Friday, December 30, 2011

It's The End of the World.

Who's ready for New Year's?? --- I am!

Time to drink it up.

I never did get drunk since finishing this damn MLIS, so I really have to make up for that tomorrow night.

I'll have my 3 buddies with me so I don't think I'll have a problem.

Here's to another year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Public Libraries and the Homeless...

Last week, the children's librarian called me out to assist a patron.  There was a homeless guy standing by the info desk and the children's librarian told him that I would be able to help him "better."  From the look on her face I could tell that she didn't want to deal with him, which is okay because 1. I really like her 2. I can help anyone.  

The new library branch I work at has probably the richest local community in the county.  The 2000 household income for the area was $125,000.  There isn't any form of public transportation nearby which could lead one to infer another reason why there aren't any homeless patrons compared to other branches in the same system.

The patron's clothes or personal hygiene were not well kept, but he was very polite.  He came in to the library to find out more information about "an ancient jade statue" which he possessed.  Someone told him that it was extremely valuable and he was planning to donate it to a local museum.  He was fairly certain it was either Egyptian or Mayan.  While the library did not have any items on this particular subject matter, I did guide him to the section on ancient history.  Without stating it forthright, he hinted that he couldn't read so I tried to find books with the most pictures in it.

He sat down at one of the tables with an armful of books and spent the next two hours flipping through each one studying each picture of ancient artifacts.  If my coworker was unsure of how to handle a homeless patron in the branch, other patrons made it known as well.  Several of them would stare at disgust as they walked past and others moved several tables away from him.  I know it wasn't because he smelled, which he didn't, it was because they're not used to homeless in "their library."

I would rather help him any day than deal with patrons who feel that just because they already pay taxes they don't need to pay their late fees.  Those are the worst.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Public Library Hierarchy...

Circ was short-staffed last week and they had to ask Info for help.  Because I was the most recent one to work on circ, I was chosen to work 3 hours on the circ desk.  It reminded me of when I swore off circ work after joining the info side.  In fact, I did the same thing when I moved from Page to Circ.

It all relates to the hierarchy of the public library.  From my experience, I believe that there is a direct relationship between the amount of work done to one's position in the library pyramid.  The higher you are, the less work you do.

Pages do a lot of work, if they weren't around I'm pretty sure the library would grind to a halt.  The circ desk would be overrun with returns and info wouldn't be able to find anything.

The workload at circ can be pretty overwhelming when you consider that most libraries let patrons borrow 30+ items on each card.  It is no fun when you get a whole family with 5 different cards with 30 items on each card.  But even with that, it is a lot better than pushing a cart around and shelving books from the minute you walk in the library to the minute you leave.

The Info desk is easy compared to circ, I don't have to deal with patrons who complain their way out of the 60 cents in late fees on their account.  Yes, I know the info desk does have to deal with patrons who are too loud, parents who let their feral children run amok, "issues" with the public restroom, and help non-tech patrons with the internet, but I would take info over circ any day.

Branch management is above circ and info regardless of whether its info or circ management, they both do much less than their non-management counterparts.  How can someone who works a full 8 hour shift not work the desk once??  What are they so busy doing in their offices?

Library administration and the library director are so far removed from any of their "coworkers" who work in the branches.  Which makes it quite ironic in that the majority of decisions related to branches are made by admin: procedures, snow closures, even the temperature of the branches, etc.  During one hot summer day at work, I had a patron ask if the A/C was broken.  I replied that Admin has the control over the thermostat and that they raised it because of the budget cuts.  The patron made a quip about how comfy Admin must have it in "their ivory tower," and that is now how I describe library admin's offices.

Will my public library journey end up with me working in the ivory tower, who knows.  It is the equivalent of starting out in the mail room and working your way up to the top floor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Luddite Librarians...

So I have a lot of extra time on my hands when I'm not hustling at the Info Desk.  My supervisor has taken notice to this and has let me create handouts on the various items patrons seem confused about, namely online resources.  One of these handouts was for the mobile apps related to the library.  I assumed that since it was for mobile apps, why not through in a QR code that takes the user directly to the app-store for their respected platform?

My supervisor okay-ed it and thought the QR codes were a nice tough.  The image above is the handout edit after my branch manager looked over it.  She said everything was good, but to take out the QR codes.

A handout on mobile apps is okay, but you don't want any QR codes!??!  That's like ordering a pizza but without any cheese.  What's the point in me making a handout for it if you won't let me include it?  Sure, QR codes seem complex and intimidating at first glance, but they really are awesome and pretty amazing for what they can do in such a small factor. 

I guess my branch manager is stuck in the old school librarian state of mind.  But it is not like the other side of the spectrum is any better: there's no need for libraries or librarians to jump on every single 2.0 application without any consideration or focus.  Listen up libraries: just because a lot of people are on the Facebook bandwagon, does not mean the library should be as well. 

These Luddite librarians are holding back the library, unfortunately, they are also the older librarians who are in managerial positions.  It is long overdue for the diligently progressive librarians to take the lead.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Covering Another Branch's Info Desk...

Last week I covered another branch's info desk while they held their Chris... Holiday party.

Despite it being a much larger library than my own, I helped a total of 4 people in the 3 hours I was there. 

If that wasn't bad enough, all of their screen resolutions were set to legally blind.  They must of had a default font size of 20 for their browsers --- I had to scroll down on Google to find the search bar. 
Their default search engine was also set to Bing... what the hell.  It's bad enough that we are forced to use Internet Explorer; I really need to have a talk with the librarian in charge of tech stuff there.

