So, what have you been up to?


I've now been back in the public library for just shy of 9 months. I've been very engaged in my job and I realize that some people may be wondering what I'm up to nowadays.

Completed projects:

  • Updated the 3D print policies to prohibit the use of 3D printer to print parts for firearms and other general weapons
  • Created a tiered 3D Print service to free our patrons to design and print their own creations, not just what is in our pre-approved catalog
  • Re-make and re-market an old program series to make it new, fresh, and more flexible. This has met with excellent success, increasing attendance by 70%, and maintaining my goals of collaborating with one community partner, one city department, and highlighting one piece of circulating Makerspace equipment.
  • Took a MOOC! Formal education can be costly and time-consuming and I've discovered the joys of MOOCs. Granted, you have to be careful about who is curating it and who is teaching it, but that's pretty straightforward. I took a MOOC from professors from the University of Southampton called "Jane Austen: Myth, Reality and Global Celebrity." I learned fascinating things and it was actually fairly challenging. (I won't lie that the lack of Oxford comma in the title bothered me!)

Current Projects:

  • 3D Print Accessibility Catalog - technology is meant to help us, even though it often hinders us. I am working on a accessibility tool catalog in an effort to take a tool we have and make it more meaningful to our community. This catalog will include items like light switch extenders, bottle open assisters, and even wheelchair parts.
  • Altering, updating, and marketing circulating Makerspace equipment. We currently have microscopes, GoPros, a camera, and a few other pieces of equipment. I am in process of expanding this category to include a Cricut Cutter, a sewing machine, a light emission monitor, and a few other pieces of requested equipment. This will, most likely, result in a Library of Things eventually rather than being limited to Makerspace equipment.
  • Increasing Makerspace program attendance and demand. Our Makerspace is underutilized and too small for usage beyond crafts. If we want a larger space, we must prove that the desire is there. First, I chose a theme for the year, which is fiber arts and power tools. Second, I re-vamped the current program series (which became it's own project). Third, I have required registration due to the nature of the programs. I will then use this information, as well as survey information, to present to administration and seek a larger space. My Director is supportive of this project.
  • Research - I have a literature research paper in the works. The abstract has been accepted and it is roughly 70% finished. All of the (planned) research has been complete and the paper is fully outlined with a hefty portion of it fleshed out. I need to move through the paper and add more examples and finish the conclusion and it will be ready for submission.
  • Refining the ordering process for Adult Fiction. This is a large, almost overwhelming collection for a single person with many other job duties, so it was absolutely necessary for me to find a way to do this efficiently. So far, my plan is working and I'm spending less time on ordering and evaluation each week all while circulation has remained steady and the New Fiction book circulation has increased.
  • Girls Who Code Revamp - This program is part of a nationwide organization whose goal is to increase the percentage of women in IT and Computer Science. I knew nothing about this program when it fell on my lap last summer and I am in process of re-designing the program from it's current state, which is limping along.

Future Projects:

  • Build-a-Better-Book. I attended a workshop for the Build a Better Book program. This organization teaches skills and processes to bring the written page to life for those who have visual impairments. I know when this program will begin and end, but will soon be working on the structure for a client, applications, age suggestions, and actual program structure. This will be a multi-week project with the same participants to build tactile and audio-featured books for the blind or visually impaired.
  • Grant and budget proposals for Makerspace expansion and equipment.

Beyond my specific projects, I've also learned a lot about the various equipment and software that we currently own, I've also had to brush up hard-core on my cataloging as I'm now responsible for cataloging most of our fiction collection. This will eventually be shifting to a part time person to help focus my job, but for now, I'm assisting the Cataloging Librarian. I've also been learning a lot about IT functions here and there (the IT Department has been happy to teach me little things that don't encroach too much into the "she's-doing-it-so-she-should-be-paid-more" territory!

Things were very stressful in the beginning of this position, but as time has gone one, we've figured out how to create a more narrowed job list from the mile-wide-inch-deep job description that I came into.

I've submitted to present at the state conference and am part of the Session Selection Committee for CALCON 2019. It's a lot of irons in the fire, but delegation has become a pretty vital part of life. We are now fully staffed for the first time in quite a while and our Adult Library Associate often helps me with a lot of week-to-week Makerspace things (like the kid's make-and-take craft, which I'm horrible at!). She also helps me pull equipment and prep for programs, so that's been very helpful.

That's current work life!

Harry Potter and the Author Who Went Too Far

While this blog is mostly been a professional blog, I’ve also begun to focus more on literature and novels again. I’ve always been a Harry Potter fan and with all of the discussion surrounding the new Fantastic Beasts movies, I’ve come to the conclusion that writing my thoughts about these things isn’t entirely out of place here. Pop culture and literature is still part of my job, especially now!

Now, onto my very blunt opinion about what’s happened with Rowling and the Potter Universe:


There has been a lot of discussion as of late on the biggest upset in the Fantastic Beasts timeline: McGonagall’s age. Many fans say that Rowling is infallible and she will reveal more with time; many say it was a mistake; some even go so far as to make very bizarre claims of Time Turner usage and the like. But I think it boils down to this – Rowling is playing in her universe, but sadly, in so doing, she is truly challenging the loyalty of her fan base and risking the future of Harry Potter.

We’re stretching to make it fit.

While many out there are ready to come to Rowling’s defense, there is one sadly obvious thing I’ve noticed: all of the articles that have come out to make the timeline work fail to site the one time that Rowling actually mentions how old McGonagall is – the 2000 Scholastic interview ( when Rowling blatantly states that McGonagall was about 70, which fits with the estimated birth year of 1935 that is put together by her tenure at Hogwarts in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ and the information in ‘Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies’. While this article ( does the best job at explaining why she may be older than we think, it’s still riding on huge holes (such as stating that she took a leave of absence that is conveniently never mentioned anywhere else). I believe that Rowling always meant for her age to be as she stated…until now. Rowling is trying to draw on her own loopholes because she WANTS to. She wants to play with McGonagall’s age, so she is.

I agree with the hundreds of fans who say that Rowling doesn’t miss these things. There is no mistake in her timeline. She is bending it, at will, to fit her own purposes, simply because she wants to. So this begs the question: does a writer owe their fans anything? The answer lies with each individual. Personally, I think they do owe their fans after their novels have reached a certain level. After all, the fans are what launched this story to this level of fame, but Rowling has already become oblivious to this. Cursed Child was a canon disaster that Rowling gave her stamp of approval. Fans rejected it as as canon and have deemed it great fan fiction, but the case of Fantastic Beasts is simply too big to ignore. She didn’t write Cursed Child, so the fans can write it off more easily, but she IS writing these films and because there is no novel base for them, we can’t just brush them off.

