I am a very bad blog owner.

Hello!  I have a new job.  I’ve had a new job since November.  Eventually I will update people about it, my plans, and goals.  I also intend to be around here this summer to blog my adventures at the ALA annual and my adventures in learning how to be a good instructional librarian!


Summer 2013 Summary and Wrap-up

history display

History Collection Display

I had a rather good summer at TPL. It came to a close with my promotion! While I have been doing the work of a librarian (as my boss has been telling me) I now have the title! And the raise, which is great. I am, however, still looking for another part-time job …or a fulltime one someplace else, as sad as I’d be to leave TPL!

With this new title, I’ve also taken on new collections that I order for. Weeding is on hold right now, due to a lack of staff members. As much as that bums me out, I don’t think I could tackle all my collections on my own right now! Here is the run-down of what I’m now ordering:

· 200s
· 330s-390s
· 790s
· 900s
· Science Fiction and Fantasy
· Mass Market paperbacks
· Trade paperbacks
· EBOOKS!! (via Overdrive)

I am not overwhelmed, yet. The excitement is carrying me through. Also, all of the non-fiction is ordered through the end of October, saving for patron requests that I approve. Ebooks are ordered (roughly) twice a month. Since TPL is a part of the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services package I am only ordering extra titles, requests, and (thanks to a generous eBook budget) a few other titles. Particularly when it comes to teen related material.

I had fun with displays, which always prove enjoyable to me. I had an incredibly popular (and simple) romance display that I could not keep stocked! I also waged a quiet war against the notion that the genre of romance was a silly one. Psh, not on my watch! I also had several less successful displays; one on history and another with music CDs. While CDs remain a hot item at our library, I have a feeling people just weren’t that interested in what I put up there. I forgive them, I have strange taste in music. The history display, well, it should have been amazing. I think if I had done something more eye catching I could have at least gotten more traffic to it. The premade sign just wasn’t that interesting or visually attractive. Anyway, I’ve got a banned books week display on taps next, I hope it will prove to be more interesting to patrons.

I taught my first classes this summer, as a part of a two week “Job Seeking Skills” class.  It was with a class of 16 adult job hunters, who had mid range to beginner computer skills.  The courses covered everything from basic Word skills to writing a resume and cover letter.  I taught specifically on how to job hunt using the internet.  Monster, Indeed, ect, as well as how to create and maintain profiles on company and organization websites.  It was a great experience for me, as I had an outline of what I needed to teach, but was allowed to do so as I pleased!

I am also planning my first adult programming! It’s all set up, save for the marketing. I am having a speaker come in and give a demo on how to make your own chocolate candies at home. I anticipate it being popular, as there will be prizes and you get to taste the candy we make!

2013 Projects – Blind Date with a Book

blinddateI did a Blind Date with a Book display in April, it went over really well.  I was pleased.  The books were wrapped and had a few key words on the cover, to give a sense of the book, without giving too much away.  31 of the 47 books circulating in just over three weeks.  The books were marked as “unavailable” in Polaris, so they needed to be checked in before they were checked out, but patrons and circ staff were fine with the slightly added check out time.

People I spoke with generally seemed to enjoy the idea, even if they did not check out a book off the display.  Strictly in an observational sense, many people stopped and looked at the display.

Total time spent on the display from set up to take down was about 6 hours, so it was time consuming.  Two quick things could make this faster; the first would be to pre-select the books (which I did not do, I just pulled shiny looking books and some of my favorites) and have a page pull them,  and the second would be to enlist volunteers to wrap the materials.

 I think if it is done again in the future it might go over well as a summer reading event or tie it in with February around Valentine’s Day.    I’d also love to do one for teenagers, if given the chance!

2013 Projects – Teach Yourself Microsoft Office @ TPL

office imageFor my Advanced Online Searching course, in conjunction with work, I created a pathfinder on self-teaching Microsoft Office.  Our classes are currently at hold in my workplace, and this was in part to show our patrons we still care about their computer education.  It was successful, and I found that patrons were pleased to have this information about our library services on hand.   I hope to set up shorter pathfinders on setting up different social media and email accounts, for an upcoming technology program at work. 

You can see the full handout at this link.  

The hardest part about this project was simply time involved in formatting.  The materials themselves were easy enough to put together. 

2013 Projects – Books on the Go

lame clipart!  it was free

The best of the lame clip art available for the project.

The biggest project (beside graduating) that I’ve tackled this year was was the revamping of Troy’s Books on the Go book group kits.  Of the previous twenty-odd kits, many had gone missing or were no longer circulating.  The bags were in disarray, and it was generally an underused collection.  When my boss asked me to select some new titles for consideration, it was simply exploratory; I did not expect it to turn out to be such a massive undertaking.

My first steps were to discover what local book clubs, and groups around the country, would be reading the coming year.  I gathered my titles and narrowed it down to about 20 items, sending it off to my boss for her perusal.  I was surprised when she told me she wasn’t going to make any changes, and even more surprised when I was informed to start ordering them!

