Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tooth-brushing, Workplace-

While good hygiene is important for any librarian, one should not go overboard. Do not engage in workplace-tooth-brushing unless you...
  • Are about to leave work to go to the dentist
  • Receive anonymous emails complaining about your breath
  • Spent the night alone in the library, drinking in your office
  • Are preparing to make out with a custodian in the broom closet
  • Did something really perverted with your mouth
Otherwise, eat a mint or chew some gum like everyone else.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Phone, Answering the

There are a few simple rules to follow when answering a telephone on behalf of your library...
  1. Always answer with a long, detailed greeting including your name, title, rank, department, and the name of your library. (This is especially helpful with internal calls.)
  2. Read from an institutionally assigned script.
  3. Never answer with just a last name: "Stabler." It works for t.v. detectives; not librarians.
  4. Mumble.
  5. Never, under any circumstances, answer with a simple, "Hello?"
If these rules are too stressful, just let the phone call ring through to voice mail. You can always email a reply and avoid speaking to another live human being.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rejected, Being

After interviewing for a library job, it is customary to send thank you notes to the individual search committee members. If you suspect that there's a chance you won't get the job and you plan to send a follow-up voodoo death curse, be sure to collect a strand of hair from each of the committee members during the interview.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sexual harassment, Skirting

Librarians can disregard sexual harassment guidelines and policies whenever a coworker gets a boob job. An event this scandalous makes discussion of cup sizes, nipples, coworkers' breasts (or lack thereof), nicknames for breasts, great breasts in history, breasts you have known, etc., perfectly acceptable topics of conversation. Be aware that this window of opportunity closes once the person returns from their surgery.

Note: It is never acceptable to grope a coworker without their consent.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween, Dressing up for

The best costume for your library’s Halloween party is one that requires a lot of explanation (e.g., minor characters from Star Trek). Also, be aware that even if you do choose a sexy costume over a scary one, your coworkers will still most likely be frightened.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Books, P-

When speaking with patrons and colleagues about books, librarians should distinguish between print books and electronic books by using the shortened phrases: p-books and e-books. P-books may also be referred to as:
  • old-fashioned books
  • real books
  • printed e-books
  • off-line resources
  • those things they sell in bookstores

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Support Staff, Naming

The perception of a librarian/staff divide can be a sensitive issue for many who work in libraries. Library adminstrators should be aware of this, and thus name their staff something that says, "We value you and the work you do." Some examples:
  • Nonprofessionals (or similarly: Unprofessionals)
  • Library Helpers
  • Information Custodians
  • The Others
  • "Librarians"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Birthday, Broadcasting your

Start reminding your coworkers about your upcoming birthday weeks in advance. It is your responsibility to make sure they have time to collect enough money to buy you that 2GB iPod nano you've been wanting.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Suggestions, Making

A librarian should use the library's suggestion box to anonymously suggest unpopular (and/or expensive) ideas that he or she secretly endorses.
  • "Get new/better signage."
  • "Get rid of that ghastly art work in the reading room!"
  • "Restock the white chocolate Reese's Cups in the vending machine!"
  • "Buy more black, urban, lesbian erotica!"
  • "Forget the coffee shop... I'd like to see a pub!"
Ideas like these often get more traction if they come from the library's users and not from self-interested librarians. It also helps to sign the anonymous suggestion with the initials of the library director's supervisor.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Words, Making up

Librarians are often riveting conversationalists because of their overuse of acronyms and library jargon. Another powerful, yet often overlooked, professional conversation tool is that of the made-up word. The trick is to take a normal word and add a suffix or two to it.

An example: find + able + ity = findability.

Can you find this word in a dictionary? No, it has no findability.

[Note: The editors invite their loyal readers to post their own made-up words in the comments section below.]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Savvy, Demonstrating your technical

Show your library's users that you are a modern, technologically-competent information professional by taking the following actions:
  • Avoid the [enter] key and type your email messages in large, single-block paragraphs
  • Name your files using the first line of your document's text (e.g., As a means of improving.doc)
  • Print handouts for PowerPoint presentations... one-slide per page
  • Double click on web links during presentations
  • Leave the body of your email messages blank and type the entire content of your message in the subject line instead

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ninjas, (Not) Disturbing

If you wander down a hallway and happen upon a fellow librarian pantomiming martial arts moves in his office, it is best not to disturb this person.

