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!