“Rollin in the deep”

Ok.  So I have totally neglected this blog for a while now.  My work responsibilities as well as my conference planning, and other writing opportunities have just gotten in the way.  But, that’s not the real reason.  The real reason is my new all-consuming obsession: Roller Derby.  That’s right.  This pop culture librarian is staying on the cusp of what’s popular and has joined one of the fastest growing sports around.  It’s a full contact sport that requires brains and brawn (I happen to sport both, thank you) and it’s a total blast.  So, if you are wondering where I am.  Well, i’m on the track, “hitting bitches”.  Don’t worry, that’s a thing we say.  Have a looksee at my team and see if you can spot the librarian.  I.bet.you.can.



Number Five is Alive

So, here we are planning our 5th Access Services Conference.  I am so proud that this operation is continuing to provide a valuable professional development opportunity to Access Services folks.  We are currently accepting proposals and I am once again looking forward to attending this event as the proposals start rolling in.  The deadline is May 10, 2013.

For more information about proposal guidelines and submitting a proposal please visit: http://www.AccessServicesConference.org

Pop culture reference brought to you by the film Short Circuit.


Feeling Sweet Feeling Drops From My Finger, Fingers

I have self-diagnosed myself with what I like to call “post-conference depression”.  One week past the 4th Access Services Conference (huge success, by the way), and I am still feeling the effects putting on the event has on me.  While my eye miraculously stopped twitching the day of the event, I am left with an emptiness that is rather silly.  I have plenty to do, lots of other projects need my attention.  But, there is something about putting together an event of that size that you become so engulfed by it that when you are finally free of the manic madness, you kind of miss it.  The last few years have left me feeling a tad depressed after the conference.  It’s not because it didn’t go well, it did.  This year we had 225 attendees from all over the country, even Canada.  The presentations were great, the keynote was stellar, and the company was fantastic, as always.  I just need to wrap my mind around the fact that another successful conference was achieved and move on to planning the next one.  Of course, I still have work to do on this one.  Maybe the depression is because there is no end in sight.  The attendees go and enjoy but I still have to work even when they all go back home.  Whatever it is, I am owning up to it and accepting the fact that it might take me a few weeks to recover and to slowly get myself back into the swing of things.  Jimi may have said: “Well, I think I’ll go turn myself off an’ go on down. Really ain’t no use me hanging around.” and meant something totally different, but for me, it signifies the need for a good vacation.

Librarian’s Not Dead

I logged into a webinar this afternoon about how librarians dress.  I am interested in how the librarian stereotype is effecting/or promoting (my new idea) libraries in popular culture.  So, this webinar had lots of interesting thoughts on the librarian stereotype and how many are trying to dramatically disprove the stereotype by venturing on the side of “hipster librarian” (their words, not mine).  Thus, making “hipster librarian” the common librarian look.  I may or may not agree with that but what I find interesting is that so many are still offended by the librarian stereotype.  Sure, I am not crazy about the eyewear commercial with the sexy librarian look, although it does make for some good laughs at home. But, the fact that our profession, my profession, actually has a stereotype is kind of cool.  Whether the stereotype actually represents current librarians is irrelevant.  It’s a character, a brand, and we should use it to put the word out about how awesome libraries and librarians still are.  So what if popular culture thinks we wear glasses and a bun, they think about us, they represent us, they immortalize us.  I think that is far reaching and something we should celebrate.

BTW, The title is a play on a song by the Exploited “punk’s not dead”, in case you didn’t get it.  Check out the lyrics and enjoy the similarities.

“You Bowl Me Over”

This week The Library Journal published a paper I wrote and presented at the 2012 Popular Culture Association Annual Conference titled: “What Popular Culture is Telling Us About Libraries and Why We Should Listen”.  I was a little surprised that it was published in the opinion section but I am thankful that they published it at all.  That being said, I have received lots of positive feedback about it.  I am “bowled over” with the complements I receive.  It’s a little scary having something published.  You write it, it’s a piece of who you are, and then you throw it out there for anyone and their mother to read and criticize.   It could be a strike or a 7-10 split.  You never know until you roll the ball.  I’m having fun with  my bowling references, it’s bowling night after all.  I do enjoy bowling, and I enjoy writing too (hence the blog), but I don’t get to do either nearly as much as I would like.  It’s time to parse out time for writing as I parse out every Thursday evening for bowling.  So if tonight is bowling night, maybe Friday should be writing day.  I’ll ponder that idea while working on my perfect game.

