Libraries at SXSW – We Need *Your* Vote! (bestofpublib)

Please share widely!

By Carson Block

For those who already know (and we love you! :0) the SXSW ~ South by Southwest in Austin, Texas – panel picker is open and we need your vote – here’s the list of library submissions with easy-to-click-links:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

For those who don’t yet know….to shift the perceptions of libraries from a warehouse of books to dynamic places that celebrate ideas, we need to share library innovations far and wide with diverse audiences in unique formats. SXSW Interactive is a major annual gathering of thought-leaders and funders – “fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.” (Sounds a lot like the library!)

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

There are a slew of incredible submissions this year proposed by creative library and museum professionals. You can help put libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) at the forefront of this ideas-exchange by voting for LAM presentations in the SXSWi Panel Picker from Aug. 19-Sept. 6, 2013, at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/.

Below is a list of sxswLAM panel proposals and well as sxswLAM-related panel proposals. You can also do a search by keyword in the Panel Picker for “library” or “libraries”and there are dozens more. If you believe that librarian voices need to be heard, even if you’re not attending, we need your vote to make it happen at SXSWi 2014.

Again, the handy-dandy list of library, archive and museum proposals is here:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

Thanks!

Carson

===
Carson Block Consulting Inc.
Technology Vision. Technology Power. Your Library.
http://www.carsonblock.com

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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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Library One-Liners

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Library One-Liners 

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

On Sat, 27 Apr 2013 ~ Sana Moulder in Fayetteville, NC asked Publib:

I’m seeking library patron one-liners for a project. I’d like questions and requests such as:

“I need a photograph of Jesus Christ,” or “I need a DVD of  A Christmas Carol, one with Charles Dickens in it,” or (one of my personal favorites), “I need information on how Muslims celebrate Christmas.”

This is for a Staff Development Day program, and should be of a caliber guaranteed to drive a Zombie Librarian into a homicidal rage. TIA
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And, the Publib chorus responds:

~ I’m looking for all your true books about time-travel~ Can you find instructions for me on how to build a guillotine? (magician).

Fords Theatre - 1865- NARA

Fords Theatre – 1865- NARA

 ~ Patron: I need a video of President Lincoln’s assassination. Me: You mean President Kennedy’s assassination? Patron: No. Lincoln. You know, the Civil
War? My teacher told me I could get extra credit if I could bring in a video showing the actual assassination.

~ I need to check out all your books on biomes so no one else in my class can finish their reports.~ Lynn Schofield-DahlBoulder City Library – NV

~ I’m doing a term paper and need information comparing and contrasting the 3 Stooges with the 4 Evangelists in the Bible. ~ I need direction on how to get to Valhalla, the home of the gods, on a bicycle. ~ Do pimentos grow in olives? ~  What is the average size of a lawn in Beirut?

~ 2 part question -(early 90s): Everyone knows AIDS came from Africa. It was transimitted by animals and carried over to animals in the US. At one point, everyone will die of AIDS except for small, furry animals that look like the Muppets.  How did Jim Henson know to design his Muppets to look like the small furry animals that will survive the AIDS epidemic?~ I saw a documentary on TV about a type of tree frog that is going extinct. This tree frog looks like Kermit the Frog, by Jim Henson. How did Jim Henson know to design Kermit so he would look like this type of tree frog?  Editor’s note: Ms. Piggy conspiracy?

~ I need film of Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. ~ Becky Tatar - Aurora, IL  

Annunciation - Dirck Bouts

Annunciation – Dirck Bouts

~ I was recently asked for photographs of angels. When I tried to clarify and see if paintings would do the woman got upset, called me stupid and asked for someone else to help her.  :) To my knowledge, she did not get any photographs out of the next librarian either.

~ I once overheard: “Do you have books on booby-traps? I need to catch the damned Mexicans who keep stealing my chickens. I heard those Viet-Gongs were real good at booby-traps.” I laughed too hard to help the poor librarian who was trying to explain that the man was responsible for anyone who was maimed on his property before handing him several references for web sites.~ Terry Ann Lawler - Burton Barr Library – AZ

Bayou Sacra Luisiana - Henry Lewis 1854

Bayou Sacra Luisiana – Henry Lewis 1854

~ Patron asks for an aerial view of local landmark, Nottoway Plantation. Peering quizzically at the GoogleEarth image, she asks, “What’s that brown stuff all along there?”   “That’s the Mississippi River,” I reply.   “Why isn’t it blue?”   “It’s called the Mighty Muddy Mississippi because of all the sediment.”   “Is there any way you can make it blue?”~ Audrey Jo DeVillier - Iberville Parish Library – LA

~ “When was the first recorded use of the word ‘love’ in any language?”~ Ann S. OwensSacramento Public Library – CA

~ Do you have any books on Chanukkah and other foreign Christmas holidays? ~ My son needs a book for school.  The author’s last name is Chaucer–I don’t remember his first name. ~ What was the date that God kicked the bad angels out of Heaven?~ Kevin O’KellySomerville Public Library – MA

