CNN says it all about Librarians!

In a recent fun article on CNN, librarians were given the okay! We know what we can do, but often people think we’re volunteers or that our systems and ideas are old-fashioned or downright antiquated. Exactly the opposite!  Librarians are tech savvy, we’re knowledgeable about the world we live in and yes, we’re absolutely fun people on top of it!

At our own small library, we have five very different people who work behind the desk, each with their own skill set and attitude. Janet will always remember your name, your children’s names and even the name of your pet (she’s got an incredible memory for books, too!). Shirley is Queen of Genealogy and really knows her historical information (ask her about Ireland!). Judi is the expert on all things mystery related and will talk with you about baseball or hockey any day (just don’t knock her favourite team!). Sheila is the really sweet one, the one with the smile for everyone ( and she has an unbelievable knowledge of children’s books!). I’m the one that most often people come to for a computer problem (I’ll try to help, if I can), just don’t ask me about anything sports related or you might get a blank stare!

Our library

There are fascinating facts in the CNN article, including librarian heroes, librarians in the movies and even librarians who are famous. Of course, this article is based on American info, but the ideas still relate to Canadian libraries and librarians. So the next time you come to the library, keep in mind that we’re here to help….and we love what we do, so don’t be afraid to ask us a few questions!

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Library Myths

There are many myths about librarians that we hear over and over.  I came across another site recently from a library that took a poll on the top 5 myths of the profession, and I have to say that we’ve heard them all here, also.  Here are the top 5:

#5.  Librarians have no stress.

Of course, we all know that in any job, stress can play a factor.  I can’t think of one job in the universe that is without stress.  Even though the library environment is peaceful and quiet (for the most part), we can come across stressful factors just as in any other job. (No need to elaborate.)

#4.  They pay you to read all day.

I wish that were the case, but ask any librarian and they’d probably tell you that they wish they had time to read.  We come across so many great books each day and wish there were enough hours in the day to read everything.  As far as I know, the only job where you’d be paid to read all day might be a publisher or literary agent, and most likely they’d say it wasn’t reading for pleasure.

#3.  Librarians are little old ladies with their hair pulled back and reading glasses.

I bet you’d have a hard time finding anyone like that in any library these days.  At our library, I’d like to think we are all quite fashionable in our own way and even if some of us wear glasses, they are not horn-rimmed or black.  Just saying.

#2.  Librarians have read every book in the library.

Although we see almost all of the books that come into the library (it depends on who catalogs the books), we couldn’t possibly read everything.  So when you come to the desk with an obscure book about the cheeses of the world, we may not be able to rhapsodize about each chapter, but we might be able to tell you we enjoyed looking at it.

And the #1 library myth?  Librarians know the answer to everything.

Of course we do!  No, really we don’t, but it seems that people expect us to know just about everything.  One thing we are good at though, is finding out the answer if someone comes to us with a question.  So give us a little time, and we’ll probably be able to get you what you’re looking for.

If you’d like to read the full article about library myths, you can visit here.

What else do you think about librarians?


Are you on a first-name basis with the librarian?

I came across an interesting item that really irked some law librarians in the US, but it applies to every library and patron all around the world.  A question was posed by Thomson West, a company devoted to providing services and software for law students, that said:

“Are you on a first name basis with the librarian? Then chances are, you’re spending too much time at the library.”

The quote went on to extol the virtues of their reliable services which should make needing the library almost obsolete.  And as a marketing tool, someone thought this was smart.  They just didn’t count on the fact that librarians everywhere would be seriously offended by it and cause a bit of an uproar.

So, what’s wrong with knowing your librarian by name?  Nothing.  In fact, many people will find that if they strike up a bit of a conversation with a librarian when they are at the library, often times, that person will remember you later and possibly recommend something that you might not know about.  Just talking to a librarian doesn’t mean that you’ll become friends or gain special privileges in the library, but it can’t hurt.

