Iowa School Librarian Requirement Saved

Recently there was an effort in the Iowa General Assembly to remove the requirement that there be at least one librarian and nurse in every school district. This is being done under the ideal of local control. That is something that I also believe in to as an ideal, but there are certain times and places when the state government needs to step in to ensure something happens. There are times when people making the laws for the state may know things (through constituents reaching out) that the local school board isn’t aware of.  For example, study after study proves a student in a school with an active library program and a well supported library achieves more than a student without these things. Another example of this kind is requiring certified teachers which is done on a state level, not a local level. That’s the way to think of this requirement. There are times when the state should step in and I think having a librarian and more so an information literacy program is one of them.
I’ll note here that I worked as a school librarian in two K-12 school districts. However, I’m not employed in one now and I don’t really even know many K-12 librarians any more so this isn’t about me wanting to save anyone’s job. This is about what’s best for the state in creating an educated population.
I’m happy to say the amendment was killed. Below I’m reposting with permission the statement from the Iowa Library Association about this attempt to remove librarians from our schools.
If you want to know more about this instance or about efforts to support libraries and information literacy in schools, or for support for libraries across the board a good place to start is EveryLibrary’s post and then on to the rest of their page.

This from Dan Chibnall, ILA President:

Last evening [Ed. Note: February 28, 2019], the [Iowa General Assembly] Senate Education Committee met to discuss SSB 1190, the bill that contained language striking the requirements for teacher librarians and nurses in Iowa schools. As of last night, that threat no longer exists.

During the committee meeting, Sen. Mark Lofgren proposed an amendment striking the teacher librarian and nurse language from the bill. It passed by voice vote with no opposition. The bill now goes to the full Senate but our teacher librarian colleagues are safe.

Katy Kauffman, the 2019 Iowa Association of School Librarians President, wrote a great email last night to her IASL members and I’m going to borrow a little from that here so you know who was all involved in leading these efforts. The IASL Board, Lisa Beal (IASL Advocacy Chair), Karla Krueger, Joan Taylor, Mike Wright, Zach Stier, Shannon Miller, Cara Stone, Dara Schmidt, and Amanda Vazquez. There were others too, on listservs and social media, in email threads and at the Capitol. Thank you all for your hard work.

I want to give a special shout-out to our incredible lobbyists, Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell. Without them I don’t know where we would be. Thank you so much. Also, another special shout out to EveryLibrary, who came in at the 11th hour to help us in our time of need. If you’re not familiar with them, visit their site and get to know them. Patrick “P.C.” Sweeney and John Chrastka were so helpful with language and for helping us setup on their site to get the emails rolling. They also put together this website telling the story of our victory last night. I recommend you all take a look and share it with others: https://www.saveschoollibrarians.org/a_win_in_iowa.

I cannot thank all of you enough for your incredible efforts to help make this win a reality. When I ran for ILA President years ago, I talked quite a bit about the importance of communication between librarians, libraries, and our legislators. Last night those communication efforts paid off and I was so impressed by the sheer volume of your voices, telling your stories and sticking together with your colleagues across the state. Bravo to all of you. Let’s keep those voices loud and clear for our Legislative Day on March 13th at the [Iowa] Capitol.

If you have a few minutes today, please consider emailing or calling the senators who helped us last night and thank them for their tireless work and their votes.

Library Rescue What Jon Taffer Taught Me About Libraries

Screenshot of Bar Rescue HomepageJon Taffer is well known for his research of bar science on TV and in his publications. Although in many ways bars and libraries are different, they have some common goals of wanting to encourage people to walk in and to create an experience so they’ll want to come back. His methods regarding matching your neighborhood, having a consistent experience, signage, displays, and training, are all things that could also apply to libraries. This session will share examples of how libraries could and are using the ideas of bar science.

During the Iowa Library Association 2018 conference, I’m rolling out a brand new program applying what Jon Taffer teaches about bars to libraries. Look for me at a conference near you.

Handouts

Main Handout – JonTafferHO

Secret Shopper Checklist for the Library

ILAPressRelease

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

 

How Research Works: The Yale Goals Study

The more I work as a reference librarian, the more convinced I am that most people don’t have a good idea in their head about what the process of research looks like. Also, people have trouble telling the difference between something well researched and something not. So from time to time, I like to highlight articles that I’ve come across that do a good job explaining the process the researcher went through to get as close as possible to the truth.

I have previously posted about Clark Gable’s Undershirt and Easter Island.

The Yale Goals Study

Today’s post features an element that drives my friend Nancy Cleaveland crazy, using information because “I read it somewhere.” She even named her sock monkey Iris in honor of this frequent comment.