~ This one was over the phone: “I have a book about William Shakespeare that I would like to sell. It is very old, it even has photos of him in it!~ Terry DohrnFruitland Park Library – FL

~ I need a photograph, not a painting, of the meteor hitting the earth and killing off the dinosaurs. ~ Not exactly a one-liner but close: I need a picture of a Georgia Cherokee teepee. (Librarian: The Cherokees didn’t live in teepees.) I need a picture of a teepee that Cherokees would have lived in if they did make teepees.   ~ I need information on the war, you know, the one where everyone got killed. ~ Another close one: DO you have anything besides “Learn Spanish in 30 days”? I need to learn it by tomorrow’s test.~ Dusty Snipes GrèsOhoopee Regional Library – GA

Fool's Cap Map of the World

Fool’s Cap Map of the World

~ We had someone once ask for a photograph of a dragon. Not a picture or drawing or painting but a photograph. ~ I also had a high school student ask for the book Ibid. I asked her where she got the title from and sure enough she showed me a footnote in a book. She would not believe me when I told her it was referring to the previous footnote until I showed her the sample in a Turabian style manual ~ Meg Van Patten - Baldwinsville Public Library – New York

~ This one sticks out: when in academia I got this urgent call: “My son has read every book there is and now he wants to read The Clavicles of Solomon,  We can’t find it anywhere!” I told her that could only help with the Canticles (Song of Solomon)… I know we touch people’s spirits but I hope when still in their bodies ;) ~ Shahin ShoarArlington Public Library Columbus, OH

~ I once had a patron complain because our color copier wouldn’t make color copies of his black and white Resume.  I never did figure out exactly what he was expecting.~ Michael GregoryCampbell County Public Library –  KY

~ My all-time favorite reference question was the Santa Fe kid who wanted to do a report on pirates in New Mexico. ~ Another fine one was the woman looking for a book on how to choose a lottery number.~ Miriam Bobkoff - Peninsula College Library – Port Angeles

Old King Cole

Old King Cole

~ Several years ago, a young man called to find out if the library was a government suppository. ~ And there was a woman calling from Georgia wanting to know if we had any information about an Inglewood business, the Los Angeles Kings. (For the sports-challenged: the Kings are a hockey team, who used to play in the Forum, a sports arena a few blocks from the library. That year [and not last year] they had made it to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost.)~ Sue Kamm - Los Angeles, CA

~ I was once asked for a color photo of Christ.~ Christine Lind Hage - Rochester Hills Public Library

~ Not a question I received, but I remember a story from another librarian who was asked for a map of all the lost gold mines in the Rockies. ~ And the tale of a Black librarian with whom I worked, who was asked for a mailing list of white supremacist organizations. “I gave it to him,” the librarian said, “But ewww.”

Step Right this Way

Step Right this Way

~ And, for real, when I worked at Baraboo, Wisconsin’s circus museum, I was asked whether we might have a photo of George Washington at the very first US circus in 1793.

I gently mentioned that photography was not invented until about the 1840s, and because of that, the requester wouldn’t find any photographs of George at any event, let alone at John Bill Rickett‘s original one in Philadelphia. “Oh. Right.”~ Erin FoleyRio Community Library – Wisconsin

~ The library gods must have heard your plea because today I got a phone call. There’s some context to this but this question was asked: Patron on phoneWhat is Shakespeare? I’ve heard of it but I haven’t seen the movie. If you must know the context he called to ask about an actress and her career and when he found out that she was in Shakespeare he wanted to know what it was. ~ Katilyn Miller -Frederick County Public Libraries

Joachim Patinir - Crossing the River Styx

Joachim Patinir – Crossing the River Styx

My friend was asked to “point out the River Styx on a map”. Seems the person asking wanted to your there.~ Liz McclainGlencoe Public Library

~ We had a patron wanting to know the time. The circ clerk answered his question gesturing to the large, roman-numeraled clock nearby. He replied he couldn’t read it because he didn’t know Romanian.~ Jacque GageJoplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

~ Famous one-liner: “Where are the stacks?”

~ Teresa: Mam, would you like to sign up for our winter reading club for adults, Cabin Fever?
Woman: What do I have to do?
Tersesa: Rate all the books you read.
Woman: But I didn’t like the last one.
Tersesa: That’s okay. You don’t have to like them all.
Woman: I only want to enter the books I liked…

~ Leah: I love my new WiFi detector t-shirt!
Scott @IT: We should give one to the director at North Pocono. Maybe then we can pin down the source of their WiFi problems. “Call us if your shirt goes on or turns off.” Come to think of it…that doesn’t sound good, does it?

