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!