Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ALA store, Dressing yourself with the

Try to fight the urge to wear clothes from the American Library Association's online store. If you worry that you might go unnoticed as a librarian while outside the library, never fear! Your inability to make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and carry on a conversation without mentioning how threatened you are by Google should clue people in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Celebrity READ posters, Decorating with

A cheaply framed celebrity READ poster has no place in your home, so get rid of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

References, Giving bad people good

Occasionally you will be called upon to provide a reference for a bad library employee or coworker. Giving a truthful response and illuminating the candidate's shortcomings means that you will continue working with this person indefinitely. No one will every hire them if they know the truth. Fudging a little and making the person sound better than they actually are allows you to pass the loser off to someone else. Always consider your own happiness and opt for the latter strategy.

And on a related note: never trust a reference from a current employer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Non-Verbal techniqes for repelling bosses and annoying co-workers

If your boss is a micro-manager and you just want them to get the hell away from you at all costs, consider making yourself as unappealing as possible. Even a small amount of body stink could make the average person avoid coming within 10 feet of you. Disgusting habits like fishing for ear wax, then smelling your finger are also highly recommended and have a high success rate. Skimp on the Arid Extra Dry, while you're at it, and consider letting your nose- and ear- hair grow out. And it wouldn't hurt to develop bad oral hygiene, either. These methods could have disastrous effects if your job entails a lot of personal contact with library patrons, unless they annoy the hell out of you too.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Business cards, Practical uses for

Librarians rarely have occasion to use professional business cards. Once you've given one of your cards to each member of your family and to your friends, the initial "Hey, I just got new business cards!" excitement may begin to fade. Now you find yourself with a dusty box tucked away in the bottom drawer of your desk.

Below, you will find a list of practical uses for librarians who find themselves trying to unload some business cards:
  • making short grocery lists on the back
  • entering "free entree" drawings at your favorite fast food joint
  • makeshift bookmarks
  • luggage tags

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Graffiti, Being creative with restroom

Racist and homophobic epithets are so passé when it comes to restroom stall graffiti. Declarations about the size of one's own sexual organs are also overused and, frankly, often untrue. Greek letters representing fraternities are tired. And despite the convincing note, you may determine after repeated calls that this Mandy person may NOT want "to have a good time" after all.

So what's a restroom author to do?

Spice things up a bit with a creative use of space, language, and drawings. A recent example: Near the top of the stall door, in small cursive, far above the cluster of notes written in arm's reach of the toilet, was a note that read: My arms are longer than yours.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Attire, On What to Wear When Interviewing Candidates For a Job

If you are a manager, make sure you dress yourself like a peasant when you interview prospective candidates for a job in your library. While the guy you're interviewing is dressed in a sharp suit that obviously costs more than your whole wardrobe, make sure you put out the wrong impression by dressing like a slob and send a message that this interview isn't that important to you. You only represent the entire department, you lousy dresser you. Bonus points for reeking like raw sewage.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Technologies, Co-opting new

Keep up to date with new technologies that you can co-opt for library use. So what if no one will ever listen to the pod casts of your bibliographic instruction lectures, subscribe to the RSS feeds from your library's blog, send your reference librarian instant messages, or view your library's profile on At least you did your part to make all these cool technologies a little bit lamer.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Browsers, Being evangelical about

Make all of your coworkers aware of which browser you endorse. Bring it up often in case people forget. Frame every discussion in terms of your preferred browser: "But have you looked at the online catalog through Netscape?" Realize that other people may not appreciate your browser like you do and that it is your responsibility to enlighten them. Go forth and spread the gospel. And while you're at it, launch an aggressive campaign to make all the library's public workstations reflect your browser preference too.

Editor's note: This post created with Mozilla Firefox 1.0.7.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fragrances, Wearing

Make yourself more attractive to patrons, coworkers, and potential mates by regularly dousing yourself with cologne or perfume. Nothing hides the unpleasant olfactory combination of musty books and coffee breath like a splash of your favorite bottled fragrance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Food, Stinking up the whole damn library with your

Occasionally you may need to eat lunch in your office. Close your door so the smell doesn't choke everyone in the library. And PLEASE... take your leftovers, food wrappers, and other smelly trash to an outdoor trash can. There is no reason anyone else in the library should have to smell your microwavable corndogs, Lean Cuisine linguine, or leftover fried fish.

And don't pop microwave popcorn unless you make enough for everyone. Mmm, popcorn smells so good.


When filling a vacancy for a staff position in the library, make sure to hire the first bozo who walks through the door, qualified or not. This will make your short-term crisis of having to hire someone easier, though long-term effects might not manifest themselves for years. God forbid you embrace common management techniques like calling references and holding multiple rounds of interviews. And when you find out that your prized employee(s) have been doing the work wrong for years, you'll be able to take credit for that, you overcompensated moron, you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Food in the library, Policing

Put your master's degree to good use by chasing undergraduates through the library for their blatant disregard of your food policy.

As coffee shops are becoming the norm in today's libraries, many institutions are rethinking those food policies. Be sure to keep some restrictions on food and drinks so that you'll still have something to be annoying about.

"No lid on your coffee cup, young man?!"

"Is that a spillproof container?!"

"Is that thermos ALA-approved!?"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Resumé, On posting yours on a listserv

Hi. You know that job listing on the listserv that someone posted yesterday? Go ahead and respond to that opening by posting your resumé and cover letter to the entire listserv. Really, it's the appropriate thing to do. See, I keep a mental list of these jackasses and it helps me figure out who not to hire. You're doing everyone a huge public service.

