DC During Shutdown – Part 2

DC – Epilogue

US Capitol DomeThe shutdown entered its third week.  On October 15th, DC city government opened as usual, and paychecks for city employees went out as scheduled. Frustration about congressional inaction continued.  How long would this go?

On October 16th, Mayor Vincent Gray and his peers in Maryland and Virginia held a press conference at the John A. Wilson Building (our City Hall)  in downtown DC. Each of them explained how the shutdown impacted their respective jurisdictions and called on Congress to act. It will be some time before the final tally on the economy both here in the DC area and the country at large.

At last, the uncertainty ended after 16 days. Congress voted to end the shutdown and reopen the government, DC’s budget was included. Permanent budget autonomy, however, hasn’t been granted.  Mayor Gray has expressed disappointment about the matter.

It’s over–’nuff said!  I’ll leave the media commentators and editorial writers to it…

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DC During Shutdown – Part 1

US Capitol DomeFor the first time since 1996, the federal government shuttered October 1st.  When that has happened in the past, D.C. city government closed down too. Why?  Because the city receives direct funding from the federal government, it is treated as if it is a federal agency.

This time, Mayor Vincent Gray announced he would use the city’s contingency reserve funds to keep the city government in full operation, good for 2 weeks, granting an exemption from the federal shutdown. In the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, this option wasn’t available.  (Both times, DC city employees were able to return to work after a few days)

As the days wore on, the Mayor became worried as the fund became low.  On October 9th, while Senator Harry Reid was winding up an afternoon press conference, Gray went to speak with him on the Capitol steps after doing his own press conference not far off. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was also present.*  Their conversation was on candid camera for the local evening news.  At the White House later that day, she spoke with President Obama about DC’s budget.  As of this writing, nothing has yet to materialize.

For this blog post, these are my observations of the shutdown on the city.  With local and national media outlets covering the shutdown, I’ll leave it to them.  The “Washington Post” started a live blog for shutdown updates.

October 1st

On Tuesday morning, we opened with extended hours system-wide.  Phone calls come from patrons asking if we are open.  (Yes, until 9 pm!)  When I arrive for the evening shift, there are few patrons.  As the day continues, more arrive.  An evening yoga class bustles in.  As the week progresses, more people are taking advantage of our new hours.  For example, there’s an increase in room reservation requests for this month into the next.

The morning commute

On Monday morning (9/30) driving down I-270 is slow going. The traffic reports on WTOP take a few minutes to call since many major roadways in MD, VA, and DC are experiencing heavy volume and problems.  Once I’m in the access ramp to Shady Grove Metro station, I quickly pick up speed at last. On Wednesday morning, it appears to be no worse than usual.  In some stretches, I’m driving slow, others are at speed. I don’t have far to drive to locate a parking space in the Shady Grove Metro station garage.  Usually I’m on the 3rd or 4th level.  On the platform, the half the volume of the commuting crowd is waiting.  As a new week begins, traffic still is heavy in spots.  Because I leave home early on Friday (10/11), I miss the trucker protest convoy on the Beltway later that morning.

Cleveland Park/Woodley Park

On Connecticut Ave in the mornings, there’s a steady volume of traffic through the Cleveland Park area heading for downtown. (Not so much outbound)  It doesn’t appear to have been much of a change. People are still out and about during the daytime. While walking to the Woodley Park Starbucks location on Friday morning (10/4) I see the gates at the National Zoo are closed with large signs posted.  There are several Zoo police officers on duty and restricted admission to the parking lot next to the main entrance.  When I drive by on my way to Saturday evening Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Oct. 12th, there’s light foot traffic in that area.  Some people are sitting outside the Starbucks and other eateries.

Penn Quarter/Chinatown

DC Public Library Book PlateOctober 7th: I have a mandatory training at MLK Library that morning. As I come off the Metro at Metro Center station, I observe there are half the number of people transferring to the Blue and Orange lines downstairs or leaving the station.  Outside on the street, it’s lighter foot traffic.  Later, as I walk to Lawson’s for lunch, I see fewer food trucks parked along 12th & G St. by Macy’s (formerly Hecht’s).  Business hasn’t been great for them.

