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Librarian heroes. This is a trope I would like to see developed.

14 Oct

There are a lot of things I like about this video. Watch it, share it, promote it:


You’re worth it, baby

8 Mar

Happy International Women’s Day!

Thanks a million to Dee Dee for her awesome new comic about sexism in our feminized profession:

Thanks to Dee Dee for being awesome... and for letting me re-post this.

Holy moley, there’s so much happening here that I love. I especially love the bit about how library school tells us that it’s perfectly fine to give away our specialized labor for free. I went to an “i-School” for information science, and you can bet your boots that our career counselors were telling the human-computer interaction people to hold out for a paying internship with Microsoft (or, or whatever) while we library-and-archives students were encouraged to not be too pushy, and to embrace our 20-hour per week unpaid internship at the Podunk Historical Society without asking for a stipend, or travel expenses, or at least setting expectations for mentoring. It’s no wonder that archival administrators have notoriously been unsuccessful convincing their parent institutions that we need more staff, more supplies, and professional development funds.

So, in Dee’s spirit of real-life sexism in the profession, here’s one of my many stories of sexism at my workplace.

I work in an archives that’s part of a larger unit at an EXTREMELY WEALTHY East Coast university. (You will often see ivy on the walls. HINT. Oh, and their tagline should be “architects of the current financial crisis.” HINT HINT.) In any case, my partner also works here. He started six months after I did, when the university was REALLY tightening its belt. While I was expected to negotiate salary with my supervisor (I was told that there was absolutely no room for salary negotiation, nor for relocation expenses, formalized professional development budget, etc.), the chief of staff of this institution called my partner and asked if he would like to negotiate. My partner was flown out for an interview, mine was over the phone because there were no funds. My partner had a search committee, I had a rambling supervisor conducting a very short interview  who gossiped about the current and previous administrators of the institution and never asked any questions about my knowledge or skills.

My partner is a database administrator, I am an archivist. I have specialized knowledge and a master’s degree from an excellent archives program; he was fresh out of college. I went to a prestigious undergraduate college and graduated with honors — he went to a mid-tier state school and scraped through. He did not major in his professional field. He’s very bright and very good at his job, but isn’t terribly impressive on paper. I have interned at the Library of Congress; I have grantwriting experience; I’ve worked with some of the leading archivists in the field…

Punchline: My partner makes more money than I do.

My very nice red-haired Eagle Scout partner (WHOM I LOVE. My problem is not with him) makes more money than I do with less education, much less experience, and far less specialized skill. Our work is very, very similar. We both work with data standards, we process huge quantities of information, we help set policy at our institution. I have more supervisory responsibilities than he does, much less support than he does, and work with materials that are (sorry, man) much more important and irreplaceable than his are. At the risk of being tedious, I have to state again that I have the terminal degree in my profession. I am competent, professional, and I work very hard to bring our practices into the twenty-first century.

I can’t think of anything to explain this imbalance other than the feminization of the profession and the “women don’t ask” phenomenon of institutions not anticipating that women would expect that same professional structures that men do. Let’s just say that this attitude has reared its ugly head during my tenure here time and again.

So, young archivists and librarians, I know that it’s a tough labor market, but take it from me, if they don’t treat you as a specialized professional during your interview, they certainly won’t improve upon acquaintance.

This is amazing.

7 Oct

$5,000 Award offered for improving library workers’ Salaries, Status

The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) is seeking nominees for a $5,000 award, courtesy of the SirsiDynix Corp. Nominees will include individuals and organizations that have made a positive change in the salaries or status of librarians and/or support staff. The Award Jury is looking forward to receiving the stories of champions that have had a local, regional or national impact.
Each candidate must have three nominations, using the electronic application form at The deadline is Friday, Dec. 12.

Nominations will be reviewed by the Award Jury, chaired by Linda Dobb, of the California State University Library East Bay, at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in January 2009 in Denver, Colo.  The winner(s) will be honored at the Annual Conference in June 2009 in Chicago.

The Award Jury encourages the library community to nominate staff and libraries of all sizes and types that are actively working to secure equitable pay for people in librarianship. Please submit three strong letters of support, since only the first three received will be reviewed. Self-nominations are permitted. Supporting documents may be e-mailed to ALA-APA, faxed to (312) 280-5013 or mailed to SirsiDynix Award, ALA-APA, 50 East Huron, Chicago, IL 60611.

