Tuesday, April 29, 2014

16 Quotes about Librarians from authors & literature

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

“I'm just the librarian. I can only give you the books. I can't give you the answers.”
Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Neil Gaiman

“Adult librarians are like lazy bakers: their patrons want a jelly doughnut, so they give them a jelly doughnut. Children’s librarians are ambitious bakers: 'You like the jelly doughnut? I’ll get you a jelly doughnut. But you should try my cruller, too. My cruller is gonna blow your mind, kid.”
John Green

“Rule number one: Don't #### with librarians.”
Neil Gaiman

“The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work in a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”
― Seth Godin, The Library Book

“Back before the internet we had a name for people who bought a single copy of our books and lent them to all their friends without charging: we called them "librarians".”
― Charles Stross

“Librarians! Librarians always know how to find out things. That was their job even before the Internet.”
― Susan Beth Pfeffer, This World We Live In

“Librarians understand about power - they know how to find anything.”
― Joan Bauer, Best Foot Forward

“I was under the librarians' protection. Civil servants and servants of civility, they had my back. The would be whatever they needed to be that day: information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, computer technicians, historians, confidantes, clerks, social workers, storytellers, or, in this case, guardians of my peace.”
― Marilyn Johnson, This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

“As a librarian I learned one of life’s great truths: you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to know where to find them.”
― Lucia St. Clair Robson

“Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
And what is that?
I... am a librarian.”
― The Mummy

“Librarians are tour-guides for all of knowledge.”
― Patrick Ness

“If librarianship is the connecting of people to ideas – and I believe that is the truest definition of what we do – it is crucial to remember that we must keep and make available, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, silly ideas, and yes, even dangerous or wicked ideas.”
― Graceanne A. Decandido

“Libraries are like houses of worship: Whether or not you use them yourself, it's important to know that they are there. In many ways they define a society and the values of that society. Librarians to me are the keepers of the flame of knowledge. When I was growing up, the librarian in my local library looked like a meek little old lady, but after you spent some time with her, you realized she was Athena with a sword, a wise and wonderful repository of wisdom.”
― Jane Stanton Hitchcock

All of these quotes were found at GoodReads.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tales of the Roaming Librarian - April 17th.

     I was starting to think we'd reached the point in the semester when there were few reference questions because everyone's gearing up for finals and actually writing the papers. And last week, that theory seemed to be holding true. To my relief, this week turned out differently.

     On Tuesday, I Roamed around the library as I have been; I think I've pretty well fallen into a pattern of what areas I visit in what order. I start on the bottom floor which is actually below the 'main floor' and the front entrance. It was down here that I saw the sub-tabular snoozing student earlier in the semester, so I always keep an eye out for similar schenanigans on the bottom floor. Sadly, I've had no repeats yet.  

      There was a fellow sitting in the reading room who had a book with him that I recognized, so I stopped to talk. Every week I get to put books from the New Book shelves out on a simple display; just to get the book covers turned out where the students will see them. I also include some of the art books from our Oversize book collection, which normally sees little circulation. Anyway, the book I recognized was one I had put out for display the previous week. I decided that this was a good "in" for a conversation, and we got to talking for a while about the book, about his project and the libraries facilities.

      I approached one group of students who were talking and writing animatedly, which seemed like a good bet they were all working on a project. It turned out they were all studying for the same test, in one of the big general survey courses. They had a big timeline which apparently had to be reproduced or properly labeled on the exam. We chatted a while about the class and the professor, whom the students regarded as tough but good. Even though I answered no reference questions, this stop and the one in the reading room were to me profitable interviews; making the case without saying so that librarians are approachable, available, and interested in the students' studies. 

     As I continued on my way, I noted with great amusement two or three other knots of students, holed up in the group study rooms, diagramming the same timeline on the writable walls. As I studied the diagram, one of the students looked up and saw me. I pointed to the diagram, gave a knowing smile, waved and wished her the best with the test.  Her reaction said she appreciated the good wishes. 

     Earlier the week, I was on my way back to the main desk where we store the Roaming tablets, to put it away, when I saw a student was wrangling with one of the catalog computers. It had frozen up (again), so I offered to utilize the tablet to help her find the book she wanted. This turned into an hour long search of the catalog and several databases for information on technological advances in World War One. We camped out in Class U (Military Science) and collected a pile of books before I had to depart for a meeting. The meeting, predictably, was less fun than sitting on the floor in the stacks poring over books. 

     I mention this because today as I was getting the tablet ready to go Roaming, one of our student workers told me very excitedly that this student I had helped lived on her floor; and I had made such an impression with my assistance that I was now her 'favorite librarian'. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it just doesn't get better than that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For Holy Week - Wisdom from the Fathers: St John Cassian

Saint John Cassian
From the Conferences, Conference 1, part 7

“Everything we do, our every objective, must be undertaken for the sake of this purity of heart. This is why we take on loneliness, fasting, vigils, work, nakedness. For this we must practice the reading of the Scripture, together with all the other virtuous activities, and we do so to trap and to hold our hearts free of the harm of every dangerous passion and in order to ruse step by step to the high point of love.

