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Libraries FAQ, v. 2.1, part 5/10

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Archive-name: books/library-faq/part5
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Version: 2.1

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Libraries FAQ 2.1

Anthony Wilson

Libraries FAQ 
Section 4.0 Work  

4.1 What distinguishes the work of shelvers, library assistants,
library technicians and librarians? 
4.2 Who decides the attitudes, policies and actions of libraries? 
4.3 What do I do about mouse ball theft? 
4.4 What's the latest word on book banning attempts in public
4.5 Where do librarians stand on the use of software filters to screen
content on library Internet stations? 
4.6 Where can I get information on job openings in library science? 
4.7 What are information brokers? 
4.8 What are some alternative careers for librarians? 
4.9 Where can I find information on the outsourcing of library

4.1 What distinguishes the work of shelvers, library assistants,
library technicians and librarians?  

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, , maintains
a database of job descriptions and career outlooks. This is a helpful
place to start when researching career options:
Library Assistants and Book Mobile Drivers 
Library Technicians 
Also, the Library Support Staff Resource Center provides descriptions
of the various roles played by library personnel, plus links to more
information on work roles: 

The following is from the Libraries FAQ 1.2 by Steve Bergson: 

In 1927, "The Report of the Bureau of Public Personnel Administration
submitted to the Committee on the Classification of Library Personnel
of the American Library Association proposed 'a separation of clerical
from non-clerical duties.'" [Baker, P. (1986) _What About the
Workers?: Study of Non-professional Staff in Library Work_. London:
Association of Library Assistants, pg.2]. Shelvers are the minimum
wage teenagers (usually) who shelve the materials after they have been
returned. Library assistants or technicians might do any of the
following: shelving (in the absence of shelvers), circulation duties
(check in, check out, supervision), derived cataloguing, programming,
ordering, answering ready reference questions or materials processing.
Librarians might do any of the following professional tasks: book
selection, original cataloguing, making library policy, evaluating
performance of others, answering more complex reference questions,
ordealing with the complaints and concerns of patrons. Librarians may
do nonprofessional tasks in the absence of technicians and shelvers.
Library technicians and assistants may do professional tasks in the
absence of professional staff. 
4.2 Who decides the attitudes, policies and actions of libraries?  

For those in the thick of writing Internet access guidelines, there is
a comprehensive policy site for public libraries compiled by Jeff

From the Libraries FAQ v 1.2 by Steve Bergson: 

It depends on who you ask. Librarians will proudly tell you that,
being professionals, they make independent judgments based on sound,
ethical principles. They will flaunt the infamous Library Bill of
Rights (adopted 1948; revised 1961, 1967 and 1980) to prove it. The
sad truth is that librarians have often been caught between their
professional principles and nonprofessional antagonists. One type of
antagonist is the library board member/politician seeking to gain easy
publicity or to win votes at the expense of the library, its staff or
its patrons. The other type of antagonist is the narrow-minded patron
who insists that his/her opinion (on policy, book selection, hiring,
etc.) is decisive because it is his/her library (this particularly is
a problem in tax-supported and public libraries). See, Family Friendly
Libraries, and the article:
Schweinsburg, Jane D. "Family Friendly Libraries vs. the American
Library Association" _Journal of Information Ethics_ Fall 1997: 75-87.

4.3 What do I do about mouse ball theft?  

Threads on mouse ball theft have appeared on a number of library
discussion groups. Replacement mouse balls can be purchased from:
Argonaut (800) 322-3328 
Prefix (800) 264-2530 
Synaptech (800) 617-7865 
Different vendors may have different sizes, so check to make sure that
you get the right ones. Prices seem to run $3-5 for replacement balls.

Possible solutions (from a thread on web4lib): 

-Mitsumi 9-pin serial mice run about $8 (less in quantity.) 
-Glue mice closed with Crazy Glue. Mice cannot be cleaned, but balls
are easily stolen and not so easily replaced. The library might still
come out ahead. 
-Use touchpads. They're low in price and have no moving parts. Access
to the trackball is only through the bottom and the trackball housing
can be mounted to a desk with removeable screws.This would prevent, or
at least deter, theft of the ball. 

4.4 What's the latest word on book banning attempts in public

According to the ALA, , the top 10 most
challenged books in 1997 were: 
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou 
It's Perfectly Normal, Robie Harris 
Goosebumps Series, R.L. Stine 
The Alice Series, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain 
The Giver, Lois Lowry 
A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck 
Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane 
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson 
For an informative look at the history of book banning, see Carnegie
Mellon University's Banned Books On-line: 

And for the Top 10 list of silly and illogical reasons to ban a book,

See also: 

The American Civil Liberties Union 

Yahoo - Banned Books 

4.5 Where do librarians stand on the use of software filters to screen
content on library Internet stations?  

Content filtering software - AKA cyberfilters, AKA censorware - are
attempts to clean up the Internet for use in public libraries. The
concern generally centers over objectionable or adult material that
children may be exposed to. Foul language, sexually explicit graphics,
and pages with violent or anarchical subject matter are usually
targeted. Software filters use some combination of three strategies
for limiting access to web sites: 

1. Build and maintain a list of forbidden sites. Problem: while there
are certain high profile adult sites that might be easily screened, it
is impossible to keep up with the thousands of web sites that are
being created every day.
2. Scan web pages for certain objectionable words or phrases. Problem:
this system usually brushes with too broad a stroke; conventional
bookstores, educational sites, and health organizations are often
trashed along with the "Teen Smut" pages. 

