ASSOCIATES (2007, March, v. 13, no. 3) -

Carol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona Public Library
Winona, MN

Hello? Is this thing on? Are we live yet? These are questions that come to mind when cruising through some of the great new library websites and blogs. Last September I attended MLA’s (Minnesota Library Association) big yearly meeting. Not only was it just plan fun and interesting, but the classes were great. I attended every class on information sharing I could work in.

I looked at blogs, I looked at wikis, I looked at things I can’t even remember the names of or acronyms for, and I came away so excited. I started looking at other library websites just to see who was embracing the “community” idea and who was still pretty static. We are pretty static and will no doubt stay that way. I can only do so much ya know.

We started web site meetings here, and after doing all the web work alone for 10 years, it appeared everything was wrong and needed to be revamped. Now, I have always asked for help with content and design ideas. And, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give me your ideas on what works and what doesn’t. I rarely if ever got a response. So I would have go around begging for information to post (the Children’s Department has always been very helpful) and ended up basically creating free hand whatever was up there.

After as much time as I have put into the web site, I have to admit I have become pretty territorial about our site. At about the third meeting it dawned on me that everyone else was a “librarian” and I was just me. But undaunted I brought up the idea of a blog—“No, who wants to read that crap.” Then I offered sites that had wikis or something new—“No, they send them outside the library and we can’t be responsible for the validity of the information.” We did come up with a “What’s New” spot, which I figured I could blog in and talk about what is going on around the place, but no, that was only to list new materials.

After that it went downhill. Not only did they want to change the format and the content (and hey, I was really fine with that) they wanted to just move things around, just because. Like, instead of the navigational bar on the left, move it to the top. Which was okay, but it had to be their links, their wording, and then, even their colors. Then I started getting hints about basic web page design, things like white space, linkage, levels, and “just what is the purpose” of our site. I was beginning to feel like somebody thought I had no notion of web design. Now, I don’t hire out and get paid to create sites, but over the past 10 years I have attended classes, learned (and forgot) HTML, learned 3 different software programs, read books, taken on-line classes, and spend hours and hours working on three sites I maintain. I have to say I was just blown out of the water. What was all this about.

So, I made concessions and took everything they gave me and created another site using different software, and I posted it on our server first to make sure the color, type, format, and design was “ok”. No response. So after 3 weeks I went LIVE and pulled down the old site. Well, then I got responses. “Gee, I thought we were a team?” “We aren’t ready yet.” “Put the old one up until we have some time to work on it.”

Ha! I couldn’t put the old one back. So I said, let’s just go on. The site is up, look it over and we’ll meet and work on updates. The next meeting was when I realized they just didn’t want me, a non-librarian doing the site. They wanted control over content, format and design, because they were trained. Hmmm. Let’s see you graduated, how long ago?

So, here I was really stuck with my back against the wall. If I didn’t agree to everything, I wouldn’t get to do the site, but if I agreed, I lost any control over design and format, and basically just hit the PUBLISH button from my desk. Now, publishing and creating web pages is the only “creative” thing left in my job. I was sick at the thought of having nothing to do but pack and unpack ILL books. I need a creative outlet or I break out in spots. I also eat too much and am sleepy all the time.

With nothing to lose because of the way things were going I went in and talked to our director. You would all be proud of me, I didn’t whine or complain. I simply said, “I need your help, I don’t know what to do.” Then I talked about the web page and the committee and the meetings we had been having, and how I felt it was going. I didn’t expect too much, but my heart was in my pitch. I explained I had been doing it alone for 10 years and to give it all away was hard and I didn’t know why this was a problem all of a sudden. Well, he said he would look into it. I wandered off feeling pretty bleak and like the dumbest low of the low, and made my way back down to my ILL closet and kicked a tub.

But what happened is it came out that I have been maintaining two separate library sites all this time: one on the City web site and one on our consortia’s site. So somehow the higher powers looked at that and decided that we should have one and only one site and it should be on the city site. So the site was redirected and now is just in one place. What happened is that the city site is pretty restrictive regarding design, color, and placement, but I am used to working with it and all the great hot new ideas from the committee didn’t quite fit into the plan. And, for some reason the committee hasn’t had a meeting in two months and I am once again going it alone. I don’t know what it all means but I have even been given MORE TIME to work on the web site, and to create a community events cultural calendar. So I have a creative outlet to balance my mind numbing pulling and packing books while I wait for the other shoe to drop.

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