Technology and our New Central Library

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but my library system is slated to be getting a new main central library. Right now everything is in the planning stages, we don’t even know where it will be. But everyone is very interested in what will go into the new library. A couple of years back one of our branch libraries got a new building. The community input for that was great but minimal. We’ve held several public meetings and they were well attended. In the last couple of months the question of what kind technology should be included in the new library. Word has filtered back, via the commissioners, to the library that some people are wondering why we need to build a new building. After all do people really use the library anymore? If we build a new one we should just stuff it full of computers, that’s why people use the library if they do use the library, right?

For some weird reason I am always surprised when I hear people actually think like this. I mean really? For all libraries, academic to public to special, they all seem to have at least one thing in common. Letting people know what they do and how valuable they are to their community. I find it that every time our new building comes up in conversation, what the library does comes up as well.

About a month ago my director asked one of my old professors from library school, Dr. Anthony Chow, to come to our library and do a presentation about libraries and future technology. It was a great presentation, it was well received among those who were in attendance. Our deputy county manager asked some great questions and was really engaged.

This presentation led to a committee being created of local members of our city chambers. The point of the committee I am told is to give us and the commissioners recommendation on what technology should be included in the new central. This past Monday we met with them to do a presentation on where the library was now. I presented on our virtual library, which isn’t exactly part of the technology but is just as important.

We kind of went into the meeting trying to prove that as a library unit we are actively aware of current technology and all. Not that we don’t welcome community opinion, because we do. But at the end of the day like every other library it comes down to funding. Sure we would love to provided both pc and mac computers but those trusty dells are so much cheaper to obtain and maintain.

I think we got our point across but I will be interested to see what the committee comes up with. We will not meet with them again while they come up with recommendations. Truthfully after our presentation the conversation became more about partnering with these community companies as suppose to what technology was in the library or needed.


LSTA – Homelessness Grant

It’s been about a year since my library was awarded a LSTA grant for our Homelessness Project. We still have yet to rename the project and refer to it as the Homelessness Grant. I’ve been very hesitant in writing about the grant because I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions about it.

On the one hand I understand and totally back the idea that it’s needed. Urban libraries across the nation, possibly the world, service many persons experiencing homelessness. As long as that state of living exist libraries should and will be there to serve them.

On the other hand there are times in the last year that I’ve feared we’ve taken on more than we are capable of actually accomplishing.  It’s compounded by the fact that so many people/groups/organizations are looking at this project for validation either positive or negative.

We’ve made some great progress in some of our entertainment focused programs, and even our Men Rap Session is growing every session. However our informational programs, not so much.

It could be that the topics are off, we haven’t nailed the right times, or a number of other things. I feel very connected with those programs because they were my idea, I came by them after reading the literature and listening to all of our community partners. I want them to succeed but at the same time I’m not sure what success looks like in regards to them. With the new position my role on the committee might be changing, different responsibilities and all.

Any day now we are going to see if Year Two is approved to continue on the grant, I think we’ve done great work for the first year especially since this project is somewhat new and untested in the field. I think we are still figuring out things and understanding where the Library plays a role in this.



Internet Services Librarian

Back in April, April 15th to be exact, I started a new position within the same company. I’ve moved from Information Services (Reference) to Computer Services.

I am now my system’s Internet Services Librarian, it was kind of a quick turn around. It was a surprise to me when the previous Internet Services Librarian left and at first I was hesitant to apply. In the end I posited that it would be a positive thing for me even if I did not get the job. But I got it!

It’s somewhat hard to explain what I actually do but it’s along the lines of:

  • Overseeing, maintaining and providing content for Library’s web pages and social networking sites – I work closely with our county’s webteam, as well as play the-go-between between them and our staff.
  • Serving as chair of the library’s web committee
  • Serving as a member of the Public Relations committee
  • Serving as online reader’s advisory newsletters administrator
  • Serving as public and staff support regarding downloading materials
  • Serving as lead for staff internal communications

And of course projects and duties that come up out of necessity.  I’m really enjoying myself, it’s a different world as compared to the reference desk. I still work with the public through providing customer support with our downloadable media, but mostly I’m behind the scene sort of speak. With this position come new challenges and successes, some I’ll have to catch you up on. Hopefully I’ll be more inspired to catalogue it, you know the whole reason I started this blog.

One Year Later…

Nissan Building

The Nissan Building in Downtown Winston-Salem, NC. Taken while on my daily walk during lunch.

This week marks my one year anniversary as an Information Services Librarian. My how time flies. I’ve had my annual review and it was all positive and I just can’t wait to see what this next year brings.

I wish I could type more but I’m working on limited sleep and coming from working the full 40 hour week and the both Saturday and Sunday so I’m a little brain-dead.

Currently I’m preparing to move into my new place and working on programing ideas for the autumn season. But I couldn’t let this week go by without acknowledging that I’ve been a professional librarian for a whole year now. Yay!

2012 LSTA Grant Update

Remember back in January when I mention that I was on a committee writing for a L(ibrary)S(ervices)andT(echnology)A(ct) Grant, I think I might have mention that we had been approved to submit a full grant proposal and that we sent it off around the beginning of February. I learned a lot about writing a major grant which has helped me during the beginnings of writing another grant that I’m working on for my library (but that’s another post).

Since February we (the five of us on the committee) have been nervously waiting on a response. We were optimistically hopeful that we would get the grant, knowing that it was a sound and exciting proposal. But you never know with these things. So we waited, and to me it was endless. Sometimes I’m not a patient person…

Middle of May we got an email saying they would make their announcement around the middle of June. Which should have helped with the waiting but instead made it seem even longer.

