Stanford-California State Library Institute on 21st Century Librarianship
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Summer 2001
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Carnegie  §  Cutter  §  Dewey  §  Ranganathan



Carnegie Study Group

Study Group Presentations

Carnegie 1
Carnegie 2
Carnegie 3
Carnegie 4
Carnegie 5
Carnegie 6
Carnegie 7
Carnegie 8
Carnegie 9
Carnegie 10
Carnegie 11
Carnegie 12

Readings

"We Are the Future," by Sara Weissman in Library Journal's netConnect supplement, Winter 2001.

"Shop Talk," by Sara Weissman in Library Journal's netConnect supplement, Fall 2000.

The Policy Party

Having monthly staff meetings was standard at the Viburnum Public Library. They were held over breakfast (rolls, tea, and coffee paid for by the director herself) before the library opened, and support staff got comp time for attendance.

Guadalupe Hernandez was not looking forward to this one, though. As head of reference, she needed to find a way to explain to her director, in front of all the staff, that a number of things were not working in fairly spectacular ways. She decided to catch Ruby Dorlow beforehand, not an easy task. But at the end of the day, just before Ruby was packing a canvas bag full of professional reading, Lupe stopped her.

"Ruby, before tomorrow's staff meeting, there are some things I really have to run by you first."

"Lupe, I would really appreciate it if it could just wait until the meeting." Ruby sounded both tired and exasperated. She sounded that way a lot lately. "The whole point of those meetings is to air things out, get new ideas, and head off problems at the pass. Why should I have to deal with it before I deal with it?"

Lupe did not hesitate. "It's the implementation of the latest set of use policies that you and the Board came up with. I know that you thought through and researched why we don't permit Chat, why there's a half-hour limit on Internet usage, the limits of telephone and email reference, and so on. But the truth is, that one-page handout is couched entirely in negatives. You cannot do this, you cannot do that, the Library won't permit you to do the other. I didn't realize it myself until we started handing it out, and people started making snide comments about it."

Ruby put down the canvas bag of papers, but she didn't sit down, nor did she invite Lupe to do so. "You know, Lupe, that while our circ and in-house ref stats are down, usage is way up when we count in telephone and email reference and Internet body-counts. There's never going to be more staff here, and the Board and I worked hard to set parameters on our service so that patrons aren't surprised or offended. But you seem to be saying they are offended anyway!"

"It's as much attitude as anything else," Lupe said. "You know how hard some of us had to work to even understand email, let alone all this other stuff. Sometimes people want to say, 'Oh no, not another learning experience!' We have had enough staff meetings where we vent over having to be computer techs and printer experts and then discovering the public is just as happy to find their answers online themselves. I bet we could de-fuse a lot of stuff if we could just recast that policy in more positive terms."

Ruby, still standing, said slowly, "The Board and I have a lot of research underlying those policies. I collected them from many other libraries, talked to colleagues at conferences, checked out online discussions. Heaven knows we discussed them at staff meetings six ways from Sunday before we implemented them. And staff's still disgruntled?"

"It's the public that's disgruntled," stressed Lupe. "They feel like the staff's the enemy, assigned to keep them from getting what they want. Honestly, I think we could get this right, if we just re-framed the discussion. And I thought if I gave you a heads-up, you could find the right words tomorrow morning to get this done."

"I think it is done," Ruby said firmly. "Tomorrow you and the staff are going to have to convince me that this patron attitude -- and staff attitude -- is a problem. And if it is, give me some very quick ways of solving it."

Questions

1. Internet use policies, circulation policies, clear written policies of all sorts, are vital to the good workings of a public library. Is the problem here the policies, the way they are phrased, or the staff? Or all three? Why?

2. What are the public relations problems here? What are the staff issues?

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Cutter Study Group

Study Group Presentations

Cutter 1
Cutter 2
Cutter 3
Cutter 4

Readings

"One Reference Service for Everyone?" by Peggy Conaway, in Library Journal, July 2000, p42-44.

"Building a Library Network from Scratch; Eric and Veronica's Excellent Adventure" by Eric Sisler and Veronica Smith, in Computers in Libraries, October 2000, p44-48.

"Three Plans for Shared-Use Libraries in the Works" by George M. Eberhart in American Libraries, January 1999, p22-23.

Cooperation or Chaos?

