Saturday, June 30, 2012

Read Cool, Keep Cool

Saturdays are usually pretty slow at the reference desk, so today I decided to take some of that downtime and swap out one of the displays. Kansas - and much of the nation - has been experiencing a heat wave this week, with temperatures in the triple digits, and there doesn't seem to be much of a relief in the near future. Thus, I came up with the theme Read Cool, Keep Cool:
Reading takes you to different places, right? I thought people would respond well to the idea of keeping their minds off the heat by reading fiction that takes place in cold climates. I pulled general fiction, mysteries and even science fiction set in places like Alaska and Antarctica, or during winter months.

I have a few titles lined up already for summer reading, but I'm thinking I might have to amend my list and check one of these out myself. What's your favorite cold weather read?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Top Five Friday: Librarian Blogs

It's been a while since I've done a Top Five Friday (I know, I know - I said I'd do it every week...but then I realized every other post was a Top Five Friday and felt it looked kind of silly). Anyway, through a small project I call Librarian Problems, I've recently become more aware of the amazing community of blogging librarians out there. Today I've decided to blog a bit about my favorite blogs by librarians!

1. This Is What a Librarian Looks Like
Aiming to challenge the old bun and cardigan stereotype, Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day and Erin Downey Howerton of Hybrid Librarian invite librarians all over the world to share photos and tell a little bit about themselves. I love seeing and reading about all the different personalities and kinds of people who make up our profession today. By recently submitting a post myself, I've come to realize how it's also a great way for librarians to connect and network with each other.

2. Shelf Renewal
Last fall I attended a workshop on blogging presented by Rebecca Vnuk, Editor for Reference and Collection Management at Booklist, who coauthors this great resource for back list titles with Karen Kleckner Keefe, Director of the Hinsdale (IL) Public Library. They offer read alike suggestions for current popular titles and bring attention to older, but great reads.

3. 658.8 - Practical Marketing for Public Libraries
Susan Brown, Marketing Director at my library, offers up tips and examples of useful marketing efforts for public libraries. Since accepting the marketing position, she has positively transformed the Lawrence Public Library's social media team and strategy, helped in the recent redesign of the website, and in many ways, has opened the eyes of the community to what the library can really offer. She has some great ideas to share!

4. RA for All
I was introduced to this blog at another workshop. The blog's author, Becky, who works at Berwyn (IL) Public Library and teaches at the Dominican University library school, provides "a showcase of the wonderful world of Readers' Advisory (RA)." From her 10 rules for basic RA to tons of reading suggestions, Becky's blog is a great resource for anyone who works in a library - because all library workers can be reader advisers.

5. Sturdy for Common Things
Rebecca Dunn, a children's librarian at the Lawrence Public Library, blogs with images, words and books. Though it's more a story of her life than her library experiences, she does share about her work at the library, including storytimes, crafts for children and book reviews of titles she loves. The blog is filled with amazing photography, great ideas and inspiring reflections.

Now that I've shared some of my favorite, what are some blogs that you follow?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To shush or not to shush

While I was working the reference desk yesterday, a coworker was chatting with a mom and her kids about their summer reading and a recent trip they went on. This conversation took place near the desk, which is just in front of the adult sitting area. Besides a few excited outbursts, their volume level, I thought, was pretty low and I thought nothing of it. After about ten minutes, though, an older woman stormed up to the desk and said, "You know, if I were talking that loud I would have been spoken to." She then held up a pair of headphones. "I can't even hear these!" Before I could even respond, she turned and stomped toward the exit.

The main level of our library is pretty much a big open space. The entry ways, children's room, teen zone and check out desk are all on this level and are all areas where noise tends to collect, so we typically maintain a loose volume policy. We don't prohibit patrons from using cell phones in the building, but we do request that they use soft voices and keep their conversations brief. If someone talks loudly or carries on a longer conversation - person to person or on a cell phone - I will ask that they move out to the lobby or entryway. The lower level is a different case. Because it's a smaller space and most of the computers are down there, we do try to enforce a somewhat stricter policy.

