Section 4.0 Work

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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:

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 Where can I find examples of library policies regarding Internet use, collection development, copyright, etc.?

Sample Library Policies for the Small Public Library, Wisconsin Association of Public Librarians, .

Copyright Resources Online, , provides an excellent annotated list of online academic and nonacademic copyright policies.

Law Library Collection Development Policies: Policy Documents and Resources, University of Colorado Law Library, represents a collective effort by law librarians in many countries to create a virtual collection of collection development policy documents for law libraries, and a bibliography of models, standards, and guides for creating law library collection development policies.

WWW Policies and Guidelines, compiled by Stacie Kimmel, Lehigh University, contains links to policies, guidelines, or suggestions for designing official university WWW pages, .

Technology and WWW Policies, Colorado College Tutt Library, provides even more links to Web, computer and electronic resource use policies, .

Integrated Library System Reports, , has links to sample Technology Plans for review when preparing for a library automation project.


From the Libraries FAQ v 1.2 by Steve Bergson:

Who decides the attitudes, policies and actions of libraries?

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 can I do about mouse ball theft?
Threads on mouse ball theft have appeared on a number of library discussion groups. Replacement balls can be purchased from:

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 Which books are most often challenged in public libraries?
According to the ALA, , the top 10 most challenged books in 2000 were:
  1. Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, for occult/Satanism and anti-family themes.
  2. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (the "Most Challenged" fiction book of 1998), for violence, offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  3. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for sexual content and being unsuited to age group.
  4. Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan, for violence and sexual content
  5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, for using offensive language, racism, violence and being unsuited to age group.
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, for being too explicit in the book's portrayal of rape and other sexual abuse.
  7. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers, for offensive language, racism, violence and being unsuited to age group.
  8. Scary Stories series, by Alvin Schwartz, for violence, being unsuited to age group and occult themes.
  9. The Terrorist, by Caroline Cooney, for violence, being unsuited to age group and occult themes.
  10. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, for being sexually explicit, occult themes and violence.

For an historical look at book banning, see University of Pennsylvania's Banned Books On-line:

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 - attempt 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:

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."

The goal of the Censorware Project, "is to bring to light information about censorware products which is, by its nature, hidden." The Censorship Project is " committed to exposing the flaws of this misunderstood software and working to encourage alternatives to censorship."

Seth Finkelstein's Anticensorware Investigations, , discusses the flaws and dangers in content blocking software and rating/labeling schemes.

Enough is Enough, is a pro-filter group that is working "to protect children and families from the dangers of illegal Pornography and On-Line Predators" and has developed a Library Action Manual,

FilteringInfo, , is sponsored by N2H2, a filtering software company.


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

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."
( ALA Library Bill of Rights:

The ALA has published the informative Librarians Guide to Cyberspace for Parents & Kids, . The guide is aimed at helping librarians work with parents and their children in safely exploring the vast resources on the Net.


Dr. Laura vs the ALA

For more information on filters and the issues involved, I suggest the following online articles (NOTE: some of these articles are a bit out of date. I'm looking for more recent online articles; feel free to forward to me the URLs of any articles you have come across.):

Dangerous Access by David Burt (formerly of, now of N2H2,,

Blacklisting Bytes by Seth Finkelstein and Lee Tien

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 careers in LIS?

Library Link Careers,, is a source for articles and essays on the profession of Librarianship, links to job postings, and an interesting monthly feature concerning the career of the Librarian world-wide.,, offers career development resources for new librarians and information professionals, students & those considering a library-related careers. was developed as a companion website to the book "Jump Start Your Career in Library & Information Science" by Priscilla Shontz.

Ann E. Robinson's Library Job Hunting page has a extensive list of online job hunting sites, journals and career information:

Jobs for Information Professionals, by Joe Ryan, , has some interesting "Background and General Interest" links, plus links to job prep help, job postings, etc.

Also, the IFLA job listerv, LIBJOBS, , is a good sources of job leads. To subscribe send the message "subscribe LIBJOBS your name" to .

Demand for Librarians Hits an All-Time High, . Valerie Gray Francois writes "Knowledge managers, information specialists, chief answerists, knowledge navigators. They're more commonly known as librarians. As corporations rely on information to keep ahead of the competition, demand for these professionals is escalating." Article includes a nice list of links for job searchers and a salery table for Special Librarians, .

But, Human Resources Development Canada, , predicts that for Librarians, Archivists, Conservators and Curators "labour market conditions for new entrants will remain poor through 2001."

And according to KiwiCareers, which provides New Zealand job, industry and training information, , employment opportunities for librarians are static in New Zealand.

