Review: The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness by Ryan J. Dowd

I’m timid when it comes to confrontation. Just the thought of having to tell a patron to correct their behaviour makes my stomach twist. However, if I want to be able to take up a leadership or management position, work at a public library in a city, or be able to maintain a relationship with potentially troublesome patrons, I’ll need to break this timidness.

One population of patrons that seems the most daunting to talk to are our homeless. I understand they enjoy the library. There is space to roam, clean bathrooms, free WiFi, books, and magazines, heat and air, running water, shelter. So I dread the day I’ll have to mention that they might be disturbing other patrons or that they are breaking a behaviour policy. Even now I cringe to think of it.

I want people to like me – it makes my job easier. I put a smile on for everyone, nod and acknowledge them as they pass, give a greeting and maybe a reminder that I am there to help.

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness : An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone by Ryan J Dowd popped up in a professional magazine and I pounced onto the catalog to get a copy. Now an excerpt graces the inside of the recent ALA American Libraries June 2018 edition and there is a hold on it which prevented me from renewing it further.

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness : An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

by Ryan J Dowd

Chicago: ALA Editions, 2018

This book was a pleasure to read. Dowd’s years of experience as head of the Hesed House in Aurora, Illinois to present librarians with useful tools in a knowledgeable, relatable, and humorous way. There is no feeling of disconnect between the propose potential scenarios and what a librarian might expect at a library.

The writing is enjoyable and highly readable. Couple this with the highly useful content and it is easy to see how I finished it in three days (probably could have done it in two). Dowd provides several tools and examples of what to and not to do. Each tool has a name that stick with you after you leave. For example, I know the tool that scares me the most is the Anti-Procrastinator. This tool reminds me to act immediately to address a potentially bad situation early before it becomes a bigger situation. PS – I didn’t have to refer back to the book for that.

This is for all staff in a library who serve the public. Dowd believes that you have to get your head, body, and words in line to serve homeless patron effectively and respectively. He introduces the concept of empathy and punishment in a psychological, sociological, and physiological way that is easy to digest and apply to working condition.

Overall, my biggest complaint is that I have to shell out $57 to own a copy…and even then that is a relatively good price for a new ALA publication. I would say it is worth the money because of the content, but it depends on your budget. If you have a professional development collection for staff at your library, this would be a great addition. Maybe I’ll ask for it as a graduation present…

The Greatest Tool?
If I had to pick a tool that would be best for our library to use right now, it would be Amigos. This tool reminds libraries that they work best with partners. Partnering with the local shelters to understand the homeless situation in your area, to discuss any current behavior issues, to coordinate programming and services, and to potentially contract them to find a decent social worker for the library are all possibilities with this tool. I am considering reaching out to the shelter to see what my crafting group can do for them all year instead of the winter emphasis.

Digital Extras

Check out Dowd’s website : http://www.homelesslibrary.com

The ALA Editions page for the book has a linked interview with Dowd and a video of a reading from the book: https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/librarians-guide-homelessness-empathy-driven-approach-solving-problems-preventing-conflict

Take a look at the Hesed House website to see the services that they provide: https://www.hesedhouse.org/

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TBR: Sunday Coffee Table Pile- May 6, 2018

TBR pile- the “to be read” pile. Anyone else have this? I feel like a symptom of working at a library is a TBR piles of some height. I think it increases when you have limited book shelf space.

I glance over at the coffee table and notice the TBR monolith on the corner growing while the currently reading pile has stagnated.

I get on kicks of interests and those sometimes stay. More often they wane.

So here is my TBR list for today:

Fiction 

Adjustment Day – Chuck Palahniuk

Non-Fiction

Main Theme: Library Professional Development

The Dysfunctional Library : Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships – Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, & Richard Moniz

Cultivating Engaged Staff : Better Management for Better Libraries – Margaret Zelman Law

The New Librarianship Field Guild – R. David Lankes

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: an Empathy-driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone – Ryan J. Dowd

True Crime Book Club Title

Ghettoside : A True Story of Murder in America – Jill Leovy

Miscellaneous

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics – Dan Harris

–Going to a meditation program series at the local library. Saw this and though why not.

Soulful Simplicity : How Living with Less can lead to so much more – Courtney Carver

–I’m one of those people who lost over 100 lbs of crap with KonMari method. ‘Nuff said.

The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice – Seth Allcorn & Howard F. Stein

–I read this one before but am pairing it with the dysfunctional library book to see the comparison.

Random DVD – Waxwork/Waxwork II

–One of our branches have taken excess DVD donations and made a browsing DVD collection of titles that could not be purchased with current collection development policies. Hence this lovely bad movie gem (the first one – the second is…ok).

-End List-

I understand the irony of mentioning KonMari and yet have a stack of books. I recognize it and accept it and relish in the fact I can shove them all in a book return and be done. They are all library books. I haven’t bought a new book I haven’t read in a long time. I did purchase a treasury of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series with the original illustrations, but I’ve read it over and over as a kid.

