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I’ve linked to the KC Currents Audio Archives; if you click on the “Listen” link for the 7/8 show, the program should load and play on your WinAmp, Windows Media Player, or RealPlayer.

  http://www.kcur.org/kccurrentsarchives.html

It’s an interesting show, especially if you are a Kansas City jazz aficionado, and it’s given me a few new ideas for the educational symposium that I am cooking up for a certain local archives organizaton.  More details on that front to come.

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This week’s KC Currents, (a show on 89.3 FM, KCUR ) will feature:

Definitely tuning in to this one.

Librarians 1.0, originally uploaded by agsaandjsmom.

I know I’ve written about how librarianship as a profession needs to (among other things) embrace and play with its kitschy, sort of retro public image to both make our profession more visible and show in the process that, hey, we do have a sense of humor about it. The Lee County Librarians, in the above picture, are doing just that, to hilarious effect.

To continue with this train of thought, I was surprised how ambivalent I felt when I saw the “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” article in the New York Times today, especially when it did everything that I had stated I wanted:
 

  • Showed that librarianship, as a profession, is changing. Jessamyn West is even quoted as saying that it’s become a techie profession, and mentions that she checks Twitter, does IM reference, and, obviously (to the biblioblogosphere, anyway) blogs frequently.

  • Profiled young librarians who reference but don’t fit the aforementioned stereotype. They’re literate, social, (sometimes tattooed and pierced) politically active “hipster” types. 
  • These librarians are no teetotalers. Several of the people who were interviewed mentioned being informally recruited by librarians they met…in bars. The lead photo and many of the interviews were apparently done in a bar. A pretty far cry from the stereotypical vision of the “dry” (literally), anti-social spinster librarian.
  • There are “guybrarians.”  That nickname alone is enough for that particular point. 🙂

After marinating on this a little more, I hit on what really bugs me. This article was written  a lot more about the “hipness” of the superficial trappings of the profession than the profession itself. As one blogger put it, “The MLIS is the new barista.”

It smacked of the same attitude of people who listen to movies only long enough to parse out their favorite quotes and repeat them ad nauseum to their friends, or who listen to indie rock only long enough to figure out which bands are acceptably underground, solely for the purpose of buying that band’s t-shirt and impressing the emo hottie that they’ve been scoping all week at the bar.

Do I get a little kick out of the high-heels-and-pencil-skirt aspect of the public perception of librarians? Sure. Did I join the profession assuming that I would spend a lot of time mingling with well-shod, well-read hotties who were my age? Hell no. I assumed (and was largely proven right, in my case) that many people in MLIS programs are making a career change, and are closer to their mid 30s or 40s than mid 20s (my age). And, far from the impression that this article gives off, very few people outside of the profession that I’ve talked to have any idea what any actual librarian does on an actual daily basis (don’t even get me started on what people do and do not know about what archivists do), which is probably why I was initially so excited to see this article.

Well, this article does make it clear that not all librarians fit the stereotype of “frumpy, middle-aged ladies in bad shoes.” However, it also spends so little time on the actual mission of libraries and librarians that it makes library school look like the intelligentsia version of getting your “MRS Degree“…so that you can mingle with other socially aware, well-read people. Sure, that’s a great part of being a librarian or archivist, you often get to work with interested, interesting people. However, that is not, and should not, be your main motivating factor for entering library school or the profession.

Do you like to help people? Do you like to search for information in multiple ways and in multiple formats and customize and deliver it to your patrons? Yes? Good. If that is the case, I don’t care if you’re 25 or 75, cool or desperately unhip…you’re librarian material.

I’ve been mentally marinating on this whole “Gaming and Libraries” movement (or whatever you want to call it) for awhile now, and when I saw the “Inside Higher Ed” article “When ‘Digital Natives’ Go to the Library” posted on Techmeme this evening, I decided that, even though I don’t feel as if I’ve fully sorted everything out yet, it’s an important topic, and one that seems to be popping up everywhere. Also, as this blog is as much an iterative conversation with myself (which generally leads to this kind of rambling) as it is with whoever comes across it, I figured I’d roll with it and see where it took me.

First of all, full disclosure, every guy I’ve ever dated has been a moderate to hard-core PC gamer: Wolfenstein, Diablo, Diablo II, CounterStrike, WarCraft, World of Warcraft….you name it, if it was an RPG/MMORPG, they played it. So, when I first heard that librarians were going gung-ho for gaming (say that three times fast), I was a little puzzled. I didn’t see the connection between what my geeked out boyfriends were (and still are) doing and what I viewed as the standard “library mission,” (assist/provide environment in which patrons can seek wanted/needed information). And in a lot of ways, I’m still pretty skeptical.

