If you are a children’s librarian, or you want to be one, and you want to live in a small town in the West and work in the very same library system I do, why not apply to be the new children’s librarian at the Powell branch?
If you live in Wyoming, you’ll soon come to think of 60 miles as nearby. Anyway, the Powell Branch Library in lovely Powell, Wyoming, is looking for a new branch manager. The Powell Branch is part of the same county library as my branch, and Powell is a great little town (it’s even mentioned in Bill McKibben’s book Deep Economy).
If you think you’d like doing my job in a somewhat larger town an hour northeast of where I am, you might just want to apply.
I am demonstrating posting on a blog for our program Get on the Bus Wyoming!
If you are, or want to be, a teen librarian and want to live in the West, you can be the first-ever teen librarian at the Park County Public Library in Cody, just 30 miles to the north of me! You get to work in a beautiful, newly renovated building with a coffee shop that serves lunch every day; you get to build a program from scratch; and you get to live fifty miles from Yellowstone. What more could you want? You’ll also be working in the same library system as me, although not at the same library.
Anyway, check it out and apply if you are at all interested!
I realized long ago that I was never going to be a newsy blogger. There are plenty of other people out there reporting on new things, so I don’t. Sometimes, however, I really ought to report some news about what’s happening at my actual librarian job.
I came out to interview for this job in January of 2006. That same week, the Cap Tax II campaign to fund a new Cody library kicked off. I arrived on the job in March and got to work on that website not too long afterwards. That November, I got to celebrate not only the trouncing of the Republican majority in Congress but also the passage of the cap tax. (In fact, I was on the road on vacation the day after election day. We stopped in Farson to get gas, and I called the library from a payphone to get the news.) Some months after that, I started work on what would become the Park County Library website , and last October I attended the groundbreaking for the new library.
This Saturday, the old Cody library will close its doors for the last time. The new library will open six weeks later, on October 4th, and it should be a site to behold: three times the size of the incredibly overcrowded current library (where the branch manager and the circulation manager both have desks right behind the circulation desk, and boxes of donated books line the walls along the entrance).
I’m thrilled that I’ll get to be there. And since, although they’re not really connected, my progress in my job and the progress of the Cody library project have been intertwined in my time here, I’m also excited to tell you about the ways my job is changing. While I’ll remain as a librarian in Meeteetse and continue to do collection development and instruction and programming there, I’m turning over a lot of my administrative duties to my extremely able coworker. That will give me time to be a traveling librarian one day a week and a virtual librarian another. I’ll be traveling to the Powell and Cody libraries to do staff training and, eventually, to teach some classes for the public. And one day a week (or, more likely, hours throughout the week that add up to about a day a week), I’ll be working on our virtual branch, developing web content (like this silly little screencast I just made) and learning more about whatever I need to learn. (I’ve got a ways to go before I’ll meet Mabel Wilkinson’s requirements , but maybe someday.) I look forward to continuing to grow with the library system where I work.
Last Friday we hosted a little get-together for thirteen librarians from northwestern Wyoming. Meeteetse has a four-day school week, so that meant we could use a school computer lab for the sessions, which turned out to be an even better deal than I thought.
In the morning, the school’s IT coordinator talked to us about viruses, anti-virus software, and basic computer security and troubleshooting. I learned that shortcuts on your desktop take up extra space, and I resolved to get better about scanning, defragging, and generally maintaining our library computers. I think everyone learned something from the presentation. Yay IT guy!
We all went out to lunch at the Elkhorn, and then we returned to the lab so that I could talk a little bit about social software. Here’s where the computer lab set-up came in handy–and where I got to feel that there was a practical reason for using Jessamyn’s slideshow set-up rather than simply an I-hate-PowerPoint reason. The projector (which had worked fine in the morning, of course) decided suddenly that it didn’t want to turn on. So I gave out the handout, told everyone to bring up the presentation page on their computer, and gave the talk with everyone following along. Since their computers were hooked up to the school filtering software, I couldn’t show them my lame MySpace page, but on the whole, it worked pretty well.
I haven’t completely figured out how to give presentations of this sort. It’s hard to know how much detail to use when you know some of the audience wants a “and then you click on the blue box” type of thing and others want a “here’s a bunch of stuff–go out and try it” deal. This time I leaned very much toward the latter, with a lot of “please feel free to contact me if you need to know when to click on the blue box” interjections.
I also installed a Meebo Room on my site thinking that it would be fun to let people play around with it during the presentation. We did not end up using it, in large part because I made the fatal error of assuming that everyone is as fond of multitasking as I am. Several people said, “But I can’t chat–I have to take notes!” It’s good to be reminded of these things once in awhile.
There’s nothing to rouse one’s ire quite like having one’s home insulted. That home can be your country, your team, or your family, and in its worst forms, that ire is what leads to nationalism, gang warfare, and brawls at soccer matches. Most of the time, however, the stakes are more subtle, and the feeling is worth exploring.
