PROFILE: Rosanne Macek, Library Services Director, Mountain View Public Library

An ongoing look at people who work in libraries and information services around the Bay Area.

How did you become a librarian?

Well, I was one of those kids who spent weekends in the library, participated in summer reading, and loved to read, so I thought maybe I’d want to be a librarian when I grew up. However, later on, when I started researching librarianship as a career and found out it required a Master’s Degree, I didn’t think that was for me.

So, I pursued a B.A. in English and planned to become a technical writer. When I was a senior I got a part-time job as a library assistant in a corporate library in a semiconductor company and was hooked! As soon as I finished by B.A. I enrolled immediately in library school at SJSU. I then spent the next 20+ years in high tech, managing research libraries at Apple Inc. and Nortel Networks, and was then Director of Operations for a small telecommunications market research firm.

After getting laid off from my last company, I decided I wanted to make a career change and got hired by the Santa Clara County Library as a part-time substitute reference librarian. I found that I loved serving the public and was lucky enough to be hired full-time, eventually managing libraries in Morgan Hill and Cupertino.

Did you aspire to become a director of a library? If not, how did you come into this position?

I never aspired to management early in my career, but always seemed to get promoted to supervisory positions. After managing a variety of different departments in corporations, and managing two libraries for the Santa Clara County Library, being a library director seemed the next logical career step for me. I joined the City of Mountain View as library director in May of last year.

When you left your position as a Community Librarian at the Santa Clara County Library to become the Director of Library Services in Mountain View Public Library, what was the biggest change for you?

It was a bigger change than I expected! When I managed libraries for the County Library, there were a number of functions, like technical services and IT, that were taken care of at administrative headquarters. As a library director I’m now responsible for those functions as well so that has been a learning curve.

I was also a little surprised with the amount of autonomy I have. I get very little time with my boss, the City Manager. He trusts me to run the library and I have the authority to make whatever changes I think are needed. I was also very pleased that there is a very collegial relationship among all the department directors, even during difficult budget times.

What are your plans for the library in the next year? New services?

I think we could do a better job reaching out to our diverse community, so we recently started a series of Internet classes in Spanish. We worked with our local day worker center to promote this and all our classes have been full with waiting lists.

We also need to examine our collection, especially in light of the popularity of e-books. When Jeff Bezos says he is now selling more e-books than paperbooks, I take notice! This could have profound implications for public libraries, and it is a great opportunity for us. We are about to embark on some training for library staff to ensure that we are all up-to-date in this area and then plan to offer workshops and support to the public as more and more of them start to use some sort of e-reader device.

Have the library’s interactions with the community changed? In what way?

We have become a community destination, and I think that will be an important role for us in the future. Our families connect with each other through our story times, our teens hang out and tutor each other in the afternoons, and our adults access the Internet and use our collections for lifelong learning. We have really become a learning and meeting hub for the community.

What was the most memorable experience you had as a librarian?

The most exciting and professionally satisfying experience I’ve ever had was building a new library for the city of Morgan Hill while I was the manager there. It was a wonderful community effort involving library staff, city staff, library support groups, and residents. We all came together to define what the community needed in its public library and worked hard to make it happen. I am very proud of the facility and think it serves residents very well.

Any advice for new librarians wondering if they have what it takes to become a good leader?

I would recommend volunteering for any leadership position that might come your way. Leading a project team, supervising volunteers, and working with community groups can be very satisfying and can help you get experience as a leader. Additional formal education can also be extremely valuable. I went back to school recently and am just about finished with my Master’s in Public Administration. What I learned in the program has helped me a lot to grow as a leader, and I know it was a factor in my getting the job offer for my current position.

PROFILE: Amy Rogers & The Story of the Digital Book

BayNet’s webmaster Amy Rogers and her video, The Story of the Digital Book, is profiled this week at SJSU SLIS, “Student Amy Rogers Develops Educational Video During Internship.”

