Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Library Writing Blog

One of my co-workers shared this blog with me today. I can totally see how just looking at it might inspire me to start a writing project one of these days! Well... I have to publish in order to keep my job but that's a whole 'nother post, folks!


Library Journal recently published an editorial about the false "graying" of the library profession and how hard it is for new graduates to find jobs.

We here at Klub Katalog are relatively lucky because most of us have jobs. However, we have many friends and classmates who are still struggling to find permanent placement in a library.

This issue is multi-faceted and we've all spent hours dissecting each and every factor of the current state of libraries. In brief moments of darkness I think we all feel lied to and I personally have tried to decide if I think it is actually unethical for library schools to keep bringing students in, especially when there are problems with the perceived time on campus and online for classes.

All this to say that I don't think anything is going to change soon. Yes, we all have those ancient staff members who appear to be at death's door, but they really don't show any signs of stopping in the near future. Jobs are going to continue to require at least three years of experience and they are possibly going to become more specialized AND expect a more robust skill set from applicants.

I hope I can keep a positive attitude to my fellow librarians, to library students and to my grad school (who undoubtedly expects us to contribute money and PR). I really do love this profession and I do think it will get better, it just takes time.

To all of you still looking, don't give up! Your day will come, though you will be exhausted at the end of your journey. Here are some things I found out during my job search:
  1. You have to decide which is more important: geography or having a job. According to the lists I subscribe to, there are actually jobs out there, they're just in seemingly random places. It may not be your dream to live in Utah, but if you're serious about being employed, you should apply. Having to choose between being near family/lovers/pets or taking a job is sort of a nice problem, because it means you have people in your life that you love and who love you back and want you to stay. Making the decision to stay in a specific area will not kill your job opportunities, but it probably will make your job search an even longer process.
  2. Get library experience any way you can. We are competing with out of work librarians with years of experience. Maximize your resume and your skill set by volunteering in a library on a regular basis during your job search. Though academic, public and special libraries differ in a lot of ways, they all share many of the same elements: circulation, tech services and programming. Shelving books and/or helping with storytime at your local library still looks good on a resume and will probably help you in the future, even if you don't stay with public libraries. Being familiar with circulation, program execution and patron relations is always a good idea. I've seen lots of great people wonder why they're not getting calls back when their only experience is an internship; you have to get experience any way and anywhere you can.
  3. Sell yourself. Sell yourself hard. Applying for jobs is just like cold calling; it can be awkward and horrible, but it can also yield big results. Have a few friends or colleagues look over your resume to look for content or style errors. Maybe your font is too small; maybe you have too much content. Your friends love you, so sometimes their gentle correction is easier to take than that of career services. Ask friends or family to help you with interviewing and/or approaching potential employers. You need to be able to tell people why you are best for the job and provide convincing answers and arguments for yourself when they ask questions. Practice in the mirror if you have to: "Hi, I'm Yogurt Moon and I'd love to talk to you about the position you have available. I think your library and I are a great fit and I'd like to discuss this opportunity with you!" It gets easier with time and practice. 
  4. Only use social media if it will truly help you. For a while I thought I'd only get a job if I had a Twitter, a LinkedIn, an uber-professional and sterile Facebook page and a professional blog. Then I realized that wasn't me, relaxed and realized that it's still your personality, personal skills and experience that make or break you. Sure if you're applying to work at Twitter, it would probably help to have an account, but the foundation of libraries are still the classical elements we learned about in school. Fluency in social media is most likely just going to be icing on the cake. Unless you are trying to work at a super-progressive organization or a place that is known for it's Web presence, relax and only use the Web tools that actually help you.
  5. Keep grinding it out. Is there anything more awful than the ups and downs of a job hunt? It's possibly worse than dating because you have to have a job but you don't have to date! Any nibble from an employer makes you want to stop your search immediately and throw any other current applications in the trash. But you have to keep grinding it out until you actually have a job. Things fall through, employers flake and positions get filled in-house and all you get on the other side is maybe an email or a phone call to let you know. 
  6. Decide if you are willing to take a job you don't love to make ends meet. Then decide if you are content with that for now and need to take a break from the hunt. If not, keep filling out applications in the meantime. Just remember not to do it on your work computer using their resources; that's bad form.
Keep your head up. Something will come through and it will be the perfect thing when it finally does. If you can afford it, use this time of unemployment to travel, indulge in hobbies like knitting or writing and savor sleeping in. We all believe in you and we all believe in each other. The profession isn't graying, but all hope isn't lost.