Mary Whisner shares some observations and good advice in Choosing Law Librarianship: Thoughts for People Contemplating a Career Move, .



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?

According to What Can You Do with an MLIS?, Victoria University of Wellington, , "[t]he MLIS is a professional qualification that leads into many different career paths."

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:

  • Abstractor
  • Analyst
  • Broker
  • Collection developer
  • Consultant
  • Database manager
    and more...

Non-Traditional Careers: a bibliography, , includes resources from 1980-1997 giving a broad look at industries and occupations requiring the skills practiced in libraries.

Susan Weaver writes in Nontraditional Jobs for Special Librarians, , that "[n]on-traditional jobs for special librarians require a fearless, non-superstitious, and forward thinking mind-set coupled with an acute ability to self-promote." Weaver provides an extensive bibliography for further reading and research.


See, also, these publications (thanks to Alistair Kwun, as posted to the web4lib listserv,

What else you can do with a library degree : career options for the 90s and beyond. edited by Betty-Carol Sellen. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, c1997.

Opportunities in library and information science careers. McCook, Kathleen de la Pena. Lincolnwood, Ill. : VGM Career Horizons, c1997.

Expanding technologies--expanding careers : librarianship in transition. edited by Ellis Mount. Washington, DC : Special Libraries Association, c1997.

Careers for bookworms & other literary types. Eberts, Marjorie. 2nd ed. Lincolnwood, Ill. : VGM Career Horizons, c1995.



4.9 Where can I find information on the outsourcing of library services?

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:


4.10 What should librarians know about copyright law?

A very brief outline of US copyright law:

U.S. copyright law, , provides the copyright owner exclusive rights of:

  • Reproduction
  • Adaptation
  • Distribution
  • Performance
  • Display

Non-holders of the copyright may make fair use of a copyrighted work for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching....scholarship or research." Fair use is determined by four factors:

  1. purpose and character of the use
  2. nature of the copyrighted work
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used
  4. effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

When Works Pass into the Public Domain, , Laura Gasaway provides a simple table that can help you determine if a copyrighted work is no longer covered by copyright restrictions..

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, , contains a Copyright FAQ, Guide to Copyrights, Glossary of Intellectual Property Terms, etc. In French and English.

Copyright, the Internet and Libraries/A Primer for Library Science Students, written by students at the University of Arizona,


4.11 Will that be a double-mocha-decaf-cappucino with your Grisham?

At Entrepreneurial libraries: Bright Ideas for Todays Libraries,, Leo MacLeod, the Entrepreneurial Activities Coordinator at Multnomah County Library, shares a variety of enterprises that libraries can sell to serve patrons better and to generate additional revenue, i.e. espresso bars, video sales, used book store, space rental, etc.





4.12 Where can I find information on setting up a small school or church library?

LION, is an online resource focusing on the needs of K-12 school librarians, . LION has lesson plans, cataloging resources, discussion groups, and many more resources for the school librarian.

Starting a Church Library, by Ron Maness, features tips on planning and organization,

Also, be sure to look at Section 5.8 How do I set up a cataloging system for a small or private library.



4.13 Where can my library get information on applying for grants?

The Grants Information Center at the University of Wisconsin -Madison, , is an important source of information on private and corporate foundations and federal funding agencies. The Center has helpful advice on resources, seminars, proposal writing, etc.

More specific to libraries is the Integrated Library System Reports, , list of web sites with sample Request for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Information (RFIs) for library automation projects.



4.14 Where can I find library-related promotional materials?

Stephanie Stokes, of Library Media & PR, has some free banners to help promote your library. Also, check out her links to free clipart, fonts and web page design information:

If you're looking for promotional materials with a little more edge, visit the Laughing Librarian's Print Shop, .


4.15 Where can I find examples of library newsletters?

If you are trying to design your own library newsletter, John Creech, of the Central Washington University Library, has a helpful set of links to online newsletters, .


4.16 Where can I find advice on salary negotiation?

See UIUC's Dean Leigh Estabrook workshop on salary negotiation (in RealAudio format), (scroll down to "salaries").

This SLA page has many links to other helpful job, interviewing and salary web sites.


4.17 How can I safely remove smoke, and other odors, from books?

There was a thread on Law-lib on removing odors from books. Some of the suggestions involved putting the book in a ziploc bag and sprinkling the pages with:

  • baking soda
  • Zeolite (a porous rock substance), or
  • dye-free (and cat-free) kitty litter.

Also, check the following for advice:

See previous section 3.0 Training & Education

Go to section 5.0 Classification

Anthony Wilson

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