Posts Tagged ‘librarian’

The landscape of the Internet has changed dramatically over the last 15 years.  Can it be cultivated?   According to this article, information overload keeps users on the known trails and limits deep exploration into the unknown.  If only more cybrarian park rangers and trail guides could help us map this wilderness…


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Baby Bookworms

Baby Bookworms

Reading with my brother

Reading with my brother

My First Summer Reading Medal from the Library

My First Summer Reading Medal from the Library

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Mr. Escobar has provided many words of wisdom in regards to management philosophy, and how to use psychology to foster good morale.

According to Mr. Escobar, managers should pitch in and assist their employees with heavy workloads.  This boosts morale and fosters a sense of teamwork.  When the carts of books needing to be checked in are piling up, Mr. Escobar chips in with the discharging.  If circ staff are shifting books between carts when Mr. Escobar passes through, he stops to help.  I’ve worked in places where the manager never comes out of his or her office, no matter how overwhelmed the frontline staff are, and working in that environment can be frustrating and draining.  But seeing your boss toiling in the trenches right beside you makes a big difference.

It is very important to be sensitive to the personal styles, physical needs and social and cultural differences of coworkers and employees.  Staff members may observe different holidays, have different dietary restrictions, have transportation issues, physical challenges or health issues, etc.  By being flexible and understanding of varying staff needs, managers can often arrange work schedules and requirements around the needs of staff.  Making such accommodations wherever possible nurtures good morale and team spirit.

Be flexible regarding staff scheduling as much as possible.  It is important for  managers to be sensitive to the personal needs of staff, such as  car trouble, child care issues, vacation requests, personal or family illness, etc.  Be sure sufficient backtime is provided to give staff time to destress and to limit need for taking work home.  Ensure that all staff members get to take the breaks and vacation time they are entitled to.  Paying attention to these things will help to eliminate the common assumption that library staff must be martyrs.

It is important to be careful with humor, because taste in humor is likely to vary widely among staff members.  What is humorous to one person may be downright insulting to another.  Poorly timed humor can destroy relationships between coworkers and make working together uncomfortable at best and impossible at the worst.

When keeping notes for personnel files or reporting incidents to other supervisors, always record/report only unbiased facts explaining who, what, when and where.  Avoid putting an emotional interpretation on these facts.   Avoid recording or reporting other staff members’ accounts of who said and did what; this is heresay.  Only record or report things you have witnessed firsthand.  These guidelines will protect staff members and yourself problems born of incorrect information.

Pay attention to the exisiting work culture.  This will inform the unspoken guidelines for appropriate behavior in regards to humor, interaction with customers, interaction with coworkers, dress code, etc.  For instance, in a small, quiet library where the staff know all their customers by sight, it may be acceptable to look up a customer’s record without requiring the customer to present identification.  In a large, busy library, this is not feasible.  Furthermore, problems may arise if customers are not required to present ID in one library branch, but are required to do so in another branch.  Consistency in policy throughout the library system will help to reduce misunderstandings and complaints about unequal treatment.  Derive clues for expectations of customers and coworkers from the behavior of “old hands.”

As much as possible, managers should avoid making changes too quickly.  Observe conditions before you decide whether change is necessary, and allow changes to take place gradually so that staff may acclimate to the change.  Introduce changes first to staff members most likely to be open to the change.  These individuals may be able to help ease staff through the transition process by helping to sell the value of the changes.

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Reading the article “Digital Collection Management through the Library Catalog,” by Michaela Brenner for my Digital Collections class, I got to wondering if applications like NoveList could be integrated into a public library’s OPAC.  Say a customer pulled up a record for a certain novel in the OPAC, and wanted to search for similar novels.  Instead of having to go looking for NoveList under the “Books and Reading” tab on the TCCL website (assuming the customer knew it was there), and then having to search for the first novel, and then search for similar novels, what if there was a hyperlink on the book’s OPAC record that said something like, “Find similar books with NoveList”? 

Clicking on the hyperlink should probably first notify the customer that they are navigating away from the library OPAC, then ask for the customer’s library card number if not already provided.  Then NoveList should open not on its home page, but on the page listing characteristics of the first book, where the customer can select which characteristics they are looking for in another book.  The hyperlink would provide a shortcut for customers, as well as promote an often overlooked resource by listing it at the bottom of every record for every work of fiction.  I wonder how complicated that would be to set up? 

What would be the drawbacks of such an arrangement?  Would providing a link to NoveList be similar to providing a link to Amazon?  I think it’s different because NoveList is not a vendor like Amazon.  NoveList may suggest books that are not in the local library system, but customers could still request them through interlibrary loan.  Plus it seems many public libraries have already aligned chosen to promote NoveList over other applications by offering NoveList on their websites.  Perhaps because NoveList was developed by librarians.

Subject Switch:  While thinking about my digital collection project, I’ve been looking at the Walter Stanley Campbell collection of Native American photographs in OU’s Western History Collections.  I wish the photogrphs could be viewed larger, and I wish there was more detail about each picture, such as where the photo was taken, who took the photo, and some details about the subject of the photo.  I mean, who was Arapaho sub-chief Yellow Bear?  Maybe this information is available elsewhere, but more detail or a link to additional information might improve accessability.  My goal is to collect as much information as I can about my grandparents’ photographs, but of course, there is much they may not remember.  Guess we’ll see what happens.

