In which I have Blogger’s Block.

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve blogged and that’s mostly because I have used up all of my writing ability (and creativity) on class assignments. I’ve had several librarian-ish thoughts, but none that seem to flow easily onto the page… or computer screen, as the case may be.

11785915 - group of blog related 3d words. part of a series.

So, instead I’m popping by with a list of random information that relates to my library school adventures thus far in September. It may not be the scintillating stuff (ha!) my faithful readers are accustomed to, but if the paragraphs won’t come when called, then bullet points will just have to be good enough:

  • I’m taking two classes this semester. They are:
  • The aforementioned Jill Hurst-Wahl is my new faculty mentor, which is a good thing because:
    • she is one of my favorite professors (and I’m not just saying that to kiss up)
    • we get along (when I’m not complaining about the word length restrictions of her assignments)
    • her professional interests are library innovation and copyright, in which I am also interested
    • my previous faculty mentor (with whom I also got along) is now in South Carolina (and it’s not because I was a bad mentee and scared him off). I will share more about the Mystery of the Disappearing Faculty Mentor in a future post.
  • I have renewed my membership in the New York Library Association (NYLA) and will be attending the annual conference in Saratoga in November, which I’m really looking forward to.
  • I’ve also renewed my membership in the American Library Association (ALA) and will be attending the Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta in January.
    • I’m terribly excited about this, too…
    • … especially since I’ll be sharing a room and getting to spend some time with one of my librarian friends.
  • Dr. Carla Hayden’s swearing in as the 14th Librarian of Congress made me extraordinarily happy and excited about the future of librarianship in this country:

That’s all the news I have for now, but I’ll be back once my clever blogging abilities become unblocked.

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In which I am aghast at the very idea!

Whilst looking at various library-related stories on Twitter, I happened upon this article which I thought, at first, must be a joke. You see, the piece details the decision, by a public library in Alabama, to begin enforcing an ordinance that could result in jail time for certain patrons with overdue library books.

Jail time?
For overdue library books?
What is this world coming to?
What kind of library director would countenance such a thing?
Is she insane?

To be fair, the full story is a bit more nuanced than its somewhat sensational title of:

Borrowed time: US library to enforce jail sentences for overdue books

After reading the article by The Guardian (my favorite news source from the UK), this story from the News Courier in Athens, Alabama, and this report from WAAY TV in Huntsville, Alabama, it seems that the facts are these:

  • Roughly $200,000 worth of books have not been returned to the Athens-Limestone Public Library.
  • Tossing patrons in jail is not the library’s initial response to overdue books. An email or text, followed by a certified letter giving the patron 10 days to settle the matter, are the library’s first attempts at a resolution.
  • Should those steps prove ineffective, a court summons comes next. An additional fine, and up to 30 days in jail, could be the result of ignoring the court summons.
  • The ordinance that allows for all this has been on the books for some time, but is only now being strictly enforced.
  • The measures above will not apply to children.

Woman's Hands Fettered With Handcuffs

On one hand, I sympathize with the library. $200,000 worth of non-returned books is serious business, and public libraries are not so well funded to be able to ignore the matter.

The library director herself is perhaps not such the hard-ass I first thought her. (And no, that’s not a very charitable thing for me to think about a fellow member of my profession. But I’m being honest… that was my initial assumption. This blog post is, in part, an attempt to see things from her point of view.) She’s quoted in the WAAY TV story as saying, “Our first step is to have a good relationship with our patrons and remind them to bring everything back.” And in the News Courier story, she makes it clear that she’s thinking of the taxpayers and about all of the patrons to whom library resources belong and the library’s responsibility to them.

However, after my first week of classes, in which my classmates and I discussed the Core Values of Librarianship, the idea of jail time for overdue books doesn’t sit comfortably in my mind with the American Library Association’s core value of Social Responsibility and the “contribution that librarianship can make in ameliorating or solving the critical problems of society.”

I know that I’m not a proper, credentialed librarian yet. I’m just a student and willing to admit that I’m inexperienced, and maybe even naive, not yet having worked in the library trenches in a full-time, professional capacity. But surely the threat of jail time (even for a tiny segment of public library patrons) is going to cause more problems in the community than it solves. Will patrons still feel as free to borrow from the library knowing what could happen if they cannot pay their overdue fines?

