Are Librarians Paid to Read?

As technological innovations have transformed all areas of library work, reference service has, in many respects, become a matter of typing search terms into a library's online catalog or into a web search engine, and then telling the patron the results of that search. Mechanical competency seems to be the order of the day. Reference librarians are no longer expected to know much about what they find; they are merely expected to find it.

This book suggests that there is another approach to providing quality reference service - an approach that relies on the acquisition of a wide range of general knowledge and subject area expertise through concerted and extensive reading of newspapers, magazines, and works of non-fiction and fiction.

After discussing, in Chapter 1, the philosophical implications of ever-increasing reliance on technological skills for the delivery of reference service, we turn to the results of original research. As discussed in Chapter 2 - a methodological overview of our work - we surveyed both academic reference librarians and public library reference personnel in the United States and Canada about various aspects of their reading habits, as well as the ways in which their reading helps them to provide better reference service. We received more than 950 responses: 419 from public library reference staff members and 539 from academic librarians.

Chapters 3-5 focus on the academic library world. We present findings about the extent to which academic reference librarians read newspapers, magazines, non-fiction, and fiction books. We discuss some of their favorite general-interest periodicals and books. Most importantly, we recount and analyze their many stories about how reading has allowed them to be better librarians, not only at the reference desk, but also in terms of their collection development responsibilities, bibliographic instruction, faculty liaison tasks, and other activities. Chapter 6 examines the world of public library reference personnel from a similar perspective. What do they read and how has it helped them in their work?

In Chapter 7, we switch gears to concentrate on what one user group - professors in the humanities and social sciences in North America - thinks academic reference librarians should do to improve reference service. Based on 236 survey responses, our results show that professors believe that the best reference librarians are those who have wide-ranging subject-based knowledge - a characteristic that is especially important in light of the growth of scholarly interdisciplinarity. In our concluding chapter, we position the act of reading and the broad general and subject-specific knowledge gained from reading as a piece of intellectual capital that librarians should proudly appropriate for themselves and employ as a distinct asset that defines them as professionals. In so doing, they might realize the abiding value of the type of subject-specific knowledge that comes from reading newspapers, magazines, and books, as opposed to the type of process-based and functional knowledge that is increasingly dominating the curricula of many programs of Library and Information Science or Information Science.

In sum, this book has two intertwining themes. First, librarians are fervent and committed readers. Second, the vast range of reading that they undertake is crucially important for them in all aspects of their work, from reference service to collection development to bibliographic instruction. Reading leads to the accumulation of both generalized and subject-specific knowledge, which in turn allows library reference personnel to provide a high level of service to patrons. In the past few decades, however, this aspect of librarianship has been downplayed. We hope that this book, by bringing together a wealth of evidence based on the testimony of librarians and users of libraries, will allow librarians to appreciate just how vital reading can be to the provision of excellent reference help and other patron services. We suggest, too, how reading can lead to a re-intellectualization of the profession.

In some ways, this book complements Stephen Karetzky's Reading Research and Librarianship: A History and Analysis, published in the early 1980s. Karetzky's work is an eloquent historical overview of the research conducted by librarians "to ascertain the types of adults who read books and/or magazines, their motivation, their reading interests and habits, the sources and contents of their reading material, and the effects of reading upon individuals and society." By examining closely what librarians read and how this reading affects their work lives, this book presents the opposite side of the coin from Karetzky's work: the reading habits of librarians themselves are put under the microscope.

This book also complements the research of such scholars as Janice Radway and Catherine Sheldrick Ross, who, in the 1990s, studied at length how pleasure reading helps adults negotiate their daily lives by giving them facts about the world, models for identity, strategies for resisting and protesting unpleasant situations, confirmation of self-worth, connection with others, courage to make changes, and a sense of expanded possibilities, among other benefits. By focusing on the extent of reading - and the effect of that reading - on the professional lives of librarians, our book contributes to the rich tradition of scholarship dealing with how reading benefits numerous groups and individuals. As examples of this tradition, we mention here only two books - Stephen Krashen's The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research and Jim Burke's compendium I Hear America Reading: Why We Read, What We Read.

Around 2000, oil discoveries in remote Equatorial Guinea began to stir interest in this long-neglected western African country, not the least because the United States was seeking new supplies of oil. American companies were already participating in, or making plans to participate in, oil ventures in nearby countries such as Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, and Chad. For an executive of an American-based oil firm or a company that supplies oil industry equipment, it would be natural to find out basic information about Equatorial Guinea. Where is the capital? Where does the government sit? Who are key contacts in the government, and where can I find them? One place that an oil executive might begin to look for answers to these questions is an academic or public library.

Once the question was received at the library, a reference staff member might look at a number of online and print sources and quickly conclude that the capital of Equatorial Guinea is Malabo. After all, recent editions of The World Factbook, published by the Central Intelligence Agency, identify Malabo as the capital. Other sources do so as well. Bolivia has its seat of government at La Paz, but its legal capital and seat of judiciary is Sucre. The World Factbook provides this information about Bolivia, but for Equatorial Guinea the two-capital situation is not mentioned. The reference staff member would likely be confident that he or she was giving the oil executive complete information about Malabo being the capital and seat of government of Equatorial Guinea.

Unfortunately, this staff member would be only partially correct. As reported by Norimitsu Onishi in an article in the New York Times, Equatorial Guinea has adopted a novel strategy to develop every town in the country. The strategy? Rotating seats of governments. In June 2000, for instance, the seat of government was moved to the city of Bata for a period of perhaps six months. "After that, the government will keep moving to other towns, returning to Malabo after an indefinite journey," reports Onishi, relying on the testimony of Gabriel Nguema Lima, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy and son of the president of Equatorial Guinea. Anyone searching for government officials in Malabo would probably not find them there.

How could a reference staff member have known this seemingly obscure piece of information? By reading newspapers and magazines for content-based factual information on a regular basis in order to stay current.