The Story of the Digital Book

Millions of books from the UC Libraries have been digitized, but how? Go behind the scenes to learn about the UC Libraries’ digitization process and see several ways you can use these newly digital books. “The Story of the Digital Book” explains how their books make their way from the shelf to the screen, the possibilities they bring to users, and how they’re preserved for the long term.

Q&A: Librarian Susan Geiger and Moreau Catholic High School

An ongoing look at BayNet members who work in libraries and information services around the Bay Area.

How did you become a high school librarian?
My early career was in a public library as a children’s librarian and then as young adult librarian. I moved on to become a Branch Librarian but knew working with teens was what I really enjoyed.When I heard about the position at Moreau Catholic High School I was attracted to the idea of having a captive audience of teens. What I soon learned was that I would have three categories of patrons – students, teachers, and administration each with different needs. Also the idea of a school schedule with a long summer break was very attractive to me as the mother of a two year old.

Librarian Susan Geiger

How has technology impacted your role as a school librarian?
The library team’s role has changed as the school embraced technology. We are first-line tech support for over 900 students and their laptops. As the only information professional in the school, it’s my job to keep teachers and administrators aware of current research, curriculum trends, and useful web tools.  My Twitter stream, blog reader, and social networks are composed almost entirely of library, education, and educational technology sources.

My staff and I do a lot of instructional and technical support for teachers. They come to us with an idea or a lesson plan, and we try to find the best technology and resources to support their learning objectives. In the process we provide information literacy instruction to their students. We create digital pathfinders using LibGuides software that allows us to embed RSS feeds, video and other media.  We do presentations on Digital parenting to help our parents understand and work with their digital native children.

One of the biggest changes I have seen since becoming a laptop school is the transformation of the library into a production space.  Students use our conference room to record voice-overs and to edit video, and it’s common to find kids filming all over the library. We have 3 flat screen TVs in the library that screen MCTV, our student run, digital TV station. We also use the TVs to run new book promotions that we create in powerpoint, save as jpgs and play as slide shows.  We have two drop down LCD screens in the main seating area that students use to give presentations. Recently the library hosted a Skype conference for an AP Government class with an alumna, Rosie Rios, the US Treasurer.

The library is a very popular place on our campus.  Students come to check out books, flash drives, headphones, and video cameras. They use our tables to work in groups, and our power outlets to charge their laptops . They ask for help in person, by chat, and even by email. They become fans on our Facebook page. The students see the library as a learning commons.

Lunch hour in the Moreau Catholic High School Library

Lunch hour in the Moreau Catholic High School Library

What school projects you’ve done that you’re the most proud of?
When my school was three years into our roll out as a 1:1 laptop school, it became obvious to me that our faculty needed to become more comfortable using their laptops.  My staff and I led a “23 Things” web 2.0 staff development program using the CSLA 23 Things Classroom Learning program as a model. The program was pretty successful because we did a lot of marketing and had great support from our administration. The incentive to sign up for the 9-week program was that the participants were allowed to wear jeans every Friday. We designed a black t-shirt with the school logo and the legend, “23 Things for 21st century Learners.” Our school has a dress code and wearing jeans is a big deal.

We made a promotional video featuring teachers and administrators to introduce 23 Things and an Animoto video of the first people to sign up and create blogs.  Seventy-seven administrators, teachers and staff signed up. Every Friday was Tech Friday when my staff and I provided personal assistance and treats.  By going into the offices and classrooms of people setting up blogs and using various web tools we provided, “Roadside Assistance”.  In the process we forged a lot of personal relationships, taught a lot of people how to use their toolbar menu, and established the library as a “go to” place for technical assistance.

What was the most memorable experience you had as a librarian?
Three years , prepare for a library remodel and expansion, I moved my entire library into four storage rooms and two classrooms.  I planned the move on graph paper and had the book collection measured down to the inch on spreadsheets. We broke down shelves and then moved and reassembled all of the shelving and most of the book collection during a three-week period. I have memories of standing on study carrels, socket wrench in hand, dismantling our lovely old wood wall shelving. I still can’t believe we got everything done in time.