Blogger, Never admitting to being a

Bloggers should remain anonymous. Use a pseudonym. And for god's sake, never list it on your c.v. or resume.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Folk hero, Becoming a

Start a library blog. Librarians love to read about other librarians. Write a good one, and you might just end up being a folk hero.

White socks, On wearing everyday

Wear white socks with everything, especially with dark-colored pants and penny loafers that are falling apart at the seams. Occasionally, mask your wretched taste in clothing with a plaid blazer or a stonewashed jacket that you bought in 1985. This applies to both men and women., Joining

MySpace is a much-hyped online hang-out for hipsters. Finally let your friends wear you down and reluctantly sign up for an account. Soon you'll experience the joy of checking yet another email account, wrestling with poorly designed personal pages, and politely (yet awkwardly) declining friend requests from random skanks who really like your picture.

Or, sign your library up for an account and see how many friends you can get. Spend a lot of time updating and fine-tuning your library's profile. The rewards you reap will be worth all the time you put into it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Instant Messages, Waiting for

No patrons want to chat with you about reference questions using your instant messenger (IM) service. Sorry. It was a nice thought though.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Wikipedia, On the inherent evil of

Be sure to drag down our profession by answering every reference question with "did you already check Wikipedia?" Ask the question as non-ironically as possible, and you'll probably see a good 40% drop-off in your daily work schedule. Note: make sure not to reveal the small factoid about Wikipedia being about as reliable as Ronald Reagan's memory when it comes to FACTS.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Conferences, Drinking at

Sitting through a day of presentations with other librarians can drive a person to drink. When you go to a professional library conference, you should spend your evenings binge drinking and being obnoxious with other librarians in the hotel bar. If there's anything more exciting than forgetting that you're an adult and reverting to your oh-so-attractive, old college self, it's spending your down time with more librarians. Be sure to use all your outdated college slang (e.g., "I wanna get smashed!") to make it that much more obvious that you don't get out much.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Windows environment, On pretending to understand fully

There's nothing cool about knowing too much about computers and technology (despite living in the so-called 'information age'). Make sure you avoid becoming a nerd by purposely not updating your technology skills. Remember that you can always make yourself a huge frigging burden by relying on the younger members of your staff to get you by when you need to learn how to email an Excel spreadsheet or to bookmark your favorite websites. Seriously, you're only 10 years from retirement, so you can start phoning it in now. The rest of us don't mind one bit.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fall, Ahh...

Fall is in the air. Time to break out those cardigans!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Manilla folders, Carrying

Always carry a manilla folder with you everywhere you go. In this folder, have a print-out of a spreadsheet. Any spreadsheet will do, but it helps if it has a call number or two on it. When the library director busts you as you're wandering the stacks with your cup of coffee, produce the manilla folder, pull a random book from the shelf, check your spreadsheet, and replace the book. "Everything's fine here!"

Manilla folders are also valuable when you get busted sitting in someone else's office gossiping, trading advice about job offers, or just catching up on one another's weekends. As the boss passes by, say, "I'd tweak the numbers a bit and see if you can't make those figures match up," then pass the folder to your accomplice.

Never underestimate the power of a manilla folder.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Inappropriate jargon, On using constantly

Only use jargon from a different profession if it will cause hilarity to ensue. Be aware that using said jargon inappropriately could cause psychological fatigue and all-around bad will between members of your office. For example, many bosses use the term 'E.T.A.' which is taken from the police phrase 'estimated time of arrival.' If you are an actual member of your local police, fire, or military unit, it is totally appropriate to use this phrase. However, library managers, should never try to be cute (or, shockingly, in some cases they try to project some semblance of power) by misusing such a phrase. When the boss goes 'what is your E.T.A. on that project for the board meeting?' you have every right to snort sarcastically in the boss' direction. Seriously, E.T.A? W.T.F.?!?!? And if your boss ever tells you to do something 'stat', then you've earned the right to throw something hard in his/her direction. That's just going too far.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stock Market, Playing heavily in

Educate yourself on personal finance during company time as much as possible. Play the stock market heavily, taking as much risk as possible to earn the highest potential yield. It also wouldn't hurt to get some OTB action or to head down to the dog tracks during your lunch break. And don't forget the roullette tables in Vegas. Bet it all on your lucky number. Eventually, you'll have enough cash to quit your personal slice of hell known as your job at the library. God that day can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Restroom floor, Library materials found in the

Any book, periodical, etc. found in the restroom floor should be left untouched. Simply go back to your office, create a new location in the catalog for "Second Floor Men's Room," and update the record for the item to reflect its new location.

People magazine, I can understand. Sports Illustrated? Okay. But why the Dictionary of Medical Acronyms and Abbreviations? Or maybe it's best not to know.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Information Outlook, Requirements for publishing in

All previous requirements for submitting articles to Information Outlook have been waived, judging by the most recent issue. Feel free to just type random letters onto a page, write some amateur Penthouse Letters, write about your favorite cat, compose a poem about bowel movements...whatever. If it helps you get tenure, Information Outlook is the easiest way to publish because you don't even have to have a point-of-view or make arguments for or against anything. It's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Library newsletters, Wasting time writing

No one reads the library newsletter you spent so much time and wit creating. No one subscribes to your library's RSS feed. No one reads your library's blog. Your time would be better spent drinking coffee and playing solitaire on your computer.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Calendars, Posing nude in

If you decide to pose nude, or even semi-nude, in a calendar in order to raise money for your library, please make sure that you are hot enough to pull this off. Though there will undoubtably be a debate about whether or not making this type of calendar will help or hurt the already pathetic image of librarians, the real discussion should center around why on earth such a fetish as the 'sexy librarian' even exists in the first place. As a whole, we're so not hot. Now, nurses, that's a whole 'nother story. Those sexy vinyl nurses outfits with the short skirts and the 6-inch platforms are hot! What a profession!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lay people, Speaking to

Occassionally you may be required to speak with someone (personally or professionally) who is not a librarian. Be mindful that these people may not understand what ALA is. Nor may they know what ILS their own library uses, or even what an ILS is. They may not be familiar with a CMS or portals. Or MARC. Or LCSH. DDC. Or SLA. Metadata. ILL. SUDOC.

