You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

I’ve been typing away diligently on my narrative/possible article about how my experiences, education and jobs have come together over the past few years as I build towards that elusive entity known as a “career”.  I even have a working title – “Charting Choppy Waters: The Lessons of Uncertainty.”  After all, what is a library article without metaphor?

I’m not sure yet if this is my own personal summary and rehash or a sincere publishing attempt.  Right now I’m at the brainstorming stage as to where such an exercise would be best received.  I’m looking at different LIS publications and theme issues. 

Loyal readers, any suggestions? Thanks!

I got a kick out of this recent ad effort by the Wyoming Libraries to “Bring the World to Wyoming.” OK, so this may not bring people to Wyoming libraries in droves based on such creativity, but it brings up the really important point of thinking outside of the box – or the bookshelves – when it comes to marketing libraries.  This image may be in poor taste or even offensive to some, but it grabs attention.  It’s funny (So is Tame The Web’s “Mudflap Boy“).   It’s something beyond the ineffectual and ubiquitous “Read” posters.

 I’m proud to flaunt my “Radical Militant Librarian” button in an attempt to knock the old stereotype around a bit. To me, whatever marketing can get libraries in the public dialogue is positive for the most part. Let’s push the boundaries a bit.

I have a continuing interest in the Library as Place.  It’s a theme that I touched upon repeatedly during library school and one of the main reasons that I pursued this career.  I believe strongly that creating an inviting intellectual and creative space has much to do with what people get out of libraries.

There’s been a lot of talk over the past decade or so about libraries taking successful retail models such as Barnes & Noble for inspiration in this regard, sometimes to unnecessary extremes.  Just a few months ago the Maricopa Library System in Arizona even proposed dismantling the DDC in favor of a bookstore-type classification system. 

Ironically, at the same time it seems that the bookstores themselves are feeling the economic repercussions of being too comfortable and considering returning to more traditional digs, sans the cushy couches where customers can use the merchandise without paying.  This is traditionally where the library steps in – more powerfully than ever now that we have learned important lessons about creating spaces where people choose to go, even if that means buying new furniture and allowing food and drinks.

Effective online library “places” are working to become more comfortable as well. Most OPACs are hindered by cumbersome text-only displays. While many of our patrons inhabit only our online places, this is something like the equivalent of a library consisting entirely of a card catalog. Maybe this is slowly changing. For example, Book Shelf View is an idea developed by Sandra Rotenberg of the Solano Community College Library in California. Basically, it is a visual keyword search where the results display as highlighted books on actual shelves in the stacks that can be browsed. Like browsing physical library shelves, the idea plays upon the benefits of collocation and serendipity. You could “pick up” the books and skim the contents by clicking on the spine. What a great idea!

Other musings on the subject of the improved ILS have saturated the literature of late, with some notable ideas such as Marshall Breedings’ Next Generation Library Catalogs which discusses, among other things, web overlay functionality in detail.

While I may prefer to browse physical libraries and read physical books, I understand the desire of patrons to do both online, with (nearly) equal functionality. E-books have long been a reality, why not a true E-library? Why should online users be denied Library as Place (even if they have to provide their own cushy couches)?

Last night Santa Fe celebrated the beginning of the annual Fiesta with the burning of Zozobra (aka “Old Man Gloom”) – a 50-foot puppet/marionet who represents all the regrets and negativity of the past year.

I am again reminded why I love this city.  Such paganesque rituals are highly satisfying in both symbolic catharsis and pure physical spectacle.  There were fire dancers and waving red carpets – at times reminiscent of a Sophocles play.  Amidst the cries of small children (“burn him! burn him now!”) bringing to mind public executions of past centuries, we all reached civic solidarity through the medium of fire. 

Zozobra is satisfying on a personal level as well.  One of the local papers put out a box for individual lists of regrets.  The box was dumped right into Zozobra’s big white head and burned along with him.   Though the spectacle was perhaps more immediate and satisfying than quiet introspection, it’s a reminder of the process we should all go through from time to time to burn our personal emotional baggage in order to move forward.  !Viva la Fiesta!

September 2007