Is she taking fan loyalty for granted?

There are many other fandoms that face this type of thing when writers begin to just simply write too much and go too far – televisions shows when the story simply gets too played out; timeline and character issues in the Star Wars books and movies; even Tolkien had to re-write The Hobbit when he wrote the Lord of the Rings. We’re beginning to run into the same issue here.  Rowling is still finding a goldmine in Harry Potter, literally and figuratively, and decided to go back into it. This isn’t wrong or problematic until she decided to mess with it too much. Has she gone too far?

For me personally, I think she has. Fantastic Beasts is riddled with issues and pointless characters:

  • Ministry employees apparating into Hogwarts Grounds when we know that the Anti-Apparition Jinx dates back to the 1600’s.
  • Dumbledore teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts when it was never mentioned anywhere else.
  • Human Nagini, who is, SURPRISE! a maledictus, not a snake (and pretty much ignored through this film, so hopefully there’s more to it).
  • Leta’s entire storyline seems absolutely superfluous: she was set up in the first movie as an important character and in this film, she just…dies?
  • The new blood pact which is an issue on its own (there’s no way that Dumbledore and Grindelwald made this after Ariana’s death, but they had a three way dual at the time of her death, so that doesn’t work) AND it really, really undermines one of Dumbledore’s HUGEST character defining moments in the HP series – he didn’t want to face Grindelwald bc of Ariana’s memory and because of his love for Grindelwald. It gives so much humanity to Dumbledore and Rowling has chosen to take away from that.
  • Why is Nicolas Flamel even there?
  • Too much info-dumping; if you’re not a major HP fan, things FLY over your head
  • Dumbledore has another brother? I’m oddly ok with this one because I believe that the theory of Credence being Ariana’s obscurus ( is not only phenominal but also plausible. It’s SO classic Rowling, if nothing else is in this film. It’s the only brilliant move in this film –  IF it’s true.

It’s about the money, isn’t it?

While we’re reeling over all these strange and weird issues with this movie, I have to ask: is this about money? Over the past few years, we’ve seen tons and tons of new editions of HP books and supplementals come out constantly. We don’t need this much new stuff – it seems SO greedy. We didn’t need a 20th Anniversary American edition of the books. THESE BOOKS AREN’T AMERICAN. Does it sell? Sure, but it starts to lose its charm when you realize that all of the money made off of ALL these editions just go to a few companies and a single person. While I’ve never pegged Rowling as a greedy person and still don’t, Rowling used to write these supplements for charity. Even when a few of these items do profit charity, it’s not nearly as much as before the Harry Potter money train really took off full steam. Even I’ve fallen victim to giving her more of my money, such as for the Hogwarts House editions, but it’s just becoming superfluous and ridiculous, in my view, and Fantastic Beasts is no different. She’s stretching it all too thin and it’s really showing.

I think we’ve reached the limit of Harry Potter’s ride of glory. I can deal with a few excuses for apparating into Hogwarts Grounds and the ridiculous notion that Dumbledore simply taught other subjects (both blatant movie changes for the sake of visuals), but the McGonagall ridiculousness is just the nail in the coffin’s head for me.  I will continue to watch the Fantastic Beasts storyline but it is tinged heavily with disappointment. Perhaps I’ve just spent too long in this world, but Rowling is helping me move on.

There are simply too many compromises that she’s asking the fans to make. I will always love Harry Potter, but it will never be the same. Not after this.

The Highest-Rated Austen Adaptations

I am currently a member of a wonderful book club, Club Austen, where we are working our way through all of Jane Austen’s published works in chronological order. This has inspired me to seek out both film and novel adaptations of these books, but there are SO MANY!!! So, out of sheer curiosity, I have created a list of the most highly-rated book and screen Austen adaptations.

For this list, I am keeping to retellings and adaptations as opposed to continuations or spin offs as I feel these fall into a different category. I gathered information through various sources but include the top book retellings/adaptations based on Goodreads ratings and screen retellings/adaptations based on IMDB ratings.

*There is one particular “outlier” series that will be listed separately at the end due to its unusually high ratings compared to other titles on their particular lists. Goodreads ratings vary based on how many people have rated it, which partly accounts for this.

Sense and Sensibility


  1. Northland Cottage: Where the Heart Comes Home by A. P. Maddox (3.99 / 5)
  2. Sensible and Sensational (The Jane Austen Diaries Series) by Jenni James (3.86 / 5)
  3. Colonel Brandon’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes Series) by Amanda Grange (3.79 / 5)
  4. Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge (3.75 / 5)
  5. Sense and Sensibility (The Austen Project) by Joanna Trollope (3.53 / 5)


  1. Sense and Sensibility – 2008 BBC Miniseries (8.1 / 10)
  2. Sense and Sensibility – 1995 Movie (7.7 / 10)
  3. Sense and Sensibility – 1981 BBC (6.8 / 10)

Pride and Prejudice – Competition was FIERCE for this one!


  1. Disappointed Hopes (A Fair Prospect 3 Part Series) by Cassandra Grafton (4.25 / 5)
  2. Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North (4.2 / 5)
  3. Into Hertfordshire (Darcy’s Tale 3 Part Series) by Stanley Michael Hurd (4.13 / 5)
  4. Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid (4.07 / 5)
  5. Unequal Affections: A Pride and Prejudice Retelling by Laraq S. Ormiston (4.04 / 5)


  1. Pride and Prejudice – 1995 BBC (9.0 / 10)
  2. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – 2012 Web/Vlog Series (8.7 / 10)
  3. Pride and Prejudice – 2005 Hollywood Movie (7.8 / 10)

Mansfield Park


  1. Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson (3.83 / 5)
  2. The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZabnik (3.73 / 5)
  3. Edmund Bertram’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes Series) by Amanda Grange (3.54 / 5)
  4. Mansfield Ranch (The Jane Austen Diaries Series) by Jenni James (3.53 / 5)
  5. Whatever Love Is (21st Century Austen Series) by Rosie Rushton (3.49 / 5)


  1. Metropolitan – 1990 Movie (7.4 / 10)
  2. Mansfield Park – 1999 (7.1 / 10)
  3. Mansfield Park – 1983 (6.8 / 10)



  1. Emmalee (The Jane Austen Diaries Series) by Jenni James (3.77 / 5)
  2. Interference by Kay Honeyman (3.76 / 5)
  3. Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs (Jane Austen Takes the South Series) by Mary Jane Hathaway (3.73 / 5)
  4. Mr. Kightley’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes Series) by Amanda Grange (3.6 / 5)
  5. Secret Schemes and Daring Dreams (21st Century Austen Series) by Rosie Rushton (3.41 / 5)


