I just finished Carson Block’s article, If Books Are Our Brand, in Public Libraries magazine. It’s yet another look at the changing world of libraries and how e-books have shaken things up. Block says, “I would love our brand to be ‘access to the resources and tools in an ever-changing world.’ That means access to e-everything, including the tools and training needed for content creation, and in physical spaces. Places to gather and discuss ideas. Places to learn, and places to teach.”
I agree with Block when he says we need places to gather, learn, and teach. But, Block’s statement made me think more specifically about our reference collections. For years, we have been shifting to an e-reference model. Many print reference collections have been shrinking as they’ve been replaced by subscription databases. In the past year, my library’s reference collection has been weeded by close to 50%. Our pushback on doing so came more from internal sources than from the patrons.
I think it’s interesting that libraries have been able to successfully shift to online database usage, but we can’t seem to find a common ground with book publishers on making a transition to e-books. I’m not saying I want to make a complete and total transition to e-books. I still am very much a print person, but I hope we can give the people what they want in whatever shape that may take.
-Post by Carrie Straka, Tame the Web Contributor
Yesterday, a patron came to me for help with finding a book. She said she thought it was checked in, but she wasn’t sure. I looked it up, found it was checked in, so we went to the shelf and got the book. On our walk through the stacks, she said to me that libraries are intimidating. I simply reassured her, and said that they’re really not.
WHAT?!?! That was the wrong response. I should have asked her “How can we make the library less intimidating?” I could have gained a lot of insight had I just thought to ask that question.
The moral of the story: Never stop questioning. When you hear something you don’t like, ask why. Or ask how we can do things differently. Much understanding can be gained by just asking a few questions.
–Post by Carrie Straka, Tame the Web contributor
I have long agreed with Jessamyn West’s take that we should use “our online powers for good.” One way I try to do this is by highlighting unique, original and not often heard voices here at TTW. I realized I hadn’t announced two new members to the TTW family of contributors: Ben Lainhart & Carrie Straka. Please welcome them and watch for their future posts. Here are their bios:
Ben recently graduated with an MLIS from Drexel University’s iSchool where he spent a lot of time thinking about social media and digital libraries and how they could impact developing countries. He enjoys debates over the future of libraries and strongly advocates for more social spaces,more technology and more chances for patrons to learn through collaboration and play. Ben is also interested education reform and online learning and would like to see LIS education become a little more experimental and innovative. Ben is currently on the job hunt and is hoping for a position that will challenge him to be creative and to experiment with new ideas.
Ben graduated from Binghamton University in 2006 with a degree in Philosophy and Pre-Law. Since then he has worked in various jobs –ranging from digging ditches to doing pharmaceutical research to volunteering abroad –before deciding on the information profession. Though always a reader and book lover,Ben came to LIS because he found the conversations that were happening in the field surrounding topics like copyright and fair use,ebooks,self-publishing,DRM,free culture and social media were some of the most interesting and informed. Moreover,these conversations always seemed to contain a strong thread of social justice.
In his free time Ben enjoys running,walking with his two dogs,watching/debating movies,playing hockey,gardening and working through his ever-increasing pile of “to-read”books.
Carrie is fascinated by social media and how it can be used in libraries. She’s interested in connections between people and the information they need. She is constantly working to foster those connections.
Background (Professional and Otherwise)
After graduating from Eastern Illinois University in 1999,Carrie worked in the publishing industry for several years. She then decided to brave the world of librarianship,so she found a part-time position at a public library in the Chicago suburbs and started the GSLIS program at Dominican University. She graduated from Dominican with an MLIS in May 2009 and worked simultaneously at Vernon Area Public Library and Barrington Area Library. She now works full-time at Bartlett Public Library in Bartlett,IL. She is a co-chair for the ILA Membership Committee.
Carrie likes to travel and goes on frequent road trips with her husband. She also enjoys scrapbooking and is working hard to not feel guilty because she’s not “caught up.” Like fellow contributor Justin Hoenke,she likes tattoos,but in her case,some are not simple or little.
Recently, ALA retweeted a tweet that originally came from @FSG_Books. It was a library haiku that read: A library card / is a 100% off / coupon for great books. This is a misconception throughout libraries everywhere. A library card isn’t a 100% off coupon. A library card is a tool that allows users to take advantage of the services and materials that have already been purchased for them. People who use the library and borrow those books have already paid for them. They’re not free books when the people borrowing them have already paid for them.
Many users believe that the services and materials we provide are free. As all library staff knows, this is a misconception. The services and materials we provide are not free. In fact, they are far from it. Librarians work within a budget and use all money provided to us through taxes, tuition, or other means.
Librarians should be challenging our users’ beliefs about the library every day. Let’s start by challenging the belief that library materials and services are free. When users ask, “Is it free?” or “Is there a charge?”, try responding by saying “No, your (tax dollars/tuition/company’s expenditures) have already paid for it.” I bet you’ll be greeted by confused looks. I think users forget that they’ve already contributed to the library with their taxes or tuition. We can encourage library usage by showing people that they can take advantage of something they’ve already paid for.
By Carrie Straka, TTW Contributor