Not too long ago, there was a discussion on KANLIB-L about noise policies. While many of the responses described similar situations like ours, there was one librarian who rebuked this practice. He argued that this was abandoning traditional library practices and that we shouldn't banish those seeking quiet spaces to certain areas of the library. Boy did he get some sharp replies. "If we want to stay relevant, public libraries must move away from the ancient tome of silence model and welcome all patrons - noisy or not so noisy," they all seemed to say. When it comes to customer service, though, to whom should we cater?

While I understand both sides of the argument, it's hard to claim a general rule one way or the other. In yesterday's situation, it was clear to me who's experience would be more negatively affected. I noticed that the woman, still visibly angry, had wandered back in and had taken a seat in the adult area again. In order to appease her - and not to get an angry comment sent to administration - I did approach the small group and let them know that someone thought their voices were too loud. They weren't put off, and the mother actually apologized. I then got a self righteous "Thank you!" from the lady who complained. As much as I hated that, I felt at least she was satisfied without the expense of the group's positive library experience.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Out with the old!

Yesterday, I told my supervisor that I finally felt like a real librarian. Yeah, I've had my masters degree for about a year and a half now. And my position title has been "Reference Librarian" for just over a year, but there was one responsibility I hadn't been given until yesterday: weeding books. That is, going through the stacks and getting rid of old, unneeded titles or suggesting ones to replace. All the other reference librarians - and even some of the reference assistants - in my department have been weeding books and have had that task in their job descriptions since way before I started here, but I just was officially trained yesterday. And what power I feel!

I've been assigned the 900s - history, geography and travel guides. Our collection development coordinator, who trained me yesterday, explained that the previous selector for the area was an academic librarian, and because he was kind of stuck in that mindset, our collection tends to be a little more academic than necessary. She also said at some point our library served as a resource collection for the 400s, 600s, and 900s for a consortium, and those areas grew and grew during that period. The 900s also haven't been weeded in a while - so I may have my job cut out for me. I'm not complaining though!

Fortunately, the collection development department makes the job very easy. They print off a spreadsheet with a range of titles with copy right dates, years titles were added to the collection, total circs (number of times items checked out), year to date circs, and last year's circs. I basically get to throw out (well, not really throw away, as most of our weeded titles go to the Friends of the Library sale) anything that's older than 15 years, hasn't been checked out in more than 3 years, or just looks really old and torn up. The collection development librarian told me condition trumps circulation count, but I can always suggest they replace something if it's really popular.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weddings, Moustaches and Summer Reading!

As you can tell, I've been neglecting this blog for the past couple of weeks, but not without a good reason - final planning stages for a wedding! This past Saturday, in front of family and friends, I got to express my love and commitment to my - now - husband, Nathan, in marriage.

Though the final few weeks leading up to the big day were stressful and tiring, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. We rented an open shelter in a park in Des Moines and had a wonderful outdoor wedding, despite a little heat and a few strong gusts of wind. My supervisor, who I asked to stand up with me as a guest of honor, her 7 year old twins - our flower girl and ring bearer - along with a couple of other coworkers made the experience even more special with their presence. I feel fortunate to work with people who support me and Nathan, and am glad to have been able to share the day with them.

In other news, the summer reading program at my library is going strong with many patrons participating, several programs being offered, and even more books being read! Straying from the national theme, Summer in the City strives to "go outside our walls" to get inside our patrons' heads. Our marketing director, adult programming librarian, and those in the children's room and teen zone have done an awesome job getting the program together - and it has encouraged me to read more too, as there's staff prizes this year! The whole thing kicked off with a Lawn Games & Moustaches party, which attracted hundreds of people to the library grounds for pie, fun games, accordion music, and, of course, moustaches! It was great to see so many people excited about the summer reading program and the library.

This year has turned out to be good one for new releases too, and I've got a couple of new books to look forward to reading. Here's what's on my summer list so far:

            Bonshaker by Cherie Priest
            The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka
            Neuromancer by William Gibson
            The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
            Office Girl by Joe Meno

What will you be reading?