my first library job

Today’s Hack Library School blog post, Sweat the Small Stuff, stirred up fond memories of my first library job at Southeast branch, Greensboro Public Library.  I was a high school junior working 20 hours a week as a library page for $1.25 per hour (it was the early 70’s, and the library system got a special dispensation from the city to pay less than the minimum wage of $1.65 per hour because, well, it was library work).

Monday thru Thursday evenings, I came in and shelved books and read card catalogs and shelves.  But on Saturdays, I worked a full 8-hour shift doing “other things,” cleaning the parking lot (teenagers “hung out” in the parking lot in Friday nights and left trash), washing glass doors and windows (the librarians called it “windexing”), and using hot soapy water to clean dust off of shelves.  Amazing how much dust accumulates underneath those books!  I’d start in the 000’s, and over several weeks make my way to 999, fiction, the reference section, children and juvenile collection, and back to the 000’s.  Without doubt, I learned the Dewey Decimal System, but actually physically cleaning each section also conveyed to our patrons the idea that somebody cared about the place, about the books, and about keeping it presentable for library users, or so the librarians assured me.

It has been many moons since I visited that library, now known as the Vance H. Chavis Lifelong Learning Branch Library (Vance Chavis taught my father at Dudley Sr. High and was my principal at Lincoln Street Jr. High (now known as The Academy at Lincoln). Somebody should do a wikipedia page on him). I always thought the building should have been named for Helen Walden, the head librarian who transferred along with the original collection from the Carnegie Negro Library on the Bennett College campus.  But Mr. Chavis was on the City Council after his years as a noted educator and I’m certain he worked hard to get and keep the funding for the Southeast branch. Anyway, that’s the way it goes down south. Several years later I visited with Mrs. Walden at her home and she lamented about the books in the original collection that were ultimately destroyed in the consolidation. She smiled when I told her I was planning to retire early and go back into librarianship.

I swiped this photo from the branch website:



p.s.  The motto for the branch is “The library in the community and the community in the library.” Sounds rather Ranganathian, doesn’t it?  The “first branch” is also home to Greensboro Public Library’s first computer lab and houses what remains of an extensive African-American collection of both fiction and nonfiction.



Reflections on #LOEX2016

I was lucky three times.  First, a colleague from my former career, who is now also a reference and instruction librarian, told me in a Facebook message, “Ray, you must go to LOEX!” Thank you Meridith! Second, several of the librarians I work with were planning to carpool to LOEX2016 in Pittsburgh, and I got plugged into their network.  Third, they convinced me to apply for conference/travel funding, even though I was/am only part-time.  And I got funding! Here is a photo of the AU delegation:

au delegation.jpg

We arrived in time for the Thursday First-Time Attendee Orientation.  Brad Sietz, LOEX director, gave a talk that was simultaneously the history of LOEX, the history of library instruction, and the latest in current trends and developments in librarianship. It was a warm and enthusiastic crowd. I tweeted:

Thursday night I joined a group for dinner at the Original Oyster House in Market Square.

Friday opened with breakfast and the keynote address by Dr. Sheila Corrall from Pitt.  Lots of material and lots of references but she kept my interest.  Her comments on “reflective practices” and “blended librarianship” in library instruction really caught my ear. Will be reviewing her slides as soon as they are posted.

The sessions I attended Friday were all interesting and informative.  Lots of tweets, lots of good sources.  So cool to finally meet face-to-face with people I’ve only “known” through twitter chats, esp. the #critlib folks.  Speaking of #critlib, a colleague mentioned that LOEX is the whitest library conference she’s attended.  If true, I don’t think that is the fault of the LOEX conference folks: applications to attend are not racially screened.  So are librarians of color self-selecting out by not applying?  Perhaps an economic decision gets made to go to ALA or another of the big conferences, and no funding is left?  Maybe library instruction is considered less important ( I am still amazed that Information Literacy and Instructional Design was just an elective at my LIS program, and offered only once a year, but glad I took it as an elective).  Should it even be interesting that a largely white profession (librarianship) has even whiter sub-professions (library instruction) offering essential skills and competencies for success in the overall profession?

Also, speaking of #critlib, shouldn’t information literacy/library instruction/instructional design occupy a more prominent place in critical librarianship discussions?  I would think that the way we teach, and the extent to which our teaching is successful/effective is a very significant part of our identity as information professionals.

Favorite sessions. A toss-up between Rhetorical Reinventions, Everything We Do is Pedagogy, and Concept Inventories: Teaching IL Like a Physicist. (Hyperlinks to follow, I promise!)

OK.  Friday night dine around was so much fun.  I got on the list for Nicky’s Thai Kitchen with the #critlib folks.  Seating was tight but the food was delicious! Here is a pic from a tweet:

Saturday morning we had pancakes for breakfast.  And the lightning round of presentations has some fascinating ideas (even though my own didn’t make the cut). Favorite lightning round talk: The Human Library (gotta get one at my institution!). We skipped the afternoon sessions and got an early start on the road back to DC.

Hoping soon to pull together the live tweets (Kelly has a good one here, and there may be interest in building a bibliography of greatest hit sources from the excellent presentations.