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