November 6th, 2014 Brian Herzog
So, social media, wireless printing, circulating telescopes, blah blah blah - you know what else we've got? Carbon paper!
To go along with our public typewriter and public fax machine, my library has recently started using carbon paper again (well, actually, carbonless paper).
We got the idea while revamping our behavior warning slip - when a noteworthy incident occurred, staff would fill out a warning slip, and then have to go in the back room to make a photocopy for the patron to take with them. To streamline the process, we thought we'd redesign the form with carbon paper technology in mind, and now we're rolling out the result.
Our new form is three "pages" - really it's one, but with Admin, Desk, and Patron copies for the white, yellow, and pink paper. That way, staff can fill it out on the spot and have all the copies they need right there. One for the patron, one on file in the Admin office, and one to keep at the desk so other staff will know what's going on.
Hopefully, this will make things easier. It took some trial and error to make sure we were printing the pages correctly so the writing would transfer, but once we got it right, the forms seem to work very well. We shall see.
November 1st, 2014 Brian Herzog
This happened over the summer, and got lost in my "to blog" folder.
A male patron called in and asked when was the next time the girl scouts would be meeting in the library. Since lots of groups use our meeting rooms, it isn't too unusual that someone might forget their meeting time. No, this didn't get unusual until I asked him which troop he was looking for...
Patron: Oh, I don't know.
Me: There are a few different Brownie and Girl Scout troops that meet at the library, but all on different nights and times.
Patron: Well, I read about one in the paper planting trees in a park, and I wanted to give them an award for community service award.
It's the Sadie Award, which is named after my dog.
I want to come to their next meeting to give them the award.
And I want it to be a surprise, so please don't tell them I'll be coming.
It is entirely possible I am overly-sensitive to such things, but this started to sound odd. But in any case, I didn't know which troop he was talking about. So, I told him I'd look it up and give him a call back.
I had heard of the tree planting, and checked the Facebook page for the local Open Spaces Stewardship group (which organized the event) because I figured they'd mention the troop number - which they did.
Fine, but now I also want to research this Sadie Award to see what that's all about. And apparently, it's totally a real thing. I even emailed the head of the Open Space Stewards to see if he'd heard of it, and he had - he said this is an local gentleman who created this award, and goes around giving it to anyone he feels has had a positive impact on the community. And Sadie, his dog, comes too and poses for photos.
Huh - I guess that's what I miss for being cynical.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find this Girl Scout troop number on our calendar, so I didn't know when they were next meeting. I called the patron back and let him know what I had found, and gave him the contact information for the Stewards. Since they coordinated with the troop for the tree-planting, they must know who to contact there about meeting times.
The patron thanked me and was excited to be a step closer to awarding the Girl Scouts for their good work. And I was happy to learn about such a nice thing in town that it seems everyone knew about but me.
October 31st, 2014 Brian Herzog
One of my coworkers got creative for our Halloween book displays, and I think they look great:
Happy Halloween everyone!
Tags: book, book display, Books, ghost, halloween, holiday, libraries, Library, orange, public, pumpkin, white
October 29th, 2014 Brian Herzog
Last week, a patron came in and asked for help using the scanner. No problem.
But while I was helping her, she explained that she has an all-in-one copier/printer/scanner that used to work great but is now giving her trouble, hence the trip to the library. She tried describing to me what the problem was, and it seemed like it should be diagnosable and solvable, but I was just not getting it.
One great thing about the emergence of mobile devices, and increasing prevalence of laptops, is that people can bring them into the library for tech support. But with desktops, and in this case copier/printer/scanners, even something that would be simple to correct continues to plague them because it's too difficult to communicate either the problem or the solution remotely.
So, the idea struck me - why not start a program offering in-home tech support? I think it would be unrealistic to send library staff out to patrons' homes, but how about this: we have a special "tech support tablet" that patrons can check out, and then when they get home, use Skype or some other video chat service. That way, I could actually see what the problem was, read the error messages on their screen, see what lights were flashing, tell them which menus to click, etc.
Really, it'd be offering the same service we currently provide to patrons who can bring their devices to the library, so why not offer it remotely too?
Well, any number of reasons, if you think about it. First, this would still be difficult, and not like being there in person. Second, and maybe more frighteningly, who knows what else might show up on the screen besides tech problems. This was basically the reason this idea went no further.
I mean, I still like this idea, and think it could help people. But it would be tricky, and has a lot of downside potential, so for the time being this is just going to be filed under "maybe someday."
October 25th, 2014 Brian Herzog
This reference question isn't difficult or new (I talked about something similar back in 2007), but I still love this idea so I thought I'd share it.
A patron called and asked if I could search for a book for her by ISBN. When the search brought back no results, she said "well I'm getting this from an eight year old so who knows." Ha.
To verify the ISBN, I searched for it on Amazon, and sure enough it was a kids book on Paul Revere - published in 1986. I'm sure we had other books on Paul Revere, so I asked if she needed just information about him, or this particular book. She said,
No, I need this book. My niece got it out from her school library in Pennsylvania, and I wanted to read it with her over the phone.
Man I love this idea. I widened my search to include all the libraries in Massachusetts, and sure enough a few libraries outside my network had it. I requested it and the patron was happy. Since it's coming from outside the system, it might take up to a couple weeks to get here, but hopefully it'll arrive before the project is due.
So, another win for interlibrary loan, and also a win for staying involved in kids' lives despite living in a different state. Go libraries!
October 23rd, 2014 Brian Herzog
I totally dropped the ball and am late in posting this. However, my library was featured in the October issue of Sky & Telescope magazine!
The article focused on a practical program for circulating telescopes from a public library. Thanks to the generous donation from local astronomy buffs, we've been circulating two telescopes for about the last six month.
The photo above appeared in the article, showing library staff checking out a telescope to patrons. The article goes into detail about the best telescopes for library use (that is, easy-to-use and hard-to-damage), how to prepare them, and what to circulate with them to make it a good experience.
If you're interested in expanding your non-traditional collection to include telescopes, definitely read this article. Unfortunately the article isn't available free online, so if you don't subscribe it should be in both EBSCO's MasterFILE and Gale's OneFile databases. Or talk to me about an ILL request.
And one last note: there has been a double-digit waiting list on our telescopes ever since we started offering them. I neglected to sign up right away, and now have been waiting four months for it to be my turn.