or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Massachusetts State-wide Ebook Platform: Coming Soon!

   April 24th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Library EbooksHere's something that will hopefully have a significant impact on libraries in the future: there's a state-wide ebook initiative getting underway in Massachusetts.

This project was begun after hearing about the Douglas County (CO) Libraries "host your own ebooks" platform (and why). However, instead of just a single library system, Massachusetts wants to involve all the libraries in the Commonwealth.

Also, the end goal is a little different than Douglas County. Instead of hosting all the content we buy ourselves, the Massachusetts Library System (who is spearheading the project with support from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) is looking to develop a "discovery layer" interface that can search multiple vendors' ebook catalogs.

That way, patrons will just have one place to search all available ebooks, no matter which publisher or vendor they come from. This is good because the project includes all types of libraries - public, academic, school, special - which all have different ebook requirements. In the public world, people like to download fiction; in the school world, simultaneous online access to textbooks is required. This model is designed to accommodate the gamut.

My library is one of 50 pilot libraries that will begin testing this summer. The initial collection should be approximately 10,000 titles, negotiated directly with as many content providers as possible.

The current status of the initiative is, I believe, that proposals from vendors are still coming in. The project seems like it has a very quick timeline (see the project timeline & FAQ [pdf]), but I think that's a good thing.

In addition to the Colorado project, the Califa Consortium in California is also engaged in a similar endeavor. The Massachusetts project is unique in that it is the only state-wide program. Hopefully, as projects like this become larger and more numerous, libraries across the country will be able to adopt or join to give libraries a larger voice in the future of ebooks.

This is definitely something I'll be talking more about in the future. It's still early days yet (for the pilot libraries), but we're excited to get going.

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Library School: Xtranormal Edition

   December 2nd, 2010 Brian Herzog

Whenever I'm gone for more than a couple days, it always takes me awhile to get caught up. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a colleague had sent me a link to these videos, which are great and worth sharing:

Library School: Hurts So Good

Library School: Get Swingin'

Xtranormal is fun and easy - if you have an idea for a video, give it a try.

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Holiday Hours

   December 21st, 2006 Brian Herzog

Librarian with an MLISI know this may be opening a can of very sensitive worms, but I wanted to mention it anyway. When I was in library school, a very frequent topic of conversation (and term papers) was library paraprofessionals.

Discussion ranged from whether non-degreed library staff should be allowed to work unsupervised to whether or not an MLIS degree was even necessary to work in a library. For every story about a wonderful paraprofessional, there was another about some crotchety miser (which is also true of degreed librarians). No one knew where to draw the line.

Well, I just figured it out. For the holidays, my library is going to be closed Sat/Sun/Mon of both Christmas and New Years weekends. It is not surprising to be closed the Sunday and Monday of each weekend, but being closed both Saturdays is kind of gratuitous.

When I told three of the four paraprofessionals that work at the reference desk for me about being closed on those Saturdays, their response was "hooray, an extra day off." But when I told the fourth staffer, her response was "that's ridiculous - there's no reason people shouldn't have access to the library on those Saturdays."

I was so impressed - my own reaction to the closings was to be happy for the days off, too, but this non-librarian's response reminded me why libraries are here in the first place. Not as just a way to pay my bills, but for the benefit of the patrons.

So now, when I draw the line between "good" staff and "bad" staff, regardless of degree, it is drawn between those library employees who try to keep people out of the library and those that try to get people in the library.

libraries, library, MLIS, MLS, paraprofessional, paraprofessionals

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