Reading newspapers is a simple act, but one that is often dismissed as unnecessary in an electronic age where large amounts of information can be found almost instantaneously, and where library administrators contemplate sophisticated, streamlined, and automated digital reference service paradigms. Librarians are told that they don't really need to know content, that all they have to know is how to find things, the quicker the better. But, as this example makes clear, only the reference staff member who has taken the time and energy to sift through content-based information in a newspaper or magazine - and who has tucked away at the back of his or her mind intriguing bits of information that might later come in handy - could have offered a complete and accurate answer to the oil executive's question about Equatorial Guinea.

We start with this theoretical example as a way of drawing attention to the fact that, in the headlong rush to redefine reference service for the 21st century, increasing reliance on technological efficacy - e.g., the ability to type a few keywords into a search engine - invariably decenters the human intellectual contribution to the reference transaction and erodes the value of the reference librarian. This concern was summarized in a Newsweek article detailing the profound sociocultural changes wrought by the emergence of the Google search engine because of its seemingly uncanny ability to provide curious minds with the exact information they seek. In that article, Joseph Janes, well known as a strong champion of the development of digital reference models relying on technological innovation is quoted as saying, "But I worry about how over reliance on Google might affect the skill-set of librarians."

How, then, can the human intellectual contribution to reference work be placed front and center? We think that the answer revolves around the idea of reading - reading everything and anything, from biographies about historical figures to local and national newspapers to general-interest magazines to best-selling novels. After all, a librarian who had read Onishi's article about Equatorial Guinea would have been able to provide "added value" to the oil executive, perhaps creating untold good will for the library in the process.

To read more about this subject, get Reading and the Reference Librarian.


The following are answers to the question: are you paid to read? Reference librarians at North American public and academic libraries were asked to answer this question as part of a study of librarian reading habits.


Our library does not specifically provide paid time to read. However, the staff does spend brief periods reading during down times. Since our reference staff members are readers on their personal time, I don't think providing paid time for this purpose would increase their effectiveness.

We are not formally paid to do this sort of thing, but we are fortunate in that we are not closely monitored by our superiors and I have seen no sign that they object to this behaviour if it does not interfere with patron service or other tasks. I personally can't see how this sort of thing could be made a formal, paid part of the job description.

No, we are not given paid time. While the time spent would be useful, this is something that I expect the staff to do on their own time. We have too small a staff and too many questions to spend time reading on the desk. If staff have time to look at such items when we are not busy, that is acceptable.

It is not specified but reading such as this is allowed if other work has been completed. It is a nice idea.

No time is provided. Yes, I think it would be beneficial and should be part of our job. I do not think a specific time limit should be placed. Reading is intrinsic to our occupation.

Yes, the library does provide paid time for me to read the local paper, which comes out once a week. Also, I do use some of my on-desk time to browse online sources. I believe more time should be given for reading, but in a small library, we do not have sufficient staff to allow this.

No paid time. Of course I think paid to do this would be very helpful, but realistically this would be low on the priority list. I do read trade journals and book reviews on library time but this is more for collection development.

We have no actual policy but most of us take up to one hour per day to scan the local paper and check for headlines at one of the portal sites such as Yahoo. One of my tasks as the local history librarian is to clip stories relevant to our area for two hours a week.

I think paid time specifically for this would be beneficial. I have had this at past institutions and found it very helpful.

I am allowed time to read print and electronic versions of material. It is part of my job in my opinion and I encourage everyone to be informed.

Yes, indirectly for about three hours per week.

This would be useful but highly doubt we would get the budget.

We get 15 hours offdesk time and we are allowed to use it for professional development, current awareness, and other duties. I read the local paper and the Globe and Mail, if possible. I especially take a look at reviews since patrons mention them.

Difficult to answer because there is no designated reading time, but I can read items during the day that I feel I need to read.

With such vast coverage of major news events both in the print news media as well as the electronic, spending time keeping up on relevant everyday news on company time is not even a consideration at our library and I feel my time would be more gainfully spent doing other activities less likely to be done in the news.

No time has been set aside for any of us other than incorporate the activity with our off-desk time when we are not on the ref desk. I don't have any off-desk time. I am not sure about paid time...the activity can easily be done at the reference desk and some off-desk time. One should easily get through all the news. Now that includes keeping an eye on the Net.

Could do this, but don't have much free time to do so. Yes, I feel that extra time to do this would be helpful in answering patrons' questions.

We are allowed to scan local papers and do some online research during work time. There is no specified amount.

It would be wonderful to have time to do that. I do try to check the local papers out but basically there is no time.

If I have the time during my shift, I will look at these items. There is no specific guideline for us either to do or not to read but I think we should all take the time to look and see what is new, if possible.

At least an hour or two per day.

No paid time is provided but I try to scan the headlines and read the online news when it is slow at the reference desk. Paid time to do this type of reading would be a real luxury and a real benefit, but I doubt it will happen given all the time constraints on librarians.

Library staff can refer to library subscription copies during lunches and breaks.

All professional librarians may engage in these activities on paid time. There are no limitations set. As professionals, everyone is expected to use their own judgement in how they use their off-desk time.

The Head of the Main Library sets her own work schedule and may read newspapers. The library provides subscriptions to key staff of various local papers.

Yes, but not for all people. Three people spend about 25 hours a week maintaining the vertical file.

Print - no; electronic - yes, for one hour per day.

No. As citizens, we should read these papers on our own time.

Yes. I spend about 10-15 hours per week reading publications, however, this reading is done during downtime while desk sitting in the children's section, etc.

No, my job does not allow time for reading regarding current events, nor do I consider it my employer's responsibility to keep me up to date and informed.

No, paid time would be great but consider how short-handed public libraries are at the present time.

No, but I think that paid time to read local and national newspapers and magazines would be useful in helping reference staff answer questions.

