Last Request

I’ve struggled to write this post quite a few times already…

Recently, I did something in librarianship that I never imagined doing during my career: a last request.

A dear, dear friend who just happened to be a major library supporter and volunteer extraordinaire was put on hospice and recently passed away. Prior to her passing, she reached out to me and requested a book in which she described as, “A story about a mother taking care of her child. The child grows up and then takes care of the mother. Circle of life.” When I nailed down the title, I was to immediately call her son at the number given.

The title: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch…


I located a copy at a Barnes and Noble not far from where she was staying. In order to save time, my friend, Nicole, picked up the book for me and handed it off to me at her house…which was on the way to Grosse Point Woods.

When I walked into the room, my dear one was sitting up in bed and her face brightened. “I have your book.”


A family member held the book for her as she flipped through the pages. She quietly thanked me. It was exactly what she had in mind.

Parking in Trees


A close friend and colleague messaged me with a dream that she had. I love it so much…I needed to share.

“I had a last night that you came to visit me at my library. You drove an old 1940’s convertible that you had tripped out and parked up in branches. Think the whomping tree from Harry Potter. It was weird, but fun.”



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Photo: ThinkLeigh Photography/Courtesy of The James

Photo: ThinkLeigh Photography

I already expounded on the first principle laid out in the ALA Code of Ethics. I’d like to move along and tackle #3:

We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

In 1931, S. R. Ranganathan wrote, “The library is a growing organism.” (It’s alive!) The library is alive. It’s constantly changing and evolving in order to meet the needs of the community. A library is as unique as it’s community and patrons. To cite a quote by Norman Cousins, “A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life.” To go a step further, it could be said that the library is a place where the past, present, and future come to life. The library is a building brimming with ideas and information just waiting for patrons to explore it’s depths.

What this principle means to me:
It’s quite similar to the motto for Vegas, “What happens in the library stays in the library.”

Following the Vegas-theme, I often think of myself as a bartender — rather than serving booze, I serve books and ideas. A bookslinger. And like a bartender, people tell me things. Think about it: the library is a haven. Patrons stop in, browse the stacks, and share what’s happening in their worlds.

I’ve heard it all.

It’s not always questions about when the newest James Patterson book is being released. (He’s a damn book factory. It seems his publisher releases something nearly every month… but that’s a post for another time.)

The li-berry is not a fruit, it’s a confessional! The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Librarians are professional secret-keepers.

In my former line of work, I learned that when the sharing starts, it’s not always because the person is in need of information, but rather they are seeking support, comfort, and compassion.

As a librarian in a small town, I offer both.

If someone feels confident that what they choose to share stays with me and there isn’t fear of being judged, I wholeheartedly believe that they’re more likely to ask those tough, uncomfortable, and scary questions in order to get the information and answers in which they’re seeking.

Highest Level of Service


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hermionish.ethicsIn my last post, I cited the ALA Code of Ethics and mentioned that I’ve had a encounters in my line of work in which I’ve referred to those guiding principles…specifically #1, 3, 5, and 6.

I’ll focus on #1 in this post:

We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

Appropriate and usefully organized resources…

For at least the past 6 years, my library’s catalog has not been accessible online. Don’t get me wrong: we’ve been automated for years. Self-hosted Destiny without the system configured for external access.

Before Destiny, the library had Winnebago Spectrum (Sagebrush). Destiny and Spectrum were designed for school media centers. Back-end functionality was limited and the patron experience was definitely sub-par.

In early May, we migrated from Destiny (Follett) to Apollo by Biblionix. Our ILS is now completely web-based with no need for back-ups. Patrons can now — as they’ve been able to with other libraries (for years) — browse our holdings from home or their mobile device and even log into their accounts.

Migrating to Apollo provided me with the needed kick in the pants to merge several superfluous parts of my library’s collection such as two separate juvenile non-fiction collections and a classic picture book collection. (We’re a small, rural library — shelf space is limited and these items weren’t circulating as they should because patrons had to look in a different area!) Colorful spine labels help to differentiate these items from others shelved in the same collection.

Another perk of Apollo is that we’ve been able to add shelving locations to parts of our collection. For example, patrons (and library staff) will be able to better locate materials shelved in our holiday picture book collection, board books, level readers, and easy chapter books.

By migrating to Apollo, we finally took a step into the 21st century and I believe we’re able to provide our patrons a higher level of service with a collection that is now more accessible (and better organized) for all.

In case you’re curious, you can access our catalog here:

Breathing German, Hooding, and Waders


I’m lying here…mulling library things over while listening to the German breathe.

As I was finishing up library school, I held the opinion that those wishing to enter the profession of librarianship should take an oath at an official hooding ceremony prior to commencement.

Pretty hardcore, I know.

Confession: I still hold that opinion.

I realize that every profession has bullshit, but I need to give the field of librarianship extra kudos because I feel like I need waders, at times. Especially right now.

I realize that not everyone will follow a Code of Ethics or even adhere to a basic standard of human decency. That has become apparent to me these past few months.

Can one even call themselves a “librarian” while failing at every single one of the principles mentioned in the Code of Ethics and flagrantly ignoring the 5 Laws of Library Science by doing whatever they feel like doing in the library?

Would I be a hypocrite if I don’t consider that person a librarian?

A Framework

hermionish.library.hermioneStatement of fact:
In libraryland, the past 3 months have been both intense and challenging for me.


Sometimes it’s easy…and sometimes it’s hard. Big changes. Little changes. Lots of change. Good change. And even some bad change.

I can admit to being stressed out.

