Friday, October 31, 2008

Strange things patrons do

This is an example of one of the many strange things I experienced while working as a Service Desk Manager. There are so many more to share but this one was odd. What I like most about this incident was my colleague's sense of humor as she described the situation. Having great people to work with when you encounter strange events does make the day brighter.

A stranger barged into the library passed by the service desk and made himself welcome in the closed reserve room. This greatly distressed my desk staff as they were very baffled by this person's brazenness. He began to pace around in the small room while talking on his cell phone. He paused at various times looking at several things books, microscopes, slides until he found the corner where we keep the anatomical models. There, then, that's where he stood and proceeded to feel up the skeletons. We could not determine why this man was there. It was a very unusual way for someone to enter the library. He was asked several times what he was doing and if we could help him with something but he did not respond. He just continued to talk on phone. He departed only after his reception dwindled. Which was not unusual as that room is in the worst place possible to be talking on a cell phone.

I wanted to know how did he know the skeletons were back there? The best response for summing up the situation was from a colleague she put it this way "I don't know if he knew that the skeletons were there or if he was just delighted to find them."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Amazon's Kindle

How does Oprah's endorsement of Amazon's Kindle affect the way libraries will provide services? Oprah is a very persuasive person and this show (Oprah's Favorite New Gadget) she devoted to promoting the product will certainly influence people. The hefty price is going to cause many people to not go out and buy it now, though it won't be long until the price comes down. Yet this is going to impact libraries. Where do we go from here? Are we thinking of ways to encourage these and other forms of technology to be used by our patrons? It's something to ponder.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Worlds colliding?

This is a fascinating read about how technology does affect your lifestyle. Getting Found Out, Web 2.0 Style. I wonder how would Ferris Bueller would be able to do what he does with today's teenage usage of technology.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Audio Books

I have a bit of advice to all libraries looking to offer audio books as a new service. After you settle on the digital media product the next step is to consider its diversity and how your users will understand how to use it. Case in point is my public library. I was so happy to discover that my library was offering digital audio books, it was just in time for me with summer travel on the way. I assumed that a smartphone such as a Blackberry would be one of the compatible devices. That was instantly shattered as I investigated the list of compatible digital devices. Unfortunately for me the library choose to use a digital media product for audio books that does not support Mac products (no real shocker) and supports only a handful of cell phones. I became frustrated when I discovered none of my devices would work.

And then........

I became very angry. Not because my devices weren't compatible but because of the lack of information on the library's website. There was no note pointing me, the happy excited user, to check the product's website first for device compatibility. I had to figure that out on my own. How is this providing a service to patrons? Thankfully for my sanity I was bright enough to take the link to the product's website and check everything out first. How many patrons are going to do that? My guess is that the average patron will download the book and try in vain to load the book on their device only to become frustrated and angry. How many people are going to be content to sit at their PC to listen to a book? I'm a big lover of libraries and this, among other things with this county system, is getting under my nails irritating.

I am fed up with libraries MISSING the point of PROVIDING a good service. This upsets me because I spent a good portion of my career in Access Services and this is something that should have been considered. If you spend time and money promoting a new service and you KNOW that it has limitations then you SHOULD make an effort to communicate that to the patrons. It's a wonder why libraries are confused when citizens get upset about libraries wanting more money to provide services. This is an example why. As a public library you MUST really think hard about what kinds of technological services you will offer. Failing to do so will result in causing your patrons to endure all sorts of negative emotions. Can public libraries continue to do this over and over? Not with all the competition out there. You have to do things that will dazzle your patrons. Do not give citizens another reason why they think libraries are not worth supporting.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I came across this service, Bookswim, some time ago. I have several thoughts going on in my brain about it and am curious.

How do you think this will impact the way libraries provide services?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

To create a new project

I did something exciting and overwhelming, I volunteered to create a library for my church. Being out of library employment (by choice and necessity) has made me jump at a chance to get my hands back into library work. I may have been far too excited to see the massiveness of the project at hand. So here it goes. I am going to get a library created. Wish me luck.

My mind is full of questions, lists and things to do.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where is Computer Science Education going?

There has been much discussion about the academic structure of Computer Science Education programs throughout the country. The concern is that the education is not actually producing computer scientists so much as they are making Java programmers. So why the big fuss? The issue at hand is based on the needs of the future. By creating programmer based professionals there has been a big drop in the architectural and theoretical creators, the people that technology users will need. It is true that as more things become computerized the need for programmers to keep our technology functioning will increase. Except that need can never quash the need for skilled computer scientists to create programs to function as we dream. The dreamers have got to get dreaming and we must have hope that there will be more of them to keep our technology going forward.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No free shipping in France

I have been following this case in France. It is rather fascinating to see how the French government is fining for providing free shipping on books people order. I am curious to see how long can withstand the fines and if they can cause a movement to change the 1981 Lang law.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Point

I have worked professionally in libraries for almost ten years. I understand that is not a long period of time yet I have gained some wisdom during my employment over the years. I began this path when the internet was starting to become a part of our every day lives. Email was a new and exciting means of communication. Take a moment and reminisce. Okay enough of that back on topic. I have learned that defining the role of a librarian has become complicated. You can't put your finger on one definition and say "Yep, that's what they all do." No. Not any more. The traditional library setting is hardly what librarians find themselves working in now. Librarians are doing many, many nontraditional library things. And because of that I think that this profession is fantastic. It's fluid and imaginative and exciting.

If you were to look up the word librarian in the dictionary you would be surprised by the diversity of the definitions. I was quite baffled by some and disappointed with others.

There are several colorful definitions in the Urban Dictionary many of which are clearly written by people trying to be funny. Given that lack of reason I tend to disregard those sort of definitions. Although one of them is rather good....Information Master. One to be worshiped.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines librarian as a specialist in the care or management of a library. Hmmm. Dreadfully broad and I can understand why.

The Free Dictionary has a slightly more descriptive definition of a librarian as being 1. A person who is a specialist in library work. 2. A person who is responsible for a collection of specialized or technical information or materials, such as musical scores or computer documentation. Yet not quite satisfactory.

The ALA definition describes the profession of librarians as helping:
people with homework and research questions, decide what items to purchase and to discard, offer programs and training, help people use the internet, build websites, and more. Specialized librarians may run computer systems, work with seniors and non-English speaking populations, become specialists in a specific subject area, or maintain the records for the online catalog. Librarian jobs are often full-time, although most libraries also rely on a core of part-time and "substitute" librarians to help cover all of the hours many libraries are open. The average starting salary for a full-time new librarian was $37,975 in 2003, with the average for all librarians at $43,090 for 2002.

The U.S. Department of Labor goes into great detail to describe the librarian profession. Their site also includes information about salaries for the industries employing the largest number of librarians.

Ultimately there is no one all encompassing definition that describes our jobs, what we really do. We are a dynamic bunch providing all sorts of services to our client/patron base. What matters is how you define yourself in the profession. Are you an electronic resources guru, an access services master, a creator of all things.....? It is about what you do every day and how you provide a service in this profession. It is something that can be static or indeterminate and that my friends is wonderful. That aspect is a source of my passion for this profession. A reason why I am going to pursue my Master's in Library Science and finally become an official Librarian. I figured that I should have a degree to go along with all this experience.