  1. Emma – 2009 BBC (8.1 / 10)
  2. Clueless – 1995 Movie (6.8 / 10)
  3. Emma – 1972 BBC Miniseries (6.8 / 10)

Northanger Abbey


  1. Henry Tilney’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes Series) by Amanda Grange (3.78 / 5)
  2. Northanger Alibi (The Jane Austen Diaries Series) by Jenni James (3.71 / 5)
  3. Summer of Secrets (21st Century Austen Series) by Rosie Rushton (3.6 / 5)
  4. Northanger Abbey (The Jane Austen Project) by Val McDermid (3.06 / 5)


  1. Northanger Abbey – 2007 (7.3 / 10)
  2. Ruby in Paradise – 1993 Moveie (7.1 / 10)
  3. Northanger Abbey – 1987 BBC Episode (5.4 / 10)



  1. Persuaded (The Jane Austen Diaries Series) by Jenni James (3.89 / 5)
  2. For Darkness Shows the Stars (Series) by Diana Peterfreund (3.88 / 5)
  3. Persuaded by Misty Dawn Pulsipher (3.88 / 5)
  4. Once Upon a Second Chance by Marian Vere (3.87 / 5)
  5. Captain Wentworth’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes Series) by Amanda Grange (3.76 / 5)


  1. Persuasion – 1995 (7.7 / 10)
  2. Persuasion – 2007 (7.6 / 10)
  3. Persuasion – 1971 BBC Miniseries (6.6 / 10)


Notable Series

The series that I find most interesting in this search has been the Amish Classics Series by Sarah Price. All of these books are significantly highly rated; however, each rating only consists of 72-330 ratings, significantly less than the other books. Because these are outliers, I didn’t feel that they should be in the main rankings, but because they are so highly rated in their niche, they are absolutely worth noting! This series covers retellings of Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility, and Mansfield Park.


What do you think? Is your favorite missing?
Do you want to a larger P&P list? Want more information? Let me know!

Why Fun, Enthusiasm, and Creativity is Still Important at Work

Working in libraries can be stressful and there are many important issues we face:

  • social justice
  • open access
  • gender inequality
  • racism
  • poverty
  • digital literacy gaps
  • equitable access
  • free speech
  • intellectual freedom

These are serious and heavy things that we have to navigate daily in our profession, so why is it important for us to find fun and enthusiasm at work? Why is still vital that we stay positive? Why should we enjoy goofy little things while we have very important problems to solve and high stakes issues to work through? Why should we take time to simply be creative and, dare I say it, childlike? While not all of the studies I list in this post are open access, I have listed to the doi’s for each so you can see the abstract to read the synopsis and the result, if you wish.

  • It helps us work better as a team

There have been many studies on emotional contagion. One study found that positive emotions improve cooperation, decrease conflict, and increase perceived task performance (DOI HERE). When we work together, maintaining a positive outlook can truly make a difference. We may not always enjoy working with particular colleagues or we may simply be set with a very difficult task, but a pep talk goes a long way!

  • It lowers our stress levels (and can even improve our learning!)

In a study at Loma Linda University (HERE!), researchers found that laughter increased short-term memory and increased learning ability as well as lowered stress levels. To be clear, this study was conducted in older adults, but there is a chance that this type of study could yield similar results in younger adults.

  • It keeps us healthier

Forbes published an article last year (HERE!) that outlines some of the benefits of fun in the workplace. What I found very interesting was a few studies that they mention tied disengagement to low productivity and lower health:

“In different studies conducted by Gallup and the Queen’s School of Business, disengaged workers had 49 percent more accidents and 37 percent higher absenteeism. Moreover, health care costs at high-stress companies are 46 percent higher.”

While this is a negative example, we can assume the flipped: if you are working in a more enjoyable environment, you will probably be more engaged! Fun and laughter increases our engagement in conversations and, at least for me, that means I’m less likely to try to tackle challenges alone. This can help prevent the disengagement that negatively impacts our health and mental well-being which can lead to burn out.

**Not that this fixes OTHER issues that causes burn out!**

  • Our students are already stressed out enough

Our students are stressed…very stressed. In a 2010 study, Brian C. Patrick, Jennifer Hisley, and Toni Kempler found that out of all of the teacher variables tested, enthusiasm was the most powerful unique predictor of college students’ intrinsic motivation and vitality (DOI HERE). While we may not be in the classroom all the time with our students, we do teach and we are present often. Our own enthusiasm for our teaching matters, especially since we want our students to be motivated!

While we don’t always interact with our students in a classroom., they still see us as instructors. This is a key factor in leveraging encouragement with them even when they’re studying in the library spaces. To be frank, I’ve found that participating in sarcasm and negativity for a few moments truly helps them vent, but those exchanges should be finished off with optimism!

  • Practicing “detail stepping” improves brainstorming to reach goals

According to an article in Psychology Today, practicing what’s called “detail stepping”, or breaking down our thinking into smaller steps than we normally do, can produce better brainstorming.  We often see goals in our organization and try to put the steps between the “here” and “there”, but to actually sit down and practice detail stepping can make that process more automatic in our work environments.

We don’t often think about the actual steps involved in our actions, but when we do, we can visualize and think about alternatives. As we practice this, we can get faster at solving problems, finding alternative answers and creative solutions to challenges, and spend more time in a creative head space.

  • Better work/life balance

One of the things that I’ve noticed about librarians is that we tend to carry our work with us at all times. What matters inside our work often matters to us outside of it as well (just take a look at the list!). This doesn’t mean that we have to be absorbed in this or that our salaries don’t matter, but I’d venture to say that many, if not most, of us fell into this line of work because it already aligned with our beliefs and philosophies. If we already have a tendency to “take it home”, then if we focus on bringing more positive energy to it, it will help balance the emotional range we cover in a day, especially at home!

If you’re interested in how art itself can improve your health and well being, there is lit review published by the American Journal of Public Health that cites over 100 studies on this (Find it HERE).  While art is something that I have always thought of as an “outside work” activity, I’ve found that bringing more artsy activities into my classroom to help create visuals of abstract concepts soothing and fun. Students, their instructor, and I have enjoyed it. It adds a great dimension of learning.

I think we could all use a little more creativity!

The Four Horsemen of Librarianship

When I was pursuing a Master’s in Library Science, I was unaware that there were such significant differences between the types of libraries. I didn’t know that moving from one to another would be so difficult, but even after I discovered this, it didn’t deter me from wanting to experience all four major types.

I don’t know any other librarians who have done this, but I’d love to meet them and chat with them about their experiences. And your library experiences will be different than mine, I’m sure, but if you who are curious about other types of libraries or if you’re a library student or a person who has contact with them, here’s Jenni’s Quick-and-Dirty Guide to Library Types.

