In conclusion.

Hello everyone,

As you can see The Young Librarian Series has slowly come to a halt and it is now time to put this project to rest. We had a truly awesome run and I just wanted to take a few seconds to thank everyone who read and supported the Series. Also a huuuge THANK YOU to those who participated.  Truly this project wouldn’t have worked without the willingness of our community to participate, write and create. You all give me so much hope and happiness for the future of libraries. That is priceless.

Please note that Tame the Web has agreed to keep the site here as an archive, so as always, thank you Michael. So if you have links to content here from your own site, don’t worry! That won’t be changing.

If you are still anxious for some content of mine online, check out the Chicago Deskset, follow me on Twitter or check out my personal blog La de da which gets updated…nearly….monthly :::grin::: If you are looking for more info on the individual contributors, each page has a bio with contact information.

Again, thank you everyone. It truly has been a great ride, and it makes me so excited and hopeful.

I’ll see you in the cloud,

Leah the Librarian

Justin Hoenke Interview, Part Deux

Hello everyone!

Well it looks like Good Day Maine totally copied the Young Librarian Series and decided that Justin Hoenke is a man with a plan who just needs a platform! In all seriousness, congratulations on the excellent interview Justin! It’s so exciting that you are spreading the good word on teen librarianship and your new section (at your NEW JOB!) at the Portland Public Library. So head on over to the Fox 23 website to check out Justin’s interview with with Good Day Maine:

And in case you missed it before, here is the interview from the Young Librarian Series:


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Information Activist

Anthony Molaro is the 30 year old Head of Tech Services and Automation at the Messenger Public Library in Illinois, co-founder of the Chicago Deskset and a Doctoral student at Dominican University, Graduate School of Information and Library Science. He was interviewed for The Young Librarian Series, just after this article was originally published in the December 2009 issue of American Libraries. You can read his blog or you can follow him on twitter.

On a recent and blistering cold Sunday evening I found myself flipping through the cable channels.  As I surfed the channels, I landed on the USA cable network.  During a commercial break the cable channel ran a brief blip on their Characters Approved Awards.  These awards are given to defining characters that “are changing the face of American Culture,” people who “surprise and inspire us with fresh ideas.”

The focus of this particular message was Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia.  I leave the debate over the merits or lack thereof of Wikipedia to other authors and articles.  However, Wale’s goal of creating a system that gives access to “the sum of human knowledge” is noble and lofty, one that few librarians would dispute.  The philosophical undercurrent that is the foundation of Wikipedia is to make information freely accessible to all.

The cable network described Jimmy Wales as an information activist, a person who is “giving the power of knowledge back to the people…”  The old adage is true, knowledge is power.  Librarians have been doing this for centuries, and few would debate that issue.  However, I was surprised that he is described as an information activist.  Wales stated that access to knowledge is a fundamental human right and that Wikipedia’s goal is to remove the filter of old white men to information.

“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge,” Wales said.  He wants Wikipedia to be a “sledgehammer to break down the barriers of censorship, of ignorance, of apathy about the state of the world.”

Are we librarians information activists?  Just what is an information activist?  The Random House Dictionary defines information as the “knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.”  It defines activist as “an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause.”  Thus an information activist is a vigorous advocate of knowledge gained through study, communication, research or instruction.

Another cable network recognized the type of information activist just described above, but this time it was a bona fide librarian.  CNN’s Heroes for 2008 included a librarian, Ethiopian native Yohannes Gebregeorgis.  Gebregeorgis was working for an American library, and he was charged with the acquisition of children’s literature in foreign languages.  He found that no books were written in Amharic, and that no books represented people or places of Ethiopia, prompting him to write the first bilingual children’s book, “Silly Mammo”.  The proceeds of the book’s profit were used to fund and create a library in Ethiopia.  At one point, Gebregeorgis left his job and family to bring 15,000 books from the San Francisco’s Children’s Library to Ethiopia.  He also started the Ethiopia Reads program. He even opened a library in an extremely poor area in Ethiopia, which provided children with their first safe place for both reading and fun.  Gebregeorgis is truly an information activist.