It all reminded me of a Parks and Rec episode: "Why does everyone in this town use AltaVista? Is it 1997?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tip for MLIS Presentations: Don't Be 'That Student'

This evening will be the last MLIS lecture I will ever have to attend. I will be presenting my final project with my Collection Development group. With it being grad-school you would come to expect some level of common-sense when it comes to presentations. Unfortunately, this was not the case for one of last week's groups.

Last week, one group decided to choose the font CURLZ MT for their PowerPoint.  I am pretty sure the person in charge of the PowerPoint was one of the older ladies in the group, you know the second-career students.  Bless her heart, I know she might not have had the privilege of having PowerPoint around for her undergrad classes so she's really gung-ho about it now.  If it wasn't bad enough she chose Comic Sans' black sheep cousin as the only font, she also used the retina-searing color combination of white on red.  I was literally crying from their presentation.  Don't be that student that tries to have a "creative" PowerPoint by using "fun" fonts and seizure inducing animations.

That group also had the pleasure of being asked ridiculous questions by a student peer.  It was quite obvious that the group created their collection development for a made up but for some reason this girl started asking serious questions: "Is it a town or a city?" "How big is the population?" etc..  Really?  You're going to ask these stupid questions about a made up place?  Don't be that student who drags lecture on longer than usual by asking stupid questions and don't put your peers on the spot by asking hardball questions that make them look bad because they can't answer it.  

On a side note, I actually did this to one group in one of my undergrad business classes.  During our peer review session, this girl completely trashed my group's business model.  First of all, I was the only one in my group who was born in the States and spoke English as my first language.  She wasn't very constructive in her criticism and it made my group-mates feel stupid.  So I personally felt like it was my responsibility to do the same to her when her group presented.  They were presenting on Nvidia and they erroneously said that Xbox 360 used Nvidia's chipset.  C'mon now, that one won't slip by this gamer.  Funny thing is, is that 2 years later in my last business class, that girl and I ended up teaming up together and became friends.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Patrons, Don't Take It Personally...

I'm just really bad with remembering names especially if I only see you every few weeks for a brief moment. A regular patron came up to me tonight during our closing procedure, which usually involves me staring down the last few patrons on public PC's who always wait til the last minute to send their print jobs to the print station and hold up all of the staff. He asked if i could help him jumpstart his car. Whenever he passes by the info desk to the quiet study room he always waves and says "hi" or "bye." I walked out a few minutes early to help him and he told me his name and we made small talk for a few minutes. The instant he told me his name its like my mind hit the Mute button. Now he'll probably greet me by name and I'll be left replying, "hey!..... You.." I should just be upfront and tell him I suck at names and ask for his, or I could just make patrons wear name tags. In other library related news, we had a local author do a booktalk and it had a pretty good turnout. One of the English teachers at a nearby high school had an assignment for students to attend a booktalk. A handful showed up and the author was really entertaining and interesting enough that they all enthusiastically bought a book for him to autograph. I know some branches that don't allow local authors to talk because they've not gone so well or the author's book was sketchy to say the least.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Long Distance Patron...

I was on the desk this afternoon when I received a call from a gentleman over 800 miles away. He was looking for an obituary for someone who lived in the same area as the library branch. He doesn't have access to the internet so he ended making the long-distance call which I ended up picking up. The person passed away in 2003 so I assumed that it would be pretty easy to find. It always begins that way, you get a question at the desk and you would think the answer is easy to find but the more you dig the more frustrated you get. After a couple of minutes I asked the caller for their contact information and told them that I would continue my research when I was off of the desk. I spent some time going through every single available resource and used all of the information I had but came up short. I could only find a small online article about the car accident where the person lost their life. I was at my wits' end when my supervisor reaffirmed that I looked every where and tried every search, and maybe the person didn't have anyone write an obituary for them. That just made the cold, rainy day, even more morose.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Circle of Life at the Library...

Within the past year or so, I attended the first wedding for a library co-worker, declined the invite to another, been to a few retirement parties, and this week a funeral. Last week while on the info desk, I got a call from my friend, Red, at another branch. As I saw her name pop-up on the caller ID, I thought that she was pretty bad at prank calling. But as soon as I heard her reply, "Hey," I could tell it wasn't good news. She called to let me know that my former page manager, Miss C., passed away after over a year of being hospitalized. When I first started at the library, I met a really cool elderly volunteer, Mr. B. He was always smiling and had stories to share with me about how the area has changed over time and his experiences traveling the world in the Navy. He loved the library and even a stroke couldn't keep him away. When he came back after his stroke, I made sure to keep an eye out for him as he was pulling books for the Holds List. Soon after I was told that he passed away. This all happened within my first few months of working. Miss C was/is my first "Library Mom." If you lacked any maternal guidance/influence while growing up, working at the library is great place to find it. She was always on top of my schooling, making sure I was doing well and she would always accommodate my work schedule with my school schedule. She was always patient with everyone and willing to work with you. The patrons would ask for her by name whenever they had trouble paying back their fees or just to chat. It's a small world that at the last branch I worked at, I found my second "Library Mom," Miss J. It's ironic because Miss C and Miss J have been very close friends for 20 years. Miss J is very much like Miss C, she would help a stranger without hesitation. I'm kind of worried because I feel like Miss J's kindness is also her weakness; I'm worried that she would fall for an email scam where someone is pleading for her help. Red and I are planning to visit Miss J today. She said she's looking forward to the visit since she hasn't been feeling so well. That's what "Library Kids" are for, to reciprocate all of the support and love to their "Library Moms."