Library 2 point Overtures

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Libraryland is a magical place. It is Oz and Narnia and The Shire rolled into one. The streets are lined with diamonds, the houses are made of gingerbread, and the rain is non-sticky milk.

I should note here that the diamonds were mined under environmentally responsible conditions and that the miners were paid fair wages for the work. Furthermore, the animals who supply the milk entered their contracts willingly, with no coercion. They get paid fair wages, too. The milk they produce is non-sticky; otherwise people would get all manky and their homes would dissolve.

Just indulge the fantasy, mmkay?

We in Libraryland love to give each other awards. Possibly this is because we all work for low pay. (The animals and the miners joined a union, but the librarians missed the boat.) Our salaries our too low for our educations and work descriptions, so we’ve learned to content ourselves with awards. They’re not very satisfying if you’re hungry, and landlords don’t accept them in lieu of rent, but they look nice on the resume, and besides, we can always nibble on our gingerbread ceilings if we can’t afford to buy food.

One of these honors is the Movers and Shakers recognition from Library Journal. I think it’s fifty or so folks who get it each year. Hardly sounds exclusive, does it? Any old bookslinger can get an M&S designation. I myself haven’t been named a Mover and Shaker, but I figure it’s just a clerical oversight.

It is far, far more prestigious to be considered one of the Coolest Librarians Ever. I am the one who does the considering, and until yesterday, only three people were on that list. Those three people are Joyce S., my editor, who practically reinvented readers’ advisory; Kaite M.-S., who finished reinventing readers’ advisory, and who is good for bar-hopping at conferences; and Patrick J., who does phenomenal things with teens and looks like a cool motorcycle dude.

Why only three people on my Coolest Librarians Ever list? Possibly because I haven’t met enough librarians yet. It’s hard to get sent to conferences when you’re the low woman on the totem pole. I can’t demand the library send me to ALA rather than, say, my boss, because my boss has to boogie up to DC this year to collect his two bigass awards, the Allie Beth Martin and the Margaret E. Monroe. Getting just one of these is astounding. Getting two of them in the same freakin’ year is mind-numbing. It is almost as exclusive as getting on my Coolest Librarian Ever list.

But I have a new contender for Coolest Librarian Ever. I’ve been reading the guy’s blog for a while and I keep stumbling over his articles in my research, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to hear Michael Stephens talk on 2.0 stuff.

He was talking to a bunch of directors and their minions. The talk was designed to introduce us to 2.0 concepts and to motivate us into doing something with them.

I already know a fair bit about 2.0. Very astute readers will recall that I traveled to another library last week to talk about the same damn thing. But the talk yesterday taught me a lot of new things. If my eyes were opened, then—forgive the extended metaphor—then the directors in the room had radical laser surgery.

Since I got my job here in Wilhemlsplatz I’ve been begging for a website redesign. “We need to incorporate 2.0 technologies!” I’ve been saying. “We need a blog! We need to reach out to teens! We need RSS feeds!” I’ve been doomsaying the consequences of ignoring 2.0, generally with words such as “Armageddon” and “wholesale slaughter.”

But I’m no good at starting revolutions. If the Bolsheviks had depended on me to liberate them from tyranny, the Romanovs would still be running the show.

Don’t get me wrong. The administration agrees with me that we need to move forward, though I think I lost them when I mentioned the likelihood of nuclear holocaust. It’s just a matter of degree. I want to drop everything and overhaul the website, preferably yesterday. They’re trying to be sensible about it and do things in reasonable chunks. They’ve happily agreed to let Adult Services start a book review blog. That baby’s gonna launch a week from Monday*.

*Cross your fingers, please

It’s one thing for me agitate for 2.0 things. It’s easy to discount my sense of urgency when I’m wearing my robe and chanting and carrying around my scythe.

It’s something else entirely when Big Famous Librarian comes in and talks about 2.0 stuff. Suddenly I don’t seem like such a quack.

At a break during the 2.0 talk, the director asked me to prepare a criticism of our website and to suggest ways to improve it. He’s willing to ask for my input, despite my having spilled coffee all over him at the beginning of the day. That’s a prince among men, that is.

So exciting! It’s a long-running gripe of mine that libraries have been sluggish to adopt new technologies. (New FREE technologies, mind you.) Institutional inertia, over-caution, and overworked staff have prevented libraries from seizing the new opportunities. But with speakers like Michael Stephens to show us that we can and should jump on the 2.0 bandwagon, things are looking up.


One response »

  1. MarianLibarian

    Okay. I am a convert. Michael Stephens is a god. And I’m good for more than bar hopping! I’m not sure what it is, but I know my repetoire casts a wider net than biblio-bimbo party babe!Does this mean you’re not coming to ALA 😦 booooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnnnnggggggggg.


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