Closing note–Oct.13th: The “Post” reports that city has enough to pay city employees on October 15th.  If nothing is done, no guarantee about the next paycheck.

* Note: As a non-voting representative for DC, Delegate Norton is only allowed to speak on the House floor.  She can vote in committees which she’s a member.

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Funding Public Libraries – Dissertation

(Please share with Library Trustees, Library Staff, and Library Fund Raisers)

By Hartwig Pautz~  University of Strathclyde

How should we fund our public libraries?  Compatibility of income generation with library ethos

Woman_readingPublic libraries, it seems, are in financial trouble everywhere. At the same time, they are expected to do more and for more people. If library revenue from taxes is drying up – what can public libraries do? They can try to generate additional income from their existing services and from new services, specifically established to make money. But are these income activities compatible with what public libraries stand for? Do charges or fee-based services violate the principle of free access to information for everyone? Would the principled rejection of charges and fees just speed up the end of the public library and is thus obsolescent at best, and dangerous at worst?

For my Masters dissertation in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I would like to hear the opinions of public librarians – including library assistants, managers and fundraisers if working for public libraries – on these questions. My aim is to develop a better understanding of what income generation activities are used by public librarians and what they think about the impact on these on the public library ethos. Does direct sponsoring help the organisation or does it erode its ethos and principles? How about user charges, do they sit well with public librarians? And do public libraries have targets for income generation? These are examples from the set of ten questions that are on my e-survey which is directed at public librarians in the US, the United Kingdom and Germany.

I am hoping that the outcomes of my research will help librarians addressing financial difficulties and building stronger institutions while defending principles and ethos.  All results of my study will be made public on the University’s open access repository at:  http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk  . I will disseminate the results as widely as possible also through further open access channels.

So, I am asking for your help for my research. Please take the time and follow the link below to a short electronic questionnaire; it should not take more than ten minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and nobody will be identifiable.

SurveyLink:  https://strathsci.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9BtLwndmU9nPQ6p

Everybody who is working in a public library context in the US, the UK and Germany is welcome to take this survey – be they library assistants, library fundraisers or managers.

Please do not hesitate to contact me via prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk or hartwig.pautz@arcor.de .

Thank you very much for your help!

Hartwig Pautz

Postgraduate Student in Information and Library Studies
University of Strathclyde
Department of Computer and Information Studies
E-mail: prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk
Dissertation supervisor: Alan Poulter (alan.poulter@strath.ac.uk)

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Who Let the Dogs Out and Who Left the Dogs In?

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Who left the dogs out?

Who let the dogs out?

On April 17th, 2012 Elizabeth Sensabaugh with the Blacksburg Library in beautiful western Virginia near the Appalachian Trial  system asked Publib:

We have a library facility that is positioned near a popular walking trail. This means that folks want to stop in at the library and leave their dogs leashed outside (to a bench, bike rack, building column) while they check out materials. Recently, we’ve had some concerning situations with unfriendly dogs (potential bite situation) or, at the very least, the dogs have been barking constantly while their owners were inside for long periods of time.

I’m curious to learn if any of you have experienced anything like this with your libraries? Do you have a policy or Code of Conduct that addresses this?

Our policies involve patrons not bringing their dogs inside the library, but don’t necessarily deter them from bringing their dogs on library property/grounds and leaving them unattended. Usually this is a safety concern o an issue of disruption or obstructing walkways/sitting areas, etc. Thanks in advance for any opinions or information about your experiences!

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And, the Publib chorus responds:

We have a city ordinance that only service dogs are allowed in public buildings (including the library) and the owner must produce documentation when asked if there is any question about whether or not it’s a service dog.

If dogs and their owners are a problem or may become a problem check your city’s ordinances about dogs and public buildings. You may be able to post a sign saying “Only service dogs allowed. City Ord. ###” ~ Cindy Rosser – Waco McLennan County Library – Waco, TX

Can you set up a dog parking area like the ones they have in Denmark?

