October 28, 2008

Article in the Greenville News

October 28, 2008

online at the Greenville News.

Librarians have redefined jobs (by Jeanne Brooks)

Almost certainly you already noticed this. They don't whisper or shush in libraries anymore.

"It's totally different now," Becky Hughes said. And "I'm glad it's different."

there you have it. The words direct from a librarian's mouth. Hughes is
a branch librarian for the Anderson County Library. She's got 15 years
experience and so knows how things used to be.

was one of 310 librarians attending the South Carolina Library
Association's annual conference last week, this year at the Hyatt
Regency hotel in Greenville. The association has about 400 members.

conference's theme was "Going Green in Greenville." Presentations
ranged from Ben Geer Keys, author of "Natural Images of the Southern
Appalachians," who spoke about his nature photography; to David Moore,
architect and partner at Graig Gaulden Davis, whose topic was "Planning
for Green Libraries."

was also "Your Cheatin' Heart: Academic Integrity as a Component of
Information Literacy," as well as "Libraries in the Digital Age: Some
Implications for the Practice of Librarianship" and a variety of other
topics, some green, some not.

speaker was, as described by the conference brochure, "nationally
recognized eco chef, author and food justice activist" Bryant Terry.

Rogers, the library association's president, said he thought "the whole
rule about talking in the library went away when libraries became more
or less community centers."

Right there is the Catch 22 for public libraries in the current economy.

Anderson County Library offers among other things, for instance, story
hours, crafts demonstrations, a teen guitar hero contest, poetry open
mike events, a library scavenger hunt, classes in genealogy research,
medical research, family law and computers.

They'll be organizing a communitywide Big Read of "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers.

Line, Anderson County Library director, said circulation at her
branches and main library has gone up by double digits within the last
six months.

an economic downtown people tend to use libraries more," library
association president Rogers explained. They use library computers to
look for jobs. They check out movies for free instead of renting them.
Instead of digging into their pockets to buy books in stores, they
borrow them from libraries.

state cuts, librarians worry about funding. They worry about buying new
books, CDs, DVDs and electronic databases. They worry about affording
gas for bookmobiles.

big issues do they quarrel over? "Librarians tend not to be
quarrelers," Rogers demurred. "They tend to just voice concerns."
Although "librarians can sternly make a point."

Rogers said he thought the profession "tends to draw individuals who just want to know about everything."

2005 study by the University of South Carolina's School of Library and
Information Science found "the existence of SC public libraries brings
to the state (from federal and private sources) almost $5 million each
year that it would not otherwise have" and that "the value of loans and
use of books, videos, cassettes, CDs, newspapers, magazines, etc. to
users each year is approximately $102 million."

-- besides keeping money they didn't have to spend -- to the users of
those books, videos, newspapers, magazines and the like was beyond

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