The Rock & Roll Librarian

December 19, 2007

Shameless Plug

Filed under: music — Tyler Rousseau @ 1:22 pm
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This year’s holiday breakfast was mix of happiness and gastrointestinal discomfort.  Fortunately, the oportunity to play “Daydream Believer” with my friend Karla fell in the first category.

The food could only be described as the latter though.  Here’s a good tip for any culinary business; when you heat eggs to the point that they turn green and become swiss in texture, don’t serve them.  Furthermore, if you make new eggs, don’t place them on top of the old, green ones.

This post is not about the breakfast though.  It turns out that one of our fellow librarians broke out a video camera during K’s and my performance and posted it on Youtube.

Incidentally, several people came up to me afterwards and said “I didn’t know you had talent!”

And that folks, is the key to sucessful performances… lower their expectations to the point that anything will be a nice suprise.

December 15, 2007

Saint Iggy by K.L. Going

Filed under: Book Review — Tyler Rousseau @ 6:03 pm
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Iggy Corso is about to get kicked out of school, but don’t worry, he has a plan to change everybody’s mind about him. 

First, he’s going to save a kid from a crack dealer, just like that guy in the paper did. 

Then, he will get his name in the paper for doing so, just like that guy in the paper did. 

Finally, he will bring that paper to his school hearing, show it to the  committee who will change their minds about him, not kick him out and let him come back.

Simple enough, right?

But time is of the essence, his stoner dad is no help, his mom hasn’t been seen for over a month, his friend has just made a really bad drug deal with a really bad dealer and he has to find some way to save somebody in order to get that much-needed mention in the paper.

K.L. Going created another great story that transcends deeper than the average YA novel.  As Iggy tries to find the right things to do, he looks towards his anti-materialist friend, a priest, former principal, a cop and memories of his mother to find answers.  What he finds is that good deeds are both simple and complex at the same time and he is left with the bigger question of whether good can come out of a bad deed (i.e. the Robin Hood dilemma).

Can he change people’s minds about him by doing some bad but good?

Although there is nothing particularily suprising in this book, it was a very enjoyable read through the quality of writing.  Good books make you feel for the main character and Going always seems to have that ability to connect.  I found myself sad for Iggy’s situation, near tearful when he finds his mother and really hoping that Iggy would find a way to show everyone the good person he really is.  His decision in the end convinced me taht Iggy is at-heart a good soul who is trapped by his pridicaments, but a good soul nonetheless.

And without spoiling the story, I wonder if any of the other characters in the book changed their minds about him…

December 13, 2007

Terry Prachett’s Sad News

Filed under: authors,books — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:47 pm
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DEATH Button BadgeI don’t really like to read fantasy but I love Terry Pratchett.  Those who have read any of the Discworld books probably understands how such a seemingly contradictory statement can be made. 

True, Discworld series is built completely around a world of Elves, Goblins, Zombies, Golems, Vampires, Dwarfs, Trolls, and so forth which is pretty much the definition of Fantasy.  These characters even play major/leading roles in the Discworld books but that is hardly the point of the series.

Pratchett’s world is all about satire.  It’s about taking a look at our societal norms and beliefs then showing them for the utter ridiculousness they embody.   From girl witches trying to get into an all-male wizard academy, the creation of post offices, the Trolls and Dwarves disdain for each other and, my personal favorite, the creation of a war for a few people’s personal gain… that one sound familiar?

With over 30 books in the Discworld series (and about a dozen others not part of Discworld) Pratchett has created a fantasy world so deep in characters and details that readers who do not normally find themselves fans of the genre get sucked in to spending the better part of a few months reading the entire collection of books.  They learn the streets, the buildings, the people and immerse themselves into the crazy place that is Discworld.

Sad to say, despite the prolific nature of Pratchett, the possibility of only a few more Discworld books has become a harsh reality.  Even though he is only 59 years old, Pratchett released a statementon his artist’s website stating that he has a rare form of Alzheimer’s.

Although Pratchett reminds us in the end of his letter that he is “not dead” and we should not be saddened by the news it is hard to feel optimistic.  I have seen the effects of Alzheimer’s and the tolls it eventually takes on the afflicted and their family from watching my own grandmother suffer its fate.  It is painful as all you can do is watch their world slip away.

And as the years pass by for Pratchett, the saddest thing his family and fans will see is not just one world slipping away, but two.

The Librarian

December 12, 2007

Gamers claim “Word of the Year”

Filed under: random — Tyler Rousseau @ 9:02 pm

Merriam Webster just awarded the wildly popular gamers cheer, “w00t” as Word of the Year.

Take that Colbert!

If this isn’t a sign of just how huge today’s gaming culture is, I don’t know what is.

December 7, 2007

Do we encourage our employees to leave?

Filed under: librarians,Libraries,Library Policies — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:13 pm
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If someone leaves your system for the same job in another (i.e. lateral move), that should get you thinking.  

If the average new-employee retention is less two years before they move on to another position, you definitely want to take notice. 

If your system sees people leave and then watches them flourish in another position, you shouldn’t brag that “they started off in this system.”  It should raise questions as to why your system couldn’t seem to hold on to him/her.

Employee retention has always been difficult in our profession but, sometimes, we unknownngly encourage people to leave.

The list below is a compilation of reasons I’ve heard Librarians give for leaving their positions.  If any of these sounds like a familiar complaint of former employees, you may want to consider it, especially from the employee’s perspective.

Pay- Bosses, Directors and Board Members tend to roll their eyes when this issue is brought up.  However, this is going to be a key factor for applicants.  If two positions are posted and one offers more money than the other it is no surprise which will get more applications.  Furthermore, I know several people over the last two years who have earned up to ten thousand dollars a year difference in pay simply by moving, laterally, into another system.  How much of a difference can that be?  How about the difference of affording your own rent or having to live with someone else.

Vacation and/or Holidays- Some New Jersey Library systems offer 10 days of vacation a year while others offer 24+ days.  This does not include federal, personal, floating holidays or sick time).  If everything else is equal (pay, benefits, etc.) which system would you rather work for?

Hours and/or Nights- How many nights a week do you require your librarians to work?  How many Saturdays and/or Sundays a month? 

Yes, we are in public services but we are also highly educated professionals with families, friends and social needs.  On the nights that I work I don’t get to see my children or wife.  One night is tough enough but two nights a week would be nearly impossible and a bigger strain on my family as it means my wife would have to feed, bathe and put both kids to bed by herself.  The effects of working multiple nights are further reaching than just the employee’s schedule.

Professional Investment- Some systems have a budget for training and others do not.  Some systems encourage employees to pursue professional interests and others look for a homogeneous staff.  Employees who feel invested tend to support their systems and be happier as they know they may not get the same treatment elsewhere.  This can also be a big draw for new employees as it shows the system’s interest in professional development.  And consider this; the more an employee can pursue their interest, the more they are noticed in the professional realm as an expert in that subject which is good for the system’s noticability.

Advancement-  A professor once told me that Librarians tend to have to promote themselves and that means they leave the system they are working in.  Obviously, we cannot promote everyone as there are fewer positions the higher up we go.  But, other than steady employment, what are we doing to encourage these people to stay? 

If employees leave because of these reasons it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in [added 'in'] a bad system but it should rasie a warning flag.  As systems, we are in competition with each other in order to employ the best possible professionals.  Although we may hire that professional, what are we doing to keep him/her? 

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