Category: Librarian Culture

Librarians on Film

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By , October 25, 2012 11:03 am

by Emily Smith

Winter’s just around the corner here in Seattle, and while on the one hand it’s sad to see the mild weather and long days go, I always look forward to the activities that come with what follows: the festivity of the holidays, hunkering down indoors, cooking, eating, and (being a librarian) reading. But winter’s also the season when I actually have a decent chance of making a dent in my seemingly ever-expanding Netflix queue.

I have a tendency to like to group my movie watching into themes – artist documentaries, Westerns, and so on – and lately I was thinking about librarians in movies, and movies about librarians. I sadly realized that aside from the cult classic (and personal favorite) Party Girl, and the memorable scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that portrays librarians in a rather unflatteringly grumpy light – I couldn’t put together a very respectable film festival on the theme. Feeling that this was rather unacceptable for someone in our profession, I spent a little time online and quickly discovered that I wasn’t the first person to think about compiling such a list, or to think about how librarians have been portrayed in film throughout history. Continue reading 'Librarians on Film'»

Many Librarians Make Light Work

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By , September 27, 2012 1:46 pm

By Nick Harrell
Reference/Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Miami School of Law
UW Law Librarianship Graduate 2012

Recently I was asked to track down a copy of an unpublished opinion from the 1970s issued by a U.S. District Court located on the other side of the country.  After my best efforts failed to find the case, I did what everyone should do when they’re stuck.  I asked for help.  I reached out to a law librarian who works at a county law library near where the case was argued.  After she took a look around without any luck, that librarian provided me with contact information to a librarian at the court where the case was argued.  The court librarian didn’t have a copy of the opinion either, but he did provide me with more information about the case.  He shared the research notes of another court librarian trying to locate the case for yet another librarian on a different occasion.  He also provided contact information for the folks at the archive where the case file was held.  With that information, I was able to put in a request to the archives that would hopefully have the case.  While waiting for a response from the archives, I contacted an author who had cited to the case.  And, as I should have expected by this point, the author referred me to the librarian at his firm, who was also exceedingly helpful.

Eventually I was able to get my hands on the elusive case, but only with the help of over half a dozen librarians (I had been picking the brains of my co-workers during my quest).  I learned some new things about researching unpublished opinions while working on this project (specifically, that unpublished opinions roam in the wild west of citation land and are anything but uniform, and that if someone offers you a docket sheet, you take it).  But, my real take away was that librarians help each other.  Besides my co-workers, I had no prior connection to the librarians who helped me, but they were all generous with their time and eager to help.  I have added that generosity and eagerness to the list of reasons why I am glad to be a librarian.

And the Seasons Roll on By…

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By , September 11, 2012 9:43 am

Photo Credit: Amit Chattopadhyay

by Anna L. Endter

My apologies if you are not yet ready for the summer to be over but I’m going to go ahead and declare that fall 2012 has arrived. After hearing a set of rain-themed songs on KEXP this morning (yes, our “streak” of dry days just ended) I’m ready to admit that the season is changing: most have returned from summer vacations, the commute is taking a little longer in the morning as kids head off to school, and a barista just informed me that many people have switched to ordering hot drinks.

Noticing the changes around me in my life generally got me thinking about whether there are seasons at work, as well. Last week I came across Raquel Gabriel’s Diversity Dialogues column on “Dealing with Stress” in the Summer 2012 edition of Law Library Journal. In it, Ms. Gabriel discusses the ups and downs and cycles of work in the context of managing stress on the job. Academic law librarians, for example, often experience predictable “seasons” of work/stress/busy-ness that are very much tied to the activities of law students and faculty.

I think that private law librarians also experience seasonal changes and cycles in their work. In my own experience working in law firms, these seasons are intertwined with client demands and needs and are perhaps more subject to fluctuation (Augusts are slow, Decembers are often busy as the end of the year approaches, and so on). Librarians, as service professionals, are among the many who attend to patron/client needs and the accompanying ebbs and flows, all while managing expectations and stress levels.

