Today I experienced my first defeat as a Library Director. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I was not defeated by the municipality, the library board, my employees, or a patron. It was Mother Nature who did me in!
For the past month, I have been working hard to organize a library promotional/fundraising event to coincide with the popular Tracadie 2-mile swim. This annual event draws a huge number of participants and my idea was to display material from the library that would interest this target group of potential users (books on sports training, nutrition, biographies of athletes, health issues, etc). In order to promote our library network’s “Adopt-a-book” fundraising program, I also put together a comprehensive Wish List of specific titles to purchase for the collection for which people could donate money in return for an Ex Libris with their name in the adopted book. My summer student workers made a beautifully designed sign with the motto “Make a Splash your Library” and one of the board members had volunteered to come help out. I was so excited about my first attempt of fundraising and promoting the library at a community event to people who might not necessarily already be library members.
Despite all this preparation, Mother Nature had different plans. The swimmers were supposed to start at 1pm this afternoon and I was going to set up at the community centre where participants and spectators would meet afterwards for a meal and the prize ceremony. However, this morning the heavy rains and wind created water conditions that would have been unsafe for the swimmers and so the event was cancelled.
I obviously applaud the event organizers who came to this decision based on the security of the participants. Although I was still very disappointed when I realized that my work to create highly targeted promotional material would go unused. I might have reacted a bit dramatically when I found out it had been cancelled but I should have remembered that organizing library events and activities is always a risk. What if you put a lot of work into an event and no one shows up? What if you invest time and money into hosting a guest speaker who turns out to be boring? I don’t regret the time I put into organizing the library’s presence at this event. If it had worked out, I’m confident that we would have raised a lot of money and awareness for the library. I will try to think up a way to recycle this idea, even if it does mean waiting until next year’s edition of the Tracadie 2-mile swim.
What about you? Any horror stories of event planning that went awry? How did you attempt to save the day?
Reading library news from the United States can be flat-out depressing. Despite awesome stories of libraries working to better serve the public, one cannot ignore the incessant news of budget cuts and library closures. I have read one too many blogs and subsequent comments that lament the lack of career opportunities for librarians especially recent graduates. Since I know tons of grads who were able to find librarian jobs with relative ease in Canada, I wondered how different the job market must be on the American side of the border. Yet, last year I had many American classmates who found awesome library jobs in the U.S.A. quickly after graduating and in two cases, people had job offers before they had even technically graduated in April.
Well, now a friend of mine and fellow SIS grad 2010 who moved back home to the States after graduation has just announced that he has been offered the position of Library Director at a public library in Maine. I am so proud of him! Way to go Luke! McGill grads dominate the job market even in the U.S.A!
My heart honestly goes out to the countless librarians who have lost their jobs due to budget cuts and library closures. Yet reading all the bitter comments regarding the lack of jobs, I can’t help but wonder how much having a negative attitude has influenced these librarians’ ability to secure an awesome position. Something to think about for all you die-hard pessimists…
Anyways, good luck to everyone who is currently in search of a job. For those of you presently in library school or for those contemplating studying library and information studies, do not let all these reports mislead or discourage you. There are awesome jobs awaiting you after graduation, you just have to work for them and maintain a positive attitude. So congratulations to all the members of class 2010 who are prime examples of how realistic it is to find a librarian position so soon after graduation.
Yesterday, a librarian friend sent me the link to a blog post asking me what the story was behind my photograph being posted on an author/poet’s blog. I immediately went to the blog post which was entitled “The Irrepressible Miss Halfpenny“. Surprised yet flattered that someone would be writing a post about me without my knowledge, when I saw the post and the photograph I was in shock. I read the post describing a librarian Miss Halfpenny and when I looked at the picture it was me, but it wasn’t me. In fact, the only way that I was certain it was not me was because I knew that I had never worn a dress resembling the one the photographed girl was wearing. So I have found my doppelgänger who also happens to be a librarian and has the same name as me! The universe is such a crazy place. What are the odds of there being another young, blond, librarian with the very unusual last name of Halfpenny? I emailed the author of the blog who unfortunately was unable to provide me with much information on the Miss Halfpenny in question. He had come upon her in the park and she was reading a book of poems that he had written so he felt the need to take her photograph. The author of the blog is from Southey, Saskatchewan, so if anyone in the biblioblogosphere knows the identity of this other librarian Miss Halfpenny please let me know! I would love to correspond with her!
The past two years in library school I have fallen into a rather “techy librarian” group. I’ve been greatly influenced by local librarian friends like Amy Buckland, Lora Baiocco and Graham Lavender who all promote web-based technologies and e-resources in an effort to improve and expand on current library services. My involvement in Web 2.You has also allowed me to meet and discuss new technologies in libraries with great minds like Michael Stephens and Michael Porter along with many other engaging thinkers. I even found myself visiting out of curiosity the websites, blogs or Twitter accounts of various libraries to see how they were using the web to reach out to users. I took the only Web Design course offered through the School of Information Studies at McGill in an effort to increase my ability to reach out to users via the web.
The main reason I have been such a huge proponent of Library 2.0 is its attempts to “meet the users where they are”. I have heard so often in the past two years the phrase “we can’t wait for the users to come to the library; we have to go to them”. All this has gotten me very excited about the potential of Web-based technologies in libraries. Then I began as a director of a small library in a more “rural” area. In the past week that I have been directly serving our users, I have realized how far off my expectations were of the average level of the technological literacy of the library users in my new community.
I thought that when it came to the technological divide it was mostly an extension of the generational divide; some older people are still clueless about computers whereas all children are being brought up as members of the NetGeneration. I’ve had two encounters this week with young users (a girl who was probably 18 years old and a guy who was around 25 years old) that has demonstrated the inaccuracy of this theory. These users came in separately but they both were both experiencing the same problem. They wanted to use the library computers to print their C.V.s that had been burnt onto a CD and they were having problems opening the file. I checked and in both cases, the original document had been saved as a “Microsoft Works” file which meant that it was not compatible with the library’s Microsoft Office. I was full of questions: What was Microsoft Works? (I’ve since looked it up) Who still uses CDs for saving files needing regular updates like a C.V.? Apparently the users in my community do. For the girl, I was able to help her by walking her through the steps of connecting to the library’s wireless connection with her laptop, showing her how to resave her C.V. by modifying the type of the document to a Microsoft Word document. I then instructed her how to email the newly saved document to herself so that she could then open it on a library computer to print. She had never created an email attachment and I was happy to be presented with such a teachable moment. So the next day, in comes a guy with the exact same issue. I figured I could handle it again, no problem! However, when I started asking the guy more questions, I realized that it would not be as easy. The guy revealed that he did not have a computer, he had used his sister’s computer to write his C.V. and it wasn’t even clear to me if he had saved a copy of the C.V. to the computer’s hard drive or if it had just been burnt onto the CD. When I suggested that he go back to the original computer, change the type of file and then email it to himself, he informed me that he did not have an email address. A guy only a few years younger than me without an email address? Well didn’t this revelation just rock my world.
Come’on users, didn’t you get the memo? Information is all going to be e-based. For library services you will interact with librarian avatars and follow our tweets to discover new releases and upcoming activities. Ahem, I think that I will need to rethink my Library 2.0 approach with my new library community. I’m not saying that all members of my community are technological illiterate but I think that rather than starting a library twitter account for my library users to follow, I might concentrate my efforts on offering some good old fashion computer workshops like “How to open an email account”. I really like the courses offered by the Milwaukee Public Library. I might use some of their computer class curriculum as a template for developing my own courses. To be continued…