Breaking Up with Libraries

I'm excited to announce that beginning June 10th, I'll be working as a web developer at Aten Design Group. Aten (rhymes with Manhattan) is a small Drupal shop in downtown Denver that works largely with non-profits.

Why am I leaving libraries? Sadly, it comes down to the family bottom line. David works for the feds, and the threat of sequestration this spring really scared us. He makes more than twice what I do. Could we live on his salary, without making major changes to the family shelter, food, transportation, hobbies, and life in general? Yes. Mine? Not so much. My skills and knowledge have increased exponentially in the past 8 years while working at two different kinds of libraries, and my salary has not changed to reflect this. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (which I know about because of my librarian skillz) informs me that my salary level for those past 8 years is 77% of the median salary for a web developer. The median. What's worse, I've seen many library web jobs going for much less than what I've been paid by my last two employers. I knew going into my MSLS that I wasn't going to get rich working in libraries, but accepting less than I'm worth puts undue strain on our family finances. I'm not willing to be a martyr for my profession if it means compromising what I want out of life for myself, my husband, and our kids.

Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff. Go to a LITA Forum session on this topic, and you'll find one of our talented colleagues discussing how they implemented one of these tools, followed by all of the ways it disappointed them and their users. EVERY. YEAR. that I've gone to Forum, these sessions are on the schedule; I've even given a couple. Library systems are chicken wire and duct tape on top of chicken wire and duct tape, and unless and until we stop simply throwing money at vendors and DEMAND changes, that will not change. And eBooks? We can't even GET the content, and when we can, we're price gouged. Sure, it's opening up a bit--there are some open source options for discovery tools out there, and Overdrive is no longer the only show in town--but not all libraries can afford, in terms of money and human resources, to piece together these solutions. And remember federated searching? It was easy enough to integrate two databases into a library web interface twelve years ago. What's going to happen when each publisher has their own (likely awful) platform? Have you walked a patron through trying to get an eBook onto a reader in the existing platforms?! I'm tired of fighting this battle, and truth be told, working on kludging these tools together has hampered our own personal and professional growth and development. We can't provide a modern web experience, which does irreparable harm to public perception of libraries.

While these two issues are my own personal reasons for this immediate employment change in my life, these are have been significant crises in librarianship for a very long time. Regarding pay, if we don't value ourselves by accepting substandard pay, why should our constituents fund us? This is made worse by our collective passion; we are so eager to please that we kill ourselves helping people for compensation that's all too often below the country's median salary. If we don't declare our value and our worth, how can we declare value and worth to our MLS degrees (which many of us are still paying off) and the services we provide? If we don't grab the vendors by the lapels and demand that they retool, rebrand, and remake the pieces of our systems to reflect something that even comes close to the ecommerce experience our users expect, what's the point?

I love librarians and libraries, and I believe in a future for them. I hope that in five years, the person next to one of us on a flight won't say, "Do we need libraries, since everything is online?" They'll get, instinctively, the inherent value of not just libraries, but LIBRARIANS to society. They'll pull out a mobile device and say, "Hey, cool, I got the eBook I'm reading on this flight from my library's AWESOME web site! They have ALL of my favorite authors!" Maybe after immersing myself in a non-library web development for a good long, I'll have the skills and experience to come back and help solve some of these issues. And if y'all think I'm missing ALA in Vegas next year just because I won't be working in a library any more, you're sorely mistaken. Love you guys.

Comments

I understand your reasons but I'm still painfully sorry to see you go. God bless you and your family.

I wish you all the best in your new career move. Unfortunately librarians are too often paid poorly for our education and skills. Publishing your reasons helps others understand that as a profession, to stay competitive, we need to pay librarians fairly. I don't blame you at all and only think it's a loss for the professional body. But I'm sure you will contribute in other ways - librarianship is usually more about values than money, but when it gets to the point where it's a hardship, time to move on!

