Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Library day in the life ... day 5

"I venture to say that Ottawa will become in the course of ages the Florence of Canada, if not of America [...]. Old Vasari said that there was a certain 'air' in Florence which possessed a magical potency in exciting intellectual and imaginative energy [...]. I have noticed the same thing about Ottawa. Perched upon its crown of rock, a certain atmosphere flows about its walls, borne upon the breath of the prevailing north-west wind, an intellectual elixir, and oxygenic essence thrown off by immeasurable tracts of pine-clad mountain and crystal lake."
Archibald Lampman, "At the Mermaid Inn,"
Toronto Globe, February 1893, as quoted here.

Friday! Hey, guys - I did the whole week of Library day in the life!

Another friend's birthday (he actually got *a phone call* - and you know I hate talking on the phone).

How do I know it's Friday? I start at 10, and I can tell it's Friday because there are no drunks passed out in front of the LCBO waiting for it to open (it's already open by the time I go by on Fridays).

Got to work and saw a construction belt and tools all over the floor. One of the random security-related things that happened this week was that a glass shelf at the circ desk fell and scared the crap out of a lovely young girl. So someone came to repair that this morning. Then the IT guy came back with the CD/DVD drive he had to pick up for me from Constellation.... Hey, it's repair guy Friday! I've never been in the library with only *two men* before. Our estrogen levels in the building dipped dangerously low.

On Fridays, most branches (except for Main and a few others) open from 1-6, so Friday mornings (when I work them, every 2nd week) are precious quiet time.

Some great stuff came in on hold for me today, including This is a soul (for Kris, actually) and The very thought of you... Yay. Must remember to bring home more books this weekend. This is the way the books go: they get checked in, pop up on hold for me, go to my holds shelf in the staff workroom, I check them out and put them on my desk, and then my desk becomes my own personal library - I grab one when I finish something else and bring it home for a few days. Aaaah. The true joy of working in a library. Right now there are 16 on my desk (I cull four and take 2 home tonight) and I have suspended my holds for a month to deal with that pile.

Employee calls in late; stupid buses. Other employee bangs on door to be let in; we go over tasks for the day. I am thrilled to report that due to lots of extra staffing this month, we are all caught up, circ-wise: we've had serious backlogs of grey bins and trucks to shelve, but we now have a clean slate after doubling up page shifts for weeks. I develop a few special projects for the pages to do today, including pulling more Shared collections and shifting the Language collection (implementing that idea from 4:30 am the other day).

Two other employees arrive; go over same tasks. Approve some leave for an employee. Read our City librarian's interview in Metro news...

Then I get 45 minutes blissfully uninterrupted time to work on an article I am writing about the history of public libraries in Ottawa. A page passes by with the mail and says "Nothing for you today, Ma'am!"

I am deep in the Lampham quote above when I realise it's 11:20 and I have to meet someone for lunch to discuss the course we are both teaching (me = morning full-time kids; her = evening part-time kids) at Algonquin in the fall at 11:30 at my favourite place.

  1. Looking for the 600s?
  2. Where did you get your library degree?
  3. Can you authorise a renewal of this book even though there is a waiting list? [yes because we have other copies checked in at other branches; this is the kind of question that comes to me for evaluation from circ].
  4. What happened with that weird book last week I couldn't put on hold? [I e-mailed Collection Management and we fixed the record and placed your hold]
  5. How do ILLs work?
  6. Question about our city art in the building; specifically, the Gollner Morse code pieces (see right).
  7. Can I check out my wife's hold without her card? [No, sorry].
  8. Requêtes pour livres en français: including this.
  9. Wicca, pantheism, paganism....
  10. [WORST PERFUME SMELL EVER] Seriously, I think I would rather body odour. Must turn on fans....
  11. Can I have the hours of every branch?
  12. Wow, you changed a lot here in the renovations....
  13. There's another library in Ottawa, right? Downtown? [33 in fact! And yes, Main is downtown. Directions....]
  14. More concerns about not enough French novels at Rideau. We did significant weeding over the past four years, in part because of space, and mostly because of circulation. This community has changed a lot; while it is still very, very Francophone in some areas, it is also largely multilingual and there are many new Canadians. Our French novels circulate well at Cumberland and other suburban branches, less so here. It was a tough choice to make, but I think we did the right thing in tightening up the collection. It's just harder for older patrons who prefer browsing to ordering (with my help).
  15. Call to Nepean Centrepointe re. reference question for a friend...
  16. The Express copy of this book was due yesterday... is it back? [No; someone still has it out... it's late] "Well, that's rude!"
  17. Dude on cell phone in lobby but facing the library upstairs so we can still hear you.....!!!!
  18. Fill displays in various places
  19. Change signage to reflect move of Lang. collection.
  20. Inform staff via e-mail of move of Lang. collection.
  21. I like watching people look up when they enter the branch; I love the wooden beams, too.
  22. Question about requirements for entering an undergraduate program.
  23. J'etais au chalet et j'ai manqué mes requêtes... Pourriez-vous les re-commander?
  24. Where are books on CD?
  25. Washroom?
  26. Water fountain?
  27. If I return this to another library in Ottawa, is that OK?
  28. I did some work relating to RA in a day 2010. The event will be hosted at the new Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. The planned sessions include a session by Rachel van Riel of the British program, ‘Opening the Book,’ focusing on a reader-centred approach in libraries, Dr. Raymond Mar presenting research on the power of reading and the effect of reading on the brain, a session about book trailers (which I am leading). The invited author is Andrew Pyper.
  29. Sir, please put the privacy screen back up on the computer..... (why do we have privacy screens? Read this).
  30. Is there a public printer here? Can I connect via my laptop?
  31. Do I need to sign in to use a computer? [Full computer orientation given]
  32. I can't find this book on the shelf.... [I found it in the place it should have been. This totally happens all the time and I have mastered the whole "not insulting the patron's intelligence" thing. "Oh, I've totally done the same thing" or "It's easy to miss! We have many books here, you know!" usually works].
  33. Art gallery and museum passes reservation en français....
  34. I have my card today! [Does this happen to you? Patrons come in continuing a convo they had with you a week ago... In my case, I usually struggle to figure out what they mean. In this case it was a hold, actually an ILL - I had to re-explain ILL procedures].
  35. Time to shake the printer toner to see if I can get some more out of it....
  36. Signed up 2 more kids for SRC; they are new Canadians and I spent a lot of time with them explaining SRC and other library stuff.
  37. Where are my holds? [new Canadians again, so spent some time with them giving general library instructions]
  38. Where are my holds? This was a scavenger hunt: one on the shelf in the right place but squished; one on the truck behind circ not yet put away; one in the wrong place alphabetically.... Argh!
  39. I'd like to use a computer...
  40. I'd like to reserve a book....
  41. Joke books [in a wheelchair, so I fetched].
  42. Made some final photocopies from the last book I ordered about the history of the city and Carnegie libraries in Ontario (for article I am working on); returned books and saved draft article.
  43. Help getting started on e-mail and chat.
  44. Long elaborate help on another computer with opening a Word doc in Hotmail, complicated by new Hotmail system (???) and security restrictions on our PCs. Gah!
  45. E-mail to Saturday staff with tasks...
  46. Confusion over where a health CD-ROM is shelved (who uses CD-ROMs anymore?)
  47. Patron: "My book has arrived already!" Inside Alex's head: "???" Outside of Alex's mouth: "Wonderful! If you look on these shelves, under your family name...."
  48. Patron thanks me for my patience. Well, that's appreciated! Esp. last thing on a Friday.
  49. Hey it's 5:55 and there are only, oh, 16 people in here... Let's go!
  50. I passive-aggressively turn out some lights.
  51. Convo with a regular about next week's Art Gallery program for kids...
Done, baby, done!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Library day in the life ... day 4