I’ve been referring to (and citing) the ALA Code of Ethics quite frequently…

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

…particularly the principles mentioned in #1, 3, 5, and 6.

The ALA makes a statement prior to listing the guiding principles: “The principles of this Code are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.”

During this period, the principles had a grounding effect — especially in the complex situations that weren’t exactly black or white, but rather a shade that’s really in-between and even then I wasn’t quite certain. The principles have definitely provided a much needed framework for ethical decision making.

After I took my stance, I asked myself:

When I’m at the end of my career, looking back at the events during this specific period of time, how will I feel?

Will the passing of time change how I feel? Will I look back and have regret? Will I look back and be proud of my leadership skills? Or will none of this matter and be just a mere blip on the radar of long career in librarianship?

At this very moment, it all feels quite raw and profound.

Battle of the Books


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The beginning of 2015 has sparked the thirst for a good battle with my library’s youth — requests for items on the Battle hermionish.BoBof the Books list have been ever popular!

In Michigan, with school media specialists being laid off and media center budgets being decimated, the importance of communication between the school district and the public library is key to providing quality services to youth, teachers in the classroom, and parents. This being my first BoB year (as a practicing librarian), I wanted to make sure that my library had an up-to-date collection.

I’m all for being proactive and doing my own research — not having things handed to me; however, I kept hearing that Deckerville doesn’t use the national Battle of the Books list. Thanks to a wonderful teacher at Brown City Community Schools, who helps coordinate the county project, I was able to obtain the curated book lists for all of Sanilac County.

This week, I’ve spent a chunk of time in expanding and improving our special BoB collection. Previously, all of the spines read, “BATTLE BOOK.” With the books in the collection targeting 4th to 6th graders, there’s a bit of a reading range — some books are much more in depth, and thicker, than other items on the shelves. It was especially easy for the skinny, quick reads to get lost in the jungle. Looking for a specific book, when all of the spines were identical was problematic considering the various size disparities involved. During the process of inventorying that part of the collection, several items were marked as ‘lost,’ when in fact, the books were right there on the shelf.

The BoB collection, as it stood, was in direct “violation” of S. R. Ranganathan’s 4th law of library science: (4) save the time of the reader. Patrons should be able to find the materials in which they seek — quickly and efficiently.

Litmus test: if staff can’t easily find materials, then how can they expect their patrons? Especially the younger patrons. JCB to Houston: your library has a problem.

The spines have been changed to the following schema:



A book on the 6th grade list, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, would have the following spine label:



With this schema, patrons aren’t required to consult their BoB list while perusing the collection. It’s definitely more patron-friendly and time saving, as well. While changing spines, I’m also re-classifying books which are no longer on the BoB list — and there are quite a few! (AHHHHHH!)

Further, I’ve created “Resource Lists” within my ILS to help facilitate staff when searching for BoB requests. By accessing a list for a specific grade, staff and patrons can see all of the BoB books and immediately know which ones are available. I created a new circulation type — Battle Book — and limited check-out to 2 books with only 1 renewal allowed. When I do my next MeL data drop, the BoB collection will be marked as non-requestable. I’d hate for them to go out on ILL for 30+ days while someone local needs the item for the competition. I also plan on publishing the lists on my library’s website — maybe create a seasonal Battle of Books page? We’ll see.

Schedule permitting, I’d really like to attend the Battles in March and cheer on the Deckerville groups.

Very straightforward stuff. Nothing earth shattering here; however, it feels amazing to exercise my library powers and make a difference not only within the walls of my library, but out in the community and in the lives of our young patrons. I hope Battle of Books inspires quality, cerebral conversations amongst their peers and subsequently encourages them to become lifelong readers.

Gavels and Cultivation


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hermionish.gavelA post that I recently shared touched on my efforts to launch an outreach program at my library. Here’s an update on that front: letters from the townships, complete with absentee voter contact information, have been making their way to my library.

On Monday evening, I attended a township board meeting, within my library’s service area, to not only introduce myself as the new director (it’s important for the public to be able to have a face with the name of an organization), but to give an overview of library services and details about the outreach program. As I predicted, it went extremely well and the group was enthusiastic — even asking a few questions about the library. Worth noting: in attendance, were several members from the public.

As a trustee on a township board, I appreciate being apprised by what’s happening in my community. I actually enjoy it when a government entity attends one of our meetings and shares their news. It makes me better informed which helps our citizens be better informed, as well. With that said, I’d like to cultivate actual relationships with these organizations — share relevant library news about projects and special events. I plan on attending a board meeting, to begin cultivating a relationship, for each of the municipalities which represent the areas in which my library serves before spring hits. (I don’t want to be “one of those” whom will only attend meetings when they are asking for money or support on a millage.)

A bit of advice for anyone interested in partaking in similar activities, please make contact with the board’s clerk or chairman in order to be added to the official agenda. Of course, with the Open Meetings Act, it’s acceptable for you to just show up and speak during the public comment portion of the meeting; however, I, personally (and professionally), don’t feel that it’s appropriate for your first visit. You’re asking for a small portion of their time — show them respect. Call or email ahead.

There’s nothing worse than sitting on a board or in a committee meeting, after a long day at work, and wondering what the unknown person — sitting in the gallery — is going to say (or even possibly yell) during the time allotted for public comment. It’s simple: be courteous and don’t blindside the board.

Teahouse Hearts

Taking a break from deleting some of our old bibliographic records from MeLCat yesterday, lead to this…



…construction paper, a book I donated (The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery – great read, btw…) for my library’s book sale.

I hoped to use the images in a brochure that I began developing, but I think they’d be better suited on my library’s website and associated social media accounts.