Nina, I agree with so much you have said here. I struggle with the same feelings every day. I applaud your courage and honesty in coming out and telling it like you see it. You are a powerful voice in the library Web world Nina, and you have made an important statement here. Aten Design seems like a great group, I have always liked them. I just know you are going to thrive and grow like crazy in a good Drupal shop. I'm excited for you, wish you the best and thank-you for the substantial contribution you have already made to libraries.

Debra Riley-Huff
Head of Web Services
University of Mississippi Libraries

Worked in Libraries for a decade. Love my job, happy with my remuneration. Agree with every word you've said;)

Congratulations. It is sad that libraries are in such a state. For those of us with IT or web skills, it is extraordinarily hard to be paid 50% (and sometimes less!) of what our peers earn in the private sector. It is hard to deal with proprietary structures which hamper user experience, understaffing, a lack of network and hardware resources, all of which impact our ability to be innovative. One of my lib school professors ranted for almost an entire class session about why librarians didn't invent Yahoo (it was the late 90s). He was right. We should have. We could have. Until we can be seen as equal in the technology playing field, we will not earn respect OR the money that goes along with it. I have already left librarianship once and returned, most likely I will do it again. Good luck with your endeavors.

Congratulations. You are legend.

First & foremost - congratulations! I wish you a lot of luck on your new adventure. Secondly, boy I am right there with you with the sequestration and the effects of that on re-evaluating our family priorities. Our family finances mirror yours. I've always affectionately referred to hubby as the one who bankrolls this operation. Therefore, I can have fun at a job I love, whether it contributes significantly to our bottom line or not. But not now! Now I find myself seeking a more financially rewarding position so as our family can continue to enjoy the security we've always known. I'm currently keeping my focus within the field of librarianship but that's just because I'm newer at this than you :) Best wishes & again congratulations!

Jennifer, I realized also how much pressure hubs being the "bankroll" puts on him. He feels locked into his job--he's had a recent duty change that he's happy with so far, and he's not looking to leave--while I've changed several times now. I felt horrible when I fully understood the pressure that this puts on him. He feels that he's stuck, while I can do whatever I want. If he wants to branch out and try something new outside the context of his current employer, I don't want him--us--to be limited by my situation.

I applaud your dedication to library service and wish you well in your new position. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments, especially your view on database and ILS providers that take a hefty chunk out of the library budget but are still using an old model for structure and delivery. I work for a company that shares this perspective, and we’re developing alternatives (cloud based, multi-tenant) that will save libraries thousands of dollars that can be reinvested in staffing and community programs. The way I see it, the risk for public libraries is not in trying something new, but in continuing to invest in products that force them to put technology ahead of all other library services.

You're a wonderful librarian and web developer. The shop you're in isn't going to change that you are both of those things (and more). I have tremendous respect for you - you make difficult decisions, stand by them, and explain them as best you can.

Also, you're a great human and friend. I am glad to know you, whatever your email sig comes to say.

I LURVE YOU SHINYLIB!!!

The subject of pay and worth is a scary one, not least because of the sharp divide in thinking between library "insiders" and "outsiders." I'm aware that the stats on librarian salaries are gloomy, but it's still a shock to see it written out when I've heard and read so many complaints from the general public that librarians are paid far too *much*! Of course, the same is said of teachers, and we all know what a farce that is. (Except, again, not enough people know what a farce that is.)

Given all you've said, sounds like it's as good a time as ever to bow graciously out of a field in which any gains - monetary and otherwise - will be hard and bitterly fought. I wish you all the best!

I don’t think you get the essence of librarianship, so you’ll probably delete, or “censor” as we call it, this post as soon as you find it, but here goes anyway.

You’ve called your post, “Breaking Up with Libraries,” but you haven’t included the classic break-up line: it’s not you, it’s me. I mean, obviously I read that between every line, but you’ve gone and thrown it back onto librarians and rubbed our noses in it by criticizing everything from the pay, through the technology, to the librarians’ passion. You’re breaking up with us by saying, ‘you can’t take me out to fancy restaurants (poor pay), your car isn’t cool enough (technology), and you don't even realize what a dork you are (passionate), so I found a better offer in the guy with the shiny new car (drupal) and the wine cellar (more pay), who's really cool (works with non-profits). Kisses!’ I’m not clear on how you’re going to be making bank at a small firm that, “works largely with non-profits,” but the grass is always greener.