Moreau Catholic High School Library

What do you love and hate about your job?
I love just about everything about my job, especially helping students find recreational reading and working with teachers on making curriculum relevant and exciting. As a school librarian in an independent school I get to do a bit of everything: acquisitions, reference, cataloging, marketing, web design, staff development, and teaching. It’s very satisfying to come up with the perfect piece of research for an administrator taking a graduate course, the perfect book to hook a 10th grade reluctant reader, and the perfect resource or web tool to fit a teacher’s curriculum need all in the same period.

There has been a lot of press lately about whether schools still need libraries because of a perception that students don’t use books anymore.  I think this is a ridiculous argument because students and faculty need books, electronic resources, and librarians. What has changed is that I buy much less reference and non-fiction in print. One of our challenges is to teach students how to use databases and eBooks, which they sometimes find complex after their search experiences with Google.

The food police role is probably the least favorite part of my job. I wish we could have a library café area, but our new library is carpeted.

Are you impacted by the California economic downturn?
As an independent school we are dependent on our families being able to afford tuition.  While the school is committed to providing as much tuition assistance as possible, it’s still a struggle for many of our families. Compared to the catastrophic budget cuts affecting librarian positions in public schools, the independent school sector has been pretty fortunate.  Still, many of my colleagues and I are trying to do more with fewer resources these days.

Any advice for SLIS students thinking about becoming a high school librarian?
It’s great job because you get to do a bit of everything, but it would help to be into multi-tasking and screaming teens.

PROFILE: Lauren John of the Town and Country Club in San Francisco

Lauren John is BayNet’s newest board representative for special libraries. A librarian for the San Francisco’s Town and Country Club, she organizes monthly literary discussions and leads book groups. Her groups have appeared in public libraries, bookstores, boardrooms, museums, living rooms, retirement communities and synagogues. At Infopeople, she has taught librarians how to run book discussion groups and is the author of Running Book Discussion Groups: A How To Do It Manual.

How did you decide to become a librarian?
I originally thought that I would be a journalist and I took lot of writing and media classes in college at the State University of New York at Binghamton, which I attended from 1974-1978.

In my media and society class in my senior year, I wrote a paper about the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast that Orson Welles did on Halloween night. In the broadcast he announced that Martians had invaded New Jersey. Preposterous as that sounds today, people believed him and there was widespread national panic.

The paper that I wrote was about how and why people believed the broadcast. I went to the university library looking for answers, and the reference librarian there (wish I could remember her name) told me that I could go back to the newspapers for 1938 and read the news accounts of the broadcast and the reactions to it in the editorials. I spent hours and hours in the library looking at primary source documents on microfilm – fascinated by the letters to the editors and also sidetracked by the fashion ads. I soon realized that I was hooked on the research as much as the writing. (The paper got an A).

When I graduated from college, still unsure of what I was going to choose as a career – I took a summer class at St. John’s University School of Library Science in Jamaica, Queens. The class was about the publishing industry and the teacher was Patricia Glass Schuman – who later founded Neal-Schuman publishers. I loved the class and enrolled in the MLS program in the Fall. Note – Neal-Schuman published my book Running Book Discussion Groups in 2006.

[Read more…]

PROFILE: Heidi Goldstein and Ex’pression College for Digital Arts

This is an ongoing series of profiles of BayNet members who work in little-known libraries and information services around the bay. Heidi Goldstein is the Head Librarian of Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville.

Ex'pression College for Digital Arts. Photo by Tiffany Lo.

Ex'pression College for Digital Arts. Photo by Tiffany Lo.

How did you decide to become a librarian?

I’ve always been a reader and a lover of books. At about fifteen, I decided that librarianship would be a great career for me as I knew I didn’t want to be a standard classroom teacher. I knew that I loved to organize anything I could and figure out systems of order for things of all types. I also knew that I liked helping people and loved the concept of instructing people on how to help themselves. I worked in retail bookselling, both as a bookseller and as a manager, and knew that loaning people books was more appealing to me than charging for them.

