How being an artist has helped me become a better librarian

The life that leads a person to become a librarian is as varied as the sea. I have heard it referred to the 10 Step Job Recovery program of liberal art majors, due to the high percentage of librarians with these types of degrees. Though the truth is that the path to becoming a librarian is unique to each person joining the profession. For myself, I started by focusing on becoming a stage and lighting designer for theater, followed a love for photography into graduate school at an art college, finding a new found joy at working with images in a slide library, which the profession was slowly moving to requiring a library degree if I kept in this field and so I looked into getting my degree in library and information science. I wanted to try to combine the background knowledge I had acquired from my years in school with the love of photography and so I focused my classes on both archives and digital libraries.

While working in the profession in this recession where jobs are scarce,  I have been on many interviews for positions where one is constantly asked what makes you different from all the other perfectly qualified people in this profession. And I have slowly discovered that my art background is a pretty good fit for the library world. I will explore some of the ways I feel being an artist has made me a better librarian over a few posts. Continue reading

The Benefit of Library Displays

An aspect of my job that I find fun and fascinating is creating monthly library displays. In such a simple concept, you can introduce your patrons to new and old books in the collection that they may not have noticed, bring awareness to some national concern or issue, get a good grasp on what type of books your patrons are interested in, and get to know your libraries collection.

In order not to be without ideas for each month, I created a library display calendar, which contains national awareness campaigns in and out of the library world, local and regional awareness campaigns, holidays, events, and just seasonal ideas. After each listing I pasted the web pages linking the campaigns or further information on the event. I have found that you can get information for the list through the American Library Association, Library of Congress and other librarian blogs, such as the Programming Librarian .

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Know your Patrons

Working in a public environment, one thing that seems to always amaze me is the reality of the likes and dislikes of our users. When popular culture seems fixated on one thing, your patrons may be interested in something totally different.

I am helping create programs for the Summer Reading Program for the teens this summer. A suggestion that has been making the rounds is to create a program related to the Hunger Games series. With the movie to be released this March and the books on the New York Bestseller list for weeks now and with high hold lists for these books at the library,  this seems like a good choice.

So to verify this, I surveyed a group of our teens with possible theme ideas. The results were pretty astounding. The Hunger Games came last on the list of themes with Vampire Party at the top. I wasn’t too surprised about this since most of our holds are being placed by adults, not teens. Also, this book has been out since 2008, many teens probably read it in the early days and are now onto something new. And like I said, they will always surprise you at what they are interested in, so ask them what they are into, don’t ever assume.

Dissolving the Mystery of the Web

Sometimes I forget that many people only have a limited view of what is available on the internet. The idea that you need to have a complex webpage for small organizations that just need to provide information about their organization and be able to easily update their site with news and events. I recently worked with a patron who had a website set up for their organiztion by a volunteer and had lost access to the site.

The solution for the patron was to try taking HTML classes to learn how to make a webpage from scratch on their spare time. Little did they know that webpages can be made easier now using open source software like WordPress and the page can be made to look like a webpage. I had to explain that for small organizations, the needs for their online webpage is information, not flash. And the ability to be updated easily and the responsiblity divided by multiple people, rather than the responsibility of one.

After assessing their needs and the technology available at their organization, I offered another solution by creating a webpage using WordPress. I used examples from the showcase to show how other organizations of their size have utilized the software and sculpted it do what they needed. After walking her through some of the examples and using my own webpage to show how the page is administered they began to see the possibilities. I enjoyed being able to dissolve the mystery of the web and provide a simpler solution to their complex problem.

Where not to put security

I understand the need for security on merchandising, but could you please not put the tags on the pages of the books!

Tag in center of book

And the second tag at the back.

And a nice tag with the acknowledgments page


Copyright gone haywire

Tomorrow, January 18th, many websites will be blacking out their name and some of their services to bring awareness to two pieces of legislation proposed by the U.S. Congress: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which would if passed, inhibit many of the free and open internet sites we have come to depend on in our daily lives and lock them in a grand web of law suits. So if you like sharing on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, discovering new information on Wikipedia, and buying from artisans on Etsy, write your representatives in congress to stop these bills.

Learn more at Keepthewebopen. Contact your legislator at: Google or Wikipedia.

BTW: If you are missing Wikipedia and are in need of some information, call you local public library, the reference librarians will love to answer your questions!

Bean Soup

A fresh pot of beans is one of my favorite smells in the kitchen. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to this smell wafting through the air. I usually have bean soup for dinner when it’s first made with tortillas, and slices of cucumber and tomatoes. The remaining beans get frozen in batches and allow us to have mashed beans for about a month.

Pinto Bean Soup
3 lbs dry beans
1 TBS Epazote
1 medium onion, halfed
1 jalopeno, whole
3 cloves of garlic, whole
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
16 oz can diced tomatoes

Soak beans over night with water at least one inch above the beans. Drain beans and add to pot. Add water to cover one-inch above beans and Epazote. Bring beans to boil for about an hour, skim foam from top, then add onion, jalopeno, and garlic. Turn down to a simmer. Cook beans until beginning to turn soft, then lower heat and add salt, pepper, spices, and diced tomatoes.  Cook for about a half hour more, or until beans are soft.

2011 Reading

The end of the year is near and its time to review. This year I have been diligently recording the books I have read in GoodReads and was astonished when I checked my stats to find out that I have recorded 101 reads this year with a whopping 29,894 pages. Of course there are discrepancies, like books that I did not finish, but made a good effort to read (6), a picture book I was reviewing as a Early Reviewer for LibraryThing (1), and the audio books I listen to while commuting to work (12). Regardless, still a valiant effort. I have noticed that with the increase of reading also comes the increase of lower stars: 18-two stars (OK books) and 7-one star (I didn’t like).

My longest book read was The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist at 760 pages. And my all time favorite read was The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel.



Photography, Sewing and Books