Do you have a TBR list? Longer or short than mine? Have themes within or are you more of a sporadic reader? With that, it’s on into the last of the weekend.

Now about that NetGalley list…

Super Quick Shot: Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s

Anyone else feel that when they revisit an old site, it seems you were active around the same time last year? Does it seem like your mood has its own seasons and schedules? I feel like this is true for myself. Look at the activity feed for my site, the last time this page had a heartbeat it was a weak one.

Remember “a new year, a new you”? The phrase that swept the headlines and campaign titles in every inch of banner space or seasonal signage at stores? Anyone feeling the newness yet? It seems that long term changes don’t just happen – they build up. Step by step.

So here is a quick heart beat review

Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s by Eric Tyson, MBA – 2018

Part of the For Dummies series, I have found this book to be a no nonsense explanation of how to get a temperature read on your current financial situation. Having not had my finger on my wallet’s pulse the last few hectic years of a master’s program and job changes, being told I could get a credit history and score free was refreshing.

The book covers a range of topics including budgeting, taxes, retirement, investing, money & relationships, and insurance. Tyson provides free solutions when available and advice on when and how to find professional help.

This is a great book for anyone headed off to college and swimming in a sea of credit card advertisements. It is helpful for me, someone who is still paying down my undergrad debt and managing to get a masters with a part time job.

I acquired my copy from the library, but this book comes in at around $19.99. Take a gander at the table of contents to see if you need the whole thing or only pieces. Eric Tyson has other publications on personal finances and investing as well.


Phew! A quick one, but there it is.

Super Quick Shot: Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint & why I should take notes

It’s been a long time since my last post, mostly due to life barreling forward and me spinning on the insides.

I started out a come back to the site by reading several professional library books. I didn’t have a focus on a particular subject, but generally focused on politics, reference services, and suggested professional competencies. Out of all that I read, there is one book that rose above the rest.

I have found that the library professional books I have come across become same-y sounding, follow similar formats, or, especially thin volumes, skim the surface of an issue/topic. Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint by Paul T Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, John Carlo Bertot , and Lindsay C. Sarin was able to take a balanced approach to the perception of public libraries in politics, mixing historical context and founded foresight. Especially in today political climate, it has an eerie feel of prophecy to it (like many dystopian novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Prophecy of the Sower).

What wonderful things do I remember from it?

*attempts to access long term, iron clad, photographic memory from late February*

[ERROR]

Well, that’s embarrassing. It’s also a lesson in what to do if you intend on providing a review or insight on something.

What do I remember? It wasn’t a brief description of things I’m learning in my reference graduate course. It isn’t a collection of case studies. It is a text that could be used in a graduate course about libraries within the political landscape. It is a book that places libraries in a realistic present political context.

There have been times during my online graduate courses where it seems people aren’t panicking as much as I am about the future. At times, I know it is easy to set the default to comfortable soap box for discussion posts, but it isn’t the time to be comfortable anymore.

It is definitely the time to remember what you read and be able to bring it up when needed….*cough, cough*

So Question: What do you do if you are preparing a review? Do you take notes?

Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint

written by Paul T Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, John Carlo Bertot , and Lindsay C. Sarin

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014

Publishers Page

Google Books copy

Quick Shots: From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice and The Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management

These two entries into my “been read” pile are on opposite sides of the spectrum, both in scope, length, and depth. However, both did contribute to my understanding and I did end up purchasing one of them.

From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice

Edited by Robin Osborne

Foreword by Carla D. Hayden

Chicago: American Library Association, 2004

This is a slim volume that contains several “snapshots” of outreach programs and services from the United States created by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (now Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services). Each part focuses on a different aspect of outreach, beginning with a short introduction and followed by relevant “snapshots”. This book covers a wide array of possible services, but does not provide in depth descriptions of the creation, implementation, and evaluation of these services. That being said, I was writing down the ideas that interested me and by the end had a lengthy list.

Being an older volume, this is cheap to pick up used online. I got it for $.88 from Better World Books and the shipping was $3.99.

You can also view large portions through Google Books.

If you are looking for inspiration for outreach services in a public or academic library, this could prove useful. If you want a step by step description on how to implement these programs in your library, it won’t give you what you need. However, you can take the information in the book and contact these libraries to start a conversation.

 

The Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management

by Peggy Johnson

Third Edition

Chicago: American Library Association, 2013

 

This is a long volume that is focused on the aspects of collection development and management. It goes in depth on the topic, providing a historical context for the topic at the beginning and considering all library types throughout each topic. This is prime textbook material, which may be why you can’t get it on Amazon currently (as the semester has started). I acquired mine through the library and suggested it for inclusion in the soon to be developed professional collection at my library.