Picture from Library Journal

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great moments for libraries on modern television, Part 2:

"I should've known. People who dress like librarians? All SEX ADDICTS!" -Sue Sylvester on Glee

News Bulletin

So I'm in the second week of the new job and I just found out today that my supervisor gave notice. The good part is she's leaving to join her husband wherever it is that he's going to school so its not like she dislikes the library or some twisty internal politicky(I know, it's not a real word) thingy.

I don't know if this will be a good thing or a bad thing or even a non-issue. Either way it will change the group dynamic at the reference desk. Also, this is something that has never happened to me at a job before and I'll just have to go with it.

At the heart of it all is one of the most important things I've learned at all my various jobs. The people you work with can make dull work fun and hard work easier. When the right combination of personalities and attitudes mix there's a lot to look forward to on your way to work. So I guess this blurb is part: hey guess what happened today and advice for the job searchers...

Monday, October 25, 2010

kopyright konundrum

Everything we learned in library school about copyright has boiled down into a lump of mush in my head, and that lump of mush doesn't like to be bothered. When I try to touch it, it just yells at me: "copyright is complicated! this is the real world, not some theoretical discussion! ask an expert! don't get us sued!"

So, here is what I came up against the other day.

A fairly famous vegetarian restaurant that we all know and love donated its archive to our library. It's great stuff -- menus, photos, artwork, correspondence, a handbook of policies -- and I got to do my favorite part of my job, going through it and pulling out fun little vignettes and stories to try to figure out what would get the media interested in covering the donation and the history of the restaurant.

To tell the story, I'd want to use both direct quotes and images from the collection. Some of the stuff is private and has never been published; some of it was "published" in the sense that it was distributed and made accessible but not in an official way by a publishing company (like a handbook of policies or flyers that were hung up around town); some of it is sort of published in an official way (like drafts of original artwork for a t-shirt design); some of it is definitely published and is still certainly in copyright (like actual pages from cookbooks).

What to do, here? Part of the question is whether we have permission from the donor. The gift policy, which I've heard about but not read myself, apparently does state that we can do what we want with donated materials, but it seems strange not to at least ask (tell?) the donor that we're planning to release things to the public.

Even if we do have explicit or tacit permission from the donor, though... can things that were never officially published be in copyright? What if it's an early version of something that was eventually published in slightly different form? What about personal (non-embarrassing, but still) images of people who are still around and might very well see them, if the publicity thing is successful?

The lump of mush is happy to know that these questions have been submitted to our copyright expert for official guidance and it will not be held responsible, but I think it's interesting/sad/weird/bad that this stuff is so complicated. Not me, or my very smart and experienced supervisor, or the curator of the collection, or the university archivist actually feels confident enough to answer them. I will report back when the expert weighs in.

Soundtrack to Instruction

Have any of you ever tried playing music before or during instruction sessions? Today was the second time I tried it out and students and the professor seem to like it. I suggest putting on Pandora before class starts as the students are coming in, muting it during the instruction session, and then unmuting for the hands-on work time. My favorite channel on Pandora for this is Vampire Weekend but I've also been known to switch it up a bit and put on the Passion Pit or MGMT channels. These channels give a wide variety of music that is upbeat/fun (I wouldn't recommend like the Bright Eyes channel!)

Pandora provides a good variety of background noise while students work. This morning the students knew the bands (Beatles, Miike Snow, Feist) and seemed to enjoy the laid-back environment this type of music creates. If you think about it, putting on music sort of recreates students' relaxed study environment (dorm room, apartment) and takes away the traditional classroom feel. It just takes the edge off of everything and students seem to relax a bit while still staying on task. I recommend trying it out one day! I find the morning classes (8am, 9am) really appreciate it.

I also want people to think I'm cool. And it's totally working. The professor today called me a young, hip librarian. I can go home now because I've achieved my ultimate goal!

Organization charts are nice, but....

In library school, in certain classes especially (scarf woman and the suspender'ed, bearded wonder), we were told that as librarians, we were entering management positions. We needed to make sure that our "underlings" understood their new position. Organization charts are our friends because they would tell us who and how to rule. I have found, within about four hours of my new job that organization charts are really just for the administration to feel as though the library has some order.