Being in a small-town library, it becomes easy to get to know our regulars after a while and often, people tell us it is so nice to be recognized.  Many patrons have come from larger cities and never got to know anyone in their former libraries, so they feel like they are getting some special attention.  Regardless, it is nice to get to know people on a first name basis.  You never know how important those connections might be one day.

If you’d like to read more about the Thomson West Library uproar, you can find the article here.  Let us know what you think….do you know your librarian?

Librarians in trouble!

In Omaha, Nebraska, librarians at a local library decided to purchase a few games to try to attract teens into their library.  This is being done more and more, with gaming nights becoming popular in many bigger libraries around the US and Canada.  No, these are not just your average board games, but rather the latest in computer and video games….namely Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution and the like.  So why are these librarians in trouble?

It turns out that they decided to capture their first experience with these games on video, knowing that it would probably be quite funny and then deciding to post their clip on YouTube.  Would this video give them even more coverage and draw more teens into their library?  Maybe so, but it also drew the wrong attention.

Action 3 News in Omaha, Nebraska filed a report describing how this library was abusing tax payers’ dollars to play games during work hours.  It got so many people up in arms that a Nebraska state auditor launched an investigation and the Governor of the state will head up the group looking into the matter.

Why are people so angry?  Gaming in libraries as well as many other programs which are not literacy related are just as important as more serious endeavors.  Not only do they bring in young people that we see less and less of, but it may draw new people to the library.  Libraries should be seen as relevant and current and not just as dusty aisles of books with even dustier people.  Libraries employ young and creative people with ideas and interests that should attract many new patrons.  What’s wrong with someone coming into the library just to participate in a special event unrelated to reading?  They might just see the place in a new light and think about the library the next time they are looking for something to do. Books might even be involved!  Can you believe it?!

That being said, I watched this YouTube video in its entirety, and I have a few things to say.  First, it is nearly ten minutes long even though the video is played in fast motion, and not a lot of it is overly interesting.  Several library staff take what must be an hour (in real time)  to set up the equipment (although the woman in pink doesn’t really lift a finger to help), and then they proceed to try out the games.  Of course, you need to know how to run your equipment because although nearly every youth on earth knows how to run these games in their sleep, you don’t want to look stupid in your own library.   But really, did they need to play song after song after song?  They all had a turn at the various instruments (even the woman in pink was in drummer heaven) and then shut the game off and some people left the room.  But two hardy library staff decided that maybe they needed a little more practice, turned it back on and rocked the afternoon away.  Of course, they HAD to try out Dance, Dance , Revolution as well!  So maybe there was a bit of taxpayer money wasted here, but nothing to get worked up about.

Maybe the people looking into this are incensed that there are jobs out there where people don’t sit at a desk all day?   I don’t know why, but you be the judge.


Dusty librarians no more!

For many years, the persona of the librarian has been stuffy, bespectacled and out of touch with the world of fashion, but times are changing.  This week, fashion design label Marni unleashed their latest line on the fashion runways of New York, all inspired by the sexy librarian.

Photo by Imaxtree

The colours were bright, the patterns were bold and there was probably nothing there that I could (or would) actually wear to work, but hey, at least there were no glasses!  You can see more of the line here:

http://nymag.com/fashion/fashionshows/2009/spring/main/europe/womenrunway/marni/

or read more about the fashion show here:

http://blogs.wsj.com/runway/2008/09/24/marnis-sexy-librarians/

There are many fashionable librarians in the world, and the stereotype of stuffy old librarian is really disappearing. Vice Magazine has done an article on ultra-fashionable Swedish librarians like Jenny:

I don’t know how she’d fit into our library in Carleton Place, but maybe the Swedes are a little more laid back than we are here in Canada.

The New York Times recently did an article on a gathering of American Librarians, calling them “A hipper crowd of shushers.”  So is this the way librarians are headed?  Are we going to see more fashion conscious, trendier people running our libraries?  Would that be so bad?