Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Highlights

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of my internship! This week is already setting up to be a whirlwind and I still feel like I have unfinished business. I don't though. Maybe I just feel that way because I don't want to leave! I am really looking forward to a couple of weeks of relaxation before school starts up again so the timing is perfect. Nothing sounds finer than curling up on the couch with some good books to read!

I just wanted to put up a couple of pictures from some of the summer activities that went on here at the branch.

This is me and a couple young library regulars. These girls made fast friends and had a lot of fun building this huge tower. The tower was taller than me! Though that's not saying much...

Here I am at the Flatwoods Park Family Picnic. I had the tough job of 'meet and greet,' which meant I got to meet lots of families and tell them about all of the great things going on at the picnic!

As you can tell there was lot of hands-on, social interaction going on and the job pretty much demanded it. It is almost unheard of to have nothing to do at/for the library! All in all this was the best part of the job, or at least the most rewarding one. It was also great to see a community come together on more than one occasion for the children. I hope they had as much fun as I did!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Well, today is one of my last days working as an intern at the Ellettsville branch. Next Tuesday is my last day and I will be sad to leave. It has been kind of taxing driving out here three times a week but it has been well worth it. I feel like I have really gained valuable professional experience that I could only have gotten from working at a library. It is really easy to sit in class and discuss theory and hypothetical situations, but it is much more of a task to answer the phone, answer patron questions, help with computers, make copies, etc, etc. I like learning about the theory though, because I think that's what you draw from when you're trying to put things into practice. The theory doesn't always work, because it's a theory, but it's often better than starting from scratch.

The face of the library will definitely be changing in the next few years. Many staff members that were thinking about retirement will instead work a little longer. Many libraries that could really use extra staff and materials will go without due to budget cuts and tightening fiscal belts. However, at a time of high unemployment and financial strain the public counts on resources like the library more than ever. It will become increasingly difficult to serve the growing number of patrons with a small budget. But with the help of the Friends of the Library, the Community Foundation, and other groups I know that Monroe County libraries and libraries all over will make it work. Some libraries may have to close their doors, but I don't doubt that in times of greater economic progress we will see those same libraries open for business once again.

It's a rocky road, and rather daunting as I think about graduating, finding a job, paying back student loans, etc. I'm choosing not to freak out about anything just yet, and adopting the 'wait and see' attitude that the U.S. has perfected over the last 10 years. I digress, libraries certainly have a future but the structure of that future I think will continue to develop as the role of the library develops and changes. We will survive. There's no denying that people love the library and wouldn't want it to go away. Sadly the same people that believe it is their right to enjoy public services like the library are often the same ones who don't want to pay anything for it. It's got to come from somewhere, and it's time to start being patriotic about something other than the war. Why not libraries?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Slow Trickle

Today at the library has been very quiet. The computers are all filled, with several reservations made, but I still don't hear the normal 'buzz' that seems to be prevalent around here.

I have had a few questions today about when the construction of the new addition will be done, and I'm wondering the same thing! Apparently the meeting room kitchen has a mold problem and something has to be done about that before they will be able to open the whole area up. It's looking really great from the outside though! I will definitely make it a point to attend the grand opening they will have some time in the fall.

These kinds of projects are so exciting. It will be great for the kids to have a new and improved area to explore and learn in, but this addition will also be great in providing space for the existing adult collections. I have heard talk that the information desk will be moved to a more centralized location, which would be great, to provide more of a 360 degree view of the library from the desk.

This just goes to show the community that even in times of economic hardship that the library is still dedicated to improving its services. Kudos MCPL.

Any Work for a Poor Grad Student?

I just learned last week that the Ellettsville branch is hiring a part-time circulation clerk. The previous clerk was away on maternity leave and then her husband got a job teaching in Arizona and they had to pack up and move immediately. I went ahead and applied for the job because a. I could really use the extra income, b. I think it would be a great, well-rounding experience, and c. I like working at Ellettsville and it'd be nice to get paid for it! My paid internship at the Main library ends at the end of December, and I'll need something else to help pay the bills after that. I feel a strong connection to the branch library-patrons and staff-and would love to stay on working in some other capacity.