~ I called our local printer to get a rough estimate on printing book marks.
Leah: How much would 300 book marks cost to print?
Printer: In color?
Leah: Sure.
Printer: Will they bleed?
Leah (baffled): I HOPE not…. It’s YOUR paper!~ Leah Ducato Rudolph - Abington Community Library

~ Several years ago someone asked me for a picture of a cross-section of a banana showing the seeds. I finally found one, but it wasn’t easy.~ Holly HebertThe Brentwood Library – TN

~ Patron - “I’m looking for information on the Sultana Indians
Me (after a long and fruitless search) - “where did you get this reference?”
Patron - “I dreamed about them.”~ Lisa RichlandFloyd Memorial Library –  NY

Beethoven

Beethoven looking a bit peeved

~ Two favorites from here… The High Rockies of need… (Hierarchies of need) ~ And that song, Furry Lace (Fur Elise)~ Karen E. Probst - Appleton Public Library

~ I’d like a sound recording of real dinosaurs.  ~ If I make recipes from a diabetic cookbook, will it give me diabetes? ~ Susan Hunt - Aboite Branch Library- Fort Wayne, IN

~ I once got asked where our gynecology department was. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud as I explained where our genealogy department is.~ Deborah BryanTopeka and Shawnee County Public Library

~ Not a patron one liner but….I had a staff member ask me one day, Where are the eBooks shelved?

~ Patron: Where can I find the books on um, you know motivation and stuff? Me: (looking on the catalogue), I see there is one here, shall we go over and have a look? Patron: Nah, I can’t be bothered just yet, maybe tomorrow. I swear – true story. ~ Lisa Pritchard - New Zealand

~ At my previous library out west, we once got a call from a patron asking if we had the “Anals of Wyoming” in our periodical collection. ~ Stephen Sarazin - Aston Public Library – PA

Gutenberg Bible - Epistle of St Jerome

Gutenberg Bible – Epistle of St Jerome – Patron Saint of Librarians

~ Henry Huntington, railroad millionaire, established the famous Huntington Library and Art Collection in his estate in San Marino, California. It’s home to many rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible. About 50 miles away is Huntington Beach, California, named for Henry Huntington when he put a rail line through to the town.I used to work at the Huntington Beach Public Library, and for years confused tourists would come to the desk to ask to see our Gutenberg Bible. Best one-liner ever? Look at the computer screen and say, “Sorry, that’s checked out today.” Maybe a little too much background needed for this to be a great one liner, but we loved it.~ Roger Hiles - Library Services Manager Arcadia Public Library – CA

Et tu, Granny?

Et tu, Granny?

~ Just saw a written information request: “About epilepsy or Grandma Ceazer. Just been diagnosed.”~ Anne FelixGrand Prairie, TX

~ I have one from when my son worked at a grocery store. A woman requested “bee honey” so they escorted her to the honey aisle. “But which one is bee honey?” They told her that only bees make honey, and she didn’t believe them. In fact, she thought they were making fun of her. (Which they did, in spades, after she left the store.)~ Cheryl Coovert  – Lexington, KY

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

Clover honey is made by clover.
Wild flower honey is made by wild flowers.
Spelling bees make word honey.
And WHERE do you think quilts come from?~ Chris Rippel - Central Kansas Library System –  Kansas

Editor’s note: Everyone on Publib knows that the best Quilts come from BiblioQuilters such as Nann Blaine Hilyard and Sana Moulder.

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Awesome Somerville Public Library

Harvard Library and the Somerville Public Library:

Innovation and Collaboration

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Best of Publib received the following press release from the Somerville Public Library in Somerville, Massachusetts:

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain – Creators of the Awesome Box

The Somerville Public Library, in a partnership with the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, launched the “Awesome Box” project at all three SPL branches in early February. This endeavor will allow patrons to give fellow users suggestions on what book/CD/DVD they found to be “awesome.”

“Somerville is the first public library to get on board with the ‘Awesome Box’ project,” says Maria Carpenter, Somerville’s library director. “We are always looking for dynamic, innovative and creative approaches to library service, and this was certainly one of those.”

Awesome Box

Awesome Box

Here’s how it will work: When a patron particularly enjoys an item, he or she will return the book into the “Awesome Box,” which will be clearly labeled with appropriate signage. Then, a library staff member will scan the book twice – once, checking the book in as usual, then another time to list that item on the “awesome” page, which can be found here: http://somerville.awesomebox.io/.

Patrons can then visit the page and see what others have found notably enlightening, mind-blowing or helpful recently. There is also a “most awesome” section, which shows the items that were most thought to be awesome. Users can also search for items that are listed as awesome. When patrons click on the media’s icon, it takes them to the item’s listing on the Minuteman Library Network catalog, so that they can read more about the item and its availability or place it on hold.

For more information about this project, call Maria Carpenter at 617.623.5000 or email her at  mcarpenter@somervillema.gov.

Awesome Somerville

Awesome Somerville

Somerville’s commitment to innovation and collaboration can be emulated by any other public library.  The Harvard Innovation Lab provides excellent documentation along with step-by-step instruction.   The Awesome Box project is just one direction they are exploring.

The great thing about this sort of project is that it capitalizes on patron momentum.  Whenever a patron returns a book or media, they either put it in the regular book drop or express their approval by putting it in the Awesome Box. Either way, the same energy is expended with an added value to the library as a book or media review.