Heidi Goldstein

Heidi Goldstein

In between bookstore jobs, I worked in a huge mess of a vintage clothing store. I had the task of putting it in some order. I devised my own system that included: sparkly Supremes dresses, fifties daytime dresses, sixties cocktail dresses, ironic seventies t-shirts, lederhosen, and so on. It was a mental challenge and included fashion history research and I loved every bit of it. I knew that librarianship was the perfect field into which I should delve.

Also, my mother still swears that she told me, when I was about 3 years of age, that I would grow up to be a librarian. At 37 years old, I now have to agree that she was right!

In what ways is a digital arts school library different from the more traditional school libraries?

The Wintzen Library and Learning Resource Center, while not large in size, is vast in its resourcefulness. Our students tend to focus on manuals and software usage more so than the traditional academic learning institutions as many of our classes are software-based. Ex’pression College, in and of itself, is different in that we are a fast-paced, learning-intensive, 24 hour a day, 365 day a week school. Our library, currently open only to enrolled students, has over three thousand books that range from, but are not limited to: children’s books to animal anatomy, jazz biographies to Star Wars history, acoustics and physics comprehension to logo construction, and rock and roll graphic design to punk rock music history. We also have an extensive DVD collection which includes concerts, tutorials, general films that tend toward the cult classic and hyper-creative, animation, experimental, and documentaries.

The library is also where all students come to attain their textbooks. For the General Education classes, they may borrow their books for the length of the term (five weeks). For the classes that represent the respective programs, Sound Arts, Animation and Visual Effects, Motion Graphic Design, and Game Art and Design, the library gives the students their textbooks which they then may keep for their professional library. This figures greatly in the activities of the library while saving the students large amounts of money from having to purchase their books.

Our library is similar to other schools as it is a hub of information, a central location in which students may print out papers, and where tutoring occurs. As the librarian, I help students with papers, research, and writing.

Ex’pression College uses Web 2.0 tools extensively: blogs, twitter, Facebook, and etc. How has this impacted your library work, if at all?

I believe that the school’s involvement with Web 2.0 has increased our brand recognition all around. The Web has permitted a small, niche-market Bachelor’s degree-granting school to gain international publicity. The library utilizes Twitter and Facebook to communicate with Ex’pression students who might not come into the library on a regular basis. Updates are made to Twitter, Facebook, and various other school-based websites regarding new additions to the library catalog and various events that happen around the school and in the library. Communicating with students in the way they communicate with each other has infinitely assisted in increasing the library’s appeal and communication levels.

What is your most memorable library experience?

My most memorable library experience is as simple and as pure as library experiences come. A student came in to talk to me about life and some difficulties she was having. I listened and advised as anyone would. But then, I used my super-reader-recommendation skills to come up with something wonderful for her to read. Lynda Barry has been my favorite comic artist/writer for a long time. A peer of Matt Groening of “The Simpsons,” she writes bittersweet, semi-autobiographical reflections on life, adolescence, and the complicated intertwining of family, awkwardness, and self-awareness. I offered one of Barry’s books, 100 Demons, to the student who was having troubles. A few days later she came into the library, eyes glistening, book in hand. “You reminded me how much I love to read,” she said shyly, “thank you.”

More recently, I was thrown a huge surprise birthday party by one of the library assistants, who is a student here at Ex’pression. The library had been decorated, a DJ had set up speakers, many of the people in attendance wore Guy Fawkes’ masks and an Ex’pression alumnus had airbrushed a 4 foot long painting of me that lots of people had signed. At least sixty people were in attendance, food was eaten, and much fun was had. This was not the same kind of memorable library experience as the previous one…but still memorable nonetheless!

Any good advice for new librarians still looking for work?

I started out looking for a hearty, civil service job in the public library sector. I envisioned helping those who needed help figuring out how to navigate the Web, performing the hardcore reference interview, and eagerly receiving the random question. As San Jose State University is the largest MLIS program in the country and competition is fierce, acquiring a public library job was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I ended up, six months after getting my Master’s degree, with a job here at Ex’pression College in a position nothing like that which I had expected.

My advice would be this: keep your mind open and prospects wide open. The unexpected could be better than that which you originally hoped for!