School Libraries:

  1. Patrons:
    1. I hope you like children, because they are your patrons! Having a good handle of developmental stages is important for a school librarian. Children and teens develop at different rates mentally, emotionally, and physically, and knowing how to navigate this will greatly increase your chance of success.
    2. To a lesser extent, you are also serving the teachers. You will work with them to make sure they have necessary materials available and to support their instruction. In high schools and college-prep schools, you will even assist them in researching or even teaching techniques.
  2. Environment:
    1. You will mostly be contained within a single room. You may need to work persistently in making contacts with teachers, building bridges between the library and their classrooms. The more you can get out of the library and imbed yourself into the curriculum, the better. Try to recruit parent or student help so that you can either leave the library or dedicate time within the library to being an instructional partner.
    2. You will probably be on a shoestring budget. You can conquer through mending, repairing, and providing much-needed care to well-loved books! If you are an upper level librarian, look for consortium pricing on databases. Prioritize based on your students’ needs.
    3. Your administration (aka, your bosses) may not have much awareness of your profession, methods, purpose, or professional standards. Be prepared to explain and justify your actions.
    4. You’re gonna do it all: acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, mending, reader’s advisory, and more. You’ll need to make well-thought out decisions.
    5. There will be an ever-present balance between maintaining an open-access stance (age-appropriate, of course) and following the school’s policies, because you now live in both worlds. You’ll have to think long and hard about censorship and hills you’re willing to die on. Rely on your policy documents and ensure that your administration is aware of those policies and back your decision.
  3. Tips  & Suggestions:
    1. Document, document, document!!! Make sure all of your policies and practices (acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, mending, etc.) is clearly documents so that it can be replicated by a substitute or volunteer. Not only that, but you will sometimes forget and having a guiding document is invaluable.
    2. The bulk of your materials should serve the overarching developmental stage for the student age group that you are serving, then fill in with some lower and some higher.
    3. If you don’t know a lot about teaching theory and application, go to some workshops or even consider taking a few college courses on the side. It will help tremendously in terms of conveying information to teachers and administration who speak pedagogy (PLUS, it will help your own teaching!).
    4. Be prepared to answer and justify your decisions (and sometimes, your own relevance). Team up with teachers for projects and always be present on Parent-Teacher conference nights. Hang out in the hall, greet parents and introduce yourself. Find as many people to “be on your side” for situations that may come up later.
    5. You will have some request that you restrict how many items or what type of items their children check out, however, it’s important to set an early precedent that you cannot fulfill most of these requests. Parents are responsible for talking with their children and ensuring that their kids follow their preferences. There will be some exceptions, but overall, you’re primary responsibility is to the students and it’s simply too difficult to meet the specific requests of every parent.
    6. The environment should be welcoming, calming, and fun. It’s all up to you, as the librarian, to create that environment. SMILE! Talk to the students, get to know them, ask them a lot of questions, have fun activities!

Public Libraries:

  1. Patrons:
    1. Every age, every financial situation, every color – everyone. Each individual branch has regulars and an overall patron profile, but those profiles do not always reflect the town or city’s profile.
    2. You’ll experience what gratitude looks like in a completely different way than you’ve ever experienced. People are so often simply grateful for a 5 minutes of your time to help them look for a job posting, get started on a resume, print out that school assignment, or look up tax forms.
  2. Environment:
    1. You are now part IT, part social worker, part teacher, and yes, sometimes part babysitter. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s very great thing! Working with the public can be challenging, but having a broad set of skills is all part of the fun!
    2. It can be absolutely heart breaking. Public libraries often provide space for those who need it. This includes the homeless, kids who have nowhere else to go after school, the unemployed, the elderly, or simply people who are lonely. Many wander in just for the sake of a warm space that has other human beings in it. There were times that staff snuck food out of the donation bins to give to very hungry young patrons.
    3. You get to talk about books a lot. While it’s a complete misnomer that you get to “sit around and read books all day”, you will get a lot of reader’s advisory questions and being well read is important. That doesn’t mean you have to have read every book you recommend, but flipping through what’s on your shelf is very helpful.
    4. You will work retail hours. Public libraries open and close on the same general hours as retail stores. It is not unusual for some libraries to be open until 9pm. You will also work weekends, minor holidays, and days before and after major holidays. It’s part of public service but most systems do a superb job rotating these responsibilities.
    5. Programs aren’t just for fun. There is thought, design, planning, and coordination that goes into every program. While many of them appear to just be fun on the surface, there is typically a learning element built in. It’s sneaky education!
  3. Tips & Suggestions:
    1. Libraries are often bustling places with long lines. For the most part, patrons are used to this, particularly if it’s their home library, and are patient. Take the time to make sure you’ve answered all the questions, but don’t dawdle. Being slammed is no joke.
    2. Expect the unexpected. Everything happens in these buildings: heart attacks, sex in bathrooms, kids pulling the fire alarms, poop smeared on walls, and ghosts. Ok, maybe not ghosts, but I’m pretty darn sure the first public library I worked at had some weird juju and it was creepy being there alone. Ask me about it sometime, I’ll happily tell you the stories! While this may sound horrifying, it is one of my favorite things about working in public systems. You absolutely never know what will happen!
    3. Being a successful public librarian takes a comfort level with people that many other areas of librarianship does not demand, and YES introverts can excel! You’ll need to be comfortable discussing accounts, books, activities, social programs, etc with the public. This becomes much easier with time. When I started as a public librarian, the thought of cold calling made me break out into a sweat, but the more I did it, the more comfortable it became. People like talking to the library.

Academic Libraries:

