Library Tourism: Seattle Area Libraries

In January I attended the American Library Association midwinter meeting in Seattle. One thing I had rarely done before at library conferences is to actually tour other libraries. Weird I know…so it was time to rectify that!

I saw that LLAMA was sponsoring visits to the library at Seattle University and the Undergraduate Library at the University of Washington–both spaces that have undergone recent renovations. Then on my own, I toured Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington and also the Seattle Public Library.

Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, Seattle University

Seattle University, a private university located just east of downtown, enrolls approximately 7,000 students. Lemieux Library was built in 1966. In 2010, the firm of Pfeiffer was hired to renovate the 80,000 square feet building plus add an additional 40,000 square feet to create a new “front door.”

Owing to the rain and cloudiness of Seattle (I would start to see this as an architectural theme!), the new front part of the library building features a lot of glass and natural light.

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Lemieux Library, Seattle University

The space includes (from an information sheet given to visitors):

  • Library and learning commons with physical and digital information resource access
  • Active learning classrooms
  • Reading rooms
  • Group study rooms
  • Individual study carrels and consultation cubicles
  • Computer labs
  • Learning Assistance Programs for tutoring
  • Writing Center
  • Math Lab
  • Media Production Center
  • Cafe

A few highlights:

Computer area with space for students to collaborate and spread out.

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Computer area, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

Group study rooms that can be reserved.

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Group Study Room, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

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Group Study Room, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

Research assistance from librarians and Writing Center tutors available on the same floor (two separate reporting structures, but co-located).

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Research Consultations, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

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Writing Center consultations, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

A variety of study spaces

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Lemieux Library, Seattle University

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Reading room, Lemieux Library, Seattle University

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Lemieux Library, Seattle University

Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington

The University of Washington in Seattle enrolls 40,000+ students. Red Square, the university’s central plaza is home to Odegaard Undergraduate Library & Learning Commons. Constructed in the 1970s, the building is a classic Brutalist structure which (like most of these types of buildings) appears unwelcoming from the exterior. However, you step inside to an inviting space.

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

Renovated in 2011-2013 by Miller Hull, the darkness of the Brutalism is gone with the addition of a skylight. A large hulking central stairwell was replaced with a more efficient staircase, opening the space up.

The space includes (from an information sheet given to visitors):

  • Odegaard Learning Commons
  • 24 collaboration pods with group work monitors
  • 38 large writeable surfaces
  • 26 booths or nooks for group work
  • 14 side-by-side consultation areas with power & writeable surfaces
  • 21 enclosed, reservable group study rooms with writeable surfaces and monitors
  • Odegaard Writing and Research Center
  • Learning Studio with 30 workstations
  • Computer help desk

A few highlights:

Two Active Learning Classrooms feature team tables, each with its own large screen monitor. Each classroom can seat 100+.

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Active Learning Classroom, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

In the evenings or weekends when not being used for classes, a movable glass wall can be opened, making the space more transparent so students know that they can and should be using the space.

I also noticed booth style seating where students could collaborate on projects. These booths are lettered because they can be reserved.

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

Study rooms can also be reserved and feature whiteboards, technology, and plenty of table space and chairs.

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

Research assistance from librarians and writing assistance from tutors are co-located (though still two separate reporting structures, I believe) in the Odegaard Writing and Research Center. A genius bar is set up for drop-ins, or you can make an appointment.

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Odegaard Writing and Research Center, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

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Odegaard Writing and Research Center, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

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Odegaard Writing and Research Center, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

The second floor features a large computer commons area in traditional rows, but also in collaborative tables.

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

The third floor features the book stacks. This is the designated quiet area and has not yet been renovated. Because the building features a large atrium, doors help to keep out noise.

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

They also have a nice marketing campaign!

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Odegaard Undergraduate Library, U. of Washington

 

Suzzallo Library, University of Washington

OK, I call Suzzallo Library Seattle’s very own Hogwarts. Even Yelp and Tripadvisor think so!

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Suzzallo Library exterior, University of Washington

Harry Potter, you say? Check out the interior.