Grace Cho and Mariana DeFabio had known each other a long time. As the director of Ream College Library and of Avila Public Library, respectively, they had met at meetings, worked together occasionally for local and state network seminars, and lived not far from each other within the city limits of Avila, where the college, Avila PL, and its one outlying branch agency were located. They were about the same age and had similar backgrounds: the third generation of immigrant families; first in their families to go to college; long if local professional careers; teenage children.

But their casual professional relationship was about to change radically. Each had done a fair amount of research on the need for new library space and each were dealing with older, cramped structures where everything from shelving to wiring was an issue. When Mariana called Grace to set up a lunch date with that as their topic, both came armed with article printouts and enthusiasm.

Mariana, however, had a specific idea, and she was wary of Grace's reaction to it. By the time they got to tea, Mariana took a deep breath and said, "You know, there are now more than a handful of libraries where public and university collections share space and staff -- real joint-use libraries. It might be a real advantage for us to investigate that."

Grace almost dropped her teacup, spattering Lung Ching on her napkin. "Mariana, I don't see any point to that at all. You serve the public, we serve our students and faculty. Most of my staff have second Master's degrees, yours are mostly new MLS types. Your strength lies in children's services. We don't do that."

"Wait, Grace, think about this," pleaded Mariana. "Ream College campus has already defined space for your new facility, but raising money is a problem. We have barely begun to talk with the Avila City Council, and I have what might be years of negotiation ahead of me. Our Trustees are on our side, of course, but they are still smarting from the battle to upgrade our Internet access. If we went to your Provost and the City Council with the outline of a joint-use plan, they might even applaud."

"I think the complications of this are almost insurmountable," Grace said slowly. "It makes my head hurt even to think about it. How can we reconcile our funding streams, our circulation systems, even our classification? Besides, it will just feed into the City Council's and my administration's belief that the libraries only eat resources, and don't provide enough in return."

"It's been done," Mariana insisted. "They are doing it in San Josť, California, and they are doing it in Broward County in Florida. Not only that, but they did a study in San Josť that showed even the reference questions between public and college libraries are not actually that different."

"There's so much political stuff here it makes my head hurt," countered Grace. "College students surrounded by little kids? Graduate students competing with elders for computer time? My faculty wanting a research report bumping into the Mayor's secretary asking for statistics she needs right this minute?"

Mariana poured some more tea to gather her thoughts, and said gently, "You know many of your students bring their own kids to the library anyway. And some of your students are elders, after all, retired folk coming back to study. And the Mayor, bless her, is probably going to be thrilled to find a role in which she can approach Ream College on a subject other than underage drinking or students' trashing the park."

Grace said, finally, "I think my staff is going to feel demeaned, my tech people annoyed, and my faculty appalled. But you seem so sure this will work. Why? And where in the name of heaven would we start?"

Questions

1. Why will this work? Why won't it? Is it a good idea?

2. What's the most important place to start working this problem? With the city and the provost? With the staff at each institution? What assumptions have to be defined and analyzed, and perhaps discarded?

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Dewey Study Group

Study Group Presentations

Dewey 1
Dewey 2
Dewey 3

Readings

"A Fable in Two Versions," by Ken Vesey in "Tools of the Trade" in The Book Report, Jan/Feb 2001, p30.

"Integrated Instruction," by Daniel Callison in School Library Media Activities Monthly, January 2001, p33-39.

Teaching Teachers

Shaniqua Dawson did not slam the phone down, but Toni Ann Vitale knew she was stressed. Toni Ann, the school library clerk at Jeannette Rankin Middle School, had worked with Shaniqua for six years. She could tell the school library media specialist had a rough afternoon even before she got off the phone with Nuala Donnelly at Behn Public Library. Toni Ann had just returned from a couple of hours leave time running her mother to the doctor's.

"So what's the story?" she asked Shaniqua, with a small smile. "It's an old one," said Shaniqua. "Every single fifth grader -- all sixty of them -- is supposed to find a biography of over 100 pages on an American woman who was famous in her lifetime. I just wanted to give Nuala a heads-up, because we have just been cleaned out." Shaniqua went on to explain that the usual type-A students had come in earlier during one of their study periods, and by the time she had caught on to the general assignment, pretty much every biography that fit the guidelines had been taken. She was now trying to gather together some reference material and collective biographies to put on reserve.

Toni Ann nodded. Their school library was pretty well-stocked, but despite years of effort on Shaniqua's part, the teachers never seemed to think of letting the library know in advance when projects like this were coming up, much less discussing them with her so that she could put materials on reserve, steer teachers to more general topics, or in some way stave off the inevitable howls of frustration and disappointment from the students.