  1. Patrons:
    1. You will be pressed to meet both students’ and professors’ needs. This is a diplomatic balance and it will, sometimes, force your hand to choose. I recommend choosing students’ needs 9 times out of 10 but be very communicative to the instructor as to what you’re doing and why. They want what’s best for their students as well and this can start some very profitable conversations. You’re instructional partners, not enemies.
    2. The public – to a lesser extent.
  2. Environment:
    1. Be prepared to not know what you’re doing. Or at least, to feel that way. The world of academia is an entirely different work environment than I’ve ever known. You’re surrounded by incredibly intelligent and hard working people who may or may not always convey what they’re thinking in a concise manner. It’s a highly intellectual world that doesn’t always translate to other work environments. But fret not, good librarian, you already know what to do! It just might sound a little different than what you’re used to.
    2. Depending on the requirements of you job, you may be asked to research and publish. This is not as daunting as it sounds and there are many great resources out there to help you. Use those resources and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
    3. Academic libraries can be highly political and there are many philosophical, theoretical, and social issues that are discussed and debated every day. You may absolutely choose to stay out of it, but to excel in these libraries, it is important to think about the issues that are being discussed, ask questions, talk to colleagues about their views, and decide how you feel about them. This will help you in networking, research, and simply being part of the conversation.
  3. Tips & Suggestions:
    1. Just like in school libraries, I encourage you to take workshops or college classes on pedagogy if you haven’t already done so. You will probably be expected to teach and give workshops and having some solid teaching techniques will give you further comfort and confidence in your approaches.
    2. Give yourself a bit of time to learn the resource that are available. If your university has a discovery tool, rely on it heavily in the beginning. Pay attention to the where the search results are coming from. While not all databases and resources are pulled from a discovery tool, the main ones will be and being familiar with the larger resources first will give you some “padding” in learning the smaller, more specific resources.
    3. Be humble but rely on your knowledge. Listen to advice, but if it doesn’t fit with what you know or what you’re comfortable with, don’t take it! It’s ok to be fairly quiet in the first few months of a new job, but then let yourself come out of your shell, say something during a meeting, or speak up in a side conversation.
    4. Find a mentor, formally or informally. Watch a few people in your department do what they do, choose someone that you think is great at it, and talk to them!
    5. Be aware of reputation. This area of our industry is not only aware, but can also be quite concerned with reputation. You said something dumb on Twitter? Say something again – temper it, apologize if you need to, work it out. Being cooperative is just as important as being right.
    6. Focus what you do on your students. They’re the reason you’re there!
    7. Put yourself out there. Research, publish, volunteer for a presentation. It can be scary, even downright petrifying, but it will not only build your CV, but your knowledge as well.

Special libraries:

  1. Patrons:
    1. The professionals, researchers, and stakeholders of your company or space. Is that vague enough?
  2. Environment:
    1. This is, in my opinion, the most varied of all categories. This category includes archives, state and government libraries, medical and law libraries, research libraries, libraries that contain personal or company collections, etc. Special libraries are simply libraries with a narrower scope of materials and has a specialized subject and/or clientele. These can be public or private, corporate or nonprofit. A special library can even be housed within a larger, broader-scope library.
    2. Be prepared for a lot of focused work. Archives, records rooms, and specific topic research libraries can be very focused on metadata and tech tasks. Digitization projects are quite solitary and take a lot of focus. These libraries can equal long hours being by yourself, particularly if you are a solo librarian. If you are a peopley person, find ways to bring people into your day.
    3. While I am currently in a Records Room, a library of files as opposed to books or databases, I also know librarians who run research libraries for large companies. In this case, they would often create training videos on databases or do outreach, which is very similar to other types of libraries. In my case, I do a lot of digitization and metadata for accounting documents and maintain the physical records of various types of documents pertaining to my company’s business.
    4. These libraries take on an environment of their own, typically that of whatever organization they are serving. Corporate libraries tend to carry the same attitude and environment as the rest of the company, that is, you may or may not be seen as a professional within your own right. You may simply be seen as support or administrative staff, regardless of the fact that you are trained in a very specific way. If this is the case, you may be expected to fill in for an admin or receptionist when they are on vacation.
    5. Because these are specialized spaces, many companies offer benefits and pay outside the norm for the library industry, for better or for worse. Many corporations don’t know the norms for the library industry and will offer significantly less pay or ask for someone with a Bachelor’s in Library, misunderstanding that these degrees are rare and are not ALA accredited. On the upside, some special libraries offer significantly higher pay as you are either a solo librarian or they highly value the research assistance that you will provide.
  3. Tips & Suggestions:
    1. You will be expected to conform to the norms of your company, not the norms of librarianship. Sometimes, you will have to walk a daily line between your own training and what is asked of you. In my experience, I have known that certain practices don’t follow national standards, but being able to change these practices often simply takes time and trust. As time goes on, you will often be given more opportunity to provide professional input. Patience is key.


Tips on Moving from One Area to Another

  • Capitalize on the common skills of librarianship. In cover letters and interviews, focus on the commonalities of the library work you’ve done and what they’re looking for. We are librarians first, specialists second.
  • Think about your undergraduate work or previous professional work. For me, having an education background and previous work as an administrator in a nonprofit and corporate environment were both key in moving into the academic and corporate arena. I wish all librarians had some instruction knowledge. You will teach or train, in some capacity, in every type of library.
  • Be prepared to take short-term contracts. It is particularly difficult to break into research and academic libraries, depending on your geographic area. Many academic libraries offer contract work from time to time and applying for those can help you bridge the gap.
  • There seems to be two sides of the library chasm. On one side, there is school and public libraries, on the other side, there is academic and special libraries. While I do understand that there are different focuses of different libraries, I’m unsure why this chasm exists. School librarians and academic librarians should know how their training benefits students. Public librarians and academic librarians are often very focused on social issues and can be highly political environments. School librarians and special librarians are often used to solo work and being focused into details. To bridge this chasm, find ways to work with librarians on the other side and make connections to expand your network.
  • Finding your niche can be difficult, but don’t despair if you have a varied background. This is often a very positive thing in librarianship! If you’re having difficulty determining what is best for you, think about jobs and hobbies you’ve had, let your resume and passions speak to you.


I hope that this was helpful, or at least informative. If you have any questions, comments, complaints, or argument, please leave a comment!

The Most Public Librarian Post Ever

Confession time: I’m a Harry Potter nerd. I’m also a former public librarian, so this post is very, very public librarian-ish!

Over Thanksgiving break, I decided to try to make my own Harry Potter book ornaments. They turned out quite well, actually, and a few of my friends from my book club asked me to post instructions and how I did it, so here it is!

I still need to make the rest of the series and will upload screen shots of each step as I make my next one. For now, I recorded text directions for my little creation.

My first step was going onto the interwebs and finding book covers to print. These have part of the title removed. I’m assuming to try to cover their rears from copyright infringement, but it really still is copyright infringement. Just sayin’. I found this particular set of cover art on Pinterest (HERE), dumped the image into my publishing software and shrunk it down just a bit. Here’s a PDF (book covers page) .  After this, I used that as a guide to create pages. Here’s that PDF (book ornament pages). I made the pages slightly smaller than the book cover so it would be like a real book in that sense.

