March 2012

Money Smart Month

Back in January I mentioned that I was working on a program called Money Smart Week. Since November I’ve been steadily working towards coming up with programs and presenters for the week of 21-28th in April. In January I presented the concept to the Adult Services Committee and got a good response on people interested in hosting something at the library. It’s been nonstop work on scheduling and creating programs and being the middle person between contacts to get to this point. But I’m glad to say we have 22 programs schedule throughout the month of April dealing with financial literacy.

I don’t mind saying that I’m mentally and physically tired. Last week I finished up the system wide program schedule as well as the poster and postcards for my library specific programs and had them approved and sent to the county’s print shop. I’m excited to see how they all turn out and start handing them out. The first seminar program is April 4th, on financial security. There have been some bumps in the road but I guess that’s to be expected on such a large endeavor and I’m the main one spear headed it. I think my learning curve has been very sharp.

NextReads Newsletters

Money Smart Programming has really been the chunk of my to do lists these last few months. But I’ve still squeezed in new duties like take on the NextReads Newsletters for the Cultural Diversity Committee as well as the Home, Garden, and DIY newsletter. You can sign up for those two as well as some others at this link. It’s been fun to work with the committee on the cultural diversity newsletter, we work together to create a very informing newsletter on different cultures and hopefully it will grow in popularity.

Reference Desk

Even though it’s been months since I’ve first started, I’m still getting use to being on the reference desk because you truly never know what sort of question you will be faced with, especially in the public. Yesterday I college student came in wanting information on the lunar calendar and cycle. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to help them in a efficient way as there was a line forming. But I didn’t want to send them away empty handed. I was able to find a couple of articles but I told them to leave their email address and I would see what I could find in books after I got off the desk. I spent an hour this morning collecting a good stack of books that I think will help them and we have a schedule meeting tomorrow morning. In the public library world you don’t necessary think of making reference one on one meeting but my supervisor does it all the time for business owners and non-profit people to help them use the sources we have. Somewhere in my mind I thought why can’t I do the same thing with general research help. I mean our desk is a great point of reference provider but sometimes you need to be able to give a person your full attention and the best time to do that I think is off the desk. It’s a model I’ve seen used all the time in the academic library world. So I might start incorporating that into the mix to see how people respond to it. It’s nothing new but it’s a new way for me to approach my job.


The First Month

While sitting on the reference desk yesterday with my supervisor a regular customer came up and asked if I was the new staff member. My supervisor eagerly said yes and introduced me, saying I had been there for about a-…it was at this time we both looked at each other and realized that I had been there for one whole month to the day. The time has flown by…or at least it feels like it has. I can’t believe that it’s been a whole month. I think I’m adjusting great well.

My supervisor congratulated me on my first month and she’s really pleased with how I’m fitting in. Which is a big thing as she was not in on the hiring process, they were doing multiple positions and wanted to save time and energy. So only the big wigs were in on the hiring process. The department heads could only hope they got someone who would fit in. I’m sure that was a scary time for them. For her to say I’m so glad we got you, means a lot.

Looking back on my first week (part 1 and 2)I’ve started taking on more irresponsibility. I’ve worked my first night alone in the department and I’ll be doing my first weekend shift the beginning of next month. I’m serving on my first committee and starting to meet with librarians outside of my branch.

Yesterday I spent the morning down at our Government Center having a New Employee Orientation, which was surprisingly really fun. People who work for the local government are hilarious!

It still feels weird to know that I’m finally working in the field that I’ve worked so hard to get to. And I can only hope (I’m going to work real hard to make it so) that I keep this happiness that I get from it.

Getting into the Groove of things

The past two weeks has seen me growing more accustomed to my new position. I can hardly believe that in another week in a half I will have been here for a whole month. I’m still vastly learning new things everyday, which I don’t think that will change any time soon.My supervisor thinks that I’m catching on quite beautifully and has high hopes for me. So I thought I’d take the time to actually speak about my duties as an Reference Librarian in a Public Library.

In my system we have one main library and nine branches. Here at the main library is one of the few places you can solid reference help (if you don’t have access to an academic library) as in the branches the librarians do circulation and some (some do more than others) reference. As far as my duties go, I haven’t been trained on everything I’m slated to do, but I have gotten trained a good number of things that have kept me busy. I’m only going to talk about three in this post, so it won’t get to long.