This past week they announced that we had received the grant! Now it has to go before our county’s commissioner’s for approval. Exciting!

Circulation forum

Today was a Monday. That should sum it up nicely. No? Oh alright…

It’s really amazing to see how routine my life is at work now. Sometimes I stop and think about the fact that I haven’t made it to the year mark but I’ve already established myself into the department. Of course there are tons of things still yet to be learned but I no longer feel the rush of “OMG! You want me to be here alone?!” Every time I’m left in the department without back up.

I am currently working on yet another grant proposal that is due in less than 2 weeks. It’s just me working and I am slightly overwhelmed but my supervisor has faith in me so…we’ll see how this goes.

This afternoon I attended a Circulation Forums which was more of training and revisiting of circulation policies. This was great in itself, being on the Reference desk I do not interact with these circulation policies on a day to day basis. However these policies do affect other aspects of the library experience namely access to the computers. And every now and then we do field questions about circulation issues. There were some things that were covered that I had no clue about and things I had forgotten. Being honest and upfront I do have to admit I was not really expecting the training bit…since it was announced as a forum I was expecting more talking about current circulation issues and thoughts about working through them. But the training is always welcomed.

The Children’s Department

Today I spent two hours working on the Children’s Department service desk. It was very different and highly interesting to compare the two.

Our Children’s department is like a library within a library. They have fiction, non-fiction, audio-visual collections, special collections, computers, periodicals, a reading area, and the cutest little tables and chairs I’ve ever seen. It’s a self-contained environment. And even though they are directly below us, it was like I was traveling into a different world.

On most days I’m surrounded my quietness. Whispers and clickty clacks as people discuss things with their study partners or work on the computers. Its disruptive when someone speaks on the phone, even in the lowest of voices because it’s so quiet. But like I said the children’s department is beneath us and the stairs are open so it’s not always quiet and sometimes we have loud study groups, and individuals. But we can usually quiet them down to a bearable level. In the Children’s department noise is expected and reveled.

I have to admit I had to fight my librarian instinct to go “Shush”. Although it was real fun to see such tiny people enjoying books and remembering my adventures in the same Children’s department years ago.

One little girl came up to me with the most serious face I’ve ever seen on an elementary age kid. She was looking for good books for her younger sister who was in second grade. Her sister was a really good reader so she wanted chapter books with pictures, and she liked funny stories. Of course I had no idea what to offer up but lucky some of our awesome children librarians were near by so I picked their brain. The two girls left with armfuls of books.

Bored Prankster?

Book Chaos

Book Chaos (Photo credit: Sharon Drummond)

For the past few weeks we have been plagued with a mischievous prankster. Throughout the day we would notice that books, sometimes whole handfuls and many times lone ones, would be out-of-place. They would be sitting on the shelves two rows down or up, or on the shelving unit directly across. And always in the reference section or at least it was more pronounced in the reference section because it’s normal for books to be askew elsewhere. I don’t think it would be so bothersome, after all it could just be people are using the books and just randomly placing them on shelves.

We wouldn’t think nothing of it except that we find small little pieces of wadded up paper on the floor throughout the reference section and by the tables too. These little pieces of paper end up being the barcodes, targets, call number stickers to the misplaced books. Sometimes they even take a pen and scribble out the library stamps. They go through all the notions of preparing the book to be stolen and then they leave it. It’s infuriating to say the least, especially for my supervisor.

This started happening after we noticed the art book theft, so I’m already sensitive to about people abusing the library, so needless to say I’m a little perturbed. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can really do about this mischievous prankster as we haven’t been able to catch them in the act, we can’t increase our security, nor can we have 24/7 armed guards stand watch which was my suggest.

I guess we can be glad for small things; they could be stealing the books.

Money Smart Week 2012

Saturday marked the end of Money Smart Week 2012 as well as our Money Smart Month. There was a shredding event at one of our branches that saw over 40 people come out with 1500 lbs of documents to shred. It was a great turn out to end the week and the whole month of programs. April felt like none stop programming and I am exhausted from it all.

I think the people who came out to the various programs were really grateful, and I think we might have a basis of a new yearly event to happen in our library system. But I do have to say my learning curve was huge in programming respect. I’m already jotting down ideas and thoughts for next year. Which is weird, since the first thing I said was next year we should scale it back.

Overall I would say Money Smart 2012 was a success.

Cross Training

Yesterday I attended an orientation for our Popular Library, this orientation brings about the end of a number of orientation sessions I’ve attended this past month. A while back our associate director felt the need for all the staff that service a public desk should be cross trained at each service desk in the main library. Afterwards each staff member would be charged with serving an hour twice a month to a different department, to be carried out throughout the year. The goal of this cross training is to encourage teamwork and camaraderie among all the different departments in the main library, for which there is five public desks total. At first I will not lie I was apprehensive of this plan and how it would all work out. Not because I didn’t care for the other departments, I’m all for getting experience in different places to break up the monotonous that comes with an office job. But I was already stressed out about Money Smart Week I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I have truly enjoyed each orientation for each department. Even though I work here and lived in the town all my life, it’s amazing what sort of information is stored in this building. If you live in a place that has a multiple library system, I so urge you to check out the main library often. We are really the heart of the system and we have resources that our branches don’t.

I’m still quite nervous about serving on these desks, because I’m still getting to know my department. Thankfully I’m not exhibiting “the deer caught in headlights” look anymore when someone asks about non-profit help or investments. Although I suspect that look might come back when I’m down in the NC Room and someone wants help reconstructing a local event from 1874.