While the notion that an information activist as a “fresh idea” is not entirely true, it an inspiring idea.  Librarians and the libraries they work in have always valued the access to information.  We have strived to remove barriers between the users and the information.  But maybe we have let that message, that grand and noble truth, take a back seat.  I don’t know if we are information activists or not, but I believe that we should be.

What would the world, and Libraryland, look like if we pursued vigorous advocacy of knowledge gained through study, communication, research or instruction?  How would the world views us differently if we hold this truth to be self-evident, that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are the free access to the sum of human knowledge so that we may attain Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?  What would the world look like if we succeed in giving every single person access to the sum of human knowledge?  How many of the world’s problem would be solved by such a movement?  If that threshold was reached how much would the world’s GDP increase?  How much faster would knowledge grow?  How much would poverty and starvation decrease?  How many new technological and medical breakthroughs would occur?

There is little doubt that the attainment of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness would be far easier to attain if the sum of human knowledge were within any person’s grasp.  Did the Characters Approved award succeed?  I, for one, am deeply inspired, and I hope that you are too.  I hope that if we ever meet we introduce ourselves as librarians and information activists, and that we live up to that noble truth that access to knowledge is a fundamental right of all people.

Thank you for reading the Young Librarian Series! Do you have an idea for a post? Send an email to: or check out the Submissions page. See you next week!

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Blog Highlight: Ink and Vellum

John M. Jackson is a 28 year old MLIS student and cataloging supervisor for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He blogs about academic libraries and information literacy at Ink and Vellum. You can follow him on Twitter as johnxlibris.

When people ask what I do, I love to give them my official title: Grand Inventory Cataloging Supervisor. How many times in my life will I get that chance to say the word “grand” in the title of my job!? Ok, the name of the library is “Grand Library” but most people don’t know that. Many of our students don’t even know that! Grand Library is USC’s offsite storage facility for low-use materials: in the words of one of my colleagues, it is where books go to die.

But they don’t see the wonders that I see every day! I once came across the Library of Congress catalog from 1860. The other day, I stumbled across a volume of Diderot’s famous Encyclopédie. These books are not entombed. I prefer to think of them as waiting. Or simply misplaced. They just need the right person to find them. As Steven Jay Gould famously said, “There’s no way it will interest more than eight people in the world, but those eight people really care.” I catalog with those eight people in mind.

That is my reason for being as the Grand Inventory Cataloging Supervisor: find our books. Over the last ten years, Grand Library became the dumping ground for materials weeded out of other collections and for acquisitions that couldn’t be processed fast enough. As a result, hundreds of thousands of volumes were never cataloged properly or at all. So it is our 4-year mission to boldly go where no cataloger has gone before: into the stacks to live, to dwell, to rebuild.

Literally. I have a desk in the middle of 81,000 square foot room containing over 2 million volumes and growing every day (it’s in the PQ7000 section: Spanish literature). I supervise a team of student workers and day-by-day we work to create and edit bibliographic records in order to properly reflect our monographic and serial collections. We are fond of calling call our job “guerrilla cataloging”.

I did not always want to become a librarian. In college and in graduate school at the University of Virginia, I studied medieval literature (hence the name of my blog). While I was there, I worked part-time for one of the electronic archives and saw, for the first time in my academic life, the raw power of information: how it can be created, enriched, and shared. I wanted to be a part of that environment and actively contribute to its goals and objectives.

I have aspirations of working as a subject specialist and reference librarian for the institutions of higher education. I half-jokingly like to say that I’m a cataloger who wants to be a reference librarian who wants to be a cataloger. I love both aspects of librarianship, but the public services aspect of reference work pulls much harder on the drawstrings of my heart. I love nothing more than to see that look in a student’s eye when “they get it.”