“I knew going into my MSLS that I wasn't going to get rich working in libraries, but accepting less than I'm worth puts undue strain on our family finances.”

"Undue strain?" You suggested at the start of the paragraph that your family finances aren’t too bad (husband earns double what you do). There’s two ways to get rich: 1 is to earn more money; 2 is to want fewer things.

“I'm not willing to be a martyr for my profession if it means compromising what I want out of life for myself, my husband, and our kids.”

This suggests you are willing to be a martyr under certain conditions; in the previous sentence you said you knew you wouldn’t get rich working in libraries, so what did you go into it for? Why not just say the passion’s gone instead of playing the martyr card (by saying you don’t want to be a martyr)? This also criticizes everyone who's remained a librarian for compromising what they want out of life. Did it ever occur to you that what they want out of life might be to do what they love, and perhaps they found that in libraries, and maybe you should celebrate that instead?

“Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology.”

They say that size doesn’t matter, but this starts the biggest paragraph in your post, so I suspect it’s actually more significant than “in the mix.” Every one of us who still works in libraries still has to deal with this, so this whole paragraph is a big ‘up yours’ to all of us; you haven’t eased the burden on those still flying the flag, if anything you’ve added to the frustration. All the technological innovations discussed at Forum have been failures and all future developments are “likely awful?” You’re not really a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person, are you? Everyone gets frustrated with technology, but not everyone got the “skillz” and knowledge you got “working at two kids (sic) of libraries” [not spelling skills?] so they’re pretty much stuck while you take all that development and split, leaving them worse off than before and thumbing your nose on the way.

“Have you walked a patron through trying to get an eBook onto a reader in the existing platforms?! I'm tired of fighting this battle...”

This is one of about two times in the post where you’re honest – you’re tired. You’re throwing in the towel, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t help any of the librarians you’re leaving behind because you’re whining about all the things they’ll still have to deal with tomorrow, and tomorrow, etc. This isn’t a job. This isn’t a career. It’s not a choice to be a librarian – it’s a privilege. I can’t believe they pay me at all for doing what I love – helping people. And you can't walk a patron through a transfer procedure?

“We can't provide a modern web experience, which does irreparable harm to public perception of libraries.”

Gotta pull you up here. Whaddya mean, “we?” YOU can’t. YOU failed. This statement might be true (but I doubt it), and while WE might be going down, WE are going down swinging, and I, for one, ain't done yet.

“This is made worse by our collective passion; we are so eager to please that we kill ourselves helping people for compensation that's all too often below the country's median salary.”

OMG, I'm so unhappy when I compare myself to others and realize I can't keep up with the Jones-es, and what could be worse than that? You've stolen the word 'passion' and pretend to know what it is, but let me tell you, passion doesn't dissipate in the face of a handful of dimes (to steal from Jim Morrison).

“I love librarians and libraries, and I believe in a future for them.”

You’re just not willing to work for it. You’re just leaving the “significant crises in librarianship” in the too-hard basket.

Thank you for getting out of the way; there are more young librarians getting qualified than there are jobs, so it’s good that you’ve made way for one of them. It’s not technology that ‘does irreparable harm’ to libraries – its attitudes like the ones expressed in this post: technology is so frustrating and I don’t get paid enough...even though I didn’t get into it for the money. Libraries have never been about technology. Libraries have never been about money. Everything about libraries is incidental bar one thing, and one thing only: service.