Shaniqua had managed, however, to forge a working relationship with Nuala, the children's/YA librarian at Behn PL, so that she could at least send desperate students there when her own resources were exhausted.

Toni Ann was not a librarian, but she was the mother of a fifth grader and a third grader and had enough experience to know, a bit, what was going on. "You know," she said slowly, recapping a conversation she and Shaniqua had had before, "the teachers barely have time to confer with each other and coordinate their projects in the same curriculum, let alone confer with you. You know they consider library time 'free' time, in the sense that they use it to prepare or grade, rather than see what you are doing with the students. And they have no research training. It doesn't occur to them to figure out if there are sixty copies of anything anywhere. It's like when they thought we had copies of the first Harry Potter for every student in the school. In this case, they want the fifth grade to just do it."

"I know, Toni Ann, I know." Shaniqua shook her head. In six years, she had made no headway in trying to convince teachers that she was an ally, not someone trying to steal away their precious time. New teachers came in to the school with no research or library skills at all and sometimes no Internet skills either. And the projects never seemed to be the same from year to year. "I don't know how to reach them. And Nuala can't serve all their needs, either. There's got to be a way past this impasse, because otherwise it just makes everyone angry. But I don't know what it is."

Questions

1. How can the school librarian reach the teachers? How can she convince them to share lesson plans in advance? How can time be made for that, and who is to enforce it?

2. What underlying assumptions have to be met, defined, or changed?

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Ranganathan Study Group

Study Group Presentations

Ranganathan 1
Ranganathan 2

Readings

Susan DiMattia and Lynn C. Blumenstein, "Virtual Libraries: Meeting the Corporate Challenge" in Library Journal, March 1, 1999, p42-44.

The Virtual Reality Library

The library of the Flinders Petrie Museum had always been a tiny space. The curators of archaeology, anthropology, and natural history kept what book collections they had acquired or required in their offices. It was Parvati Singh's job to find the museum staff journal articles and online resources, and above all to organize educational material for the museum's web site.

Parvati had not only her MLS but also an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology. She was familiar with the kinds of questions most of the curators had. She had an additional string to her bow in that she had worked on her college newspaper, so she had a good sense of how to manage publicity for the museum and its collections. The museum had only a part-time PR person, and she counted on Parvati for leads and ideas.

The museum web site was designed -- by Parvati -- with a particular educational bent. When she was hired, it was her skills in HTML as much as her MLS that sold the museum director, William Andrews Chapman, on someone just out of school. The mission of the Flinders Petrie encompassed the education of young people, so much of the material on the web was aimed at K-12 students. Parvati prepared those with materials written by the curators, but those folk had no knowledge of web work and no interest in doing anything beyond the occasional desultory search.

So when Chapman called Parvati into his office one bright May morning, she wasn't surprised, but she was curious as to what he would have to say.

"Parvati, my dear, I have a wonderful idea for how we can find space for those school visits." Chapman was about twenty years older than she, but he was positively beaming with boyish delight. "We are going to become the first museum with an entirely virtual library! I am going to give you one of the curators' offices, and we can make over the library space into a classroom/lecture room! Isn't that a fine idea?"

He sat back, glowing with self-satisfaction. Parvati was stunned, but intrigued. "It is true even our periodical collection is mostly online or on CD-ROM," she said as much to herself as to Chapman. "And that's where most of my reference work comes from. It's eliciting material from the curators to use on the web site that can be most time-consuming, and that might be easier if I am in among them."

"Sir," Parvati said with a question in her voice, "how long do I have to plan this move?"

"Plan?" Chapman was clearly puzzled. "Old Glanzman is retiring this month, and I was going to move you into his office as soon as he's out. We can get contractors in to remake the library space pretty much immediately."

Parvati was thinking very fast indeed. She had to get Chapman to think about the implications, to allow her to move the physical books, to plan for deeper and wider online collections and access, and she had to do so in the next few sentences.

She also had to think about the museum's presence on both its web page and its press releases -- how was this going to play? There were a lot of positives -- how could she frame them clearly?

Questions

1. What does Parvati need to say to redirect and focus this particular administrative runaway train?

2. Should she have seen this coming? Could she have seen it coming?

3. The virtual library seems like an idea that will work in this context. Will it?

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