Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Librarians are All Things

I realized today I hadn't posted in a while. I've just been too busy with work, which is always unpleasant. Work should never get in the way of one's blogging.

But a couple of weeks ago I noticed something I meant to post about, so here it is. An article from the Library Journal on "What Boomer's Want" listed all sorts of things libraries can do for boomers. Apparently, librarians can do all things for all people. Among other things, the article claims that "successful library intervention and outreach to single boomer women may spare them from impoverished senior years."

That's certainly a grand claim. I just can't figure out why anyone would believe it. What I'd like to know is, if librarians are so great at saving people from poverty, why are they so unsuccessful at raising their own salaries?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Single boomer women facing impoverished senior years describes most of my coworkers.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm sick of the "boomer" discussions. I'm a boomer, but born at the tail end of it. My concerns and needs are quite different from the boomers that are nearly always described in these types of articles.

Anonymous said...

AL, working on library salaries is serious business. I'm not sure if the ALA-APA is cutting it...

public librarian said...

The public certainly expects public libraries to be all things. We're asked to increase children's programming, increase teen programming, increase seniors programming, and now increase boomers programming...and the patrons demanding these things insist that it doesn't cost any more money to do. And these expectations seem realistic to the public when librarians do more and more programming at the expense of other things. Salary increases and requests for new staff go to the bottom of the budget requests, and staff are working extra, unpaid hours just to get things done. It's the "serve the public" mentality taken to the extreme.

Programming is important, don't get me wrong, and it's not just programming that's straining library resources. I do as much of it as I can myself. But I too often see librarians bending over backwards to offer more and more programming, which of course makes the public think we don't need any more staff and don't need to pay existing staff any more. All they see is an increase in programming, which must mean everything is peachy keen in the library's budget, right?

AL said...

Fortunately for us all, public librarians are saints who do what they do because they want to save the world, not because they're mercenaries who want to be paid well. We salute you!

Kevin Musgrove said...

The single boomer women taking advantage of our library's facilities will be the ones using the car park as a palace of ill repute.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, public librarian, seniors programming is boomers programming.

Anonymous said...

Dear AL:

I don't mean to change the subject drastically...

Too late...

Let's get to a more serious matter. Is the ALA going to be publishing this book you are working on?

Anonymous said...

Library intervention somehow not equating to increased salaries is no surprise; the extent of the intervention is a couple of good books and occasional civic event. Which, of course, no one wants to pay for.

If there had been an actual intervention, as in life changing dramatic profound alteration, it would probably have been found in some professional's office for an hourly fee. Which type of professional leave up to you.

That said, I'll just rant about boomers. I'm from the generation that came after the boomers, where college is expensive, housing is unaffordable, jobs are scarce, and everything is multicultural and politically correct. Retirement? Savings? I've got bills to pay!

On and on we hear about how the boomers brought us (insert: Moon landing, sixties, love, drugs, freedom, Woodstock, rock-n-roll, or any combination of the above), and my generation has had to walk in their shadow hearing about how great they had it while we're barely making ends meet.

I'm planning a second career not because my first as a librarian was so fulfilling and now I'm wanting to go do some other wonderful thing, it's because I'm at a brick wall with this "profession" and don't see any choice. I just don't know if I can ever pay my student loans off.

So now the boomers are over sixty and can't find anything to do with themselves? Tough, go cry to someone else.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with above; anytime I see anything with "boomer" in the title/subject/sentence, I refuse to read it...having been mislabelled a boomer (b. 1965)I resent all the attention paid to both them and now "millenials"...grrr...

Anonymous said...

I think this is the sentence that really does it for me:

"For instance, Generation Xers are already showing signs that they've adopted the boomers' outlook on old age."

Um, your supporting documents are ... where?

Of course the self-centered boomers would love to believe that the Xers have adopted their outlook. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Xers I know are actually preparing for retirement NOW, not waiting until it's at our doorstep, then crying because it caught us off guard.

To me this article is nothing more than another shameless "look at me! I'm a boomer!" piece of fluff.

AL said...

To Anon@5:15, no, ALA isn't publishing the book I'm working on. That would be a hoot. But I am working on the book, and I hope to have it done by the end of the month. If all goes well, it'll be out within six months. You can bet I'll be plugging it on the blog.