Craig, I think Nina is right to demand more from our profession: to demand that we fight for better pay, to demand we fight for better leadership, to demand we fight for better ways to attract talented people into our profession who are not wiling to settle for anything less than a full life AND a fulfilling job AND equitable pay. Where does it say in the bible of life that you can have (1) a fulfilling job OR (2) good pay, but not both? If we are able to raise the standard wage for librarians, we can increase our marketability in the workforce and attract more high-skilled people into our profession. I can't see how that would be bad thing. I think nurses, firefighters, and school teachers should also demand higher pay. They deserve it. And so do we.

Whoa there! Rant much? I appreciate your desire to troll, but on the off chance you aren't just hating your own life and lashing out at someone who's openly frustrated at a profession she's spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to bring into this century (which is now 14 years old), I'll bite.

Here's the basic gist - libraries are doing a piss-poor job of service. That's the point. They spend lots of taxpayer dollars and can't do stuff that privately funded websites could do back in the 90s. Librarians are doing their best against huge odds. The librarians, particularly web librarians, are constantly hampered by old tech that might have been good decades ago, but is no longer technologically relevant. Patrons - like me - go to a library site and say, "why doesn't this work like amazon (or google)?" Patrons don't know or care (nor should they have to) that it's because that website is just a front end doing its darnedest to hold together a disparate bunch of vendor products that don't work well together. It's like taking a bunch of cats and throwing them in a bag, and then blaming the maker of the bag for making a piss-poor bag when the cats die or escape again. Sure, you can build a bag out of rip-stop nylon, but that'll still get tiny tears. And the real problem isn't the bag - it's the damn cats.

I'm super happy that you think it's all about service (although why do I suspect you speak to your patrons in a similarly condescending tone?), since it IS a service industry. You are there to do one thing, and one thing only - provide patrons with information that they need. Libraries have ALWAYS been about technology. What the hell do you think technology IS? According to wikipedia (which is always right) - "The word technology refers to the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function." What are books other than a way of organizing information? They're an information storage unit. Plain and simple. I highly suspect that the codex vs scroll debate as a better format for storage of said data was similar to the Bluray vs HD DVD format wars. Libraries NEED technology to organize all of that data/information. Just because a format worked in the past to organize the data doesn't mean it shouldn't be updated. Just as hard drives have continually evolved to better store, manage, and find ever increasing amounts of data, so to must libraries. But they haven't been doing it fast enough to keep up. So right now libraries have the equivalent of petabytes of data, but are still using FAT16 to access it.

Oh, and before you snarkily critique - "not spelling skills?" - what was obviously a simple typo , why don't you do the same on your post (on which you don't even have the courage to put your whole name)? You've got a fair number there yourself.

One last thing - I do love that you're so full of how awesomely in the right you are that you are CERTAIN that your awesome post will be censored (as though other readers won't see it and think "oh sweet! an awesome troll post! These are hilarious!"). Because I'm sure that people are always trying to censor you. But it's not because you've got information that they just HAVE to hear, but can't handle it. It's because you're rude.

Hey, Craig! Thanks for taking the time to type this lengthy response. I was honestly sort of disappointed that I didn't get any negative feedback. I don't "censor" posts, so long as they raise some good points.

The Money Issue:

Okay, so, you didn't leave a last name, so I can't really Google you to learn more about you, but I'm guessing by the age comments that you don't have kids? If so, let me tell you that what one thinks of as "rich" before and after kids is very different. I want to be able to pay the mortgage on our run-down but beloved 36-year-old house, which does NOT have a wine cellar. I want to be able to fix what's wrong with it so my kids have a nice place to grow up. I want to be able to maintain our cars so that we have reliable transportation and can take our kids places. I want high-quality child care for my kids when we're at work. (Fun fact: our most expensive day care year cost us $27,000. Here's where you tell me I shouldn't have had kids, or not so many.) I want to be able to support our activities and interest in music, the outdoors, the arts, and sports. This is "rich," and when my husband's income was threatened, I realized that I wasn't willing to give any of this up.

