Sunday, October 31, 2010

Closed Stacks: Just because you want it doesn't mean it exists

A few weeks ago I wrote about the many types of questions we get on a typical day.

One type of question that stands out is the question that hasn't got an answer. Not the sort of answer the person wants, in any case.

Usually, the person is trying to make a point or settle a bet, so they want research or statistics that back them up.

They might have an assignment and they want to answer it in very literal terms based on what their teacher wrote on the assignment sheet.

I was pleased to see a discussion of this very frustrating phenomenon on the Closed Stacks Blog, with plenty of discussion in the comments.

Interestingly, the discussion turned at times to the attitude of the librarian being asked the question. Were they approachable, did they do enough work on behalf of the customer? Did they explain to the customer where they had looked, and what roadblocks there were to finding an answer?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dumpr Photo Editing

I've been looking for something that turns a photograph into a pencil sketch for some time.

Thanks to the 23 Things Newsletter Archive I found Dumpr and produced this delightful sketch of my colleague Cleery:

Original picture (a zombie makeup artist stopped by the library one day)

Wall Street Journal: New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians

In an October 24th article, the Wall Street Journal presents libraries which are taking the Vend-O-Matic approach to library services.

Faced with budget cuts, government agencies apparently think getting rid of those costly buildings filled with books for all ages and interests, DVDs, CDs, newspapers, magazines, storytime kits for home use, Bifolkal Kits for remembering the past programs, storytimes, programs bringing the cultural arts to the public, and PEOPLE are outmoded.

The Library staff, those nice people who help you find books for reading or an assignment, work to familiarize you with software they might or might not be familiar with themselves, and who welcome you in whether come to them regulary or whether you're brand new...poof!

Replaced by a cold metal locker or a vending machine that doesn't care if you find what you came for or not.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Monster Mash Starring the Leary Girls

I used old school pictures to make this lovely Halloween clip. The girls appear in birth order from oldest to youngest. Funny how little they've changed over the years!

USA Today: Trick-or-treaters' Halloween candy often picked off by parents

Adults are eating all of the Halloween candy, tsk. Are you guilty of sharing your child's candy? Do you tell yourself they should not be eating all of those sweets so you're saving them from themselves? Hmmm, bunky? You're not alone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Minnesota Voting Info

The excitement continues to build in the close races for Minnesota and everywhere. In recent years with insanely close elections and recounts, more than ever every vote counts!

Where to vote

If you're not certain of your local polling location use the Pollfinder from the Minnesota Secretary of State to find your location.


Also from the Secretary of State, answers to many of your basic voting questions, including Absentee Balloting, Voter Registration, and how to get a ride to the polls.

Minnesota Votes

For local and state candidate information and answers to a standard set of questions that might give you a feel for where the candidates stand, visit the League of Women Voters of Minnesota Voters Guide for 2010.

League Of Women Voters Minnesota Voter Guide 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shelf Reading Training for New Volunteers

When I took over as our branch volunteer person, I wanted to cut down the training time from a two hour training to a one hour training. I also wanted to set a particular time each month when I offered training because none of us have much running room in our schedules anymore and I could not be flexible enough to try to train people when it was convenient for the potential trainee and myself.

I train on the Saturday morning that I work before we open. I have cut the training time down to one hour. Here is what we do:

Welcome to the library.

Collect their application and waiver if they have not turned it in before today.

Explain what our volunteers do (shelf reading mostly!), talk about shelf reading and what it is.

Mention other potential ways they can help with programs etc during the year.

Give them a list of other organizations in the community who might have more opportunities for them.

Take the shelf reading test below. I designed this to be like the Post Office test that requires people to put items in order. This is "open book". They are able to use the pamphlet we hand out when they ask to volunteer and I answer any questions they have as they're doing it because the purpose is not to test them as much as it is to get them to think about how items are arranged and be able to put them in order. We have many areas that are interfiled and I tried to reflect that. Many collections have undergone label changes over time, but older cutter numbered items sit beside newer items that use the first five letters of the author's name, etc etc. People need to learn to recognize fiction or non-fiction and collections such as Mystery and Large Print no matter what the varying labels were over time. Tricky!