You will need:

  • color printer
  • printer paper
  • cardstock (I used medium brown)
  • craft glue good for paper use – something that bonds quickly. I used this: 
  • twine
  • ruler
  • pen/paper
  • scissors
  • wine, whiskey, tea, or another choice beverage for reinforcement when you get frustrated…because you will.
  • possibly some snacks, if you’re the snack-while-crafting type



  1. Print both the covers and pages (you’ll need a LOT of pages).
  2. Cut around covers, leaving a margin around each one.
  3. Glue covers onto cardstock, making sure you completely coat the backside of the paper.
  4. Cut out pages and fold them in half, matching the short sides.
  5. This is where things get interesting: each book will be a little bit different thickness, but they will all be the same width and length. The cover art in this file provides more art than what would show on a book. This is the part of a book jacket that would tuck inside the book and have summaries and author info. In this case, it’s best to cut it flush where you would want your cover to be.
    1. For each of the covers, you’ll need to measure the front and back cover to about 29 mm and leave the width of spine you desire for each book. Use your “margin” to mark with a pen.
    2. I used the same spine width for the first three books in the series and roughly doubled the spine width for the subsequent books. In these illustrations, you can actually see shading for some of the spine widths.
  6. Cut out each book cover like so:
    1. Cut each book cover from the others, leaving a margin.
    2. Mark your back edge, spine width, and front edge using a pen and ruler. Remember the back and front should be about 29 mm wide.
    3. Trim the back and front edges first.
    4. Lay the book cover on a flat surface (I used a table, because, well, that seemed obvious).
    5. Line up your ruler on one side of the spine marks and bend the cover up to create a crease. 
    6. Pick up the cover and using the crease as a guide, fold and sharpen to create one edge of the book spine. 
    7. Repeat 4-6 for the other edge of the book spine.
  7. Measure out a desired length of twine, loop, and glue into one of the folded pages. I simply put the two ends of the twine together and glued them along the entire height of the page for good security. 
  8. Glue pages together, allowing time for glue to set. For volume, I only glued the outsides of the pages together, leaving the inside of each page unglued so it opens. For the first HP book, I used about 20 folded pages. 
  9. Glue twine pages into the book cover, covering the inside of the spine and the inside of the each cover with glue. Then, glue the rest of your pages on top of the twine page, covering the spine and inside front cover with glue. 
  10. Place the entire book under something heavy for all the glue to set (a real book, perhaps?).

If you have questions about any particular step in this process, please feel free to leave a comment!

Theory is People, Too!

In everything you do, look at it through the lens of humanity.

I’m an introvert with a serious people problem. I will ask a real, breathing person a simple question long before it even crosses my mind to ask a search engine. I mean, really, for a librarian, I’m incredibly people-centric. When I first thought about publishing a research paper, I went to a colleague who had published and asked questions before I tried to look it up on the internet.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret – researching and publishing is largely void of contact with people. After I found a journal (open access – WOOHOO!) that was interested in my draft, I began getting it ready for peer-review. Admittedly, I was petrified of what these peer reviewers would say. I had this weird vision of these scary, unearthly, godlike people ready to rip apart my logic and tell me I was wrong – about everything. (If you haven’t already figured it out, I have an overactive imagination). What was so great was when the journal did give me a publishing editor, he was another academic librarian with a humanities background – something I could immediately relate to. Then, it got even better – my assigned peer reviewer was a public librarian who worked with children and families (I was a public teen librarian for two years). After googling them both, I saw smiling faces of people who I felt a certain kinship to.

Putting faces to these names and knowing that these were real people calmed me down more than I’d ever imagined. Nameless peer-review gods are scary – people who have lives and pets and families are not nearly as scary. This particular journal even gave me the option to choose my second peer-reviewer, which I took advantage of and asked someone who I’d already worked with.

This is great, but let’s put this into perspective: this process took a year. A YEAR! I’ll also add that the entire paper was about theories behind teaching standards – something most people find quite dry. Most of that year was me, armed with a pen and highlighters and ripping my own paper apart over and over again. I had a colleague read one of my drafts and his mark ups were incredibly helpful, but ultimately, this process was me and the computer. I would get stuck in rabbit holes and my eyes would cross after hours of fighting with words and ideas. There were so many times I would want to throw something and I’d have to stop and remind myself to go find a person to talk to about it. It was these human moments that enabled survival through the process and enabled a successful publication.

This month, I gave my very first professional presentation on this paper. I was very nervous to stand in front of people and explain what I found, especially because it was so theoretical. It can be quite challenging to take a seemingly mundane topic and make it real and meaningful. After laying a foundation of the theory and examples, I launched into real-world examples of how these theories manifests themselves. This is when my audience “got it”. They understood what I was saying the whole time, but it wasn’t until that connection was made that lights behind eyes began to flicker on. I even got a few jaw drops.

While the Active Audiences workshop that I co-prepped with Rachel Stott and co-presented with Samantha Mat was WAY more fun, I’m glad that I talked about my research. I could see it’s importance but I had to make the human connection for these professionals for them to see why it mattered, which was tough.

So what’s the point?

All research and publishing has a human impact and a human aspect. Yes, we research because it’s interesting, but it’s also about being part of the conversation. Even though emails with publishers and those we see as more experienced than us can be incredibly intimidating, remembering that we are all humans – with thoughts, fears, emotions, victories, failures, and everything in between – helps create a positive view of comments, critiques, and questions. Standing up in front of audiences and telling them about theory can seem like watching paint dry, but then turning around and demonstrating the human side for them is where it becomes meaningful.

While it’s been said before, it’s worth repeating – talk to people. Explain your view. Ask for help. Open up a little. LISTEN. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn along the way.

Chasm Jumping, NDIC2017, the Boy Scouts, and Other Completely Disjointed Thoughts

I was sitting in a friend’s office earlier this week talking about my current employment situation and how I really need to take whatever job comes my way. Money is tight, we have a kid and dogs and a mortgage. Life is expensive. I could see the thinly veiled sadness in his eyes as I talked about how I might have to leave our profession, at least for now. I said, “Well, I have to do what I have to do, and ya know, I jumped the chasm once, I can do it again. Twice, actually, going from admin to librarianship, then public and school to academic.” He broke out into a huge grin and said, “That should totally be on your resume – Jenni Burke, Chasm Jumper!”

This entire calendar year, particularly this summer, has been a fascinating journey of self-discovery. Shauna Niequist, in her book Present Over Perfect, calls this type of discovery a “sea change”. She refers to the change in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” when a man is thrown into the sea and transforms from what he was into something new, something wholly different. It’s one of those times in your life where something shifts so profoundly within you that you’ll never go back to that old self. While the whole world of academic librarianship has connected me with myself in really cool ways, discovering that there is meaning to what I always thought were “weird” parts of me has been really exciting. I was always quite good at English Comp and Rhetoric, pretty astute with literature, and found communication, particularly the psychology aspects of it, to be interesting. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in English and have a minor in Speech Communication, but I’ve always had this lurking numbers side. I even have a certification to teach up to Algebra 1 and Geometry in the state of Missouri, much to the shock and amazement of my fellow English educators (and by this, I mean, they’d kinda lean away like I was mildly horrifying).