As most of you know, I live and work in Wyoming. Ire was my initial reaction to the so-called mudflap girl flap. Fine, I thought, the image may be sexist, but do you have to dump that all on Wyoming? Wyoming, like 49 other states in the nation, has its share of racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism. It’s sort of weird to see the names of your state library officials next to an exhortation to tell them to pull material from the public eye.
Wyoming has its problems, and I won’t deny them. Most notably, we worst in the nation when it comes to discrepancy in pay between men and women.
I know that for some people these things are all of a piece: sexual image of woman –> objectification of women –> paying women poorly. There are, I am sure, connections. I spend quite a bit of time trying to explain to people that if you say men, you say women, not girls; if you say ladies, you say gentlemen. Only if you say boys do you then say girls. (I’d also kind of like it if we started talking about female doctors and writers and presidents–have you ever head anyone say, “Oh, he’s a man doctor?” No? I thought not. Ever taken a course called American Men Writers? Well, you probably have, but not under that title. Woman writers aren’t special; they are writers who are female, not some rare breed of being that require double nouns.)
Many commentators (including our first lady) have said that the way to create pay equity between men and women in Wyoming is to get more women working in the oil and gas industries. (To give you an idea of how lucrative these fields are during boomtimes, I’ve met high school dropouts who make twice what I do with two masters degrees.) That approach would work statistically, but it’s not a solution. The solution is to value the work that women do and pay people who are teachers and childcare providers and nurses and–yes–librarians in a fashion that is equal to the services they provide. The solution is to make sure that all full-time jobs pay a living wage, so that women are not stuck in minimum wage service jobs.
Those solutions probably also include learning to see women in a variety of ways, not simply as objects adorning mudflaps or library marketing posters. But discussing objectification is the easy part. We can write all the blog entries we want, but I don’t think that any number of blog posts is going to get a living wage bill passed.
I had many far more strident and far more obnoxious things to say about people’s reactions to the campaign, but quite frankly, I’m tired. I appreciate the variety of opinions I’ve seen, many of which have affected the way I think about the issue. But I’m tired. I’m tired of discussions about whether my bumper sticker (a similar mudflap woman from Arches Book Company in Moab, UT) is helping or harming the cause of equal rights. I’m tired of other people having similar arguments. I’m tired of being told what I should or should not think as a feminist. I’m tired of talking about empowerment. I’m tired of defending my state and the people in it.
I’m ready for an actual fight.
Thanks to Jessi at the Yellowstone Research Library for a few corrections and updates!
There are a lot of great things about being a librarian in Wyoming. (To begin with, you get to live in Wyoming, although I recognize this is not everyone’s idea of a Great Thing.) You get to be part of a (relatively) well-funded state library network. You get to have Craig Johnson come visit your library for the price of a six-pack of Rainier Ale. You get to be proud to be from the same state as Mabel Wilkinson. And, once in awhile, you get to go to meetings in Yellowstone National Park. (Note to the National Park Service: consider hiring an information architect. Really. Your websites are horrid to navigate.)
I got to do just that last week. Region 2 of the WYLD network had a meeting at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, and we stayed over night at Mammoth Hot Springs. The Research Center used to be at Mammoth, in the Wyoming part of Yellowstone, and so even though it moved to new spiffy quarters a couple of years ago in Gardiner, Montana, the library part is still considered to be part of the Wyoming library network.
I arrived a bit late for the full tour, but I got to see a few Thomas Moran water colors, with his notes on how to expand them into full fledged paintings, and I got to see the library. The library consists of books that are all related in some way to Yellowstone, from environmental impact statements to novels set in the park; vertical file materials of all sorts; a map room with lots of nifty maps; and an archive with all kinds of papers related to the park, including many decades worth of log books and 296 linear feet of papers related to the 1988 fires.
Two librarians staff the library, though they occasionally also have volunteers or an intern.
If I’m remembering this correctly, the Yellowstone Association runs the building and the librarians work for the National Park Service, but I might have that backwards–it’s a confusing amalgam of responsibilities. There was at one time an archivist, but his position wasn’t kept after he retired. Because the library is so short-staffed, a lot of the collection is languishing–not decaying, but not getting fully described and cataloged, much less digitized.
Correction–in fact, I did have it backwards: the NPS runs the building, the librarians work for the Yellowstone Association. Also, the didn’t retire; he left to take another position. The Park has yet to decide whether or not to replace him. [Another note to the NPS--hire archivists!]
I am in many ways lucky, I know. There aren’t many towns the size of Meeteetse (pop. 351, elev. 5797) that have a library of 25,000 with internet access and a wide array of electronic resources that’s open 44 hours a week. Gardiner, Montana, by contrast, has a population of 851 and a public library that’s open 11 hours a week and has one computer (at least according to this Chamber of Commerce newsletter–scroll about a third of the way down). It wasn’t open while we were there. The vagaries of library funding tend, quite frequently, toward the depressing.
