your Kindle kicks ass. But these technological marvels are nothing compared to a book.

A book challenges us on a personal level. We meet the challenge of new words and ideas and we either find agreement or argument, but we rarely remain the same person we were before.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

The Library War.

Is it me, or has the library war already started? Because I keep reading about how the old library is dead and the new library needs building. That print has been mortally wounded and now those inbred and bastard children fight to be the next ruler. We have our own Game of Thrones (this week on HBO, which I have neither read nor seen, so whatever connection I make, is purely accidental) in the fantasy library world of Bibliotania (yeah, you come up with a better name):

  • We have the Knowledge Facilitators, once loyal to the throne but now impatient for political change so long as the office remains in their control.
  • We have the Transliterates, plotting with foreign armies or mercenaries, anyone who can bring swift wealth and power.
  • We have the Digital Natives, spoiled, selfish, corrupt, unable to see beyond their immediate desires, but who command a great army.


Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

real sign in my fake library

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Save America. Close Your Library.

As an example, last year our library let 1 million people use our computers. And we circulated 10 million items.

One million computer uses does not translate to users, but we have a lot of visitors, so I'll say that we had 250,000 unique users.

What would that mean if we closed the library and forced those people to pay for what fills their hours of unemployment?

What if they paid for that computer that we've been letting them use for free? 250,000 people buying $300 netbooks equals $75,000,000.

$15 a month for internet access equals $45,000,000/year.

And this is just my people. What if every large metropolitan area were like this? Think of all this potential money in a place like New York City. Or Los Angeles.

What about all those circulated items?

We know that everyone wouldn't buy all the things they get for free from the library because some of our patrons are shoplifters and thieves. So those library users would just steal things.

But many other library users would pay for what they want. And this is what could save America. Right now, people are getting all this free stuff from libraries that they could be buying from their local merchants. Books, ebooks, DVDs, music and books on CDs, Ke$hadise, Bieberdise, Gagadise, information, babysitting services, newspapers, magazines, nice furniture, assorted items that people need to buy in order to use the restrooms at the local stores, etc. Babysitters! My God, libraries take money from babysitters!

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Google as ENEMY

The United States of America has a history of uniting its often uncooperative and sometimes antagonistic citizenry in profound and unthinkable ways when the country perceives an outside threat to its peace and safety.

For the most part, the recent history of this country has been one of success and prosperity, or at least one where the prosperous became more so, and because of that complacency spawned from prosperity, this country has never seen the need to create a National Digital Library. (Also, because Capitalism is good for America. I claim poetic license for hyperbole.)

[see: "Why We Can't Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System" or any of the other posts lamenting this American FAIL.]

But Google saw the need. Well, if not the need for the country, then the need for Google. As Google digitized books, it increased its digital domain and lay the groundwork for new continuous streams of ad revenue.

So Google did what the rest of the country could not and went ahead with the project. And the people cheered. Until some others pointed out what was really happening.

So now, in the most recent history, the hero of American and even worldwide book digitization, has been declared a villain as the Google Settlement was struck down in federal court.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

The Most Stolen Library Books

According to MainStreet, by Jeanine Skowronski:

MainStreet was determined to find out whether or not our preconceived notions on library theft were actually true. (I pictured a hapless thief stealing a heavy Encyclopedia Britannica, while my editor thought everyone wanted The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.)

MainStreet talked to librarians, who filled us in on which books frequently go missing.

Many of these are not specific titles, but areas or genres...

Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition
Runner up: "'Anything by Zane is gone in a flash,' [says] librarian Ingrid Abrams."

I agree with Zane. I think 95% are missing in our library. But surprisingly, a lot of our sex instruction books are still on the shelves. Although I haven't checked to see if the illustrations have been removed. But I know for a fact that the illustration for the "male hare and female elephant road to passion" has been razored out of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana because it's in my wallet.

Art Books
"According to Jean Dickson, a reference librarian for Lockwood Library at the University
at Buffalo, [books with nudes] are often stolen, mistreated or abused."

Test Prep Books

And it's impossible to find an ASVAB book in our library or anything on Nursing.

Non-Circulating/Out-of-Print Reference Books

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Libraries, the Universe and Everything

I'd like to take this time to put forward a grand unifying theory of libraries:
Librarians are not unified.

