October 24th, 2013 Brian Herzog
I was at the New England Library Association's annual conference this past weekend, and had a great time meeting people and finding out what's going on around the region. This year's conference had a very complete website with links to handouts and notes, as well as an ongoing blog of notes from attendees, and the hashtag #nelaconf13 was interesting too.
I blogged the sessions I attended, below, and am looking forward to reading the posts from other sessions too:
A few of my favorite moments from NELA didn't make it into the notes:
- While addressing concerns of data privacy and security when using cloud-based library services, Michael York, State Librarian of New Hampshire, simply said: that ship has sailed - no one should expect any privacy or security anymore.
- Also, Michael drives the state delivery van whenever the primary driver is off on vacation - how cool is that?
- Overheard: "we're doing R&D, which in the library world means 'rip-off and duplicate'"
- Based on what I learned from the feng shui program, we need more plants in the library
- The 3M Cloud Library integrated into the Polaris ILS is amazing - checkout of ebooks is seamless, and holds and checkouts show up right in the patron's account, along side other library items. And, 3M handles Adobe Digital Editions at the vendor level, which means patrons never need to mess with it - this is how all ebook vendors should operate
- An amazing true story: a couple years ago in New Hampshire, a patron requested an item through early one morning. The library that owned it got the request shortly thereafter and pulled the book. Shortly after that, the delivery van arrived, picking up the request. And, it just so happened that the next stop on the route was the library where the patron's item was to be delivered - when they got it, the patron was notified his item was ready to be picked up. So, due to the coincidence of timing, this patron got his request in a matter of hours - and reacted by calling for funding cuts to libraries, because he felt they didn't need to be spending so much money on this gold-plated delivery system.
It really was a good three days (not to mention good nights in Portland, too), and I'm looking forward to going to next year's conference in
Marlborough Boxborough, MA - see you there.
October 19th, 2013 Brian Herzog
It's not very often that I get to answer a reference question by honestly saying, "no one in the world knows the answer to that," but thanks to the recent shutdown of the Federal Government, I got to do exactly that.
On Tuesday afternoon this week, the phone rang and the patron asked me this question:
Brian, can you tell me when the Government shutdown will end?
She was disappointed when I told her there wasn't an answer to that question, but I did go out on a limb and predict it would probably be settled by Thursday - and it was!
I would say that I was shocked and amused that anyone would call a library to ask this (and think we'd know the answer), but this particular patron is legally disabled, and I'm guessing there are services she relies on that were affected, so this wasn't just an idle question for her. Did anyone else get shutdown-related questions over the last couple weeks?
Happily it's over, and hopefully we won't go through it all again in January - otherwise, I'll still give out the same answer: "no one knows!"
October 17th, 2013 Brian Herzog
If you haven't already (and if you're interested), Saturday 10/19 is the last day to submit your best reference question or library story! Here are the rules - it'll be fun.
And in other news: #nelaconf13
This weekend is the New England Library Association 2013 annual conference, in Portland, Maine. I'll be there Sunday through Tuesday, so if you're going to NELA, please say hi. Here are some links of interest:
October 12th, 2013 Brian Herzog
One of the interesting things about working in a library is that you encounter such a wide variety of people.
One patron can impress you with their motivation and dedication, and the next can disgust you with their self-interest and sense of entitlement. Sometimes patrons will shock me with their flat-out inability to grasp a most basic concept, or their genuine delight in library serendipity, or show such altruism that just makes me feel good about being human. This particular patron displayed many of these traits, all in the course of thirty minutes.
My library offers 1-on-1 computer training sessions. Patrons can sign up for a 30-minute appointment with me, and I'll help them with whatever computer issue they'd like to work on - email, using the library catalog, listing something on eBay, etc.
One of the appointments last week was with a woman, probably in her late sixties, who just wanted to learn "the computer." She said she has computer at home, but only used it for one specific task (accessing a CD-ROM book), and didn't know anything else about it.
That's fine. Even beginners really vary on how much they know about a computer, so I usually ask people to describe their home computer - this helps me gauge their level of expertise, as well as sometimes lets me know what operating system they've used, software, hardware, etc.
