or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Tattooed Youth Librarians Of Massachusetts Calendar Now Available!

   November 14th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Tattooed Youth Librarians of MassachusettsFor anyone wanting to get a jump on their holiday shopping (or just needing one last stocking stuffer), here's an idea: the Tattooed Youth Librarians Of Massachusetts Calendar.

Now, I am neither tattooed nor a youth librarian, but the photo shoot for this calendar happened in my library. Neat.

The calendar is a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Library Association, and proceeds will benefit youth programming in MA libraries. Coordinated by Sharon Colvin (Chelmsford Library - my coworker), Noelle Boc (Tewksbury Library), Erin Daly (Chicopee Library), and Jessica LaMarre (Pembroke Library), the 18-month calendar features 16 individual tattooed librarians from across Massachusetts.

The calendars are available for $21 on the MLA website, and the project has been getting good press coverage [pdf], with more info on Facebook.

Another goal of the calendar is to dispel the stereotypical image of librarians. Check out their YouTube videos of the models talking about their tattoos and being librarians:

Meet Miss February & March 2013

Meet Miss May & June 2013

Meet Miss July & Mr. August 2013

Remember, the calendars are available for $21 on the MLA website - they might not last long!



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Reference Question of the Week – 9/2/12

   September 8th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Library events calendarI only heard about this third-hand, but I still found it funny.

A patron walked up to one of our male circulation desk assistants with a copy of the library's event calendar in hand. She pointed to an event on one of the days and asked,

How does this gynecology program work? Does a doctor come in and give people free exams?

Confused (because we have never offered free gynecological exams [and I can't imagine a public library ever doing that]), he looked at the calendar and replied,

Oh, no, that's our Genealogy Group.

Not quite the same thing. A very simple misunderstanding, but I am easily amused.



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Visualizing the Flow of My Library’s Information Online

   August 4th, 2011 Brian Herzog

My library just launched our long-overdue Facebook page. In the course of preparing it, we had a discussion about why we needed a Facebook page, what we wanted to use it for, and how it related to everything else we were doing online.

This led to the realization that no one really understood exactly what all we were doing online. We have a website, Twitter account, blog, email newsletters, flickr account, and now Facebook, but no clear policy as to what gets posted where, when information is duplicated, how things are updated, etc.

To help understand how our various types of information are represented online, I created the diagram below - it's probably not 100% complete, but it does cover most of our bases:

Flowchart of flow of online information

On the left are our different types of information (MacKay is our branch library), and the arrows show how that information flows through different electronic tools. There isn't necessarily a hierarchy at work*, other than perhaps the automatic updates necessarily come after the manual updates. Otherwise, the boxes are laid out just so they all fit on the page.

After discussing this, we uncovered two philosophies at work:

  1. use the different end tools - website, Facebook, Twitter - for unique content, so as not to duplicate things and essentially "spam" our patrons that use more than one service (for example, you can see above that no event information is posted to Facebook)
  2. publish all of our content almost equally through all of our channels, so we're sure to reach all our patrons regardless of which tool they choose to use

I don't think they are mutually-exclusive, but it does take a lot of work and forethought to do it well. I also think that more of what we do could be automated, as cutting down on the manual postings would save staff time.

Do other libraries have similar online information relationships? I imagine things range from very structured to a free-for-all to orphan accounts galore, but I'm curious to hear what other libraries are doing, to get ideas on how to do it better at my library.

 


*Something to note on the diagram is our "secret" Twitter account. We have a primary Twitter account we encourage patrons to follow and we use for regular tweets. The secret account is one we use only to post messages directly to our homepage. The reason for two, and why I don't really want anyone following to the homepage updater one, is that clearing the message off the homepage requires sending a blank tweet - it's not the end of the world if anyone follows it, but the blank tweets do look odd. Besides, everything posted to it gets posted through our primary account anyway.



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LISEvents – Check It Out

   April 28th, 2011 Brian Herzog

LISEvents logoIn case you missed the announcement on other sites, a new great way to stay involved in libraryland is LISEvents.

The site is easy to use, both for finding events by date or location (including online-only), and for finding someone to come speak at your library or event.

The best part is that it is community-driven, and adding events is easy - I just added a posting for the NELA-ITS workshop on mobile devices and libraries (also here).

And for anyone wanting to get their name out, be sure to register yourself as a speaker. This portion of the site will be a great resource for event planners, and anyone who has something to share.

Thanks Blake for putting this together - the library world perpetually benefits from the tools you maintain.



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Book Due Date Calendar

   April 20th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Overdue Book CalendarI feel a little sheepish whenever I talk about a product on here, because I don't want to come off sounding like a commercial. But I thought this Book Due Date Calendar was a good idea.

It's available on Etsy from a seller called Aunt June, and it's a fun and creative way for patrons to keep track of when their library books are due.

Paper for our receipt printers is expensive, so we ask people if they need a receipt instead of printing one automatically - which means many people leave the library without any tangible reminder of when their books are due back. I've seen libraries use due date bookmarks, which are also a good idea, but this calendar was colorful and definitely eye-catching enough to be a great reminder (especially for kids) - kind of like a real-world Library Elf.

Here's what it looks like in action:

Overdue Book Calendar

It looks like you download a pdf, which is nice because you can print out extras if you're a heavy library user. I wonder if you could print it onto some kind of glossy paper that might work like a dry erase board. I also wonder if the seller would be willing to work out some deal with libraries to let them sell these as fundraisers.

Thanks for the tip Lauren.



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Reference Question of the Week – 4/11/10

   April 17th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Arbor Day treeThe phone rang and an elderly woman asked,

Can you please tell me when Arbor day is this year? I looked on every April calendar I have in my house, but none of them list it.

I checked the two printed calendars we have near the desk, and sure enough, it wasn't marked on either of them.

For date-related questions, my favorite resource is Chase's Calendar of Events, which we have in the ready reference collection. I pulled that out, flipped to the index and found that this year's National Arbor Day is April 30th.

I gave her the date, then said I too was surprised it wasn't on any of our printed calendars. Her reply made me laugh out loud:

Well, thank you. It was a big deal when I was a little girl, but I guess nowadays if you can't sell something or get naked, no one cares.

Too right.



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