Though it may look hilarious, don't laugh. Do your best to sneak away unnoticed and never mention it again. Your coworker may indeed be a ninja armed with throwing stars, a sword, and the ability to rip out your heart with his bare hands. Better to err on the side of caution.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Extreme emails, Sending


Flag all your outgoing email messages with subject lines expressing the importance and urgency of their content through liberal use of capital letters, hyperbole, and exclamation points. Be consistent with your urgency so that everyone will know the importance of everything you do.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Brief, Being

A professional librarian's time is precious. And so is your patrons'. Shorten your library instruction lectures into as few words as possible...
  • Click here. Try different keywords.
Give this lecture and use the time you save to do something productive... like shelf-reading.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Caveman, Going

If your library's Internet connection goes down for the day, it may be necessary to revert to "caveman mode." Throw a computer monitor through the front of the vending machine to get some strawberry Poptarts, club a potential mate over the head with a volume of the Oxford English Dictionary, and try to start a fire in your cubicle using your reading glasses and some brittle items from the special collections department.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mercenary, Being

Put innocuous decision-making meetings to work for you at your library by offering your allegiance on contentious votes in exchange for personal favors.

"Which is the best default search for the library catalog: Keyword or Boolean?" It depends. Perhaps the better question is: "Which default search will get you off the reference desk this weekend?"

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Out, Burning

Librarians should be weary of being too good at their jobs. The momentary high that comes with exercising your innovations, creativity, efficiency, and skill will only be followed by a deep dive into bitterness and cynicism. So skip all the hard work and join your miserable coworkers now in the professional funk that is librarianship.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Luddite, Being the Library's

Every library needs a luddite librarian. If your library doesn't have one, feel free to assume this role. Don't turn on your computer for weeks at a time, shun the online catalog, and fight tooth and nail to retain subscriptions to the paper periodical indexes.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Breaks, Taking long

Treat your library job much like you treat your blog: take long, unannounced breaks and see if anyone even notices that you're not contributing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Conference presentations, Proposing

When proposing a library conference presentation, it is important to explore a provocative topic that examines interesting new territory and/or challenges professional ideas and practices.

Can't think of one? No problem! Just use the following template to create the title of your very own presentation:

Bringing __________ ...
  • information literacy
  • the "long tail"
  • an alternative to Google
  • Library 2.0
... to __________ ...
  • NExTGen
  • DotNet
  • Gen Y
  • Millennials
... students with __________ .
  • podcasting
  • blogs
  • MySpace
  • rss feeds
If you can also sprinkle the words folksonomy, collabulary, and blogosphere into your title, the conference planners have no choice but to accept your proposal. Start practicing, and good luck!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Heat, Beating the

A librarian will occasionally find him- or herself feeling a bit salty due to an oppressive heat wave, global warming, or a piss-poor HVAC system. Keep yourself fresh and clean by periodically sponging off in the library's public restroom. Though the water is sometimes colder, one should never conduct one of these "whore's baths" at a public drinking fountain.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Librarian, Becoming a

Contrary to what some naive and enthusiastic recent library school graduates might think, one does not actually become a librarian until one gets a job as a librarian. When you graduate from library school, you are not a librarian with a job as a custodian. You are a custodian with a library degree.

Bona fied librarians should take it upon themselves to rub this painful realization in the face of any recent library school graduates on their library's staff... right after offering congratulations on their achievement.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Usurped, Being

When a funny new librarian joins your library's staff and usurps your role as "funniest librarian," don't despair. Instead, look for a new role to embrace. Perhaps you could become known around your library as ...
  • the pitiful librarian
  • the fat librarian
  • the lush
  • the Chester Cheetah-impersonating librarian
  • the funniest second-funniest librarian ever

Family, Describing coworkers as

Be wary of referring to your library coworkers as your "library family," even if you do have librarians who fit the description of the deadbeat dad, the overbearing guilt-wielding mother, the retarded younger brother, the slutty sister, the religious zealot aunt, the drunk uncle, the weird brainiac cousin, the reclusive teenage brother, the nihilist goth son, the over-achieving daughter, the senile grandmother, the grandfather who won't turn up his hearing aid, the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool step-dad, the computer geek nephew, the hypochondriac niece, and the toddler who's always crying.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Alpha-librarian, Being the

Demonstrate your dominance over your library coworkers by interrupting while others are speaking, sending frequent mass emails, and calling more meetings than your peers. Should any of your colleagues deny your superiority, you may find it necessary to mount them at the reference desk.

