“Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.” Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Oh my.  It wasn’t just a library joke.  People really did say this and mean it.  And then expect you to find the book for them.  As in, possibly right then.  At that moment.  Pronto~! 

Their faces fall if you can’t.  It’s a little bit heart-breaking, and one is left with a keen sense of failure in having been the Depository of all Literary Knowledge, and let an enthusiastic reader down.

The first time someone said this line to me, I thought they were taking the mickey and laughed.

Oops, no: serious.  Quickly back paddle.

You know, we should forget about classifying the books by the Dewey or Library of Congress systems.  Because this is how patrons really want us to shelve them:

Wellington Central Library, New Zealand

Wellington Central Library, New Zealand

I thought I would share some of the resources I use when searching for Forgotten Books

Because without doubt, they are a thing.  They are usually children’s or young adult books, as this comes about when people begin to suffer from Nostalgia Sickness. 

It is usually only a quick dose of this illness, but like a nagging bacterial infection, needs a specialised antibiotic to make it go away.

And that antibiotic is a particular book.  And it is up to you to make a diagnosis and find that book.

So, here are a few of the resources I use:

·         Goodreads Group – What’s The Name Of That Book???

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/185-what-s-the-name-of-that-book

·         Stump the Bookseller (N.B. Small fee applies but archives free to browse)

http://www.loganberrybooks.com/stumpthebookseller/

·         Search (e.g. Google) keywords (any details of plot, names, etc. also ‘book’, ‘story’, ‘young adult’, ‘historical’, ‘thriller’, etc.)

·         Literature Reference Guides, e.g.

          Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English, edited by Jenny Stringer

–          Bloomsbury Guide to Women’s Literature, edited by Claire Buck

–          Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature, edited by Gerard Curruthers, Liam McIlvanney

·         AbeBooks.com BookSleuth®

http://forums.abebooks.com/discussions/AbeBookscom_BookSleuthreg/abeSleuthCom

·         Also the image searching option for search engines can be helpful.  For example, typing in “purple book cover” yields:

Purple Cover

On a related matter: people, after finding out I work in a library, will either…

a) say I don’t look like a librarian

b) ask me to recommend them a book

“Uh, ok.  What kind of stories or characters interest you?  Fiction or non-fiction?  What have you enjoyed watching or readi-“

“No, no,” my dentist says cheerfully.  “just off the top of your head.”

Gravity’s Rainbow,” I shoot back as he reaches for the drill.

These are some of the resources or strategies I use to help recommend a book (or suggest to people that they use):

·         The Ultimate Teen Book Guide, by Daniel Hahn (Editor), Susan Reuben, Leonie Flynn

·         The internet.  Just search the internet.  Blogs, forums, LibraryThing, Goodreads (especially good for reading quotes from books and getting a ‘feel’ for them)

·         Suggest they read the book of the film they loved.  Yes, there is often a book it was based on – and the book is seldom less amazing!

·         What Should I Read Next? http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/

Does anyone else have some ideas or resources they would like to share for making book recommendations or of use in finding Forgotten Books?

Thus far, and no further…

Kia ora koutou,

Today is the day I have decided to give up on my library degree.

It is a decision I have come to slowly, but is one now made.  There were two stand-out factors that finally swayed me off the path I was on.

These were personal perceptions and should not influence anyone else; nor are they to be taken as gospel.  I hope that by sharing them here, they might open up some useful discussions.

1. The people being promoted in my library don’t have library-related degrees.

Well, the bottom line and message here is that they actually count for little.

2.  Library school does not have enough papers that focus strongly enough on Information technology or teaching skills.

These are two things that are likely to become increasingly important in the library sector.

I have completed my studies to just beyond diploma/certificate level, and I feel this serves me well enough.  If I decide to pursue further study, I feel it would be more useful for me to put my money towards teaching, business, IT – or any other qualification.

There is repetitive discussion in the library world about the push to have librarianship recognised as a Profession.