To Anon@6:31, I hadn't noticed that sentence, or if I did, I assumed it meant only that Xers were planning to live longer. I suppose I would be classified as an Xer, but what living longer means for me is that I'll probably just have to work longer, not that I'll get to retire at 50 and then have to figure out what to do for the next 40-50 years. Boomers are living on the the previous generational assumption that people will be dead by about 75. If you don't have that assumption, then retiring early makes less sense. Ever few months I get these Social Security statements telling me how long I have to work to get such and such benefits. It's just depressing. Fortunately, I'm planning for a retirement without the benefit of SS.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that seniors in my building prefer to either sit with their grandchildren in the kids' area and chat, or sit in the adult area with the non-teens who are quiet. No one seems to want their own segregated senior space.

American libraries are going to end up like some type of sci-fi world where people are herded into different seating areas based on age. Is this some weird last gasp of Puritanism? Has it occured to these library designers that one of the reasons that people like Barnes and Nobles is that you can sit in the cafe area clutching a latte and no one tells you that you are the wrong demographic for the seating area?

If I turn 55 and some loon in my local library tries to corral me into a designated senior space, then I will boycott that library.


-another Public Librarian

Bunny Watson said...

"Fortunately, I'm planning for a retirement without the benefit of SS."

As are most of us Gen Xers with any sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Only a complete idiot would plan for retirement with SS benefits exclusively.

Then again, the stock market could crash and send us all back to the stone age.

And AL, I don't know what your book is on, but could you devote a section to the 2015 library draft. According to ALA calculations, that's when the "massive wave" of library retirements is supposed to hit.

Privateer6 said...

As a Gen Xer, my question is this: what's this Social Security thing?

Seriously though reform is needed if it is even expected to be there when we retire, and that reform needs to be private accounts.
Heck the originator of Social Security himself, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in a recently(within the past 2-3 years) uncovered letter in the Roosevelt Library, FDR wrote a letter to another government official about SS stating that the current method that SS operates was only a temporary measure and that he foresaw SS going to private accounts by the 1960s at the latest.

Unfortunately like NC's "temporary" sales taxes, it appears that FDR's temporary fix is indeed permanent as no one has the courage to fix the problem that even the creator of the program knew existed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, *that's* it, let's help all the filthy hippie chicks now that they are old and pathetic. Swell. Sign me up.

--Taupey

Anonymous said...

After reading the other comments, I have to chime in and agree--it annoys the hell out of me to be classed as a "Boomer" when I have nothing whatsoever in common with that generation and have more or less spent my life cleaning up after them or waiting in line/waiting "my turn" behind them. My definition of a Boomer is someone who decides the lifeboat is full and pulls up the ladder.

--Taupey

Anonymous said...

An AL book? Does this mean we will finally know who the AL is? Will she be able to maintain the pseudonym?

I have my hunches about her identity but their are a whole bunch of us who fit that description.

Brent said...

I prefer AL to not reveal herself. But, who knows? Maybe we'll find out she is Fake Steve Jobs's mistress.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the AL is John Berry from Library Journal, and the jokes been on us the whole time.

Anonymous said...

Did we miss the point AL? I thought your point was to shed light on how librarians are trying to become social workers. Why would we want to do that? Social workers make even less than librarians.

AL said...

To be honest, I'm not sure what my point was, other than that I thought the idea of librarians saving people from poverty was odd. From what I've gathered reading some public librarian blogs and comments, some parts of the profession are already more akin to social work, probably to the detriment of librarianship. If librarians try to be all things to all people, they probably won't succeed even in being some useful things to some people.

As for the book, I tricked someone into editing it and writing an introduction, so I'm staying in the background and letting the editor take all the heat. I'm trying to pull together all of my themes into coherent criticisms of the profession so they can then be immortalized in print.

Anonymous said...

If librarians try to be all things to all people, they probably won't succeed even in being some useful things to some people.

As you know in academic libraries a similar phenomenon exists. I have concerns that we are overextending ourselves to become jacks of all trades and masters of none. What I think is emerging is some sort of a quasi-social outreach component to our jobs. Some librarians advocate befriending students on Facebook, etc. Interestingly, before I recently moved out of state, I used to run with a group of undergraduate women from a highly ranked liberal arts college and can tell you firsthand the last thing they want to talk about is the library. They knew I was a librarian at another nearby institution. Upon meeting them they would mention their college's library in a positive light to find common ground, of course. Then, the conversation would quickly move on from there--mostly about training, onerous workloads, etc. As much as some librarians wish it were so, students are neither our peers nor do they aspire to hang out with us--either in person or online. In my experience, many of them have a utilitarian approach to using the library and deem the library is a place for study and research. Why can't we just focus on what we do best? Sure, some 2.0 technology should be implemented ASAP (next gen. catalogs!), but most that serve as conduits to meet them on their level should be left in the dust. I'm not sure they want to be heavily marketed to as some librarians advocate. Maybe it is different at other types of institutions.

da book da book said...

so who plays Howard Prince (Woody Allen) to AL's Alfred Miller? LOL

Anonymous said...