Monday, July 31, 2006

P.D.A., Engaging in

Hostility between two librarians should always be resolved in a public forum, be it at the reference desk, in a meeting, or in a pay-per-view caged death match. These public displays of aggression (P.D.A.) provide entertaining fodder for your library's gossip mill, and they offer bystanders the chance to root and cheer for their favorite library combatant.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Turnips, Squeezing blood from

A librarian need not make a livable wage to be solicited for money. Should your own library ask you to contribute to an institutional fundraiser, politely decline and offer a gift-in-kind instead. Here are some examples:
  • Leave your fluorescent lights off for the day to conserve electricity
  • Give away all your home-grown zucchini (no one else will take it)
  • Donate the dusty Reader's Digest condensed books in your grandfather's attic
  • Scribble an I.O.U. on the back of a losing lotto ticket
  • Continue to work for a paltry salary

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interest, Feigning an

A polite librarian will nod and occasionally interject an umm, hmm, or really?! while suffering through a patron's recitation of his or her family genealogy. These proud orations can go on for hours if uninterrupted, so take precautions and situate yourself within reach of a fire alarm.

There is a reason these people hang out at the library all the time: Their families (which can be traced back "to George Washington's brother-in-law!") won't let these insufferable old birds back in the house.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fresh, Keeping it

Spice up your humdrum library life by getting a fresh haircut, trendy glasses, or a handsome new cardigan every now and then.

And do the same with your library blog or web site. A periodic change of color and/or layout will only make your content seem all the more brilliant.

(Note to readers: This is where you all post and tell us how you liked the old layout so much better ...)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Job listings, On not listing the salary within

If you are an employer looking to staff a vacant library position, make sure that you do not list a salary (or even a salary range!!!) in the job description. Do, however, require that qualified candidates send you his/her salary requirements with the resumé and cover letter. When you interview the candidates for the job, it will be quietly understood that if your salary demands are too high, there's another joker waiting in line behind you who has already low-balled himself enough to undermine your demands. This practice will not only keep librarian salaries low forever, it will ensure your warm special place in hell right next to the asshole who came up with those annoying Chrysler "Dr. Z" commercials.

Vacancies, Filling

There are five basic steps for hiring a new librarian:
  1. Advertise the position
  2. Review applications
  3. Interview candidates
  4. Deliberate over finalists
  5. Offer the position
Be sure to wait 1-2 months between each step of the process so that all your best candidates will have already accepted positions elsewhere. Repeat as necessary.

Your library will eventually hire someone, even if they end up scraping the dregs from the bottom of the unemployment pool.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Incest, Professional

Never date another librarian. It's just sick. Plus the pillow talk would be b-o-r-i-n-g.


Never marry another librarian. Should you manage to reproduce together, your children will be misshapen. If you have no other options, just stay at home with your seven cats.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Paranoid, Being

Don't let your library colleagues (even the cool ones) find out that you have a blog in which you make fun of fellow librarians. Eventually their good senses of humor will give way to gnawing paranoia that will make them think that every new post is about them. Given this post, for once, they might actually be right.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Intercom, Using the library

The library intercom is not a toy. Things to avoid:
  • Paging patrons or coworkers (Perhaps adding a curt, "This isn't Wal-mart," to the requester)
  • Rigging up your iPod to share your love of Neil Diamond with the rest of the library
  • Serenading potential lovers
  • Mass Ssshh!-ing
  • Engaging in hollering contests

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mass email, Sending

Do not annoy your library coworkers by sending too many mass email messages. Mass emails should be sent sparingly, and only when absolutely necessary.