No paid time for the newspapers, magazines, or electronic format of news sources. If the reference questions require this then the staff knows where to find this information and can direct the patron to the source. The Genealogy librarian will spend more time on the sources than any other librarian in our library.

Basically, our reference staff can read these types of materials at the reference desk when not busy, but most of us do it on our own time.

Reference staff is allowed to spend time while on duty to keep abreast of current events as long as this activity does not interfere with assisting patrons. There is no specific time set aside for this activity.

Average of five hours per week paid.

If we have time we can read the newspapers at work, but usually we're too busy with other things. It would certainly increase our knowledge and question-answering capabilities if we had more time to read the news.

Professional reading is allowed and our library system is very generous with its policy, but given the amount of work a person is to do each day, reading can't be accomplished while at work. I don't know a single librarian who does their reading at work. They take their professional reading home. They pick their book orders at home. That's the reality. If you've been around libraries at all, you know that the standard joke is that there is always someone who comes into the library and says, "I would like to have your job because you get to sit and read all day"....yeah, right!

Ten hours a week.

We can informally scan/read these items during our work time -- there is no policy regarding this. It's very useful in answering reference questions.

We are paid for the time we work and have the responsibility to manage our time as we see best. We all try to read and keep up on things as much as possible but really find very little time.

No paid time is provided. Unfortunately I do not do as much professional reading as I should. If I had the time to do it at work I know I would get a lot more done.

Library does not provide paid time for print versions but will allow scanning of Net for online information which is convenient to read at the reference desk. I use about 1-2 hours weekly of library time to scan online. Paid time would probably be useful but highly impractical to calculate how much would improve service and how much you could add of this activity in a busy metropolitan library with such heavy public demands in reference. Anyway, we as librarians feel an obligation to spend some of our own time on this activity as professionals.

The library does not provide paid time of this kind, although there would be no problem if I were to read newspapers, search web sites, etc. to keep up with current events. As a professional, I am expected to keep up in this way, so I doubt that paid time would be considered appropriate.

Not many current event type questions.

We are expected to stay current in our particular subject specialties as well as current events at the national, state, and local levels. We are expected to work that in during the hours that we are working either on or off the desk. We assume staff also do this on their own as curious and interesting individuals.

The time is not scheduled into my workday, but during slow periods I will read current periodicals and newspapers available in the library. I probably do this 2 to 3 hours per week. I find this very useful not only in answering direct reference questions but also in becoming more familiar with certain periodicals, their regular features, perceived political and cultural biases, staff writers and editorial stance. This then helps me refer readers to periodicals they may find of interest.

No, we currently do not. I think time should be allotted, however limited. It is important for us to look available and not busy reading a newspaper. However, our board now does not justify paying us to read even though it is relevant to our position.

We are encouraged to read the local newspapers in order to better help our patrons. This involves only local happenings within the community. This newspaper reading takes about an hour per week, since the local papers are printed only three times a week for one, and once a week for the other. I also read them to cut out pertinent articles for the local history vertical files. As far as national newspapers, nothing is said about keeping up with national news. I believe we are expected to be cognizant of the major issues on our own time.

No and it probably wouldn't be a great help here. We are a very small rural library and most of our reference work deals with younger students and is more historical in nature, rather than pertaining to current events.

No, we don't pay people to read the newspapers. I think reference librarians are attracted to the profession because they are omnivous about information, so most are going to be reading a wide variety of materials anyway. I think it is fine to use some paid time to skim headlines and do things like read book reviews.

We don't have time set aside specifically for this purpose, but we are certainly able to do so while we are at the reference desk when it is not busy.

No, but the problem is not being paid for it, but finding the time to do the reading.

Our library does not provide specific time to read current newspapers or periodicals. During occasional lulls at the reference desk, we can sometimes glance at the day's newspaper. It might be helpful, though I can't see where the time would come from. There are too many other tasks to be done in our off-desk time.

No, my library does not provide me with time to read newspapers or magazines. It may be somewhat useful, but I don't believe useful enough to warrant taking time out from my other duties.

No paid time. However it would be useful. I live in another city than in the one I work so I frequently feel out of touch with local happenings and am unfamiliar with local personalities.

Yes, on an as needed basis and varies from librarian to librarian. Done as time is available at the desk or in the office. In thirty years experience it has been demonstrated to me on a more than ample basis, that a successful reference librarian must have a quizzical mind. As such, those staff read and study all the time. Those who don't usually fall by the wayside and leave the profession or at least the reference aspect of the profession.

I have ten hours a week to try and accomplish this, but I don't always spend that much time.

Yes, four hours.

Yes, however, I do as much of this type of reading as possible on my own time. I am a news junkie.

We are provided time. We do not have a set amount of time as we are a very small library.

No. Of course, paid time for informing oneself on current events would be useful. However, since I only work 40-50 hours per week and cannot possibly get all the stuff done that I am responsible for in that time, I don't see where the time would come from, let alone the money.

As a director, I regulate my own use of time. I do use 2-3 hours per week to keep up on such things. I also encourage my staff members to keep up on current events as time allows.

There is no paid time specifically for keeping up with the news. However, I do at times read the news on work time. Yes, I think it would be useful, particularly for the local daily paper.

It is doubtful that it would help. I try to keep up some because I enjoy learning new things for my own satisfaction.

If I wanted to read the papers at work, no one would object. I choose to read them at home because I don't have enough time at work to do all that needs to be done here.

Yes, a set time is not mentioned, though. It takes me about one half hour per to look at the electronic resources that I think are helpful in keeping me up-to -date. Also, I have requested that the publications that I consider necessary to read for professional reasons to be routed to me and I read them either at the quiet at the reference desk or my own time at home.

No, we do not have this time (paid or otherwise) during work. If time were paid for this activity, I would definitely take an advantage of it to expand my field of current knowledge.

No, I do not feel that paid time for this activity is necessary and for the most part I do not feel that most of the questions asked in our library rely too heavily on current event knowledge that we would need to read the paper every single day. However, all of our staff reads the paper or watched the news regularly so we are just well-informed in general. I think that most librarians tend to be....we just do it on our own time.