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Seattle’s own Hogwarts

When you picture the classic library, this is it. Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style, construction began in 1923.

Additional space was added to Suzzallo, and Allen Library opened in 1990. This essentially created one large library building. Interestingly, Allen Library is named after Kenneth Allen, associate director of libraries, who is the father of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Suzzallo Library is now a quiet reading room. I felt a little sorry for the four students who were studying in there on a Sunday afternoon just after it opened. There were more tourists snapping photos and taking selfies than there were students!

Oh, here’s one thing I don’t have to worry about in Wisconsin: earthquake retrofitting the library!

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Suzzallo/Allen Libraries, U. of Washington

Central Library, Seattle Public Library

Seattle Public Library’s current Central Library opened in 2004. It’s a good example of Deconstructivist architecture. At first glance, you notice the lines of the building are all askew. You might imagine haphazard interior spaces.

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Exterior of Central Library, Seattle Public Library

Inside though, you get a modern cathedral-like feel. It features over 350,000 square feet with lots of glass and light (important in the cloudy/rainy Pacific Northwest!). We’re worshipping books here. Unlike some libraries that hide their book collection, or push it off to the side, Seattle Public Library includes books and media on its main floor.

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Central Library, Seattle Public Library

Escalators guide visitors up to floors with more books and technology.

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Escalator to upper floors

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Central Library, Seattle Public Library

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Technology area

The circulation desk features monitors that highlight books that have recently been returned.

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Recently returned books at the Circulation Desk

Besides physical materials, the library features innovative programming for citizens and visitors. Start with the Seattle Public Library A-Z Programs and Services list to find out more.

The space is open. Because of this, I thought the building would be overly noisy…and I’m not one of the “anti-noise” librarians…I just figured the design would exacerbate that. But it doesn’t. It’s quiet. People can talk at a normal level, but the building overall remains peaceful. Wayfinding was useful. Although getting back down from the top floors is limited to the elevators.

The gift shop is a must-stop while touring the building. Library lovers can’t leave without purchasing something. Can’t visit? Check out these pages:

So who else likes to do a little bit of library tourism? Let me know!

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Post-Truth and Fake News

Earlier in the year I was tasked with creating a resource guide on “post-truth” and fake news. It’s not something I was clamoring to do. To be honest: I was still in the post-election malaise–and my heart was just not into it.

Rarely would I label any of my work tasks as “edicts,” (I like the flexibility and creativity of my job) but this time it was. As part of a broader campus-wide discussion, the library needed to play a part. I began by facilitating a meeting with the librarians on the topic of:

What do we want students to know about post-truth and fake news?

My colleagues are great brainstormers! Too great in fact. Here’s what we came up with:

Post-Truth and Fake News

From this, I had to develop a guide. How do you narrow it down to something manageable? Here’s the guide I created: Post-Truth and Fake News.

After sharing it with library staff for feedback, we then solicited feedback from campus faculty.

I decided a checklist approach, like the CRAAP test, doesn’t really work with post-truth/fake news. It takes time to critically evaluate and a checklist approach won’t suffice. You need to think, analyze, question motives, and question your own assumptions too.

Instead, I went for more a introductory approach that attempts to tie some of these related topics together: How does the information bubble work? How can our own bubble lead to confirmation bias? How does that make us more susceptible to fake news?

What does post-truth mean?

The Information Bubble

What is fake news?

Then I added some resources that faculty can use with classes, including links to teaching materials:

Lastly, I included a lesson. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up with post-truth/fake news developments in the political realm. I took a different tack when it came to “Evaluating Claims.” Knowing that a majority of our students end up majoring in the health sciences, I picked a health “fad” to evaluate: buttered coffee. Is it good? Is it bad? Somewhere in between? Using the NCSS statements as a starting point we could evaluate claims for and against by having a class discussion.

Takeaways: A guide like this can’t possibly cover all of the various themes. It’s a complicated, messy, and ever-evolving topic. But it can be used for an introduction and to provide instructors and students with some good resources to use.

Link to guide: http://pioguides.carrollu.edu/posttruth

Seattle: Seattle Public Library

Travel on the Side

Why did I visit a library on my vacation? Well, I am a librarian, of course!