I confess I have more questions than answers, so I’d like to know… what do you think? I’m interested to hear from everyone: library directors, my librarian friends, fellow students, library staff, or anyone who’s ever forgotten to return an overdue library book. Do you believe that jail time should be the final sanction for extreme cases of non-returned library items? If not, how would you address the problem of $200,000 in missing materials?

In which I am determined to continue blogging.

Yes, I did disappear from blogging for… oh, the past 7 months or so. Not an eternity, but much longer than I would’ve liked. Those months were marked by myriad non-librarian adventures, the details of which I will spare you (which is the first rule of Library Blog, after all.)

Tomorrow, however, begins a new semester at the iSchool and I am ready not just for my classes and my work, but for blogging again. I hope I haven’t lost too many readers in the interim.

Stay tuned for fascinating future posts which may include the following adventures:

  • In which I disclose what classes I am taking this semester
  • In which I reveal the Mystery of the Disappearing Faculty Mentor
  • In which I share what you think of “librarian” (the results of a reader survey from last November!)
  • In which I have some thoughts about intellectual freedom and censorship

Empty tablet pc with books, technology and education

 

In which I start a new semester and am already swamped.

I faithfully promised myself that I’d post at least once a se’nnight* during the semester, even though this blog is no longer part of a class assignment. Since my first class was last Wednesday morning, I’m hitting “Publish” just in time.

One week into the new semester and I already feel like I’m a week behind. OK, technically, I’m not behind, but am only on-time by a hair’s breadth, and certainly not ahead of schedule. This, in spite of my best organizational and time management efforts. (I even skipped Downton Abbey in favor of studying on Sunday night. Skipped Downton Abbey! Do you see how seriously I take this grad school adventure? Anna and Mr. Bates will have to wait patiently on my DVR until Spring Break.)

3d man with a stack of papers
Surrounded by coursework.

I only have enough time left to report that I’m taking the following interesting classes:
IST 600 – Library Advocacy (my very first online class)
IST 613 – Library Planning, Marketing, and Assessment
IST 614 – Management Principles for Information Professionals

I’ll provide more details on them later, but for now I must get back to work!

*se’nnight = a somewhat archaic English term for seven nights & seven days, or a week. I faithfully promised myself that I would use it in a sentence as often as I thought I could get away with it.

In which I license this blog under Creative Commons.

In my IST 601 class (Information & Information Environments) we learned a little about copyright. Basically, “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression” – like my writing and any original images, audio, or video I might create for this blog – are protected under U.S. copyright law. This means that I have “the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.” (For some reason that last sentence makes me want to childishly chant “Nyah, nyah, nyah!” just for fun. I don’t know why.)copyright-30343_640

Basically, I know that I have rights to my original work. And, though I can’t imagine anyone beating down my door and demanding permission to reproduce my work, I’m actually perfectly willing to share the creative content of this blog for public use, with a few restrictions. That’s where a Creative Commons license comes in.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free, legal copyright licenses indicating under what terms I (and others) are willing to share our work. In my case, I’ve chosen a Attribution-NonCommercial license, which means you don’t have to ask permission, just go ahead and share, copy, redistribute, or adapt what I’ve created, as long as you give me appropriate credit and don’t use it for commercial purposes.

Creative Commons License
The Adventures of Library Heather is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://libraryheather.com.

Although I’ve only scratched the surface in learning about copyright, fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons, I find the whole subject area completely fascinating. I’m planning to take a copyright class before I finish grad school.

If you’re interested in learning more about copyright and Creative Commons, check out this short video:


Wanna Work Together? from Creative Commons on Vimeo.

Project LISten: In which we meet Sandy D.

Click here for an explanation of Project LISten.

sandyd1
Sandy D at the iSchool. Photograph by Lauren Stevens.
  1. I always wanted to be an elementary teacher for as long as I could remember.
  2. The possibility of being a librarian came after working as a clerk in the local library.
  3. My children went to sleep with books as I have tried to instill a love of books in them.
  4. I never would have imagined that I would be attending Syracuse University as it is such a highly esteemed and expensive school.  I am very thankful for my husband’s GI Bill that he shared with me.
  5. My favorite book series is Anne of Green Gables.
  6. I want to help others grow in all areas of their lives.
  7. I have moved 14 times in 15 years of marriage.
  8. God is everything to me.  He has blessed me with everything and everyone I have in this life.
  9. My mom does not see the need for libraries so it is my job to win her over.
  10. Growing up I was labeled a perfectionist…as an adult I am one of those people who couldn’t care less about perfection.