Also, our current situation puts undue stress on my husband to be the breadwinner. What if he wants to pursue something else? How is that fair, for him to have to accept that he can't move or change professionally, because I'm underpaid for my skills and experience because of WHERE I work? What if something happens to him, and suddenly I'm the breadwinner, and we have to move, or give up things (which are NOT tangible things) that make our lives complete and happy, all while dealing with what terrible thing happened to him and left him unable to work?

Regarding salaries, please rest assured that I did check what I will get paid at my new gig, and my salary will be about 20% higher, with the potential for more due to something called a "bonus structure." (Find me a library that rewards employees, with money, for innovating. I'm dead serious, I'd love to know if one exists, and many of the greatest library innovators I know have been punished, not rewarded, for amazing contributions.) Also, "non-profit" doesn't mean "no money." Here's a sampling from our client list.

And BTW, I'm only 41; I'm really not all THAT washed up. I'm still pretty regularly offended by how often my library colleagues wave me off and say, "Oh, you're so young!"

The Technology Issue:

Regarding the "YOU failed" comment: fair enough, but nope, I'm not alone. There are a couple of amazing people out there who have REALLY and TRULY found a way to integrate the most popular ILSs out there into a decent, modern, user experience. John Blyberg's SOPAC module for the Innovative Interfaces, Inc. ILS comes to mind. If you feel you have, by all means, please share! I'd truly love to be proven wrong on this, but the very business and service models that most big-name vendors are built on are seriously flawed. There is no legitimate reason for libraries to need 2, 3, 4, a dozen platforms to run a single user experience, and after 10 years of doing this, I'm angry that we haven't worked harder to fix this. And yes, I have walked patrons through interfaces, thousands of times, but that's not the point. Does Amazon have to walk its customers through their interface? The User Is Not Broken. The amazing K.G. Schneider blogged that seven years ago, and it's still just as relevant, if not more, today.

The Passion Issue:

I was truly floored by the positive response to this post. As I said above, I'm surprised that no one else responded negatively. Friends and colleagues, who happen to be AWESOMELY successful librarians, shared in my frustration, cheered me on, and wished me well. Several of them who wrote their own blog posts in response, like Kate Kosturski (she'll be an easy target for her use of "it's not you, it's me") John Jackson, and Ingrid Abrams. I started wishing that I'd shot my mouth off about this stuff way earlier.

It was not my intent to rub anyone's noses in anything; this was a very personal statement about a very personal decision. If you're willing to earn an MLS, then not make enough to pay it off by garnering a decent wage...well, please don't. You're obviously very passionate, and I applaud that. That said, please, please, PLEASE don't ever compromise any aspect of your life for your job and accept less than what you're worth, and please, don't burn yourself out, or in twelve years, you'll be responding to someone's comments on your blog post about why you're leaving. I'm happy to get out of the way, and please grab the torch. I just don't want to see the same thing happen to you.

Please feel free to comment further; I'm more than happy to continue this conversation.

Best,

Nina

PS-spelling error fixed; thanks for pointing it out.

I am not attempting to hijack this. No, really. I am not.

Your choice of John Blyberg and SOPAC is a great one. It shows what one scrappy and brilliant guy can do, given a library with the resources to pay his salary as well as a couple other developers for a year or so in order to allow them to figure out how to trick Millennium into thinking that they are not the droids lit's looking for. In other words they built a system to steal their own data from their ILS vendor. AADL also had to face III down when they threatened to treat this as a license violation.

This is a big problem. Our vendors (not me, of course) want to lock libraries in to black box technologies, then ream them for everything that comes out.

They are expert in duplicity. Did you know that the vendors have veto power over NISO standards? For $2k a year, I was a member and got the privilege to be a standards slave, and, at least in theory, vote on them. For a somewhat larger amount of money, the big vendors got to throw away our work before it ever got to a vote.

With an MLIS but not having worked in a library since I pasted card pockets in the backs of books as a preteen, I am in no position to comment on anything else.

Enjoy your new life offworld!

