Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Little Librarian Kit

Thanks to Nancy Picchi for alerting me to this "Little Librarian" kit! As she says, it could be the start of a new trend...maybe a good gift for the holidays.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Change and NaNoWriMo

After a brief but intensely empowering experience as director of a small public library in southern Delaware, I'm turning a corner, returning to Maryland AskUsNow! as Operations Assistant, and keeping on as the Statewide Coordinator for Delaware's Ask a Librarian project. It's going to take me home, still a pauper but with more time and in a supportive, more restful environment. Freer to be creative, encouraged by my managers, with laughter and joy all around. It's a wonder how an experience can affect one's perspective!

And here comes November. Which means, now I'll have time to tackle another novel. I'm calling it "Flatland," (anyone ever read that math allegory?) and while I walk my little dog, Sophie, I plan it out.

November is for NaNoWriMo!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Underpaid and overworked

How many public librarians feel satisfied with the pay they receive? Out of those, how many justify the low pay with statements like, "I didn't get into library work to get rich," and "Well, we're in a recession..."

True, on both accounts, but self-sacrificing can certainly backfire. I've commonly taken on part-time work, through another library or as a tutor (or similar) to help supplement my income. Flat-lining salaries creates a lowering of annual take-home pay since prices continue to rise. Unfortunately, it also creates a mind-set in those who have the authority to accept or reject a budget request.

In public libraries, this is often the board of directors (also called the board of commissioners). Frequently, the overseeing board members are well meaning volunteers who take up the banner of their community library through serving, but their overseeing and managing can actually decrease the effectiveness of the library's administration when decisions are based upon limited information and/or assumptions. For example, a commonly held belief is that a female library staff member is supplementing her family's income through her part-time job at the local library. Women have taken on librarianship as a profession, but the image remains and it's not easy to break out of a stereotype. It takes generations, sometimes.

You may be reading this, disbelieving that particular view. It wasn't until I stepped back into a rural setting that I was reminded about how slow change can be. People may want change, but when it comes to questioning one's own personal views...well, that's hard. Very hard. Like sleeping on a rock.

I love library work. But I also love having the support of my supervisors and staff, colleagues and administrators, to take my work as far as it can go. My quest has been to be the most effective I can be, to enhance library work for patrons and communities, and to make the daily tasks as pleasant for staff as possible.

But in the meantime, I need more income. Perhaps I'll try for a couple of tutoring jobs. Maybe I'll search for another academic library job for a night or two a week. Or stretch outside the box of literacy and try my hand at buying and selling. I recently read about eBay and see that there are other options (see: "Skeptical Shopper: Tired of eBay? Consider these alternatives" October 1, 2010). But November is coming up and so I'll hunker down to indulge in my favorite work; writing. It's time to get ready for my next novel.

Maybe I'll come into a load of funds someday, somehow. I read enough stories to understand that there are some things I just don't know, so I might as well believe something good might occur. And a huge pile of money certainly sounds good right now!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Time to Revive the Library!

This article (from More Intelligent Life.com) certainly focuses upon another significant effect of our dismal economy, but it could be good news for libraries. When bookstores began popping up, libraries were hard hit and finally opened their eyes to the need for marketing and rethinking their physical spaces, including how shelves, books, and lighting work with foot traffic.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer flash

How many times do we ask ourselves, "Where did the [hour, morning, afternoon, day, week, month, season, year, last decade] go?" It's been two months since I've posted here!

As a new public library director, I've had the pressure of learning new skills on the fly while digging deep into my personal toolbox for adaptive ways to use what I have, both in theory and in practice. Although the little library I oversee has a timeclock (it really does), I work way more hours than I can measure - and those that are tallied are calculated at 10 to 20 hours over the required "full-time" expectation. Well, I guess that's expected, too, but on top of needing to supplement my income with an additional part-time library job in chat reference (no, sometimes being a director doesn't mean earning a salary that pays all the bills), my goodness it's a busy working life I have these days.

The challenge for me is to keep on top of the projects, keep the library operating at a forward pace (not status quo), and keep my health and well-being. But once in a while the pace and pressure get a bit pushy. I've had a couple of nightmares.