If you talk to non-librarians using these words, people will think you are a geek. And they will be right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pleasuring yourself at work

It is ok to pleasure yourself at work by doing something that makes you happy, such as drinking a nice Italian espresso, reading about your favorite sports team, or buying yourself a new pair of shoes during your lunch break. Be mindful, however, that pleasuring yourself too often at the workplace could cause a disruption in work productivity. Try to pleasure yourself during slow periods and if your co-workers also habitually pleasure themselves, make sure that everyone is not pleasuring themselves at the same time. Once you've finished pleasuring yourself, you might find it easier to concentrate on work-related activities and you'll be nicer to be around.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Passwords, On storage for later retrieval and use

If you have trouble remembering your lengthy list of username-and-password combinations for all of your work-related websites (nevermind your Blogger username, which you're used to just logging you in automatically, until one day, it doesn't...and you have to dig really deep to remember it), you have two choices: 1) keep a Word Doc with all of your passwords, and risk having some bottom-feeding co-worker run up the Dialog tab on your login or 2) use the same password for everything. Just make sure it's not a stupid password like '69librarian69' because the IT guys have access to all that stuff and they'll gossip about you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Reminders, Giving your coworkers friendly

Help your coworkers do their jobs by reminding them to check their email, check their voicemail, or to check their mailbox after sending them something you deem important.

If you work with people who really DO need to be reminded of these everyday things, you should also remind them to breathe (so they don't suffocate), eat (so they don't starve), and blink (so their eyes don't get too dry).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Left-handedness, Passive-aggressive

If you are a left-handed librarian, make it your standard practice to rearrange the reference desk's keyboard, mouse, and phone at the start of your shift, and then leave it to be put back to normal by the right-handed person who relieves you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Shitting your pants, The appropriateness of

The availability of free online books from Google makes it absolutely appropriate for librarians to shit their pants.

Seriously. Quit your job. Move to the woods. Learn to live off the land.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Professional development, Participating in

Searching the Internet for new jobs is a perfectly reasonable way to participate in professional development while at the reference desk.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Weeding books, On the practice of

C'mon! Nobody weeds books anymore! This is another arcane library expression that should be purged (or weeded?) from your professional vocabulary. Withdrawing titles is also a little too pedestrian.

SOLUTION: You should de-select monographs instead. This subtle semantic change will validate your status as a library scientist and make you feel like the professional you truly are.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Professional journals, Reconsidering

Every once in a while, the professional literature comes through with something genuinely useful, and critics (like your beloved editor) have to eat crow. Sometimes these redeeming events come in the form of a handy bibliography, an illuminating book review, or a particularly apt and applicable study.

Or perhaps while catching up on your backlog of College & Research Libraries News (also known as C&RL News for those of us who don't have time for the extra four syllables), you happen upon the name of a particular person who has been stubbornly ignoring your emails and phone calls for the past few months. No amount of pestering has elicited a response -- which is particularly frustrating because it's really important that you talk to this person to get your professional research back on track. Well, here she is, listed in the "People in the News" section, and...

She's dead. And apparently has been for a while.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Reference Desk statistics, Logging

Don't take reference desk statistics too seriously. It's not like anyone ever looks at those tally sheets anyway.

Recording tick marks and classifying them as "Reference Transactions," "Directional Questions," or "Phone Calls" is a pitiful way to justify our self-worth as professionals. Sure, an administrator may occasionally make a staffing decision using this data, but when was the last time an administrator came to you and said, "You know... I was just looking at the reference desk statistics, and I think we should add another reference librarian to help you out during your busy Thursday evening shift"?

Ticked off with tick marks? Librarians should take a principled stand and ignore the useless act all together.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Surveys, Conducting

Q: Do you conduct surveys?
a) always
b) sometimes
b) only if I have to
c) seldom
d) never
Librarians are bred to survey. It doesn't matter if you use the data. It doesn't matter if you even have a need for a survey. You should do one. Spend a lot of time and personnel hashing out the questions, format, etc. The more hours of professionalism expended on the project, the better your survey will be.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Job descriptions, Stating the obvious in

When writing or revising an official job description, be sure to include ridiculously obvious requirements and duties. A real life example:
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel; and reach with arms and hands. The employee is occassionally required to stand, talk or hear, and smell.
Do you smell? Then perhaps this job is for you!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Raiding the lounge refrigerator, The proper way to

It is absolutely reprehensible to remove items from the pantry that do not belong to you, unless your company supplies milk/creamer for the coffee and you have to open a fresh carton of someone's Lactaid because you bought some Frosted Flakes at the deli downstairs and the only thing in the fridge is an almost-empty bottle of frigging Half-and-Half (what the hell is Half-and-Half, anyway?) so you really have no other choice. You can absolve yourself of this mortal sin by giving a homeless guy a quarter later this evening during the subway commute back home.