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The Story Place is children’s collection I came across recently with some good resources for children and their parents.  The Story Place pre-school library offers 15 subjects for children’s activities, each with an animated story, animated activity, take-home activity, suggested reading list and parent activity.  This is a nice resource for parents and children’s librarians to reinforce concepts for children beyond story-time.  The activities supplement and reinforce the vocabulary learned during story-time, and the parent-child interaction promotes bonding and information retention.  Toddlers pay very close attention to their primary care-givers, learning speech and behavior from their example, so they are more likely to absorb information from primary care-givers than from a librarian they only see once a week.  Parents and librarians working together will be doubly effective in locating appropriate resources and facilitating effective learning techniques.

The Internet Archive Children’s Library has a very nice interactive feature that gives the user the impression of turning pages in a book.  I know it’s just a trick of animation and it shouldn’t make such a big difference, but I find this so appealing, so much more satisfying than just viewing static pages!  This collection is more for older children and individuals with archival interests, I think.  It includes children’s books that have passed out of copyright, into the public domain.

In other news, after class today, I went to the computer lab to try out the Greenstone digital collection building software.  I skimmed the introductory info and browsed the sample collections.  I can’t say I feel that it’s any better or worse than Omeka, but I’ll have a better feel for it when I can start building my collection.  Greenstone is not currently set up in the lab for students to upload objects and practice building, because I’m sure the IT department doesn’t want the lab computers to become a free dumping zone.  Still, I will feel more comfortable when I can practice uploading and manipulating information.  Omeka will be available for building soon enough—I’ve got plenty to read while I wait.

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This morning I went to the Martin Regional Library to observe the children’s librarian doing story time.  My mom takes my two-year-old nephew to My First Storytime every Tuesday, so I tagged along with my new digital camera to see what I could learn.

I asked permission from Ms. Suzanne, the Children’s Librarian, and the other parents in story time to take pictures, because I didn’t want to post pictures of other people’s children on the Internet if they were opposed to that.  My background with Domestic Violence Intervention Services has taught me to be careful—you never know if a mother and child have fled an abuser and are in hiding.  I guess people have limited expectations of privacy when it comes to pictures taken in public places, but I want to ask permission before I post a person’s face and location on the Internet.  No one objected to my photography, but I will still try to avoid posting face-on photos of other people’s children on my blog, as a courtesy.

My First Storytime is for newborns to 2-year-olds.  Ms. Suzanne started out with a “welcome to storytime” song, read about five easy picture books, introduced some animal finger puppets, led the children in making animal sounds, and closed with a goodbye song. 

I thought it was worth noting that Ms. Suzanne was very laid back; even when the children got up and tottered around in front of her instead of sitting and listening quietly, she just kept reading and periodically making eye contact with each child.  One little girl even got up and tried strumming Ms. Suzanne’s guitar during a story, but Ms. Suzanne didn’t let it distract her.  Clearly patience and a relaxed, flexible attitude is key.

The library also had a special program after storytime today.  The Music Together program, presented by the Barthelmes Conservatory, is for ages 5 and under and encourages children to sing, keep a beat and participate in music.  The presenter sang songs while playing guitar, and sang songs with motions, like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Trot Old Joe.”

Giddyup, Giddyup, Giddyup, WHOA!

She encouraged the children to march, dance and turn in circles while singing, and she handed out plastic eggs filled with rice for the kids to shake and keep time. 

She also encouraged the parents to sing, clap hands and interact with their children, which kept the children interested and engaged.  The kids loved it!

Mom and my nephew

Mom and my nephew

"Jack jumped high, Jack jumped low, Jack jumped down and stubbed his toe!"

"Jack jumped high, Jack jumped low..."

One especially interesting bit, the presenter had the children sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” while doing the motions, then had them do the motions without singing the song.  She said this promotes audiation, “the process of mentally hearing and comprehending music, even when no physical sound is present,” according to Wikipedia.  She also encouraged the children to play with their voices by singing songs that involved shouting “Whee!” or “Whoa!” or making sounds like horse hooves clopping.  Since most of the children present were under age three, she said such vocal play is beneficial to their vocal development.

It’s surprising what you can learn from a room full of toddlers giggling and wiggling.  Thanks so much to Ms. Suzanne, the Martin Regional Library and the Barthelmes Conservatory for this learning experience!

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I went to a session on Virtual Worlds at the 2008 OLA Conference that looked at Second Life as a venue for all kinds of business operations, including library reference work.  Apparently there are a series of islands within Second Life called the Information Archipeligo, in which staff from 50 libraries around the world offer reference support to any person (avatar) who wanders in with a question. 

Some of the librarians in the audience seemed dubious as to the value of this sort of library interface.  But it might be a useful resource for bridging the informational divide between some populations.  Virtual Reference may be one more avenue to making the library more accessible and user friendly to populations that think the library is outdated, or has nothing of value to offer their particular interest group.  It seems plausible…

UPDATE: If not Second Life, perhaps MySpace, FaceBook or World of Warcraft could be a venue for virtual reference?  If not now, perhaps in ten or twenty years?  See the comments for my discussion of the pros and cons of virtual reference with another session attendee.

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