A librarian should be given a lifetime quota of mass emails (say... 15?) when signing an employment contract at his or her library. Once the quota is reached, the librarian's email account would then auto-delete and the offender would be ejected from his or her chair, out of the library, and into the fiery pits of Hell.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Grandpa-like, Being

When your library's student workers giggle and tell you that you dress like their grandfathers, you should take this as a compliment. Acknowledge the compliment by bringing them hard candy and nickels. They also find it charming when you regale them with stories about the days when InfoTrac was on CD-ROM.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Degreed, Being terminally

The American Library Association's Statement on the Terminal Professional Degree for Academic Librarians reads:
The master's degree in library science from a library school program accredited by the American Library Association is the appropriate terminal professional degree for academic librarians.
... With that said, go get yourself a second master's degree in a non-library discipline. Most academic libraries won't hire or promote you without one.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Diplomas, Displaying

[Note: The humble editors of A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette seek your opinion by presenting a rare reader's poll... Thanks in advance for your participation.]

Is it pretentious for a librarian to hang the framed MLS diploma in his/her office or work space?

Polling provided by Pollhost.com

Office supplies, Hoarding

Hoard office supplies in your desk and filing cabinets. Some day you may find yourself needing to dispose of a patron's body and all that library mailing tape and bubble wrap will come in handy. Just remember, it takes A LOT of paper clips stuffed in a person's pockets to make them sink to the bottom of the river.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pencils, Supplying free

Provide complimentary pencils to your patrons so that they can write down call numbers from your online catalog. Just be sure the provided pencils are small golf pencils. Nothing says, "We value your patronage," like an awkward writing experience and the resulting hand cramps.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Patrons, Stalking

Some say that stalking is the sincerest form of flattery. Don't get caught flattering your patrons by looking up their personal contact information in your online system, delving into their circulation history to gauge their reading habits, or going through their web browser's history file after they leave a public workstation.

Once you get up the nerve, you may have a difficult time asking the person out given that restraining order filed against you.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Conferences, Returning from

Upon returning from a library conference, be sure to complete the following checklist of items before catching up on all the email, gossip, and office drama you missed while you were gone...
  • Cull out the good vendor give-aways for yourself and then dump the rest off on your coworkers or the homeless (15 minutes)
  • Make a list of all the practical things you learned at the conference (10 seconds)
  • Erase all the boring "Why the hell did I take these?!" conference photos from your digital camera (10 seconds)
  • Recycle all the PowerPoint print-outs, business cards, and other ephemera you collected, but will never look at again (5 minutes)
  • Congratulate yourself on doing a good civic deed by helping boost the local economy of the conference's host city (until you get your credit card bill)
Once all of these things are done, be sure to spend a few minutes detoxing your body and mind by talking to someone who doesn't work in a library and doesn't speak in acronyms.

Freebies, Collecting conference

While at a library conference, run around the vendor booths collecting free give-aways like a whore in a cucumber patch. Grab the free bookmarks, catalogs, tote bags, and flashlight pens with a desperate, wild-eyed passion that would scare your non-librarian friends. Need and practicality are not issues in the vendor booths. ("It's a highlighter AND a laser pointer?! Brilliant!!") It's all about getting as much free crap as you can fit in the rolling suitcase you brought along just for the occasion.

In order to make the most efficient use of your time, don't look vendors in the eye. Just grab the freebies by the handful and go! Do, however, stop to acknowledge the vendors whose companies have obviously spent an egregious amount of research and development money coming up with new ways to reinvent the ink pen. Let them know that they are the ones who keep the librarians coming back.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Soul, Selling your

Sign up for Google AdSense and load money-making ads on your blog. If anyone reads it, you can get rich and quit your day job.

If no one reads your blog, try sneaking some Google ads onto your library's web page. Be sure to load the ads in a prominent place on your web site to ruin any aesthetic you have going.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Kick-ass reference librarian, Being a

Don't be annoyed when your coworkers come to you for help with particularly difficult reference questions they can't handle on their own. While it may seem like an inconvenience to you, they are indirectly telling you that you have developed a reputation as the kick-ass reference librarian on your staff and that they value and admire your skills over those of your colleagues.