~ Betsy Vera – Gail Borden Public Library

We’re in a similar situation and our solution was to post a sign outside the front entrance that says “No unattended dogs”. When someone does leave their dog, we call animal control. (Their office is right next door so they usually respond quickly.) We’ve done that for a few years now and the problem has dramatically decreased. We took a hard nose approach after a young boy was bit by a dog tied to the bike rack. ~ Carrie Valdes- Grand County Public Library – Moab, UT

Perhaps I should look into getting a ‘no unattended dogs’ sign. The same day I was trying to deal with the growling, unattended dogs, there was a large group of people having a smoke break beneath our ‘no smoking’ sign on the other side of the library. :) It was nice to be able to point to the sign and gently remind them that they’d need to smoke elsewhere. A sign for unattended dogs could be useful in the same way. I’m very afraid that someon is going to get bitten. Your library having had that experience tells me that it’s not an unwarranted fear! ~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh – Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

Welcome to the Library!

Welcome to the Library!

Elizabeth, Most of the libraries I’ve worked in were right next to parks, so this has occasionally happened to us as well. I would treat this situation just like I would treat someone with a rowdy kid. Rather than make a policy, I’d address people individually. I’d explain to the owner (as kindly as possible, of course) that the animal was disruptive and couldn’t be left tethered and unattended. This includes taking up a bench (someone who wants t0 use it might be allergic) or taking up the bike rack (a kid might need to get his bike but be terrified of dogs).

I might recommend them bringing a partner to sit with the little guy outside next time. Or separate trips to the library. Some people get really angry, some understand once you point out the above scenarios. Either way, I stand firm and address it every time. If it becomes an ongoing issue with one customer, I’d start progressive discipline (although that hasn’t happened). As an aside, it always amazes me that people don’t seem to really KNOW their animals. I’ve heard lots of people say that their dog won’t bite, or their dog doesn’t misbehave. HA! It’s almost as bad as a helicopter mom…MY kid is a genius! My dog is super nervous and weird and I go to great lengths to walk on the other side of the street and keep him away from other people and animals. I don’t think he would bite someone, but I’m sure as heck not taking a chance!

I also don’t get it that they think it is ok to leave their pup all alone like that. What if some sadistic pre-serial killer was walking by??? And, how about some sensitivity to people with irrational (or rational, who knows) fears or severe allergies? As a dog owner, I think about those things and it baffles me that others don’t. ~ Terry Ann Lawler – Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

Then there’s the whole question of whether it’s even legal in a given state to leave a dog unattended, tethered or not, on public property. And if, as sometimes happens, people park their dog for hours while in the library, what are the humane law implications for the animal who may or may not have shade and drinking water? To consider the dogs for a moment longer, there are more than a few people who would have no problem tormenting a dog. They visit libraries from time to time, whether we like it or not. ~ Kathleen Stipek – Alachua County Library District – Gainesville, Florida

Undesirables

Undesirables

We don’t have a policy specific to dogs, but we do have policies related to undesirable patron behavior. While I haven’t had to state it to any dog owners, the one which addresses “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others” would be applicable. What I have said to one dog owner was that his dog was making people uncomfortable. I then asked him to move it.

We haven’t had a lot of dog parking problems since I’ve worked here and I haven’t been told of any from before. I think people in this community just accept the dogs and walk around them, for the most part. I happen to be the primary “dog person” here and have been known to suggest one of the local training organizations…

That all being said, I think I’ll show the dog parking photos that Betsy sent to my director to see if we can have something like that installed.Happy tails!~ Susan J. Hoppe –  Virginia Public Library

Thanks for your reply Susan. I really appreciate that catch-all phrase of “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others”! I’m a huge fan of dogs too, and want trail users to find using the library a convenient thing to do! But I am worried about the few owners who seem disconnected from the threat that their dogs pose to children or other people. Also, obstructing the entrance/book drop/seating areas is just so inconsiderate!~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh –  Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

I had a similar situation with a dog that was tied to our bike racks for a long time on a really hot day. It turned out that our city had an ordinance that said that dogs needed to be leashed and “in control” of their owners – we were able to use that to tell the patron that they couldn’t leave the dog tied to the bike rack unattended because the owner wouldn’t be in control of the animal. You might want to check to see if you have a similar ordinance.~ Paula Wright – Appleton Public Library – WI

What rodent problem?