If I see a library, I like to pop in and check it out. The Seattle Public Library Central Library is an architectural wonder. Soaring high, lots of glass, shiny escalators, natural light.

Are there books? Yes! But for me, a library is all about people. Lots of library patrons were on the computers researching, getting job help, reading, studying, and socializing.

One of the cool things I saw was near one of the circulation desks. Above was a monitor featuring a map of keywords of recently returned books.

Seattle Public Library Seattle Public Library

Travel tip: When you’re on vacation, a visit to the local public library is a good way to get restaurant recommendations and tips for “non-touristy” sites. Librarians are there to help…and they know EVERYTHING!

Below are some more photos. For the…

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Children’s Books that Presidential Candidates Need to Read

Children’s books aren’t immune to politics. Many deal with issues that children need to learn about. The Lorax is a good example as a modern fable for protecting the environment. Other books have a left/right divide: In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is it better to be generous, or are we just “enabling”? Evidently it has generated political discussion.

I was doing some work in our Curriculum Materials Collection, when I pulled this book off the shelf:

The Chickens Build a Wall, by Jean-Francois Dumont. Translated into English and published by Eerdmans in 2013, Dumont tells the story of hedgehog that appeares in the barnyard. Chickens, under the leadership of the rooster, decide to build a wall to keep out other “foreign” and unknown things.

As a read this, I immediately thought of the U.S. presidential campaign–and one candidate in particular, Donald Trump. Then I thought, what about if I assigned children’s books to each of the major presidential candidates?

Here’s my take on it. Some of it humorous, some serious.

Donald Trump, please read:

chickensbuildawall

The Chickens Build a Wall – written and illustrated by Jean-Francois Dumont
Summary: Chicken freak out over an hedgehog. Decide to build a wall.
Why?: Incendiary rhetoric from the candidate.
Lesson: Don’t be xenophobic.

mymouthisavolcano

My Mouth is a Volcano – written by Julia Cook, illustrated by Carrie Hartman
Summary: A children’s lesson on not interrupting.
Why?: Candidate never seems to stop talking.
Lesson: Respect others; listen, don’t interrupt.

Hillary Clinton, please read:

waitingisnoteasy

Waiting is Not Easy – by Mo Willems
Lesson: Sometimes you just have to wait.
Why?: Candidate was presumed front-runner in 2008. Presumed front-runner in 2016.
Lesson: Duh. Waiting is not easy!

doug-dennis

Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib – by Darren Farrell
Summary: A little fib can really escalate.
Why?: Candidate could solve a lot of political and personal issues by simply being truthful and transparent.
Lesson: Honesty is the best policy.

Bernie Sanders, please read:

the-chocolate-war

The Chocolate War – by Robert Cormier
Summary: The pressure one can face when not conforming.
Why?: Candidate stays true to his convictions, but can he compromise when needed to get things done?
Lesson: Taking on the establishment doesn’t always pan out.

thepromisebook

The Promise – written by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin
Summary: Young girl snatches an old woman’s purse. The woman asks her to keep a promise of what’s inside. The girl doesn’t find money, but acorns.
Why?: Candidate promises a lot. Results are not often immediate.
Lesson: Deeds, not words.

Ted Cruz, please read:

charweb

Charlotte’s Web – written by E.B. White
Summary: Unlikely barnyard friends.
Why?: Patrol Muslim communities? Dissing single moms? Candidate has a serious “empathy” deficit.
Lesson: Be a friend, not a foe.

eachkindness

Each Kindness – written by Jacqueline Woodson
Summary: Rarely do you get a second chance at kindness. So be kind from the start.
Why?: Candidate’s rhetoric seems overly mean.
Lesson: Your actions influence others. Don’t be a bully.

Need more suggestions on children’s books that teach life lessons? Check out:

A Library Interviewee’s Bill of Rights

Let’s face it: Job hunting is a grind. Oftentimes a soul-sucking grind. But once you get that invitation to interview, you feel great. Here is where the library, as the hiring organization, needs to put its best foot forward and make the experience for job candidates a positive one.