Title quote from one of my favorites: Grease 2

Say it, Don’t Spray it

Here’s the problem with a combined circulation and reference desk: it doesn’t work…unless…

reference disappears.  I know, it’s harsh.  So how can you possibly have a circulation/reference desk if there is no reference?  Well, let me rephrase, reference needs to dissolve.  Wait, is that more harsh?  Whatever, let me explain:

Reference transactions have seen a dramatic decline in recent years.  We all know that the internet is finding our information for us faster with minimal awkward encounters at a service desk.  So it only makes sense to add reference to circulation (a still very relevant and active service) to save staff, space, embarrassment, etc.  Hey, I’m down with it.

But what I am not so crazy about is the assumption that circulation is going to be unable or unwilling to perform said reference transactions.  What?  Where did this crap come from?  Don’t get me wrong, reference brings value.  I believe that reference is important for the community we serve.  In-depth research assistance is especially important to this community.  However, those in-depth research questions are not getting asked at a service desk.  So why spend valuable staff time on a desk that sees very little activity?  Many institutions have seen the light and are hopping on this combined services bandwagon.  They might be taking a wrong turn when continuing to keep traditional reference services on this new desk.  If you are going to combine and do it right, you need to become a new service.  It’s not circulation and it’s not reference, it’s something else altogether.  But you can’t even do that without accepting that traditional reference no longer dominates, as well as, accepting that circulation staff, student assistants and all, will be responsible to providing this service from now on.

What I am proposing is a little controversial.  I remember a few years back a colleague wrote about how reference does not need a desk and it went crazy up in here.  So, please forgive me.  Here’s what I think: there is no reference.  Just like there is no circulation.  There is research and there is access service.  So, if traditional reference no longer exists and circulation incorporates basic reference functions into it’s routine, where does that leave the reference librarian?  Confused, hurt, and a little angry.  They are the ones who are impacted the most from this change.  We are constantly talking about training staff and acclimating them to the reference culture and “reference interview” but we are not talking about the culture shock that the reference librarian is feeling.  Unfortunately, many hold on to that idea that circulation will not do a good enough job handing those rare reference transactions.  This is their biggest fear, whether said out loud or not.  The truth is, they could be right.  We definitely do not have the years of expertise most reference librarians bring to the desk.  How can we compete with Suzy Reference who has worked as a reference librarian for 20 years and knows the collection like the back of her hand?  We can’t.

So, we have a new desk, with staff who are not reference librarians performing general reference, who do not have the same skills/abilities as the reference librarians, what do we do?  Why we train them, of course.  Practice makes perfect, right.   I believe Suzy Reference was a novice 20 years ago and figured it out as she went along.  This is the same thing.  The reference librarians who are feeling disjointed need to take the initiative to keep the lines of communication open and offer their expertise on a regular basis.   So, Suzy Reference is now Suzy Research or Suzy Expert who can help when needed for more in-depth questions as well as keeping our skills sharp.  Circulation is absolutely willing and able to take on this additional responsibility.  If reference would just accept the fact that no, the new desk will not have the level of research expertise that was available at the reference desk and that is okay, things will go much smoother.

I think the combined desk trend has some pitfalls because so many librarians and staff are hesitant to accept change.  They certainly are not happy with the disappearance of a once central service in the library.  They are also not happy with no longer participating on a service desk.  I completely understand that feeling.  However, their time is valuable and wasting it on a service desk that no longer needs them is just sad.   So, to have a successful combined desk you need handle the whole reference problem.  If you don’t like the terms disappear or disolve, how about these from Thesaurus.com:

abandonabscond, be done for, be gone, be lost,be no more, be swallowed up,

cease to exist,clear, come to naught, decamp, dematerialize,departdie, die out,

dispersedissipatedissolve,drop out of sight, ebbend, end gradually,escape,

evanesce, evanish, evaporate, exit,expire, fade, fade away, fleeflygo, go

south,leave, leave no trace, melt, melt away, pass,pass away, perishrecede,

retireretreatsink,take flight, vacate, vamoose, wanewithdraw

I guess I did spray it.  Oh well.

Shameless Plug Year Four

It is with great pleasure that I can shamelessly plug my other four year old: The Access Services Conference.  I am very excited that my little brain-child is still going strong, with the help of very motivated and vocal access services professionals, of course.  We are currently collecting proposals and will continue to do so until May 11, 2012.  Please visit our website at: www.AccessServicesConference.org for more detailed information about submitting a proposal.