Monday, September 25, 2006

Carnegie Libraries, Chris Crutcher and Book Groups

Today I am working in another Carnegie Library. This library is much like the one I work in--built in the early 1900's with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie. Both have smooth white walls with dark wood accents and arched, decorative windows. The This library is a bit more open in its layout. All of the materials are located in one room with only the bathrooms, copy machine and water fountain located in a side room that is open to the public. There is also a downstairs that has a meeting room, break room and work room and there is another workroom upstairs just off the public area. It is much smaller than mine, which has 3 rooms with materials. There is less accessibility to the library--very little parking on a fairly busy street, but also somewhat hidden--only a block from the main street. I can tell that it has already been renovated, as they have a beautiful green leafy carpet.

I had a surge of activity right after the library opened, and now things have settled down. A gentleman from the Center for Mental Health come in and ask me if I had seen anyone who looked disorganized or had poor hygiene. He said he just likes to drop in and check on things every now and then. I didn't know that this neighborhood had a lot of that...more than any other part of the city, anyhow.

I love this interview with Chris Crutcher. He is so charismatic and deals with such hurtful topics in such a real way. This quote:

"(young authors) came up afterwards and said things like, "You kind of informed me what I could write, you gave me courage to go ahead and tell the story the way it was" -- which was a hugely flattering thing."

Made me teary-eyed for some reason. Perhaps just the courage that he gives others and the hope that it gives me that there will be more reality out there with our next generation of writers. Mr. Crutcher shows by example that confusion, feelings and hard situations are ok to write about in their entirety and actually give others the courage to keep on living and overcoming. Of course, this comes from a hard-core fantasy reader. But I do read "edgy" books and I do see how important they are to young readers.

I am contemplating my first teen book group. My main concern is getting participants--how do I contact them, convince them to come and hold their interest once I do? Each of those is quite a hurdle, but I have faith. I just need a place to start. I have a list of book club books for teens that SPL has kits for; I think I can choose a few good ones.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Yesterday and today

Things are a little more optimistic today. I think I have been making a good impression. My skills assessment at KPLS went well, so that also lifted my spirits a bit. This job has definitely made me more confident in my skills and helped round out my experience. I did this weird customer service experience where I wore a temporary name badge and greated people as they came in to the Issaquah library.

Addition: I wrote that yesterday, then got sidetracked.

The other portions of the skills assessment were reference, reader's advisory, teen and children's services. I did really well at everything except reader's advisory, which I completely bombed. My role play partner told me that she likes books about war, especially involving the us. I told her about Guns, Germs and Steel, which I have never read, but have heard about and managed to tell her it was about something completely different from what it is really about. I looked it up later and was really embarrassed. Guess I need to brush up on my war books. Of course it was even harder because she wanted a book on tape rather than one to read, and there just aren't that many non fiction books on tape. Oh well.

I just got notification that my job has been extended and I will be deployed!!! Whoo hoo, no starvation for me!


Printing here at SPL is different than at Sno-Isle. Here print jobs are released from a central printer using a library card and every page is charged. At SI, print jobs are released from the individual computer and the first 10 pages are free every day, plus free printing from the databases. The benefits of SPL's system are that people do not have to take time out of their computer time to pay and print items. More about printing fun later. Right now I have to do a little dance and celebrate!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Little Worried

But trying not to let it bother me. Yesterday, my branch manager stopped by my desk to tell me that he still didn't know whether my position would be extended beyond the Queen Anne closure in mid to late October. He did not sound as optimistic as he did before and gave me my best and worst case scenario. Of course, best case would be to get extended and apply for the permanent position when the library reopens. Worst case would be that I will be let go in October, where I will suddenly be left with no job. There are a few things in between that might be possible, but those are the two most likely scenarios.

Of course I am still applying other places. I have my skills assessment tomorrow at King County and there are two positions with Sno-Isle I will be sending in applications for in the next couple of days. The only recent job opening at Seattle Public has been at Rainier Beach, which just feels too far away in the wrong direction. I should probably apply for that as well.

I just have to keep reminding myself how valuable this experience is--and it is. I have already learned so much that is just not taught in library school. I know that this job will lead to great things. I just hope I don't die of starvation before I find another one.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Connecting, ordering and shushing

Whew, people are finally starting to reply to my emails. It was really hard not to send more, with increasing levels of anxiety, asking for responses. Now I have to find time to meet with people in person which should be exciting. I am compiling a list of books for book talks and considering buying some of the books so that I have them on hand when necessary. I miss Sno-Isle's uncataloged book collection!