On a less somber note, we did see deer, antelope, elk, bison and baby bison, a mama black bear and a black bear cub, and two coyotes in the park. I don’t have any pictures of the wildlife, but a few shots of the park, the libraries, and the general environs are up on Flickr.
I just got home from a hugely successful program at the library. Tom Rea, a writer from Casper, came to talk about Ella Watson, also known as “Cattle Kate.” Thirty people packed the library — we ran out of regular chairs and had people sitting on the little kids’ chairs, but no one seemed to mind. I rigged up a screen (there was a miscommunication about what equipment was needed) by securing our aged tiny screen to the ceiling with the aid of a spare computer cord and a double half hitch. I’d show you pictures, but the batteries in my camera were dead. Again. (NB: If anyone ever tries to convince you that a digital camera that takes AA batteries is a good idea because you’ll always be able to buy batteries for it if yours run out, do not take their advice. You will either buy many, many batteries or you will be like me and have many, many pictures that you never take.)
The lack of pictures leads into the title for this post, and its real subject, which is not success but failure. When Michael Porter (also known as Libraryman) sent out an invitation to join the 365 Library Days project, I jumped all over it, because, as they say, it was new and shiny, and because I sure do love Flickr, and because, as Steve Lawson put it, I wanted to be a part of the League of Awesomeness. A few weeks in, though, and I’m realizing that not only am I not going to be able to take all the pictures because of my damn camera batteries, but also that I am not going to be able to take them all simply because I have too much else to do, and while Flickring 365 days in the library will make me look awesome in the world of librarians who Flickr, it won’t mean much of anything to the population I serve.
It’s often quite amazing to me that we have a library at all in a town as small as this one. That we do have such a library, and that it is able to hold 25,000 volumes and be open 44 hours a week and have a monthly book discussion group and a weekly story time and an occasional program like tonight’s is a testament to a lot of things: to the cooperation between the Park County Library System and the Meeteetse School District, to the awesomeness of the Wyoming State Library and the WYLD network, to the Friends of the Library and the Park County Library Foundation, to the Wyoming Humanities Council and other groups, and to my coworkers.
We manage to do a lot of things, but we can’t do everything. It behooves me to remember the things that I am good at but also the things that I’m not. I’m good at giving teenagers the space to do their own thing in peace. I’m not so good at engaging them and getting them to come to organized events. I’m pretty good at ordering a selection of books that is — I hope — both broad and deep in all the right places for this community. I suck at getting those books read. I’m good at taking pictures of silly inanimate things that amuse me. I’m not so good at getting people to participate in pictures meant to go online.
I am — or rather the Meeteetse library is — probably going to be leaving the League of Awesomeness, or at least the 365 Library Days part of it. If I have a moment sometime, I’ll drop by and see how the rest of you are doing. I think it’s a cool project, and it could potentially be a great way to get some news coverage for your library — both for your library’s use of technology but also, and more importantly, for the things you do at your library that you are documenting (hint: start writing press releases)! For now, though, I’m going to go back to ordering books and trying to read more of them, thinking about summer reading, and wondering if it’s really essential for me to convince people that Firefox is so much better than Internet Explorer — another thing I turn out not to be good at.
One year ago today I started my job here in Meeteetse. I put together a handout of some of the things that we’ve done–and I should emphasize the we, because most of these things would not be possible without the work of my coworkers–in the past year for the Legislative Reception last month. I thought that for my one-year anniversary, I’d post it (with various self-promotional hyperlinks) here.
In 2006, the Meeteetse Branch Library. . .
- Hosted programs with Craig Johnson, author of The Cold Dish and Death Without Company and Betty J. Schmidt, author of Meeteetse: The Start of the Big Horn Basin.
- Enrolled 106 kids in Summer Reading and had an Adult Summer Reading Program for the first time ever with 40 participants.
- Held classes and workshops on digital photography and MedlinePlus.gov, and provided individual tutoring on computers.
- Offered story time for preschoolers every Tuesday and a monthly book discussion group for adults.
- Participated in the Meeteetse Schools’ Education Fair and hosted meetings of the Wyoming Humanities Council and the University of Wyoming Outreach Office.
- Provided internet access, magazines, books, and comfy chairs to residents, tourists, Tour de Wyoming bikers, and US Forest Service firefighters.
- Started a Flickr.com account for photos, a wiki for the county library system, and a del.icio.us bookmark account to keep track of recommended resources for students and teachers.
- Had librarians attend What’s New in Children’s Literature in Billings, MT; the Wyoming Libraries Database meeting in Sundance; and the American Library Association conference in New Orleans.
There are many more things I’d like to do, and many I’d like to do differently, or better, but for today I’m just focusing on all the stuff that we have done, which, if I do say so myself, seems like quite a bit.