Friday, May 31, 2013

evolution of the library: using books

Librarian Job Seekers: RUN!

I know you've seen the library job posts seeking dynamic energetic trendspotting trainspotting spotty-bottomed socially-networked fun daring crunk super-powered candidates to bring new and fantastic ideas to the hiring organization.

And you probably thought that you might apply.

But I say, DO NOT.

The answer should be a simple question asked to the advertising library: Why the fuck don't you have any of those people at your library now?

Why does this library need dynamic people? Are the current ones sloths? Are those sloths still living in the 1950s?

This is what I expect with happen when you get that job:
YOUR NEW BOSS: Here are some more push pins and JCPenney catalogs for the library's Pinterest account. Make sure you pin lots of nice stuff.

YOU: It doesn't work like..

YOUR NEW BOSS: Let me know when you need more pins.
YOUR NEW BOSS: How come our library Twitter account doesn't have one million friends yet? That Kutcher boy got a million in just a few days.

YOU: The library has over 7,000 followers. That's very good for a library serving a population of 10,000.

YOUR NEW BOSS: Oh, is it now?

And YOUR NEW BOSS will think you suck. Because YOUR NEW BOSS never had a fucking clue about what YOUR NEW BOSS wanted or needed or what to expect from any new librarian.

Don't you wonder about a library that seems so desperate to post a job description like that? What it tells me is that everyone is way past retirement age and the ones doing the hiring are totally clueless. Like they want a librarian, you, to come in and make up for the last 30 years of all those employees who clung to the belief that computers were just a fad and if they just sat quietly at their desks and never touched theirs, they would never need to. And it will be your job to get them into the 21st century in a week-and-a-half. Why would you want to try to clean up that mess? Who wants to be the sole excited dynamic fun librarian in a crowd of fossils? You will be miserable.

Or worse. And this is worse. That you will be part of a group of young librarians who are all super dynamic and full of energy and who stab each other in the back for a tiny sliver of the library's paltry book and supply budget, and that you'll go broke buying Carmex for all the ass you'll have to smooch just to stay in the game.

Either way: RUN.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Data, data. Who's got the data?

Not only do you not own your data, you don't want to.

It was while wearing my peril-sensitive sunglasses that I understood the current consumer trend toward privacy being SEP (Somebody Else's Problem).

When I put on my sunglasses, or specifically, the Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, they were already black. I moved to another room, yet still the lenses remained totally darkened. I removed them and saw no tiger nor vampire nor Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

It took that instance to make me realize that my temporary blindness caused by my glasses was directly related to the constant peril that is all around me. But what was it that was so potentially perilous?

After some experimentation, my current theory is that it's "the cloud."

Cloud Computing isn't that scary in small bits, such as your email account. But the cloud as the standard delivery model for all computer services is what is terrifying. But that is what consumers, what you (and I), have already chosen.

So let me explain the horror since you obviously can't, or you choose not to, see it.

The cloud is like having a bank account. You put something somewhere, in this case money in a bank, and the bank sends that money off as loans to individuals, other banks, etc. The money is gone. It only exists as data that shows how much money you should be able to withdraw if the bank had that cash on hand. But really, the money is both gone and not gone. You never know whether there is any money at all in your bank. But to keep everyone from freaking out, the FDIC guarantees your money is somewhere and you should be able to get it back if something happened to the bank.

But what about other cloud products? What about email? Is it safe? This is probably the first cloud product each of us had. There isn't much you can do without an email account.

But have you ever lost access to an email account? I see someone every week who loses access to his email because he forgot his password or forgot security questions or didn't set up an alternate email. Does anyone insure this access? No. When the cloud fails, there is no backup. I guess you could export everything someplace else, but who does that?

In order for the cloud to function, you need to trust it completely. Give it access to all your other cloud accounts and let it back up your terrestrial data.

And once that happens, is your data still your data? What are the terms of service for all these clouds?

When everything is on your phone and each app on that phone is tied to a different cloud service, what happens to all your data? What do they do with it (them)? And WHO are THEY? Isn't it easier to just let them have your data and do whatever the hell they want? 

Do you really want to know? I mean, do you really really really want to know?

Of course not. And the sunglasses go black.

all italicized references copyright Douglas Adams, RIP.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buying an MLS, Part II

How Broke Would You Be with Library Certification?

People argue every year about the MLS, that it doesn't teach what it should, or that it costs too much, or that it's unfair to people who don't have time to get it or are too lazy to get it or are too stupid to get it or are too drunk to get it, or that it doesn't stand for Major League Soccer.

So as a reference, I took a brief look at what it takes to become a certified Library Media Specialist in the state of New York.

First, there is all this shit:
Requirements for Permanent Certificate, School Media Specialist (Library)
Following are all possible pathways available to receive the certificate specified above. The specific requirements to satisfy each pathway are also listed. 
 Pathway: Certificate Progression
 Hold a Valid Provisional Certificate - School Media Specialist (Library)
 Additional Education - Masters Degree
 Paid, full-time Classroom Teaching experience - 2 Yrs
 Workshop - Child Abuse Identification
 Workshop - School Violence Intervention and Prevention
 Fingerprint Clearance
 Citizenship Status - INS Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship
Well, I don't remember exactly what it took to get my MLS, but I don't remember any 2 yrs of paid library experience or Library Violence Intervention workshops or even getting fingerprinted. I just showed up at the back door of the library and two weeks later, I picked up a check.

And after all that, there's this:
If you are employed in a New York State public school…
You must complete 175 hours of professional development every five years. This maintains the validity of the Professional certificate and allows you to continue to teach. The first professional development period begins on July 1 following the effective date of the certificate.
175 hours? That's longer than it took for James Franco to drink his own pee and saw off his arm. So that extra 48 hours might have me also sawing off my own foot.

And then there's testing, the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations. The one for Media Specialist will certify that you (0001-0005 and others omitted)
0006 Understand types and characteristics of print, nonprint, and electronic resources.
0007 Understand types and characteristics of literature for children and young adults.
0008 Understand issues and procedures related to collection development.
0011 Understand how to locate and access resources and how to teach these skills to students.
Now I'll stop here. Because 0011 would kill me. Because, yes, although I understand how to locate and access resources, I have not a fucking clue on how to teach these skills to library patrons who don't have more than 15 seconds of free time and who don't listen to what I say and who are probably hallucinating that I'm some talking moose there to steal his gold.

I can't imagine all the shit a public librarian would need to know for certification:
0001 Understand types and characteristics of library patrons, including loonies, crazies, smellies, normals, babies, seniors and tweens.
0014 Understand types and characteristics of portable reading devices such as Kindles, iPads, iPhones and Androids and Chinese knockoffs of all of the above.
So when you complain about the expense or relevance of the MLS, think about what it might be like to work in a career with continual professional requirements.