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.