June 6th, 2015 Brian Herzog
This is, hands down, one of the saddest reference interactions I've ever had.
One evening a couple weeks ago, a young girl came up to the desk with a stack of pages she had just picked up off the color printer. She said the photo was coming out too dark, and she handed me one to show me what it was:
See, that's sad. She wasn't exactly crying, but you could tell that the too-dark picture was just the latest in her series of unfortunate events.
It was easy enough to go back to her computer, save the file onto a flash drive, and then print it to the staff printer at the Reference Desk. For whatever reason, those copies came out just fine, and she was happy.
While we were waiting for the copies to print, I asked her a bit about her cat. She was hopefully he'd be found, so I wished her luck and then she left.
I debated leaving her contact information on the sheet - after all, you'd need it to contact her. However, I was just not comfortable putting a little girl's personal information online, so if you happen to be in the Chelmsford area and spot this cat, please contact me and I'll forward it to her. But since this was a couple weeks ago, hopefully he is found by now.
Tags: cat, libraries, Library, lost, notice, pet, printer, printing, public, Reference Question, sign
July 3rd, 2013 Brian Herzog
Just a quickie pre-4th of July post. This picture surfaced on Reddit awhile ago, but I still find it interesting:
On the surface this sign is great, and almost makes it worth it to charge for library materials just so we could do this. But then it also implies that we would treat people differently, which I don't like. It's tough to politely serve some* library patrons, but that's what we're there for. I wonder if rewarding polite patron behavior actually increases it, or would it breed obstinacy in patrons who otherwise would be perfectly fine but don't like being told what to do.
Not to mention that this sign kind of punishes shy and anti-social people, through no fault of their own. I think stores and restaurants where the workers shout "Good morning!" or "One in the door!" from across the room should have to charge less when it makes customers uncomfortable.
*Threatening or insulting behavior is a whole different topic
October 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog
I'm in Ohio this week* visiting family, and couldn't help but notice all the bright pink VOTE LIBRARY signs dotting the lawns in Huron, Ohio:
It got me curious, so I looked into what the library was asking for. Funding increases are certainly nothing new to the library world, but I thought the Huron Library has put together a good levy campaign. They've got info on their website as well as a dedicated website for the issue. Both have a nice embedded video explaining how the library will use the money to benefit the community - and my favorite part is that they break it down to the personal level:
The owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 currently pays $25 per year for library services. The 1.25 mills will cost that same homeowner approximately $39 per year - a total increase of $14 per year. For less than the cost of two hardcover books, or two DVDs, per year, quality library service to the community can be preserved. [emphasis added]
Because there are so many people right now who are against any tax increases at all ever no matter what ever ever, it's important to focus on the value of tax money - and do it in easily digestible language. For people in a community with a strong library, $14 is not much of an increase - and it's certainly easier to understand on a personal level than an increase of .45 mill.
Judging from the number of signs I saw around town, the Huron Library has a lot of community support for this levy - good luck, HPL!
*I had planned to just stay for an extended weekend, but Hurricane Sandy conveniently cut off any return route from Ohio to Massachusetts, so my five day stay became eight days of playing with nieces and nephews and helping my parents (besides, my library was without power for a couple days so they never missed me anyway). I hope everyone else affected by the storm fared well.
Tags: budget, funding, hpl, huron, increase, levy, libraries, Library, oh, ohio, public, sign, vote, voting
July 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog
Usually I'm pretty good at math, but in this case it took me awhile to put two and two together.
Awhile ago, our Childrens Department put a digital picture frame on their desk, using it to display photos of their various programs*. I'd seen and heard of other libraries using digital picture frame like this, and for in-building informational signs (like upcoming events), but I never thought of an application for it at the Reference Desk.
Until a couple weeks ago, when I was in the Apple Store in Boston. I'm not at all an Apple fanboy, but I admit that once in awhile, they come up with a good idea.
A friend of mine was having trouble with her Mac laptop, so we took it to the genius bar to having someone help us with it. I still really like the idea of the genius bar in and of itself, but what got my attention was that, behind the genius bar were great big screens scrolling through tips and information. The messages were all about using or fixing Apple products, which were perfectly targeted at the captive audience of people waiting for the genius bar.
I didn't get any photos myself (Apple is funny about taking pictures in their store), but here are some from the interweb:
You get the idea.
When I saw that, it finally dawned on me - this would be an easy thing for libraries to do at service desks, using a simple digital picture frame. As soon as I can get approval (and funding) to purchase one, I'd like to try one with rotating tips on topics like:
- how to renew books
- how to book museum passes
- using online resources and databases
- where the bathrooms are
- online events calendar
- how to find summer reading books
Really, good topics are anything that might be interesting to someone waiting in line at the Reference Desk.
The "photos" will just be slides created in PowerPoint, and hopefully, having something interesting to look will give patrons waiting in line something to do (in addition to teaching them something they may not have known).
I bet other libraries have already thought of this, so if you're doing it, please comment with how it's working. When I get ours up and running, I'll post an update with how it went.
*They decided to use a digital picture frame rather than flickr or other online service, because they were reluctant to post photos of kids on the internet. Keeping the photos offline and in the Childrens Room was a good compromise (between online or not at all), and it might be more likely for the kids to see themselves, too.
Tags: childrens desk, digital, digital picture frame, digital picture frames, frame, frames, libraries, Library, photo, photos, picture, pictures, public, reference desk, sign, signage, signs
December 14th, 2010 Brian Herzog
One question I get asked all the time, by patrons who were attracted by one of our book displays and then spent a few minutes looking at all the books, is, "can these books be checked out?"
The answer is of course yes (that's why we put them on display). I don't actually mind answering the question, but any time I'm repeatedly asked the same question, I think there has got to be a better way to communicate the answer.
Signs are always the first option, but signs can go wrong quickly.
Then it struck me to use the same trick that restaurateurs and buskers use - you know when you see a tip jar with money already in it, you're more likely to put some in yourself versus a jar with nothing in it?
To translate this theory to book displays, we could start using dollar bills as bookmarks in display books, but I thought a better idea would be to always leave one of the display stands empty. It's subtle and non-verbal, but if someone sees that someone else has already checked out one of the books from the display, it might communicate to them that it's okay for them to check one out, too. Which is what we want them to know, especially if no staff person is around for them to ask.
I did this on all the displays around the Reference desk last week, and I'm waiting to see if anyone asks about checking out a display book. Usually it happens a couple times a week - so far so good.
What do other people do to let patrons know it's okay to check out display books?
Tags: book, Books, communicating, communication, display, displays, libraries, Library, public, sign, signs