Category Archives: Growly

“I am not a shouty man”

It was true when Sergeant Jackrum said it, and it’s true when I say it. I am not a shouty man. But by all that’s holy, vendors make me shouty. And I am not alone.

Harvard is shouting about Big Deal packages and why they, actually, are kind of crappy for libraries. FINALLY. This matters because Harvard (despite their current leadership crisis) is a voice that gets listened to, so when they get shouty, it is, intentionally or not also on behalf of all of us small fish.

Librarians and others are shouting about a kooky choice by Canadian Universities about copyright. Because, yeah, we need to be inventing problems in intellectual property law in higher education. Totally. Way to go, neighbors.

And me? Well.

I tweeted these today, after a phone call.

Hey, Libraryland Vendors: Do not cold call to try to sell me products for something not in our curriculum. DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST. (duh.)
Jenica Rogers

No. DO NOT CALL ME TO ASK IF I HAVE A NURSING PROGRAM. Find out first. Wasting my time does not make me like you. @
Jenica Rogers

And I got an email from a vendor who refuses to stop contacting me directly, despite my many attempts to point her to our Collection Development Coordinator, except this one said something about how great it was to talk to me at Computers in Libraries. I talked to two vendors at CiL — one was Springshare, and one was LibraryThing, both of whom I enjoy working with, and this email was from neither of them. ARGH.

And then there’s the American Chemical Society. I’m headed to Albany with the SUNY Council of Library Directors Task Force on the ACS to meet with some reps from ACS Sales, oh joy. And on campus, we’ve requested pricing information for our 2012-2013 budget, as we need to meet with faculty before they leave for their summer commitments in anticipation of building our budget in June.  And ACS has not responded — not even an “ok, let me look into this…” message. Just silence.


Also, you suck.

kind of creepy, dude.


This, right here? Is kind of creepy. Don’t send me messages like this.

Hi Jenica,

Just stopped by to say grrrrrreat picture and quote.

[male librarian]

See also: The Creepy Librarian Stalker Hypothesis.

I could get into the politics and assumptions of sending the above comment to a female librarian, and I could get into the fine line between flirting and communicating and creeping, but really, I’m not going to. Go read Sarah’s post. And treat me like a human being that you respect. Otherwise I’m gonna ban your ass.

The end.

gender rage, the Public Speaking edition

amy buckland and I were just trying to brainstorm a suggestion for a keynote speaker — someone engaging, high-profile, and willing to travel to Montreal — and I gave her a list of five men, followed by “WHY IS MY LIST ALL MEN?”

So I brainstormed a list of women I know who I think would do a good job. They all had caveats like, “Already done this conference. Too niche in her experiences. Old hat in Canada. Not active enough anymore. Not high-profile, but really interesting.”

Last night I watched Killing Us Softly 4 on YouTube, and then woke up this morning and the first words out of my mouth were gender growl because of this NPR story about girlie Legos.

So amy asks me, is this why we have so few high-profile female speakers in libraryland? Is it because men are trained to speak up and be noticed, and women aren’t?

My genderrage says yes. Yes, that is it. And when women do stand up and get noticed, they run the risk of having to endure harassment and assault.

And because building a reputation by being a speaker is how you get to be high-profile, we have a closed loop cycle building where men speak so men get noticed so men are predominant. The whole thing just makes me angry.

But it has to change.

Those of us with the will and influence to lift people up can and should do so, but we need your help. So: Tell me. Who are your favorite engaging female speakers in libraryland? Who should be high-profile but isn’t yet?

Stop blaming the user

The user is not broken. It pisses some librarians off when I say that, but it’s true, as I intend it. The user is not broken in that our job is to fulfill the user’s needs, and the user’s needs are, while not always well-defined, possible to meet, or understood by either side, valid — so accusing the user of Doing It Wrong is counterproductive to our goals and needs, and should be avoided. This applies to space usage, reference inquiries, customer service, and use of our online tools.

Which is why I chuckled sadly when I encountered this blog post, which visually illustrates how the search algorithm running Barnes and Noble’s site differs from Amazon’s. The tweet that directed me to the post said that library catalogs suffer the same challenges as B&N’s engine. I agree.

Then I read the comments on the post. (I have very nearly sworn off reading any comment posted on the internet anywhere ever… and this just adds fuel to that fire). It only took five comments before someone blamed the user, asserting that the user must have searched for Author instead of Subject. The inference is that the tools are fine, the user is just broken.

*taps mic, clears throat* THE USER IS NOT BROKEN.

All screenshot evidence aside (there is no “search by author” option visible in the interface!), given that Amazon (and Google) have set the precedents for much of our users’ expectations, why on earth would someone assert that a less-successful search in the B&N database, when performed to user expectation, is The User Doing It Wrong? It makes me sad. It’s frustrating. And it’s counterproductive. We can sit back, all of us, in libraries and outside of them, and with smug self-satisfaction explain why our tools, websites, spaces, and services are just brilliantly perfect… or we can thoughtfully observe our environment, acknowledge that the user has needs and is showing us what they are, and adapt.

Evolution has a theory about which paradigm thrives. I’d rather thrive.

Note to vendors:

Never, ever reply to an angry librarian who you have clearly offended with something like this:

“Dear Ms. Rogers, I am sorry that you were having such a bad day when you responded to my email.”

It is, quite simply, unacceptable.

The American Chemical Society has a lot to answer for.

Fortunately, this did not come from my primary contact at ACS, and my sales rep is responsive, understanding, and does a good job smoothing ruffled feathers. But I’ve made it clear, and i believe he understands: If you want to sell me an expensive product, you better damn well make sure I want to do business with your company. This? THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DO THAT.