Sunday, January 21, 2007

Check it!

Ta-da! Here's the new and hopefully improved Cool Librarian Blog!

After a lot of thought, I decided to merge libraryland over here, rather than moving the CL blog archives over to WordPress. Yes, yes, I know that no one understands why I would choose Blogger over WP. Yes, I know that WP is the superior blogging platform. But, you know what? In the end, it was just easier for me to screw with the code and re-create the libraryland content in new pages that match this blog's layout. Moving to my WP blog would have meant: transfering this blogs' archive content into WP; finding a new template that I liked and could use my headline banner with (which would have meant screwing with the WP templates/code to get it the way I want it); and changing the WordPress URL to reflect cool librarian rather than libraryland (and all the BS that goes along with THAT process). Somewhere in all of that it was pretty much guaranteed that something would have gone horribly wrong, and I would have spent days banging my head on the keyboard swearing about my lost and/or messed-up content. And, my readers would have had to update their feeds/links.

So, in the end, it was easier to spend a few hours cutting, pasting, and tweaking some code to get the WP page content over here. And, I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the results (OK, I am shocked that I was able to make the pages match pretty well).

So, at the top of the blog page are the links to the libraryland resource pages. When I add resources that I like, I will blog the addition and then add it to the appropriate "static" content page. That way, readers are free to simply watch their feed for new blog content or browse the content pages.

I've added a search function to each page and the blog since the tagging here is somewhat less than optimal at this point.

Please feel free to suggest content for the "libraryland" pages, and if you find an error/typo/dead link, let me know that as well.

I hope you like it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Oh, Yuck

Today is one of those days where my true nature comes out, and it becomes apparent that I should NOT have a job where I have to deal with the public.

I wish this blog had scratch and sniff capabilities - everyone one in this place has been either smelly, crazy, impatient, rude, crazy, crazy, crazy, and did I mention just down right stanky? God. It just freakin' STINKS in here right now. Not to mention all of the coughing, sneezing, snucking, farting, and snotting. Really. Freaking. Gross.

I could have spent today handing out meds and soap.

I can't wait to leave.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Please ignore this post. I'm fussing with stuff on here, so links that do not belong here are here, and design elements may not be where I need them...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thinking about making a change....

No, I'm not moving to Canada - yet.

But, I am thinking about combining this blog with my other library blog, libraryland. Libraryland has been soundly neglected lately - I just don't have enough time to keep up with things it seems (why this is is a mystery to me - it's not like I work full-time). Libraryland started years ago when I was in grad school as a student resource and book swapping site, and sorta morphed into a links site of interesting library-esque stuff. I abandoned it completely for about 18 months, and then rebuilt it a year ago in WordPress - a process which took hours and hours and hours.

I have tried to drum up readership for that site, but because I simply don't update it as frequently as I'd like, people tend to stop by here rather than there. I feel like I've made more of a commitment here. BUT, I still think there's an audience, and a place, for the stuff that does show up on libraryland from time-to-time. And my "dream" is to someday be able to convince all of you talented people out there to contribute to Info Share - which I think could be a kick-ass resource if people would play along (nag, nag, nag).

If I do combine, I will be moving everything to the WordPress platform, simply because for a links blog, I find the multi-page format irreplaceable. Most likely the blog will remain Cool Librarian, the libraryland label will disappear, and I will post my "personal" library posts AND add to the links end when something comes up. Moving to WP would also solve the categories issue. The trick is going to be finding another theme I like and can make work with my CL logo, and migrating my archives. Actually, I have no idea how I would migrate my archives. And I also have no idea if I can change my URL on the current libraryland blog and not entirely eff-it-up.

But, that's the tentative plan. Has anybody out there either changed the URL on their WP blog and/or migrated archives from Blogger to WP? Was it awful? Let me know.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tonight's Patrons

It was busy at the desk this evening, and after the pre-holiday weeks of it being deadsville, I'm always happy when it's busy.

Some "interesting" issues:

I had a slew of parents with their fourth-grade children in for a homework assignment. Apparently the kids are doing a project on a RI "landmark" or tourist attraction and they need to gather info on the assigned locations. Sounds like fun. Of course, most of them did their initial research online, gathered some data, and were then told that they needed print sources to bring to class. OK, that's great, but unfortunately this teacher is way overestimating the amount of print information available on most of said landmarks, and also overestimating how much info we have here at our library (kids needed the books for tomorrow). All of these parents and children expected to come in and leave with armloads of books about their topics - and that just wasn't happening. First of all, many of these places are NOT written extensively about. Most have garnered a brief mention in the local travel/tourist guides, and that's about it. The kids who were assigned a lighthouse were the luckiest - we here on the New England coast love us some lighthouses, and I was able to find decent length articles for them in our bevy of lighthouse books. But others left empty-handed and frustrated - especially since all of our RI tour guides were snatched up in short order. It was painfully obvious that this teacher had NO IDEA what kind of print materials were (and were NOT) available for her assignment.

In a similar vein, an 11th grade boy came in looking for primary and secondary print information on the Trail of Tears. Yeah-huh. I had one (adult) book on the Trail of Tears, and no primary source information (in print). Naturally he needed this for tomorrow, so ILL was not an option. Now, first of all, he could not tell me the difference bewteen primary and secondary source info. He did not have his assignment page with him. He had NO CLUE what he was looking for. He also said that he could use "online" info, and that he planned to simply Google it when he got home. I asked him if his teacher had SPECIFIED what she meant by "online" info, and he said, "no." I asked if he knew what the different was between accessing academic (ie journal) info online and Googling a webpage, and he said, "no." I did manage to find him some good primary source info online, but it was very clear that he didn't know WHY it was primary source info, and he had even less of an idea as to what made a website a "good" source vs a "not so good" source. Sigh. This was an 11th grade assignment!