No and no I don't think it would be useful.

No, the Florence Public Library is in a small town and so far no one has ever asked this type of question.

Since this is one of my duties, I take as much time as I need.

I try to keep up with reading professional literature. This is an important priority for me at the reference desk. Obviously, this is difficult to do when one is also continually helping the public. I would like time off the floor to read professional literature.

No, I don't think it would be greatly helpful. I tend to keep up with current events in my personal life through newspaper, newsmagazines, NPR, and other sources.

No, I do not get paid for reading reference material, however, I do read for my own professional interest and for pleasure. Reading helps tremendously in not only answering reference questions but in knowing where to look for information.

No, reference librarians here are given liberal amounts of off desk time, but this time is spent on special projects and collection maintenance and development. Staff are encouraged to use some of this time for professional development, but keeping up with the news is not generally seen as appropriate use of off desk time.

Yes, five to eight hours per week.

The library director does provide me with paid time to read the local newspapers. However, I do not avail myself of this time because the local papers are poorly written and focus on parochial rather than national/international news. Other members of the reference staff do so, however, follow the administrative librarian's suggestion. Though there is no upper ceiling on the time provided, I would estimate that those who read the local papers each spend about 20 minutes per day doing it.

No, it used to many years ago (10+) but with staff cutbacks and increased responsibilities (with the advent of systems work) this time is no longer provided. It used to be an activity undertaken during quiet times on the desk, but the desk is rarely quiet now and when it is, staff have so much other work to do there, such as material selection, cataloguing, database maintenance, and scheduling.

No, we are not specifically given time to do this kind of pre-prep reading. We are allowed to do this when all other current work is completed and spare time isn't devoted to anything else. We communicate the kinds of questions that come up with each other. For example, since we are not informed by schools of assignment topics, we find out about a certain run on materials when students approach the desk with their needs. It would be nice to have specified prep time but I am not sure how practical it would be. Workloads aside, Murphy's Law applies here. No matter what you try to anticipate, there will always be questions in areas that you know nothing about. Everyone's repertoire is different, dependent on experience.

Yes, I am encouraged to keep up with the issues and spend about 4-6 hours a week doing it.

No, but I think it would be useful to have at least 3 full time people asked to read both national newspapers for current events and at least one popular cultural magazine.

Two to three hours a week, minimally.

Yes, but it is not specified how much time should be spent on this reading. We are just expected to keep up with news and trends in our specific subject area, as well as general news and trends. We are expected to use our own judgement on time amounts for these things.

No, but it is sometimes squeezed into time spent at the reference/circulation desk during slow periods.

We are not paid by specific duties, but do whatever we feel is necessary to stay abreast of things.

We're not provided specific time to do those things, but it would not be necessarily frowned upon if we wanted to catch up on news through the Internet. If I'm not busy at the reference desk, I'll surf the Net and read the news and I think some of the other librarians do as well. During the academic year, most of the questions we receive deal with school projects, which most of the time are not on current events.

Yes, as time permits. We have no private offices or time off the desk, so any reading must be done when we are not busy with patron requests.

Yes, in the sense I check the local and Houston papers while at the reference desk waiting for questions. We also like the Sunday editions to six major cities and I scan these for articles for the vertical files. I also use desk time to peruse Time, Newsweek, and other magazine.

No, but during slow periods on desk, staff read professional journals or online newspapers or news magazines.

Not specifically but we are allowed to do so.

Part time is not provided specifically. Paid time should be provided however -- time for staff to work with/explore Internet resources as well as print resources as well as print resources, current events, etc. Most people do it on their own time. It would help to educate the library boards on the utility of this. However, very small budgets and are thus understaffed. Part of the fun, but part of the difficulty, is that you end up doing nearly everything as director -- even to unstopping the toilet. If you had time, you could improve your reference skills, but you're unlikely to have time.

I do think being able to have time to read the newspapers or some articles in magazines would be very beneficial to a librarian since we do answer a lot of questions about local and new items in the news.

No paid time and I think it would require an unrealistic amount of paid time to become conversant. This is the sort of thing that comes from overall interests and background, not something you could really pick up in an hour or less.

In one sense we do not provide paid time for staff to keep up on current events. In another sense, there is plenty of opportunity to do this kind of reading when they are on the reference desk and it is not busy. Also, their time off desk is not policed. They are expected to accomplish certain things (book selection, weeding, program planning), but if they spend some time reading current events there is nothing to prevent this from happening. My personal feeling is that it is my responsibility to read the local paper and I do so on my own time, before I go to work. It does help me with my work.

I am not provided specific paid time to read non-professional publications, although I may do so as time allows. I think that it would be difficult to specify time to read such periodicals simply because there is so much else to do. I believe that it is important to keep up on local and national issues, and I think it should be encouraged to do so during working hours, but I'm, not sure that allotting specific time to do so would actually be attainable.

I read what I can when I have the time. I'm not given an hourly allotment of reading time separate from the rest of the tasks I perform. I probably read journals/newspapers, etc. about five hours per week.

No, because I work in a specialized field, local dailies and general circulation magazines have very little information that would be helpful.

I am not aware that we are provided with paid time for this activity. Since we are a narrowly focused division, I don't think newspapers and magazines of a general nature would be very helpful in answering reference questions.

Newspapers and magazines are not helpful.

We do not have this reading as part of our regular duties. We have our local Native American paper and a second copy of the local paper at our desk and most of the staff at least read the front page while on the desk -- maybe ten minutes per day MAX. Most of my staff get the paper at home and prefer to read it there. If there is some late-breaking news, we may leave one of the online services up.

I keep up with newspapers at home. I also watch many news shows on TV. There is simply too much other work to accomplish on the job to take time to read here.

No, this activity must be done on our own time. This would be advantageous to do during working hours, since all material is in one location.