Desk Hours

Throughout the week I have assigned desk hours at the reference desk. During that time I’m usually the only one at the desk. I answer all incoming reference questions, in person and on the telephone. We aren’t set up with chat services which is something I’ve thought about investigating. But all tech stuff like that has to go through our IT department and the county. I’ve started some basic research into the subject; Public libraries and chat services but nothing solid. During my desk hours I do a lot of computer sign up and help. Whenever I get a free moment on desk I take the time to look at some of our physical reference materials as well as the databases. I’m very use to the large quantities academic libraries have and we are lucky to be in a consortium that has access to a very large network of databases, but some of the more subject specific ones we lack.

Collection Development and Maintenance

An ongoing duty of mines is the development and maintenance of my Dewey call numbers. As I mentioned before they did kind of get switched around so that similar subject groups could be worked on together and it could become more symbiotic. With this I’m in charge of making sure that subject collection is cohesive, reflects our usage as best I can, comprehensive, and up to date. There was a back log of gift books when I came in so I’ve gone through those and grabbing the books in my section. With donated books, since it’s not something we asked for we have to bring a critical eye to it. If it’s in bad condition I usually just toss. If it’s in good condition, I check and see if we have a copy already. In my branch or the system. If we do I check to see the usage of the other copies. Then depending on if we have a copy with a lot of use than I decide to keep it. If we have a lot of copies I send it to the book sale. If other branches have it with some usage than I put it on the maybe pile. For the maybes and the ones we don’t have a copy. I have to look up the subject, mostly to see if the book is dated, and if it’s a subject matter you don’t really want to have dated material about around. I look up reviews for certain topics, just to see if there is interest for it. After all that I decide on rather or not we should keep it. I haven’t gotten around to recommended new books for my sections because I haven’t gone through and really taken in to account what we have and what we need. I plan on doing that in the coming weeks.

Job Notebook

As I’m sure the same goes for many public libraries across the nation, a good number of our patrons are looking for employment. Hey up until almost a month ago I was one of them. So it’s no surprise that we put a lot of focus on materials and resources for these patrons. Which is where I come in. We have a notebook that I am now charged to keep up with local job information. It’s set up with information for positions available at the state level, county, and city. We  got information for some of our major employees and well has some information for federal jobs. For this duty I have to update the notebook every two weeks and anything job opportunity comes to me so I can find new avenues of getting my community hired.

Next time I’ll talk about some more duties and I’ve got a NCLA post to write-up. One day I’ll get back on track!

Practicum Day 23: Archives

With the practicum winding I’m trying to finish up loose ends and still enjoy my time at the same. However Tuesday I found myself out of commission with a day of sickness. Thursday I was much better.

Another round of reference desk hours, the weather was a bit gray that morning so we didn’t see many people in the library.

Class was a work day. Tuesday is the last day of class and we have them scheduled to do their final presentations. They have to give a 5-7 minute presentation about their topic. I hate that I missed Tuesday as I was told they didn’t do so well on their website source presentations. Apparently most of the groups slacked off on the presentation and their sources. I know websites are hard to find but we expected them to have so not so great sites and at least 1 great site. Apparently that wasn’t the case. So I’m interested to see how the final presentations go.

After class I headed to Archives for a crash course into archives and digital archives. First I read through their processing and accession manual. Which outlined how they processed new collections and additions. As well as how to fill out the accession form, when to organize and when not, and how to prepare the items for addition to the actual Archives. Even though I’ve had an archival class some of the steps were still hard to understand and by the end of it all I was a bit cross-eyed. After reading it I went of it with one of the archivist and she help break it down and answered the questions I had. Then we moved to the digital side by walking through Archivist Toolkit and Dspace. She also outlined the project that I will working on. Excitement!

I was able to take a copy of the manual home so I could read over it again, I really want to understand the thing for my edification.

Practicum Week: Day 21 and 22


Again I started the day on the reference desk. I had one scheduled Personal Research Session which I thought would be an easy session. But I’ve learned one of the golden rules of Reference librarianism…nothing is as simple as you think. When the student asked for the session she gave us one topic. Which I know not to automatically assume that’s the topic they really want to write on. But normally the real topic is in the same vein but more narrowed down. However that wasn’t the case this time the student had already changed their idea to something completely different. So I wasn’t really ready for that. I relied heavily on the reference interview only to discover that their topic was to contemporary and perhaps to narrowed. As the geographic area they wanted to focus on was not known for allowing literature on activities that weren’t generally globally smiled upon. I told them they would have problems finding anything but a few articles and they weren’t going to be scholarly. But they were gung ho about doing that topic so I did my best and I really focused on connecting with them. So when it it that they were not going to be able to write the paper they envision but it was still due in a couple of days they would know they could come back and we would be there to help find an easier topic. Let’s be real that’s part of the job right? Easing the pain.

