The Shelfari

Yes, I’m back from a 2-month vacation from the blog– procrastination is never pretty. What inspired a new post? The Shelfari— a digital bookshelf you can put on your blog or website (as I have done– here and on my website (at bottom).

My wife is a frequent book reviewer so Shelfari is an exceptional tool to display 5-star reviewed books (and provide a review excerpt as well). As part of my website, Shelfari also allows readers to quickly see where my interests lie. FAQs about the Shelfari are found here.


Rank and tenure in the academic library

In my previous post I mentioned that academic librarians are generally satisfied with their work. I wonder how much of the happiness is attributed to the rank and tenure status of the position or simply the satisfaction of helping that hesitant student. Even though we are all “academic librarians” our various institutions and positions are very disparate. I know a lot of librarians in assorted public, academic, and special libraries and no two are alike in their job duties. I know a library is specific to its locale, clientele, mission, etc. but it seems even within one group, say academic libraries, there is such diversity.

Of the academic librarians I know, some are considered faculty at their institute, some are staff, and some are somewhere in between perhaps with “faculty status”. I wonder what role this status plays on our level of job satisfaction. The same January 31st Library Journal article I referenced before mentions that there is a “solid correlation between salary and job satisfaction levels” but what about rank and tenure issues? How does that play into satisfaction?

It is very interesting how the issue of rank and tenure for librarians in academia is so different. Is this what makes academic librarians happy librarians (rank) or does it have any effect on job satisfaction at all and to what extent, if so?

Dana Pawloski

Recommended Reading..

Currently reading
Beyond Survival: Managing Academic Libraries in Transition

A very interesting read– especially about how both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Arizona Library systems sought to implement transformative change throughout their organizations. Both case studies reveal how easily library culture can degrade into organizational stagnation and turf protection– where the means to an end becomes an end unto itself (as in the University of Pitt’s case, where cataloging became an obstacle to customer service). Here are a few review snippets listed on Amazon:

..They devote the first three chapters to background details on the need for change, along with an overview of managing change, including strategic planning, organizational development, marketing, and team-based organizations.
Library Journal

[W]e need to fully embrace change, and adapt successful business models like strategic planning and organizational development in order to turn change into an opportunity. In addition to theory, authors Elizabeth J. Wood, Rush Miller and Amy Knapp provide detailed case studies on how libraries… managed the kind of transformative change needed to position the academic library for a “vibrant future.”
American Libraries

Three library science scholars with business experience from U. of Michigan and U. of Pittsburgh borrow techniques from the business world to offer advice to managers of academic libraries undergoing changes compelled by both internal and external factors. Supported by case studies of two university libraries, chapters discuss the reasons for change, short term vs. long term solutions, the theoretical underpinnings of change, strategies for embedding and perpetuating alterations, the pros and cons of using teams, how to stand up to scrutiny and plan for the future, and barriers to change, among other topics.
Reference & Research Book News

If only this book was generally considered required reading in the field! And I didn’t even have to purchase the book (used the library of course).
John Potter

Academic librarians are happy librarians

I try to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry by perusing the trade journals, but, like many of my colleagues, I’m sure your daily duties keep you from reading it all. It isn’t until someone physically places something on my desk or, better yet, emails me a link to an interesting article that I actually get around to reading some trade news. This week a coworker emailed me the Library Journal’s (LJ) Academic Newswire for January 31st. It contained LJ’s survey results for academic librarians’ job satisfaction.

My career has taken interesting twists and turns along the way working in large public libraries, small academic libraries, one of the world’s largest corporate libraries, and even in publishing. I do believe after several years of testing the waters I was meant to be in academic libraries. Nothing is more fulfilling to see than students’ light bulbs flicker on when they’ve grasped the concept of this database over that one, they’ve finalized their final research project, or the collective gratitude of a class following a very productive, interactive bibliographic instruction.

I am but one academic librarian. I did not participate in LJ’s survey, but 93.4% of the 1,209 respondents agreed that they were very satisfied, satisfied, or somewhat satisfied with their jobs as academic librarians. I can’t help but think that happy academic librarians make for happy students.

-dana pawloski

Libraries and IT: together forever?

This week I’ve been working with colleagues on an MLA presentation proposal about libraries’ alternative management techniques. While doing preliminary research I stumbled across today’s (January 18, 2008) Chronicle of Higher Education. One of the front page stories, “Strains and joys color mergers between libraries and tech units” caught my attention.

I work in a small liberal arts college with no library director but a “management team”. We are fortunate to have a non-librarian as part of our team who oversees our Educational Technology department. She offers insight that the librarians tend to overlook especially from a technological perspective. While reading the article I was surprised to learn that some libraries struggle with the concept of “blended” environments particularly when we use the term so often.