In small libraries, like my library, I think organization charts are difficult to construct because each worker wears so many hats. My main job deals with the databases and website, but I also do instruction, reference, circulation, IT trouble-shooting, collection development, and programming (as much programming as there is in an academic library). For some of these different duties, I am the "expert". For others, I answer to another librarian. It really just depends on what the task is. The same is true of the library staff: our cataloger (who doesn't have a library degree) does collection development. Our circulation person does ILL. Where would each of these workers fall on an organization chart?

I need to keep in mind that each person wears multiple hats, so when a cataloger questions my collection development decisions, she is not questioning me as the cataloger, but as my fellow collection developer. Library school was wrong: yes, technically, librarians should be in charge, but that is not actually how it works out in my library.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Time to answer some more fan mail. There have been a lot of questions about what the ladies of Klub Katalog look like. I've culled our yearbooks and found some pics:

Yogurt Moon & Amanda M.







(on the left, not the right)


Bunny Watson

Book Talk: The Night Bookmobile

OK, what did Gwen say about doing this?
  1. A first sentence that summarizes a book's subject (25 words or less);
  2. The takeaway, the most important part of the book, something that can be easily remembered (10 words);
  3. Something you liked or didn't like about the book, which can be as personal or impersonal as you want (one more sentence);
  4. An optional very quick statement about the author (a couple words).

The Night Bookmobile is a lovely, haunting story about a book lover, her life and afterlife. This story reminds us of the power of what we read on our lives (and others'). I loved the twists, turns and dark, mysterious tone of the book; I like that it made me unexpectedly sad. I really like The Time Traveler's Wife, but this book made me want to read The Three Incestuous Sisters before Her Fearful Symmetry!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great moments for libraries on modern television:

Claire: "What about the public library?"
Haley: "I thought that was the bathroom for homeless people."
- Modern Family

"Come for the boobs; stay for the books."
- Saturday Night Live

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

There's a minor problem in my academic library because of a signage failure. Here's the situation: the library has two floors. After 5 pm on weeknights and all day Saturdays and Sundays, users are supposed to check out a laminated access card before going upstairs so that we can track the number of people using the upstairs study space. This is also due to limited evening and weekend staffing; the cards help the staff (1 or 2 people during evenings and weekends) identify how many people are in the building at closing time in order to find them all and make sure they're not in the bathroom when we shut off the lights and lock up. Right now, there's a sign at the foot of the stairs that looks like this:

Actually, I've been trying to take a picture or scan it, but I haven't had an opportunity when no one would see me and think I was nuts, so I'll describe it. It says:

Going up?

Get your
3rd Floor Access Card
at the Check-out desk

*After 5:00 pm Only*
*All day*

Please do not leave your
belongings unattended.

All this is in Comic Sans font, on an 11x17 yellow background with a blue border. There are also a couple of stars and a picture of a clock with the 5 circled.

People don't notice it. If they do, they either don't read it or don't understand it. Working the desk in the evenings requires constant watch over the stairs, to catch people on their way up and ask them to come back to the desk for a card. Part of the problem is that the library is on the second and third floors of a three-story building. Because the campus is on a hill, library users enter the library on the second floor, but it's on ground level with the quad and many of the other academic buildings' first floors. The sign says you need a third floor access card, and many users that I've stopped think they're only going to the second floor, not the third. So there's a communication breakdown here. We've batted around alternatives to signs, like setting up ropes to guide the traffic flow or block the stairs... all of which are fire hazards.

I was thinking a sign like this might be simpler to understand and catch more people's attention.

Then again, it's not exactly the most friendly sign. I went to a conference in June where the keynote speaker asked us to look at our signs and really think about how those signs are "talking" to patrons. Would we say those same things face-to-face? Probably not, since signs and posters have a tendency to bring out the best of our passive-aggressiveness. There's also an interesting article here about library signs, which the author says should be very simple and uniform.

So, fellow librarians, how do we create a welcoming, friendly space while effectively communicating library procedures? And on a more practical note, do you have any ideas for redesigning my stop sign?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

So, background first I suppose...

Like many of the Klub Kat bloggers I am a baby librarian. In fact, I have worked in a library only twice as a shelver in high school and my internship in library school. Second fact, I am probably the most grammatically challenged of our group. (Yogurt Moon correct me. Please.) Sorry.

