Thursday, 30 June 2011

Satisfying Curiosity

Unconventional Responses to Conventional Questions

“What’s an MLS?”

            It’s a master’s in library science. What’s that? Well you see, the creation of library buildings is a complex science that involves taking into account not only the weight of books, but the appropriate air quality needed to maintain the integrity of the books. We also consider what is required for optimal lighting – too bright, and you get a hostipal-like quality, too dim and it is conducive to sleeping, which we really don’t like to encourage. We work closely with architects and city planners…

“What? You need a master’s degree to become a librarian?”

            Nope. You don’t. However, it is a useful signifier to future employers that you may indeed be qualified to single-handedly run a library – and that’s including all of the library materials, staff, finances, etc. But you don’t need one. Many jobs require that you have an ALA-accredited MLS degree or equivalent degree or experience. But getting the degree not only gives you a good general knowledge of libraries and how they work, but it’s a great way to get involved in the field and network with librarians around the world. Granted, it’s a lot of hoop-jumping and busy-work, but for individuals previously unacquainted with the inner workings of a library, it can be a useful education. Unless you already know how to derive dewey decimal numbers, promote information literacy, and answer the age-old question, "Is the antelope a document?"

“Aren’t librarians going to become obsolete?”

Your mom didn’t think so last night! (Zing!)


…when I catalogued her entire Danielle Steel collection. No really, it took all night. That woman needs a new genre.

"I really like books; should I become a librarian?"

            Yes. But first you must seek therapy for bibliomania (an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the collecting of books) or abibliophobia (fear of running out of things to read). Then you can get a referral from your doctor indicating that you should enter an MLS program.

I tend to answer questions like these in a manner suiting the individual asking me. If I’m asked in a condescending manner, I’m not going to dignify your question with a legitimate response. But sometimes I just like to be sassy. With a little creativity, even the most most asinine and repetitive questions can become fun!

Comic from Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Power Trip

For those of us nerdy enough to go to library school but bad-ass enough to bend the rules a little, the idea of fudging return dates or waiving overdue fees is down-right titillating. Because when it comes down to it, librarians are humans, to err is human, and well, sometimes life gets in the way and we don’t return our books on time. Or DVDs. With late fees averaging at $1 a day. Yikes.

Even George Washington has overdue fines.

Don’t mistake me; I’m not trying to promote returning your materials willy-nilly because of the amazing power available to you. Cheating the system is dishonest. But just knowing that you could, if you wanted to, is enough to thrill you (well, me) from the top of my head down to the tips of my toes. You know, the toes that are hiding in stripy socks and curly-toed shoes √† la the Wicked Witch of the West.

But you don’t need to get an MLS degree to avoid library fines - I mean really, all you’d have to do is get in tight with your local librarian, and perhaps ply them with sugar or unbeatably good book recommendations. Speaking of fun patrons, they’re something of a grey area. Sometimes those lovely, lovely patrons have a legitimate excuse, and only owe about $0.25, and it’s not that big of a deal to you or your library, and really you just want to feel like a benevolent dictator, so you let it slide. Can you feel your karma points going up?

And maybe, a little kindness (granted, at the expense of your library) would prevent patrons from trying this sneaky and underhanded tactic. Although, I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty genius. However, apart from accumulating major amounts of bad karma points, you would be robbing the library of a chance to improve – something that is beneficial for the entire community, yourself included.

I enjoy having power. Choosing whether to use it for good or for evil is a daily battle that makes my job worthwhile.

The Annoyed Librarian, Justin the Librarian, and Daniel Sifton offer a few alternative ideas on the topic of library fines. 

Because none of us want to be perceived like this: 

First comic is from Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes' comic Unshelved, and the other is from Justin the Librarian's blog.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Librarians are Kind of Like Lady Gaga

Librarians are fun. Even superstars know this. In a recent article, Lady Gaga calls herself a librarian of glam culture and she says it like it's a good thing! Granted, cataloguing makes my brain melt, and telling people where the bathroom is doesn't exactly stimulate those little grey cells. But Lady Gaga knows where it's at.

There's something about preserving history, or having access to knowledge, or interacting with people as an intermediary between their needs and the ever-expanding world of information... that is downright glamorous, when you think about it.

However, as the Annoyed Librarian pointed out, Lady Gaga is not a librarian. The woman can sing, but she does not have an MLS degree. She doesn't even wear comfortable shoes. In fact, she kind of strikes me as the kind of gal that would leave a book face-down and open on a table in lieu of a bookmark. *Shudder*. Librarian or not, Lady Gaga does ask readers, "Where are your library cards?" and that is definitely a statement I can get behind.

Besides, sometimes librarians are Lady Gaga: Librarians do Gaga. (Or maybe we're just as deluded as she is.) I don't even need 6 years of post-secondary schooling to be Lady Gaga. In fact, all I need is this instructional video and a little bit of rhythm, and voilà! "Bad Romance" becomes "Bad Patrons":

I want your money, I want your due fees,
You want our everything, as long as it’s free,

I want your loans, loans loans loans
I want your loans.

Je veux tes livres et je veux tes romans

I want you banned, banned, patrons…
It's not every career that makes you feel like a star. Like celebrities, we have to generate the right kind of publicity, garner support, and send out positive messages. I'm glad that librarianship offers a chance to be creative and quirky, all while asking the age-old question: Where your library card at?

Thanks to The Daring Librarian for the Gaga photo, and to Love and Lables for the shoe shot.