At any rate this was the first time I experience conflict with in my own mind about helping a student. Because I as a person wanted to say, “Point blank this is a bit to much and is going to lead to a heart of headache for a class asking for short assignment.” But as a librarian I felt that it wasn’t really my place. In the end they could write an awesome paper and do it with out any problems. They had a lot of passion about the subject matter so I’m wishing them a lot luck.

After lunch I taught my last class of the semester. And I am going to be quite honest with you, it was the hardest class ever! In the course of preparing for the class on Scholarly Website I realized how little I know of such things. In my research I don’t really use websites, outside of those maintained by newspapers and the occasional government site. So it took me a while to get familiar with these sources. My lesson ended up touching on ways to evaluate a website and the types of websites. I stressed how hard websites are to categorize because of the nature of the internet. But to use their best judgement as critical researchers and do their due diligence. We went over citing the web and even that’s a hard thing to master. APA doesn’t even mention how to do so in their manual. I pointed them towards the WFU MLA Libguide.

After class I went for my hours in Preservation. I learned how to fix the spines of cloth bound books. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was even able to snap some shoots of the process. I’ll be doing a separate post for those. During my time there we had some great discussion on the future of music and books. Great time.


Thursday saw the same schedule as Tuesday. I finished working on the APA guide, in the MLA guide there’s a separate tab for online databases. APA doesn’t make a difference between things found in a database and those found elsewhere online. So now I’m trying to see if there are certain examples that should be pulled out without redoing the whole book. Also the MLA has screenshots of the examples with annotation of the parts. The problem is the program used is on the librarian’s personal laptop. Not to mention the quality of the screenshots vary. Some are fuzzy and not really legible. Others are small and much clearer. My OCD won’t allow for that much difference. So I’m waiting on word from my supervisor.

After lunch we had the class complete Assignment three. Which called for them to find a website for their topic then to create a presentation where they picked one website out of the group as the best source for their topic. They had to show us why it was better and everyone had to speak. I think everyone kind of struggled on picking a webpage that their partners hadn’t already chosen. I think everyone automatically gravitated to the government pages. So I tried to push people out of the box to .edu and .org sites. Because I really wanted to see if they understood how to tell a better one out of an okay one. I felt for the marijuana group as I knew there would be tons of sites with random people toting the benefits of making it legal and they had no credentials to speak on the topic what so ever.They’ll be presenting next week as we ran out of time helping them all with their sites.

Preservation was fun once again. I continued on fixing spines and playing in glue. I hadn’t played with glue since grade school and my time in Interior Architecture.

My Thoughts

This week lesson was of course in Preservation. I’ve had lessons on how to fix paper back books in order to extend their life for a couple of more months at best. But now I can do some real preservation. I only wished I could have done some work with Japanese rice paper but at last the librarian had a personal mini crisis and had to leave.

Practicum Week: Day 19 and Day 20

Tuesday started with time on the reference desk. Which gave me some much-needed time to finish up some last-minute details and conduct another Personal Research Meeting with a student. This time the topic was political science and dealing with tax havens. I’ve only taken one course in political science and that was a 101 course. Luckily there was a Research Guide that my supervisor had created for the course. So I ran through the guide and when the student came I sat them in front of the computer and starting asking a lot of questions. More questions that probably any other Librarian would have asked but I really needed the student to narrow down her topic. It was for a 100 level course and only 6 pages. Thankfully they already had a specific location they wanted to talk about. And soon we got it narrowed down to “How tax shelters in the Caribbean affect the people in those countries and how it affects the US economy.” We found one article in a general reference journal that spoke directly to that topic. Which was a great starting point for them, I explained how they could search out the references to gather more information. Then I explained how to conduct a search in the database and that they needed to play around with the narrowing tools to narrow down their results. Since they didn’t need many sources to get 6 pages. We also talked about websites as their topic is an ongoing theme. They were very adamant that her professor didn’t want websites. So it was kind of hard to get through her the difference between scholarly websites and general websites.