Extraordinary patrons, Doubting the powers of

Do not doubt the extraordinary powers of your library's patrons. For example, if a patron declines the offer of a pencil to write down a call number because he has "a photographic memory," it is not polite to ask, "Seriously?! I've never met anyone who actually has a real photographic memory."

It is also impolite to laugh wholeheartedly when -- ten minutes later -- the same patron emerges from the stacks without the book, returns to reference desk, and asks for a pencil.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Electronic books, Celebrating

Choke it up. You must become a champion for e-books, no matter how bad they suck and how much you hate them.

Google, Being threatened by

It is your professional responsibility to be threatened by Google. Worry about your job, the future of printed books, and be sure to use the word "googlization" at least once a day.

Note: Patrons will not get the joke when you pretend not to know what Google is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Job interviews, Avoiding answering hard questions during

During interviews, make sure you have a plan for answering questions that are waaaay above your head. In these bold new times, library jargon has hit critical mass and it is not uncommon to be confronted by terms such as "taxonomy" "semantic design" or "ontology" during an interview for a part-time circ desk job. The studious librarian should prepare for these situations by either A) updating their professional skills and knowledge of new trends via seminars, conferences and one-day courses or by B) distracting the interviewer with a funny anecdote. Note: while option 'A' is preferable, option 'B' is by far a funnier story to tell while drunk. Librarians desperately need to learn how to tell funny stories at cocktail parties, so your should always go with the funny anecdote.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Scholarly article, Choosing a title for your

Since there is so much dreadful stuff published in professional journals and presented at professional meetings, it's important to come up with a snazzy title for your scholarly endeavors. Below are some general guidelines, presented as potential article titles:
  • The colonization of library literature: using punctuation to spice up your article titles.
  • Proprefixualization: Using prefixes and suffixes to create new buzz words.
  • Misutilization of the word utilize: Mangling the English language in the name of librarianship.
  • Bland, boring, and banal: Alliteration as an alleviator for sub-par scholarship.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Salary, On Accepting A Really Low One Because You're Too Wussy To Ask For What You're Really Worth

Do everybody in the field a huge disservice by accepting an MLS-level position for 10- , hell 20-, thousand dollars less than what you should be getting. Do not negotiate with the prospective employer after an initial offering is made. This will ensure that the median salary for librarians stays somewhere between the 'secretary' and 'garbage man' levels. And don't ask for raises or bonuses, either.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Recruiting new librarians

It is your responsibility to recruit people to the profession of librarianship. Evangelical librarians can accomplish this task by inflating the inherent coolness of librarianship ("We are defenders of freedom!"), pretending to enjoy professional reading and meetings ("ALA is like Lollapalooza!"), and by lying about how much they enjoy their work (I just read novels all day!").

After all, if we don't see to it that the job market is supersaturated, who will accept those jobs that offer insultingly low salaries?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Minutes, Working mundane things into the

A fun exercise for your work meetings is to see who can work the most mundane item into the official minutes of the meeting. Some examples:
  • Periodicals will be purchasing a new pencil sharpener for public use.
  • Interlibrary Loan reported adding a second address line to the ILL forms.
  • Bathroom lights should be turned off each night at closing.
  • The Reference Department staff should turn off computer monitors each evening, but leave the PCs on for virus software updates.
  • All library staff were reminded to refill ice trays in the staff lounge.
This game will not only increase your appreciation of library minutiae, but also make people read the minutes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Management Via E-Mail

Make sure that your underqualified, promoted-once-too-often manager ass avoids direct communication with staff by sending out pissy e-mails regarding triffling, unimportant issues, instead of making an effort to communicate directly and verbally. This will give you an air of importance; it will make you seem like you're too important to talk to your loser staff. Don't worry about sinking the morale of your staff by being a non-verbal e-mailer. Instead, worry that maybe your staffers think you've become a useless coward.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Power struggles, Participating in public

Workplace power struggles can be publicly manifested in a number of ways: personal interactions, mass email, physical posture, etc. Want to get involved?

Ways to challenge the authority of your committee chair...
  • Call a meeting and set the primary agenda items
  • Arrive early and sit at the head of the table -- normally occupied by the Chair
  • Conduct the business of the meeting (give handouts, ask for departmental reports, etc.)
  • Rephrase what the Chair says in your own words (for everyone else's benefit)
  • Be aggressive and doggedly defend your ideas, regardless of relevance
  • Re-send (to the committee) mass email messages the Chair has already sent to the committee members.
This is just a start. Be creative and seize the power.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Meetings, Scheduling

Do not schedule committee meetings (that are not "lunch meetings") during the traditional lunch hour (12:00-1:00). If you are not paying for or preparing lunch for everyone, you should schedule the meeting in the morning or the afternoon. It is also courteous to allow a 30-minute buffer on either side of the traditional lunch hour because not everyone eats at exactly the same time you do.


Monday, May 16, 2005

PowerPoint, Reading aloud from

Before you read the content of your PowerPoint slides aloud to a captive audience, be sure to promise them that you won't read the slides.