Learning the circulation side of things would be really helpful in gaining an all-encompassing view of how the library functions. It also seems to be an extension of the service that is provided at the reference desk. Circulation clerks here still know their patron base and have a good, or mostly good, working relationship with them. I love (and hate) that aspect of the library. I love talking to people and getting to know them and their families. It can go the other way though, and you can have patrons who expect special priveleges or don't respect the boundaries of the relationship, i.e. hitting on you, asking for phone numbers, etc. Those patrons tend to be few and far between though!

I am hoping I get some consideration for the position. Though I don't have direct circulation experience I do know a fair amount and am familiar with how the Monroe County Public Library system functions. Also, since I already know the computer system pretty well there wouldn't be too much time spent training me in that area. Plus, a lot of the patrons are already familiar with me! And last but not least, I need a job that pays a semi-decent wage which is hard to come by in this town! I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Get Cookin'!

As I have mentioned in previous posts for my last little project at the Ellettsville branch I am going to create a mini-display and an accompanying book list. I have decided to title my booklist: "Get Cookin' This Summer With a Great Cookbook!" I have divided the list by type of cookbook, with a few titles for each type just to give readers an idea of some of the good ones. I have included the call numbers for each book so that if the particular item is checked out readers can get themselves in the vicinity where other similar books will be. My categories are: Classic Cookbooks, Family Fun in the Kitchen, Improve Your Grill Skills, Can It, Baked Delights, Regional Recipes, Healthy Recipes, and International Cookbooks. I know it's kind of long, but I figured this way there is something for everyone. I wanted to remind readers of some of the classic cooking literature out there, while also keeping them abreast of some of the new publications the library has. I don't want to put every book that is on the list on the display but I am going to try and select from those subject areas to give a broader view of what's out there. Should be fun to look at as well as create! I am going to wait until Monday and Tuesday to create the actual display because by that time Mickey will be back and able to okay everything. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Power Outage

Well Tuesday at Ellettsville turned out to be pretty eventful, or eventless, however you choose to look at it. As soon as I got out of class the sky turned a sinister shade of black and then came the rain. It poured for a good 20 minutes, with wind gusting and the whole works. I have a great raincoat so it didn't stop me from accomplishing the chores I had scheduled for the short window of time I have between class and work! When I got closer to the library I noticed that the surrounding stop lights were not working, which made me wonder if the branch would have power. At this point the rain had slowed to a light drizzle, with intermittently booming thunder. As I walked up to the main entrance I noticed all of the staff filing out. "Oh! We forgot about you! We're closed!," they said. I can't say I was too dismayed.

It did get me started thinking about how the library itself is still vulnerable even though our patrons expect us to be in business rain or shine. I wonder how many people in the area that were without power came to the branch expecting some sort of respite, air conditioning, etc, only to find it closed? Just a reminder that even a respected and solid institution like the library isn't immune when it comes to Mother Nature!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Webinars Work!

Today I "attended" my first Webinar. It was hosted by WebJunction, which is doing great things for public libraries nationwide. I was particularly interested in this webinar as it was focused on bilingual programming/story times in public libraries. Of course, this subject is very near and dear to my heart and I am always looking for new and innovative program ideas to attract underserved groups to the library.

The presenters discussed two programs from two different library systems: Seattle Public Library and San Francisco Public Library. Both geared their programming towards younger children to encourage family involvement. I thought this was a very good point that one of the presenters made: it is much easier to draw adults in for programming that is for their children than programming for themselves. It is also a really great way to encourage parent involvement in developing early literacy skills.

The Seattle Public Library first implemented its World Language Story Time to serve Chinese speaking patrons. The goal was to serve patrons in their native language as opposed to focusing on language acquisition skills. Community members fluent in Chinese conduct the story times, with start-up materials/kits provided by the library. Little staff supervision is required and story tellers undergo training to help them deal with any issues that may arise, and to make them familiar with early literacy skills.

The San Francisco Public Library Mission Branch has developed a bilingual Toddler Time conducted in English and Spanish for children and their parents or caregivers. This program was designed to fit closely with the Every Child Ready to Read program, and its activities are connected to the six early literacy skills important to development. By providing six activity stations (with changing activities) the program encourages child/parent interaction and learning in the native language. Though this program is only offered once a week it boasts a rate of 300 attendees each week!

Both programs showcase great ways to get patrons familiar with library services by providing children's programming. By getting families to become involved with developing early literacy skills it is likely that they will also become aware of the other great resources available through and at the public library. These great projects/programming ideas have certainly got the wheels turning!

