Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lanyards, Wearing

One way to judge the quality of a library conference or meeting is to check out the lanyards that are provided to registrants. Lanyards come in a variety of styles: the stretchy, the logo-emblazoned, the too-long, the too-short. The ones that dip your name badge into your soup. The two-ended shoestring style. The looped ones with clips. The ones that make people lean in uncomfortably close while trying to read your name. And the ones that always twist around backwards.

Defining what makes a quality lanyard is a matter of personal preference.

If you find one you like, hang on to it, and wear it at any subsequent conferences you attend. Traveling with your own favorite lanyard is one of the subtle, yet distinct, details that say to the world, "Yes, I'm a librarian."

If that's not enough, the world can just read your name badge.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Work, Doing

At some point in your professional library career, you may be faced with a task or project that just won't go away. You can't delegate it to your library's staff. There's no library committee with jurisdiction over it. And for whatever reason, you can't create one. There's not enough time to slough the thing off onto a fellow librarian. And ignoring it won't make it go away. You can't talk your way out of it. You'll find yourself painted into a corner and the only way out is to bite the bullet and...


... actually work.

Should one of these rare occasions present itself, purposely perform the assigned task as poorly as you can. And turn it in late. Hopefully your poor performance will keep anyone from ever asking you to "do work" again.

Remember: a reputation of incompetence can serve you well in the future.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Racist blogs, Authoring

Don’t author racist or otherwise intolerant blogs chronicling your hatred of Muslims, immigrants, amputees, women, etc. It really ruins the librarians as liberal defenders of civil liberties thing the rest of us are so proud of. Not only are such blogs mean, they’re also terribly tacky.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Custodians, Pissing off the

Don't piss off your custodians. They will stop emptying your trash and will start hiding hateful messages under your telephone.

Things to avoid
  • correcting them for emptying your recycling into the regular trash
  • playing computer games while they empty your waste basket
  • regularly dribbling coffee all the way from the coffee shop to your office
  • refusing to participate in idle chit-chat about the weather
  • leaving your pay-check stub face-up on top of the trash
  • snorting like a pig when they crash the library potluck dinner (bearing no food)
  • writing "custodians suck!" on the bathroom wall in your own feces

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

[My Job] Committee, Setting up a

Set up a committee of your peers to oversee your primary area of responsibility. Appoint yourself chair. This is a great way to ...
  • give yourself some leadership experience
  • practice delegating to your peers
  • diffuse responsibility for tasks you don't want to do
  • share blame for bad decisions
  • pad your vita/resume
Do all of this in the name of democracy... because everyone should have a say in how they do your job.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stat counters, Lessons learned from

Placing a hidden stat counter on a library web site or blog is a great way to see if visitor traffic justifies the time spent authoring the content. In addition to counting the number of new and returning visitors, these counters also give the author some insight into how people arrive at their page.

For example, a surprisingly large number of people reach A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette by doing one of the following Google searches: nude librarians, nude sexy librarians, and sexy librarians (presumably the latter still being clothed). The Guide's authors can only imagine that their accidental visitors are sorely disappointed to learn that librarians, by and large, are not the least bit sexy. And more often than not (thankfully), they do wear clothes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ideas of grandeur, Entertaining

Though business may be waning in your reference room with final exams wrapping up, don't let yourself be caught at the reference desk wistfully staring at your own blog, daydreaming of the day that someone will offer you a book deal for your concept. Even if you do entertain such ideas of grandeur, don't let others see you practicing your autograph for your imaginary promotional book tour of national and state library association meetings (where, of course, you'll be paid to speak about the silly self-importance of your profession and where each reading will end with everyone wanting to buy you a beer). Your patrons and colleagues just wouldn't understand.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Pet projects, Promoting your

As final exams loom, academic librarians should begin gearing up for the Who can be the most annoying about their summer pet project? contest.

The rules are simple:
  1. Pick a project that no one else cares about.
  2. Talk about your project all the time.
  3. Assume that your project is everyone's highest priority.
  4. Get defensive when no one will give you any feedback or comment on it.
Ready? Set? Go!

"So I'm going to be changing the screensavers on all the public workstations this summer, and I was wondering if we could all meet to go over the first draft of my proposal?"

Friday, May 05, 2006

Reference Interview, The

Part of being a good reference librarian is being able to understand what patrons mean when they ask their questions. Often, the patron doesn't express their information need in a clear and concise manner... thus the need for a reference interview.

For example: A patron may ask, "What languages did the Vikings speak?" In his mind, he has communicated what he thinks is a clear information need. The librarian, however, can interpret his real information need to be, "How can I tell if I'm wearing too much cologne?"

The librarian's mission is now two-fold: a) find languages spoken by Vikings and b) let this guy know he is burning the hairs out of your nose. The first part is easy. The second may require some finesse. Be a good librarian and cough, gag, put your hand over your nose, or ask him to wait outside while you search for his answer. If he doesn't get the hint, light a match and see if he bursts into flames.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tissues at the reference desk, Supplying

Do not keep toilet paper at the reference desk. It's tacky. Toilet paper is for use at the toilet. The reference desk can be bad, but it's no toilet. Class things up a bit by buying a generic box of Kleenex. The ones in the floral box. If you really want to show the patrons that you care, splurge and get the ones with lotion.

Are you crafty? Crochet a Kleenex-cozy to keep those tissues warm and comfortable. Just be sure to color coordinate it with your library's decor. Nothing ruins a good nose-blow like a mismatched tissue-box cover.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gloating, On

It is totally uncool to gloat to your coworkers after handing in your letter of resignation. Avoid...
  • Proudly drinking from a coffee mug bearing your new school's logo
  • Gleefully bidding an early formal farewell in various committee meetings
  • Unabashedly not taking notes in meetings
  • Audibly counting down your remaining days at your current job
  • Being happy
Be considerate of your coworkers' feelings and at least pretend that you're headed to a place that's not all sunshine and daisies.