Like many of my classmates, I quickly tired of what seemed like attempts to enlist me to this cause.  Moreover, there will always be a difference between *being* professional and being *a* professional.  The former has always been more important to me than the latter, and I daresay for employers too.

After visiting some special libraries and archives, I can see that the nature of the work in parts of the field certainly do require a person to have specialised skills particular to their job.

However, the apparent dismissiveness towards the qualifications an applicant holds when appointments are made for senior library roles does negate the value of a library degree.

I feel that any time myself or my colleagues have been elevated, it has been based on personality and natural skill rather than qualifications.  Perhaps this is as it should be – but now, now I intend to use my savings to travel rather than continue study.

Best wishes to all of you with a more ambitious and positive outlook than myself!

Peace. X

Future of Libraries Summit

About 9 days ago LIANZA held a Future of Libraries Summit in Wellington. Even thought I would have loved to attend I was unable to but I’ve been reading a selection of blog posts about the event. I’m glad to say most of the feedback has been positive. This has been really great to see as I believe it’s important for the profession to have discussions about it’s future direction so at the very least we are on the same page. I would really like to engage with this and be part of this discussion so I thought I could answer some of the questions presented.

What are the key drivers of the profession?

While I agree that as a whole we are a diverse industry I believe the key drivers are pretty much the same. Every library wants to engage with and provide for its user group. This is because if we don’t, what is our purpose? Therefore academic libraries have to cater for students and academics. If they don’t provide text books, access to databases and research help what’s the point of having a library at the university and I can imagine an outcry from their key user groups.

I also believe that quality training, mentor ship and development opportunities for the younger sector of the industry are crucial for the continued existence of this field. If this is not done once our current leaders retire who is going to take up the mantel and keep libraries alive?

What would a flourishing library sector look like in 2025 if we address these key drivers?

I believe it will create terrific leaders who recognise the importance of training and open communication. It will be librarians who believe in sharing their skills instead of hoarding their knowledge. These people will understand the importance of constructive criticism and listening to those down below who are actually working with our patrons and clients. This will mean that we can better serve our communities and users and therefore we won’t feel the need to continually talk about our relevance because people will see this in their everyday lives.

What are we currently doing to address these drivers – at the library level, at the sector level, at the whole of profession level?

I believe the Kotuku leadership course that LIANZA is currently running is a great start. However, as stated previously I believe that mentor ship for those who haven’t created their library qualifications would be beneficial too. At present I think we have a culture that dismisses open communication and criticism about the industry; the Issues Desk is a perfect example as we write this anonymously so we can get jobs in the future! Maybe it would be good to change the culture around this. Again, I believe the summit was a great way to do this. However, I would be interested to see how many people young in the industry were involved and what the restrictions to this were.

Where are the gaps?

I think I possibly addressed this above. But I believe its really important we create an environment of open communication. I know all opinions aren’t valid but it would be great if people could express them without fear of recrimination and lack of job opportunity. Again, I’m going to use The Issues Desk as an example, we only created this blog as we are passionate about the industry but felt we had no forum to discuss it. Shouldn’t we want to hear from people that are passionate instead of punishing them?

Who should take responsibility for these gaps?

Everyone! But in particular I believe people in management positions and the professional organisation. Come on guys, lets foster a culture of openness! Let’s listen to our front line staff! Let’s offer more leadership training!

Where to from here?

I don’t know but I worry that nothing will come from the Summit and that would be a huge mistake as I believe we should capitalise on this open discussion.

I hope that all made sense I’m a bit sick and fevery. Please feel free to comment or email us at theissuesdesk@yahoo.co.nz We would really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions!

Library Career Outlook in NZ (well, according to the government)

Sometimes I wonder how the NZ Library and Information Association in 2010 and Careers NZ gathered their statistics to describe library careers.

I have more faith in their data than my own observations, but the latter is perception of fact rather than reported data – and perception can easily have more power and sway over one’s reactions and decisions.