This may explain the topics I choose for my blog (which is very young and I’m still unsure of what it may grow up to be). I started the blog in January of this year with the goal of setting up a professional space where I could talk about information and academic libraries. So far, it’s been a very efficient way to learn about information literacy, instruction, and reference work and to keep up to date on current research. Ideally, this will contribute to a future job as a reference librarian, but life has a way of taking you to unexpected destinations. So until then I will be diligent and I will blog: contributing, sharing, and networking with other librarians like the spectacular ones highlighted here in the Young Librarian Series.

Please take a moment and visit John’s blog Ink and Vellum. Would you like your blog to be highlighted on the Young Librarian Series? Send an email to: Or check out the Submissions page. See you next week!

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Vise Library Videos

Amber Woodard is the Library Technical Assistant at the Vise Library at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. As one-half of the “Vise Squad,” Amber is constantly trying to think of clever ways to draw students, faculty, and staff into the library. She’s 26 going on 15 and can be reached at awoodard[at sign]cumberland[dot]edu.

I worked in the public library world for close to two years, so I was used to summer being the busy season. When I began working in an academic library, I experienced a bit of a culture shock. The Monday after graduation was S-L-O-W. We have a fair amount of students who take summer classes, but somehow the appeal of sitting in a study room for the entire day is not as great as taking a laptop outside to the gazebo. In between our “must do” projects, such as weeding the Reference collection and shelf-reading the stacks, I, along with Reference and Instruction Librarian Claire Walker, decided to make a couple of videos about the library.

We wanted our first video to be geared towards the students and would help them learn more about a library service. I absolutely love parodies (imitation, sincerest form of flattery, and so on), so we chose to have our video parody those “4 out of 5 people recommend this product” commercials. In this case, our product was going to be EBSCOHost, and the “4 out of 5 people” would be our professors. Cumberland has five academic schools, so we chose a professor from each school. Next, we had to work on a script for each professor. We wanted to highlight the idea that students could find scholarly full-text articles that professors would accept as research sources. We also wanted to make sure that the “fifth person” did not dismiss library resources but still stay within the theme of 4 out of 5 people agree. Using a borrowed video camera, I began filming. Our professors were great ad-libbers (especially our education professor!) and came up with good material Claire and I did not consider. The filming went very smoothly thanks to having a clear concept and plenty of time to plan. After filming, we embarked upon the monumental task of editing, including adding music and captions and adding an introduction and conclusion from yours truly. The editing process only took about a day-and-a half, and though I may be biased, the final product is fantastic!


Our second video was for the faculty in-service at the end of the summer. We wanted to tell them about library services without standing at the front of the room and lecturing to them. We knew which services we wanted to highlight but we did not know how to present the concept. After a couple of days of brainstorming, we came up with the Good Idea/Bad Idea concept. This video would show faculty members a good way to utilize the library and a bad way. The good ideas were easy, but the bad ideas were a little trickier; we wanted them to be humorous and clearly horrible ideas, but we did not want to offend any faculty members who may have actually done some of these things. We finally thought of ideas that were either outlandish or neutral enough not to offend faculty but that could still show our point. Claire and I filmed this video in one day. Thanks to my theater background (and inability to feel more awkward on film than I do on a daily basis!), I did most of the “acting” in this video with cameos from Claire and Justin Bradford, former Alumni Relations and Online Media Coordinator for the university. The faculty enjoyed the video and we saw an increase in the usage of services highlighted.


Recently, Claire has begun making video tutorials, which is a nice addition to our quirkier fare. Her first foray was a tutorial on using Ebooks, and she has plans for more over the next few months. I would also like to make another video during the next summer semester. It has proven to be an easy process, and I feel it makes a better impact than telling patrons about our services. We have considered a library rap video, so that may be our next project. Check out our other videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see what we come up with next!

Thank you for reading the Young Librarian Series! Do you have an idea for a post? Send an email to: or check out the Submissions page. See you next week and don’t forget to share!

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