And just for the record, it doesn't make it any less painful if you have pre-recorded yourself reading the slides and you play the MIDI file instead of reading it live. People who do this are begging to be physically assaulted.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Handouts, Matching Your Outfit to

When preparing for a bibliographic instruction session, remind yourself that it is never a good idea to match the color of your handouts to your outfit. Especially if you only wear purple and turquoise--your favorite colors--on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fantasy Baseball, Participating In

It's perfectly reasonable to use your down time to participate in a fantasy baseball league. Just remember, if your team is hopelessly buried by, say, early June, then you should probably stop spending hours scouring the waiver wire for a closer and get back to work. Just remember, if Curt Schilling were healthy, you'd be kicking ass right now instead of entertaining ridiculous trade offers. And remember, young librarian, there's always next year.


Unusualness, Broadcasting your

If you are a librarian with a tattoo, piercings, or punk rock hair, you are obligated to make a web page about yourself. Do your part to change the face of librarianship by broadcasting your own coolness through a vanity web site.


Liquor in the restroom, Drinking

If you are the librarian who leaves your empty whiskey bottles by the toilet in the men's public restroom, please stop! This reflects poorly on all of us. Plus, it directs suspicion on those of us who do a much better job of hiding our on-the-job drinking.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005


This is what people in the corporate library world call the end product of a researcher's research. It is that which is delivered to the customer. Instead of calling it something generic such as a report or, I don't know, maybe RESEARCH, it is called a deliverable. This term reminds librarians that they are vital cogs in the well oiled machine that is capitalism.

This one is right up there with "let's talk about this offline."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Brown Bag Lunch, Definition of

The term "Brown Bag Lunch" is another way of saying "bring your own damn food, you cheap fuck." It is perfectly acceptable to avoid any speaking engagement or presentation of any kind that employs the Brown Bag Lunch method. You, librarian, are a high roller and you should be offered food, money or sexual favors in return for your attendance at some bozo's little speaking gig. Stand proud, friend.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Weight, Throwing yours around

From time to time you may be asked to be in charge of the library, particularly when you have reached the status of “senior librarian.” This is a good time to see how much you actually intimidate people. You may be surprised at how much authority you seem to have, particularly with newer employees who have only known you as a “senior librarian” and therefore believe you can cause them problems, such as getting hassled by their supervisor or losing their job. This will probably come as a complete surprise to you, because you still think you’re 20 and goofy, even though you’re pushing 50 and, apparently, respectable.

The best method of exhibiting your superiority is to cruise through the building, stopping by to check on everyone. Have a quick word with them, and LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE IN CHARGE. If they don’t appear to be extremely busy, ask them if they need something to do. You don’t have to provide a chore (unless you just want to) but this lets them know they had better shape up! If they are not at their workstation, go and find them, see what they are doing, and ask them if everything is all right. Otherwise, you imply, they should be where they are supposed to be--working!!!

You may also wait for them to return to their workstation, and then ask them where they have been, how long they have been gone, and what they have been doing. Even someone who was not in the office because they were scheduled to be on the reference desk will blanch and quiver, and over-explain, giving you, the person in charge, the opportunity to become impatient, doubtful, and, above all, threatening.

Just so you don’t start to fade at the end of the day, make sure you have closing instructions for everyone. Look for open windows, then point them out to whoever is left at the end of the day, giving them the completely unnecessary instruction to MAKE SURE the windows are closed and locked. Doors too. If you really want to have some fun, come up with some insane micro-management pet peeve, such as instructing everyone to lower their blinds half-way when they leave for the day, so that the building will have a pleasing uniform appearance from outside! Then CHECK, to see they’ve done it.

If you are fortunate, there will be no actual emergencies or other events that need any sort of attention or judgment, and you will be able to spend your time flexing your temporary muscle, and showing everyone else who’s boss.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fanny packs, Contents and Sharing of

If you must wear a fanny pack at all times, please be considerate of others when removing personal items. Loose cigarettes, data projector cords, matches, utensils (especially knives) and saltine packets should not be placed on the reference desk while you search for a pencil. Ask to borrow a pencil. No one wants to know the contents of your fanny pack. Ever.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sports, Not admitting to liking

Don't admit to your colleagues that you like sports, lest you be thought of as low brow.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Stereotypes, Living up to

Librarians are really hung up on avoiding the popular librarian stereotypes. Why?! Embrace your identity! It's all about the hair buns, thick glasses, and index finger shushing action! The dowdier the better. Keep it old-school.


Dress Code, The Unofficial Librarian

Your library may or may not have a dress code, and levels of formality vary from institution to institution. Consistency is important though. If you are the librarian who comes to work with holes in the knees of your jeans, do it every day. If you wear a tie, wear a tie every day. If you wear a cardigan, wear one every day. There is nothing wrong with living like a cartoon character.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Library Job Interviews, Dirty Words in

The following words and phrases should not be used among library staff when you are interviewing for a job as the new boss:
  • outsourcing
  • cross-training
  • paradigm shift
  • planful
  • information commons
See also, the March 24 entry for "Buzzword Bingo, Creating your own game of."


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Serials, on Monopolizing

When a new serial (that's MLS-speak for 'magazine') makes its way to the cataloging department, make sure that you park all of the most popular titles on top of your magazine stash in the corner of your desk until they are outdated. NEVER put an issue of Vogue on the magazine stacks until after the star on the cover is the subject of a Where Are They Now article in People Magazine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Cursing aloud, Reference patrons and

Patrons are allowed to curse aloud in the reference room... Especially if they are old and are frustrated that you can't satisfactorily "ask the computer" to find the right kind of replacement tips for their walking cane.

Example: "No! That's the same shit they sell down at the drug store! I need something that will last more than a damn week!"

You are not, however, allowed to curse back at them.