I was reading a discussion of at the Annoyed Librarian and some librarians continue to follow the dream of believing in a world where all librarians share the common goals of service to the customer, preservation of materials, intellectual freedom and open access to information.

And they are completely and totally wrong.

The primary goal of a librarian is to be a librarian. And that means getting paid to do it.

If you're not getting paid to be a librarian, then you're not a librarian. You might have a degree, but currently you're a barista. Or a teacher. Or a consultant.

But your number one goal is to get a regular paycheck.

And that is the dilemma.

Because to earn that paycheck, you have two main avenues of service: the private sector or the public sector. And that is where the problem exists.

The goals of the private sector are almost completely antipodal to the goals of the public sector. Since the public sector relies on public monies, or taxes, that are paid by the private sector, there's almost a perpetual battle to divide those assets. Because the private sector would prefer to pay less in taxes while the public sector would benefit from more being collected. And as one side grows stronger, the other tends to weaken.

Public. Private.

From where does the money come?

What Makes a Professional.

I just had an epiphany while resetting an old man's default browser to IE. He said the tech guy installed Google Earth for him but also installed Chrome and told it to be the default browser. The old guy was lost because Chrome didn't look the same and he couldn't find his favorites.

So I reset everything and explained that techies prefer Chrome. And then I had to explain what Chrome is. And then I explained again that techies hate Microsoft and prefer Google, but I didn't get into why because this old man seemed confused by the fact that there's more than one browser on his computer. And since old people get angry when they get confused, I left him to check his email and look at old lady porn.

But what I realized is that librarians are not professionals.

Librarians get along with everyone. We try to play nice. We make rules to accommodate everyone. We include everyone in the discussion. We call anyone who works in a library a librarian. We think all librarians are great and that they offer worthwhile contributions to the profession. We would never fill a sock with D batteries and beat a patron over the head for talking too loudly on his phone.

But real professionals argue with each other. When I watch those one-hour dramatic presentations on television, all the lawyers and doctors and computer guys and detectives all hate each other. The criticize other lawyers or doctors or computer guys or detectives and say how they suck at their jobs and how they're alcoholics or criminals or whores.

And that's what makes a profession. Infighting.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

One of my earliest memories of an image of a librarian...

was from the game Masterpiece. One of the characters in the game of bidding and bluffing at purchasing art masterpieces or forgeries is Millicent Friendly, a librarian, "shy and unassuming, but reputed to have a mean temper." And she's a spinster. Surprise.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

On Google Darwinism

I have a picture around here somewhere of several circles contained within each other of decreasing order, but I can't find it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

But the point I tried to make with that picture is that the largest circle represents the whole of human knowledge.

And within that circle is one for Google and all search engines and their ability to find and index the available digital subset of all human knowledge.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

New Apple Agreement Takes 30% of Library Fines

[note: this is me, kidding. because I love.]

Apple's new agreement with publishers secures a 30% fee for any subscriptions generated through Apple Store apps.

And now Overdrive, the company that provides many libraries with ebooks, has announced a new iPad app for downloading ebooks from the library.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

What to say when you are told that you work in a bad library because you filter the Internet:

"We support the guidelines outlined in the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom regarding internet filters, but we also listened to our library patrons who were concerned with how pornographic images were displayed on library computer screens.

We received complaints about images of nude women and women engaged in sex acts. Library patrons felt that these images sexualized women and created an unfair and unwelcoming environment. Women in particular felt threatened by these images.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Look. Touch. Wash Your Hands.

We're all about The Service in libraries. We do whatever we convince ourselves that YOU want. Whether you want it or not. Whether you will use it or not. Regardless of the cost.

One fantastic example is here at the Columbus Metropolitan Library where they purchased about six ereaders, a tablet and a laptop to show off the devices which can be used to download free econtent from that library.

Here is a photo of the display, somewhere around here; oh, down near the bottom. There's got to be three or four thousand bucks worth of stuff there that's for "display only" that "cannot be checked out."

This is a great way to spend library money. After all, the library offers downloadable content and there's no better way to promote that service than to show library users all the related cool technology. Especially when it's bolted to the table.

But yet, the Columbus display reminded me that there are still areas in our library where we are not inviting our patrons to utilize them more. So using the Columbus cost model, I proposed several additional purchases at our library. And all were approved.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 


Subscribe to RSS - effinglibrarian's blog