Just like we’ll all be breaking out our fleece and vests in the weeks to come, will you also be preparing for changing seasons at work? Do tell.

I Am What I Am

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By , September 7, 2012 9:56 am

by Philippe Cloutier









Most people are impressed/confused when I tell them that I am legal librarian. While it’s kind of funny to look at someone and see the gears moving in their brains as they try to figure out what it is we exactly do, I pretty much know the next few words or questions out of their mouths. Often the issue of digital content comes up and the non-librarian may know many of the situations with which we deal. Others may also understand why librarians are of value in any setting. After the explanations are bridged it is great to hear people respond with, “I wish we had a librarian!”

The Popeye strip above perfectly captures one of the many library issues that the non-librarian can easily understand (not the door-to-door salesmen, though I can think of similar examples where this applies). We deal with paying for the same materials over-and-over in a rent-to-use model of digital access or purchasing an ecopy limited to select users or one user only. Popeye on the other hand, suffering a single charge, can enjoy the purty pictures for the rest of his life and share at will. The next time I talk about our work I just might pull this cartoon out as a point of reference.


Libraries in the Fast Lane

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By , June 20, 2012 1:11 pm

by Stina McClintock

About a month ago, inspired by Kim Kardashian racing go-karts with Kanye West in Paris after the launch of his fashion line, I decided to go on an adventure to a local indoor track and try my hand at low-stakes racing.  The day ended with me remembering how nice it is to be mobile (as I haven’t had a car since…well, ever…) and that helmet hair is no joke.

Mobility is one of those topics that librarians think about a lot.  We are constantly thinking about new and more innovative ways to get our message, and our resources, to more members of the community.  Especially here at the Public Law Library, where we make it a point to provide services people in various locations around the country, either via the phone or email.  But one library has taken the concept of mobility and turned it on its head.

Fraser Valley Regional Library, located in British Columbia, recently unveiled a new approach to outreach.  When it became apparent that the traditional go-to library mobile initiative—a bookmobile—was not a practical or affordable option, the Fraser Valley Library decided to create a venture titled Library Live and On Tour.  As explained in this article, “The centrepiece of the initiative is a highly noticeable and surprising little vehicle (LiLi) with very un-library-like enhancements, like a kick-ass audio system with external marine speakers, custom sub box, on-board amps/inverters/power sources, built in XBox 360 Kinect, wireless microphone system, multi-color underglow lighting, mag wheels, AOOGA horn, 2-3G Internet-connected laptops and ‘gadget bar’ (3 different eReaders, 2 tablets, Playaway books, Daisy player).”

In one month, the library has given away over 200 books, made 14 community stops, including local food banks and shelters and waived over $1,000 fines.  With 63 events planned before the end of 2012, this “Hot Rod” style of outreach has redefined the idea of a day at the library.

Librarian Chic and the Almighty Google Search Box

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By , June 14, 2012 9:41 am

by Kristine Lloyd

Every year the fashion rags publish their top ten lists of fashion must-haves. For fall 2012 oxblood is the hot color and equestrian embellishments are essential. It’s amazing to me that every year designers miraculously send similar styles flowing down the runway, but somehow that is how trends are made. It wasn’t too many seasons ago that librarian chic and oversized glasses dominated the runways.

Certainly Google has inspired the simplified searching trend throughout the tech world. Take a look at most legal research products, from the smaller vendors to the big guns like Lexis and Westlaw, and you’ll find that most now utilize simplified, federated searching. Gone are the days when librarians could impress each other at cocktail parties with our command of Dialog identifiers.

Not normally one to jump on the trend bandwagon, this is actually a trend I embrace, and maybe it’s because these simple interfaces streamline the teaching process. My experience working with WestlawNext, Lexis Advance and other similarly functioning resources is that they often cut the middle-man out of the picture, and I think that is what chafes us.