Monday, July 27, 2009

One last project...

Even with almost two weeks left in my internship I am organizing one last project! I know, I know, but this is going to be fun I think.

I wanted to do another booklist but wasn't really interested in poring over reader/editorial reviews and absorbing a mindnumbing amount of character and place names. So, I decided to do a booklist/display (I'm getting a little happy with the slash, huh?) to showcase our cookbooks. Since it's an area I know a fair amount about (having done my collection development project in this area) I thought it would be simple and fun. My idea is to make a good, definitive list outlining some classic cookbooks, kid and family cookbooks, grilling (since it's summer), low-fat and healthy recipes, regional and international (Amish, Mexican, Greek), canning and preserving, and baking. I am only going to give a few titles for each category, but I figure that if one title interests a reader that will at least get them to the section where other books of the same subject are shelved. That makes browsing for specific books that much easier.

I also want to do a small display, maybe on a rolling cart, just kind of showcasing a few of the books (or related ones) on the booklist. I figure that will be a good way to promote the booklist while providing some delicious-looking, tangible examples. More on this and photos to follow...

Home Stretch

A few weeks ago I created a booklist/read-alike list for Christian fiction author Barbara Lewis. She mainly writes books with Amish themes and is insanely popular here at the branch. This was truly a lesson in keeping the patron interest at heart as opposed to personal preference because let's just say, not a fan. However, never having had a remote desire or even an inkling to read Christian fiction (let alone Amish themed Christian fiction) did not take away my ability to use the skills gleaned from Readers' Advisory. This project was pure proof that paying attention to editorial and reader reviews can really help determine the setting, tone, and characterization of a book. I made great use of resources like NoveList Plus, Fiction Connection, Library Thing, etc. to help me find reviews and recommended reads. Not every book I read a review for was a good match for the read-alike list, and I didn't need to read the book in its entirety to recognize that. I feel very confident that Barbara Lewis fans will also enjoy my selections because I knew what qualities to look for when searching for other reading choices.

This was excellent practice for doing something kind of out of my "element," and also satisfying because I succeeded in creating a great reading list for our patrons!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trends in Libraries

I have been reading some really interesting articles about new things libraries have been doing recently and this is a great forum for expounding on that. First, I'll recap a little of this week at Ellettsville. Busy, busy, busy! I can hardly remember all that happened, in fact. I have had some time off desk to work on and finish my collection development project. What a relief to be finished with it! It was a lot of fun but it is a weight off of my shoulders to have completed it so far ahead of schedule! Our branch manager is out for two weeks starting today, so we will see what the next couple of weeks bring...

So, I read this great article in the most recent edition of Library Journal and it discusses collection development on the subject of volunteerism. This is a really interesting topic and you would think with the influx of unemployment, etc. that more people would be asking questions about volunteering. So far I get very few questions about that at the reference desk. Hopefully this will change as we get closer to September 11th, which has been declared a national day of service for the first time this year.

President Obama called on libraries to boost volunteerism and volunteering materials to their patrons and I completely agree with him. What better place than the library? First and foremost we can encourage people to volunteer AT the library, which would immediately benefit the library and the community it serves. In addition, this also allows the library the chance to educate its patrons on how the library functions. Hopefully, after learning the inner workings of the library patrons will feel more confident when searching for information and materials.

Libraries are all about service to their communities so why shouldn't that be the first place people go to start learning about giving back? One of the reasons I am so drawn to public librarianship in the first place is the service aspect. We are in a great position to provide valuable service and education to our patrons and to equip them with the skills they need to help others. It's kind of the, "it takes a village" mindframe and if people were more concerned about giving back, or just giving, than take, take, taking just think of all the obstacles this nation could overcome. It will be exciting to see how libraries establish their roles in these uncertain and stressful times.

"Cooking" Up the Basics

James, Julie. "Collection Development "Cookbooks": Cooking Up the Basics." Library Journal (2005). Library Journal. 1 June 2005. Reed Business Information. 9 July 2009

Discusses where to start when developing a cookbook collection. Mentions that beginning cooks are attracted to photographs as well as easy to follow and clearly written instructions. Also mentions that name recognition is key to patrons, and they will usually gravitate towards authors/personalities they are familiar with. Suggests that ringbound editions do not hold up to heavy circulation, and that lack of readable titles on the spines can also determine whether a book will circulate or not. Truly a case where the book is decidedly judged by its cover. Provides a list of the "must have" classics as well as some selections just for beginners.