Please put the items in each group in order by noting 1,2,3,4 in the space preceding each call number/author/title line

____J551.4 P77 Pond, Alonzo William Caverns of the world
____ 635.965 Su1 Success with house plants
____301.412 P72 Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, wives and slaves
____914.7 P77 Pond, Elizabeth From the Yaroslavsky station

_____Fic F86 Fraser, Anthea Laura possessed
_____Fic M14 McDonald, Kay Brightwood expedition
____Fic F85 Frankel, Charles Stubborn case
____Fic M15 McEvoy, Marjorie Down the hill

_____Juv Fic W65 Wilkinson, Brenda Ludell and Willie
_____Juv Fic W65 Wilkinson, Brenda Willie
_____ Juv Fic P77 Pomeroy, Pete Mallory Burn
_____Juv Fic P17 Parce, Amory Little friends

_____Q636.8 P77 Pond, Grace Complete cat encyclopedia
____J921.2 H65 Wilkinson, Burke Helmet of Navarre
_____J745.594 Su7 Supraner, Robyn Valentine’s day
_____J923 L72 Wilkinson, Burke Louis XIV, early years

_____Fic Westm Westmacott, Mary Absent in the spring
_____Fic Walla Wallace, Irving The Source
_____Fic Frank Frank, Harriet Single
_____Fic McEvo McEvoy, Marjorie Hard times

_____Easy Su1 Surany, Anico Etienne-Henri
_____Easy W65 Wilkinson, Barry Adventures of Tom Thumb
_____Easy Su1 Surany, Anico Lora, Lorita
_____Easy Su1 Surany, Anico Burning Mountain

_____LP Myst F82 Fowler, Earlene Steps to the Altar
_____Large Print Mystery Patte Patterson, James 7th Heaven
_____LP-M Myst G56 Goldberg, Lee Diagnosis Murder: Murder the Death merchant
_____LP-M Myst P27 Patterson, James Cross

_____Fic Oke Oke, Janette Love comes softly
_____Fic Oke Oke, Janette Nana’s Gift
_____Fic Oke Oke, Janette A Woman named Demaris
_____Fic Oke Oke, Janette The Measure of a heart

_____J-DVDN 025.4 Sa1 The safe side. Internet Safety
_____Children’s DVD 306.85 Famil Families of Brazil
_____Children’s DVD 625.1 Lots Lots & lots of trains. Vol.2, Thunder on the tracks!
_____J-DVDN 616.6 T73 A Trip to the dentist through Pinatta’s view

_____Easy B75 Brett, Jan Trouble with trolls
_____Easy Os1 Osborne, Mary Pope Kate and the beanstalk
_____Easy P48 Pfister, Marcus How Leo learned to be king
_____Easy M61 Miller, William Richard Wright and the Library card

We go through the first 5 questions and answers to give people a feel for how the system works.

Next we tour the library, talking about how each area is arranged as we go.

They see where to sign in and out, and how to pick up where the last person who shelfread left off.

We look at where that last person left off and we go to that area and each person does one shelf length so they get a last practical bit of practice.

I tell them that current volunteers and library staff can help them with questions when they come and we'll all help them continue learning as they go.

Yes, you bet I do talk really fast!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dancing As a Star Part 2

Most reality shows have lots of mean people you'd like to see voted right out but that isn't the case on Dancing With the Stars. Everyone works their heart out and it is a shame to see anyone go. If I were on the show, that wouldn't be true.

Click to see me trip the furry light fantastic!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hog Wild Storytime

As a followup to my post on my once in a lifetime storytime, here is what we did:

Used my Scrapbooking supplies to make a little sign so I could say today's storytime is brought to you by the letter P!

I quizzed them on what are a baby pig, mother pig and daddy pig called?

Read three books (Piggy Pie Po, Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch, Granny Gomez & Jigsaw). I thought Piggy Pie Po by Don and Audrey Wood went the best and had the nicest flow between words and pictures for the wee crowd--all ages three and below.

Did This Little Piggy went to market...with our fingers rather than TOES. Sacrilege!

Sang the Pigs on the farm go oink oink oink to the tune of Wheels on the Bus.

Did a Fingerplay about black and white pigs that went well and allowed us all to work on our counting and finger waggling skills.

I attempted to get everyone to Oink each time I read the word Oink in a story but the group resisted after the first Oink or so.

I had pictures of famous pigs on the wall behind me and asked the crowd to identify them. The moms get kudos for DEEP PIGGY KNOWLEDGE.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

D.O.A. Hams it up with first ever Piggie Storytime

Tomorrow morning I do my first (and likely only) storytime ever. Classically trained as your basic Reference Librarian, I never dreamed I'd be auditioning for the role of porcine patterer in front of the boss with pig noises. I think I need to work on my Oink, but my pig snort cannot be beat.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dancing with the What the Heck?

Who has the moves? Out of season, but I'm ready for tonight's Dancing with the Stars, obviously.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's What's Up Front That Counts

While thinking of a title for this post on reference questions, I came across this old ad. Ah, the 1960s, what rapscallions we were.

I thought I'd take a look at what sort of questions I get during a typical day. Instead of using traditional categories, I used the sorts of things we actually get every day. My take on things always is that every question is valuable to the person asking it, and so every question counts!

