Thursday, February 27, 2014

Public Librarianship: "It's not what you do, but how you do it"

Last week I helped an elderly patron place a book on hold and find a book on the shelves.  Typical patron interaction which I conducted in my usual means, but her reaction made it seem different.  After I checked out the book for her, she was extremely grateful and told me, "Thank you so much, it really is not what you do, but how you do it.  It's nice to receive this kind of service.  And I should know because I was a teacher my whole life."  On her way out, she even made a point to find me and thank me again while I was shelving some material in the new adult section.

My online persona can be very different than how I really am in the library.  This is a place for me to vent when dealing with the frustrations that one encounters when dealing with the public and working in such a troubling field as librarianship.  I do my best to help every single patron I meet, even if some are extremely ungrateful and rude.  I didn't do anything out of the ordinary for her either, it's not like I jump-started her car or changed a flat tire which I would have gladly done for her.  Her comments were very touching but it made me wonder what kind of horrible experiences she might have had in the past when dealing with public librarians.  I may be an extremely jaded librarian, but I know how to repress it while I'm on the reference desk, it's part of the job.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Caldecott Dreaming...

Last week a patron came up to me at the info desk and asked for "watercolor Caldecott books."  Usually when  a patron requests something so specific, the chances of the library not having it and them walking out disappointed increases tenfold.  The same principle can be applied to when patrons make the vaguest requests, "I want to reread a book I read for school about boy, I don't know the author or the title, and that's all I know."

I told her that I could narrow down our collection to Caldecott picture books, but the catalog record wouldn't list if they were watercolored or not.  Our public catalog shows book covers but searching on it is as frustrating as using AskJeeves on Netscape Navigator on 28.8k baud dial-up.  So I turned to Amazon which was perfect because of the "Look Inside" option to browse a few pages.  One of the earlier book results was A Ball for Daisy and I told her that I was researching Caldecott books a few months ago and that I wasn't really sure about that year's decision.  It was then she mentioned that she is also in her first stages of researching Caldecott books and that she wants to write a picture book.  When she also said that she was not impressed with A Ball for Daisy, I told her that I also want to write a picture book, but I want to win a Caldecott with my first book.  She just grinned at me and said, "Well, we should trade notes, we'll both win an award with our first book!"

I have the skeletal structure of a story in my head, I just have transfer everything to paper.  Another one of my dreams is/was to write a book series that starts in boardbook format and progressively works it way up through to an novel.  I just think that the idea of having a whole generation grow along with a character is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gifting Patrons/Patron Gifting

A couple of months back, a very pregnant patron with a toddler in tow came up to me at the info desk and asked if I could help her with a flat tire.  I first asked if she had AAA or if she had a new car which included roadside assistance.  She said she had neither so I figured it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.  A few weeks later, I get an email from my supervisor saying that she stopped by to drop off this thank you gift.

It was my weekend off and he was really anxious to see what it was, he assumed it was a Rolex.  I told him he could open it, but he said he would wait impatiently until my next shift.

One thing library school professors don't tell you about public librarianship is about how thankless it is.  I can't speak for other library fields, I can only talk about my years of working with the public.  But I knew this before going in, you don't become a librarian only because you like to read or like books in general.  You do it because you genuinely love to help people and answer any and all questions imaginable.

During the holidays, patrons go out of their way to show their appreciation.  This was our break-room from this past holiday.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

An elderly Taiwanese patron, who I usually help when I'm working, just handed me this card saying, "thanks for always helping me and happy belated Chinese New Year!"