I’m not mollycoddling here. This isn’t about bringing your mom or dad to an interview (please don’t!) or sending the interview questions to the interviewee in advance (umm, no…I want to see how you think on your feet!). This is about having a set of protocols, a little common sense, and some human decency.

Below are ten tips that I’m calling the Library Interviewee’s Bill of Rights that should be afforded to all job candidates.

1. The library will give you lead time in preparing a presentation
Many job candidates are required to give a presentation (short lecture, teaching demo, storytime, etc.) at an interview. When the offer to interview is extended, please provide the topic (or if it’s “open-ended” then say so) and the time limit of the presentation. A couple of times when interviewing, I was given a topic only 2-3 days in advance. Give people time to prepare!

2. The library will give you a schedule
When inviting a job candidate to interview, send them the schedule in advance (even if it’s a draft schedule at first). Include the names (or groups) of the people they will be meeting with and the length of time for each meeting.

3. The library will plan a humane schedule
This relates to #1 and #2. Can we not schedule a presentation immediately after lunch? There’s nothing like trying to eat a meal knowing that you’re going to have to give the “show of your life” immediately thereafter. I know it’s hard to get people together to watch a presentation, but I always appreciated it when these things are scheduled before lunch.

4. The library will provide reimbursements
What is reimbursable? Be upfront with job candidates. For overnight stays, is the library booking the hotel? For long distance visits, is the library booking transportation? Or is this the responsibility of the job candidate? What about things like gas mileage or airport parking? Provide a list of what will be covered. Remind the job candidate to bring along (or send) any applicable receipts.

5. The library will provide info on hotels/dining
Related to #4. If it’s an overnight visit, where is the job candidate staying? I remember being dropped off at a hotel by a potential future co-worker in the middle of nowhere. I was on my own for dinner. No car. Nothing walkable. The only thing I could get was a pizza delivered. Some welcome! Invite the job candidate out to dinner. Beforehand, give job candidates a few options for dinner (may have dietary restrictions) and let them pick.

6. The library will give you salary info
I know many institutions (or more likely the library’s parent organization) do not post salaries in job ads, but please provide this info during the interview day whether it’s the minimum salary, a salary range, etc. I know there will be some that will say, “well then the job candidate can’t negotiate if the salary is on the table!” Well…this isn’t the business world and the ability to negotiate for several thousands of dollars generally does not apply to most library positions. So be upfront!

7. The library will be prepared
The job candidate is prepared for the interview day. The library staff should be prepared to interview the job candidate. Have notes in order and questions to ask. Also KNOW which person is being interviewed and don’t call the person by another job candidate’s name.

8. The library will have a good attitude
Yes, the library might be interviewing 3 or 4 people in a row. At least act like this is a fresh and new experience and not a chore to get through.

9. The library will keep matters confidential
Example: If the job candidate marked “you may not contact my current supervisor” on HR forms, then the library needs to follow it! This happened to me. After marking the form to not contact my current supervisor, the library director then asked to contact my supervisor. I had 3 good references (my immediate former supervisor at my workplace, a current co-worker, and a former co-worker). I said no. I didn’t want my supervisor to know I was looking for greener pastures. It was an awkward situation.

10. The library will provide a follow-up in a timely manner
Make sure candidates know the length for the decision-making process. Also ask job candidates how they prefer to be notified (phone, email). I know from an HR standpoint, many things cannot be disclosed. However, you can still say “the library is in the decision-making stage and you can expect to hear from us within the month” or whatever. Once I didn’t receive a “this position has been filled” letter until 6 months after the interview! We can do better.

What else would you add? Leave a comment!

You’ve Come Along Way Baby? Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Picture Books

I’ve been doing a shifting project in the curriculum/children’s lit collection I manage at my academic library.

Every now and then I come across a little “gem” like this: I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl – written by Whitney Darrow, Jr. and published in 1970.

What’s it about? It goes through a series of things boys do vs. what girls do. Here are a few screen shots:

I'm Glad I'm a Boy! I'm Glad I'm a Girl

I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl

Boys are doctors. Girls are nurses.

Boys are doctors. Girls are nurses.