I present to you with a screenshot of the webpage describing the job of a Library Assistant:

library assistantMana rapuara Aotearoa, Careers NZ. (4 June 2015). Careers NZ – Library Assistant. Retrieved 23rd July 2015.

Now although there is always a lot of interest in these positions, I wouldn’t say that your chances of getting a job were exactly poor – but your chances of receiving the salary they’ve recorded certainly are.

Have a look – and someone please comment to tell me I’m undeniably, irrefutably wrong, and this data is correct (and also what library you work at!!)

This website is designed predominantly for college students, I believe, and this might be somewhat disheartening to a young person tossing up the idea of pursuing a career in libraries.

However, that is only at assistant level, so let’s take a look at what it says about being a Librarian:

librarianMana rapuara Aotearoa, Careers NZ. (4 June 2015). Careers NZ – Librarian. Retrieved 23rd July 2015.

Well that’s more promising… yet so vague. What kind of librarian? Who is considered a ‘librarian’? I am assuming this is an average across a large field, but depending on your position and experience, you could easily knock 10k off the lower estimate, or add 100k to the upper one. I realise that sounds extreme, but if one counts the Library Manager as a ‘librarian’, it might well reach these heights.

That takes me back to my original question. Who is a librarian? I so seldom come across anyone whose job title is simply ‘librarian’. At what point is the cut off?

I hope one day someone shall say to me, “Sorry, we realise you work in a library and are qualified, but you just earn too much to call yourself a Librarian now.”

I am also distracted by the sparkly: Archivist, Historian, Curator… all these related jobs – wow! Have I ever thought too deeply into what kind of library or librarian I would like to be? Wouldn’t it be simply amazing to work in a museum library or archive?

Further exploration reveals that the economic recession and subsequent cuts to funding are responsible for the poor outlook in library assistant jobs. But there’s a bright side! The pay is also poor, so there is a steady turnover as people move on to more affluent positions.

Wait… that didn’t quite sound right…

Let’s try again:

Being a Library Assistant is a good stepping stone to develop your skills, discover what you love in a library, where your passion lies, and the specific career path you’d like to follow. And, yes, it is even possible to both live comfortably on the salary received and still save money if you are wise.

The question becomes: just how easy is it to move up?

Watching my colleagues who have more ambition than I, I would say that:

  •  having a relevant library qualification
  •  developing language skills in Te Reo
  •  having a knowledge and understanding for many cultures
  •  developing skills in information technology
  •  teaching experience
  •  making it your professional development career goal
  •  motivation
  •  determination
  •  dedication
  •  commitment
  •  tunnel-vision
  •  resolve
  •  enthusiasm
  •  near-scary-zealousness

…all help.

crane and frog

I rather love this website, and would recommend looking at the tabs beyond the summary of library jobs – and also checking out the other listed careers: careers.govt.nz

Also, please excuse my lazy citations and enjoy this meme instead:

taken

Breaking down local government with Tammy 2

So we are talking about references to librarians in popular culture and I’ve chosen to talk about Parks and Recreation.

I personally feel like Parks and Recreation is one of the best shows ever created and as it deals with working for local government of course it has mentions and episodes dedicated to the library in the fictional town of Pawnee.

The most memorable of these for me is one from the second season called, “Ron and Tammy”. This is the episode that introduces Ron’s ex-wife Tammy 2. who works at the Pawnee library as the deputy director of library services. Due to this we are also introduced to the parks departments thoughts on the library:

Tammy and the Pawnee library team dress like typical librarians in your traditional cardigan/glasses combo but I don’t think they are like any I have ever met.

Tammy is highly sexual to an unprofessional degree. She cares little about public nudity or having sexual relations in public. I fear this behavior would be highly detrimental to her professional standing and I am surprised she still has a job. However, her co-workers seem to be equally unprofessional.

This can be witnessed here:

However, despite the above’s evidence to the contrary I do see some hints of truth buried in Parks and Recreations portrayal of local government happenings. As you can see from the first clip this episode comes to be because the library would like a piece of council land that the Parks and Recreation department feel they have claim to.