Or it could just mean that your office is closest to the reference desk, and that you're the only librarian working that particular Friday in the summer while everyone else is at ALA.

Interviews, Dressing for library

Never wear a suit for a library job interview. Instead wear a threadbare blazer, unpressed khakis, a stained tie, and well worn shoes. Women... if you can't stomach an ill-fitting pants-suit, wear a dowdy skirt and an oversized cardigan. Remember, most search committees are suspicious of style.

Plus, if you dress too well, it becomes obvious to the potential employer that you have unrealistic expectations about library salaries and their ability to keep you dressed in your fancy clothes.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tote bags, On hating

The next time you go to a library conference you will be given a tote bag with your registration materials, usually emblazoned with some type of library-related logo. Unless you want to look stupid, make sure you throw the tote bag out or refuse to accept it in the first place. Tote bags are cheaply made, ugly and totally impractical. There's nothing worse than a librarian carrying a tote bag...nothing! Stop making an already bad image worse. Stop it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Books at work, Reading

Always keep a stack of books on your desk. Though most non-librarians and naive LIS graduate students think that librarians spend their work days reading books, nothing could be further from the truth. While this image is romantic and quaint, the reality is that most librarians spend their days dealing with annoying administrators, attending mind-numbing meetings, and pushing paper of the non-book variety. Keeping a stack of books on your desk will help you maintain the romantic image of librarianship, and should you find yourself (by some stroke of luck) with the opportunity to actually read at work, you'll already have a book within arm's reach. In the meantime, books also make good paperweights.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Prospective new boss, On Googling the living sh*t out of

A new prospective employer will probably do a minimal background check to ensure that you fit the qualifications for a job at their company... and you should do the same on them. The last thing you want to do is to leave a pretty good job for a new position working for an insecure, immature, bi-polar workaholic (true story, btw). Do your own due dilligence on the person who interviews you by Googling the living daylights out of them. Remember, blogs and MySpace profiles probably won't use the person's real name, so get creative. And if you find the person's personal website, run it through a domain search tool in order to find the joker's real email address and Google that too. Remember, the job interview is a two-way street.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Interviews, Doing presentations at

When hiring a librarian, many academic libraries try to fill part of the obligatory eight-hour interview with a presentation by the candidate. More often than not, the candidate is asked to "demonstrate a database." Zzz. When inviting candidates to your library to interview, make things more challenging by asking them to...
  • Speed-weed your ready reference collection.
  • Work a real-life reference desk shift... blind-folded.
  • Make a halfway decent pot of coffee... then catalog it.
  • Play a game of Trivial Pursuit/Scrabble against your most cantankerous faculty member.
  • Explain Ranganathan's laws of library science through interpretive dance.
  • Wrestle a cataloger.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Signatures, Using email

Put a little spice into your correspondents' lives by adding a personality-filled signature line at the end of all your outgoing email messages. In addition to your name and contact information, include a quippy quotation from A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette, a particularly poigniant Bible verse, or your favorite Garfield quote ("I hate Mondays"). This extra little gem at the end will make it worth your readers' time to wade through your boring everyday library talk.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Vacation, Going on

If you go on vacation, be sure to come back to work with a photo album or scrapbook, a tan, and souvenirs for everyone. It's important to remind everyone that you were off having fun while they were at the library working. Plus, if you don't celebrate your own return, you may come to the painful realization that no one even noticed that you were gone.

Faculty, Addressing

Teaching faculty are very important people. Be sure to address a faculty member by his or her earned title, "Dr. Smith," rather than by the familiar name, "Sally." This shows the important teaching faculty that you respect them. They will no doubt reciprocate this respect by letting you pull their books from the stacks, forgive their overdue fines, and babysit their classes while they're away at conferences.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Territorial, Being

Librarians often find themselves in uncomfortable situations where there is not a clear consensus on who has jurisdiction over a certain library collection or service. Some examples:
  • Who orders the DSM-IV for the reference collection -- the head of reference or the subject bibliographer?
  • Should the music education collection be managed by the music librarian or the education librarian?
  • Who controls the web page to which everyone contributes?
  • Who has the final say on how the public catalog records display -- reference librarians or catalogers?
Confused as to how one stakes a claim on a given collection or service?