After lunch I taught a class on Scholarly databases and citing a Journal. I opted not to do a presentation but instead I had notes and I talked while showing them the steps overhead. I also had them follow along on their on laptops. I tied in the examples with their group topics so they could see how to take their general topics like Nuclear Energy or Online Privacy and get results that would help them on Assignment 2. After I showed the databases, I had them take some time to explore and find an article to pull into Zotero for next class. Then I went over how to cite a journal using MLA. I wrote the general citation on the white board and walked through it. This was all for them to be able to do Assignment 2 for the next class. Which we told them over and over. Because last Assignment we had some students run late because they used a good chunk of time searching for sources. After class I went to work with Preservation for the rest of the day. I help pull an exhibit together for a conference at the end of the Month. This included gathering photos and bios of the speakers and cleaning out the old exhibits.

Thursday I was finally able to find the time to finish up the APA LibGuide that I’ve been working on since for half of forever. Finding my own examples and create it from scratch took longer than I thought but I know that it’s right and I’m not in danger of impugning on anyone’s copyright privileges. When I looked at other Libguides on APA at other schools I noticed that they used the same examples that can be found in the book, on OWL Perdue’s website, or they didn’t give examples just the general format. Knowing that the MLA guide is the top used guide I wanted the APA to be just as useful. Now I’m just waiting on my supervisor to go over it and give suggestions on things. I didn’t have any research meetings scheduled so that gave me the time. I did have one student as for help, I ended up referring him to another Librarian as his topic was very broad and he didn’t fully know what he wanted. And my questions weren’t getting us to a good spot. Once the librarian was done it ended up being she had to give him a topic, which I wouldn’t have been able to do.

After lunch we did Assignment 2, and again their were students who didn’t have an article for the assignment. So while some students got to leave early, as the assignment wasn’t that big of a task. We still had some students run late. On the positive side they were using the databases I showed them. I saw them using the general databases that I showed them and then moving to the more subject specific ones that I pointed out and showed. They also had to write how they conducted their search, they used the tips that I showed (truncation and boolean). While we were in their we had them do a mid-class survey about how the class was going and anything they wished we spent more time on. Turns out Zotero was kind of the big thing they wanted to know more about. Which I’m on the fence about it was my first class but at the same time they seem to want to know about things I hadn’t covered. So I don’t know what to think of that. And I’ve done two classes since then on things that none of them had used, Journals and Databases and they seemed to be okay with those things. After class I did an hour in Special Collections again and then I covered the reference desk for my supervisor. It was a great difference being on their during the afternoon and being on their during the morning. More walk-in students came for help. Some who had attended a BI class that very day. I booked a personal research session for Tuesday while on the desk.

My Thoughts
I know almost every post I gush about how much fun I’m having and how much I’m learning, so I’m not going to do that this time…SIKE! No seriously, I’ve just never met so many people who are so supportive of me learning how to do their job. Ha! I’ve had some good and some bad times in the library but before this I was venting to friends about how I was beyond ready to start putting all the theory and ideas to the test of what was really in the field. Now I’ve got this chance to do just that I’m kind of overwhelmed. My supervisor has been so great in allowing me to get as much experience as I can. I also think the fact that a good number of the librarians went to UNCG for the MLIS helps. I think I’ve made marked improvement in reference services, which has helped me with my own research skills. Being exposed to different subjects means I’m looking at new databases and journals and sources that stem new ways to think about any given topic. Going back to my first posts about instruction and now, I think, “Wait is that the same person.” I took on the extra class last week with no hesitation. Next week is my last class to teach and I’m already thinking if I can squeeze in another one. I’m loving it so much.

Practicum: Day 15 and 16: Instruction and Special Collection

Another busy week and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it. Tuesday I found myself on the reference desk solo. Unlike Spring Break however I wasn’t bombarded with telephone and chat questions but in person requests for help. Paper season is officially in effect. Most of the questions resulted in ILL requests. Which meant I got a lot of exposure to their ILL set up. After lunch I had the co-instruction class which included going over finding reference materials as suppose to general sources. After class I had another one on one meeting with the Science Liaison Librarian. Then I headed up to Special Collections to start working on an inventory project that has me working directly with their special collection, which is really (for the most part) a guy’s personal library that he donated in whole. I’m going through each book and seeing if shows up in the catalog. Surprisingly almost every other book is not showing up. Which is a major problem as he has some awesome texts that could help a lot of researchers. His library covered many areas. But no one knew they had theses titles.

Thursday was a big day that started again on the reference desk as usual but after lunch I officially entered the world of instruction as I had my first chance to teach a class. It was Zotero and how to use it for their first assignment. It went faster than I thought and the fact that I was able to stay calm and not freak out before or after is a big success for me. The librarian that I’m co-teaching with said I did a wonderful job and am on track to becoming an excellent instructor. I had one student stay behind so I could help them some as they aren’t comfortable with technology. I ended the day again back in special collection talking with the librarians about how so many books could have been left off. I was sure to mention that it could have been just that one section as the titles are common and they show up others places and maybe people were confused and thought they had covered that one.