No More Dewey?!

Oder, Norman. "Rangeview Library District, CO, First System to Fully Drop Dewey." Library Journal (2009). Library Journal. 5 June 2009. Reed Business Information. 21 July 2009

Dicusses the adoption of a new classification system, and the retirement of the Dewey Decimal Classification System at the Rangeview Library District in Adams County, Colorado. The largest collection in the system is 85,000 items. Closely follows the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) used by book vendors. Library staff worked closely with their vendor (WordThink) to create specific categories that would make browsing easier and more effective for patrons. First library in the country to full drop the Dewey!

Volunteering @ Your Library

Gray, B. Allison. "The Call to Service." Library Journal (2009): 28. Print.

Briefly discusses the influx of volunteering and the government initiatives to encourage it. Mentions President Obama's call to libraries to play a prominent role in getting more Americans involved in service to their communities. Suggests that public libraries update their section on volunteerism, paying attention to out of print titles as well. Also reminds libraries to build resources for volunteer managers as well. Provides list of resources divided by type.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Well, today I weeded books from the cooking section of the Ellettsville branch. I used a detailed circulation sheet showing me the statistics for all of the adult books in that section of the collection. That not only helped me determine what to buy but also what not to buy! Books that had never circulated were top priority for disposal, though some were too integral to the collection to let go, i.e. the only book on definitive French cooking. Unsightly, old, damaged books were also candidates for disposal, though if they had high circulation numbers I tried to find replacements to put on my 'wish list.' At first I felt like I was pulling a lot of books off the shelves to get rid of, but once I was finished I realized that I planned to weed about the same amount as I had planned to buy. Which is the way it should work out I guess.

Mickey (my supervisor) scanned the books I suggested we weed and there was only one that she thought we should keep: A cookbook for people who had just undergone weight loss surgery. She made a good point: There are no other books like that in the collection. So we decided to keep that one. There were a few others that might have remained but when creating my list of books to order I kept in mind which ones would be replacing outdated or unpopular volumes. For example, we saw no need to keep a cheese book from the 1970s that had almost never circulated in all the years the library has had it! Out the door! But I ordered a book that seemed to be a better replacement.

Even though I knew the numbers didn't lie, it was really hard to pull a shiny, mylar'ed book off the shelf and know that I was sealing its fate. The books that looked brand-new but had hardly ever circulated were the hardest. I kept thinking to myself, "Should we just wait one more year to see if someone wants it...?" Some I had put on my list to weed I didn't find on the shelves, which leads me to believe they are checked out. So at least they were saved from their fate! It's a tough decision to make when deciding whether or not to toss a perfectly good book. But if no one's reading it and we could replace it for one that patrons will read/use, what are we waiting for?

Hyperlocal Libraries

Lyons, Charles. "Hyperlocal Libraries." Library Journal (2009): 32-34.

Discusses the emerging phenomenon of "hyperlocal" information, which is in-depth local information about geographical places (cities, towns, etc). Discusses ways in which libraries can connect with local community to provide resources about their specific community and its members. Suggests the use of placeblogs (blogs about specific places) to engender community discussion about the places they live and know well. These are ways of organizing the plethora of information available, and providing relevant information that users will find helpful. This seems like a great way for libraries to become even more active in their communities. The author mentions something I found interesting: most library users use the term "local library" to simply refer to the library that is closest to where they live. By becoming more involved in the community itself and providing information related to that community, maybe 'local' can come to mean something more.

"Cooking" Up Some Books!