There is an added value to the patron with their likes and preferences registered and noted. There is also an added value to all of the other patrons who might not otherwise know what gems the library contains. The only extra step is checking it in – scanning a second time  to register in the Awesome database.

Awesome Box - a simple, elegant idea.

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Run, Hide, Fight

Surviving Workplace Violence

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On December 13th Library Director Susan Pieper with the Paulding County Library in Ohio offered this timely post on Publib:

I shared this short video with my staff during a staff meeting this fall.
Homeland Security released it and in light of the recent tragic shootings,
I think every library staff and every citizen should watch it.:
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The video was produced with a Department of Homeland Security Grant by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. It includes three key concepts ~

RUN – When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape if possible.
  • Prevent others from entering the area.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

HIDE – When Escape is not possible:

  • Lock and / or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

FIGHT – As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

In addition to those key concepts of Run, Hide, and Fight – the video also discusses how to interact with law enforcement.

911 – When Law Enforcement Arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Keep you hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid pointing or yelling.
  • Know that help for the injured is on the way.

The information provided in the video has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement agencies.

Libraries are certainly not exempt from workplace violence. Many have disaster plans in place and policies and procedures that are meant to reduce the likelihood of violence. However, they are open to the public and certainly permeable to people with ill-intent.  Many are also open to an increasing population of concealed carry permit holders – including patrons and staff.

American Nut and Arms

American Nut and Arms

The discussion of concealed carry by staff and patrons played out as a major meme and theme on Publib at the end of 2011.  Many library staff members came out as staunch proponents of concealed carry.  Others could not see the point.  However, gunfire, gun-accidents, and gun related incidents all have one thing in common – the presence of guns.  With each act of random violence that plays out in the media, the reaction from a fearful public includes the purchase of more guns.  So, there is an ongoing expectation of gun violence and an ongoing increase of people armed with guns.

In addition to guns, the United States has another crisis of sorts – something that law enforcement and public libraries experience every day.  Psychiatric hospitals closed throughout the US in response to the 1975 Supreme Court decision in O’Connor v Donaldson that non-dangerous individuals cannot be confined and Addington v Texas requiring convincing evidence for involuntary commitment.  It was hoped that many of the abuses experienced by people involuntarily committed – as dramatized in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest  would be remedied. The number of beds for psychiatric patients in 1955 was one for every 300 Americans.  By 2005, that number was reduced to one in every 3000 with over 90% of those committed to forensic cases.  So, the reality is psychiatric beds are no longer available in the US and other institutions without specialized training - including public libraries - must cope with the repercussions.

Drugs such as Thorazine (chlorpromazine) have helped many people cope with mental health issues.  But, many people go untreated and the prison and jail populations have become the de facto mental health facilities – providing incapacitation often without any truly effective rehabilitative treatment options.  Many may come out worse than they were when they went in – maxing out their sentences in Supermax facilities in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

The State of Rhode Island has the highest rate of severely mentally ill people in the US – at around 7.4% – almost twice the average of other States*.  In addition, it has some of the highest rates of illegal drug use and highest rates of untreated drug and alcohol addictions. So, most public library directors in Rhode Island will interact with people with severe mental illness problems and drug and alcohol abuse problems.  Rhode Island also has some of the strongest gun control measures in the US – although that does not stop gun violence from occurring.  When you look at the big picture and consider the likelihood that you will interact with people who have guns, who have mental illness and may have ill intent – it is always best to be prepared.

I highly recommend that libraries partner with their police departments and look at the training offered by the Memphis CIT  program. Their de-escalation training works.  Community partnerships can save lives and help redirect people from jail and prison to appropriate mental health resources.

You might even upgrade some office supplies.

Thanks to Susan Pieper for sharing!

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Virtualization of the Patron Experience

Virtualization of the Patron Experience

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This very interesting article in USAToday about the future of retail and virtualization of the customer experience demonstrates how big data can affect and effect virtualized experiences for their patrons:

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-08-05/future-retail-tech/56880626/1

Libraries compete with online information resources in much the same way the traditional retailers compete with online sellers.

Question ~ How will libraries adapt over the next ten years?

Robert Balliot for http://bestofpublib.wordpress.com

Discussion ~ My work in managing/developing online catalogs – with 20,000+ medical equipment / supply products and 7,000+ multi-website display products exceeded what library catalogs do and from an SEO standpoint would beat out Amazon for Google placement.  Traditional retail could not compete because of delivery and cost.  BestBuy is a great place to put your hands on tech, but the prices are much higher.  As e-commerce websites become more and more user-friendly – where you have good photos of products and good descriptions, the whole process ends up making all products into commodities with the lowest cost determining purchase.

With libraries, the focus has generally been on maintaining the status quo and keeping current bureaucracies in place until they can retire. This is not any different for any other bureaucracy – it is a natural inclination - not library specific to simply maintain.  With the focus on cost of maintaining services though, without innovation the perception of value diminishes.  One of the best things I have seen recently in libraries is the introduction of Makerbots as a library resource.  It is those sorts of high-priced shared resources that extend the value and bring people inside the library systems.