The article mentions a half dozen various colleges and universities, both private and public, and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs each experienced. Each institute had its own reasons for combining the library with information technology services. These blended “learning commons” or “information commons” allow for stream-lined accessibility for our users. David Dodd, CIO at Xavier University in Cincinnati, says that “colleges ‘have to be better than Google'” and I believe that to be true.

It’s time libraries shed the dusty, quiet book repository image and started to become (or continued to be, whichever the case may be) the information mecca for the institute complete with appropriate technology and support that today’s students expect.

-dana pawloski

MLA Annual Conference 2008

The Michigan Library Association just had its 2007 conference but already its necessary to plan for the 2008 conference. Presentation abstracts for the October conference are due at the end of the month. Dana and I -your MALC bloggers- along with 3 other librarians have already begun putting together a presentation relating to library management.

While I’m here I might as well sell this helpful book:

book picture

-John Potter


You’ve heard the stereotypes for a librarian; the hair-in-bun, sensible shoes, cat loving, shushing ladies of the library. Recently, it seems every article or blog I read discusses these stereotypes. Diving deeper into the issue I find that my male colleagues suffer from their own set of “guy-brarian” stereotypes.

The Grand Rapids press published an article January 7, 2008 titled, “Modern librarians are hip, tech-savvy” that shines a little light on what we really do and how cool our job really is. In spite of appearing on U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Careers 2008” and Kiplinger’s “7 Great Careers for 2007” lists, librarians still encounter bias.

After some searching, I realized that this issue doesn’t fully apply to academic librarians. Even though I enjoy a good pair of Birkenstocks, I have never worn my hair in a bun, I am not a cat person, and I have never shushed anyone without good cause. I’m wondering if any of my fellow academic librarians, particularly the men out there, has been a victim of professional discrimination.

I work with two male librarians, and though they are very different, they may as well share one name. Has anyone had similar experiences? Does anyone have any good stereotypical stories to share? I know I could carry on, but I’d like to hear others’ anecdotes.

Rekindle your love affair with books

Is the book dead? Is print obsolete? Is reading overrated?

For some people, new technologies will always pose a threat to what they know and love. When e-books first appeared, pundits predicted that they would eventually replace the printed book. Others argued that Google Book Search would infringe on the profit and copyright of traditional publishers. Rarely do such dire forecasts reflect reality.’s new wireless reading device, the Kindle, is already inspiring similar predictions. Yet Amazon’s own president and CEO Jeff Bezos reinforces the fact that, despite ever-changing formats, “books aren’t dead.” The full interview with Bezos can be found in the November 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine.

I first encountered mention of the Kindle a month ago while working on collection development. The Kindle shares many features with previous e-book devices with one important difference: wireless connectivity. It’s designed to operate independently of any computer. You can purchase a book through Amazon via one-touch process and once you buy the book it will be downloaded to your Kindle and stored in your library. Downloads take less than 90 seconds.

While searching for more information, I stumbled upon several blog entries. I am not the only one interested and intrigued by the Kindle. This post came from Amazon’s own backyard: Seattle PI covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Kindle:

Boingboing offers some interesting points as well:

The times are changing in the publishing world. However, as far as this traditional librarian is concerned, nothing beats curling up with a good (print) book and a cup of cocoa.

Meeting notes from the MALC Executive Committee

The MALC Executive Committee met Friday, December 7th, 2007. Following are highlights from the meeting:

 Follow up and feedback on the MALC fall meeting. That meeting’s minutes can also be found on this blog.
 The Special Collection (print and digital) Task Force will have more information available at the spring meeting.
 Details for the MALC spring meeting were discussed. The meeting will be held April 4, 2008 and hosted by Saginaw Valley State University.
 Interest in offsite storage was shared by only six institutions. Since this does not appear to be a priority issue for the membership, the Executive Committee has completed its work. Any documents pertaining to this topic will appear in the Reports section of the MALC site. The six institutions that were interested will be forwarded to MLC for possible collaboration.
 Items tabled to January’s meeting:
o the website (
o gathering and linking various topics of interest to academic libraries such as job descriptions, Teach Act, Patriot Act, collection development policies, copyright statements
 Membership invoices will be sent out in February 2008

The Hiring Process

What are the odds that I am both an interviewer and interviewee during the same month?

As an interviewee, it can become quite difficult to suppress both apprehension and raised expectations. Failing to receive a position can play havoc with one’s self-confidence (even if you believe a better-qualified candidate is in the mix). And little can be done to ameliorate this process.

But the view is entirely different sitting on other side of the table. As an interviewer, you’re acutely aware that your final decision will have long-term consequences. So you may find yourself juggling several applicant’s strengths and weaknesses in your mind when decision-time is at hand. Indeed, taking into account each candidate’s experience, personality, maturity (as well as other subjective qualities) can be challenging. And when several qualified applicants put forth serious effort toward the position you may even hate to choose.

An interesting website I found about alternative hiring criteria (in general) can be found here