Employment & Work Stories

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.

Former OSU Librarian's Discrimination Suit Rejected

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by a former Ohio State University librarian who sued the school, claiming he faced discrimination for his Christian beliefs.

U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman has ruled that Scott Savage couldn't show that the university made his working conditions intolerable enough to resign.

Savage said he was forced to quit after recommending a conservative book for incoming freshmen at the university's Mansfield campus.

Savage said the school's other picks were too liberal and reflected the promotion of a gay agenda. NBC, and more detail from Inside Higher Ed.

Mid-Columbia (WA) Libraries Director Fired

The executive director of Mid-Columbia Libraries was dismissed from her $110,000-a-year-job Monday night following an executive session with the board.

Gloria Garcia, board chairwoman, said the decision to end Danielle Krol's employment was difficult but the best thing for the library district.

"(She) was dismissed immediately, without cause, as allowed by her contract," Garcia said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Krol, 60, who became executive director in 2004, was not available for comment.

Kyle Cox, the library's administrative services director, was chosen by the board to be the "Mid-Columbia Libraries person in charge," Garcia said, adding that he will not assume the title of interim executive director.

Prior to going into what became a 90-minute executive session, the board considered and approved a travel request from Krol, who asked to make a one-day side trip from attending the American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C., in June to tour the award-winning public library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Garcia said the firing made the planned trip unnecessary.

Krol's predecessor, Phelps Shephard, had been the executive director for 10 years before also being fired for an undisclosed reason in September 2003. Several commentators apparently feel that the firing was overdue; read more in the Tri-City Herald.

The Perils of Automatic Copyright Protection

A cautionary tale about copyright, and the <a href="http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/library/index.php/2010/04/the-perils-of-automatic-copyright-protection/">automated systems that enforce it</a>. 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 <a href="http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/library/index.php/2010/04/the-perils-of-automatic-copyright-protection/">here</a>.

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.


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