But, the issue does become lowest cost.  As we see transportation cost rise, the casual trip to the library could cost $10 in gas. What would $10 purchase virtually?  The associated costs of operating libraries – broken down between the people who continue to use them and the disproportionate number of people who don’t would add additional cost to each real visit.  As information becomes a commodity the lowest cost will determine where we purchase.  That does not mean that the value of libraries as a sense of place and source of inspiration does not add a real value to information consumption.

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – July 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 July 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 - July 2011

Publib Topics - July 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – April 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 April 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 Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Publib Topics April 2011

Publib Topics April 2011

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The Google Generation and Library Skills

What the Google Generation Doesn’t Know or 

Get off of my Lawn!

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How has Google affected research skills?  Are library patrons getting the facts?  Are the facts they are getting ‘real’?   Do they know how to find information or what questions to ask? How is the technological immediacy of information balanced against quality?  Do rolling stones still gather no moss?  Many opinions were offered on these subjects and more when  Kevin O’Kelly of the Somerville Public Library asked Publib members:

         “is ignorance of the skills of the pre-Internet age limiting their (high school students) ability to function in the Internet age? ”

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

Thy cnt spl.  Vowels are a thing of the past. Seriously, they can’t spell. They can’t find things, sometimes even on Google because even Google can’t make heads or tails of what they are trying to say.   ~ Dusty Gres – Ohoopee Regional Library System  (editor:   SMS language avoids vowels)

Ay?

I was assisting a middle-schooler with her homework when I noticed she had written that the two official languages of Canada were English and Sumerian. I pointed out her mistake, but even if she had turned the homework in and gotten it wrong she would probably still have discovered that Yahoo Answers isn’t the best resource. And I don’t know about others in my generation, but I rarely find myself’ following the shiny blue hyper-links all over the place in some sort of internet-induced ADD rapture (unless it’s Wikipedia, in which case all bets are off – that site is an easy time-suck). ~ Theresa McNutt – Red Oak Library 

The truly disturbing thing is that back in the day, patrons who couldn’t use the book resources got no information and came to us for help.  Now they will actually get something with their poorly constructed search strategies and they’ll be happy about it.  It’s hard to educate someone who thinks they know what they’re doing. ~ emilie smart – East Baton Rouge Parish Library

. . .Often they finally do come to me, and the only thing left to do is to employ the backhoe method to help them.  I ask ‘what piece of information do you need to have when you leave that you don’t have now?’  … They are entirely too trusting.  They will believe anything if a search engine produces it.  They need to have that talk about not all is gold that glisters and not every search engine is righteous in its presentations.  They don’t know the difference between a site that is there to sell something and one that is there to provide information.  …  They are willing to show others–including librarians–how to manipulate the technology in exchange for being shown how to manipulate information.  Together, we have possibilities. ~ Kathleen Stipek –  Alachua County Library District   

As a member of “generation Google” I respectfully disagree.  It’s a vast  generalization to say that an entire generation (or all young people,  etc.) don’t know how to search online, use an index in a book, or any number of other assumptions. Some younger people don’t know how to do these things; that’s for certain. But neither do some adults. It’s unfair to say that, just because I grew up using computers and the  Internet, I don’t know how to use a library in the traditional sense; or  that I don’t know how to correctly and successfully search for
information online. ~ Amanda Dias – Rodman Public Library

I find that just as many middle aged and older adults have basic book finding and research questions as younger ones. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

I have found that fewer young people have an understanding and appreciation of the Dewey Decimal system.  As we migrate to eBooks and other things digital, I also think about children reading about this strange system (Dewey) that was used to arrange an old technology (books) a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Which leaves me to wonder if Dewey will ever have a place in a completely digital world? … are the same basic skill(s) needed to find, use and evaluate information changing?

How would our ancient predecessors have handled a change in information technology?  It would be interesting to consider how the Roman era librarians of Alexandria would have handled the change from housing half a million papyrus scrolls to a lesser number of paper books.  What changes in society and technology would have effected them?  (And we all know how the changes in society, politics and history of their times influenced the end result of the Great Library of Alexandria.) ~  Dana L. Brumbelow – Alachua County Library District

 many people of ALL ages now just turn to Google and don’t go any further when looking for information. For me it’s really a question of reminding people that unlike the web, a book doesn’t just suddenly disappear, the way a website will if the internet connection is severed. ~ Teresa Eckford

Pretty much anything off the Internet, regardless of source, if it sounds remotely plausible, will satisfy many questioners. Certainly no one wants to wait the few minutes for a librarian to find the correct information in an actual reference book – just take whatever Wikipedia offers.  And it seems that many teachers, having grown up with the same attitudes, don’t have the sense to demand authoritative sources.  Or, perhaps, even to be aware that they exist.

One of my favorite books, “The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey rightly skewers the tabloid press of the 40s.  The crazy tabloids my grandmother subscribed to have move comfortably to the web. Batboy lives!  And I’m having a Martian love child next month!  
. . .  Often research skills are taught in school, but patrons want to take the easy way and have you hand them information.  I’ve encountered this often as a K-8 school librarian.  Several teachers complained to the principal that the students didn’t know how to find information or use the library.  This was after years of being taught how to do both.