Boys are policemen. Girls are metermaids.

Boys are policemen. Girls are metermaids.

Boys can eat. Girls can cook.

Boys can eat. Girls can cook.

Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed.

Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed.

Boys invent things. Girls use what boys invent.

Boys invent things. Girls use what boys invent.

I'm glad you're a girl! I'm glad you're a boy!

I’m glad you’re a girl! I’m glad you’re a boy!

We need each other.

We need each other.

Have you fallen out of your seat yet? Turns out this has been a popular little book. Brain Pickings provides an excellent overview, as does Bustle. So it this “for real”? Well…the author, Whitney Darrow, Jr., was a satirical cartoonist for The New Yorker, so *probably* not.

I tried locating reviews from the time period, but hit the wall with the usual ownership v. access problem with libraries (Most of our print indexes, bound volumes, and microfilm are gone. Our full-text access for what we have doesn’t go back far enough for the usual book review sources). I did a search in the Google Newspaper Archive and came across an article that was published in a series of newspapers in 1974: Children’s Book Changes Proceed – which discusses sexism in children’s literature.

A more recent take, “Planning Literacy Environments for Diverse Preschoolers” (Young Exceptional Children, 15(3), 2012) appears to take the book at face value and labels it as blatantly sexist.

Gender Stereotyping in Children’s Picture Books:

So is I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl! staying in the collection of my academic library? Yes. A lot of the education classes discuss gender stereotyping. Even as satire, this can be a useful tool (see Teaching Children’s Literature: It’s Critical). Does it belong in the children’s collection of a public library? Probably not. What do you think?

Escape to Your Happy Place: De-Stressing on the Job

According to Forbes (and hey, aren’t they just “experts” on libraries!), librarian is #8 on the list of “Least Stressful Jobs of 2014” (info via CareerCast).

Well, who can blame them? We just read books all day, don’t we? Ummmm, no.

Hmm…Guess they’re not dealing with budget cuts, anti-tax crusaders, soiled diapers on the story time floor, skyrocketing e-journal costs, new information literacy standards, and irate patrons.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. As primarily an instruction/reference librarian in an academic library, I’m usually not the one that has to lobby campus administration or deal with library fines. But frustration and stress can still bubble over: never-ending meetings, red tape, lack of resources, that thorn-in-your-side [patron, co-worker, professor, student…fill in the blank], the constant “do more with less” mantra, or worse yet…a toxic work environment.

Although it’s no “cure all,” sometimes you need to take a minute to de-stress, relax, or have a laugh. Escape to your happy place for a bit. Here are a few things I like to do:

1. Take a walk
Get up from your desk! Leave the building. Breathe in some fresh air. Librarians (for the most part) sit too much and that’s not good for your health.

Step outdoors of my library and there’s a beautiful college campus.

Step outdoors of my library and there’s a beautiful college campus.

2. Karma Cleanser
I guess this would count as “aromatherapy“? At one library I used to work at, we kept a bottle of some sort of herbal spray. Everyone called it “Karma Cleanser.” After a bad patron encounter, we would spray it around the desk to “take the ick away.” It smelled good and made us feel better. Also gave us a little laugh.

3. Live Vicariously
As a faithful public servant, you often have to bite your tongue. But what if you didn’t? There are times when I wish I could yell and shout like Susie Greene from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Watching a YouTube video of her “best of” moments puts me in a good mood. Warning: NSFW (crude language, body shaming, etc… the usual Curb stuff).

 

4. Relaxing Photos
Are you following the U.S. Department of the Interior on Instagram? You should be. Mountain vistas, beautiful valleys, ocean views…You’ll be transported to a peaceful environment, if for a few seconds.

U.S. Department of the Interior on Instagram

U.S. Department of the Interior on Instagram

5. Cute Animals
Not ashamed to admit it: When I need cheering up, a cute animal will do. My go to sites are Buzzfeed Animals, Cute Overload, and Attack of the Cute among others.

homearly

What tips do you have? Feel free to share!

My co-worker's stress ball collection. She handles library fines.

My co-worker’s stress ball collection. She handles library fines.