Despite this, I have my first library job and this was my first day on it. Approximately two weeks ago I was interviewed and offered the job as a reference librarian in the Adult Services department for a county public library in rural North Carolina.

Admittedly I was anxious about the first day at the new job which I dealt with by obsessing over which cardigan to wear (gray with flowers, pink with flowers, hot pink,green, turquoise, dark raspberry...) and painting my toenails (OPI's Absolutely Alice because nothing says I am prepared to deal with the public like bright blue glitter polish). All this angst was a bit unnecessary as I spent the day reading policy manuals and guidelines, filling out paper work and touring the library.

Still, there were a number of things I learned from my coworkers and patrons about life in the public library that day:
  • There's a neat online database our library has that shows you the order of books in a series. Helpful for all those obsessive compulsive readers who must read the series in order (like, um, me).
  • I am to watch out for two types of patrons: persons with less than perfect dental hygiene who wish to marry me and a man who wants some legal documents typed up for him (not to worry, he knows how to sign the judge's name himself)
  • If you need to bury your dead, they must be six feet underground wrapped in a sheet. (Don't worry if the hospital won't release the body directly to you. It can be sent to a funeral home and then turned over to you for burial.)
  • Color prints cost more. (Half price for employees --- same deal with FOL book sales)
  • The 3 and a half inch floppy disc drive can fit $2.50 in quarters. (They also can be retrieved easily by simply tipping the tower.)
While I have yet to test the usefulness of all these facts, the really cool part (other than the fact I get to wear jeans to work) was that paperwork and manuals didn't stop me from feeling that this was where I belong, in the library. Sappy, isn't it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dinner Klub

The members of Klub Katalog are accomplished chefs and we enjoy sharing and making recipes for each other to enjoy. Tonight I made Sara's beef stroganoff, which is Katy's favorite and a good meal for cooler weather.

Beef Stroganoff

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces butter
5 green onions, white parts only
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cans (10.5 ounces) condensed beef broth
1 1/4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 1/4 cans (6 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sour cream
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon white wine
Salt to taste (Kosher is best)
Ground black pepper to taste
Egg noodles, white rice or potatoes
(Recipe scaled to feed 6-8 people)

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into 2 inch long, 1/2 inch thick strips. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

In large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly. Push the beef strips to one side.

Add the onions to the empty side of the skillet and cook slowly for 3-5 minutes. Push to the side with the beef strips.

Stir the flour into the juices on the empty side of the pan (forming a roux). Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring all the bits from the bottom into the sauce. Lower the heat and stir in the mustard.

Combine both sides of the skillet, stirring well, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

5 minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms, sour cream and white wine. Heat briefly, but DO NOT boil. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over noodles, rice or potatoes.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spoken from the dark side

Everyone has been doing such amazing posts that I felt compelled to jump in! As a little bit of background, I went to school with our other bloggers and am just as passionate about libraries, although my personal interests tend to lie in special collections and reference. After graduation though, I ended up at a library vendor company doing customer service. It's not where I saw myself heading, but it's been a good experience so far, and I think I can learn from it. I thought I would share one of the most basic and important things I've learned in a way that might help librarians.

So, we all know that libraries have budget issues. If you're talking to a vendor who doesn't know that, it is not a good vendor because it is completely disconnected from the library world. Library supplies can also be very expensive - I know! I see it every day! Especially if you're doing archival work or book repair, or buying new furniture. It can hurt.

But we can help! The company I work for offers discount codes to many, many groups of customers. If you are with a school or public library or in a state that has a contract or if you buy from us a lot, you might get a discount. Make sure everyone who would do purchasing knows about that - and always ask when you call in if you get a discount! We ask customers if they do, and we'll look them up for you, but only if you call. If you submit a purchase order or if you mail in an order or do it online and don't include it, too bad. The discounts can even include free shipping, which can make a huge difference. Library budgets are too tight to blow money on these mistakes!

And if the discount isn't enough of a discount, or if you're ordering a HUGE amount - especially furniture and book carts, ask for a bid! Most vendors, not just us, will offer a bid, and we will actually give you a bid on anything, even a small amount. It's useful if you need to get a purchase order approved, because it shows exactly how much things will cost. It can also save you money. At this company, at least, we're pretty friendly and we like librarians, and we understand budget problems. We'd rather keep you around than lose you because of a little pricing issue.