Cary

Thanks,

Cary

Cary, you're not hijacking this at all, but very eloquently striking at the heart of what REALLY upsets me: this is all seen as okay. NOT owning your own data is "okay," and you get to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of not owning your own data. Rather than taking John's work and saying, "Whoa, hey, what if we could offer this amazing service to everyone!"--like normal tech companies do when they see a brilliant product--it was seen as a threat. And that we have to approach this all with a big Drupal/Apache Solr bandaid is the root of the problem: the public interface of the OPAC needs to be rebuilt to provide a modern ecommerce experience. And if you don't want to take my word for it, take the words of the angry patron who filled my ear over the phone for 15 minutes back in April about how he knew that we couldn't change this stuff, so why did we settle for paying for these products on behalf of the customer in the first place?

I just want to point out that just because one doesn't have kids doesn't mean that they're living some rich person's dream. I live in a double income no kids household, and on two librarians salaries (1 Full-Time and the other person a has a bunch of P-T librarian jobs mushed together) in NYC+old medical woes+student loans+1 sick parent? It still doesn't add up to much. We live paycheck to paycheck. Childless people understand the money struggle. Maybe not in the same way that you do, but we get it. Don't count us out. We *all* have our problems. My decision to not have children or someone's inability to have them shouldn't be a part of this discussion.

Craig-
I appreciate you giving your opinion but as someone who has been working in libraries for over 30 years it is awfully nice to see Nina take a stand on something I have been pointing out for decades. As a profession we should be leading in information services and as it is the profession is barely keeping up! 25 years ago I would go from my library school classes where we never used a computer for anything to my job in the cataloging department where we were using OCLC terminals, printing out cards, and teaching patrons how to use an OPAC. Even 25 years ago I saw we were already behind and we never really caught up.

And as far as the money thing? It would be nice to make a living wage. Raising a family on what a librarian makes is very difficult unless you are in administration. Even then it's no guarantee. I know librarians who are Directors in the mountains and do not make enough to live in the towns they work in. And when you bring this up no one seems to care. It is disrespectful.

I agree that service is the bottom line in what we do and even before the huge technology burst we as a profession were generally bad at it. The average librarian gave everything to everyone. Our customer service was full of apologies and basically catering to the 'problem patron'. I know this because I have been working with multitudes of library staff training them in customer service. Dealing with policies that are written from a worse case scenario; spending time training staff how to 'deal' with the 'problem patron' leaving the other 80-90% under-served. Alas, I will stop there because I can go on and on about how many are systematically destroying our profession with terrible business practices.

AS far as Nina "splitting" and leaving the libraries in a lurch. After years and years of banging my head against brick walls--administrations/governments/unwilling staff--I too 'hit the road'. Sometimes the revolution must occur from outside. I am back working with libraries, however because I also work outside the echo chamber that is our profession I have educated others to the truth in libraries. Nina will do the same. Our passion to support libraries never leaves us, even if we leave them.

And, as a colleague of Nina's, I can tell you she is not backing down from a fight or "putting it in the too hard basket'. Like many people in other professions, you have the few at the top who make decisions based on little or no knowledge, refuse to listen to the experts, and take the cheap and easy way out never looking at what the fundamental issue is. Just had this conversation with a photog friend in the newspaper industry. I do not blame Nina for wanting to stretch her wings and go where she can do what she is good at because I know that in the long run it will benefit libraries. In fact we see more and more people outside our profession partnering up with us. Why not make sure some of those folks are library types? Makes it even better for us! At our state conference this year not one speaker is a librarian and people are so excited because it's about time we said "Hey, we are here. We have what you need, you have what we need. Why not work together?"

Until the powers-that-be (administrators, educators, boards, etc) realize and decide that supporting ALL aspects of the profession is valuable then we will continue to see the brain drain. As a cataloger I have struggled for the respect, attention, and money that my frontline counterparts receive. Granted, they don't get much either, but trust me. There are areas of our profession that have been ignored, and often it's our own fault. We need a paradigm shift and thankfully it is occurring.