Oliver Burkeman and the Fast Company noticed that the Yale Goals Study was frequented cited in self-help materials, but that an official academic citation was never used. So they set out to find the study, but couldn’t….

https://www.fastcompany.com/3002763/why-setting-goals-could-wreck-your-life

For a follow up, check out the Yale University’s answer to the question. It also describes its efforts to prove or disprove the theory some of which is used in the article above, so of which isn’t.

What The Story Shows About Research

I especially appreciated:

  1. That they wanted to trace back a source.

This is one of the times when it’s important to back trace a reference. You don’t have to do this for every source you use, but the more you rely on it, the more work you should do tracing it down. References aren’t supposed to be, BUT CAN BE, a bit like playing telephone, especially when a direct quote isn’t used. Having an idea in your head you can easily grab an idea from someone else and cite it in a way they wouldn’t have. A couple of citations down the line and it can be established that someone means something that they never did or weren’t sure about or were postulating as a possibility. Even a quote can be taken out of context to shade its meaning closer to what you want. In this case a study, The Yale Study of Goals, wasn’t academically cited just passed along from one motivational speaker and/or writer to another.

2. Dig

They did a search themselves looking for both the study itself and for instances when the study was cited to trace it back.

3. Contacted Multiple People And/Or Groups

Branches of research and organizations can be very insular. Sometimes people strain to prove things that other people either already have or know about. Before you invest too much work into a topic, ASK! I can think of several times I’ve seen that happen in Laura research alone where someone had done the research and someone else came along and not knowing about the original research re-did the search. That is not always bad, sometimes you can pick up something they missed, but for basic facts it’s often a lot of unnecessary work that can they be applied to fresh subjects instead. Often even if you want to reconfirm the work it might give you locations of collections or information that you might not have thought to check so ask organizations and people first.

Sometimes an organization is just in a better position to search for information than any individual. In this case they turned to the Yale University Archivist who also involved the Yale Alumni Association. The association had access to members contact information which allowed them to quickly survey a good chunk of the class in question. They also were an organization the class members already had a relationship so they were more likely to respond to them. An individual could have done the same thing, but at the cost of a lot more research and likely a lower response rate.

4. And a Problem Analysis

They then took the idea that the non-existent survey was wrong and looked for information to support it. This is the weakest part of the article as they only give one example. Perhaps they offer more in the book? However, a single example, while illustrative, is hardly compelling and even if they didn’t take us through the full explanation of each listing a couple of more examples we could follow up on our own if we wanted to would have strengthened the piece.

Conclusion:

So let me say kudos to them for actually looking at a source and tracking it down. They did what the speakers who were building their careers on motivation should have done themselves. Although proving a negative is very difficult, this seems to pin down fairly conclusively that no such study, at least at that time and place, ever existed. The piece is much weaker in them proving that because the study didn’t exist that it was necessarily wrong in its conclusion. A further exploration of long term studies that DID exist and focused on goals would have had a lot to the strength of the piece.

Bonus: But why 1953?

There probably was a reason the person who told the story originally settled on 1953. However, putting a date on something always makes it seem real. I would bet that whenever it started the 1950s were far enough past that it worked with the story of checking later in life and it was probably in a year that ended with 3. People like round numbers and 30 years, 40 years would make it a nice figure.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Library Ghost

ICPL Carnegie
ICPL Carnegie

Old buildings that creak and crack,
Moving shadows to stop you in your track,
Chairs pulled out and computers clack.

Happy Halloween!

Libraries have their share of ghosts,
“Living” near our computer hosts,
Why not? It’s where everyone loves the most.

Happy Halloween!

Ghosts in Libraries

There are plenty of stories about ghosts in libraries, after all libraries are often in older buildings, from bookshelves to children’s room decorations there are plenty of things that make strange shadows, and sometimes they have programmed or motion detector lights that are supposed to go on and off by themselves. They’re not as creepy as Silence in the Library, but it’s enough to make you nervous if you’re by yourself and who knows? That bump in the night you’re imagining may not be all in your mind at all….

Sarah on library staircaseLocal Ghosts

A favorite local ghost story happened when the Cedar Rapids Public Library was still in its old Carnegie building. A little old woman came in like clock work to check out books. One morning a staff member saw her come in and commented on her new dress. She just smiled and went on. Later the staff member heard she died and that her son had bought her a new dress to be buried in. Believe it or not.

The Champion Library Ghost

Of course the library that makes the most of its ghost is the haunted Willard Public Library in Evansdale, Indiana. Their lady in grey has  been caught in several photos since first being seen in 1937. They give special Lady in Grey tours and she is given her own section on their website. They put up a webcam in 1999 to look for her that proved so popular it crashed the entire town’s e-mail. They since added more cameras. See for yourself their best of captures and the live feeds for you to check yourself.