3. Voluntary ratings adopted by web sites and acknowledged by the
browser, i.e. Platform for Internet Content (PIC) and Recreational Software Advisory
Council (RSACi) . Problems: (a) the ACLU has
opposed voluntary ratings, citing government pressure on web sites to
self-censor, ; (b) there not
enough sites currently participating in the rating programs (300+?) to
make them a useful tool for libraries. 

The major players in the filter business are: 

Cyber Patrol 
Net Nanny 
Library Channel 

For a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the various filters,
see Karen G. Schneider's The Internet Filter Assessment Project, . "The Internet Filter Assessment
Project began in April, 1997 as a volunteer project led by librarian
Karen G. Schneider to assess Internet filters used to block sites
and/or keywords. This project arose from a growing concern by many
librarians over the use of Internet filters in library systems. Over
30 librarians and information specialists have volunteered in the
assessment phase." 

Censorware.rg, , is the home of The Censorware
Project, "a group dedicated to exposing the phenomenon of censorware."
Censorware.rg is definitely anti-"filtering products", but it is
still a good source for news and information regarding filters in

The pro-filter point of view can be found at David Burt's Filtering
Facts, . "FF supports the voluntary use
of filters by libraries. FF does not support legislative efforts to
mandate that libraries install filters." 

The ALA has come out against the use of filtering software in

Resolution on the Use of Filtering Software in Libraries 

"RESOLVED, That the American Library Association affirms that the use
of filtering software by libraries to block access to constitutionally
protected speech violates the Library Bill of Rights. "
( NOTE: You'll find the electronic version of ALA Library Bill of
Rights at 

For more information on filters and the issues involved, I suggest the
following online articles: 

Understand Software that Blocks Internet Sites
by Lisa Champelli, The Internet Advocate 
A Web-based Resource Guide for Librarians and Educators Interested in
Providing Youth Access to the Net 

Looking at Filters, PC magazine 

Internet World, September, 1996 

Internet Freedoms and Filters: Roles and Responsibilities of the
Public Librarian on the World Wide Web
by James LaRue 

Filtering the First Amendment for Public Libraries: A Look at the
Legal Landscape
by Mary Minow 

Filtering the Internet in American Public Libraries: Sliding Down the
Slippery Slope
by Jeannette Allis Bastian, 
4.6 Where can I get information on job openings in library science?  

Ann E. Robinson's Library Job Hunting page has a extensive list of
online job hunting sites, journals and career information:
Also, the SLA and IFLA job listervs are good sources of job leads: 

4.7 What are information brokers?  

As Marilyn M. Levine puts it in "A Brief History of Information
Brokering" , ,
information brokering is "the business of buying and selling
information as a commodity". Information brokers are independent
information professionals who may provide such services as online and
manual research, document delivery, database design, library support,
consulting, writing and publishing. See: Association of Independent
Information Professionals (AIIP)
There are several good articles on information brokering in the
February/March 1995 issue of the ASIS Bulletin : 

If you think information brokering is for you, be sure to read:
Rugge, Sue and Alfred Glossbrenner. The Information Broker's Handbook.
McGraw/Hill, 2nd Ed. 1994. 

See also, the Yahoo category on Information Brokers:

4.8 What are some alternative careers for librarians?  

Librarians are experts in the retrieval, analysis, and re-packaging of
information. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the skills acquired
and developed by librarians are prized by the "outside" world. At the
ALA's CyberLib page, , Barbara
Best-Nichols lists many of the career possibilities: 
Collection developer 
Database manager
and more... 
NOTE: I'd like to include more information on alternative careers for
LIS grads. If you know of any books, articles or online sources that
maybe helpful to librarians or LIS students seeking different career
paths please let me know ( ).
4.9 Where can I find information on the outsourcing of library

outsourcing, noun, the procuring of services from an outside provider
in order to cut costs.
Example: On March 31, 1995, the Chicago office of the law firm Baker &
McKenzie fired its 10-person law library staff. While it had become
common for law firms and other businesses to contract out specific
library duties (cataloging, loose-leaf filing, etc.), at Baker &
McKenzie all library services were outsourced. On March 17, 1997,
Baker & McKenzie hired law librarian Barbara A. Schmid, as manager of
library services. Baker & McKenzie insisted the hiring was not a
retreat on library outsourcing. 

For information on library oursourcing, see these bibliographies:

Library Outsourcing, from the Internet Library for Librarians, 
Selected References On Contracting Out And Outsourcing Library
Services, from the SLA,  

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