Pee on it.

Yep, like a dog. Pee on your call number range in the reference collection. Pee on the music education books. Pee on the web page. Pee on the catalog. While you're at it, pee in your office. Pee on your favorite chair in the director's conference room. Pee on the reference desk. Pee on your coffee cup.

Note: Do not pee on people, even if they do report to you.

Drink lots of fluids. It can take a lot out of you to have so much control.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jobs, (Desperately) Looking for

There is nothing wrong with religiously checking for new library job ad listings a few times each workday. It does, however, border on tacky when you start cold-calling libraries that just sound like cool places to work to see if anyone there is expected to retire or die soon.

"Uh, hello? Vanderbilt University's reference desk? Are any of your reference librarians sickly?"

Monday, June 05, 2006

Email, Setting up

Apparently this whole electronic mail thing (a.k.a. "email" or "the email") is really catching on. To stay in the loop, you might want to set up an account and make yourself contactable. Don't know anyone who has email? Sign up for a listserv to make some new library friends.

Or send a message to your newly-emailable (yet ever anonymous) editors of A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette at polite.librarian@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Panic, Inducing

When your next library committee meeting works its way down to Other Items on the agenda, ask the room, "What if we eliminated the use of costly LC Subject headings in favor of patron-initiated tagging and social bookmarking in our catalog?"

As mass hysteria ensues, quietly slip out and return to your office for a quiet cup of coffee and a few hours of Text Twist.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Lifetime appointment, Recieving a

Academic librarians retire, die, or take better paying jobs. They do not get fired. Unless you are prone to felony crimes, this glorious job is yours until you choose to leave it. Yes, you have a de facto lifetime appointment.

Take advantage of this fact by doing just enough to jump through the promotion/tenure hoops, then coast into retirement with as little work ethic as you care to muster.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Elephants (or whatever), Addressing

There are often unspoken issues in library meetings that everyone knows exist, but that no one wants to address. Instead, librarians tend to talk around the real problems without getting to the root of it all. Examples include our desperate grasping for relevancy, our reliance on pitiful software vendors, ineffective management, etc. Any such issue is often referred to as "the elephant in the room." Or "the elephant in the corner." And sometimes the elephant is pink. Or purple.

One good way to force everyone in the meeting to address the unspoken issue is to come up with creative things to call it. Put your heads together and brainstorm. Here are some ideas to get you started...
  • the dead elephant on the table
  • the pink moose in the corner
  • the 300 lb. gorilla at the door
  • the turd in the breadbox
Once you've reached consensus on a clever thing to call it, addressing the problem will be a piece of cake. Just don't feed the cake to the elephant.

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.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blogger's ego, Feeding the

If you meet someone at a library conference and you identify them as an anonymous library blogger that you regularly read, never admit that you've heard of their blog and that you subscribe and post comments to it. It will only give them a (totally unwarranted) rock-star ego.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The 10 Hottest Occupations, On librarianship not being one of them anymore

Five to ten years ago, library schools were abuzz with projections about the importance of information professionals with MLS degrees and their roles in the New Economy. This line of thinking is as dated as the term 'information superhighway' and now you are faced with the startling realization that your skill sets aren't needed nearly as much as the dean of your grad school had promised. You read magazines that compile annual lists of the hottest job trends and you see that an MLS degree is sandwiched between 'Clerk at Doctor's Office' and 'Phone Sex Operator,' though either of those professions would probably pay better. And with every passing day, your technical skills become more outdated and less relevant to the work force at large.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Buzzword Bingo (conference edition), Revisiting

To keep your mind sharp while sitting through professional conference presentations, adapt your homegrown library buzzword bingo game for recurring buzzwords dropped at the conference. Some real-life examples:
  • embedded librarians (... as in embedded in BlackBoard, WebCT, etc.)
  • wikis (bonus points for instructional uses for wikis)
  • blogs (bonus points for instructional uses for blogs)
  • 24/7 reference / e-reference
  • co-browsing
  • meta-search
  • librarians as advocates

