Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prepare for Scottish librarian invasion.

And tune your ears to hearing about Edin-burrrrra and Glaz-gooh because Scottish librarians are very unhappy with their jobs (and could emigrate here). Don't laugh Canada, Australia; they might go looking for jobs with you, too.

The story doesn't say anything about Scottish librarians coming to America, but given the situation, it wouldn't surprise me.

And from what I know about Scots, that I've learned from watching the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Groundskeeper Willy on The Simpsons, and Braveheart, they seem to yell a lot. And from what I know about kilts, Scots enjoy cool breezes.

But this trend of deprofessionalizing librarians, in Edinburgh's case, calling librarians "audience development officers" deserves a ginormous WTF??!!

Where the fuck do Audience Development Officers work? In a library, or in a fucking Audience Development Station? I don't even know what the fuck those three words are supposed to mean. It's like they took all the words in the dictionary that could relate to a librarian and threw them all out and these were the three that were left. It means about the same as Rural Stronghold Apparition or Leftist Lunchtime Entertainment. Seriously, all I can think is that an Audience Development Officer is just someone who opens the fucking doors in the morning and lets people into the library.

Culture leader Cllr Deidre Brock said: "Growing use of the internet for reference and information is enabling us to structure the service so that our staff can better cater to our customers' needs."

Really? "Enabling" Let's put that positive spin on a shitty situation. How about, "Access to adult content on the Internet EMPOWERS users to rub themselves dry."

So Dierdre (DEER-dree) is telling us that libraries are killing off the librarians.
Figures show there were only 66 full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified librarians in May this year, compared to 85.2 a year earlier. And 24 per cent of the city's 26 libraries no longer employ a head librarian.

Under the council's libraries review, all 300 staff are to be given new job roles and job descriptions, while staff have new teams and managers.

When libraries change their mission from education to entertainment, this is what happens to the librarians.

Oh, yeah, they still want us to help patrons apply for unemployment assistance and find out if their doctor has been sued and show them how to convert their homes to wind power, but they want to treat us like Internet babysitters. So we will be downgraded to Audience Development Officers, or worse.

I don't know what the solution is, but every one of you motherfuckers who works in library that is offering the TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE of providing Internet on 99% of the computers in your library, better come up with something.

You have to find a way to offer more training that uses your computers so they don't get labeled as entertainment machines and you end up just being Entertainment Machine Cleaners.

You need to get some of those computers used for either job searching classes, or word processing instruction, or even Facebook classes. And you need to make sure that, I don't know, twenty percent of the time on these computers is used for this instruction.

Make contacts with the local schools and offer to show kids kids how to do a proper Google search. Schedule time when people can file for unemployment or food stamps or whatever and have a librarian there to help them do it. Let your users know that you don't just tell them when their Internet time is up and then throw away their McDonald's bag from their lunch.

You can try to be the Gamer Librarian, but I guarantee that they will downgrade that position as soon as some kid shows he can press Play and do it for $9 an hour.

There is no way to stop the future from happening. There will be a time when the economy gets stronger and everyone will have access to movies and Internet and books and handjobs through their portable devices.

Some people advocate for these digital branches, but that's only going to save five jobs at your library, and if you're not one of those five, you're screwed.

So unfortunately, I can see the wisdom in the Edinburgh decision on the name change: We had better start to Develop our Library Audience. It is up to us to market the library to the people who can keep us employed.

I know the Children's librarians have it tough because gas is expensive again and schools can't afford to shuttle the kids around. And parents have been too afraid to visit their local libraries for years.

But all you other librarians: make yourselves relevant. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm sure what you do now is important. But these other assholes may not see it that way. You can't just work the desk and answer questions and pray that the payroll department keeps writing you checks.

I hope you are the boss of your library or you have a cool boss who understands because it really helps is you can mark off ten computers to create these programs. And trust me, the program doesn't need to support any great level of knowledge. I've seen people spend thirty minutes showing how to attach files. And then another thirty to download those files. Holy crap! And people show up for this!

You can show people how to use Twitter for an hour. Or Facebook. Or even, dare I say, your library catalog to reserve books. Or show them how to download whatever you offer to download. Or do it for them. Tell them to bring in the thing their kids bought for them that they don't know what it is and you will load a book on it and show them how to read or listen to it.

I could walk through our library and yell out, "All idiots who have their laptops in their bags because they can't connect to our Wifi, we're having a class over here to show you how to do it." And six people will sit in.

But if we just rely on the people who come in because they need to rub out a stiffy, our job is going to change again to Emissions Elimination Officer. And I get enough of that at home.

Oh, I forgot about all you acquisitions and cataloging librarians: they already bought the computers to do your jobs, so you're fucked.