Tuesday, February 24, 2009
For the small and medium library, collection decisions usually center on criteria of popularity, collection scope, budget and space. With the help of a decent collection policy, there should be wide latitude in what a library CAN buy. Reality is much different. A limited budget means choices. Instinctively we all realize that a popular materials library, containing only materials in Latin, is probably not the most effective use of public dollars. Although most decisions are not that obvious, most are of the variety of choices such as two best sellers or maybe a nice reference book. So for garden variety small and medium libraries, what is the “correct” answer?
Invariably this is where the discussion turns to quality vs. popularity. I probably default to popularity or “use” when dealing with tax payer money. What will get us the most bang for the buck? I could have this debate all day with librarians. It’s interesting and leads us to many discussions of what we have in terms of “vision” for the collection.
Next time you have a library discussion ask everyone to dream about an imaginary $1000 for any part of the collection. Listen to the why and vision behind the choices. What sets your library’s collection apart from other libraries?
In case anyone cares, my money would be spent on some of those really cool but expensive DVDs from PBS and the BBC and a few fun television show sets.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tax forms can be one of the more trying parts of library service. One question I am frequently asked at the desk is “which form do I need?” Most librarians I know want to balk at giving tax advice. This is NOT tax advice, but rather guidance on forms. Remind patrons that they need to consult the IRS or a tax consultant. In all situations, I provide a contact number and even a local office address with IRS or any state treasury department that might be involved. Here are some quick questions to ask a patron to get them started on the right forms.
Did you own your own home? (A home can mean a mobile home, condo, co-op etc.)
Chances are you will be itemizing, and that means 1040 and the Schedules A and B.
Did you buy and or sell stocks or mutual funds or any other kind of investment?
If you did, that means you will also need Schedule D with your 1040.
Did you have a lot of medical expenses above and beyond what insurance covered?
This also might be an item for Schedule A and the regular 1040.
The 1040A and the 1040EZ are designed for cases of simple returns (none of the above type situations) and are for those who make less than $50,000 per year in income. 1040EZ is for those with only wages and interest and no tuition credit issues, or dependents. 1040A has a few more bells and whistles, but is still meant for uncomplicated financial situations. Most teenagers with part time jobs and are dependents on their parent’s return are candidates for 1040EZ.
State and local returns are also problematic. Partial year residents might have issues with other states. Here in southeastern Michigan, there are enough people that commute back and forth across the state and have residency and income in different states. Always look for language that addresses reciprocal tax arrangements.
Now after you have helped a grateful patron with their tax issues, you can remind them that there are tax benefits in giving to your local library. (See Holly Hibner's Blog on Tax forms and library service!)
Helpful links and phone numbers:
Michigan Department of Treasury: http://www.michigan.gov/treasury
Ohio Department of Taxation: http://tax.ohio.gov/
IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/IRS Telephone Assistance for Individuals:Toll-Free, 1-800-829-1040 Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Librarians still need to be leaders in educating about social networking. Every time we help someone load a picture or create a profile on one of these sites, we need to use that as an opportunity to talk about safety issues. Young people, in particular, are not as saavy as they might think about Internet security issues and privacy. Show them how to have fun but keep it safe. For all you other librarians, come on in and join the party.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
- Make a conscious choice to be positive. (This is probably good advice no matter what!)
- Take a class. Investigate areas that could be improved. Technology, literature, current events, art history or anything at all. Since librarians cover EVERYTHING, any thing that forces you to stretch and think will translate into something positive for your patrons and coworkers.
- Investigate substitute librarian opportunities. Aside from getting a bit more money, this forces you outside your comfort zone and lets you evaluate another way of doing things. Different patrons, different types of questions and different resources can keep you on your toes!
- Tour other libraries. This is a no-brainer! Grab your camera and start looking around. How does the collection look? How do they organize a book display? With permission, see about getting a behind the scenes look at processing, ILL, and other library services.
My coworkers and I make a serious attempt to do the above regularly. A couple of things always happen: either I totally appreciate my circumstances with renewed enthusiasm or I steal a few good ideas.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Stay tuned for more!