No, there is no extra pay; we just try to work it into our schedules.

No, I don't think it is the library's responsibility to provide time to keep current in the world.

No, I subscribe to newspapers at home and that's where I expect to read them, not at work.

No, but our reference librarians keep up with current developments mostly on their own time. One librarian, who indexes the local newspaper, does indeed read, index, and clip the paper. In my view, paid time is liable to be misused and may not serve the intended purpose.

Now there's an idea! No, all of my reading is done on my own time, excepting work-related mails and memos and selection materials.

The library does not provide time to read national newspapers and magazines. I don't think they should.

Actually that has never been discussed. I think our supervisors expect that within reason, we read local newspapers, especially for information about local issues, on work time, but we wouldn't spend a lot of time on that. And when we are on the desk, in between reference questions, I think we probably all look at online national newspapers, especially when events are unfolding, to serve our patrons better when they ask about these kinds of issues. But I do my primary newspaper reading time at home, over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not at work.

There is no paid time for this. I read the newspaper on my breaks. While I can read at the reference desk while we are open, I am aware that some patrons would think reading the paper was goofing off. If a patron asks a question which could be answered by checking the newspaper, I certainly will do so. Or a magazine or a web site.

We are not given specific time to read, however, we do read while at work -- newspapers, journals, websites and magazine articles. We generally inform one another if we read or hear of something we consider a subject that might come up at the reference desk.

Yes and there is no time limit. We are encouraged to keep up with current events on the local, national, and international level.

No, we are not paid to read newspapers, but I think it would be beneficial to me personally if keeping up-to-date on current events were part of my job description.

No, it does not in my case. However, several co-workers are involved in indexing local newspapers and periodicals, which allows them paid time to read these publications. We are encouraged to read current publications while working on the reference desk, if we are in a slow period. I don't think paid time is a realistic goal.

No one on our staff is offered paid time to read print or online versions of any newspapers or magazines in anticipation of reference inquiries.

No, we are not given paid time to do this. Given how few current events questions we get, I don't think being paid to read these sources would be a very good use of tax money.

No, our library does not provide us with paid time to read local news items. I think it would be very useful when community events are going on because we get lots of questions about local activities, but otherwise it's not a high priority. Another library in the area indexes the main newspaper, and it is fairly easy to search. In addition, we don't really have enough time to be able to read the paper. We're kept quite busy.

No one is paid to read, although our supervisor does not care if we read the online versions. We receive very few current events questions, perhaps two or three a month, so I do not think that paid time would be beneficial.

No paid time. I consider this reading to be my professional responsibility and something to be done on my own time. I am salaried, not an hourly worker on a time-clock. Inasmuch as I purchase all the adult nonfiction, adult reference, adult videos, spoken audio and music and all the reading for reviews for this is also done on my own time -- the extensive reading of newspapers that I do daily is vital to all my responsibilities. "Read newspapers" is the single most important piece of advice I can give to aspiring reference librarians in the public arena.

We offer paid time to staff to specifically read print and electronic material. This way it allows them to become familiar with sources we offer to the public.

No, we don't get paid to read. I even have to read the library's book discussion books on my own time. I keep up with current events to make my job easier. Allotted time for keeping up with newspapers would be nice but it isn't feasible.

Actually, I do a great deal of reading while on the reference desk searching for various websites, etc. to allow me to better perform my duties.

No, the library provides no time to really review anything. I could do it on the fly between questions at the reference desk. I doubt that paid time would help much.

No, but it would help, but realistically it's not going to happen. I have way too much work to do to take for news gathering. It's my responsibility as a citizen to keep up with this stuff anyway.

No, however, some of my regular work time is spent surveying month-old papers for vertical file material. In the process I'm exposed to considerable material of current interest. We add less material than we did in pre-Internet days. However, we still clip items of interest or that we judge wouldn't be easily located when needed.

No do not. In fact, I read professional journals at home mostly. There is just no time to do this any other time. So, I don't think that getting paid to read the paper would help.

No, administration feels that this is a professional responsibility that should be done on our own time. However, time is provided at one's convenience to read one's email and peruse any online news site when it is slow at the reference desk.

No, but sometimes I sneak some time in.

It has been my experience that my library does not prohibit librarians to read current events materials during work time. This however is not a set time; it is really dependent on the individual librarian and their tasks during that week.

I think it is a judgement call as to how much time one reads professional literature while on the job. I personally read most professional literature during lunch, during slow times on the reference desk and at home.

No paid time. Yes, paid time to read current publications would be helpful.

Not specifically provided but it is expected that staff do this on work time as a normal part of their day.

Time is not provided, but I believe it would be beneficial to have paid time specifically in order to become more familiar with all reference sources.

Currently, we do perform manual clippings of newspapers once a month, so that might constitute an hour or two per month. Outside of that, we are expected to read/watch the news to keep on top of current events. Many of us read electronic versions of the news while on desk during lulls, but that is not consistent throughout the department and we are also very very busy on the desk. Given our staff component and the way we work as a team, we are usually very up-to-date.

There is an expectation that all staff will read on their own time. Less busy times at the reference desk are to be used to test electronic tools, databases, and web sites.

No, we just read throughout the day as time permits. I don't think we need the extra paid time for this.

There is no paid time per se provided, though all staff are encouraged to explore web sites during slow periods and while only book review magazines are especially encouraged as reading at the desk, there is no discouragement in relation to reading newspapers and magazines. I personally, as part of my assigned job, go through the local paper each day, specifically looking for local news and information that is copied and posted on our bulletin board.

No, but I still skim papers -- usually just the front page. Yes, I think librarians should be paid but in the real world it will never happen.

And, I don't think it is necessary.

No, we are not paid to read newspapers. I have always considered it my responsibility to keep current with news events as it helps me to do my job better but I have never considered that to be something the library would pay me to do.