What rodent problem?

In my state, even snakes were considered service animals. Any legal animal could count. Someone finally put a limit on it. The challenge is when the service animal is for comfort when the person has a social anxiety or similar disorder. But obviously snakes freak out a lot of other people, so they can cause a lot of problems. To me, this is akin to the discussion on cats. I’m allergic to cats and the idea of a library cat drives me nuts. (Right now I’m getting over asthmatic bronchitis due to a bookstore with a cat. I can’t ever shop there again.) There are people who are allergic to dogs as well. And putting on my lawyer hat for a minute, if the library doesn’t kick the dogs out and the dogs bite someone, then the library will be sued as well as the owner. (Retired lawyer.)- ~ Judy Anderson

My library follows WA state guidelines which diverge from the ADA requirements. I’d check with your attorney before making a determination. http://hum.wa.gov/FAQ/FAQServiceAnimal.html ~ Carlie Hoffman  – Spokane County Library District  Editor’s note:  ADA Guidelines set a minimum standard – your State laws and local ordinances may exceed those minimum standards.

So far, in my library career, I have had someone claim an iguana, a boa constrictor, several birds, a rabbit and various cats and dogs (including puppies who couldn’t possibly have been trained and pocket dogs with little rhinestone tiaras). I’ve learned to take it all in stride and to kick out anyone who poops on our floor.

I have had the issue of someone claiming an animal to be a service animal when it appeared to be totally untrue. While it is true that if they say it is a service animal, it IS a service animal, all service animals are still subject to our code of conduct, just like all people are. In fact, all visitors period. If an alien comes in, I’m going to address her noisy behavior. I have NO qualms about kicking out a service animal if it is behaving badly. This includes: Barking Sniffing people Lunging Yanking their owner back and forth around the library Running/Jumping/Climbing Growling or hackles up for any reason

Or any other behavior that makes our library a non-welcome environment for our other users. I do EXACTLY the same thing I would do if someone had a kid doing those things (or was an adult doing them). They get a warning and then they have to leave the 2nd time I speak with them. I will be as kind as possible, but just because your dog is performing a service for you, it cannot disrupt other library users. ~ Terry Ann Lawler –  Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

The ADA has a handy list of FAQs at http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm One of the interesting things this says is: 3. Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Soooooooooooooooooo, basically, if they say it’s a service animal — it’s a service animal…….~ Jacque Gage –  Joplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

Here are the revised requirements for service animals: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

One major change is that: Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. In short, service animals must be: 1)Dogs 2)Trained 3)To do work or tasks directly related to a disability. 4) That trained work is not just providing comfort or emotional support. I think the 2 questions are capable of determining whether or not a dog is a service animal. Before this change in 2010, we had a patron claiming his spider collection as service animals (for emotional support).~ Jacob Browne – Jefferson County Public Library – Lakewood CO

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm ~ Dusty Gres –  Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

I have read that cats can alert their owners to impending seizures (seizures in the human, not the cat). ~ Kevin O’Kelly  – Somerville Public Library – Somerville, MA

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

Who sues whom when I die from anaphylactic shock in reaction to your seizure-sensing cat? ~ Nikki Ehlers – Humboldt Public Library – North Humboldt, IA

We had an issue with a patron in a wheelchair who brought her service cat with her on her lap. It’s been awhile, but as I remember, the cat was supposed to alert the woman to changes in some sort of internal functioning. We never saw the cat do anything. It was a *very* mellow cat. I’m not sure I ever saw it move. Our attorney advised us not to question her about it because of the protections afforded by the ADA, as noted by Kate Mutch. ~ Deb Messling – Phillipsburg Free Public Library – Phillipsburg, NJ