I am coming along with my collection development project. For awhile there I was so swamped at the reference desk that it was hard to get anything done! I have finally had some time to devote towards getting my 'wish list' together and it has actually been really fun! I have been making good use of the various print resources distributed by book vendors to libaries. Choosing the cooking section of the nonfiction collection has been really fun, because it's something that I can actually relate to. I love to cook (see other blog) and love reading about cooking/recipes, etc. even more.
Choosing cookbooks to add to the library's collection was no trouble at all. Well, the trouble came in deciding what not to purchase as opposed to finding things to purchase. I tried to base my selections on areas in the library's collection that need beefing up, i.e. high circulation areas that needed more materials and underrepresented areas that might need some brightening so to speak. I also tried not to order books that the Main library already has, though in some selections it was unavoidable. Books that I thought would do really well at the branch I ordered, even if Main had a copy. Brand-new books that the Main library has just received I also put on my list, making sure to make a note of the books held by Main. Some of them I figured patrons could place hold requests for and get them sent over, but others I thought that Ellettsville deserved to have its own copy. That also went for lost/stolen items, because if I could find it still in print I ordered it. All in all it has been a very fun and rewarding project, because I really see all of the work that goes into ordering books to fill a collection area. I think that I probably had the easier job, to supplement and weed an already existing collection as opposed to creating one from scratch!
It's too bad that Publishers Weekly unveils its Cookbook publication in August! Of course, after I've completed my project, devoted to cooking. C'est la vie.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

GovDocs: Digital vs. Print

Bernholz, Charles D. "Federal Government Documents: Dead or Alive." Government Information Quarterly 1 (2008): 57-60.

Addresses the shift from print to digital in government document printing. The Government Printing Office has pledged to digitize all federal documents dating back to the Federalist papers. They have yet to do so and Congress is less than enthusiastic about paying to digitize all of those documents. Cites statistics showing that a large number of households do not have high speed Internet access which likely means that most citizens get their government information from their depository library in the first place. Makes a good case for the continuing need for document librarians to help citizens locate hard to find government documents.

Moving Right Along

Summer just keeps moving along and it's hard to believe the kids start school again in a little over a month! Things are going great at Ellettsville! I am learning people's names, they are starting to learn mine. I met a three year old, female Evan the other day. She was very interested to meet another girl with the same name as hers. I also received my first patron 'gift' from a little girl that I had helped. She left a pin a for me that has Ariel from The Little Mermaid on it. Maybe it's the red hair, I don't know. I now wear the pin with pride on my ID from the Main library. It's true that the little things make it all worthwhile. Knowing that one little girl was appreciative enough to give me something is a really good feeling.

I have had the opportunity to help out with another program. This year's nation-wide summer reading theme is Be Creative @ Your Library, so we had a craft-oriented program for the younger kids. Stephanie Holman, one of the children's librarians at the branch, has great ideas for fun activities that parents and kids can enjoy together. I am learning a lot just by observing the way she interacts with the kids and how she organizes the activities. For this past program kids were able make beads out of wallpaper and art clay and foam. They could then string their beads on a string to make a necklace. The table I was stationed at let kids create their own stationary. They picked the paper to use, then came over to my table and using embossing ink stamped a design on their paper. They then sprinkled glitter on the design and then a volunteer would put it under a heat gun for a few seconds to complete the embossing. We got to make our own too :) A lot of reminding kids to press hard on the paper and soft on the ink pad but nonetheless so much fun!

All in all I am getting a very well-rounded experience at Ellettsville, with all kinds of questions to answer and information to help people find. Not to mention that the staff is always so helpful and nice. Everyone is happy to answer questions and I love the 'community' mentality; if we are busy and the check out line needs help we jump right in! A lot different from some of the compartmentalized places I have worked. I can't believe this week is almost over...and so is summer!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Digital Books and the Library

Taylor, Lisa. "Cutting Edge Books: The Impact of Digital Books on Public Library Acquisitions." Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 20 (2008): 51-61.

This article examines recent developments in digital books. Stresses the uncertainty of the market in digital books and readers, and lists several products that have become obsolete in a matter of years. Mentions some problems with licensing between Apple and Microsoft, and how their digital book programs are not compatible with each other. Libraries must choose what they think will be most widely used by their patrons. Some larger cities also lend Ipod players to their patrons, while others rely on downloadable formats. It will be interesting to see how this segment of technology evolves.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer at the Library is Hot!

Summer is in full swing here at the library. With the sweltering heat we have been experiencing the library is a great place to get out of the sun and stay cool. Rainy days also seem to draw the crowds out.