This can be used by a wide variety of librarians and information professionals. It takes into consideration how professional values influence the collection development and management. There are many sources cited and suggested readings listed for further context and information.

Whereas From Outreach to Equity was a quick read, this will take more time to consume. The amount of information and the textbook tone require more focus.

Overall, it is valuable for anyone looking to get a well developed idea of what collection development and management can entail. It is the most recent edition of the book and therefore fairly recent.

Here is a link to the Google Books preview, which provides a eBook copy for $48.
Phew!

Review: Teaching Information Literacy Reframed: 50+ Framework-Based Exercises for Creating Information-Literate Learners

Teaching Information Literacy Reframed: 50+ Framework-Based Exercises for Creating Information-Literate Learners

Joanna M. Burkhardt

2016, ALA Neal-Schuman, Chicago

Obtained: Checked out copy from public library.

Why did I get it?: I was seeking texts on information literacy in the library. I did not look into the content of this book when I initially put it on hold and found after I received it that it was aimed at academic settings. However, I found worth and application in it anyhow.

——–

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) created the Information Literacy Competency Standards for High Education in 2000 to help define standards for information literacy. These standards have been replaced with the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education which was adopted by the ACRL Board on January 11, 2016. The Framework was created to address the changing responsibilities of both staff and students and to clearly define the concept of information literacy in the context of practice. The Framework consists of six frames, each representing an internal principle of information literacy.

Burkhardt’s Teaching Information Literacy Reframed aims to help those tasked with creating and implementing information literacy instruction with a toolbox of usable and flexible exercises that help make the concepts concrete. Each of the six frames is given its own chapter, with an introduction and accompanying exercises. The ACRL’s Framework is provided as an Appendix allowing the reader to cross reference between the original document and the author’s interpretation and elaborations on each framework section. Chapters start with an exploration of the concept, defining it and its importance to students. Exercises follow, listing learning objectives and instructions. A handy list of exercises can be found at the beginning of the book following the table of contents. Exercises range from hands on activities to group discussion. Suggestions are made as to if the exercises should be done individually or in groups.

This book provided me with insight into the instructional tasks academic librarians face. Being a graduate student focused on library and information studies, I can see the usefulness of the exercises from two perspectives. As a librarian in training, I find the exercises and explorations of each topic to solidify my professional identity. These concepts are important to my profession and this is one way of making it applicable and important to others. As a student, these are the concepts I put into practice every semester when completing assignments.

——-

Do I recommend it?: Being a slimmer volume with high readability and focusing on information literacy concepts, I do recommend it. It’s aimed at instructors, but can be useful for undergrad and graduate students for self guided exercises or for developing information and/or education professionals wanting to see the application of of information literacy concepts in an instructional setting.

Freebies:

Sample of the Book on ALA Store:

Title page, bibliographic info, table of contents, list of exercise titles (with page numbers), Introduction, Chapter One (with citations), & index.

http://www.alastore.ala.org/pdf/9780838913970_sample.pdf

ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

ACRL’s former Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

*This document is being phased out to make way for the Framework. It was decided at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando that the Competencies would be rescinded. You can access the document (and PDF) at the link below until July 1, 2017.

http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency

 

The path to here

On Monday, November 14, 2016, I started my third position at the York County Library. I first came on in 2012 as a part time circulation assistant, and then worked three years in the Outreach department as a bookmobile assistant. August 2016 I left for a new non-library job that promised more pay and opportunity to grow…

And now I’m back at the library! This time I will be a part time reference assistant, working on the second floor instead of the central circulation desk or tucked in the back near the garage/ on a large 28-foot long converted Bluebird named Camilla.

During my time as a bookmobile assistant, I applied for the MLIS program at USC Columbia. Outreach work inspired me to pursue a career in the library field for a few reasons:

  1. Let’s be honest up front, with an MLIS you can command a higher salary. If this is where I want to work, I’m going to need to make more money over time without relying solely on seniority. And during the time I do serve as a librarian…
  2. I want to be able to affect change in service and policy. I came into the position without formal training and many of my coworkers had years of experience, but no degree. On the job, I sought out the reasoning behind our services, why we did what we did, and, always, how can we improve staff and patron experiences. Graduate school seemed to be the answer.
  3. Knowing me, this would help me solidify my identity. People say “do what you love”. But when you battle with bouts of depression and anxiety on a regular basis, it can be difficult to remember who you are. When the activities and aspects of life that once defined you lose their luster or seem like burdens, it is difficult to remember who you are, why you started, or why any of this matters. For me, working in a library has been a defining moment that hasn’t lost its purpose or place in my life. I want to keep that feeling alive and investing effort into my studies sustains that energy and, therefore, me.

Okay, deep breath, that last paragraph was a doozy, right?

Onward, this blog will be personal observations of how my work and school studies overlap, lists of materials I have consumed, and a collection of amusing photographs/comics/antics.