Run almost any search on WestlawNext, and you’ll likely need to filter your results to get a manageable list. Keycite results, viewed by tabs and easily filtered, are much easier to view and tinker with by the end user. Our librarian dialect of database identifiers, field designations and terms & connectors is slowly becoming obsolete.

This doesn’t mean that we are becoming obsolete, it just means that as resources change, so does our role in navigating and promoting them. As long as we are adapting, we won’t become just another passing runway trend. Our greatest value is our ability to know and understand our breadth of resources so that we can match our patrons with the appropriate tool and teach them how to use it efficiently and economically.

My Apologies to the Wine Drinkers…

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By , May 17, 2012 10:10 am

by Stina McClintock

…The following information is not of interest to you. I apologize and give you this to read instead.

I’m going to deviate away from the topic of law librarianship and let you all know that it is Seattle Beer Week! And in order to talk about something very near and dear to my heart, I had to find a way to make it relate to this blog…so here goes.

Did you know that beer has its own classification system? Before I went through the training to become a Certified Beer Judge in 2005, I thought of beer as either “tasty” or “not as tasty”. Never did it occur to me that a specific type of beer was SUPPOSED to taste like bacon. Or grass. Or green apple (I’m looking at you Bud Light). It was only after 16 weeks of beer drinking, or should I say “tasting”, that I realized that like every other science, beer has its own language and its own system of organization.

Over the next week, a variety of venues in the Seattle area will be pouring up some of the best that breweries have to offer. This is our opportunity to get out and try something new. Check out a sour ale (tart and refreshing) or a dry hopped cider (from Finn River). And if you need to attach something “headier” to your tasting exploits, tell yourself that you are learning a new classification system in the name of professional development.


*editor’s note: hic!

Pin-up Passions

By , March 29, 2012 10:02 am

by Kristine Lloyd

I have a dirty little secret I’ve been hiding from the librarian community for years. Here goes: I’m not an organized person. I’m pretty sure this is a mortal sin in the library world. My desk is piled with papers, and my pin boards are stuck with random collections of postcards, pictures and schedules, some years-old, yellowing under the fluorescent work lights. Comparing my desk to say, any of my co-workers, you’ll see that I’m the bad neighbor in the hood, the one with waist-high weeds and cars ratcheted up on concrete blocks. There, I’ve said it. What a relief. Continue reading 'Pin-up Passions'»

Informational Interviews

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By , March 7, 2012 8:42 am

Guest Post by Erin Dorney, Outreach Librarian for the Millersville University Library in Pennsylvania

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 image by Len Matthews on Flickr, remixed by libraryscenester

If you’re not doing them, you should be. According to Wikipedia (is it blasphemous to cite Wikipedia in a law librarianship blog post?), an informational interview is “a meeting in which a job seeker asks for career and industry advice rather than employment.” However, these get-togethers can serve a number of different purposes, whether you are seeking employment, just getting started as a library school student, or are happily employed. Continue reading 'Informational Interviews'»

Stylin’ in the Stacks

By , February 17, 2012 9:26 am

by Kristine Lloyd

My fascination with all things sartorial was born in the playground that was my mother’s closet. Many hours of my childhood were wiled away in her walk-in, throwing myself a fashion party and donning her fabulous rags. I have a picture of myself when I was six, garbed in bohemian layers, opera gloves and puka shell necklace.

My fashion obsession is fueled by websites featuring photos of creatively clad people on the street. The Sartorialist and Street Peeper are among my favorites. I could die a happy woman if my photograph was ever posted on one of these sites. I’m way too matchy-matchy and yes, conservative, for that dream to ever come to fruition. More likely, my fear that I show up as a Glamour Don’t will be realized. Might be because of that sister-wife dress I scored at the thrift store. Continue reading 'Stylin’ in the Stacks'»

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