AL, I've always wanted to ask:

Do you have a name for the cat in your profile? The Annoyed Cat perhaps?

Anonymous said...

And on generations: According to the official range of years delineating the baby boomer generation from other generations, 1964 (the year I was born) was the last boomer year, although there is disagreement about this. Whatever the case, I have to ask: does this mean that those born in 1965 are somehow different in character and worldview than those born in 1960? or, 1955? And even if there’s a kernel of truth to this claim, which seems highly suspect, does it really make sense to blame an entire generation on all the ills of present society? If so, perhaps then the behavior of the baby boomer generation is justified because the boomers were sick and tired of the reportedly weak and ineffectual “silent” generation that preceded it, and what about the Millennials? You know they’re going to hate Gen Xers, and in this context, rightly so, after all, apparently every generation needs a scapegoat.

soren faust

AL said...

I don't think I should out the editor, who'll get enough grief when the time comes.

Annoyed Cat is as good a name as any.

And I think the millennials probably already hate the Gen-Xers who are trying to befriend them on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

And I think the millennials probably already hate the Gen-Xers who are trying to befriend them on Facebook.

I certainly can't imagine that most millennials think otherwise. So, why the push from librarians--especially the ones who have been in this field less than 10 years?

Anonymous said...

hunches?

spill.

this less-than-10-year profession (and many other of us) are itchin' to know!

ps. i dont have facebook.

Bunny Watson said...

Hunches on why Gen-xers and Boomers are so keen to join the millennials on facebook, etc.?

1. They were never "cool" growing up and think that by doing the cool thing now they can fit in.
2. They get off on new gizmos and gadgetry, no matter how little use it is.
3. They're disturbed by this trend of decreasing reference interactions, and so want to answer questions for students that they're willing to do anything to get the students' attention. Here at my library, more than one person has suggested facebook and/or nametags. When I told them that I hadn't gone deep into debt getting my advanced degrees so that I could look like I work in retail, they shut up (for now).

So, if you're a Gen-Xer and find yourself in a workplace with these type of people, you just have to be firm with them. Explain that they're never going to be cool, that latching on to every new 2.0 gizmo that comes out is pointless, and that inserting themselves into students' social spaces creeps the students out.

I feel like a 5th century Roman - I can see what's coming, but I'm still doing everything I can to hold the barbarians at the gates.

Anonymous said...

1. They were never "cool" growing up and think that by doing the cool thing now they can fit in.
2. They get off on new gizmos and gadgetry, no matter how little use it is.


Hee! You just characterized a lot NextGen bloggers!

They're disturbed by this trend of decreasing reference interactions, and so want to answer questions for students that they're willing to do anything to get the students' attention.

Yes, they might as well wear t-shirts that spell out their desperation. Sad to say, but it sort of reminds me of sorority rush. Of course, the library should be marketed, but there has got to be less demeaning ways to go about it.

In general, I have concerns that librarianship is pursued with such religious fervor that it permeates every aspect of their lives. Normally, I don't care how other people choose to live, but I wonder if employers will come to expect such high levels of passion. I don't believe in living my career. Oh, why can't we be more like Europeans?

Anonymous said...

Hunches on why Gen-xers and Boomers are so keen to join the millennials on facebook, etc.?

The teen services librarian (a Gen Xer) has a Myspace account, but she doesn't use it to attract people. She uses it because the teen volunteers check their Myspace far more often than their e-mail, so it's a good way to send last-minute reminders.

Jim Elliott said...

Senior services?
All of our seniors have been chased off by the teens using the library to watch BET videos on the computers, look up porn, spend the day IM'ing, and use us to babysit their younger siblings their parents expect THEM to watch, and then cuss us out when we say "you can't just drop off children at the library, or let them run wild while you are on the computer'.

Sometimes I can't wait for school to start, which is when our 'traditional' users come back to the library (only during the day, however). We rarely see them during the school year.

jim elliott said...

sorry, I meant, "we rarely see them during SUMMER VACATION". During the school year is when they DO come in.

JE.

janitorx said...

MySpace has a lot of security issues. It is really easy to hack someone's MySpace account.