I know some people are nervous about haggling, and I understand. This isn't really even haggling - this is just asking what options are available to you. You might find there are more options than you thought!

Library swag is the BEST.

How fortuitous! The geniuses over at Unshelved have unveiled this amazing new t-shirt that totally coincides with the launch of Klub Katalog!

Chrismukkah gifts!

"You're going to be late for work!"

I am a baby librarian as well, but I am also new at the long-term 8-5 employment schedule. I have been in school for the last 18 years of my life. In case you were wondering, 18 years is a long time. So I am having a lot of fun trying to adjust to my new life. Going to bed early isn't so much a problem; I've always been an early-to-bed kind of person. It's getting up in the morning, when it's dark, that is killing me. I live about 2 miles from my job, so I don't really need to get up earlier than seven. Based on how I feel every morning, you would think that I only slept for about 2 hours the night before. I'm not exactly sure why this is. It could be because this is the first time that I have had to be on my game for 8 hours in a row versus the student's schedule of work really hard for a few hours, play really hard for a few hours.

My life really reminds me of that ad (for who knows what) a few years back. This main character's roommate is getting ready for work, while the main character is still asleep. So the roommate comes in and tells the main guy to get up. The main guy says, "No. Take notes for me in class." The roommate says, "Dude, you're going to be late for work." I don't have a roommate, but I definitely have both those scripts running in my head.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

book talks, Pearl-style

Along with a few other Klub Katalog kontributors, I became a card-carrying member of the Cult of the Librarian Action Figure last summer. We took a week-long class on readers' advisory with Nancy Pearl, and she was totally inspiring. The class, more than all the other classes I took combined, changed the way I look at librarianship, and the power of reading, and and librarians' roles in connecting people with books that might challenge and inspire them.

Book talks, she said, are a way to expose your fellow librarians to books that you've read so that they can do better RA -- basically, just have more books on your metaphorical radar so you can suggest them to people. They're also a chance, she said, to push books you love (since that isn't something you're really supposed to do during RA, when you're tailoring your suggestions to people's tastes rather than just blathering on about stuff you like personally).

The talks are often part of staff meetings, and they're supposed to be very short and sweet:
  1. A first sentence that summarizes a book's subject (25 words or less);
  2. The takeaway, the most important part of the book, something that can be easily remembered (10 words);
  3. Something you liked or didn't like about the book, which can be as personal or impersonal as you want (one more sentence);
  4. An optional very quick statement about the author (a couple words).
All of this should be done in less than 90 seconds per book, and ideally should mention a "doorway" -- character, story, language, setting -- that a reader might use to enter the book.

Since my job now is about as far away from RA as you can get while still sitting in a library, and since Klub Kat has vastly expanded my reading horizons in the past, I thought it might be fun to practice doing book talks here. I am notoriously bad at being concise, as this post already suggests, especially when I am enthusiastic about something... I recall an afternoon this summer when I treated my husband to a rambling and incoherent summary of Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply on the way to the airport. Like, I literally told him every single thing I could remember about the book and why it was so great. I don't think he was very excited about reading it after that.

So yeah, I could probably use some practice.

Here is my first one, about Rashi's Daughters, Book 3: Rachel, by Miriam Anton. Ahem.
This book, the final installment in a trilogy, is about the learned youngest daughter of a rabbi named Rashi who wrote famous biblical commentary. It's character-centered historical fiction about Judaism during the French Renaissance and the Crusades' start. I liked the feminist slant of all the books, but the second in the series (about the middle sister, who becomes a midwife and performs circumcisions) is best. The author is a female Torah scholar and includes great historical detail.
It just took me like 15 minutes to write that. Maybe we get faster as we go? Will someone else do this too so I don't feel like a tool? I also just love knowing what all of you are reading, and I want you to describe the romance novels and YA fantasy series I know you're hiding behind your battered copies of Acquisitions, Serials and Collection Development, vol. 152.

Viva la Pearl!

Baby Librarian

I thought I'd give you some information about my short career as a librarian.