I asked the teachers to bring classes in to see what the problem was.  The teacher would ask, “Where would you find information on XYZ?”  A room full of shrugged shoulders and vacant stares.I responded, “Really?  Where is the first place you would look for the information?”  Miraculously hands would go up and they suddenly remembered they would use the index to the encyclopedia and then locate the volumes indicated.  They would explain about the different Dewey classifications and using the OPAC. ~ Paula Laurita – Athens-Limestone Public Library 

 
Yellow Journalsim

Yellow Journalism

“Yellow journalism” goes back to the beginning of journalism! So do highly-regarded books that contained errors, slanted viewpoints, careful omission of important facts, etc.No matter what the medium, “logical fallacies” will always be common. Politics in general relies heavily on them, as do many other factors in life. Critical thinking can be taught, but the emotional and social variables that undermine the process can never be fully overcome.

 I would even suggest that the concept of “authoritative sources” in general tends to downplay critical thinking while appealing to emotion and social pressures.  ;)  Knowing how to manipulate the technology is an integral part of librarianship today.  Librarians should know more than the students in that regard, and should work hard to keep their knowledge current.  In most cases, that means studying on your own time for no pay, just as folks in other professions do.

. . . There are some simple ways to improve Google searches dramatically – when I have trouble finding things via Google, it’s usually because the information simply isn’t online, or it’s so obscure that it takes a lot of extra work (which is true of old style print searching, as well).  Though indexes are more precise, they are inherently much more limited. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

The Pew Research Center [somewhere] discovered that, really, under-twenty-somethings aren’t really all that net-savvy. They found it a misconception that next-genners can fix a computer in their sleep. Stroll through any public library’s teen area and watch them actually try to find info by Googling – it’s laughable, sad even. I’m not sure Google gets enough credit in terms of info. organization. Its services just get a bad rep because of its users. ~ Michael Schofield

 
As professionals we should be aware of, and keep up to date on, both library(research) methods _and_ current information technologies. ~ Carl William Long -   Reading Public Library
 
 I think some patrons would love a drive through window! I my case as a public law library – “one divorce packet, no children, to go please.” ~ Virginia Eldridge  Grayson County Law Library

 What really gets to me about these kids-these-days-and-their-darn-computer-boxes discussions is the knee-jerk assumption that a different skill set is an inferior skill set. Lately I’ve enjoyed pointing people to Socrates’ Phaedrus, written around 370 B.C., in which he rails against the new technology of the printed word and its deleterious effect on the mental habits of future generations. David Malki, author of Wondermark, has a really good blog post about it here: http://bit.ly/fnDHxu     

Socrates

I assume that a listserv full of librarians isn’t going to side with Plato in condemning the written word, but he’s not entirely wrong. A dialogue with a knowledgeable person can be much more illuminating that reading a book written by that same person. Plato’s error is his failure to see that the written word has its own strengths to offset the ways in which it is inferior to the spoken word and his refusal to seek out and exploit those strengths rather than lamenting those inferiorities.

Computers have produced a cultural upheaval to rival that wrought by writing and we’re well the point of no return. We’ll better serve ourselves and our patrons by looking to fuse our competencies with those of the Googleites than by grousing about what the kids don’t know. ~ Andrew Fuerste-Henry – Carnegie-Stout Public Library

. . . this ability to synthesize information into thoughts (especially written thoughts) that young people seem increasingly to be missing. I’m not sure if it has to do with how, or where they are getting their information; whether the inability to use an index or to structure a good online search is part of the problem. But I do know it’s a very real problem. I see it all the time, both at work and when I serve as a judge for local debate tournaments.  ~ Tom Cooper – Webster Groves Public Library

I think this is probably the most significant point to be made on this topic, and gets to the heart of the matter. How to help patrons who don’t know they need help? ~  Mark Hudson  East Baton Rouge Parish Library

And teachers and the Internet and their assignments for children…. I can’t figure out if it’s Google-era teachers or old, seasoned veterans who apparently give assignments and say, broadly, “You need information from a book, from a magazine article, and something from the Internet.”  Period.  I used to think it was older teachers who really were backward and knew nothing of the Internet, but thought it was something that everyone was “doing,” so his/her students should “do” the Internet for an assignment, too.  But I’m not so sure.  Then again, having had experience as a parent, I’m not always sure if kids who say, “The teacher said I need something from the Internet,” and then volunteer no further info, despite the best reference interview I can muster, are telling the truth.  Maybe the teacher gave precise directions and exact websites to try.  (That does happen, in about 10% of the cases, or some ridiculously low percentage like that there one.)  Maybe the teacher spoke intelligently and well about How to Find Good, Accurate Information on the Internet.  Or not.  Or has never been in the public library.  Or perhaps has.