While, I can’t relate to the idea of a new library rebuild, I can understand the frustration of having to fight for council resources as unfortunately these are not unlimited and need to be spread amongst many departments. When you are part of a big organisation at times your voice can be lost especially when to some your value isn’t readily apparent.

It seems to be quite apt that the Parks and Recreation department and the libraries department would be fighting as these are the two with the most in common. They are the most isolated from the rest of the council as libraries work in the library building while parks and recreation are kept near the bottom of the building. These two teams also spend the most time directly dealing with the public and also spend the most time justifying there existence. I mean, everyone can understand why you need a rates department but are libraries and parks really needed?!?

I may be reading too much into this shows portrayal of librarians and the local governments response to them. However, I really like the non traditional route it has taken. I love that librarians are too be feared as they are smart from being so well read, I like that I don’t see any shhhing and a lack of tweed.

So what do you think? Please post your comments below or email us at theissuesdesk@yahoo.co.nz

NZ Sign Language & Libraries

I find when I am enjoying the gentle warm rain of the shower at night, the steaminess enveloping me in a foggy cloud from the world, my mind drifts back to random episodes out of the past.

For whatever reason, my train of thought wandered back to the day I was on desk and helping a woman who was Deaf.  She was able to communicate what she needed me to do, but I remember feeling my own failure in not being able to make the exchange easier for her; expressly, my lack of knowledge in NZ Sign Language.

Once I was nicely warm in my pyjamas, I set to researching courses in NZ Sign Language on the internet.  In particular, I wanted to ascertain if there were courses tailored for libraries and the kinds of conversations one is likely to have with patrons.

It takes time to become proficient in any new language – but what if there was a course that would teach library staff the signs to say such things as:

·         Kia ora, how are you?

·         Would you like help finding something?

·         Would you like me to renew this book?

·         We need to update your address details

…And so forth.

I remember at the public library we did have a lady come in and teach us how to sign a few simple phrases, but what I had in mind was a slightly more intensive course – perhaps six sessions – which would be of specific and practical use.

 Are there such courses available?  Is this a feasible idea?  I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts and comments on this.

 At the moment I am trying to self-learn a little from this website: http://nzsl.vuw.ac.nz/

Are there such things as library mentors?

At present I’m in like with my job, everything is going well and I’m enjoying the work that I have to do. However, I know that a time will come where I would like to move on. But I have no idea how to get from my current position to where I would ultimately like to go. But, I would really like to change that.

So my question is, are there such things as library mentors?

I would really love if I could find someone who could guide me in my career and let me know what I need to do in order to advance in the direction I would like to go.

The obvious choice would be to speak to my manager however, while she has been in the industry for a lengthy amount of time from what I can see her focus is very local and she does not really engage with the wider community like I would like to. Also, in the past people have only stayed in the role short term so I’ve got the impression that if I mention moving on she will think I have itchy feet and become concerned that I am thinking about leaving.

Once this is out, my thinking takes me to LIANZA. Do they have a mentor type programme?

The answer to this is yes and here is a link to it: http://www.lianza.org.nz/professional-registration/lianza-mentoring-scheme

I love that they do this. However, my only problem is you need to be professional registered and I have not completed my MLIS so therefore can’t. This I could be wrong about though because as I was filling out the, can I register type questionnaire it told me this:

LIANZA

But to be honest, I don’t know if I want to professionally register yet. I know I do one day but at the moment I’m just dipping my toes in the water with LIANZA. I don’t know if I’m ready for this type of commitment.

So what am I do to?

Katniss

I think I may just email the person who is in the job I would ultimately like and ask them how they got to be where they are. I don’t know if this is a good idea, if the person will even get back to me or if this is beneficial. But, I’ve got to try because at this point I don’t know the path I need to take.

I would really appreciate your advice, stories and comments about this so either do this below or email us at theissuesdesk@yahoo.co.nz