I know dogs make me feel better!~  GiGi Bayne

“We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags.” This is actually addressed in the ADA regs: Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. As others have mentioned, although you cannot ask for documentation, you can ask what specific tasks the animal is trained to perform. ~ Carolyn Rawles-Heiser -Benton County Public Library – Corvallis, OR

We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags. There is a serious issue with insurance coverage. The certified service dog is covered. Others are not, and it is the library who is liable for any problem. You can require that the dog be on a leash & under control, on an individual basis you can ask for shot records & city license/tag, require the dog to be clean/groomed and deal with other safety and health issues. Thankfully, we have not had to deal with the other legally defined service animal — miniature horses — but I am certain it will happen. ~ Dusty Gres Director Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

This has become an issue in our town. There’s a gentleman who claims that his dog is a “hearing” dog. He does not have an apparent hearing problem, the dog has not been professionally trained (in fact, it’s not all that well-behaved in general), and based on some of the other things this patron has told us, we do not give much credence to his stories. (And then one could ask, does he really need a hearing dog in the library?) ~ Ann Perrigo Ann @ Allegan

By jove, all dawgs are hearing dogs! Of course, he’s a hearing dawg, and a buddie too! And sense he’s a hearing dawg, he is welcome to come into the library, naturally. :-) Cheers, ~ Shannon Williams – Longview, TX

Aren’t service animals required to be certified? Check with whatever agency performs certification. Your state or county agency that serves the blind and disabled is a place to start. A hearing-impaired person would require a service animal to alert his/her user when someone wants to pass, or in case of an emergency to get out of the building. ~ Sue Kamm

I highly recommend “Until Tuesday” By Luis Carlos Montalvan – A Veteran and the service dog that saved him and their continued advocacy and education about service dogs. ~ Kate Mutch –  Natrona County Public Library – Casper, WY

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities ~ Dusty Gres

And horse manure makes for excellent compost. ~ Kathi Kemp

Miniature horses as service animals? I would love to see our library filled with tiny little horses. We could train them to do useful tasks for staff as well.

A real Saint

A real Saint

We have a kids’ program where some dogs are brought into the children’s area and the kids “read” to them. I popped my head in this week to see what that looked like. A lot of poor, long suffering dogs, lying helplessly whilst having board books thrust in their faces so they can look at all the nice pictures. Very small children molesting dogs much larger than themselves, and using them as beanbags/jungle gyms. Parents smiling benevolently and taking lots of pictures.

I swear, when this one big St. Bernard cross looked at me, if he could have spoken, he would have begged me to find him an avalanche somewhere so he could get out of there. But he just lay there on his mat, patiently, listening to the “story” and allowing himself to be battered by a board book and a two year old. I’m fine with the animals. It’s the people who worry me. :o) ~ Jo Choto – Frederick County Public Libraries

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/archives/58692/ Someone sent me this link . ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard – Nann @the library in Zion, Illinois

I’ve been campaigning for a library hippopotamus for years ~ Kevin Okelly

Mr. O’Kelly’s comment had me thinking of a line that funny Christmas song-“all I want for Christmas is a hippopotamus.” : ~ Elisa Babel – Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library – Washington, DC

A library hippopotamus! I love it! Thanks for the morning giggle. And you’re not the only one leaning toward the hippo biblioteca. Here’s what a quick google-image search for “reading hippopatamus” and “library hippopotamus” netted:

 ~ Audrey Jo DeVillier- Iberville Parish Library – Plaquemine, LA

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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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Our Debts

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nd, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . .

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The American Library Association (ALA) provides data regarding Student Loan Forgiveness. The ALA’s introduction to the process of getting student loans forgiven, however, begins with this message:

  • Public libraries and schools across the nation are experiencing a dire shortage of librarians, as an alarming number of librarians are reaching the age of retirement.