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Privacy, ALA and your

The American Library Association is a staunch advocate for personal privacy and intellectual freedom...
“The American Library Association affirms that rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship.”—Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
However, those ethics apparently go out the window when a vendor or publisher offers to buy the mailing addresses for ALA members. ALA would sell your mailing address to the devil himself if he had an encyclopedia for sale.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Vacationing, Checking email while

Never check your email when you are on vacation. Leave the laptop at home. If you can't give up reading email about library stuff for a week, you may have a problem. Yes, your inbox may be filled with messages in your absence, but trudging through that filled inbox is a great way to kill your first full-day (or two?) back on the job.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Faculty status, Librarians with

The question of faculty status for academic librarians is an issue that elicits passionate debate from people on both sides of the issue. Some academic librarians are considered faculty and have all the rights and responsibilities that such a title entails. Others are called faculty, but are really just academic support staff with glorified titles. Most, however, are somewhere in between and are responsible for things that fit into both categories:
  • staff: working at service desks, cataloging and automation, collection development, etc.
  • faculty: teaching and instruction, research and publication, service and committees, etc.
Not sure where you fall into this landscape of muddled job classification, professionalism, and self-identity? Lack of controlled vocabulary strikes again!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Online catalog, Lamenting your

All librarians should have a love/hate relationship with their online catalog. For all the time and effort librarians put into maintaining their online catalogs, you might think the interfaces would be a lot more user-friendly. (How often does Amazon.com have to do training sessions on "Finding Books"?) The only real course of action is for librarians to lament the sorry state of their catalogs' interfaces to one another -- informally, in meetings, at conferences, with users' groups, and on listservs. In the meantime, just be sure you keep paying your catalog vendors outrageous fees for their substandard products.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Vendors, On enduring

When your boss thinks that it'll be a really swell idea to bring in the most annoying vendor reps to demo a bunch of crap your library would never use, make sure that you make the dude work for it by asking the dumbest questions you can think of. Your objectives are two-fold: to irritate the vendor and to put off going back to work for as long as possible. Ask really hard questions that salespeople would never know and when the vendor squirms and answers the question with a really inadequate response, try not to be too impressed with your evil self. When the vendor leaves, make sure to gossip with your favorite co-worker(s) about whatever tacky thing the vendor said or did (because they pretty much always do.) Bonus points for baiting the vendor into taking you out and paying for drinks on his/her company's tab.

White cafe mocha, Deserving an expensive

Some everyday events justify treating oneself to an expensive white cafe mocha from the library's coffee shop. Some examples are listed below:

Celebrating with a white cafe mocha
  • Acing a particularly difficult reference question
  • All your colleagues leave for a library conference, and you have run of the place in their absence
  • Getting through a day with no email from any of your upline supervisors
Earning a white cafe mocha
  • Having to endure more than two meetings and/or instruction sessions in the same day
  • Sitting through a particularly long or annoying meeting
  • Having to perform staff evaluations
Other ways to justify a white cafe mocha

Monday, March 27, 2006

Coots @ your library, Crazy old

Beware of crazy old men carrying briefcases. They usually have "special research projects" that they want to share with you. This might include rehashing tedious details of geneaology research, finding a mailing address for a hand-written tech-support letter to Gateway, shopping for replacement cane tips (that "aren't shit!"), and pulling seemingly random items out of library storage. Crazy old coots may or may not have excessive nose and ear hair, very loud voices, and a propensity to touch you on the shoulder and back. If you see one coming... run away.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Association membership dues, On not paying on time

When your crappy SLA membership dues come up for renewal, ignore the second, third and fourth reminders and just wait until someone from the organization practically begs you to renew. It's always nice when someone begs, especially if they knock a little off the price. And if you decide not to renew, make sure you blow off some steam and tell someone exactly whyyou think the dues are a complete waste of money.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Technical issues, Overexplaining

When patrons complain about dead links on your library's web site, out-of-service databases, or a disabled online catalog, help them understand what's going on by explaining the technical problems in excruciating detail. Patrons really care about the javascript code running behind your library's web site and what kind of server your link resolver is running on. Really, nothing dissolves patrons' frustrations like dense, technical, jargon-filled hypothetical explanations of your library catalog's problems. When you're finished rambling, refer patrons to an online form to report the problem and tell them to "check back" to see when it's up and running again.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wares, Hawking

Shamelessly self-promote your library blog by setting up an online store to sell your homemade wares.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lunch break, Strategically timing your

Never take your lunch break before your boss does. Wait ten minutes after the boss leaves before you take your own break. This allows you the opportunity to take a long lunch without the boss knowing when you actually left. This is also known as "the oldest trick in the book."