It may be that some good and necessary task prevents us from achieving fully all that we set out to do. Let us not on this account give way to sadness or anger or indignation, since it was precisely to repel these that we would have done what in fact we were compelled to omit. What we gain from fasting does not compensate for what we lose through anger. Our profit from scriptural reading in no way equals the damage we cause ourselves by showing contempt for a brother. We must practice fasting, vigils, withdrawal, and the meditation of Scripture as activities which are subordinate to our main objective, purity of heart, that is to say , love, and we must never disturb this principal virtue for the sake of those others. If this virtue remains whole and unharmed within us nothing can injure us, not even if we are forced to omit any of those other subordinate virtues. Nor will it be of any use to have practiced all these latter if there is missing in us that principal objective for the sake of which all else is subordinate.”

page image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cassianus.jpg

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt on Athletics, Study and Character

From a letter labeled “A Preaching letter”
to his son Kermit; Oct 2, 1903
    “I was very glad to get your letter. Am glad [sic.] you are playing football. I should be very sorry to see either you or Ted devoting most of your attention to athletics, and I haven't got any special ambition to see you shine overmuch in athletics at college, at least (if you go there), because I think it tends to take up too much time; but I do like to feel that you are manly and able to hold your own in rough hardy sports. I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I could a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess; and I believe you and Ted both bid fair to develop just such character." 

image source: Wikimedia Commons

Bonus: as a reminder, this is PRESIDENT Roosevelt writing these letters.

From a letter labeled “Japanese Wrestling”
To his son Kermit; March 5, 1904
    I am wrestling with two Japanese wrestlers three times a week. I am not the age or the build one would think to whirled lightly over an opponent's head and batted down on a mattress without damage. But they are so skilful that I have not been hurt at all. My throat is a little sore, because once when one of them had a strangle hold I also go hold of his windpipe and thought I could perhaps choke him off before he could choke me. However, he got ahead.”

To his son Ted, April 9, 1904
    “I am very glad I have been doing this Japanese wrestling, but when I am through with it this time a am not at all sure I shall ever try it again while I am so busy with other work as I am now. Often by the time I get to five o'clock In the afternoon, I will be feeling like a stewed owl, after eight hours' grapple with Senators, Congressmen, etc. ' then I find the wrestling a trifle too vehement for mere rest. My right ankle and my left wrist and one thumb and both great toes are swollen sufficiently to more or less impair their usefulness, and I am well mottled with bruises elsewhere. Still I have made good progress, and since you left they have taught me three new throws that are perfect corkers.”

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Something is afoot at Deep in the Stacks

I've decided it time to make a change. I have greatly enjoyed the experience of blogging here at Deep in the Stacks, the challenge of finding material, of composing my thoughts, of resisting the temptation to be super self conscious about whether I'm getting readers or not. I don't want to give that up. 

Wait for it . . . 

So I'm not going to. What I am going to do is start a second blog. Now there will be two times the fun! Deep in the Stacks is not going anywhere, but I'm going to move most of my game-related and all of my Traveller related stuff to a new blog which will be about just that. I got some good advice recently about trying to cover too many bases. I enjoy writing about being a librarian; I enjoy writing about Traveller; I enjoy writing about Orthodoxy and its intersections with my job and my hobby. Starting soon, I'm going to be writing in two different places, which I hope will enable me to expand my writing about both.

Update, 4/11/2014
The new site is up! It will need some additional tweaking, but we are off and running. Several of the gaming-related posts have already disappeared from Deep in the Stacks and are now to be found at:

Ancient Faith in the Far Future

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tales of the Roaming Libarian April 3rd

Zeus, Odin and Confucius walk into a bar . . .
I have no idea what the punchline to such a joke might be, but somewhere there must be one. As I was Roaming today, I helped a student find his way to the mythology section (subclass BL). His English class writing assignment was to write a short story, and he decided to look to classic myths for some inspiration. 

We looked for Greek, Norse and Chinese mythology (and I suggested he check out Tolkien's mythology) and I can't say I'm surprised that we had more books analyzing these myths that we had books of the myth stories themselves. Still, we found a few collections of tales that could suffice to get him started. He seemed satisfied and I left him to select his stories.

Also on my Roaming adventure, I stopped to chat with a student who was studying flash-cards, and he told me he was learning Japanese from another student. We have many Chinese and Korean students, but few from Japan. Our modern languages department teaches Chinese, and we have a sizable Korean student group, but few students from Japan, so when  I took the student with me to investigate our Japanese language holdings, I was not much surprised to find that the PL 500-600's were pretty thin. Even without classes in the language, it seems to me that we should have at least a bilingual dictionary or two for a major language; so I promised the student that I would order some.He mentioned that he has plans to go to Japan to teach, and I recommended that he check the history section (Subclass D_ ) to gain some understanding of Japanese culture. I have long said that if you don't understand the past, you cannot understand the present. If he wants to meaningfully interact with modern Japanese society, he should have some knowledge of how it got to be the way it is. This is not a value judgement on Japan, just the truth that all societies develop organically, responding to events and movements from within and without.

While I was in the reading room, someone once again asked me to pose for a photo. 
Sure they did. This is Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress at the turn of the 20th century

      It occurred to me after these two encounters that part of the broader point of Roaming the library is to learn what it is that the students want. I think it is unlikely for a student to approach one of our service desks and make a book request uninvited. We have a form on our web page where students/staff can request books, but it is hardly something we advertise heavily. A student would have to think to themselves "gee, I wish the library had this book I want to read" and then go to the web site and find the link. Possible, but not likely.
     However, with the librarians making the first contact while our Roaming, the students have an opening to make these requests. I will incorporate into my plan for interaction with students to ask them 'what books/resources do you know of that we don't have?'

Right while I was typing up that last sentence another idea came to me. I should have a plan for what I'm going to say, in general, when I interact with students while Roaming.
We can develop a sort of script, which should include:
  • an 'elevator speech' about why we are Roaming
  • why I stopped to speak to them in particular
  • I should know the collections well enough to tell them “books on that are found here, here and here”
  • a few questions to prompt conversation
  • the trusty 'are you finding what you're looking for?'
  • what do you think of the (area where they are studying)?
  • Mention a resource that will be helpful to study of the subject
  • a good closer/exit line; which will include how to gain assistance in the future – LibChat, email, the various service desks.
    I am surprised by how much these blog posts have helped me with the Roaming Librarian program.