Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Nancy Pearl Doll

First of all, Nancy Pearl is a real person. Carol Simon showed us the Nancy Pearl shushing doll in class on July 9, 2007. Nancy Pearl looks much better than the doll! Flickr has a Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure group that has over 100 photos of the doll. Many of the photos are well thought out and clever. I finally found a photo with creative commons license so I can show it here. It also has the advantage of showing the two versions of the doll. It was posted by bibliona. The name of the photo is "Window Shopping?"

Archie McPhee (Wikipedia) sells the blue doll for $8.95. Both action figures are available from Accoutrements, but they only sell in large quantities. Amazon is selling the deluxe version for $11.95, where they also feature other librarian items such as t-shirts, socks and other literary action figures. Kids Surplus is out of stock for the doll, which they were selling for $4.99. sells the original action figure for $8.35. Reportedly over 2,000 dolls have been sold. There is even a YouTube video called "Godzilla meets Nancy Pearl the Librarian," which is about an overdue book.

There is a 6-minute interview of Nancy Pearl on NPR radio, in which she tells how she happened to become the model for the doll. Seattle Times story "Toymaker finds librarian who's a real doll" tells the same story in print. Seattle's Cable Channel 21 has a regular program, Book Lust, featuring Nancy Pearl. You can watch past episodes on the Internet. Abe Books has an interview with Nancy Pearl about her books, Book Lust and More Book Lust.

Well, to my surprise, Nancy Pearl's books are published by Sasquatch Books! While I do believe I have heard of Sasquatch Books before (in conjunction with a regional book about northern California), Dr. Tom Surprenant's sample library is always Sasquatch Library. So now I make a different connection with Sasquatch.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thomas Galante, Director, Queens Borough Public Library

On July 23, 2007, Thomas Galante, the Director of the Queens Borough Public Library, presented to my class with Angel Huynh, the Director of Human Resources. His presentation was memorable partly because I knew so little about the work of librarians and partly because of his energetic presentation that also involved multimedia. There is no doubt that Tom enjoys his work and is pleased with the accomplishments at the Queens Borough Public Library.

There are 1800 employees with a budget of $115 to $120 million. The libraries are expanding to 6-day service with 7-day service in 16 libraries. They have a total of 63 libraries. The starting salary is $39,000 where after one year as a senior librarian, one can earn from $42,500 to $43,000. They lose 3 librarians a month out of 400 full-time positions. The also have half-time positions. An assistant manager made from $52,000 to $58,000 while a senior manager makes from the upper $50,000's to $60,000.

He discussed interviewing techniques and showed a short video produced three months earlier for recruiting. Tom, himself, was a student at Queens College only three and a half years ago although his career includes 22 years at the library starting in the finance area. He discussed the need to find people who fit. It is all about serving people. The benefits are good as they are in the NYS employment system so they have health benefits for life. You are vested in the system after 5 years. It is contributory for the first 10 years. You get 2% per year up to 66%. There is no age cut-off.

Language skills are very important. There are 63 libraries with 8 adult learning centers. They deal with people with 100 different languages. The web site is available in six languages. There are 4 research libraries with all the branches. Queens Borough Public Library is one of three library systems in New York City; the other two are Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library, which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

The Queens Borough Library system (as a multi-branch system) began in 1896. There was no civil service. It was 80% City funded and 8% to 10% NY State funded. The rest was private funding. $240,000 was given in 1901 by Andrew Carnegie for 8 libraries.

In the marketing department they have 13 people;
for the foundation, they have 8 people;
Cataloging has 15 to 20 people;
Preparation has 3 people (maybe that is 30);
Finance has CPA's;
There are four librarians doing web services;
The IT area has 45 people;
Programs and services has a lot of staff.

With a $5 million Cancer Society Grant, they began health screenings and books were provided for information on health topics.

They are planning to have "Smart shelves," which is an rfid system for checking the order of the books on the shelves. This eliminates bar codes and one person can take a reader and find and correct books out of order. The prices are dropping that make this system very feasible. This part really captured my imagination.

Tom gave each student in the class a CD with the recruiting video in a folder with lots of other information about the Queens Borough Library system. Here is their mission statement.