Saturday, January 31, 2009

What I've learned so far...

Well, I've discovered that I really do enjoy this library tech stuff. Good thing *g*.

Acquistions is fascinating - lots of little details to keep in my head. At least my background in a buying office and doing orders for our own company helps a lot when it comes to the mechanics of ordering books, keeping a database of vendors, shipping etc.

Records management is fun - the instructor has a great sense of humour. Now this self-confessed "chaos junkie" just has to put it into practise into her own office!

I really want to apply what I've learned at work and hope that in time I'll get a chance to do just that. As it is, I've been given extra duties off the circ desk, which is really cool.

Hard to believe I'm already at week 5. Back soon with further updates...


Friday, January 9, 2009

It's back to school I go...

Welcome to my alternate blog - here I'll chronicle my adventures in the Library and Information Technology Programme at Langara College. I'm in the Flexible Participation Option and taking all my course work online.

You might be wondering WHY I'm doing this at my age. Well, first of all, I've ALWAYS loved books and by extension, libraries. Second, I have accepted the fact I may NOT become a famous published author able to support my dh in the style to which he'd like to become accustomed *g* and third, the flexibility of this programme is perfect for me. Learning online is an option that just wasn't available to me in the early 90s, the last time I was considering going back to school (after I'd decided not to pursue a Ph.D. in History).

Currently I'm working part-time at the Sechelt Public Library, mostly on the circulation desk. Way back in the 80s, I spent eight months as a Library Clerk at the Queen's University Library and before that, a summer working at the National Archives. I've also spent many blissful hours ensconced in various academic libraries and archives researching my novels.

Now, why the Library Tech programme and not the Master's programme? Well, I'll admit flat out, I'm not all that interested in the management side of library work (the thought of budgeting makes my hair stand on end). Heresy to many, I know. What I enjoy is the interaction with the public and hope to gain enough experience to work on the Reference Desk (at our library, Library Techs do staff the Reference Desk). I'm also interested in cataloguing and records management - things that fall on the technical side that aren't the sole purview of librarians. Also, let's be frank, I have a Master's Degree already - in History. Do I really need another degree when this diploma programme will provide me with all the training I need to do the kind of work I want?

This brings me to add my own thoughts to a debate that raged around the internet last spring. I gather I should not, even after I earn my diploma, according to some, ever refer to my self as a librarian.

Hmm. I can actually see both sides of the issue, as presented at the sites above and Information Wants to be Free, however, I also tend to agree with a post over at the effing librarian which states: "if you work in a library in a capacity that makes you feel like a librarian, you're a fucking librarian." In addition, I will point out something that so far, in reading through the comments, I hadn't noticed. The public doesn't tend to differentiate and really could care less about the credentials of those who help them.

I told my m-i-l that I wouldn't be considered a librarian and she thought that was crazy - I work in a library, so I'm a librarian. She may be stretching things right now, but once I have that diploma and another few years experience, I can see how many library patrons would fail to differentiate between librarian and library technician.

Now, this isn't to say I don't respect the education at the post-graduate level, it's just that I'm not so sure the term "librarian" should be applied only to those who have a specific degree. Interestingly enough, the OED defines librarian as "The keeper or custodian of a library. (This word has supplanted the older library-keeper.)" which made me laugh, given that one of the commenters asked if by merely working in a library made one a librarian, would the custodian then be considered a librarian. Of course, I know the difference, but still got a chuckle.

MW defines a librarian as: "a specialist in the care or management of a library but how does one define "care"?

Part of it for me is just the sheer big mouthful of using the term "library technician" - it's likely to make a lot of people go "huh"? Those in the know understand what the job entails, but even I really wasn't aware until recently and a lot of the jobs done by LTs, I figured were done by librarians (and in many cases, that's still true).

Maybe I'll just stick with the term my husband is using - library lady. *g*

So, if you're just starting out in this field, what made you choose it? If you have experience in it, what aspects of the job appeal to you most? And if you're a librarian with an MLS (or a variation of if) - do you want to throw rotten fruit at me?