A couple of nights ago, I dreamed that it was my turn to carry the rectangular wooden box around. I don't know who handed it to me, but I just knew I had to, that I was selected. The box had a handle, kind of like a tool box but with no latch or opening that I could see.

No matter where I was going or doing, the box and I were to be inseparable. There was a cord or security cord tying me to the box, too. I could set it down when I sat to work, etc., but it had to be by my side. And somehow, as in dreams when there is knowledge but no reason, I knew what it contained.

A small nuclear bomb.

I knew it was going to go off to destroy me sometime in the future. It would not hurt anyone else, just me. My time was coming up.

My only concern was to get everything done, as much as possible, before that happened.

No time to worry about it now...Back to work!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcoming a new director

When I was told that a reception and open house were in the works for my second week of work, I was relieved that I didn't have to be the lead program planner, but apprehensive about what was really going to occur. I'm a 'detail person.' I like knowing the names and titles of who is invited (show me the list) but I didn't want to overstep the planners' process and held my tongue. And I'm glad I did.

This was a delightful event. As a planner, I try to challenge myself to be more spontaneous. An old and dear friend of mine addressed this part of me two decades ago as I was getting the itinerary ready for a vacation at DisneyWorld. He was great at helping me move out of what could be rigid down-to-the-wire lists showing every hour's event to having blocks of loose time, play time, free time, down time - when anything could happen. Last minute changes are so much easier, of course, but what I really value is what I learn from others during these unplanned engages. The risks of saying too much or too little, of not forming the exact words in the moment, my body language, eye contact, what I am hoping will come out of a conversation or social meeting - these are like a Jackson Pollack painting. I've grown to like the messy colors and exciting exchanges. Even when I step on my words and stumble over a thought to try to truly listen, I can say that I now enjoy the ride of these types of social events.

I was honored to meet so many representatives from the community, civic and political leaders, the local schools' administrators and librarians. I was happy to have the physical presence and support from most of the library's board and the Friends and staff (those who could make it on a Saturday were there!). Local press and two local bloggers snapped pictures and took notes. For the Delmar Public Library, I truly believe this marks the stepping off point into a new era.

But for the rest of today, I think I'll just plan to have some down time!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Difficult Decision - Now Set in Motion

Moving on from Maryland Libraries...

To tell you that this has been a difficult decision for me is quite an understatement. However, my need for full time employment couldn’t be ignored or postponed any longer, and I was motivated to send out a few resumes (and Julie worked very hard to make it so I could stay!! Thank you Julie!). To my surprise and –mostly – delight, I was offered a full time position as library director with the Delmar Public Library, in southern Delaware. Usually, news of this type is really good, but honestly, it is with a mixture of happiness tinged with sadness that I am leaving Maryland libraries, effective May 18th.

...to the Delmar Public Library, Delaware

This small, rural library sits right on the Maryland/Delaware border just a few miles from Salisbury, Maryland and about 30 minutes from Ocean City.

My puppy and I are also relocating to the area. I have found a little cottage just minutes from the library, with a pool and lovely garden. It's interesting that, during this time of securing a full time job and home, I have been involved with Delaware's "Walk It Off" (10 miles each week for 10 weeks) program. As of today (just completed week 8), I've logged in over a hundred miles and I realized this is about how far it is from my Newark home to my new place in southern Delaware.

I am pleased to be able to work and reside in the same state, and if you know anything about Delaware's size, you understand this challenge. This will be great for taxes and to greatly reduce my commute, but most of all, I will learn more about the community I will serve by living there.

By extension, I will also need to learn the systems, processes, and atmosphere of Delaware's libraries. I've lived in Newark, Delaware for quite a few years and have enjoyed my local free library. But I've always wondered about the fragmented system - fragmented only in comparison to Maryland's statewide services. I know I'm not alone in this. I also see changes in Delaware's libraries through its OPAC and Ask service, and in other, subtle ways. And I'm excited to be stepping into this.

So it's time to start packing and getting my new office and home organized. It's time to rent a truck, get help moving, scout out a new band and martial arts school, figure out where to go for groceries, the vet, walking my dog, find the bank and post office and parks, oh my! And while I'm at it, whenever I feel afraid, I'll listen to Julie Andrews' version of "I Whistle a Happy Tune" - with the Muppet Monsters, and I know I'll smile again!