The points on which the “Gaming in Libraries” proponents and I do see eye to eye on are as follows:

  • You shouldn’t have to “RTFM” to use the system. Or, in slightly less blunt terms, systems should have “lowered consequences of failure,” as James Paul Gee puts it.
  • Reward exploration. Games do. Wikipedia does. Library systems should.
  • Make it fun! See: Wikipedia.  When was the last time you went to your library’s OPAC and thought, “YAY! I get to look for literary criticism of A Moveable Feast!” Granted, Wikipedia is intended to serve as a jumping-off point, but still…get my point? FUN.
  • Patrons want to self-serve, for many reasons. I have a library degree, and I still get a little intimidated going to the reference desk. Part of that is my innate pig-headedness in not wanting to ask for help, but a lot of that is my instinctual response of not wanting to admit that I don’t know…whatever it is that I don’t know, and I know I’m not alone in that. Additionally, I’m very rarely in the physical library when I have a reference question. I’m not saying IM reference is a silver bullet, but it helps create another avenue for patrons to request assistance, and is one that gamers and just straight-up “digital natives” (like myself) are very familiar with.

I know that I’m not saying anything here that many, many other library bloggers haven’t also said many, many times about library systems. And I do agree with the “Gaming in Libraries” proponents that, for some people, until you have a visceral, physical, kinesthetic (thanks, SLIM, for that word) experience with some forms of technology (gaming being one of those), you’ll probably not ever fully understand the mentality of a lot of those moderate-to-hardcore gamer patrons. That being said, I think that it’s very possible to glean a lot of these “why people like games better than OPACs” points without actually becoming fully proficient at Halo 2.

My two cents. For an interesting look at the geek perspective on this article, take a look at some of these (surprisingly library-positive, given Slashdot’s usual tone) comments on this article.

Facebook “Books”

Ever since Facebook has opened itself up to all users, not just those of us with .edu e-mail addresses, they’ve made themselves equally open to third-party developers of applications.

Tech dilletante that I am, I saw that one of my friends had added the”Books” application (not to be confused with Amazon’s “Book Reviews” application) and decided to take it out for a spin.

 As you can (mostly) see in the screenshot above, you can:

  • Utilize Amazon’s database to search for and display your current reading (even by ISBN!), to-be-read, and finished books
  • Rate the books from 1-5 stars
  • Reivew the books, using as many words as you want
  • See what books your friends are reading
  • Presentation is clean, minimal, and succinct
  • Similar application for CDs and DVDs coming soon.

So far, I’m not seeing anything to complain about.

What would be really cool, though, is if one of the folks at OCLC came up with a similar application that browsed WorldCat or your local online catalog and linked to the items at your local library. Just a thought. 🙂

In my library school Capstone (final) class, we talked a lot about recruiting the next generation of librarians…specifically how it was partially up to us as professionals to drum up the next generation.

I can’t think of a better way to start planting this seed early than with Sarah Utter’s “Future Librarian” onesie, not to mention her “Future Librarian” kids’ and adults’ tees, and her whole line of “Reading is Sexy” shirts (each picture is an active link to the item on buyolympia.com, the very cool site where you can buy all these goodies):

 “Future Librarian” onesie“Future Librarian” adult brown “Reading is Sexy” adult mens’ tee“Reading is Sexy” girl cut

This is just a taste of her work; these shirts are offered in other colors (pink!) and sleeve lengths, the designs are on buttons, bumper stickers, and messenger bags…and she is by no means a one-note gal. Her “Knitting is Knotty” shirts are adorable and hilarious as well.

As if you actually needed one more reason to love this woman and her work, check out the nod to the changing nature of our profession that she gives in one of her t-shirt descriptions:

Although librarians have been traditionally associated with a collections of books, as seen by the etymology of the word “librarian,” modern librarians deal with information in many formats, including books, magazines, newspapers and audio recordings in various formats.

Love it! Buy early, buy often. 🙂


Several of my friends are serious zombie movie fans, so, when I saw that John Blyberg had posted this hilarious send-up by the good people at the Allen County Public Library on his blog…well, I just had to post it too.

Enjoy!

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