I am still having a great time at the Ellettsville branch. I love talking to the kids, seeing familiar faces, and helping people find whatever they're looking for. With the Summer Reading Program and the Read It Off fine options program both under way I always get to talk to kids about what they're reading and reward them for doing so! Some of them are just so cute, with the greatest personalities. I am not going to pretend that some of the kids (and adults) aren't really annoying, but for every annoying person there are 10 nice, non-annoying people to make up for it. I understand that 'difficult' patrons are part of the job detail. Actually, it's just part of working with the public in general. So far I haven't had any memorably negative encounters with patrons, though I have heard stories from my co-workers so I know it's always possible. Not only does this job require that one have a thick skin, but also the knowledge on how to disengage from a potentially upsetting situation. Diplomacy is key, but some people will never be happy no matter what you do for them and they just want to argue and cause trouble. You can't let them ruin your day.

I am starting to pick teen/children's programs to attend and help out with. Just seeing the realization of all of that hard work will hopefully be enough to inspire and teach me about how it all came together. I know very little about programming. I know the end result, the programs, but I have no clue what goes into all of the planning, etc. and I'd like to learn!

I have also begun my collection development project. So far I have chosen the cookbook/recipe section from the library, gotten some circ stats pertaining to when the book was acquired, its status, how many times it has ever circulated, and how many times it has circulated in the last year. Books with low overall circulation rates will be selected for weeding. Books with low circulation rates for this year but high lifetime rates will be considered on a case by case basis. By that I mean I will go to the shelf and physically inspect the book to try to determine why it's not circulating. For example, is the book damaged, is it out of date, etc.? From there I will either choose to remove the book from the collection or try to update the copy with a newer one. I am also looking at items that have been lost but have had high circulation rates. Those materials will also be good candidates for reorder, if they are still in print. In addition, I have been looking at some print resources (Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, New York Times Booklist) to create a 'wish list' of books I'd like for the library to purchase. I have a budget of about $400, which won't be hard to spend! The best thing about the project is that they will actually buy the books I select!

I just love this librarianship thing. My plate is really starting to fill up with all sorts of exciting projects in the near future! Watch out world, here I come.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Abstract: Green Living

Urbanska, Wanda. "A Greener Library, A Greener You." American Libraries 40 (April 2009): 52-55.

Discusses what libraries in several different cities are doing to be more environmentally and socially conscious. Key ways to save energy include investing in lower energy computers called thin clients, energy reduction competitions between branches, and purchasing products made from recycled materials. Also lists a few programs to encourage environmental responsibility like green parenting, weaving with used plastic bags, and urban container gardening.

Summer Fun!

Well, my summer at the library(ies) is coming on swimmingly so far. Every day is new, different, and never dull. I feel really lucky to be able to compare two libraries within the same system: a main library and a branch. The communities that support these libraries are different in so many ways, from the questions they ask to what they like to read/listen to/watch. Ellettsville branch is supported by families and regulars alike; it is a place of familiar faces. Not that the main library doesn't have its regulars because it does, but maybe because the space is smaller at the branch they seem closer and more in your face-usually not in a bad way.
This Tuesday was the Family Picnic at Flatwoods Park in Ellettsville. The park is really nice and out of the way, and there is a playground in the middle, a few shelters, and a walking path that borders the park itself. Our event was great, the weather held out for a warm and breezy day, and around 200 people attended! I was the meet-and-greet, explaining the events/sponsors to the families, and talking to kids and volunteers alike. It was pretty amazing to see how the community came together to make it all possible. Bloomington Hospital provided food, with really nutritious offerings like humus, veggies, chicken salad, fruit, and dark chocolate (yum!). The newly formed Youth Center now serving Ellettsville was there doing face painting for the kids. Super popular, of course. The Family Resource Center provided one free book per family, of which there were some great offerings. The library had a crafts table where assorted beans, macaroni, etc. could be glued to drawings of different animals. The kids loved it and the clean-up was nice and easy. The Parks Department of Monroe County also provided basketballs, soccer balls, and a tug of war rope. It seemed like everyone had a lot of fun and I was really glad I could take part. I am seeing more and more how libraries can become involved in the community, and even help to foster the spirit of community itself: Reminding people to share, take their time, respect each other, eat together, do good things, etc. I certainly don't think that librarians still exist in an ivory tower, positioned to school the world on the must-reads, but I do think we have a certain responsibility to set an example for others. That obviously goes as far as the community itself will allow as tax dollars make up a considerable amount of the budget, see. By encouraging people to do the right things in life and beyond, and showing them some of the rewards of doing so I think we can hopefully, one person at a time, become better as citizens of a world that greatly needs our help and attention.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Reading is Fun!