I do not know how long you have been in the profession, however there comes a time when the expectations and the reality collide to the point where you have to take a break. Those with a true passion know when to get out of a harmful situation, reboot the hard drive, and come back from a different angle. Oh yeah, got certified in coaching too as a way to get some skillz outside the library world. Got a LOT of grief for that one. "What does that have to do with working in libraries?" Everything.

So, Craig. I hope you will follow Nina's career because she is going to be doing great things and we will all benefit from it. And I have a feeling that the place she leaves behind for one of the 'young librarians' to fill isn't what you are thinking it is. That's why she is leaving.

Nina is hurting absolutely no one. Funny how in this instance, where she's rationally discussing her life life choices, she's making you mad. She's made a smart, well-thought out decision for herself.
I'm a librarian working in a system with a multi-million dollar ongoing deficit. It's exhausting. I do feel like, sometimes, I'm martyring myself for my patrons and my community. I'm sticking it out for now. But how long am I expected to live paycheck to paycheck for the good of my patrons? How long am I supposed to deal with layoff scares (which come every 6 months) and lack of staff (we're down 200 staff members in my system alone)?
I reserve the right to gracefully step out when I can't handle these conditions anymore.
But what do you care? You're angry and you're clearly projecting personal feelings you have about your career onto Nina.
I hope you're not a librarian, honestly. Your attitude towards fellow professionals making their own, educated decisions is despicable.

If working for libraries is such a privilege that you don't care how much you're paid, why aren't you donating your salary back to the library or library district you work for? Or volunteer instead of drawing a salary? Surely just being a librarian is privilege enough - clearly you aren't in this for the remuneration.

Thanks for posting. Even the open-source options seem like they are just trying to recreate the duct-tape and chicken-wire with open source. I think library technology is a lost cause unless there's a concerted effort to ditch MARC. Let's face it nobody cares.

I'm glad someone finally had the courage to put themselves in the arena and say what a lot of us have been thinking. Bravo, Nina! These reasons are exactly why I'm glad I'm no longer a systems librarian. And I totally agreed with the guys I worked with in campus-wide IT--even they had no idea why libraries clung to substandard technologies and wrapped themselves in all the duct tape and chicken wire.

Poor Craig and the tiny little box he lives in. He is in a very verbal minority of people who insist on limits. They're why libraries are settling for less than they deserve, and clinging to technologies that don't work--even for the users they're trying to maintain!

So I'm with you, Nina--librarians need to stand together and fight for what's important instead of listening to the few who insist on eating the same old slop and telling us it's ambrosia.

OMG, thank you for saying that! Why do we focus on tasks that net so little result? Is it because it is what we know how to do, so let's pretend people need it? What if we listened to people, what they need, and then do things that provide value, rather than provide programs that teens don't want, MARC records with subject headings that people aren't using, and circulation functions that people can do for themselves?

Frankly, I'm pleased that people don't have to go to the library any more to find information and learn. Cutting out the middle man (in this case, the librarian) is so much more efficient. What is our role in society then? It is to get out of the way when people don't need our skills and to be there with solutions and options when they do.

Okay, I think I was with you until this bit. Cutting out the middleman is just grand but I'm thinking there ARE those (patrons/customers/seekers) who, at least in a public library, are grateful for the facilitator role librarians play. Yes, I'm a little aged, I won't deny it. But I've seen plenty of people struggling with their information needs who are grateful for a librarian who really can help them. Whether it's with tangential thinking or vocabulary or spelling, live human beings are still useful when it comes to forming satisfying questions that lead to satisfying answers. And yes, I'm pleased that people can access libraries of all kinds without having to actually step foot in their local library. But the thought of people not ever discovering the pleasures of tangible books and tangible people and library as bricks and mortar place makes me more than a little sad. (Did somebody say "marketing"?)

And by the way, I am ALL FOR empowering users to help themselves when they can. So, bravo to this statement: It is to get out of the way when people don't need our skills and to be there with solutions and options when they do.