But my true love affair with data began the last week of May of this year. I had finished my contract at Auraria and was having a bit of separation anxiety, so I began searching the internet for presentations from my recent colleagues. I landed on one from the aforementioned nickname-giving friend who, at the time, I knew more as a person than a professional. I’d never seen him present, and honestly, I didn’t really know anything about his background. The majority of the year, I would randomly wander into his office to talk about kids and pets and drones and picking locks. My first exposure to this man was when he walked in on a conversation about age and I was surprised to learn he was younger than me (sorry, dude, it’s the hair). My second, and still probably one of the most amusing, was him staring blankly at a microwave in the staff room and muttering something about always being wrong on how long he needs to microwave his lunch for. This led to me suggesting a time and him declaring me a genius when the timer went off and his food was actually hot. Based on these brief interactions, you can’t blame me for not having a clue he’s a department head with a ridiculous amount of knowledge and passion for his work. Had I known that, I probably would’ve been too intimidated to pop into his office, out of the blue, and say something to the effect of “Hi! We’ve never actually talked. What’s up?” in the first place. Anyway, in this presentation, he talked about the issue of consent in the commercialization and commodification of personal data on the web, particularly from dating websites and that-big-social-network-that-shall-not-be-named. He also discussed the ethics surrounding the uses of this data in academic research.

I was hooked. I’ve always found data and statistics interesting but it was the first time I had ever heard anyone talk about those things through the lens of human impact and ethics. This type of thing screams through the Framework for Information Literacy and something I’ve given a tremendous amount of thought to, but this was truly my first exposure to someone explicitly articulating examples of the issues behind the “Information Has Value” frame. Little did I know there’s entire groups of people in this profession, and those who work alongside us, that think about these things and work daily to connect students and faculty with this type of thought.

From here, I started reading journal articles and books about data, reading up on data management cycles, and having conversations with this colleague about data services. But it wasn’t until I went to the National Data Integrity Conference this week that I truly connected with this sector of my industry in the truest and deepest way. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the morning sessions of each day, but I still walked away with more packed into my little brain than I could have imagined.

There were amazing talks: Dr. Matt Hickey discussed the sea of data and our ethical responsibility to it, opening with my FAVORITE poem and prompting this tweet:

Dr. Safiya Noble gave a jaw-dropping presentation that I won’t discuss since her book is coming out soon and you should just read it when it does, because she’s awesome and so is her research. Here’s a link to it:

I’m COMPLETELY fangirling over this like crazy.

On Friday, Dr. Kathy Partin talked about what does and does not lead to research misconduct and the importance of mentorship in data ethics education.  Dr. Brad Woods discussed the unique challenges of data ethics when gathering data in the social sciences, particularly when commercial growth and politics creates and perpetuates power hierarchies within communities (this one actually evoked tears). Dr. Patrick Lee Plaisance discussed how we must understand our own role in moving from consumers only to citizens within this digital age, especially when it comes to news. Finally, Michael De Yoanna, a news director and an NPR affiliate, talked about how every data point represents a person and a story.

While these were great talks that got me thinking, the one that had the most impact on me in a very personal way was the very first one. The conference opened with a presentation from Dr. Colleen Strawhacker from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder. She talked about Indigenous Knowledge and how some uses of this knowledge could be detrimental to those who created it, but one of her largest points was while these data sets may not be highly cited nor do they have “impressive” qualitative metrics, they are deeply valuable to the people who make the observations. This data could be, and should be, used in a way that gives the voice back to the people from which it came. She asked how we can change the conversation and shift value from how many downloads these data sets get to the narratives that it could bring about. My literature background started creating fireworks in my brain.

We tell stories. Stories demonstrate and exude the very essence of humanity. Literary archetypes, like the “hero”, the “mother”, and the “arch enemy”, exist for a reason – they display our view of human category. Our brains want to create familiarity and in so doing, we categorize individuals and groups in an effort to know them. Unfortunately, this distorts reality as we all have different backgrounds, amounts of exposure, and levels of motivation to learn of “others”. The data created by these indigenous cultures means something very different to them than it does to us. But if they were to be able to take that information and use it to create the narrative of their own experiences and, destroying the framework of categorization we, as outsiders, have built, then they would hold the potential to forever change the world’s view on highly politicized issues like climate change and endangered species. If we could see what they see, our ideas of what matters within these issues would drastically change.

This made me think a lot about an entirely separate thing that has been holding on to some of my mental space lately. I grew up around the Boy Scouts. I have an older brother and a father who was a Den Leader and a Scout Master. I was also a tomboy, so I had a tendency to hang out a lot around the guys. I was inducted into the BSA honor society at the age of 21, the youngest a female could be inducted, and while it was a great honor, I always found the tradition of using Native American regalia and ceremonies weird and uncomfortable. When the honor society was created, permission to use these things were granted by a local tribe and it grew from there. While the current traditions are believed to be based off of the Lenni-Lenape (that is, the Delaware), and the tribal counsel still supports this, I have to wonder if they would still approve if they felt like there was another way for them to preserve their tradition. There has been a few side discussions lately about whether or not the organization should remove Native American tradition, which I strongly support. So why aren’t we asking THEM? Do they even feel that they have their own voice? They’re a small tribe, all things considered, and if they were given a way to share their stories in their own way, would they continue to allow the BSA, which is a very large national organization, to use their traditions? The types of projects that Dr. Strawhacker presented focuses hugely on giving power back to groups that have long been ignored and quieted. Growing up around the honor society within BSA, I saw the anger the frustration of the Native boys who had to watch as white, non-Natives wore regalia and danced dances that were deeply meaningful to them. While they didn’t see the ceremonies, the dances, or even the use of regalia as inappropriate, they were upset to see these things being utilized by others who were outside their culture.

Why is it that people who are not Native and not part of this tribe the ones who get to decide how these traditions are used? So many say of the BSA’s use that, “There’s no harm” and “It’s honoring them” and “I learned so much about their culture this way”, but how is this true?! If THEY aren’t telling the story, how do YOU know that what you’re “honoring” or “learning” is true, accurate, or significant? What does this even have to do with the mission of this organization, anyway? Why do we feel justified in taking “data” from another culture and creating our own version of their narrative?