Patrons, Fraternizing with

You are a professional. Do not have sex or do drugs with patrons.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Escape, Planning an

If you are locked in the library after hours and you don't have keys to get out, do not call campus security. Jump out the window, break your leg, and sue the library director instead.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Candy dishes, Eating from

A decorative candy dish left in plain sight on a desk is usually an open invitation to stop by, chat, and to take a break from your day as you share in some sugary goodness. However, it is still appropriate and polite to ask, "Oh, may I have a piece of your candy?"

Taking candy from decorative dishes when the owner is not at his or her desk is really uncool.

Candy hidden in drawers, purses, or pockets is strictly off-limits.


Editor's note: An Altoid box is not a candy dish, so keep out unless offered!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Promotion, The Catch 22 of Librarians and

The better you get at being a librarian, the more you get promoted. The more you get promoted, the less real library work you get to do.

Are you good with the public? We'll stick you in an office and let you crunch numbers.

Are you good at cataloging? We'll let you manage people with difficult personalities.

Are you a good researcher? We'll let you draft strategic goals and other management rubbish.

Lesson: don't let anyone know you're good at what you do.


Cataloging Your Personal CD Collection

Only catalog your cd collection if you have over 1,000 cd's. Yes, it was funny when you decided to assign Dewey Decimal numbers to your cd's back when you were in LIS school and you and your friends had a good, hearty laugh for about ten minutes, but once you start working full-time, keeping that thing up-to-date will become a massive burden and you will only have yourself to blame, smart guy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bore, Risk of becoming a

Librarians should take every opportunity to stop being librarians when they leave the library. Those who eat, drink, and sleep librarianship run the risk of becoming bores. Is this you?!

Warning signs:
  • You have professional library journals and newsletters mailed to your home address.
  • You read the Chronicle of Higher Education for something other than job ads.
  • Your personal email address makes a cute reference to something library related (ex:
  • You own the VHS or DVD of Party Girl.
  • You have convinced yourself that you like the song "Marian the Librarian."
Some suggested remedies:
  • Learn to play an obscure instrument (accordion, banjo, etc.)
  • Take a class in a subject about which you know nothing.
  • Get a subscription to a fluff magazine.
  • Listen to the radio (NPR doesn't count) and watch bad TV.
Generally speaking, pop culture is good for the soul. Plus, it makes you much more tolerable and less "pervy" to the rest of the world. If all else fails, just quit your job.


Television, On Not Admitting to Watching Any

Anyone asks you what you did last night, your choices are: a) reading Shakespeare b) organizing rare collection of [fill in the blank] c) volunteering at some do-gooder event or d) attended the theatre, ballet or opera. Never let on that you have a television; and don't let it slip that you have premium cable and that you watched a whole hour of World's Wildest Police Videos on Spike TV last night.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bow ties, Wearing

Bow ties can be very cool (seriously), but there are three general rules to keep in mind:
  1. No clip-ons or fake bow ties. Learn to tie it, or abandon the idea.
  2. Keep it small. Big bow ties are not cool.
  3. Wear them sparingly lest you become the "bow tie guy."
And for God's sake, don't be the bow tie guy AND the pun guy. You will be truly insufferable.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Puns, Intending

Puns should used in moderation. You do not want to become "the pun guy."


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Buzzword Bingo, Creating your own game of

Buzzword Bingo is a game you can play in your next meeting. Make a bingo card and in each block list a buzzword. When someone uses a buzzword, mark it off your card. When you get five in a row, yell out "BINGO!" and you win.

Some examples of buzzwords from recent library meetings:
thinking outside the box
utilize (used incorrectly)
content management system (CMS)
link resolver
integrated library system (ILS)
federated searching

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Music Selection While at Your Cubicle or Desk

Only play the following genres of music at medium- to low- volumes while at your desk or cubicle:
  • Irish/Gaelic
  • "World" Music
  • Classical
  • Soft Rock (including Celine Dion, but not including Barry Manilow)
  • Country (including Tim McGraw, but not including Hank Williams)
  • NPR (only the shows that feature quirky profiles and interviews with pretensious authors)

Friday, March 18, 2005

Monograph, On calling a book a

If you want to sound like a library scientist, use the word monograph instead of the word book. The word book is very pedestrian, and shows little understanding of the complexities of our great profession.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Modernizing Your Budget

Most librarians will stay well within the strict confines of their given budgets, which is the worst thing you can possibly do. If you run out of money in the book budget, the salary budget, paper for the copier, paper clips, etc, it's your own fault. Instead, staff the library 24-hours-a-day, let the water in the bathroom sink run like Niagara Falls, buy up really expensive rare volumes of manuscripts you don't even need and make sure that every computer station has a 30" flatscreen monitor and an Ipod. You'll be out of money by the end of the first fiscal quarter, necessitating your parent company to tap into the emergency fund, and probably quadrupling the budget for next year. They're never going to give you more money because you asked for it, you've got to show them that you need a bigger budget. Some librarians actually take pride in running a leaner department (or 'doing more with less,' as the kids say nowadays). Those librarians are doing everyone a real disservice. Take a cue from our Republican friends: running up huge deficits is cool. You want to be cool, right?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Updating Your Dumb Blog at Work

One word: Don't!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bathroom Breaks, Taking More Than You Need When Working With Annoying Co-Workers

Feel free to just leave the reference desk for 15...hell, 20 minutes at a time when working alongside annoying co-workers. If pressured to provide your whereabouts, your excuse will be: "I have a bad case of the shits, dude."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Utilization, Using the word

Something they should teach in library school...
u til ize (tr. v.) To put to use, esp. to find a profitable or practical use for.