My first experience with libraries was my internship at the Library of Congress during the summer of 2009. Holy cow - what an amazing opportunity for a spaz like me. I worked in the U.S. Copyright office under the tutelage of a truly charismatic and caring supervisor. I learned so much about the Library itself, the Library's role and federal employment. I was pleasantly surprised by the tasks I was given, especially because I could actually do them. I have a passion for federal libraries, but it's awfully difficult to become employed by one! Someday I may return to the nation's capital, but for now I'm indulging in my love of public libraries.

My second library job was at a regional library consortium. It gave me a lot of good experience with lobbying on behalf of libraries, but was short-lived due to a packed schedule. To be ruthlessly honest I do not see the value of regional, government-funded library consortia in this day and age. Libraries are most likely to band together themselves without the aid/interference of a third party like a consortium. I fully expect these types of bodies to be nonexistent within the next five or ten years, if not sooner.

The job that truly made me fall in love with public libraries forever was as a Circulation Clerk at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY. To my biased memory and mind, it is the Platonic ideal of a library. It's located in a suburb and is part of a county system, but on a membership basis which gives it more flexibility in regards to funding and hiring. I cannot imagine a greater place for me to learn about libraries.

When I started out I was so terrified of mis-shelving books and feeling like a fool, but by the time I left I was the tyrant of the Circ Desk and truly felt like a real librarian. The Circulation department is truly the engine of the library and the first line of defense and offense for any type of library. I learned the value of good training, concise documentation, a diverse staff and strong technology. The staff is pretty well cross-trained, which is invaluable in my opinion. Why shouldn't librarians help catalog and why shouldn't circ staff help out with programming? Of course we were definitely spoiled by the oodles of library students coming out of Syracuse - having a fresh source like that is a real boon and something I am sorely missing at my current library. I'm sure you'll hear me talk more about FFL in the future.

As for now, I'm an administrator for a rural library system. I guess I'm sort of an assistant director, but not really? I supervise the four branch libraries of our county system and also help with programming at the main branch and anything else my director would like for me to do. Current projects include revving up our Circulation department, getting our branches in tip-top shape and organizing a grant-funded project for the Spring of 2011. I'm still getting settled in and I've had a few disappointments already, but I'm beyond grateful to be here and so pleased to have found a job within the first six months after graduation. And I can't turn my nose up at the fact that I started as an administrator (even if it ends up killing my spirit).

So, yeah. I'm a baby librarian but am quickly moving into my awkward teen years.

Pencil it in

One aspect of my job that really surprises me is how time consuming it is to maintain my calendar. My job duties include:
  • Shifts at a Research Help desk (one-on-one consultations, no appointment necessary)
  • Shifts at the Information Desk
  • Instruction sessions
  • Committee meetings
  • Training
  • Working on stuff in order to get tenure (eek)
  • Eating lunch (por favor!)
Sadly, the university uses a mail/calendar manager from the 1990s so the Research Help and Information Desk calendars cannot be instantly imported into our calendars to point out scheduling conflicts. So, when the shift calendars come out I have to manually create a new "appointment" to designate each shift into my calendar. If there's a conflict I e-mail everyone and ask for a swap. I then have to note the swap in the shared calendar. I just feel like it takes a lot of time. Thankfully, we have an awesome reference/instruction coordinator that assigns us shifts and instruction sessions fairly and takes into consideration our standing commitments - so the issue is purely an outdated technology (is IBM even around anymore?)

I swear I'm busy!

I also keep a paper calendar (National Gallery of Art, whatwhat!) that usually looks a wreck by the end of the week. Call me old school, but I like having the paper calendar to take home with me just in case I want to remember if I need to be in by 9am or if I need to dress up for an instruction session. Don't even get me started on Web access of our calendar/e-mail system. It doesn't even load on my Mac. I've heard rumblings of a switch over to Google but I won't get excited 'til it happens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Kittens to Kats

Thanks to Katy for that most excellent previous post.

For those of you who are new to Klub Katalog, you may be wondering "What does that name mean?" Or "I hope these librarians are single because I'd like to check all of them OUT!"

In response to the thousands of emails I've been receiving about the blog, I thought I'd take some time to answer some FAQs:

Why do you insist on calling yourselves Klub Kat?
It's a funny story that pretty much sums up our Library School experience. We were all in an introductory library class whose main purpose was to waste our time and introduce us to the various types of librarianship. A school media specialist spoke to us one evening and described how the school library meets the needs of students by providing space for clubs and meetings - much like its older sister the public library. This particular librarian had an eager student who wanted to create a club for cat lovers; they would meet once a week and talk about cats, look at books and magazines and pretty much indulge in their cat fancy. The librarian asked the girl what she named the club, to which the girl looked at her and replied, "Club Cat." (Duh.)

