Great. Just Great.

Stop feeding the squirrels!

Position Information Questionaire (PIQ)

We are currently in the process of writing personal PIQ's for our jobs, heretofore to be known as 'Career Paths.'

The PIQ, at it's most basic, lists your job duties and how much time you spend on them. It came as a total shock exactly how much time I spend doing what patrons 'see' me do. I spend only 5% of my time checking out and discharging books. Wow.

I spend the bulk of my time on my project (40%) and on committees (25%).

The rest of my time is spent cataloging, handling privacy issues, providing staff support, and teaching patrons how to use the library (30%).

The PIQ also gives you the chance to tell Human Resources, in so many words, exactly what you do and how it impacts the rest of the University. They like to know what the most typical decisions you make everyday are and the most complex. It's scary when the two lists look like you just hit copy and paste.

The hardest part of writing the PIQ has been not selling myself short. When you do something that's complex everyday, it seems very simple, so you write it down very simply. End result: the exact nature of how complicated the task is, is never put across. So I took a step back and looked at what I did from the perspective of someone who had no idea about libraries. You sound a whole lot better when you write out what you do with a sense of wonder about it.

I also stepped back and thought about how my job impacted the University. Library drones like me spend our entire days working with everyone from local residents to board members. We just don't always know it. We forget that we work with VIPs. Sandra Spanier one day and Sue Paterno the next. But how does this impact the University? Everything I do impacts whether or not a student will become a donor later in life. My project impacts all levels of the University when a faculty member realizes a TA borrowed a book on a proxy card and never returned it.

That's a lot of impact when you become the soothing balm of administrators ready to pull their hair out.

Tips for getting the PIQ together:
  • List all your job duties and group them under sub headings
  • Bullet points make life easier
  • Write your descriptions for someone who has no clue what you do (because they don't)
  • Think about your impact on the University in terms of the people you see everyday


Information Literacy and You

A rare weekday post!

But this is too cool to pass up:

Information Literacy and You

This is an awesome resource for learning how to research!


PaLA aftermath...

The keynote speaker at the PaLA conference had a few interesting things to say.

Things like:

"If you are scared that a ten year old knows more about technology than you, get out of my profession."

"If you don't want your patrons to call your support staff librarians, get out of your office and do a librarian's job."

The Old Guard swooned!

Well, the speaker was blunt and to the point. Baby Boomer academics are scared of the massive changes and want to rest on their laurels. They can't. Not and keep their jobs. We need to keep up with the technology. We need to keep up with our users' needs. We need to come down off the pedestal and spend time in the pond water. (It's really nice down here! Promise!)

If you can't relate to the patron on the other side of the desk, you've lost a future donor.

Here is how you can help yourself keep up:

Learn HTML. Just the basics. It's easy and it gets you in the computerized mindset. One workshop and thirty minutes of practice will help you understand a lot about computers and demystify a big chunk of how they work.

Read Slashdot. It's high tech news. It will keep you up to date on what matters to the younger set.

Relate to the user. Dress for the audience. If your users wear suits, dress nicely. If they don't, jeans and a t-shirt make you appear non-threatening. My dean sees donors all day. She wears what they wear: suits. I see students all day. I wear what they wear: jeans and a t-shirt.

Know your collection intimately. The ENTIRE collection. Seriously. There are people who get paid a lot more than I do and know a lot less. They are not going to keep their jobs if they don't catch up. Don't just know how to read a call number, know how to shelve books. If your library has a special department just for that, train with them. There is nothing that will tell you more about your collection than shelving books.

Create library study groups. Get together with other library drones and learn new skills together. Have a meeting once a month were someone teaches you a new technique and you discuss what you learned from your patrons since last meeting. Yes. What you learned from your patrons.

Good Luck!


PaLA is coming to Town!

And the first debacle is: (drum roll)

The conference starts at 11am and the attendees cannot get into their rooms until 3pm when the home game fans leave!

If the event planners had even asked, we would have given them a game schedule so they could have planned around football. We are a football town.


This is the first time PaLA has held its big conference in a place that actually has conference facilities. For the first time, the conference presenters don't need to scrounge around for equipment. Penn State is bringing it all. Including the print jobs.

The presenters were told to send the things they needed to be printed off to us early and not to send them on floppies.

We meant this:

They thought we meant this:

I kid you not.

I've heard people say that Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philly with Alabama in between. This is not only inaccurate, it is unfair. Our 'podunk' libraries in the middle of nowhere have digital catalogs, internet access, and fully automated branch library loan systems.

The libraries that have the trouble are the ones that get a lot of community use, but no community support. Long after the 'ugly sisters' over the mountain had digital catalogs, libraries like Camp Hill public were still struggling with a card catalog.

Ed Rendell hasn't helped with the slashing of the public library fund and asking libraries to give back funds that were already donated.

I digress.

A lot of the libraries in the boonies have state of the art equipment. We farmers know our libraries are important and support them heavily. More affluent areas expect tax dollars to care for libraries they might use. And so, 'Pennsyl-tucky' brings us CDs and DVDs. Big name area libraries bring us floppies...

And ask us if their five year old macs are okay to bring.



Scavenger Hunts

Every year we deal with rowdy greek pledges who must participate in a scavenger hunt as part of their initiation.

This has spread, in a good way.

This year, to force reluctant students to use the library and learn our crazy ways, professors have been designing group scavenger hunts. These scavenger hunts have been taking them all over the library and even into remote places to find great study areas and unique library services. They've been asked to find places like "Siberia" (the 3rd floor of West Pattee) and things like "A Day at the Beach" (a mural of The Addams Family).

The Libraries highly approves of these unique teaching techniques! However, we've found some resistance among the troops who find the whole thing 'silly' and 'unprofessional.' We had an instance of staff members refusing to answer directional questions as simple as "Where is the Business Library?" when the question is being asked by a group. Luckily, our young student workers have caught on and are giving our patrons the help. ;)


Back! Or something similar...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Honestly, I've been busy.

October is never to early to plan for our annual In-Service Day in January. This year, I am tormenting myself with teaching a class, helping out with another class, and doing a poster session. Apparently, I'm crazy.

My class will be Tarot 101. I've been doing tarot readings for years, so I thought I'd give anyone interested the low-down. If they film the class, I'll post the link.

The class I'm helping out with is a Craft class where I'll do a crochet portion. The poster session will be on my project.

If tarot reading and crafts sound like un-library subjects for classes, you need to step back. One of the purposes of the in-service day is to share individual expertise with the library community. What one library drone is an expert in may have nothing to do with the library in a direct way... until your patrons start bugging you about that subject.

Also, our in-service is geared toward learning new skills that interest us in general. Every year we have library drones (male and female) flocking to craft classes so they can make something to donate for the United Way sale.

Part of any library drone's day is the answering of hundreds of questions on hundreds of topics. Being able, at the very least, to direct your patron to the right resource, is the most valuable thing you can do for them. Not having the right information because you didn't have a class on it while getting your MLS is no excuse anymore. The library drone must be a jack of all trades.

That said, I can't wait to see what crazy offerings we will get this year!