The recipient of the award does not have to be an ALA member or a current or past library staff member. The award recipient’s achievement(s) must be notable in improving the pay and status of library workers.

More Social History of the Paper Cup

25 Jun

My five- (and thinking about it, possibly six- ) part series on the social history of the paper cup continues on my friend Jason Young’s blog, Food in the Library. In this installment, a bit about waste and the invention of disposable culture.

Get Thee to an Archives*!

19 Jun

Historiann (who joins my list of fab women historians that includes this woman and this woman and this woman and, the patron saint of the Bryn Mawr history department, this woman) reports on the Berkshire Conference and the clarion call to uncover unexplored histories languishing in the archives. So, I thought that I would, over the course of the next week, tell my archive stories of stuff I’ve found that may never see the light of analysis and try to think about the archivist’s role in this process. Actually, I’m going to tell two of my own and borrow one from a friend.

Before then, though, I’m off to a wedding in DC and an interview in Philadelphia. Wish me luck!

* Archive/archives? I have no opinion, but the digital pioneer says archives, so there you have it.

How Do You Measure a Victory?

17 Jun

Because, see, I measure a victory in how cool the players look and how much better their collections are.

Let me set the scene. Katie has given her version of events, but I think that the game deserves elaboration. A few weeks ago, I had the idea that it would be really, really cool to have a softball game that was archivists vs. librarians. Bill and I sent out an email to the school to invite librarians and archivists to a friendly game of SEEING WHAT WE’RE MADE OF (and clarified that no, non-archivists and librarians are not welcome; isn’t it enough that they get more resources and better-paying jobs for their degrees in facebook with concentrations in poking? If they want a game they can simulate play in Second Life).

So, I had some shirts printed:

This is a play on respect des fonds, the major commandment of archival practice. Anyway.

I have to say that my friend Alice won the most spirit award — she fielded, batted and pitched and encouraged us to do it for Schellenberg.*

So, yes, maybe the librarians had more points at the end, but they also had more players and had to supplement their ranks with non-librarians. But the archivists looked awesome, played well, and belong to a more interesting profession!

* I wrote that wikipedia entry. It was a question on my final for the appraisal class, and it seemed silly to not post it since there wasn’t already a page. I hope my professor doesn’t hate me for that — it probably means that she can’t re-use the question.

Testifyin’ about the Command Line

17 Jun

Anyone who’s ever worked in a library knows that among the interesting reference interviews and information literacy projects are also tedious kill-me-now projects. I was handed one of these projects last week — I’m to find the official website for 1,300 health sciences journals. This involves pasting each title into google, running a search, finding the official page and pasting that back into my spreadsheet. Kill me now, right?

Doin\' It the Hard Way

Well, no. Because I thought to myself “there has to be a better way.” Then I called my friend Dianne. She was so delighted by the fact that I wanted to automate that she didn’t seem to mind that this would turn into a two-hour coding project.

So, we asked ourselves, if computers are really good at doing things over and over and over, and this is a task that requires repetition, why wouldn’t we just have the computer do it?

Here’s the idea — we’ll write a script that inputs our list of journals into google, spits back the first ten results, and puts them into an html document so that all I have to do is check, rather than search. As we played with it, we realized that we didn’t want any results from google or its cache, we didn’t want anything from elsevier or science direct, and we wanted to make sure to add the word “journal” to our search string so we didn’t get unrelated results.

So, here’s Dianne’s code (in all its glory):

for i in `cat testjournals2008.txt`; do
	search=`echo $i | awk -F "\t" ' { print $3 " journal"} '`
	lynx -dump -force_html -listonly $search | grep -v google | 
        grep -v youtube | grep -v elsevier | grep -v sciencedirect | 
        grep -v wikipedia | grep -v cache | grep -v amazon | grep -v 
        nytimes | head -n 13 | tail -n 10  > results 
	echo -n $i
	for j in `cat results`; do
		if [[ $j != "References" || $j != "" ]]; then 
			echo -n "	"
			result=`echo $j | awk ' { print $2 } '`	
			echo -n $result

She talked me through this as we were doing it, and I understand most of what’s in there. As well as the spreadsheet, we produced an html page so that I could just click through and test sites.

And, I have to say that our results are AWESOME. In most cases, the first result is the proper page — it just goes to show that where mad librarian skills (setting up a good search) and a healthy approach to technology (making it work for me) combine, magic can happen.