I get frustrated because I have, on several ocassions, sent teachers information on our collection, told them what I am able to offer them in terms of help (customized lists, bookmarks, library tour, etc) and requested that they contact me if the whole class is doing an assignment on one topic so that I can secure extra sources. I have reminded them of the ILL service and the fact that it takes a few days to get requested material. I have sent them flyers outlining our online databases, and suggested that they be very clear about what is acceptable when telling kids that "online" content is OK for an assignment. I have NEVER heard from any of the teachers. Now, I know that it is entirely possible that this kid's cluelessness was completely his fault, but I have to say I fear that many teachers have no idea what the difference is between Googling up some webpages and using a database (and I am so not knocking Google - I use it 100 times a day).

But, as depressing/frustrating as all that was, I was more horrified by this exchange that took place at my desk as two teens signed up to use the internet:

Girl (age 15) - "Hey, Johnny, haven't seen you in a long time."

Johnny (also 15, who just told me that he didn't have a parent or legal guardian to sign his Internet Use Policy form because he lives in a "semi-independant" living program) - "Hey, you never call me."

Girl - "Oh, my boyfriend went through my cell and found your number and deleted it."

Me (Before I could shut my yapper) - "Tell him he has no business being in YOUR phone."

Girl (Giggling) - "He loves me - he's jealous like that."

Me (banging head on desk) - *sigh*

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Sigh. I didn't get the job. I'm completely crestfallen.

I know it's not good to (mentally, nayway) "put all your eggs in one basket," but when there is only one basket to put them in.... The job picture for reference librarians in Rhode Island is BLEAK. I have NO IDEA what I am going to do now.

I suppose the upshot is that I can now go about my business at work and continue with making YA plans, at least feeling like I'll probably be around to implement them.

Oh, well.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Because of Libraries...

A friend of mine sends me a poem a day via email. This was the poem for today, and I think it's fitting given the troubles we all face, and the good we can do.

She is holding the book close to her body,
carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk,
down the tangled hill.
If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as a shield.

She looked hard among the long lines
of books to find this one.
When they start talking about money,
when the day contains such long and hot places,
she will go inside.
An orange bed is waiting.
Story without corners.
She will have two families.
They will eat at different hours.

She is carrying a book past the fire station
and the five and dime.

What this town has not given her
the book will provide; a sheep,
a wilderness of new solutions.
The book has already lived through its troubles.
The book has a calm cover, a straight spine.

When the step returns to itself,
as the best place for sitting,
and the old men up and down the street
are latching their clippers,

she will not be alone.
She will have a book to open
and open and open.
Her life starts here.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Talk Back to the Librarian!?

According to this article in the New York Times, The Maplewood Memorial Library in Maplewood, NJ, will be closing during after school hours because of the "rowdiness" of middle-school children. Apparently they "fight, urinate on the bathroom floor, scrawl graffiti on the walls, talk back to librarians or refuse to leave when asked. One recently threatened to burn down the branch library."

Of course, closing the library is not the answer to the problem - but what is? I like this suggestion:

"David Huemer, who represents the Maplewood Township Committee on the library board, said he would like to see the current police station, which is being retired in favor of a new one, converted to a youth center.

“What we have to do now is build some long-overdue facilities and fund some programs so kids can have alternatives to hanging out,” he said."

Unfortunately, this type of problem is not unusual; I know of at least three libraries in the small state of Rhode Island that have private security details during the after-school hours. And, as evidenced by the article, this type of behavior by children can no longer be termed a "class" or "race" or "urban" problem - this kind of thing is happening in suburbia with increasing frequency.

I fully admit that I have been ultra-lucky at my job in this respect. The only time I have had any real issues with teen behavior problems was when a particular group of kids discovered that they could hack the filter and get on MySpace. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, we get few teens in on a regular basis - my job is quiet. But that one group of kids was unbelieveable to me. The girls narrowed their eyes and ignored what I said. They called me "bitch" under their breath, and at times simply refused to get off of the computer. They would go down to the kids room and disrupt that area if they were told to get off of the computers in the adult/YA area. The outright defiance, anger, and disrepect just amazed me - and I'm not that old. But I am old enough that I was raised in a whole different manner than children are being raised now.

This might seem like a tangent, but I firmly believe that what librarians, teachers, store clerks, restaurant patrons - everyone - is seeing is the result of two generations of children being catered to yet ignored. Children who never have to wait for anything (be it a milestone or a popsicle). Children who are allowed to say, "Who do you think you are?" to their mothers (I have seen/heard this more than once with my own eyes). Children with poor impulse control and zero RESPECT for authority, their parents, their friends, or themselves. At one point in my struggle with two of the young women giving me grief, I said, "What would your mother think about the way you are behaving in here right now?" And they answered in unison, "My mother wouldn't care." And sadly, that's probably the truth.

And because in many cases libraries do become the default teen hangout, we are left to parent children who have had very little parenting. And that's not supposed to be our job. I certainly don't have the answers; luckily the fact that I look 10 years younger than I am and my ability to roll my neck and say, "Oh no you didn't," and "Don't make me get up outta this chair," has worked well enough most of the time. But just what are you supposed to do when a kid pees on the floor or refuses to leave when told to or threatens you? Closing the library to everyone isn't the answer, that's for sure, but I don't know what is.

Here is the message board for Maplewood and discussion about the issue. I'd love to hear what people think about this over at Library Talk as well.