No, not specifically. I could use my work time to do this, but frankly I am way too busy helping patrons with other topics and planning/performing programming. Interestingly, I find that I do not get many requests for information in the area of current affairs/news. A paid period of time set aside for this purpose would be very helpful.

No, we do not get paid time to read paper or electronic newspapers and news sources. I think paid time to do this kind of reading might be helpful in speeding up a few reference questions but I don't feel that not having that time has crippled my ability to successfully answer such reference questions.

No, we do not provide paid time, but I do this anyway on my own time. I believe we need literate, informed staff who like to read on their own time.

Yes, when it is our rotation on the desk, we are to read a newspaper, in fact, several, if the time permits.

Yes, but there is little time to read while actually working, so we usually use our breaks to read the local paper.

Not specifically, but I do look at paper and online resources while I am at work.

No and I don't think that paid time should be provided because keeping current is part of a fulfilled life.

As library director, every day I skim the NY Times online and print seemingly relevant articles for display in the reading room. Entire staff subscribes to and reads local paper every day before coming to work. Paid time important to help staff answer questions.

No. Since most of the staff subscribe to and read one of the daily papers in the area before coming to work. We cannot spare the time from other tasks to do this.

No, would be useful but there are too many other projects that need to be attended to.

No paid time, and it would not be useful in our case. I can see it being useful in a larger library.

No, though staff do get off desk time and could do so then, if they choose. Yes, it would be useful, but given staffing, I don't see it happening.

No, we aren't given paid time to read the newspaper or catch up on current events. In fact, this would probably be frowned upon. One co-worker I have ignores this and visits the CNN website when he first comes to work.

I do not get paid to read these items on my work time. I subscribe to Spotlight; Nexus Magazine; Free American Magazine, listen to our local Las Vegas KLAV Talk Show Host Lou Epton and several online electronic news services including Newsmax and Worldnetdaily. Also, I am on a mailing list for John Hammell, President of International Advocates for Health Freedom. John covers many current news or political issues.

No. Paid time would be useful for current events. The only things we're really allowed to read at the desk are book reviews and library magazines.

No, but I do not think the administrator would object to viewing these sources.

No time provided. I would not expect paid time - this is something informed citizens do on their own time. I do read professional journals on library time.

This has always been expected of us to do at home. We try to hire persons who are interested in the world and curious about all sorts of things.

No. One hour a week would be somewhat helpful.

Although we are not paid to keep up with current events per se, looking at the local paper or reading professional journals is not frowned upon.

No. Paid time might be useful, but no one on staff has the time to spend reading newspapers or magazines.

No paid time. It would be helpful to have some time to be up-to-date with current events and know where the information is located.

No paid time just for reading, but approximately 5-6 hours per week spent indexing local newspaper, so this keeps me informed about local matters. However, I have usually read the local paper at home before I index it at work.

No paid time. No, it is part of being a professional to keep yourself informed (All citizens, voters, should keep themselves informed).

No, the library does not provide the staff with paid time specifically to read local or national newspapers/magazines. I agree with the implication that reference staff should be well versed with current events. In my years of experience I have found that if there is a pressing story, such as the current election, staff or the sometimes public will alert us to important issues in the "world". If there is a something that we need to know, the Branch Manager or another staff member will post an article in the staff room or onto our electronic message board. For example, check out this web site on the Olympics.

I go through all the local newspapers for our County, and the local daily, clipping items that might be useful for our subject files. I also quickly look through the tables of contents for about a dozen magazines and skim some articles if I think I may get questions on the topic. I would spend 1-2 hours per week on this - more in the summer, which is when I catch up with the newspapers.

No. I suppose we could do it on our time that we work if we had time. It would probably help to have specific pay for specific reading and then we would make the time to read these items.

Yes, two or three hours.

No time is specifically set aside for the purpose of reading to keep up with current events and I don't believe setting aside such time, is necessary.

No, however staff members sometimes read bits and pieces of the newspapers while they are hanging them for the public. Yes, but not feasible for a small library.

No; yes paid time to keep up with current events would be useful in answering patron reference questions, but I doubt this will happen for me with all small staff. I read newspapers with national and local news on my lunch break and check Internet news sites at home.

No, not necessarily. It's our duty to be informed.

Yes, 2-4 hrs/week.

Yes, three hours.

No pay. Yes, that would be nice. We are a small library with a 100,000.00 budget. We could not afford to pay more wages. I receive a salary of 23,000.00 a year. I probably spend at least 20 extra hours a week, working from home - reading Publishers Weekly, journals, cutting out articles for the Vertical File. We still have a card catalog! We just received a $25,000 grant to automate. I'm doing the Library inventory. I've found a lot of books on the shelves that were never cataloged.

No, I do not receive time to read print versions of local papers. Time to read local newspapers would be useful to answer reference questions, but time is a constraint.

No paid time. I feel it would be very helpful in answering lots of questions.

I do all of the reading at home. Paid time to do this would still have to take place at home, as when I am at work I have so many other things pulling at my time I couldn't possibly fit in the reading aspects of the job also.

No, it might be helpful to some degree but in reality, in a busy public library this would be on my list of things I wish I had time for.

No. However, I am usually able to find time during the week to do so. If I couldn't find the time, then yes, I believe time should be set aside and that it be paid time. I find that a good percentage of my questions are related to local issues.

No paid time is specifically allotted to librarians for the purpose of reading the aforementioned items, however, librarians are not prohibited from doing so anytime during the course of their workday.

No paid time is specifically allotted to librarians for the purpose of reading the aforementioned items, however, librarians are not prohibited from doing so anytime during the course of their workday.

The library does not set aside specific time in which I read newspapers and magazines or web sites per se. I peruse such material in my slow and/or down times. I would say I spend perhaps 30 - 45 minutes per week at this activity. I work for straight salary and it is expected of me to keep up with topics of current interest.