Genthe-LibrarianOf course, there is no dire shortage in public libraries or schools. Public libraries have closed branches, reduced hours, and even outsourced management. School librarian positions have been eliminated with a movement towards automated learning centers.   The fact that many librarians are reaching the age of retirement does not mean that they can afford to retire – many have spouses who lost employment during the economic downturn and retirement portfolios have suffered losses and retirement benefits have been reduced. There are librarians who have had no pay increases for years and are just trying to get by.

The ALA’s misleading statement  creates an expectation of new graduates that employment opportunities are plentiful. Is it wishful thinking? An attempt at self-fulfilling prophesy? A marketing strategy to emphasize the value of the profession? A marketing strategy to continue to fill library graduate schools? It is hard to understand how a professional organization that supports non-biased critical information analysis would publish and maintain such a misleading representation of employment prospects. However, the result of creating an oversupply of MLS graduates has pitted new librarian vs old. It has led to an expectation that librarians should simply step aside because they are old and *should* retire – completely devaluing lifetime learning and cumulative wisdom.

The 2012 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports :

  • Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations.

  • Most librarians need a master’s degree in library science.

  • 2010 Median Pay – $54,500 per year

Bureau-of-Labor-Statistics

Contrary to what ALA says, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth at half the rate of *all other occupations* and less that half the rate of Education, Training and Library Occupations overall. Note that the anticipated growth in employment opportunities is 7% over ten years – less than 1% per year.  As a statistical estimate with a margin for error this means that there, in fact, could be negative growth.

Yet, even though the Master’s Degree is required for *most* to be a librarian – without the Master’s Degree in library science the job outlook is even bleaker.

The ALA APA adopted a resolution in 2008 that full-time professional librarians minimum salaries would be set at $41,680.  Many full-time librarians still make significantly less.   In fact, even the minimum full-time professional salary is less than the living wage estimate required for a household with one adult and one child in Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, in order to complete a master’s degree that may lead to a $41,680 a year professional job, most students will also have to go into substantial debt.  According to FinAid.org  in 2012  71% of graduate students will complete their degrees with a cumulative average of $53,727 in undergraduate and graduate student debt.

A twenty year fix rate loan for $53,727 requires a monthly payment  of $354.57 for a total of $85,097.86.   The take home pay at the minimum full-time professional salary level without state tax or dependent deductions is: $34,970.58.   So, repayment of the loan to complete a master’s degree in library science could represent over 2 1/2 years of full-time work.  That burden of debt means that it may take at least twenty years before being able to begin to save for any sort of retirement.

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aying Down Your Debt – You can be forgiven!

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The graduate student debt problem in Library Science was brought home by Library Director Michelle Mears of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County in Oklahoma with her posting on Publib December 12, 2012. Ms. Mears also provided an option for loan forgiveness that every new librarian with federal loans should adopt as soon as they find full-time employment.  Your debts can be forgiven for the valuable public service you provide in ten years instead of 20 or more :

I wanted to get the word out to those who may be unaware of their eligibility for student loan forgiveness through the federal government.  Working full time in a public library makes you eligible for this program. http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service  If you are eligible, you need to get certification documents turned in right away, even if you are still working for the same employer or have only had one employer, and get one from each qualified employer since October 2007.  Your loan will likely transfer to a different servicing company who will keep track of qualifying payments.
I just certified my first five years, which leaves me only 5 to go (120 payments total), but this will likely forgive the balance of my loan when I get there.  Remember, with interest you end up paying back more than what you originally borrowed, but this program will probably save me about 5 years worth of payments.  Ten years seems like a long time to be in repayment, but any forgiveness is better than none.  I just wish they would have back-dated it because I have already been paying for 14 years (which means I have paid nearly $58,000 on a $38,000 loan and have yet to make a significant dent in the principal-only recently have my payments been gnawing away at it).
Hope this helps someone, or at least gives them hope that someday a month will come with no student loan payment! ~ Michelle

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Happy Holidays to All from Best of Publib!

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – November 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for November 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics November 2011

Publib Topics November 2011

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Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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