From this story, which blew all of our minds and warmed all of our hearts, Klub Kat was born. After that we had a unique way to convey our message of goodwill, librarianship and good times in general. We had a trivia team and actual handmade cat ears to lend our group an air of sophistication.

So Klub Katalog is just a klever way to kontinue Klub Kat, while kombining it with an element of librarianship, the kard katalog?

Wow, you guys are really smart. I bet all of you are hot, taken and employed!
Yes, we are all hot. The great part about Klub Kat is that while we are diverse in background, age, specialization, heritage, ethnicity and beliefs, we are all, in fact, smoking hot.

In regards to relationship status, some are married, some are seriously dating and others are in committed relationships with their pets, DVRs and/or Jake Gyllenhaal. Interested parties should submit a headshot and resume to

You will find throughout the posts on this blog that we are in various stages of employment in varying areas of information and libraries. For those of us who are not employed, tales from the job search are still extremely valuable in this shifting economy and information landscape.

So this Klub Kat in kollege, was it only girls?
It was grad school, not college.

No, we have many members spanning many states. There were a few select gentlemen, whom you can learn more about here and here.

But we're all in the information business and it's extremely satisfying to have such a strong network to bounce ideas and questions off of.

Do you have any ideas for theme parties?
That's a great question and I'm glad you asked. Klub Kat is happy to help you plan your special event. Previous fetes include:
  • Klub Kat Halloween 2008
  • Klub Kat Halloween 2009 (Daria & Friends)
  • Konnichiwa, Kelly (Disney themed)
  • My Sweet Sixteen (Pink & Hello Kitty themed)
  • Dinner Klub
  • Twilight Trivia

I'm thinking of getting a cat. How many is too many?
Another great question. I feel strongly that two is enough. I'm also partial to chinchillas and ferrets. Be sure to have plenty of space and plenty of CLEANING SUPPLIES like Swiffers, vacuums and air fresheners.

And don't forget to find your pet at your local shelter!


Does anyone else get super excited for students/patrons when you see the assignment they will be working on? I do. And I have a feeling I am super nerdy for it. At the university I work at all freshmen have to take a ENG100-type class. The assignment that we do research instruction for is called the Argumentative Synthesis Assignment. Students get to pick topics which can be a movie, an album by a particular artist/music group, a TV show, or a controversial topic in their field/major. They then have to find two articles that discuss the topic and synthesize the views in the articles with their own views. Isn't that COOL?

The examples I use in my instruction sessions are Twilight, Jersey Shore, and Britney Spears "Oops I Did It Again." Obvi I just got a little excited about the assignment so I used examples that I personally would use if given the assignment. I also chose them because I can highlight phrase searching ("jersey shore") and of course those Boolean operators. I tell them to think of their search for reviews as a formula: "Topic" AND review. We have them use Academic Search Complete which has some pretty stellar features.

Screenshot of my handout (upper portion)

Yesterday I observed a session done by my supervisor. This particular class was designated as one that had a tutor, which I assumed meant the students might be less engaged or have more trouble with the material. In fact, the students were super energetic, knew what was going on, and actually seemed excited about their topics. One student was going to do the movie Juno and discuss a possible pro life stance of the film (oh, did I mention I work at a Catholic university?) Another student was going to do The Godfather and it's depiction of the Italian family unit. I probably freaked them out a bit because I sort of hovered because I was intrigued. A previous class of mine had students that wanted to do movies like The Hangover, Billy Madison, and Pineapple Express... which is fine, but they weren't really thinking about the scholarly approach like this class was. Lesson learned: don't judge a class by a label created by the registrar/university. The class dynamics could actually be really awesome and make for a really great instruction session. Oh, and a chance to really geek out about combining scholarly research and pop culture makes work really fun.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Klub Katalog is a shared blog among recent graduates, "Klub Kat," of a Library and Information Science Masters degree program. The blog will provide a public forum for us all to discuss what it's really like being relatively new to librarianship. Recipes, movie/book reviews, and live-blogging of televised award shows have their place on here too!

So enjoy, Klub Kat and Klub Kat fans. I wuv woo.