Even though physically I’m near the end of my energy pool I still have a lot of excitement about the things to come. Just recapping my week shows how much I’ve done and how far I’ve come since January. Taking on the reference desk alone and not thinking twice about it. Prepping for a class and ignoring the rabid butterflies attacking my spleen. Talking to professionals and giving my thoughts on a project as if I’d been doing that kind of thing for years are all new and excitedly different things for me.

I learned a lot this week, just like the other weeks but I think the biggest lesson came from teaching the class. And that would be to plan on teaching 1/3 of what you’ve plan to teach. I managed to get through most of it and show them how to use it for the first assignment which is due next week. But none of the fun, great, features that it holds. I teach another class next week.

Practicum Day 13 and 14: Library Instruction

Library Instruction Room

Image by bulibraries via Flickr

This week was the start of the second half of the semester for my site. Which meant new set of Library Instruction classes. I had spent the first half observing a new librarian but this half I was partnering up with a veteran. We started a couple weeks back by going over the syllabus and emailing the students with the notice if they were going to stay then please stay and if not then go ahead and drop so those who really need the credit hour can join. In the end we had 15 students. I ended up picking three classes I wanted to teach myself and we were set for Tuesday. Well Tuesday came and two students didn’t show up and one student show up thinking she would just be added to the class without asking the professor ahead of time. Even though it was okay the librarian made her worried because he wanted her to learn an important lesson. The first class consisted of introductions and then we had them do a find it activity in the library. They were already split into groups and they had to find a specific department and ask some questions. They had about 15 minutes to do this then they had to come back to class and prepare a Powerpoint to share with the class. (My site gives their freshman laptop as part of their tuition). The presentations were actually pretty funny given they had only 10 minutes to put it together.

Thursday found ourselves with a good amount of adds and drops but some how it managed to equal out again. We did some questions using the clickers to introduce research planning. The students seemed to enjoy the clickers as they aren’t very talkative, however we introduced some candy in the mix and that got them going. I think they were just hungry, we have the noon class…their minds are already on lunch when they come in. Next week we’ll be talking about actual research and finding sources. I added a fourth class that I will be teaching as the librarian I’m working with found out he will be out of town. So in total I will be teaching a class on Zotero, Databases, Journals, and Citations. Thursday I also observed my supervisor teach another BI (not to be confused with Bald Iguanas) class as well as her Library Instruction course. Her format is different from the one we’re employing as we are working with groups and she is allowing them to work individually. Plus the topics are different.

Next week I’ll start packing in a lot the two days I’m there. I’ll be continuing my hours on the reference desk (which is getting busier every day), then I’ll have my class, starting a new round of one on one meetings with all the staffs and then working 2 hours in archives. I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I’m enjoying working with on this class with the particular librarian as he’s so fun and excited about it. I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of weeks from him, for instance figuring out how to do a time line for an instruction course surrounded around a research project. Also preparing for a BI class, emphasizing the point is that the students know we are there to help. I’ve even had a couple of them come to the desk and ask for help on other projects and papers.C

There was cake!

My first day at my practicum started with two hours on the reference desk. Since it was the beginning of the semester we didn’t have many students needing help, so I was able to engage one of the librarians in conversation about general reference things and explore their catalog as well as the access they have to journals and databases. Which differs a bit from UNCG’s. After lunch I observed one of the librarians teach a LIS100 course. The topic of the day’s class was information needs in the 21st century. After the class was over I was able to talk to that librarian about how she prepared for her course. I ended my day getting introduced to the LibGuide program in preparation for my first project.

I thought I would be extremely nervous going into my first day but I wasn’t. The whole staff was very welcoming and everyone I met took the time to engage me in conversation and offer a chance to complete a project in their department for extra experience. Sitting at the reference desk wasn’t so bad and I can’t wait for the speed to pick up as the semester goes by. Talking to the librarian after the class was very interesting as it was her first course teaching by herself. She didn’t have any instructional experience before starting there a year ago so she understood how I felt.

I think what I took away from the first day was learning about LibGuides, I didn’t know what one was before I started but I am confident that I could create one on

my own now. Plus in reference to my title there was cake. My site had been one of the recipients of the 2011 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries so Award and in congratulation their dinning service had baked an HUGE (It was a foot thick two layer cake) cake. It was yummy!