We get such an endless variety of inquiries, and I don't think people can appreciate how quickly you need to shift mental gears and call upon a huge knowledge base of accumulated information just to know where to look for answers or give the person as much help as quickly as you can because you've got a line of people waiting their turn for help. Think fast, Don't panic, Keep Moving is the order of every day. Sometimes you can help a person quickly and efficiently, sometimes they need more time and more help. There is no way to know with each person how long you'll need to spend with them to assist them. Having people right out front there to help is more important than ever. Nobody else is providing this incredibly wide variety of services.

Reference Questions: People can and do ask for information on every topic imaginable. We of course don't know everything!!! but we need what I call "glancing knowledge" of authors, titles, subject areas. We have to be familiar with adult, teen and children's authors, titles, books in series so we know where to begin looking. Some topics are repeated frequently enough so that you can get right to what the person needs. Sometimes a customer asks something so completely esoteric that you can't even be sure where to begin, so you'll need to ask them more questions to see what resource might lead to an answer. On rare occasions, someone will ask for data or information that has not been compiled by anyone that you can find. It takes a long time to get to that point in the question and answer process, however.

Holds Help (Explain they're filed by the last 4 digits of the library card number, convince the person to take out their card and look at it if they don't do that automatically, if their request isn't on the Hold shelves, go look in the back room for it)

Requests In person (Could be one title, could be 15. Some people will let you show them how to do this themselves on our catalog, some don't care to learn. If the items are on the shelf, some people will go look for them, some won't and you'll need to go out with them and find them) Telephone (Could be one, could be 15, some people call every day, multiple times per day)

These would be stolen every day if we didn't keep them behind the desk:

Newspaper Star Tribune Pioneer Press WSJ USA Today



Tax Forms (We carry Federal and State forms, but only the most common and only what the Feds and State make available to us. Availability of these forms on the web has helped alot, but some folks have uncommon forms they need and don't have access to a printer or for some other reason they want us to be their source of forms. You would be surprised at how outraged people can be when we don't have the form they want and they have to pay for printing.)

Sign up for or cancel a class (We have an online events calendar for sign ups, but because most of our classes are basic computer instruction, the customer isn't often comfortable signing themselves up)

Refer to Circ (Meeting rooms bookings, fines, charges of any kind, card replacement)

Help finding an item in the library (Easy when the item is where it says it is, frustrating when it can't be found at all and the person looks at you and says "But it says it is here". Sorry on that one!

Help using the catalog: Don't understand the general keyword search concept or any searching concepts, show how to use the advanced options for searching by author, title, subject, show how to use their Account to view or suspend holds, pay fines via credit card, show the 83 or so databases and help them find one that helps them with their question, show MNLink, How to use NetLibrary (and sign up for an account)

Copier Help: Using the right coin box, enlarging, reducing, doing double sided copying, paper is jammed

Internet and Microsoft Office Help:

Help logging in (including the reservation terminal, finding that their out of county card isn't registered with us, or they owe old monies and need to pay those first)

What's My PIN

Word (most common--finding the print option under the Office Button, using and finding various options under the Ribbon, how to save to a portable storage device, changing the style set to Office 2003 for the familiar spacing and formatting)




Email Sign up Attach a document Attach or download a picture or file (complicated by the fact that all email systems are a bit different..we have people using free email such as Gmail and Yahoo but also their work and college email systems or commercial systems such as Comcast and AOL. We know the basic concepts but can't have working knowledge of all of these but people expect that we do)

Web Site Specific Help (The problem here can be that some web sites aren't easy to use and we have as much trouble navigating them as the customer, but they assume we know how to use every web site, yikes.)

Applying for a job (problems filling in form, don't know what to write in, filled in form and got kicked back to start page, attach or copy/paste resume)
Paying a Bill
Booking a flight/printing a ticket
Making an appt with the Immigration office
Buying a car
Printing a Casino Coupon

Printing using our multi-step networked printer (There are about ten steps to printing, not complex, just putzy but too much for many people to grasp. We also have instances where people cannot get certain sites to print, or the pages print with nothing on them and you need to explain Print Preview to someone too frustrated to listen...)

Children's PC Help Game is stuck, computer got shut off somehow

Test proctoring (Distance learning must be in its heyday, because we have people taking classes and needing a Test Proctor for their Printed (we get the copy in the mail or sent via email for us to print out) or Online tests from universities as far away as Alabama.

Ebooks (Lots of interest in this now, we are in a position to work with and explain the compatibility issues to people wanting Ebooks for their Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or iPad and explain what currently have available and if it is compatible or not. Since the library does not offer any of these Readers, we are working somewhat blind trying to help people with something we don't have any working knowledge of ourselves.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Not Remotely Service

After a nice relaxing week off I'm looking at a busy weekend at work. Since I'm all by myself this Sunday (no sub could be found apparently) I am reminded of a conversation wherein librarians on the desk are being replaced by little TV screens and a librarian at some remote location "helps" people. Ack, I say, ack.