If you want to work in libraries

Everyone should read this article! Then maybe write their own...

Librarianship was yesterday featured in the Guardian's Beyond the Job Series. The article was entitled Beyond books: what it takes to be a 21st century librarian and was written by Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood. Screen grab of the Guardian article on libraries

I am so happy about this article! For loads of reasons.

First of all, this is a brilliant piece. Here is a quote - I originally highlighted three paragraphs I really liked in order to copy and paste them, but realised that would basically be quoting half the article... Here is one bit I liked, but I liked all of it, and you should go read the whole thing.

"Books are only one aspect of what libraries and librarians are about. Librarianship is a people profession; a librarian's job is to connect people with the information they are seeking, whatever format that may take. At their heart, all library jobs have a central purpose: to help people access and use information, for education, for work, or for pleasure. In all library roles customer service and communication skills are important. If anyone ever thought they'd become a librarian because they liked books or reading, they would be sorely disappointed if they did not also like people too."

The article says all the things you'd want it to say, as a library professional, and all the things you'd need it to say, as someone curious about entering the field and needing to know the reality of it.

Second of all, it is in the Guardian. It will be read by thousands and thousands of people, all of whom will be educated about what librarianship consists of even if they don't go on to try and become one. It is a proper bonafide Echo Chamber escape. I believe the genesis of the idea came from this post on Emma's blog, and the comments that followed.

Thirdly, it mentions the Library Routes Project. Laura and I wanted to break this resource (which, if you're unfamiliar with it, documents librarians' roots into the profession and their routes through it) out of the echo chamber but have been unable to do so, really. I actually contacted the Guardian to propose an article about it, but didn't get a response. Emma and Katie have found just the right medium in which to mention it, and they got in lots of references to Bobbi Newman's Library Day in the Life Project too (you can see my video contribution to that project, here). Perfection! Since the article was published around 24hrs ago, the Library Routes wiki has been viewed hundreds of extra times - finally by some non-librarians, I hope.

Fourthly it mentions me! And this slide-deck:

I sought to get this slide-deck seen outside the echo chamber as much as possible, and although that certainly happened this will really add to it - in fact Emma commented that they were going to try and link to it from a Guardian article way back then, now it has finally come to fruition. It's really kind of Katie and Emma to include a link to this, so thank you to them. As a Guardian reader since literally aged 12 (yes, I know...) and someone who literally loves the paper and the institution, being mentioned by a Guardian article is definitely (literally) pretty fabulous!

So the question is, can any of us repeat this success elsewhere? Emma and Katie are presumably forbidden from reproducing their work in other publications, but there is nothing to stop the rest of us finding avenues for writing a guide to librarianship and getting it published in neutral, non-library places. Are you up for the challenge?

- thewikiman

You can't win 'em all...

This is the 100th blog post on thewikiman blog, and some of them have been seen more than others. The more widely distributed your stuff, the more likely people are to dislike it. Or rather, the more people who would dislike it if they saw it, see it. So it was inevitable that my Slide-deck about what to expect if you want to work in libraries would eventually recieve some flak as it's the most viewed thing I've done. Due to being featured on Slideshare's homepage, and Liked/Shared on FaceBook + linked to from Twitter nearly 1,000 times, it has been viewed a lot - nearly 15,000 times at the time of writing. By my normal standards, that is stratospheric. It has been favourited 30 times, downloaded 114 times and embeded on 68 websites, including non-English-as-native-language sites, such as Bibliosession. Bibliosession acknowledged a couple of other French sites that had drawn their attention to the deck, and it was because of that I was able to read a comment on lahary.wordpress.com, which, I have to say, is the best piece of criticism I've ever read!

Angry French comment

I used Google Translate to get a better (yet still, I realise, innacurate) idea of exactly how cross they were, here's what it came up with:

Translation: it is "clear " in that these ten laws deserve a place in the annals of cliches and bullshit professional. Even the crap short: in the era of PowerPoint, it is not surprising to see the aphorism as a substitute for thought. And devotees jumping for joy.  Not surprisingly: it comes from Britons. And in the land of France, we are always taking the last Anglo-Saxon nonsense.


Anyway, Google Translate is always a hilarious source of entertainment, especially when you translate things through multiple languages and eventually back to your own. I mauled this quote through Afrikaans, Croation, Basque, Malay, Traditional Chinese, and Swahili, via a bunch of other languages, ending with Korean - then back to English... And got this:

In fact, silver, Thanks for the information to the Dominican lahar: "This is the correct picture is one tenth of all the dust, Power Point itself, the meaning of the law and professional opinion and, remarkably, not joy, he jumped right is another clear expression ...  This is not surprising: the Saxon English inches - including the country of France, always pay close angle. Saxon are all fools - but, Angle, does not mean that. To determine the reference information, and he to the public, answer questions, and where, instead of changing their beliefs, he said, as well as libraryes ..



In other news

[NB: Don't click the link in this bit if you read those Harry Potter books and are not yet finished the final book / waiting for the final film to find out what happenes.] A library in Norway has found a truly excellent way to ensure their books get returned when they're overdue. Is this twitpic of a letter sent to a patron - http://twitpic.com/3ro5z9 - real? Who knows - either way, it's a genius idea... Thanks to @Slewth for the link!

- thewikiman