Note: Complications arise when your boss is using the oldest trick in the book with his/her boss. Depending on how many upline supervisors you have, it could be 3 or 4 in the afternoon before you get to eat lunch.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Elitist, Being

You are a librarian. Hold this over the heads of your support staff and constantly remind them of the social stratification within the library work place. Don't do tasks that are beneath your level. Be sure to have exclusive, closed-door librarian meetings. Always keep your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities shrouded in mystery. You aren't a good librarian unless people wonder what you do all day.

Besides, if the staff don't think you're important, who else will?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ties, Wearing

Don't wear a tie to work. Your coworkers will make fun of you. And you will deserve it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Alcohol, Drinking while on the job

It's ok to abuse alcohol if it means that your personality will be more tolerable to your co-workers and to the library patrons. Special attention should be given to the masking of routine signs of alcohol abuse such as slurred speech, releasing of strong alcoholic odor on the breath, falling down flights of stairs, and the grabbing of someone's ass. If your boss happens to be a lush, then inviting him/her to one of your daily lunch hour binges might not be such a bad idea. Members of the Good Ol' Boy Network don't have an unfair advantage in the job market because they kept their teetotaler asses tucked away quietly in a corner avoiding eye contact with the boss.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Water words, Using

Always make sure everyone knows how very busy you are. Repetition is key. I'm busy. Oh, so busy. One way to really drive home the point is by using water words to describe how busy you are:
  • I'm swamped
  • I'm drowning
  • I'm barely able to keep my head above water
  • I'm barely able to tread water
  • I'm flooded
  • I'm in over my head
  • I'm sinking
I'd list more examples, but I'm too bogged down to spend any more time on this post.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Anonymity, Taking advantage of

When January comes and your annual evaluation looms, pad your accomplishments by taking credit for someone else's work. Take advantage of the anonymous nature of blogs and claim to be the author of one of your favorites. "J?! ...of the Librarian's Guide to Etiquette?! Oh sure, of course that's me."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dumb reference questions, On repeating stories about to friends

It is perfectly acceptable to repeat really dumb reference questions to friends, co-workers and family even if the person of whom you're making a mockery finds out about it. Mock the person by repeating the offending question in a silly childish voice and make outrageous facial gestures. This practice of repeating ridiculous questions should be considered a form of library instruction since it will yield generous rewards later when you notice a huge drop-off in asinine queries.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Instruction, Library

There is a reason your library instruction classes stare at you lifelessly: you are boring and so is the topic you're covering.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Groups, Labeling your

A work group is not the same thing as a task force, and a task force is not a committee. Is your department really just an office? Are you a member of a unit or a team? Is your subcommittee really ad hoc?

Confused? Well maybe you need an ad hoc Labeling Task Force to clear things up. Ah, the beauty of controlled vocabulary.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rhetorical questions, Answering

Are you the type of librarian who answers rhetorical questions?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Base, On not touching

Using the phrase "Let's touch base" is grounds for getting a swift kick in the nads.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Interviews, Walking out of

If you are a candidate for a librarian position and someone from the search committee asks, "If you were a garden tool, what kind of garden tool would you be? And why?" ... it is perfectly acceptable for you get up and walk out of the interview without saying another word.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Overdue books, Back-dating librarians'

Librarians should not make other librarians pay fines for overdue library items. There have got to be some perks with this job. If a librarian returns an overdue book to you, don't make them ask, just do them the courtesy of back-dating the returned item so they won't receive a bill. ...Unless the librarian is a jerk, and then you should really stick it to 'em!