Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Reader Concurs

I received a lovely email from Donna, who thanked me for posting about libraries and offered a few opinions on the subject of library advocacy.  Donna graciously allowed me to share:

As the public relations person at a very busy library (population about 25,000; 2008 circulation 539,577; member of consortium of 75 public libraries), myself and director have been making every extra effort to tell our mayor and council, borough administrator and residents themselves about the importance and value of their public library.  We meet with them, write them letters, allow them to experience how busy the library is, and write newsletters and newspaper articles. (Yay, Donna! ~ MB)

I am also a member of many listservs where local and regional library staffers share.  I have to say that the most frustrating email messages that I receive are from those that send an link to an article or newscast with the message – “I hope our town officials read or saw this”.  Why should this town official be reading about?  Why are these librarians not standing on the rooftops shouting about how valuable the service they give to the community?  Why are they not showing their town officials that – yes, their very own library – is very busy.  Yes, their very own library is very similar to those written about or talked about in the newsclips.

Why are librarians so unable to promote themselves?  They expect everyone else to promote them for them.  Librarians need to be proactive!!

I couldn’t have said it better, myself!  As I said in my reply, having come from a business background, watching librarians attempt to promote themselves can sometimes be painful.

I applaud Donna and the director of the Paramus Public Library for getting out there and being proactive.  As the economic times worsen and our libraries get busier, this is a message everyone needs to take to heart.

Get out there.


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Libraries That Make Bad Decisions, Part Bazillionty One.

In the tradition of the library that charged a dead woman’s family for her overdue fees, and the library that had a woman arrested for having for overdue books, there’s this story:

An Independence woman was arrested on theft charges Thursday for failing to return a library book.

Shelly J. Koontz, 39, was arrested just after 8 p.m. at her residence after a warrant had been issued. She was originally charged with fifth-degree theft for keeping “The Freedom Writers Diary,” which she checked out from the Jesup Public Library in April 2008.

Jesup Police Chief Rick Deitrick said the book was valued at $13.95.

“Theft is theft, no matter what it is,” Deitrick said.


So, we’re worried about whether our funding authorities will consider us worthy of keeping around, and worried whether our constituents will continue to visit us and avail themselves of our services…..and then we’re going to throw the book at someone for $14.00?  Is it just me, or is that incredibly stupid?  Penny-wise and pound-foolish?  Really, really bad P.R.?

And why would this woman – or anyone else in this area – continue to visit the library when they can be arrested for a library book?  Isn’t there a way to solve this short of criminal charges?  Because otherwise, I’m heading to the local bookstore and not the library.

Bad, bad, bad.


Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship


funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more puppies

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We’re broadcasting the inauguration live here at MPOW, in the library, the commons area, and in one of the classrooms.  Most of the students seem excited by what’s going on; some aren’t sure.

There are a number of our students that are recent immigrants to our country.  And for many of them, the transition of power is not something that is either peaceful or graceful.  For all too many, governments change hands accompanied by machetes and militias, tanks and guns.

Today in Washington, President Bush will gracefully hand over the most powerful office on earth to a new President.  No one worries that President Bush might change his mind at the last minute and refuse to leave.  No one worries that President Obama will arrive with a private army.  They will shake hands, Barack Obama will take the oath of office, and we will have a new leader.

While today’s inauguration is especially historic, for many of our students the peaceful transfer of power is amazing in and of itself.

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It’s unfreakingbelievably cold. It was -23 this morning. It was -25 yesterday. It’s supposed to get up to 30 this weekend, which will feel like shorts weather.

Last night, DH was feeding the dogs and asked me to boil a cup of water. Being the obedient wife I am (*snort*) I did as he asked. He told me to get shoes on and join him on the deck…..and then he threw the boiling water into the air, where it immediately became snow. Very cool.

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Audience Development

Apparently, City Councils can be idiots everywhere.  The Edinburgh council just decreed this doozy:

Edinburgh librarians are apparently “seething” after the powers that be decided they should henceforth be known as “audience development officers” as part of a plan to drag libraries kicking and screaming “into the 21st century”.

Uhmmm…..what?  Audience Development Officers? What does that even mean?  And what does that nonsense have to do with the 21st Century?

The change of job title was prompted by the decision to deploy “self-service borrowing systems similar to those found at supermarket checkouts”. Up to 40 librarians could be for the off, and those who do hold onto their jobs will be expected to “run computer courses, hold talks and encourage kids to read”.

Accordingly, the council reckons the reinvented librarian is best described by the shiny new term which better reflects “the extra responsibilities and more hands-on role of modern-day librarians”.

What a bunch of clods.  Shockingly, the librarians thought this was ridiculous:

Sadly for the council, a union poll saw 95 per cent of workers reject the proposed changes.

Ya think?  Sheesh.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


It’s almost two weeks into the new year, and I’m just now coming out from under the Cold From Hell.  I’m pretty sure I’ll live.  Luckily, this hit during the winter break, so I should be back to normal by next week when classes start up again.

I’m noticing a dearth of stories out there, and I’m wondering why.  There are a few mentions of how swell the public library is in these tough economic times, most written with such wonder that I’m finding them quite amusing.  (The Public Library has books!  And DVDs!  And they’re free!  Wow!)

Winter has come with a vengeance to Minnesota.  It’s snowing again as I write, to be followed by gale-force winds and sub-zero temperatures.  You know you’re becoming acclimated when 17 degrees feels relatively warm.  It’s awfully pretty, though.  You can check out the view from the Chancellor’s window here at MPOW if you’d like to share the fun.

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