Friday was the start of the Summer Reading Program for the Monroe County Public Library. At the Ellettsville branch this meant a surge of parents and their children coming in as soon as the doors opened to get set up with the program. Children and teens have the chance to participate in summer reading at the library to win prizes. Points are given for each book read, programs attended, and for participating in weekly computer challenges and puzzles.
My job was to show kids where they could take the computer quizzes and then lead them over to where the weekly challenges can be found. I also helped signs kids up for the program and explained the rules to them and their parents. It was kind of a hectic day, but most of the kids were really excited to be there. We also took advantage of this time to really sell ourselves with the readers' advisory. Some kids were receptive to having help picking out books and others already knew their way around the library well enough to know what they wanted. All in all everyone was very friendly and engaging. The only bad attitudes I noticed were from a couple of the parents!
So much of librarianship work with patrons is about being able to 'gauge' the situation. Does a patron require more help than you're giving? Or are you insulting their intelligence by assuming they don't know what they're doing? There is a fine line we walk. First of all, they wouldn't be asking us if they already knew, but just because they're asking doesn't mean they're stupid. I can usually tell by the blank look on someone's face when I start talking about call numbers that they don't know their way around the library very well. And frankly I don't mind showing them around because I'm still learning myself.
Now that school is out kids are much more prevalent in the library...and what better place for them to be! I am looking forward to helping kids find summer reads and to helping out with some of the great programs that are scheduled. Next week we have Story Time, a picnic in the park, and more!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Latinos and Public Libraries

Brandt, Jennifer. "Study of Latinos and Libraries Suggests Ways To Draw More Users |." - Service Providers. 11 May 2009. 27 May 2009 .

Article summarizes an original article from The Library Journal which discusses a study done by WebJunction and 40 state libraries called Latinos and Public Library Perceptions. Suggests that libraries must do more to draw Spanish speaking patrons into libraries. Involvement with community organizations, Spanish language signage, emphasis on learning the English language and patron privacy are all ways to bridge the gap. Librarians must be more conscious in thinking of ways in which to reach this often under-served segment of many communities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bring on the Summer!

So it's summer at the library! This is a great time to be working at the library, or not, depending on how you look at it. Summer at the library means kids are out of school, it means summer reading programs, and it means you're dealing with both. I was warned that summer would be hectic at Ellettsville, what with the construction and the beast known as "Summer." Kid time is definitely a given at this time of the year and I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge. Having worked in a jail and in the homicide department, I am pretty confident in my ability to deal with kids. They can't possibly do anything worse than some of the things I've seen/heard.

I am already loving the reference desk and all the chores it entails. I like helping people use the computers and figure out the new time management system that has been recently installed. Kind of the guinea pigs for the Monroe County library system, Ellettsville Library computers are now using Envisionware to manage the computers and monitor patron use. The old system, SAM, was a world of problems: only certain computers were able to print, only a few had CD-rom, etc, etc. And as for the shift over I have to say: so far so good. Patrons are a little confused, but once you tell them what a PIN is, why the ID numbers are shorter, and even help them if they need it everything goes smoothly. I am quickly learning as I work the reference desk that sometimes people need to need someone. Sometimes that human interaction, taking the time to listen and help someone through something in a way that's not patronizing or unfeeling is all that people really want. In a a very human and basic way I completely understand that need, and I enjoy being able to help people. Someone recently told me that they didn't believe that the library was a science, and I am beginning to agree. It is much, much simpler than that.

I have started my collection development project, and so far have looked at the cookbook collection and noted where I see gaps, old-looking books that may need to be weeded or replaced, and have even started looking through a few publications to start making a 'wish list.' I was shocked to find a book on cheese with a copyright date of 1964! It has no pictures and is just boring, boring, boring. Maybe it was so shocking because I am an unabashed lover of cheese or else I'm just already an awesome librarian. Or both... Either way I can't wait to drool over some new cookbook publications!

The construction of the new children's wing is coming along wonderfully! I'll include pictures in the next post. Can't wait to report on what happens next.

Currently reading:

American Gods
by Neil Gaiman

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel In Letters by Mark Dunn Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan

Currently listening: Liz Phair
Somebody's Miracle

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cell Phone Debate

This part of the blog is where I write brief abstracts/annotations on articles or other things I have read pertaining to library science.

White, Leah L. "The Cell Phone Police."
Library Journal May (2009).