In her case, she described her computer by describing the keyboard and monitor. When I asked her if there were any cables that connected those to anything, she then remembered there was a big box on the floor. This is usually a sure sign that the person hasn't yet "gotten" computers.
So we got started, and I found she was actually quite good using the mouse (I guess from using her CD-ROM), but everything else seemed completely new to her - opening a program from the desktop, closing it, even typing gave her trouble. So we took things slowly, and she seemed to be absorbing as we went.
After we got some basics down, I asked her in general what she'd be using a computer for, so that we could tailor what we covered to activities she'd actually be doing. She said,
My grandson lives with me, and I'm planning on homeschooling him. Since computers are everywhere now, I need to learn how to use it so I can teach him.
Holy smokes. After she said this, I felt some pressure to be a really good teacher, knowing that this would all be used to instruct her grandson.
People who homeschool kids always amaze me for the sheer dedication it must take to do it - however, you can't be knowledgeable about everything, and I really had to wonder if this was a good idea in this case. I don't know how old her grandson is, so maybe she has a couple years to learn more before she starts teaching him - at least, based on what she seemed to know now, I hope so. I haven't seen her name signed up for any subsequent sessions, though, so maybe she got everything she felt she needed from that one half-hour session.
You have until Saturday, October 19th, to submit your entries for the best reference reference question contest!
Tags: 1-on-1, class, computer, homeschool, libraries, Library, one-on-one, public, Reference Question, session, training
October 8th, 2013 Brian Herzog
There's a new Tumblr in town - Librarian Shaming. If you're a librarian and would like to confess your inappropriate library behavior, this is the place to come clean:
This Tumblr idea started with librarians at the Parker Memorial Library in Dracut, MA, a couple towns over from Chelmsford. Their director sent out a general email announcing it last week, and I intended to talk about it this week, but in putting it off, I got scooped by LISNews, the New Yorker blog and the UK's Daily Mail, not to mention lots of other blogs and tweets out there.
It's fun to read through, and certainly I'm sure everyone who works in a library has something they can contribute. Luckily, Librarian Shaming has a handy submission form!
I like this as much as I liked @YourALAsecrets - which is to say, a lot.
October 5th, 2013 Brian Herzog
I wasn't involved in this and it's not really a reference question, but it still made me laugh - more than once.
On Tuesday this week, all department heads got this email from the library's office manager:
On Thursday, Oct. 3rd we have a physics teacher coming with approx. 7 students to ride our elevator a few times. The teacher said they all would be very considerate to our patron needs.
I must have missed the word "physics" the first time I read it, because it sounded ridiculous - coming in to ride the elevator? But then "physics" kicked in, and then it made sense that they'd be using the elevator to experiment with gravity.
So Thursday comes, and apparently I'm off somewhere else and miss this whole scene. The school group comes in, and it turns out to be a teacher and seven homeschool students, which explains why they're using the library's elevator rather than the one at the school. They brought some kind of scale, and all eight of them pile into the elevator. The door closes, they hit the button to go, and... the elevator doesn't budge and the alarm goes off.
I think the door opened, but it was just such a surprising situation that no one exited the elevator - I guess everyone just stood there, kind of in shock.
Eventually they got off the elevator, the alarm stopped, and to be on the safe side, staff marked it out-of-order* and called the repairman.
I was here the next day when the repairman checked it out, and I don't think he found anything wrong with it. So the theory is that the class must have exceeded the weight limit, and the elevator shut itself down. I'm surprised that seven kids and one adult could exceed the limit, because I know I've been in there with three or four other adults and a couple carts of books.
Anyway, I thought this was worth sharing because it's one of those things I couldn't even make up - but also another example of how people use the library. Science!
*Being the middle of the day, there were already patrons who used the elevator to get to the lower level, that would need it to get back up to leave. In this situation, staff escorts these patrons out through the staff area and the back door, where we have a ramp for wheeling in carts. A much longer walk to the parking lot from there, but unfortunately it can't be helped - and certainly better for some people than having to take the stairs.