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


Reference Question of the Week – 6/10/12

   June 16th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Hot Glue Gun bent object artI was sitting at the reference desk one day this week, when my coworker answered the phone. After speaking to the patron for a little while, she turned to me and said:

Brian, this patron wants to know if it's okay for her daughter and another student to meet at the library to work on a project - and they need to use a hot glue gun.

The first two things that popped into my head were "mess" and "burned kids," but really I didn't see any reason to say no. I suggested they at least reserve a study room, to contain any potential mess and also prevent anyone else from accidentally bumping into it.

My coworker relayed my permission to the patron, talked for a little while longer, and hung up. Then she turned to me, smiling, and told me the punch line:

The patron's daughter is working on this project with a boy in her class. It's the boy's glue gun, but the patron didn't want her daughter and the boy alone at his house, so she said they had to come to the library.

Ha - a totally legitimate concern, I know, but yet another reminder why ebooks will not destroy libraries.

Anyway, the good news is that the kids showed up later that day, stayed for a few hours working on their project, and left. I checked the room after they were done, and it was in perfect shape (although it smelled a little funny). But yay for another library success.



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Hack Library School

   February 24th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Hack Library SchoolHere's something to check out: Hack Library School.

It's mainly a tech sandbox for library school students, but since today's students are tomorrow's librarians, keeping up with what they're doing is well worth the time. Librarianship is increasingly technology-based, and libhackers are well-positioned to be the innovators and leaders.

From the website:

The Web is our Campus.

This is an invitation to participate in the redefinitions of library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization. Imagine standards and foundations of the profession that we will create, decided upon by us, outside of the institutional framework. Ideas like the democratization of the semantic web, crowdsourcing, and folksonomies allow projects like this to exist and we should be taking advantage of it. What will the information professions be next year if we define it for ourselves today? If we had a voice in the development of curriculum, what would that degree entail? This is our challenge to you; participate or come up with a better idea. How would you hack library school?

Besides, they rank Swiss Army Librarian at #5 of library blog to follow, so you know they've got good taste.



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Instruction… @ THEIR Library

   January 11th, 2007 Brian Herzog

I don't know if this is true for other communities, but at the Chelmsford Schools, every 6th grader takes part in the I-Search research project. Their general topic is Ancient Civilizations, and each student picks something specific (gladiators, daily life in ancient China, etc.) to research and write about (along the Big6 guidelines).

In past years, every 6th grade class would take a field trip to the public library. They would sign up for a library card, get a tour, meet the librarians, and start researching their topic. This year, though, the school had remodeled and expanded its own library, and wanted to highlight how it and its collection could help with I-Search.

So, the Children's Librarian, the Teen Librarian and myself (as Reference/databases) went to the school library to deliver a little presentation on what the public library offers. The morning we went, we spoke to four classes of 6th graders, which was about was about 100 kids. We're going back in February to speak to a second group of 100 kids.

We had three handouts prepared for them. One was a general brochure [pdf] on library services, with a section devoted to the call numbers of the different civilizations. Second was a bookmark [pdf] on how to access and search EBSCOhost's History Reference Center database, along with a few search tips. We also gave them a map of the public library, so they could find where the J books were, where the DVDs were, etc. In addition, we created a web page with this information and more.

I've never presented anything to kids that age, and wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, they were very good for having to sit and listen about how to search a database. And the school librarian and teachers liked our presentation, too. Best of all, though, in the two days since the talk, I've already helped four kids with I-Search - and all of them were interested in using the databases from home. The assignment isn't due until March, and these kids are already on top of it. Amazing.

, ancient civilizations, i-search, instruction, libraries, library, outreach, school libraries, students



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