USAGE NOTE: Many critics regard utilize as an unnecessary and pretentious substitute for use. But this is not true in all cases. Utilize can mean "to find a profitable or practical use for." Thus, the sentence The teachers were unable to use the new computers might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.

From The American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th edition.

Resume, Updating your

An academic librarian shouldn't have a resume, but a curriculum vitae. This is apparently Latin for "long boring resume" and can be referred to as a "C.V." for short. A CV should contain a list of every meeting you've ever attended, every association you've ever been on the mailing list for, and every time you've spoken within earshot of your Dean or Department Head. Ever written a letter to the editor of your local weekly newspaper? Heck, throw that in too!

CVs, being longer than traditional one-page resumes, require more than the traditional one-page cover letter. You should try to summarize -- in narrative form -- every single item that is listen on your CV. Brevity won't get you a job, but prosaic self-congratulation will!

Expert search committee member,

Professional Associations, On Avoiding Like the Plague

Professional Associations can provide valuable information, opportunity for networking, the wherewithal to consolidate opinions, and the ability to form or change paradigms within a professional field, except in Library and Information Science. Avoid all library associations as if they were deadly diseases, even if your employer pays the bill. A good librarian boycotts these aloof cliques in order to one day start up a totally new rad association for librarians who are fed up with the present 'system.' Such future association might be named Nü Skool Liberians or possibly Infopro's On Da Loose or some other similar awesomely-named title. There might be a microchip implanted under the member's skin for identification purposes (thereby making sure that old-schoolers don't try to infiltrate the new association).

Friday, February 18, 2005

Meetings, How to have effective

Are you finding that your meetings aren't as effective as they could be? Here's plan!
  1. Have a pre-meeting meeting to discuss what will happen in the meeting.
  2. Have the meeting (as usual).
  3. Have a post-meeting meeting to discuss what just happened at that meeting.
This works best when the three meetings are back-to-back-to-back. Also, a change of scenery helps give attendees a fresh perspective, so move the meetings from room-to-room.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Listservs, Taking Over and Making A Nuisance of Yourself On

Speaking of Listservs, don't forget to horde the spotlight by commenting, berating, patronizing and intimidating the poster of every single message that comes through the Listserv. This type of behavior should begin in Library and Information Science school, and should get gradually worse once you start your first professional job. One day, you'll be so notoriously obnoxious that your behavior will insure that every single intelligent librarian who reads the Listserv will be too intimidated to post. This will drive all of the bright people in our profession into radio silence mode and keep internet superheroes such as yourself believing that their abrasive, condescending 'characters' matter. Also, make sure that you post at least 5 jokes, recipies, chain-emails or other miscellaneous messages per day. Everybody loves off-topic content as much as you do.

Listservs, Participating in

Library listservs can be great for keeping up with the goings-on in the professional world or sharing problems and concerns with your colleagues. Some are very low-traffic, while some send several hundred email messages a day.

However... If you can't manage the amount of email you get, maybe you should UNSUBSCRIBE from some of those lists. If you can manage to filter listserv messages into folders, or get digests instead of individual emails from the list, GREAT! But if you are unable to read work-related emails because you "just get too many emails to read them all," then get off the lists. That excuse is insulting, and it says a lot about your skills as "an information professional."

Also, if you spend more office hours sending and responding to listserv messages than you do working at your real job, maybe you're not as necessary as you think you are.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Eccentric, On Being As Much As Possible

Your high school days are long gone, but remember to project as much pain, misery and depression as you did back when the jocks and stoners bullied you between classes. Being a grown-up doesn't mean you have to act grown up, at least not if you're an MLS-level librarian. Make sure you don't sell out to the man by wearing grown-up attire or by letting a professional stylist cut your hair. Do it yourself, you radical hip thing, you! Make handbags out of random bits of felt, denim and something shiny (for that 'found' look) and cut your own hair. Don't cheat by buzzing it with clippers, though, use scissors and cut the hair at medium length. If you're male, only wear the most horrific glasses frames. This will insure that you don't accidentally get laid more than once a decade.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Potluck meals, Inviting retirees to

Don't invite Retirees to library potluck parties. They will steal your shit.

I don't think they intentionally try to sneak off with a new casserole dish or crockpot lid, but they're old and senile and may not realize they've left you with a lid that doesn't match your bowl.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Cell phones in the public restroom, Using

If you happen upon someone who is using a cell phone in the stall of a public restroom, it is your responsibility to make that person admit (to the person on the line) that they are on the toilet.

You can do this by knocking loudly on the stall door, flushing a neighboring toilet, or interrupting to ask for some toilet tissue.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Backhanded, Passive-Agressive Comments, How To Make

While in the pantry or coffee room, it is accepted and, indeed, expected that the librarian should make backhanded comments regarding order and cleanliness. Example: if you see a staff member accidentally drop a coffee stirrer on the ground, make sure you behave like a martyr by picking up the offending litter, tossing it angrily in the garbage can and then softly exclaiming "some people need to learn how to clean up after themselves; I'm not their mother!" Make sure the comment is barely audible because you wouldn't want the staff member to think that you are confronting them. Just make sure you don't pull this type of thing on me, because I will answer with a very direct "I know you're not my mother, pal, because my mother has class and dignity!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mr. Rogers, On becoming

When you come to work, change from your snow shoes into your work shoes, change from your warm wool cardigan into your cotton work cardigan, and catch yourself humming a little song about being someone's neighbor... maybe it's time to step back and take a critical look at yourself.