I got a letter yesterday from one of my young friends in Arlington. 12 year olds don't really like to write, so I am almost surprised. There were 3 whole sentences! So I wrote her back and asked a lot of questions, so maybe next time I will get 6. It just makes me happy that she wrote. I actually saw her yesterday in Arlington when The Boy and I went to the library to do his homework. We waved. The library was really busy--I hope they get their new library approved at the voting in November. They really need the space.

It looks like I will get to order some copies of books for here, as long as they are already in the catalog. That is great since I have been feeling like there are some holes in our collection. In a lot of series, we will just have the 3rd book. I would rather have the first, to get kids into the series when they are browsing, or so that I can recommend it. Most teens don't want to put the books they are looking for on hold, so if it is not one they are looking for, it is even less likely.

Funny how on Saturday I mentioned not having any problems yet. Just a little while later, the Russian patron came in and was more irrational than usual. He was making patrons uncomfortable and when I reminded him he was in a library he made a bit of a scene. But then he left and I didn't feel that I needed to call security or anything. I did send out an email which was responded to by several other staff who were also concerned. The end result was that we are supposed to call security to be on hand if he comes in again, just so they are there if he does something untowards. I don't even know his name, as he never uses a library card when he is in, just the reference materials.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Day 6

Today is my first day working with my BLM...Branch manager... He has been great. I have mostly been doing the right things, I just need to work on being more observant. Most of the things he noticed this morning were things I would have noticed had I done a walk through--which I will make sure is part of my morning routine from now on. I have also gotten to watch him a bit with patrons and it is very interesting to see another librarian at work.

I have been happily surprised with my ability to find information for patrons. I have even been able to use the databases for some fairly specific finds. One patron was looking for an article in the Wall Street Journal on welding. He actually had a copy but it was badly mangled. Our databases did not list the Wall Street Journal specifically, but I found that Proquest had it. So I found the article, as well as two amendments that were published later. The patron was very happy and came in to get it the next day. Then he asked me about a piece of sheet music, which I was able to find in the system and put on hold for him. That will be a return customer.

I haven't had any bad experiences yet, although I am sure they will come up. I just hope that by then I will have the experience to deal with them patiently and without too much anxiety.

The system policies are very different between here and Sno-Isle. Sno-Isle does not have a union, so are not bound by the same rules that apply to Seattle Public. Sno-Isle has children's liaison's which allows paraprofessionals to conduct story time and make school visits. At Seattle Public that would take away from the duties of a children's librarian, so the union won't allow it. However, it is unlikely that SPL will hire additional librarians to fill in, as they make a lot more money. The results are less story time and fewer kids getting exposed to what the library has to offer.

Sno-Isle also has much more patron friendly policies. They do not have fines and only charge for books that do not come back or are damaged. Seattle public does charge fines. I have heard that this actually brings in revenue for the library, but I do wonder if it offsets the cost of collecting on that money. It probably also causes many people not to use the library for some time due to fines and blocked cards. How much does the library lose in circulation due to this policy?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 3

I am finally starting to feel like a librarian. I sit at the reference desk and answering the questions that come my way--and very satisfactorily too. Today was the first day that I got here first--entered my key code and printed temporary passes. Everything seems to have gone well.

I did my banned books display today too. Nothing too flashy, but it looked good. Today the odd Russian didn't come in, I almost missed him. The two days before I was regaled with many strange questions and he tried to push buttons on the phone while I was talking to a patron. Today was relatively quiet.

One of my coworkers is in a band called Glasses. They are playing tomorrow night at Chop Suey and I think I will go if I can get a friend to go, too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

First Day...

Today was the first day at work in the library. The no benefits message in the morning kind of made me blah before I got there--evidentally temporary employees doen't get benefits for 6 months. Just more incentive to get a permanent position. I went in to the Central Library to fill out paperwork. I took the bus to avoid the parking hassel, which turned out to be a good move.

The job itself is turning out to be everything I hoped (and feared). It is going to be very challenging. My first big thing will be to announce a Book It performance to a whole auditorium of middle schoolers. Guess I have to stop getting nervous in front of crowds. I know I can do it well, I just need to be VERY prepared. I am calling the school librarian tomorrow to set things up and to make contact for future programs. I am also trying to make friendly relations with my colleagues and coworkers.

I am so tired. I learned a lot today--the circ system at SPL is quite different from Sno-Isle's, both better and worse. It is easier to do different searches--you don't have to memorize codes for a bunch of search types, but there are also a lot more functions possible on Horizon than Carl and it can get confusing. It was only day one though, so I am sure it will be fine.

When I left Sno-Isle, I left some stationary and stamps for my girls--the ones that always talk to me when they come in. I hope they will write me...