Hittites in Love

And then there are all the official documents sent home for parental signatures at the beginning of the year, baddly ritten with pore grammer an speling an runonsentencez, and who produced *those*, I wonder.  Google-ites, or Troglodytes?  (Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Hivites–oops, now I’m getting carried away with names from the Bible, and am risking political incorrectness in public.  Or on publib.  Stop me now!) ~ John Richmond – Alpha Park Public Library

A brief summation of the Google Generation thread, with abject apologies to the Rolling Stones. :) ~ Tongue firmly in cheek, ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library 

(You! Kids!) Get off of My Lawn

They live on the Internet and they can’t read an analog clock
And they eat junky foods till you can hear all their arteries clog.
They trust Google way too much, and they don’t know how to use an index
They cite Wikis in their papers and good lord, I don’t know what’s next!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

Their phones are ringing Bieber in the library all of the time
They answer them out loud, ignoring all the posted “no cell phone” signs.
You say “Hang it up, kiddo, or I’ll have to ask you to depart.”
And they act as though you’ve stabbed them all the way down into the heart.

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

They barely use a vowel, they communicate only in text-speak
And for all the sense it makes to us, they might as well be sending Greek.
We snoop around the stacks and assume that all their acts are obscene
No wonder they seem to think librarians are all kind of mean!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!   ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library

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Library and Librarian Myths and Legends

Library and Librarian Myths and Legends : the Truth behind the Stacks

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Wisdom

Librarians have often been surrounded by mysteries, myths and legends.  What is the truth about Librarians?  Are they all-knowing godlike beings?  Do books magically appear on shelves?  Is the MLS a real degree?  What about buns?  These gems of corrective, collective wisdom are courtesy of the PubLib Listserve. 

David Faulker in Austin, Texas opened the discussion of De-myth-ifying librarians  with:

Just for fun I’m curious as to what are some of the wildest myths people have about our profession?

The one I hear is that, “it must be nice to work for a library and get to read all the time.”

to which the Publib Chorus responds ~

Well, there is always the one that all men who work in libraries are gay. Also that everyone is a volunteer. ~ Andrew Porteus 

 Everyone there is a librarian It is such a quiet, stress free place to work ~ Meg VanPatten  

  And it’s not just the patrons. I’ve actually had a board member ask me if I was a paid employee or a volunteer. ~ Dorothy Fleishman

“That must be a nice QUIET job.”   ha.  Come visit when we have 60 kids plus their associated older/younger siblings & adults on hand for storytime.  Or when the Chinese Lion Dance team is parading through the stacks celebrating Chinese New Year.  Or when two patrons start arguing about the noise from the headphones of one watching music videos online distracting the other who is trying to complete an online test. Or…  well, you can fill in your own blanks here.  ~ Tina Rawhouser

Most frequent for us, folks believe:

1.  That publishers are required to give books to us – we don’t have to buy them.

2.  That we are REQUIRED to put on the shelf certain books that the “government” tells us to.

3.  That we are REQUIRED to put on the shelf any book anyone wants us to… ~ Dusty Gres

*That we spend all day reading

*That everyone who works at a library is a librarian

*That there’s no reason for us to be at work when the public isn’t there (or to be off-desk for specified shifts) because, without the public, we have “nothing to do” (I’ve even had a library employee question this)

*That libraries are peaceful, calm, quiet places of work suitable to introverts and the socially inept

*That being a librarian isn’t “real” work  ~ Ann Moore

I’ve heard many who don’t frequent libraries say that  libraries are nothing but a den of homeless people who smell bad, talk to themselves & bathe in the library restrooms.  Our little library has none of that; the only ones talking to themselves are the  perhaps staff  – - after all the kids have gone through… ~ Karen Mahnk

Once at a pool party a guy asked me what I did.  I told him that I was a librarian.  He said, “That sounds really boring!”  Turned out he was an accountant, I bit my tongue and said nothing.  Librarianship is many things, but boring it aint! ~ George Hazelton

Does anyone think Laura Bush helped promote the idea that we read on the job? I remember when she said she loved being a librarian because she got to read her way through the gardening section. I cringed at that one. ~ Judy Anderson

“The ALA” controls public libraries ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard

granted, this one was from a 13-ish-year-old, but he was honestly surprised that I have a home, a husband, and a son.  He actually said the words, “…you don’t stay here?” ~ Sarah Morrison

How about the (hopefully small) group of patrons who think the public library provides some sort of dating service with the employees as the dates? ~ Mary Jane Garrett -

How about those folks who want the medical/mental help advice (as if I’m qualified for that) and then start flirting with you? . . . my mum was shocked recently to discover that I help folks with technology questions.  She thought I should hand over questions regarding things such as Microsoft Office, using email, or basic troubleshooting as to why the library computer won’t connect to the internet/print to the IT dept.  All because I’m a librarian and I shouldn’t have to deal with technology.  And then she asked me for help with her Kindle.  ~ Megan Coleman

“What do we libraries or librarians for, isn’t everything available on the internet?” ~ Jane Jorgenson