Hours of time later, I realized that not all 20 items would be possible to get in an affordable fashion.  A decision was made to get things available in paperback only.  I made a few substitutions and ended up with 16 titles from the original twenty, with two titles that we would source from copies we already held.

My boss suggested new bags, which I was more than happy to track down, as the small tote bags from past kits were dingy and looking pretty bad.  By the end of the day I had sent her a list of options, and within a week or two, we had approval to order them  We ended up with these great zipped canvas tote bags that are really going to hold up to a bag of 12 or more books!


The hardest thing about this project was putting everything together.  The display needed to be set up with a binder of book summaries and discussion questions, processing needed to happen both in Tech Services, and then more on my end.  Barcodes needed to be added to the bags, discussion questions needed to be laminated and added, displays needed setting up.  It took at least two shifts for everything to come together.  Much to my surprise, 7 of the kits already had holds on them!

For those curious, here is a link to the list of the books/binder cover.

I’m really looking forward to getting feedback on this project from patrons, and I hope these kits will hold up over the next few years.

LIS 7160: Criticism on Chapter 7 “Abilities with Disabilities” of The Reference Interview Today

Citation for the text: Knoer, Susan.  The Reference Interview Today.  Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

I felt the need to explain some of the criticism I am leveling at this chapter.  First, I’d like to address the issue of “empathy training.” No person without a disability can accurately talk about the issues and troubles a person of that community faces.  My experiences will be nothing like what a person who is blind experiences.  To appropriate their experiences is problematic, because it leads to a very shallow understanding of the issues at hand and can lead people to underestimate actual challenges and issues people face on a daily basis.

While this kind of training may be well suited for children, to help them understand the need for empathy for those who are different; an adult who will be making policy decisions based on this training, has the potential to harm those they are trying to help.

As I’ve stated in other blog posts, as information professionals,

We need to educate ourselves on our library population, including the aged and disabled. We cannot expect them to be our sole educators, it is not their responsibility. A culture, be it an ethnic or social culture, should not be held responsible for the ignorance of outsiders. They should not suffer due to the ignorance of outsiders. I cannot presume to know what a person with disabilities faces on a daily basis that prevents them from accessing a library or information agency. However, I can speak with those who are disabled, and have.

From, “Reaching Out to Disability Culture.”

Secondly, I take great issue with the suggestion that we lie to our patrons, if they do not speak in a way that we can understand them. This can go for people who speak differently due to a disability, or someone with a heavy accent To blame the background noise, in what is generally a quiet library, is offensive.

A situation like this is more complicated to explain why it is a flawed suggestion. However, I feel that you would be doing the patron a great disservice to lie. Instead, ask them to write it down, or yes, repeat themselves.

Internship Updates

It’s been almost two months since I started my new internship at TPL, and I’m loving working there.  Right now my time has been split between the technology center and the reference desk, with a few small side projects.

I about cried the other day when the library director told me I was great now, but I was going to be even greater later down the road.  I’ve made my share of silly newbie mistakes, but I’m learning.  Anyway, I’d be worried if I wasn’t making mistakes.

At the technology desk I’ve mostly been checking people out, but I’ve also been able to assist patrons using e-readers, Overdrive and Freading (the library’s e-book/audiobook lenders), and a variety of questions about computers, from scanning to using Microsoft Office, to email tech support.  I never know what people are going to ask me, or how a computer is going to break next.

I’ve come to the ever so creative opinion that computers are weird.

Evanced, our calendar software is a nightmare for me!  I don’t know if any of you have ever used it, but it seems highly user unfriendly.   Thankfully, all the wonderful librarians and tech assistants that I work with are willing to walk me through the steps.  I hope they will click soon.

I’ve also been helping as the assistant for the Microsoft Word classes.  It never ceases to amaze me that adults will talk though a class, even if they’ve been told they are disrupting class.  However, it’s good on the ground work for me, and helps me see how a successful class can be run, when different personalities are making up the class.  I hope I’ll be able to fill this experience out with an instructional methods class next spring.  That is, if Wayne doesn’t go and cancel all my classes.  K

While I enjoy my time at the technology desk, my heart belongs at the reference desk, and I suspect it always will belong there.  Helping patrons hunt down a book, either in the Troy library or through MeL is exciting.  Being able to research new topics (and get paid for it) will never stop being novel to me.  At least, I hope it will never stop being novel to me.

I’ve gotten some great reference questions from the huge and terrifying:

“I want a good book.” (I need to read less romance!  More new fiction!)

To questions like:

“Who is the CEO for Shell Oil?”  (which ended up being more complicated than we thought!  As there were several people who could have filled that role, depending where in the world you were looking!)

And an unanswerable:

“Can you help me write a business proposal?”   and then when I said no, “will you read my business proposal for me?”

I’ll even be helping with a teen program of duck tape flower pens and pencil cases.   And!  They are sending me to a conference later in the year.

All in all I’m loving it, and could not be happier at my internship.