Discusses cell phone use in the library and the debate about banning cell phones entirely. Both users and librarians agree that interfering with a disruptive cell phone call is preferable to banning the use. The importance of having a cell phone policy that is known to staff and patrons is seen as a necessary means to create awareness. Some libraries use color-coded noise levels to demarcate areas where cell phone use is allowed. Cell phones can be disruptive but not all patrons disturb others when they use a cell phone, so banning their use seems unfair to those people. As the world we live in becomes more and more technologically dependent we as humans are going to have to learn how to use our resources in ways that are respectful to others. What a concept!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learning the Ropes

Having finished my first week as an intern at the Ellettsville Branch Library, pictured above, I have already learned so much about working in/at a library and I have to admit...I love it! Pretty much everything about it appeals to me and I love being able to have contact with the public and help them find what they are looking for. I'm also continually amazed at the wealth of resources available at the library, looking at the library website and PAC (Public Access Catalog) have been helpful in learning about some of the things available in the community. Seeing such a vibrant library community as exists in Ellettsville and Bloomington makes it abundantly clear that a good library system thrives with an active and involved community.
Besides meeting patrons and answering their questions I have been learning some of the more 'library specific' things, i.e. computer programs. MCPL (Monroe County Public Library) has an intranet that gives information about the library, and connects the branch to the main. I perused the site and looked at policies, guidelines, and the mission of the library. I also enjoyed reading about the Strategic Plan for the library, which deals with internal and external issues concerning the library. I found information about the other important groups within the main library, such as an adult tutoring program called VITAL, and a service for Latinos, El Centro Comunal Latino. These could be two great resources for referring patrons.
Many exciting things are going on at Ellettsville, and the summer is a great time to be there. There is going to be some great summer programming for kids, a Read It Off program where kids can read off their fines by checking out and returning books, and Summer Reading Programs. I think the library is such a great place, and that kids should have an early relationship with it. Knowing that the library is a great resource, and knowing how to use it is central to creating a growing community of library users, and more informed people in general. Plus, the library is under construction and the new addition will house the children's collection. The concrete floor has been poured and the roof is on, and most of the days I have been there they are working away. Here is a picture of the construction:

Hopefully it will be done before my internship is over!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Thoughts

Before officially embarking on my career as a librarian tomorrow, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I hope to gain from this internship and my thoughts on librarianship in general. One morning while commuting to a job I hated I had an epiphany that librarianship was truly a career path I could enjoy. After being enmeshed in the world of 'true crime' working as a translator for the police, I had become very jaded and pessimistic about my role in a world that seemed to me to be such an ugly, unforgiving place. And while I still believe the world is that way, I think that my role in it has changed for the better.
Librarians are no longer the keepers of knowledge and wisdom as was the case for so long. Instead, in an age of technology and ever-changing, ever-improving resources we are often learning along with our patrons and showing them the way on their journey for information. Plus, it's not just about books anymore. If it was just books, books, books all day long I don't think I'd mind, but librarianship has come to mean so much more. Not to mention that the role of the librarian has changed drastically, and librarians are less and less the bespectacled, cardigan-wearing 'shushers' of the past. Patrons are also changing as far as what they need from the library and the librarian. As people become more savvy with technology, they seem to think they are more self-sufficient and don't need to ask questions. I know I am that way: I feel like because I am going to be a librarian that I should be able to navigate the library with the utmost ease. Silly me! It's OK to ask questions! And ironically enough, that's what librarians are there for.
So, starting my internship at the Ellettsville branch tomorrow is really exciting to me for a lot of reasons. First, I get to work with a great staff. Second, I get to be a part of the library's big renovation to expand their space for the children's collection. Third, I get to work closely with kids because summer vacation will be in effect. Lastly, I will get practical experience working in a library! I hope to learn more about library programming, circulation, collection development and much more. I will use this blog as my journal, and make entries throughout my internship over the summer. I will include pictures of the library, the progress of constructing the addition, and any other fun moments that just need to be captured on film. This is also a place to take stock of my day, go over notes, reflect on particularly relevant articles or issues, and to just talk about it all hanging in the balance as a Libran librarian. More to come...Cheers!

Currently reading: Doing It by Melvin Burgess
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
La Perdida by Jessica Abel

Currently listening: Eyedea & Abilities E & A