[Heather’s note: Sandy is the first fellow LIS student I met on the morning of orientation. After talking with her for about 10 minutes, I decided she was interesting and that I wanted to be her friend. I’m not sure I gave her much choice in the matter.]

In which I introduce Project LISten.

In my IST 511 class (Introduction to the Library & Information Profession) we’ve talked about how good librarians use the resources of their communities to facilitate knowledge creation. Since leaving the bookstore world and starting grad school, my “community” has changed significantly. The people with whom I used to spend 40+ hours a week, at work or socially, are now almost 50 miles away from Syracuse, where I’ve spent most of my time since September. While doing my best to stay in touch with old friends, it’s been important for me to get to know my new companions at the iSchool.

Pondering ideas of community, resources, knowledge, and creativity – and wanting this blog to be about more than just my library journey – gave me the idea for a series of posts featuring my LIS classmates. Inspired by Humans of New York, I first thought of calling it Humans of Library School. But I wanted to incorporate the idea of listening to what one’s community is passionate about (based on a class exercise where we each talked for 2 minutes on a topic of interest to us). Finally, after asking for feedback, as wise librarians do, I’ve settled on Project LISten.Project Listen Logo 2

Each Project LISten post will feature a picture of a fellow student along with 10 sentences, questions, or interesting facts about them. In this way, I’ll learn more about my grad school cohort and be able to foster connections between them and my wider, social media community. Granted, I’ll be making these connections on a small scale since this blog doesn’t have a huge readership (yet). But it’s a start at putting into practice the ideas I’m learning in theory.

In the spirit of marshaling the resources of my new community, I’ve accepted the help of my classmate Lauren, who’s a generous, exuberant person and a wonderful photographer. Whenever possible, Lauren will take the photo that accompanies each Project LISten post using her creative knowledge and a professional-quality camera, an improvement on anything I could produce with my cell phone. I hope that over the course of the project I’ll find ways to incorporate the expertise of other classmates, and volunteer my skills and knowledge in return.

I hope you’ll all enjoy meeting these librarians-in-training as much I have. Look for the first official post tomorrow.

In which I start a blog.

Welcome to the Adventures of Library Heather. I’m a brand-spanking-new Master of Library and Information Science student at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Having survived my first week of grad school (after a 14 year hiatus from academia, mind you) without running mad or fainting, I decided that the infant steps of my new career would be an excellent topic for a blog, even if I’m the only one who reads it.

I may eventually submit this blog as a Maker Activity project for my IST 511 class, but honestly, it’s something I was already planning to do, and my intention is to continue it through grad school and into my career as a librarian.

This way to librarian adventures.
This way to librarian adventures.

(What is a Maker Activity, you might be asking? That’s what I also asked when I started exploring graduate programs and started following librarians on Twitter. Librarians these days are all about maker spaces – and I say that in an awe-filled and enthusiastic tone. The short answer: places to create knowledge, ideally, sometimes with physical objects to show for it. The Fayetteville Free Library has three makerspaces. I’ll be checking them out in a few weeks.)

In which I explain my blog post titles
Being a voracious reader, I’ve always pictured my life as an adventure with myself as the protagonist. I try to live by Nora Ephron’s advice, “Above all, be the heroine of your own life, not the victim.” As a fan of 18th- and 19th-century English novels, I enjoy reading about the thrilling changes of fortune and often unbelievable circumstances found in novels like The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I especially like the old-fashioned literary trope of using a descriptive title to summarize the whole chapter, usually styled as “In which the hero(ine) does such-and-such.” Although I trust my library career will follow an upward trajectory, unmarred by wicked schoolmasters or bigamous marriages, I believe it will still be an exciting and occasionally amusing quest for knowledge, both for me and anyone who kindly reads this blog.

Please join me on the journey.