August 23, 2004

Essential Reading #2

I've just finished reading the September issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights. I was enjoying it so much that I realized I had to stop and think about what I read that I think (aka IMNHO or in my opinion) is *really essential* for someone who wants to do a good job as a librarian. This'll be a series as I sort through the way too many things that I read regularly and think about them. I've already mentioned MaryLaine Block's Ex Libris so this makes Walt #2.

Cites and Insights: Crawford at Large This online publication features reviews, articles, and opinions about libraries, technology, media, and relevant content. Monthly issues are indexed and archived. This private publishing effort comes courtesy of Walt Crawford, a librarian and senior analyst at The Research Libraries Group in Mountain View, California.     From
Posted by leita at 06:19 AM

August 17, 2004

Good quote

"...the heart of libraries: Good people offering effective access to varied, worthwhile collections that center on books."
     From What Happened to Technological Fixes? By Walt Crawford.

See also the August American Libraries cover story "Staying Public: The Real Crisis in Librarianship" by John Buchanan and "Restore Our Destiny: Full--Not Plural Funding" by Thomas J. Hennen Jr. Available online only to ALA members via ebrary or on one of your library periodical databases perhaps? I just checked my local library's Expanded Academic ASAP for the article, but they only have AL through June/July issue as of today. So non-ALA members might check in a day or week or so.

Posted by leita at 12:22 PM

August 15, 2004

Being hip or connecting with your users or both, or neither?

So I wasn't sure what the LibrarianInBlack meant when she wrote "So, what's the dilly yo with women bloggers?" Nothing of much use in Google, other than finding the most common usage is "What's the dilly, yo?" The LII found 17 slang dictionaries and the 9th result, Galaxy Dictionaries directory led me to this.

The College Slang Page
We got the 411 on the hip talk in the hallowed halls. Check it out! Way Cool FAQs About College Slang: What is college slang What do we slang Why do students speak slang What's the hardest working word in college slang Wanna know more About the Project The Cal Poly Pomona Dictionaries Savvy Reading on College Slang Surfing for Slang Mini-dictionary from Da Bomb Wanna ...

Most of the words and terms in the dictionary of this project run by a Cal Poly professor were collected by her students from around the country in 1997-98. The top 20 list, tho, is up-to-date through 2003, but just from Cal Poly students. The terms and their use of them is interesting -- reflecting the community at Cal Poly? -- and the animated loading of the page is annoying.

Posted by leita at 05:55 PM

August 05, 2004

Yet another MaryLaine Block read

From this librarian's perspective, MaryLaine Block's essays in Ex Libris are the most educational and entertaining reads for a professional librarian. I get her weekly Neat New (which also includes her Ex Libris column) via email. The Neat New portion (without the Ex Libris essay) is also available via an RSS feed at
The current Ex Libris essay, On Analyzing Web Sites, besides being a great primer on how to review a website encourages all librarians to analyze one of their prime reference resources -- their library's website.

From her Neat New section I find that Genie Tyburski has recently updated her excellent Evaluating the Quality of Information on the Internet. An hour or so spent reading through this material would be a great educational use of your time.

Posted by leita at 09:52 AM

July 31, 2004

How important is the reference interview?

This is a fascinating article for any working on a library public service desk and interested in providing good reference. Has the Internet Changed Anything in Reference? The Library Visit Study, Phase 2 by Catherine Sheldrick Ross and Kirsti Nilsen. Published in Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) (previously RQ) and the 2002 Reference Services Press Award winner.

Using data from 2000, this study concludes library staff will be using the Internet more and more for reference questions but

Users still need help in formulating their questions, identifying what they need to know, considering alternative search terms, and evaluating retrieved hits.

This research supports earlier studies that show that successful interactions at the reference desk happen only when effective reference interviews are conducted. Necessary elements include clarification of the question, recognition of what the patron already has searched, analysis of the question, identification of potential resources, and consistent use of follow-up questions. Although the Internet undoubtedly will become increasingly important as a reference resource, there is still a large role for the information professional as intermediary. The Internet is not the store next door.

Check out "Reference Interview Skills" workshop materials from the Infopeople Project's Past Workshop Materials section.

Posted by leita at 07:39 AM

July 16, 2004

Human Touch

Excellent reasoning from MaryLaine Block in her July 16, 2004 Ex Libris essay on the importance of face-to-face in libraries.

I would suggest cross-training all library staff so that all of them, no matter what their normal job, can do circulation tasks, help people find the meeting rooms, and provide basic assistance with computers, printers, the online catalog, and copy machines.

When I say ALL staff, incidentally, I include even the library director. That's because this solution would do more than maximize human interactions. It would also give everybody a chance to meet the public they're serving, many of whom never approach the reference desk, and to hear their questions, suggestions, and complaints.

The people at the circ desk are the first to know if the library needs more copies of the new Dan Brown book, better signage, more computers so people don't have to wait so long, better sound baffling for the children's room, more Christian romances, cleaner bathrooms, a better-lit parking lot, and more restrictions on what kids can check out. The circulation desk is also where most of our customers first come in contact with our rules, so time spent there is an opportunity to find out exactly what our customers think of them.

Posted by leita at 08:54 AM

May 28, 2004

Need to market your library?

Marylaine Block (my vote for the most thoughtful and incisive of the free-lance librarians out there) just posted her latest Ex Libris essay Cultivating Reporters -- excellent 'marketing your library' tips and advice.

Posted by leita at 07:19 AM

May 21, 2004

Free, on-your-time learning

Cool, free, you chose when, library-related seminars from Dynix. One hour webcasts at Dynix Institute Web Seminar Archive. Includes Michael Gorman on "The Enduring Values of Librarianship," Paula Wilson on " Promoting the Library's Online Collections: 10 Surefire Ways to Increase Usage Statistics," Marshall Breeding on "Where is the Industry Headed? Top Trends to Watch in 2004," and almost two dozen more at this posting. Also, be sure to check out the upcoming webcasts here.

Posted by leita at 11:08 AM