The library does not specifically allot time for reading current event type material, but because the material is readily accessible we often read during the natural downtime that occurs in this type job. As for allowing paid time for this type reading, I don't think it is necessary. I feel that being well educated and informed is part of the qualifications for a library position -- something that an employee should bring to the job.

No paid time, but I read some materials when the library is not busy, Paid time might be helpful, but would not be financially practical with our limited budget.

We have recently added this off-desk time to our schedules within the last month. Off desk time for reference work is essential. If a reference librarian is not up to date on events they are not providing quality service. It is essential that Reference Librarians have time to read current newspapers and periodicals.

No, we are not paid to read those references but are free to browse when not helping a patron - and we do have a great amount of slack time (sometimes).

Well, unofficially we do. Read them, I mean. We aren't given scheduled time to read them, but I think most of us keep up with them as a professional and personal matter. I think time spent on this is valuable to reference work, and the fact that we can do some of it on paid time is a nice bonus.

No time is specifically allocated for this, but when it is slow on the desk, a person could easily check online sources if that person was so inclined. It might be useful if people did this, but I don't think I would advocate it as designated paid activity.

No paid time but we can easily glance at an online newspaper while on the reference desk if it is slow. I often spend about 5 minutes per day glancing at lead stories in the NY Times online. Of course the library subscribes to local and national papers and magazines so staff can read them when necessary to answer a question. I think most staff think they should keep up with the local news either in print, online or even on the radio so I don't really think it's necessary to allot staff time anymore than we have paid time to read new books. Of course we do get many professional journals and we can always read them on paid time.

No, we don't get paid time. Yes, it would probably help.

No, paid time is not provided. Yes, it would certainly be helpful.

No, explicit time is not given for this, but I may do so when I have time.

No, my library does not provide such time. It is my opinion that it would not be useful because I, personally, seldom retain information that has no bearing on my life. I read the papers and often have some idea that "an article on issue X was in there last week," so I can help direct patrons there should a question arise.

No, not directly, but we could use some of our "on desk" time to do this if we wish. If an issue is really pressing, we have been known to pass around a pertinent article.

This can simply be accomplished at the desk while waiting for questions. I guess you can say it is paid time.

No - not specifically although our time on the reference desk is flexible when we're not busy to keep up on the news. My schedule wouldn't allow for time to read the news - I have trouble keeping up on library journals as it is.

No, other than to understand and/or critique the various web sites. In which case, I probably spend a half-hour a week being paid to learn.

Yes, but there is no specific amount of time. You must just fit it in with your other duties.

No. We aren't even provided time to read professional journals. Everything is done on one's own time. As a professional, it is part of my job to keep abreast of current events, etc., even if it does have to be done on my own time. I could use paid time to do lots of things, including reading professional journals and newspapers. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in a week to keep up with everything that needs to be done.

Reference librarians are expected to keep current and allowed to do so at work. There is no standard for how long this should take each day.

There is no extra paid time for anything like that. I personally try to keep up to date on current events out of my own natural curiosity. The time we are not actually working with the patrons, cataloging books, shelving etc. our time can be used for whatever we choose. Our schedule is flexible. I do most of the reports, the ordering of books and supplies, shopping for supplies on my own time. The meetings and workshops I attend for the library are all on personal time and at my own expense."

No. I do this on my own time because I feel to do the job properly I must be informed. I feel this is all part of the job.

No. Paid time might perhaps be useful for answering reference questions.

No. I suppose paid time to read news- papers would be useful except that I don't have enough hours in the day to get my work done as is.

Yes, but this is because I don't live in the area and don't receive the papers at home.

Yes, it would be useful to keep abreast of issues.

No, but it would be useful, but it will never happen.

Yes, although I do now specify how much time my staff should spend.

Yes. I use 2-4 hours/week of paid time to read newspapers and other current events materials. I think this is sufficient for what I do.

Adult reference assumes that time will be taken to skim newspapers on library time, but there is not set dictum.

No, however if it is slow, no one stands over my shoulder and watches what I read, I will read some papers. No, I don't think there should be paid-time for this because that is the personal responsibility of a reference librarian. Like reading books, you have to make time at home to read the newspapers.

No paid duty time. Do on own time as I part of professional development. I do feel strongly that our librarians should read local newspapers to function effectively. I encourage them to at least skim the local weekly local paper on the job, though at least one of them cares enough about succeeding on the job to subscribe to the local weekly at home.

Yes, I am allowed to use my discretion on this activity.

No, the library does not provide paid time although if things are quiet, staff takes time to read the paper or periodical, but it's mostly taking the material home to read. Library staff keep up with reading print versions of newspapers and magazines one way or another because it's a necessary part of the service a library provides and we take pride in providing good library service.

No paid time is provided for such reading. Reference staff shelve new periodicals and check in newspapers, skimming tables of contents and front pages does occur in a non systematic way. Paid time to do this seems a little less important now that indexing is faster and online versions of magazines and newspapers are readily available.

If I choose to spend my time that way.

We do get a break, but most of us don't have time to take it to even read the newspapers. Generally, we read the papers during our lunch and dinner breaks. No, I don't think that paid time for this activity is useful in answering patron reference questions. Our patrons are very knowledgeable with local and state news.

Yes, I skim eleven newspapers per day, stopping to read selected articles. At the same time I am marking articles to be - clipped by other staff that will later come back to me for filing in the vertical files. At that time I re-read many of them to determine the best placement of the articles for future retrieval.

No, there is no specific paid time allotted for this reading, although if time allows, we can certainly avail ourselves of any of our print or online resources. I am sure specific paid time would be beneficial, but all of us have many other duties in addition to desk service, that it would be difficult to separate "reading" time out!

My director has just within the last week suggested that the reference staff "scan" the local newspaper when we are on the reference desk. Before last week, the reference staff did not have paid time to read any newspapers or magazines. Frankly, this would be a worthwhile activity in my opinion.

I am not paid to read any current event materials, but my employer is flexible enough that it is encouraged and allowed.

