Posts Tagged ‘librarians’

As a librarian, I naturally rely on data that are credible. When answering reference questions, I am loath to give out inaccurate information.

When I hear/read something that doesn’t seem correct, I’ll often ask, “Where did you get that?” More often than not, they’ll say, “I saw it on the Internet.” Or “Facebook” or “Twitter.” But that isn’t the answer to the question. I’m looking for whether they got it from CNN’s website or FOX News’ Facebook page or the New York Times’ Twitter feed. This helps me to ascertain how much credence I should give a report.

Also, since I scan a LOT of news, I start to see trends. A few months back, I read that Kirk Douglas, the actor, died four days shy of his 101st birthday. But I never saw this in ANY source I had actually heard of, such as the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune. Immediately, I went to Snopes.com and discovered it was a death hoax.

This process helps me determine whether the things I read are true. I saw an unattributed graphic that said that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wanted to raise the Medicare age to 76. I had never heard that before. Sure enough, there was a 2016 story that Ryan wanted to hike the age requirement to 67, which is bad enough, but NOT 76. One’s antipathy for a politician may make the worst news seem plausible, though not necessarily accurate.

A friend of mine, obviously frustrated that she was asked an easily knowable thing, mused, “Doesn’t anyone Google anymore?” Assuredly they do, but it does not mean that it’ll be right. I Googled for the price of a current first-class stamp and the first item I found gave the information for 2015 rather than 2018.

And I won’t even get into malicious disinformation. Or the difference between fact and opinion.

Some people have said to me that being a librarian now must be easier because I have so much information at my fingertips. Others have said that we don’t NEED librarians now because EVERYONE has so much information at their fingertips. Neither of those assertions is true; librarians spend an inordinate amount of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

October 19 marks the 25th anniversary of when I became a working librarian, all, as it turned out, at the Research Network of the New York Small Business Development Center.

Now it’s not the first job I ever had in a library. I spent seven months as a page at the Binghamton, now Broome County (NY), Public Library back when I was in high school. I used to help people use the microfilm machines, find and then refile the magazines in the closed stacks, and check the shelves to make sure the books were in Dewey Decimal System order.

After 8.5 years at the comic book store FantaCo and a dreadful year at an insurance company, I was nagged by two librarians and a lawyer, all friends of mine, to go to library school. I was resistant to return to graduate school, having suffered a disastrous experience a decade earlier.

But this time, I survived, and even thrived in grad school. I worked in the dean’s office and one of my tasks was to calculate the demographics of the students. I discovered that I was, at that time, the average age of a student at UAlbany’s School of Information Science and Policy. There were lots of returning students.

The task has always been to provide reference to remote SBDC counselors who were meeting with their would-be entrepreneurs and active businesspersons, Still, the job of this librarian has changed a lot over the quarter century. We used to send packets of information via the US Mail or UPS.

My first phone was a shared line with the fax machine. When it would ring, I was never sure when it rang if I would pick it up and hear a wall of aural pain.

In the days before the wide use of the Internet, we had a number of CD-ROMs to use, and we had to take turns using them. It was a radical innovation when the discs were on a LAN (local area network) so that two or three librarians could use ReferenceUSA at the same time.

The World wide web, of course, changed our reference ability, but it was a gradual evolution early on. We wanted to be able to deliver data via email. Now EVERYONE has it, but in the 1990s, it was hardly a universal service, even at the colleges and universities where our SBDCs were housed.

When email became more universally available, sometimes the data packet was so big that it would bounce. Now, there’s a location on a closed website where counselors can pick up the information.

Being a librarian has changed a lot in the past two and a half decades, but finding the information remains the goal.

For ABC Wednesday

About a half dozen people sent me, usually via Facebook, an article about a job ad: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Is Looking for a Librarian. Now it is true that I am a librarian, and for nearly 25 years. It’s also correct that I am interested in rock and/or roll, based on the one or two articles I’ve written on the subject the past dozen years. I’ve even been to the place in Cleveland, OH the past year, as I indicated here and here.

So I just HAD to look at the job description: “The Librarian reports to the Senior Director of Library and Archives and performs descriptive cataloging of library resources; assists in providing instruction and reference service and engaging users through outreach activities; assists in the collection development of library resources; and supervises the work of the Library Assistant, interns, and volunteers.”

I have done instruction, engaged users online on a few webinars, supervised interns. I’ve had only passing opportunity to do collection development. But I really haven’t done cataloging at all.

Moreover, in looking at the full posting, I have NO “Experience cataloging using RDA, AACR2, Library of Congress-Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statements (LC-PCC PS), Library of Congress Classification (LCC), Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Library of Congress Genre-Form Terms (LCGFT), and MARC formats.”

In fact, the only cataloging of music material I’ve ever done was for my personal use. For instance, I have several LPs that are compilations with various artists, such as the Warner Brothers Loss Leaders, benefit concerts such as The Secret Policeman’s Ball, and some soundtracks. I created a 3X5 card for each artist, with song and album name, better to make mixed tapes; ah, Arlo Guthrie’s Voter Registration Rag is on Burbank.

And that was about a decade before I even went to library school, which SHOULD have told me something. Was that geeky or what?

So I shan’t be moving to Cleveland, alas. But I appreciate all the notices from the people who have been thinking about me.

MockingbirdAs part of the Ask Roger Anything process, Arthur is hankering for me to write about religion:

What’s one thing you just don’t “get” about non-believers?

The need, at least for some of them, to ascribe all the problems in of the world at the feet of religion. Taking the issue of same-sex marriage, in the US, you see that a majority of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and especially Jews are supportive.

Surely, horrific things have happened, and continue to take place, in the purported name of God/Allah. It’s just as certain that awful things happened in no deity’s name, and that decent, even wonderful, things take place through the works of people following their religious beliefs.

A corollary, I suppose, is the easy willingness to point to some group of purported Christians, and INSIST that they represent Christianity as a whole. The Ku Klux Klan claim to be Christians; it does not follow that the KKK represents Christianity. Nor do those folks out of Kansas, the Westboro Baptist Church represent my understanding of living a Christ-centered life.

I think it makes me irritable for the same reason that one black person’s flaws seem to be attributed to the whole race.

Just recently, through Daily Kos, I came across Faithful America, which says it “is the largest and fastest-growing online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice. Our members are sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus’ message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda. We’re organizing the faithful to challenge such extremism and renew the church’s prophetic role in building a more free and just society.”

What’s one thing you wish non-believers understood about your faith position (and what’s a better word for that—I’m drawing a blank…)?

Read the rest of this entry »

beekmanboysAfter breakfast at the Limestone Mansion in Cherry Valley, NY, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, Loretta, the co-owner, asked The Wife and me if we were going to the Sharon Springs Garden Party. We had no idea what the heck she was talking about. In the nearby town of Sharon Springs, there have been events in the spring and fall that the whole town is involved with.

But before hopping into the car, we decided to stroll, first uptown to the library, which was closed because there was a book sale downtown. (These are not great distances; the population of the village was 520 at the 2010 Census.)

No, I DON’T need any more books. Still, in addition to signs for buy different books based on various criteria, they had one that said. “Book bag – $10. Book bag filled with books – $10.” I cannot resist. Got some books for the Daughter. The Wife’s great find was a recipe book of the great inns of the area. I always wanted to read The Hornet’s Nest by Jimmy Carter, the first work of fiction ever published by a U.S president. Somehow, I find myself Read the rest of this entry »

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