29 March 2006 

”I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." --Thomas Jefferson

14 March 2006 

Whilst non-profits and religious groups may receive government funding to help immigrants, libraries have contributed by offering free classes, citizenship materials and books in their native language. However, one must realize that "immigrants" is not a large, homogeneous group and that there are other factors to consider (the U.S. as an example):

1) The length of time the immigrants from a particular country have been around; immigrants with a more established community in the U.S. may not see the need to get outside their community. They can be hard to attract, especially if the group is insular.

Contact prominent business leaders of that community and local student organizations and share library information with them. Certain groups get their information by word of mouth from other members of their community. Get a buzz going!

2) Children of immigrants might be comfortable speaking English and have no interest in materials in the language of their parents. Also, the children may act as translators for other family members. Realize that by attracting the children, you might get the parents into the library!

3) Libraries are not equal around the world; the concept of a free library is not universal. You may have to educate groups about your services. Representing the library at cultural events and making friends with members of the group will help spread the buzz.

4) Some immigrants work two or more jobs and attending workshops would mean sacrificing family time. Weekend programs can help and computer classes in a different language help!

5) "Immigrants" does not always mean poor refugees, who do not speak English. Globalization has already meant that the movement of people between countries is a fact of life. Some immigrants may not enter the library for the same reasons natives do not come - Internet access at home, unaware of library services, Google-addicts and so forth.

Why listen to me about this topic? Because it is an issue close to heart since I am an immigrant myself :)

09 March 2006 

Lately, I have had more requests from community groups to do presentations about the Library's services. It got me thinking about how we could take this a step further. Now, we have never aggressively pursued these "gigs", but it might not be a bad idea to and for multiple reasons:

1) Groups get a speaker for FREE
Get feedback on why people do not use the library
3) Helps you practice your presentation skills
4) Sign people up for library cards
5) Shatter stereotypes about the library (I had a group that was surprised that a guy could be a librarian)

I am sure there are other reasons as well, but these are some that come to mind personally. If you have other ideas, e-mail me!

06 March 2006 

Online education is such a joy - especially when it is free! I started taking a couple of classes at the Barnes and Noble University and the online course setup made me wonder whether it would be a good idea for libraries to educate patrons via free classes online. With all the lessons posted for a 4-week period, users can read lessons at their own pace and even chat with others who are taking the class at BNU. I am not aware of any library that offers classes online for free and I wonder about the logistics of making such a class available (please forgive my ignorance).

Obviously, screencasts of classes would be beneficial to those who cannot physically attend library workshops and, considering the growth of educational video podcasts (Example: MIT), there is definitely an interest. Making screencasts available that explain the Dewey system, teaches patrons to conduct research in a library and so forth would be a start. Add some printable PDF lessons/exercises, with a forum to ask questions, and you have a "myLibrary University" environment. Meanwhile, I need to think about possible applications that would specifically benefit the job-seeking patrons (my coffee buzz is dwindling).

I have a feeling that Greg (Schwartz) is going to have oodles to share with me on this topic tomorrow (ah, that silly hippie). If your library offers something like this, please e-mail me at [at]

05 March 2006 

Alumni associations? As a great resource for scoping out careers? I was a little perplexed at this suggestion in "How to get any job with any major" by Donald Asher. All I remember from the alumni association was that they would ask me to donate money to the university when I could only afford food off the dollar menu! They needed to fire their PR person!

If I was in charge of their PR I would tout the major benefit: Access to tons of people in different states and countries - with whom you already have something in common! Now if you share this information with your patron, advise them to not rush to their alumni association and start begging for jobs. Alumni can be a friendly face in a new city, a future employer or even a mentor. If you are planning a career switch, it might not be a bad idea to hit up the ol' association and talk to someone who is in the field you want to be in. Also, some high schools might have even have their own alumni association.

Now the only thing is coughing up the money for the dues... $40 is feast at your nearest dollar menu!