We are not provided with paid time to read news sources. I think that having a half an hour to an hour of daily paid time for such an activity would be beneficial to the reference staff.

No, the library does not offer paid time. I think paid time would be useful in answering patron questions, but I don't know if the daily news in particular would be helpful.

Yes ... as the director of the library I need to keep abreast of local and regional news and routinely take the time to read the area newspapers. I also read the professional journals to keep up with librarianship. Web sites and other newsmagazines are usually consulted more on my own personal time rather than work time but there is often some overlap. Reference staff are encouraged to read the local papers and professional journals as well. Other reading is left for their own break times or personal time.

No time provided. I think time would be useful, however, as a professional I feel it is incumbent on me to be up to date on current events no matter what.

I can't imagine being paid for the time. But I do encourage my staff to spend time with resources as we get them, and to try the on-line databases and practice. I give them the codes to try at home when free time is not available. I do think the time to practice is valuable in gaining skills to help a patron more effectively.

The department has a subscription to THE BOSTON GLOBE: Two of the librarians "comb" the newspaper for clippings of important information to be added to the department's vertical files. This is done between questions at the reference desk or on the librarians' off-desk time. Actually, most of us read the newspaper each day anyway.

No (are you kidding?) of course it would, but it will never happen.

I do not get paid to read papers, magazines, etc. but I am someone who does that on my own, just to be informed. I do think I'd read even more and be even better informed if I had the time to do this at work.

No, we are not paid to read newspapers or magazines, but we do manage to do some reading when time allows. Of course, paid time would be helpful, but difficult to schedule.

No paid time. Paid time would be useful but we don't have time to do everything; I read at home.

No time to read at work. Read paper at home if time. If there were a 100% reference person, they'd be required to read.

No paid time. Part of staff's responsibility at circulation desk is to read current information.

No, librarians are expected to keep up on current events; paid time would be impractical.

No, in the past I felt it was responsibility of staff member to keep up to date and read off the job. I read several papers a day and several magazines a week, but I'm finding this is the exception. So, I guess I may be changing my thoughts in this matter.

No time set aside. Prefer money budgeted elsewhere.

No, although if time permits on-line news may be viewed during work hours. Would it be useful - Yes, but then who will serve the patrons while we read?

Because we are a branch, I feel that we can be a bit more flexible in doing things as "paid time." While it is not specified that we can or cannot do this as paid time, it is allowed by me. I give the staff flexibility to look at various print and electronic sources as time permits. There is no specific time for reading these sources -- they are done on an "as time permits" basis. Yes, I believe that being current on events would help us answer patron questions.

No, and probably the balance I have of a person of eastern European origins covers much current events fairly well for those areas. With on-line searching very quick and readily available (save for when computers are down) this may be less important than it once was. We do what it takes: I allow my staff to survey the magazines' current tables of contents subscribed by our library (I wish they did it more frequently because they miss a lot of hot topics when they don't), as well as read (daily) local/state/national/international news from newspapers of their choice. Most of us subscribe at least 1-2 on-line professional publication or discussion lists. All the pros here read the professional magazines we subscribe to and participate in local professional discussion listservs suited to their specialties.

No, the library does not provide such paid time. Yes, this activity would be useful to all staff, although it does not seem possible now because of limited staff.

Library provides no specific time for such reading. Usually done in the course of reviewing new issues of newspapers, magazines, or web sites for specific requests and in routine acquisitions work.

The answer to this questions is no. The county (we are a county-supported Technically, library) does not pay me specifically to read newspapers, etc. However, I do read library journals and scan through the local newspapers while at the reference desk. I probably only spend a total of one hour per week doing this.

Yes, this is considered a part of ALL of our jobs here. To remain informed. We all read the paper on the job (local and/or national papers). I would say we all spend about 2 hours a week at it.

Yes and no. We are allowed to read print versions of newspapers and professional reading on the job, but there is no specific time set for such duties. Occasionally I read a newspaper and spend several hours a week doing professional reading but I rarely read anything electronic. What I need I can usually find in print.

I check the news each morning when I get to work and read the local newspaper at work (it only comes out once a week). I also go over all the new acquisitions on work time so I know what we have available. Other than that I do the rest on my own time. Paid time for this would be nice but unrealistic with our budget.

No, they do not provide time. Yes, I think this would be enormously useful.

We get paid time to read professional resources related to librarianship. The amount of time spent on this per week varies. This depends on how many periodicals we have not read at the moment are available for our use. If we are on Reference Desk duty reading is permissible when it does not interfere with patron service and is educationally related.

No specific time is provided but we can do these activities while on the reference desk if traffic permits. While being paid for extra time may be nice, most questions/answers would not require it.

I wouldn't use the term specifically. My boss, the director of the regional system, does not mind if we do keep up with events by reading print newspapers, etc. during work time; however, we don't have much time on the job to do this, and there are plenty of interruptions and changes in schedules that would not allow this to be accomplished at a "fixed" or "specific" time. We do get an opportunity to read the book review magazines, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, etc. Mostly we read, at various increments of the day, online sources of information. Also, reading information from a computer seems to be more discreet. In other words, if a librarian had a newspaper sprawled out across the reference desk or is holding a magazine in front of their face, the public may get the wrong idea (i.e. the employee is not working or not doing anything constructive). Looking at a computer screen seems to be a little more approving to tax-paying citizens then having their publicly paid reference librarian flipping through a magazine on work time. I probably spend 2 or 3 hours per week looking at news Web sites. I'm sure that keeping up with current events would be helpful to our reference work, but mostly, keeping with the latest books being published (especially fiction), the best web sites for various topics, and computer questions seems to be more of what our patrons ask in their reference questions. Keeping up with current events are helpful, and I'm sure that, if time permitted, we would be able to read more magazines and newspapers; but, honestly, it's not feasible when one is already stretched quite thin in the tasks that he or she has to complete in the hours that he or she is at work.

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