Category Archives: Our Profession

Reading Habits of Professionals

While enjoying a coffee with a friend and colleague, we happened upon the topic of books and what is on our personal bookshelves.  I confessed that anyone entering my home would see an overwhelming amount of romance novels bulging from overstuffed bookshelves.

In fact, at home, I’ve organized the bookcases in a way that might say a lot about how society is perceived to judge reading topics and those who read certain genres. The bookshelves closest to “foot traffic” house literary classics, and a variety of nonfiction titles (biographies, how-to books, child rearing, fitness, professional titles, etc.).  That way, at first glance, guests or acquaintances aren’t immediately introduced to the romance collection.  Why?

Going back to my coffee date, my colleague, a well-respected member of our profession who holds a PhD and various other degrees, expressed a wise sentiment; we have nothing to prove by what we read,  and our reading habits certainly don’t prove how intelligent we are. Eureka!  This is an idea that should be shouted from the tops of libraries, schools, bookstores and homes.  We choose our reading material to fit our needs at the moment.  Our favorite genres, like romance, continue to be read more frequently because they are familiar, comfortable, and strike a chord that resonates within us.  For example, when reading a romance in the summer months, I am always filled with a sense of nostalgia for my teenage years.  Having discovered Harlequin romance novels in my mid-teens, I’d spend hours reading on my grandma’s front porch, with the hum of lawn mowers and the singing of birds to keep my company. We all have stories like that.

So let’s revisit my bookshelves and their strategic placement in my home.  I’m not sure if the original plan was to organize in a way that biased or influenced guests’ opinions of my reading habits, but it certainly developed into a cognisant awareness.  This is where the reading habits of professionals enters the equation.  As a professional, should we feel defensive about our choice of reading?  Are there different expectations placed on professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, librarians and teachers, to read books that are considered higher-brow or more educational?  As a professional, am I expected to read a higher quantity of non-fiction for pleasure because it is expected?

Instead of a female librarian, let’s try this with a well-respected, world-renowned surgeon.  You are fortunate enough to be invited to his home and when you enter, you see bookshelves lining the walls full of…graphic novels and fantasy fiction? Or, biographies, medical texts and literary classic?  In your mind, what did you anticipate and expect? Why?  If there were two surgeons, one with shelves full of graphic novels and the other with literary classics, would you judge their professional abilities differently?

One last scenario to share with you. A cataloguer is responsible for the cataloguing of popular fiction, the majority being either romance or mystery.  When a romance novel that borders on Erotica or “mommy porn” crosses her desk, she always writes “SMUT” on the instructions for the processor. As a joke, of course.  While this comment never makes it into the record and is never indicated on the book, it does indicate her views on material that is not to her taste. And, in fact, while it is an ongoing joke, she has a true distaste for this genre.  It is not respected.  What if you are her colleague, supervisor or director and your greatest pleasure is to sit down with an erotica novel and enjoy the escape it give you?  Should you hide it? Apologize for it? Defend it?  If your enjoyment of these novels becomes public knowledge, will it impact how your staff and colleagues view your intellect and expertise as a librarian?

We often talk about reading as a social or personal experience.  The way we share our reading experiences and how we choose our genres are often based on life-experiences, interest and personality.  For example, I am not a very social reader and am almost never influenced by a bestsellers list or ratings list. Also, I find romance – lighthearted chic-lit and regency romance – especially enjoyable after reading professional articles and journals.  It’s a way to escape and relax.  Am I alone in this?  I highly doubt it.

Are professionals subject to more criticism and judgement when choosing their leisure reading? Are there biases within our society that impact or influence the reading habits of professionals or at least with whom they share those interests?  I think so.  However, I will go back to my friend’s words and emphasize, for all of us, that our reading preferences do not reflect our intellectual abilities and we have no need to apologize for what we choose to read.

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Free Webinar: Are Books Your Brand? How Libraries Can Stay Relevant to Readers

Are you looking for something to do on Valentine’s day?  While this might not make the “Top 10 date list ideas” for V-day, this is definitely an event you might want to consider joining during the day (while looking forward to your date night!).

Here’s the information:

EVENT TIME AND DATE: Thursday, February 14, 2013, 2:00-3:00 PM ET/11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PT
Are Books Your Brand? How Libraries Can Stay Relevant to Readers

The core mission of libraries – providing books for readers – is as relevant today as it was years ago. In fact, it’s what people overwhelmingly identify as THE reason for libraries. Formats might change, and library patrons might only visit the library virtually, but the library is still the place where readers go to find books.  Libraries should embrace this role in their communities – and become “Centers for Readers.” But how?
The panel will discuss:
  • Shifts in how people are using the library
  • Examples of successful library programs and services for readers
  • Strategies and tools for engaging communities of readers
Panelists
Robin Nesbitt – Technical Services Director, Columbus Metropolitan Library 
Duncan Smith – Vice President, NoveList
Barry Trott – Digital Services Director, Williamsburg Regional Library 
Moderator

Laurel Tarulli – Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University

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Essential Twitter Chats for the Library Crowd

I recently received an email directing me to the article 20 Essential Twitter Chats for the Library Crowd and thought I’d share it with all of you.  What do you think of the list?  Are there any you’d add? Remove?

