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


Reference Question of the Week – 2/25/18

   March 3rd, 2018 Brian Herzog

I've used this exact same technique before to answer a question, but the end result of this one still made me laugh.

A patron I know asked me to put a book on hold for him. Since I know him, I didn't ask for his library card number - I just figured I'd look him up.

Unfortunately, he has a fairly common name, so there were three patrons by that name in the catalog. I didn't know his street address either, but I do know what his pickup truck looks like - so I thought I'd look up these addresses on Google Maps and see if his pickup was parked at any of them. I suspect this is how all reference librarians think.

I type in the first address and switch over to street view. What do I find? Not only was his pickup parked in the driveway, but he was in the yard cutting the grass - case closed!

Of course, you can see him better when you move around and zoom in on Google Maps, but even from the back I was positive it was him. Ha.



Tags: , , , , ,



More On-The-Item Patron Reviews

   April 4th, 2012 Brian Herzog

A few months ago, someone donated DVDs to the library that had their personal reviews stuck to the covers. In that same theme, we recently found one of the library's Twilight books had been "reviewed" (rather harshly) in the same manner:

Twilight with stickers on cover

Twilight stickers closeup

Although I still like the idea of patron interaction and reviewing books in context, this doesn't exactly qualify. The Avery label scraps made me laugh though.



Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Sign Up For Library Day in the Life Round 8! #libday8

   January 17th, 2012 Brian Herzog

SHH!zam! shirt from the Boston Public LibraryThe next Library Day in the Life is coming up - it runs the week of January 30th through February 5th. If you haven't participated, think about trying it this time - it's interesting, and a lot of fun.

I've done the last few, and plan on live-blogging one of my days for #libday8 also. If you're interested, read Bobbi Newman's explanatory post, then check out the LibDay wiki, and follow these directions:

  • Chose your medium – blog posts, tweets, pictures, videos, interpretive dance, whatever.
  • Go to the wiki
  • Create an account (it’s free), carefully read the instructions for adding your content.
  • On the 30th start recording your day or week.
  • Bloggers, Flickr & YouTube users tag your posts with librarydayinthelife and #libday8. Twitters use the #libday8
  • Bloggers be sure to include an introductory paragraph explaining the project and information about your position for readers.
  • Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr and/or join the Facebook Page

ALSO
Unrelated to #libday8, I wanted to let people know the Swiss Army Librarian site will join other websites in going dark on Jan 18th to protest SOPA. If you're interested in doing it to0, here's a few tips.



Tags: , , , , , ,



Library Word Find Puzzle vol. 2

   December 8th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Library Word Find Puzzle #2A couple years ago, I posted a Library Word Find Puzzle on flickr. It continues to be popular, so I thought I'd do a second Library Word Find Puzzle.

Sames rules as before: log into flickr and use the Add Note tool to circle a word; words are only horizontal or vertical, and are both forwards and backwards; please only circle one or two words to let as many people as possible play.

The words to look for are below the puzzle on flickr - and this time, there are a few words-within-words (eg, "mobile" and "bookmobile") so be careful.

I made this puzzle using the same spreadsheet as last time, so anyone feel free to use it to make other puzzles.



Tags: , , , , , , ,



“Awful Library Books” Author on Weeding

   December 6th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Weeding List at the Manchester (NH) LibraryRuth from Artifact Collectors emailed me a link to her interview with the author of Awful Library Books, Holly Hibner.

The interview is about the weeding process, the weeded books and what happens to them after they have been weeded. If you like it, please feel free to share it with your readers!

I did like it, so here you go. Most librarians will know the details, but I always like hearing ideas for what to do with weeded books - and of course, the books that show up on Awful Library Books are always entertaining.



Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Linking from the Catalog to Google Books

   May 24th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Today I'd like to gather peoples' opinions about something.

This coming weekend my consortium is migrating to the Evergreen ILS - so we're down to the wire to decide which features to launch with and which to turn on later, or not at all. One feature libraries are divided over is including a link to Google Books.

The link shows up in two places (below are some screenshots, but you can also test it live on our demo server). First and foremost, it displays for almost every book on the search results page:

Link to Browse Google Books in Evergreen catalog

Secondly, for some records (although not all), there are additional links to Google on the item details page - sometimes the "Google Preview" icon appears under the book cover, and sometimes the "Preview" tab occurs at the bottom. When patrons click that tab, the book's preview is embedded right in the catalog. I haven't figured out the rhyme or reason behind the Preview tab appearing - not all books have it, even books that are available free online.

Google Books preview embedded in Evergreen catalog

I'd really like to know what other people think about including these links in the catalog. For me, I knew instantly how I felt, but have been struggling to put my reasoning into words. Here goes:

  1. Google Books "Preview" tab on item details page
    • should stay
    • it is clearly adding value to the catalog and providing a service for patrons, to see into the book online
    • should be improved to include all books that have preview or full text online
  2. "Browse in Google Books Search" link on the search results page
    • should be removed
    • I don't like how prominent it is - more noticeable than our "Place Hold" link
    • from my testing, about 90% of the books with this link do not have any kind of "view online" option - which means this is nothing but a "buy it online somewhere" link
    • as far as I can tell, even though we're essentially linking to a bookstore, we're not getting any kind of kickback from driving sales to them (and away from our collection)
    • should we be linking to a bookseller at all? If so, why not the local bookstore instead?
    • when there is no online preview, all the Google Books page offers is reviews, similar books, and some other information - all of which we already have in the catalog
    • doesn't the link imply endorsement and approval of Google Books?
    • isn't the Google Books project still tied up in courts to determine how legal it is?

So this is basically where I am - what do you think?



Tags: , , , , , , ,