Part of this “sea change” that I’ve been going through this year is allowing passing thoughts and ideas that I’ve always had to become fully formed, to let these them settle in, and to hold them up against my pretend reality that was created by ignorance. Social justice has always been on my mind, even when I was young, but I could easily push it away and think that I’m doing alright because it’s not like I’m actively hating anyone. But the bigger reality is that misuse of data, unharnessed commercial growth, and the placement of value on qualitative metrics alone pulls us further and further away from the essence of who we are. Data isn’t neutral, technology isn’t neutral, data analytics aren’t neutral. We have a responsibility to utilize all of it ethically and with deep regard for those it may disadvantage. We have a responsibility to recognize that companies and individuals create, manipulate, and steal information while they lull us into believing that they have our best interest at heart. They’d never lie to us, right?

Humanities and science aren’t mutually exclusive. Data is created by humans and it can be used for good or for bad. As bell hooks said in Teaching to Transgress, we need to be self-actualized. We need to stop leaving parts and pieces of ourselves at the door when we come to work. We need to bring our whole selves to what we do.  I’m not two disjointed halves. Maybe I’m just jumping another chasm, but I feel that my “data” side and my “people” side cannot be divorced.

I don’t think they were ever meant to be.

Finding Joy in the Process

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I’m not particularly built for “Stay at Home Motherhood”. I love my little nugget and he is a ton of fun, but I need adult interaction and intelligent conversation like fish need water. It’s an absolute necessity. On top of this, everyone in my industry knows that it can take a while to find positions in the academic world, especially when you’re fairly tied to geography. So, I’ve been substituting at a community college library and the public district where I worked full time before Auraria. I’m enjoying it greatly, but I struggle with the lack of schedule. A lot. In fact, the schedule has sent me into depression more than anything else so far!

So what do you do to cope when things don’t look like how you wish they would? Well, you find joy in the process. You have to find little things to fill your days with happy thoughts to balance out the challenges. What I have found that brings me joy came as a bit of surprise – writing. I even have trouble keeping up with this blog but I’ve found that writing gives me something to wrestle with.

Most of this summer I’ve been working toward my first peer-reviewed research article. I’d settle into the local library or coffee shop and work my way through comments, ideas, and snippets of lines that float through my brain. After all that work, it was finally published and I’m really proud of what I did. Here it is!

While working through this paper, some really awesome librarians came up with this really amazing idea of creating a professional blog called LibParlor that is dedicated to helping librarians either new to tenure track positions and need to publish or those simply interested in getting started in the research process. I submitted a few proposals and they were accepted, which I was excited about. Not everyone had the help I had. So, today, my first post was published! 

I also wrote a reflective blog on my research process and that will came out sometime soon as well on LibParlor. And earlier this week, I found out that a character analysis that I wrote (for fun!) is going to be published soon in a magazine dedicated to the works of JK Rowling.

I wouldn’t have ever thought that I would find writing so invigorating, especially since I was honestly a “B” writer in college. There was a particular professor who is solely responsible for pushing me to an “A” level. Dr. Wyman was a retired professor who worked for Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, where I got my teacher certifications. She taught a variety of classes but was especially passionate about British poetry. She would call me out in class if I hadn’t thought things through enough. Once, we were going around the table answering her questions (this was a typical teaching strategy she used) and she got to me, asked me a questions, and I stumbled a bit through it because I was tired and didn’t really want to think. She barked, “Not good enough! You can do better! We’ll come back to you!” While this might seem a bit extreme for a professor to say something like that to a student, we had that relationship. She knew it would work. And it did.

It was motivating, not shaming, because it sent a clear message – “I believe in you. You’re smarter than that.”

And that’s what has shot through my mind many times this summer. Dr. Wyman’s voice barking “Not good enough!” I believed her then and I still do. Somehow, writing papers for her class changed how I approached writing. I’m not even sure I could explain what clicked in my brain but she forced me to explain myself. It was liberating and wonderful.

Besides writing, I’m enjoying catching up on a few tv shows and rewatching my favorite movies. I’ve gotten to jump into a lot more books than I would if I was working full time and I’m loving hanging out with a crazy toddler and having regular game nights with friends. I’ve gotten to take a few trips and see a few some places and faces – old and new. “Unemployment” has its challenges but it’s so important (and fun!) to find those little joys!


Why, yes, lack of access IS a problem

For the last few months, amidst interview rounds and subbing in both public and academic libraries, I’ve been working on a research paper that’s set to be published in September. While I’ve always been a supporter of open access, two things have happened in the last few months that has lit a bonfire for my support:

  1. Working on this research paper has been quite challenging without steady, full-time access to quality research.  While this hasn’t been impossible, it has pushed me to do things that are inconvenient on the simple end and to make flat professionally questionable decisions on the more complex end. I can’t say that I’ve broken any rules, but I’ve definitely toed the line and, unfortunately, been forced to ask others to do the same. Luckily, I know some wonderful librarians who believe in accessibility and professional courtesy and have helped me access pay-walled information, anyway. Thank you to you all and I’m in your debt.
  2. The second occurrence that has caused me to quite feisty in this area is more important because it directly impacts students. I was preparing for a teaching demonstration at a local community college and used their resources to prepare. This, of course, just makes sense because if I’m doing a demo on teaching their resources, I’m going to prepare activities that use their resources! What I was met with was a system that was clunky and frustrating. I’m a trained, experienced Librarian and had difficulty searching for and retrieving information that should’ve been simple to find. I had better luck on google scholar. This has a few implications:
  • This puts me back in a position to have teach click-and-point skills to students. This is much less important to me than focusing on authority, how information is created, how those who create it have agendas, and how to deal with manipulative info on a daily basis.
  • This puts community college students at a stark disadvantage bc of the affordability of intuitive packaging. Four year students are already at an advantage in many ways over comm college students and this just makes it worse! How can anyone properly prepare a 2-yr college student for a 4-yr library when you have to dedicate so much time to teaching them how to use an outdated, clunky system that you have to wage war against just to get simple information? The packaging this college has is well-known and often purchased. I wonder if they have any clue how difficult it is to use.

This is just another example of how the publishing industry makes it more and more difficult for students who aren’t pouring money into the system to access information. They’re not second class citizens. Those who argue that open access is killing scholarship should try to use these systems. We can’t even grow scholarship properly if our students don’t have access to quality resources.

You want me to support the current publishing industry when my students use google scholar because it’s user-friendly and intuitive? You want me to encourage them to use a database system that adds more obstacles to their learning? For the sake of what?

What message are you sending students when all of the “quality, reliable, and valid” information sits behind a paywall? It’s time to stop supporting this hierarchical, authoritarian system and concentrate on what matters – the information, the data, the actual scholarship. What the research actually means and its importance to our society and our world.

Support your researchers and their efforts, evaluate factors that actually matter (not the title of the journal they published in), and for goodness sake, make it more accessible. If it’s not open, at least make it accessible in a system that doesn’t cost every penny an institution has. We can do better than this.