When my fellow teachers ask how the contract affects me (uh, I have a K-12 teaching cert so the same as you) and were SHOCKED that I had a student teacher. Librarians are TEACHERS not SUPPORT STAFF ~ Steph Sweeney

That reminds me of the only time when our budget did not pass and it was suggested that we staff the reference desk with volunteers because people basically ask the same 3 or 4 questions! ~ Meg VanPatten

That I keep their information in some secret place to share with the government. ~ Terry Ann Lawler

Librarians are pushovers ~ Robert Balliot

. . . you must get so much needlepoint done in between customers at the library ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard  

That all female librarians are some kind of sexual deviants hiding behind the stacks. ~ Melodie Franklin

The other one isn’t actually about librarians, but about libraries.  That’s the one wherein people think the publishers GIVE us all those books.  “You mean, you have to BUY the books?”  Well, yeah, we do; with the fine money that is surely our only source of income (don’t people look at their property tax bills?). ~ Lynne S. Ingersoll

There’s the one that all female librarians are old maids with their hair in a bun and pencils stuck over their ears. The one I like the best is that we, men and women, are all smart and know everything! ~ Anne Felix

Aischylos sans bun

I use this one to my advantage. At least once every day I hear, “but you don’t look like a librarian.” To which I respond, “Oh. That’s because I quit putting my hair up in a bun.” Then I show them my MPB spot and add, “See? I ripped it out by the roots.” ~ Darrell Cook

Upon learning I am a librarian someone once said, “That must be peaceful.” Then I told her about the guy who came into the library following kids around who turned out to have a rap sheet with charges of assault and rape (minors) on it, how some patrons act when they haven’t been taking their meds, and the  patron who yelled at me by telephone for five minutes because she felt two of my co-workers (no, I don’t supervise them)had not given her satisfactory  help. ~ Kevin O’Kelly

Once a candidate for a job told me she wanted to work in a library because it’s an easy job where she could sit down all day. ~ Gair Helfrich

Boy, I sure would like to work in a place that has peace and quiet! ~ Linda Dydo  

“I wish I got paid to read all day.”
 “I wish I got paid to color and cut things out all day.”\ ~ B. Allison Gray
 
“You need a masters degree? Don’t you know alphabetical order?” ~ Diane Doty

Several times I’ve spoken with people who can’t believe that we haven’t read all the books on our shelves. Maybe that’s why they think we’re smart? ~ Tom Cooper

Personnel & Personnel

People don’t understand–including people who are leaders, administrators, executives, whatever, in other vocations–that directors or other administrative folks in libraries deal with the same issues that other leaders, administrators, and executives do: personnel, personnel, and personnel, along with budgets, personnel, boards, personnel, personnel, and, now and then, personnel.  Buildings and grounds.  Contractors.  Also personnel. ~ John Richmond

Directors named Dusty are male. And if a woman answers the phone she is his Secretary as in {snarky tone} “I ASKED to speak specifically to the Director NOT his Secretary…” And if I say, “This is the Director” then the response is, “Oh, well, Debbie…” or, this is the best one, “Oh, really, what’s your REAL name?” ~ Dusty Gres

They also think we keep everything forever! ~ Anne Felix

People always think that library staff get perks like getting to jump to the top of the holds queue or not having to pay overdue fines. I tell them that in terms of using the library, we are just like the patron and we get no special treatment, which always shocks them. They’re also surprised when I point out that, if anything, we have the opposite of perks because our coworkers know what we check out and put on hold and how much we owe, so we have to sacrifice our privacy. ~ Cheryl Hill

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Surreal Librarian

I’ve had that ‘is that a real’ degree on the subject of the MLS a few times, and never once has a fearless leader of mine allowed me to smile sweetly and say ‘nope, it’s a surreal degree.’ ~ Kathleen Stipek

I am surprised by how many people ask, “How much does it cost to get a library card?” We have a fair number of immigrants in our community, and they are often surprised to learn that public libraries are free. ~ Anne Felix

. . . wasn’t that “a lot of education to sit behind a desk and wait for someone to ask a question?”!!  ~ Penny Neubauer

I overheard a mother walking in front of my desk tell her child “Don’t bother the librarian. She’s busy working. They’re for important questions.” That child will probably never ask the librarians a question, and will probably not use the library as an adult. ~ Angela Morse

. . . people think that a library, any library, will keep forever that very special book or collection of books (or National Geographic Magazines) they are planning to give to the library one day.  That day might be just tomorrow because they’re cleaning out the old family house after the death of a parent, or it might be a plan they’re making for years ahead when they move their stuff to a smaller apartment and get rid of some of their books. ~ Alain

Librarian Legend :

baseball field by Robert Merkel

Coach's box= dugout

I first got Dodger season tickets in 1994.  I got in the habit of bringing cookies to the guys in the bullpen.
The then-bullpen catcher asked me my name, but there was so much noise he couldn’t hear me. 
I whipped out my business card and handed it to him.  He walked over to the other guys, shaking his head, and saying:  “You’ll never guess what she does for a living!” ~Sue Kamm

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