Archive for August 2006

Vacation, All She Ever Wanted

Well, we’re leaving this morning to visit my parents… everyone wish me luck on a cross country flight with Mr. Preschooler!

While I’m gone, though, here’s something to ponder (sound on):

Creepy or fascinating?

If you get tired of chatting with her, does this ever happen anywhere you work (video warning)?

And, if you’re a geek like me, you’ll probably get a kick out of at least a couple of these Star Trek Inspirational Posters.

Down the Tubes

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Where'd My Internet Go?
Where’d My Internet Go?,
originally uploaded by lib_rachel.

My Internet was finally delivered at the children’s museum today!

LJ, Today

It’s a good thing I signed up for LJ Express, because otherwise I never remember to check the site for new issues. If you, too, need a reminder about today’s, let me sum it up briefly:

  1. Roy Tennant, as always, ROCKS.
  2. Huh? “The presence of a beloved book in our hands has no virtual equivalent. It should not come as a surprise, according to one study, that depression levels rise with the more time people spend chatting online (“Now, We’re Just Like Them” – William H. Wisner).” I don’t know about you guys, but I’m re-energized every time I come out of a chat with a distant friend or colleague.
  3. Who writes these titles?
  4. Go Francine Fialkoff! “I’m tired of those who not only don’t hear one another but don’t want to, from the critics on staff to the directors and boards. I’ve had it with older, and younger, librarians who see the world through myopic generational glasses and who think their way—whether it’s all technology all the time or all classics and classic services all the time—is the only way.”

Yes, I do write for LJ — but even if I didn’t, it’s still sometimes worth wading through the blinking ad-heavy craziness to see what’s going on.


A few months ago in Utah, I presented on “The Cross-Generational Library Workforce” to a lovely group of librarians at the annual ULA conference. (As an aside, it’s really very cool to visit different states’ conferences and see the dedication that goes into putting these events together!) Out of curiosity, I started looking around at the proceedings and schedules from other recent library conferences, and found that many of them had one or more programs addressing topics like the multigenerational library workplace, next generation librarians, and how libraries can reach out to Millennials. Generational issues appear to be on the minds of librarians everywhere.

What’s interesting is that, despite the hype, a lot of us view generational issues as completely irrelevant — if not downright insulting. I think part of the problem here is the tendency of generational commentators to speak in grand sweeping absolutes, but that it makes more sense to work from two simple premises:

1) Our generation in one way or another affects our outlook and expectations
2) Our generation in one way or another affects the way others view us

1) Our generation in one way or another affects our outlook and expectations

My preschooler embodies many of the reasons I believe that generational issues are important to think about. Getting ready for a garage sale recently, I pulled out an old box of cassette tapes (and priced them at $.25/each — not a great ROI on those!). My son asks: “What are those?” So, I explain they play music, dig up a cassette player to show him, and he wants to hear a song again. So, I start rewinding. He’s totally baffled. “Just play it now, mom!”

I can’t help but think that a childhood of instant gratification is going to affect his expectations and behavior. He doesn’t know that TV shows have schedules. He doesn’t know that you used to have to wait to develop photos. He doesn’t know that popcorn didn’t always come out of a microwavable bag and that most toys didn’t use to have batteries and buttons.

I have a brother who is much younger than I am. He rarely uses the phone. He rarely uses e-mail. He communicates extensively through MySpace, and expects that we keep up with him that way. I spend a couple hours each day in IM. I find myself losing contact with people who don’t use e-mail.

Note that I didn’t say that our generation defines our outlook and expectations. None of us grows up in a bubble, though; we’re each exposed to the culture and events and technology and general zeitgeist of our times. Sure, data isn’t the plural of anecdote, but how we grow up can’t help but affect us.

2) Our generation in one way or another affects the way others view us

I’ve been in on interviews where my co-questioners made blatant assumptions about someone’s level of technological expertise based solely on the apparent age of the person being interviewed. I originally became a systems librarian partially because of an institutional assumption that, as a young, recent grad, I was inherently more familiar with technology.

When I surveyed people for The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide, I got some amazing comments, ranging from: “Boomers need to retire already and let us get on with it; they’re too stuck in their ways and can’t deal with change” to “Younger librarians have no work ethic and no understanding of librarianship; all they can do is push buttons and they’re lost when the network goes down.”

Yes, counterproductive. Yet it behooves us to be aware of the stereotyped views others may have of us based solely on our chronological age or generation: we can’t combat what we’re unaware of.

If anything comes out of this outpouring of generational programs and presentations, I hope it’s an awareness of our underlying assumptions and of the necessity to combine our diverse skills, strengths, and generations to work together productively in a 21st century library.

Sunday Randomness

One of the things I truly value about the net is the way it enables serendipity, so here’s some Sunday randomness.

First, a couple of comics. One for the cat (or anti-cat) people, and one for anyone who has ever dealt with AOL.

Then, even if you don’t have kids, check out the podcasts at Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. Some truly great playlists here.

Lastly, I really do need one of these laptop sleeves, although I’m envisioning it causing some kind of snafu at airport security!

Valuable Time

I’ve been trying to catch up on some online reading this weekend. While not all of it has fully percolated through my head, some recent news and discussions seem to belong together. So, I’ll work some of it out here, and let you draw your own conclusions about the rest.

First, while watching the perennial discussion about the sad state of librarian salaries crop back up on NEWLIB-L, I ran across a link to the Feminist Career Center from the Feminist Majority Foundation. The site is in itself interesting, but browsing the ads there, when you can find a non-intern one that actually lists a salary, helps put things in perspective. (You can be a “citizen outreach director” and recruit, train, and supervise a staff of 10-40, starting at $23,750-$25,250 — and I’d guess they’ll find people happy to do it.)

Meanwhile, Jessamyn West comments on success over at, quoting Seth Godin as saying: “I do things where I actually think I’m right, as opposed to where I think succeeding will make me successful. When you think you’re right, it’s more fun and your passion shows through.”

It’s all good when what you feel is right and what benefits your profession and your career dovetail. So, then, points to an article from the Economist on “why do economists spend valuable time blogging.” You’d figure that economists have this opportunity cost thing down, so there has to be something to it.

We all need to figure out how best to spend our own valuable time, and determine what percentage of that value needs to be monetary, at what point in our careers. Today, I’m spending some of my valuable time in Bloglines. Thanks for spending some of your valuable time reading my half-formed thoughts!

August 4 Friday Shorts

Sometimes I’m unsure if I randomly run across articles on certain topics because they’re on my mind, or whether certain topics are on my mind because of some larger trend that’s generating bunches of articles. So, I thought I’d share a couple with you as well.

First, this is generating some interesting discussion on my moms’ board, and I thought it was apropros to link here in light of recent conversations: “Homeward Bound” on American Prospect Online talks about “elite women” (we won’t go there) making the choice to stay home with children rather than work in “elite jobs.” (Some links to additional articles on the subject, as well.) The Chronicle of Higher Education chimes in with a view from academia in “Finding a Parent-Friendly Place.

For something completely different: “Advice for Authors” over at Seth’s Blog talks to those interested in publishing a book, and wannabe managers and change agents should check out T. Scott’s recent post on “Decision Making.