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chris curran poses with caitlin doughty of ask a mortician
Photo provided by Chris Curran

Episode 16: Info for All with Library Assistant Chris Curran

You would be hard pressed to find any contingent of the book world that has purer or more noble intentions than librarians. The job combines providing and filtering information to the public with a dash of social service. We talk with library assistant Chris Curran about daily life in the public library, what it’s like to organize the “read to a dog” program, author events, and how you can—and should!—request titles to be put into circulation at your local library.

We also learn how library sciences is more and more of a relevant field for entering the tech world, and how many different ways to categorize a potato.

Chris lives that library assistant life

Chris Curran works as a library assistant for the city of Rancho Cordova, a community outside of Sacramento, CA. He splits his time studying for his masters in library science with working as a library assistant for the Sacramento Public Library System. In addition to having a history degree with an emphasis in research, he has studied classical singing extensively. Chris has also been friends with Emily for…oh…nigh on 17 years now.

Mentions of Santa Cosmos and upcoming ALA betray that we recorded this a couple of months ago. But it’s always Books-o’clock (and Santa Cosmo-o’-clock) somewhere.

Remember to enter our giveaway to win A People’s Guide to Publishing

Minute by Minute

3:08—

We celebrate Long Island City thwarting an attempt to take over 8 million square feet of the neighborhood. Info comes from the NYT article “Amazon pulls out of planned New York City headquarters.”

5:23—

Emily puts on her best tech boy voice to read an excerpt from Amazon’s statement.

8:50—

Emily, yet again, perpetrates a microaggression against Greek last names. Apologies all around.

14:37— Chris Curran: Library Assistant. The interview begins.

Our interview with library assistant Chris Curran begins. We, coming from a more money-grubbing side of the industry, are fascinated by the altruism of librarians. We get a first look at the two sides of the work of a librarian: the role as a public servant on one hand and as a researcher on the other.

18:15—

The term “information seeking behavior” is used for the first time. We get into how much responsibility librarians have to make information available to their audiences. And then it gets real tech-y up in here. Turns out you can do a lot of things to make money with a library sciences degree.

22:14—

We talk about the “unconventional” route of library sciences, and how people design searches. The vital question is: how do we define a potato? Chris has opinions about this. And also about how to categorize shoes.

25:25—

The internet has shaped how people today browse for books. They’re used to search engines and want it down. Librarians help by sifting through relevant and irrelevant information to help people find what they are looking for.

27:17—

How does a library assistant help a patron who wants to learn more about “china”? You might be surprised. Chris delves into the psychology of helping people search for information.

29:25 —

Shocking news! The Dewey Decimal System still exists. Furthermore, so do card catalogs.

30:41—

We emerge from the taxonomy nerd-dom to talk about day to day life of a library assistant. We also learn that librarians all go into the basement to play Nintendo when they’re on break. Just kidding. Or are we?

32:45— No, he’s not a volunteer.

Chris is gainfully employed, as are pretty much all people who sit at circulation desks. Thank you very much.

34:20—

We learn the definition of a library assistant, aka. a librarian with training wheels. What do library assistants actually do all day? (Besides play Nintendo in the basement…still kidding!)

37:06—

Chris talks about one of the best parts of his job: running the Read to a Dog program. Kids who struggle with their reading skills can practice with puppies, who obviously don’t judge (unless of course, it’s this corgi). Everybody agrees that we are all willing to wait in line to read to a dog.

40:40—

Emily talks about how her dad hung up on her mom so he could pet a very important therapy dog.

41:56— How do books get into the library and how do authors benefit?

We touch on a subject that needs more investigation: how books actually get into the library and how this supports authors. We need to talk with someone in the collection services department to really find out! Or talk to Chris in a year or so, at which point he will be an expert.

45:41—

We know it’s annoying to be have people offer to pay you in exposure…but that said, libraries DO get authors exposure! And for a much better cause.

47:50—

Chris talks about hosting an author visit for Caitlin Doughty of Ask a Mortician. Libraries are friendly to both self-published and traditionally published authors doing readings and book signings at their locations. Consider that next time you’re booking an author event, book marketing peeps!

50:52—

We discuss a hike in ebook pricing for library systems and how those kinds of fee structures work. After the fact, here’s a more accurate rundown on the situation.

52:54— What is a library for, anyway?

Remember: a library’s job is to meet the info needs of their audience. Go ahead and suggest a title or request an author’s books—your librarian will try to accommodate you. If you want a book removed however? Then you can tilt at that windmill to your heart’s content.

54:00—

A good library has something in it to offend everyone. As you may already know, banned books week is the most wonderful time of the year.

55:00—

Let the fun questions begin! Corinne’s got all of them. First in line: the important issue of how judgmental your librarian is about what you’re reading.

59:37—

The horrifying question that Chris repeatedly gets about libraries.

1:00:54—

They’re rebranding the librarian as “information professional.” (But don’t worry, there’s still nothing wrong with saying “librarian.”)

1:02:58—

Chris gives his final comments on the role of librarians across all types of mediums in a world that continues to get its information omnivorously.

Book good.

—Chris Curran

1:04:56—

Emily has a big announcement about her audiobook provider.

1:06:54—

Corinne reflects on ALA (American Libaries Association) and gives one more shout out to how purely enthusiastic librarians are about books! Hug a librarian—but only with their consent!

Finally, don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win A People’s Guide to Publishing!

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