A runner up would be the Sweetwater County Library in Green River, Wyoming that have had ghostly occurrences there since the library opened up in 1980. Since 2006 they’ve hosted ghost walks where patrons and those interested can use real ghost hunting equipment like ghost boxes, dowsing rods, and KII meters to hunt the library ghosts for themselves. However, there is nothing about it on their website. I guess the ghost doesn’t like publicity.

And Look Here

Check out a write up of more haunted libraries from the American Library Association.

And ooooOOOOOOooooooo from the U.S. Census Bureau

NOTE: The photos are just some library photos I happened to have. Their inclusion is NOT ghost related. 🙂

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Genealogy for the Non-Genealogist Librarian Update

I’ve been asked to repeat my session from the Association of Small and Rural Libraries is “Genealogy for the Non-Genealogist Librarian”  at the Iowa Small Libraries Online Conference on January 9th. Since I’m going to presenting again, I wanted to reshare the links for the handouts for it here. That first handout is a pathfinder that I just updated with resources to get anyone started in genealogy. The major change I’ve made from the last time I posted these links is the top link is the version of the handout I uploaded directly to WordPress. A couple of people had mentioned they had issues using the PDF system on my website (where the pathfinder is normally housed) so hopefully this will correct that. I hope you’ll find it easier, but the two links should open the same document.

Pathfinder BeginGenWeb2013

Beginning Genealogy Pathfinder

I’ve used the same information to create a LibGuide.

Beginning Genealogy LibGuide

This last handout is a resource for librarians who want to improve the service to genealogists in their library.

Resources for Library Genealogy

You have to register for the conference, but you can follow along on Twitter at #ISLOC14

Not sure how, I walk you through the process even if you don’t have a Twitter account in this video:

Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Des Moines Public Library Restored

Once upon a time, libraries were designed to be temples to learning. They were designed to reflect their importance with marble pillars and stain glass. In the second half of the 20th century architects began to move away from such designs in an effort to look “modern.” Libraries began to abandon their temples for other buildings, sometimes because of obsession with the new, sometimes because all that stained glass and marble make it very hard to alter the building (add an addition for more space that looks like it fits with the rest of the building, run more outlets necessary for computer and other forms of hardware required by modern multipedia applications, etc.). Sometimes even with these limitations a library can grow its building and even thrive, but far more often the temple is abandoned. Then you’re stuck with what are you going to do with an empty temple?

The answer in Des Moines, Iowa, was reached when the World Food Prize, based on supporting the work of Iowa native and green revolution hero Norman Borlaug, took over the old library building.  The central Des Moines Library (the temple model) closed in 2006 when the library moved into a new building downtown. The World Food Prize spent $30 million to convert the building to the Hall of Laureates. The building was open to the public this past weekend, but will close again until next summer. Be sure to look for the portrait featuring George Washington Carver.

Thanks to Gerry Rowland who sent me the link to the photos, you can see was a remarkable site the building now is. Well done Des Moines for having saved such a beautiful building.

http://www.pbase.com/gazeboy96/old_central_transformed

Read more about Norman Borlaug here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/norman-borlaug-food-hero/

See another temple library saved as the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/union-pacific-museum

And if you non-Iowans are wondering about the Simon Estes Amphitheater in one of the photos, it is so named because Estes is an Iowa native, in fact won our Iowa State Fair Talent Contest as a youngster and still makes trips back to support his home state.

Quote: “knowing what their question is”

From time to time, I share a quote that I think has particular relevance. I have one today that is very important to librarians and those creating expectations about libraries.

Barbara Fister, the librarian of Gustavus Adolphus College, points out that their are high hurdles both legally and monetarily to making all information available in a digital format everywhere. Anyone who has truly worked with what is available and analyzed the situation can tell that this puzzle not only hasn’t been solved, it is far from being solved and is in fact the project perhaps even larger scale than putting a man on the moon. Fister then gives her take on the assumption that all library services can be delivered digitally.

“But most important, the idea is flawed because it supposes that students approach the reference desk knowing what their question is. A librarian who is face to face with a nervous student can read all the subtle cues that he or she sends out in the struggle to articulate a question. The local librarian knows the context of the student’s curriculum and the collection that was created to support it. With that information, the librarian can model some basics of scholarly inquiry: how to translate a vague idea into terms that can guide a search, how to probe in various directions, how to recognize different forms of discourse, how to learn from mistakes.”

This is a brilliant piece of analysis and I hope you will pass it along.

Fister, Barbara. “Fear of Reference.” Chronicle of Higher Education 48.40 (2002): B20. Masterfile Premeire. Web. 25 April 2011.