What about Twitter accounts for specific areas of librarianship? Essential to all librarians?

I’d like to hear your thoughts!

I’ve created a handful of lists on my Twitter account that highlight my favorite and are categorized into specific areas/topics within our profession.  If you’re interested, check them out at @laureltarulli

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The Organization of Information: Pondering the Preparation of a Syllabus

As I work on my very first course syllabus for the Fall term at Dalhousie, I find myself reminiscing about my own time in library school and how I felt about the courses I took.  Were they useful? Practical? Was I given enough hands-on work or discussions? What courses did I like? Dislike?  Why?

The first class I’ll be teaching is the Organization of Information.  And here I am, paging through my old notes and text (yes, I kept them!) to remind myself of what I learned and what I found useful/interesting.  As one of those truly *nerdy* students, I took an abundance of notes for each course, writing more on topics that interested me and making side comments on theories and topics I didn’t understand or speakers that I found dull.  I also, ahem, color coded each week in my binders so that they would all correspond….talk about the organization of information

I do remember enjoying courses where a lot of discussion occurred and the class style was laid back.  I don’t like the feeling that you can hear crickets in the room as the instructor asks a question.  It either means everyone has zoned out, they don’t understand what’s being discussed or they’re bored and can’t wait for class to be done.  Hopefully, I can find a balance between instructing and providing the information they need, with common sense applications and enough interest to keep the conversation flowing with the class.

As with all new instructors, I hope to put a little of myself and my own interests into this class, while maintaining the core structure and content that the students will need as a foundation for future classes.

So as I sit at my computer and work through the course schedule, week by week, I find myself wondering, how can I make this class interesting to newcomers?  What will spark an interest and provide them with enough curiosity to ask questions? And I wonder, what do many of you feel about the courses you took?  What differentiated an enjoyable course from a “so so I never want to attend that class again” course?

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Vote for Most Fascinating Blog Award: Voting Starts Today

The Cataloguing Librarian Blog has been nominated for “Most Fascinating Librarian Blog”.   It’s just a fun award, but it does note that the nomination is the result of one of my past posts, Being a Librarian is No Laughing Matter.  Some of you remember that the post resulted in quite a few comments – thought-provoking and interesting thanks to all of you.

The voting for this award starts today. If you’d like to vote, please click on the badge below.  Thanks!
accelerated degrees

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Cataloguing Librarian Blog Receives Award Nomination

Last week I received an award nomination for the “Most Fascinating Librarian Blog” in the Library Blog category.
Accelerated Degree Programs

The email read:

An article you wrote in 2009 titled Being a librarian is no laughing matter  Being a librarian is no laughing matterBeing a librarian is no laughing matter nomination for aFascinationAward: 2012’s Most Fascinating Librarianblog.

The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award.
So, with this exciting news also comes the request from all of you to vote for my blog!  Please see next post “Vote for Most Fascinating Blog Award”.

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Professional “Thank You” Not Required?

Quite often I receive emails from students in MLIS programs asking for advice. This can be as simple as help with a paper, a cataloguing question or long-term career advice. Sometimes these emails also involve in-depth questions regarding the future of cataloguing, areas of the profession that are growing, my professional opinion on certain topics or participation in studies, research or interviews.

Receiving these emails on an almost monthly basis, I continue to take the time to answer them, thoughtfully providing responses, direction, opinions or, when I have no answers, other resources or individuals that I believe will be helpful. However, what always stands out when helping these individuals is that I rarely, if ever, receive a “Thank You”. It’s easy to send an email. Easier than picking up the telephone or writing a letter. While I am not so long in the tooth, I had it drilled into me from an early age that a simple Thank You letter goes a long way. And, to me, it does. When a new professional wants something, how easy it is to send a quick email or text. And then — “ding”– their smartphone goes off when they receive a text or email back, providing them with answers to their queries. But how much effort does it take to send a simple “Thank you” in return? Apparently, a lot.

Within the past two weeks, I received two requests for assistance. And, given my ongoing experience with young professionals who are used to instant gratification (in this case, quick and “easy” answers with no thought to the professional’s time on the other end), my knee-jerk reaction was to say “no”. How terrible of me. Why should these students face the consequences of their peers’ actions? So, of course, I am taking the time to do it. Why? Because I am a professional who believes in mentoring and growing the profession through working together, sharing information and building relationships. Because, for every 1 out of 30 young professionals who take the time to say “Thank You”, I know that perhaps, one day, I will meet or read about that young individual making a difference in our profession. And, by some small chance, maybe I made a positive impact in their career choices and path.

However, I do find the lack of a professional “Thank You” troubling. Why are our young professionals not learning about how to conduct themselves professionally? Should they have to be taught about professional conduct (which in this case, seems more like common courtesy) at the graduate level? Should we be addressing this behaviour at conferences? In the classroom? While I am not sure where this needs to be addressed, we certainly need to take note of this or someday, an aspiring mover & shaker may write an email that is never responded to; never answered because the respondent no longer takes the time to respond to emails and is no longer interested in mentoring or sharing their expertise. What a shame that would be.

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