Living up to stereotypes isn't necessarily a bad thing -- as long as you recognize that that's what you're doing.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Normal Human Being, Acting Like

Library Science has a long tradition of being the 'career' of last resort. It's the chosen track for people who are too socially retarded to do anything that requires human interaction. Fine. But for 8 hours, can you at least try to represent a little better and make some frigging eye contact?!? It's embarrasing for me whenever I go to a public library and the person behind the reference desk eyes you like you're a martian with 3 heads or that you stink like a heap of garbage. I never let on that I'm a member of the cult, though, because then we'd have to bond for, like, 30 seconds about this great field of ours and that would make me ill.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Nobody wants to hear your stupid stories

It's one thing to annoy the library patrons (often, it's a good thing), but making yourself a bloody nuisance to your co-workers by constantly talking about your cats, your dumb kids, or your boring weekend is just unacceptable. Seriously, nobody wants to hear it. Save it for when you get on the subway and bother a stranger with that crap. And, above all, do not tell me about that awesome dream you had last night about you hanging out with the Olsen twins and the guy from Bright Eyes. I won't even feign amusement when someone tells me about their dreams. Keep a journal, or something.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Office address, Having personal mail sent to your

Okay, so suppose your wife wants a cd for Valentine's Day, and the cd is by an African musician named Fela Kuti. The specific cd she wants is called "Expensive Shit." Also suppose that your wife works at home and often gets the mail before you can see it. So, you order the cd online and have it sent to your work address, but since it is coming from (as are all of the library's book orders) it accidentally gets sent to the Library's Acquisitions Department.

When you get a call from an older, modest woman working in the Acquisitions Department asking, "Did you order this cd with the shirtless African women on the front? It's called, 'Expensive S-H-I-T.'" You can say, "Yes, I ordered it for my wife for Valentine's Day. Women like 'expensive shit,' right?"


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rap Courtesy

when another librarian jumps onto a table and begins a freestyle "library rap," this is to be treated as a gift to you and you alone. it is not a story to be shared with every other librarian in the building. also, it is appropriate and even encouraged to smile and laugh during the performance. it is not, however, acceptable conduct to continue laughing for the following six years. this action might be considered rude and could result in a strained professional relationship.

Prank phone calls, Receiving

You can never be too careful when you suspect the caller is pranking you at the Reference Desk. It is especially risky to mock the person's voice when responding to a suspected pranker. Don't learn this lesson the hard way.

Some people really do talk that way, and they may be entirely serious when they ask you where they can "find some body cavities."


Meetings, Commandeering

If someone commandeers a meeting (class, training session, etc.) that you are conducting, it is perfectly acceptable for you to do any of the following:

1) Leave the room with a dramatic door slam.

2) Make childish sing-song noises while the offender is speaking ("La! La! La!")

3) Do an exaggerated impersonation of the offender so that the person can see how he or she looks to everyone else (e.g., "Hey everybody! Look at me! I'm Pat, and I'm taking over this meeting!") You might also talk in a baby voice and wave your arms wildly just for effect.

4) Squirt the person with a water gun. (It works for cats.)

5) Be passive aggressive. Sigh and roll your eyes a lot. Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.

6) Go crazy. Start cursing and spitting and throw a real tantrum. You'll be the talk of the library for a while, but it might scare people into not interrupting you again. [Warning: people might get a kick out of seeing you "go off," so this might backfire and cause more people to interrupt just to see your reaction. Use this strategy sparingly.]


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Patrons, Making fun of

It is perfectly acceptable to make fun of patrons, but not to their faces or in front of other patrons. Impersonations, quotes (e.g., "I need to find some venereal diseases..."), and nicknames (e.g., Limp Dish Rag) are all good ways to ridicule patrons.

Do not make fun of retarded people. You will go to hell.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Custodians, Dealing with

Custodians are people too. Don't be afraid to talk to them when they empty your waste basket. Be careful with what you throw away though... sometimes if you don't have much trash they will just grab it out of the can without taking the entire trash bag. This makes trash collection a very personal thing. "Oh no, that's not my empty Preparation H tube..."

Take care to wrap bloody knives in plastic grocery bags, shred sexually explicit love notes, and recycle empty beer cans in the staff lounge.


Meetings, How to behave in

What follows are some general guidelines for librarians who attend meetings...

For Attendees
  • Arrive on time.
  • Bring a pen and paper.
  • Do your homework (if appropriate).
  • Don't talk over other people when they're talking. Wait to be recognized.
  • Pretend to be interested or at least pretend to be writing something from time to time.
  • If doodling, don't draw caricatures of your fellow attendees. Also, don't draw anything too funny that might get you in trouble when people see it and laugh out loud.
For Moderators
  • Arrive on time and have the room set up for the meeting before it is scheduled to start.
  • Distribute any lengthy handouts BEFORE the meeting so that people can do their homework before they arrive. It's no fun to sit around a table while everyone reads the same document.
  • Don't print multiple copies of something you can email or display on a screen.
  • Keep the meeting under control. When other librarians start misbehaving, make them stop. Use force if necessary.
  • THE ONE HOUR RULE: Under no circumstances should ANY meeting last more than one hour. Any remaining business should be continued at a separate meeting or disposed of altogether. Violators of this rule should have their ability to call meetings revoked.

Welcome to the Guide

Librarians are strange people. There are no exceptions to this rule. Many are unknowingly awkward, dirty, unsocialized, and rude. The Guide is meant to be a reference source for these poor souls who walk among us.