Above all, every library director with a standard seven-member board of trustees knows one fact of life: the rule of four. It takes only four votes to get you fired. If you’re unlucky, your board has only five members. Things can get very dicey when it takes only three votes to get you fired. So … Continue reading Fired Up for Retirement
A couple of years ago I was giving a keynote presentation at a state library conference in the Upper Midwest when a librarian came up to me with a copy of my first book, Snowballs in the Bookdrop, published in 1982. She wanted me to autograph it with a personal greeting, but I hesitated when I … Continue reading Treasure or Trash Heap?
There is no longer any point in debating the reality of global warming (or, if you prefer to be politically correct, climate change). The handwriting is on the wall: 2012 was the hottest year on record and the polar ice caps are melting at an alarmingly fast rate. Then there’s the new research report from … Continue reading Warming Up to End Times
After decades of strong leadership, Livermore (Calif.) Public Library, where I am a trustee, now has an opening at the top. Library Director Susan Gallinger has retired and we are faced with the challenge of replacing her. We spent the last board meeting with the city manager discussing the characteristics of her replacement. We talked about the … Continue reading What About the Children?
I am a firm believer in the value of libraries because I have always enthusiastically accepted the axiom that you can learn how to do anything from a book, even the most difficult of all human endeavors—how to swing a golf club. In the course of my life, I have competed, at some level, in … Continue reading Par for the Course
During my senior year of high school, just as football season was overlapping basketball season, we whimpered off the field at halftime like lost little dogs. The score was 28 Them, 3 Us. Our coach launched into a tirade in the locker room: “Ladies, I’d like to start with the fundamentals. This is a football.” … Continue reading Reading Mom Like a Book
You’ve finally arrived: After 40 years of working your library gig, it’s your dreaded retirement party. After all the “over the hill” jokes and the stories about how you started out with a stamp pad and ended with an iPad have been told, after the last piece of Costco cake has been eaten, and after … Continue reading No More Mr. Nice Guy
Pity the poor library director, whose job description includes ensuring the work gets done, the patrons are happy, the powers that be (trustees, city managers, regents, deans, principals, school board members, city council members, county commissioners, etc.) are also happy, and library employees are happy. Oh, I forgot one thing: Do all this with a … Continue reading Too Eager to Please
Digital literacy is supposedly what will save the public library, and I don’t doubt that. While you hear stories about welfare recipients and street people carrying around the latest in iPhone technology, those of us who labor in the public library vineyard know that those kinds of tales are triumphs of distortion over reality. Supposedly, … Continue reading Digitized to Distraction
It frustrates me profoundly to have someone in the library profession approach me at a conference to challenge my credibility as a speaker—usually in view of the fact that I’m retired, out of touch, and behind the times. In other words, I’m no longer actively involved in library matters. My defense is immediate. I explain … Continue reading Trust in Your Trustees
This old Irish joke is as old as the sod: “It’s always puzzled me,” said the Irishman, looking up from his newspaper, “how every time the Lord gets it right. People always seem to be dying in alphabetical order.” The other Irishman responds, “I guess that means God is a librarian.” I was reflecting the … Continue reading Is God Really a Librarian?
It’s a question every used car buyer has to answer: “Is it the years or the miles?” Am I better off buying that vintage Pontiac LeMans with the really cool styling or that stodgy-looking two-year-old Honda? Looks can be deceiving. The vintage Pontiac was driven by a little old lady from Pasadena who used it … Continue reading Your Mileage May Vary