Oh, I do love you all, but I am getting kind of sick of this.

OK. Here we go.

5:30: 9k run with husband. I think I woke up around the 5k mark.

8:55: Morning catch-up with facilities operator.

9: I can tell the theme of this day just might be collection maintenance. I think I have to check all the Express items (branch librarians and Info desk staff responsible for changing them to regular collections when appropriate) - they just have that "we're not popular" look to them, and it's been awhile since I checked them.

There are two trucks beside my desk (I really, really hate trucks at the Info desk - it's a service point, not a storage area): one is adult graphica I have to look at (hasn't circ'd in one year). I will have to be hard-hearted: I hate weeding that collection, because I know a lot of use is in-house, and I have some favourites in there myself. The other truck is overflow of large print and paperbacks, so I will have to do some selecting of what to send through Shared.

Good news: I have a casual staff member coming in this evening who can process the Shared stuff for me; bad news: she only starts at 5, so I am alone all day today.

I read through e-mail and news feeds at home, mostly, but still plowed through the new stuff since 7:30 am, including an update about BiblioCommons (our public catalogue; public version of note about changes here) and some other fun things. I fill the displays and put up a notice on the library bulletin board about job and career workshops.

Man, I am exhausted today.... I don't know if it's the run, or mid-week slump, or the fact that I know I can afford to be tired today because I don't have any children's programs....

9:55: Facilities operator and I discuss some art I want to hang in the program room.

10-1:45: Wheeeee!
  1. Follow-up discussion with regular patron re. her requests and a question from yesterday about Express DVDs
  2. Avez-vous des tapes de National Geographic? (ah, Franglish....)
  3. The sound of ripping paper always fills me with a certain paralysing panic. Ah, it's just someone taking the labels off their holds.
  4. Can I use the computer with this card? (turned into long orientation about booking computers, which ones, where, how, etc.)
  5. [Realise there is no procedure yet written out for how to change items out of Express. I will write up something for my staff.]
  6. Patron has a problem finding new DVDs in the catalogue - seems like there is a sorting problem. Time to e-mail Digital Services!
  7. Est-ce que je suis toujours sur la liste d'attente pour.... euh.... je ne me souviens pas du titre... (turns out it is Mon Père de Cœur, L'Abbé Pierre, and she has no voicemail or e-mail so the item arrived, she never picked it up, and it was returned to its home branch. Re-requested).
  8. Stalked a family of three to join SRC
  9. Hold I missed picking up - can I re-order? Turns out it's here. We go get it.
  10. While grabbing it off the shelf, notice Fic is very tight. Must do some collection management there... not today! Ack!
  11. Decide to make a poster about the new Wimpy Kid book + maybe do a "while you're waiting..." display. Ugh - won't be forgetting that release date anytime soon....
  12. Patron having issues with her browser displaying our catalogue and with logging in. Solved the latter problem; talked her through some solutions for the former after talking to Digital Services. Joked "one down, one to go!" and she replied "Good, because that's my lifeline!" Warms a librarian's heart.
  13. Dude needs help with the photocopier.
  14. Looking for the little mermaid. Gave her the Zwerger-illustrated one. Love Zwerger. Tried to con her into SRC, too.
  15. Where's your nonfic? [show her then ask if she is looking for something in particular. No, but this is a new library for her. I welcome her...]
  16. [Notable from Express weeding: The little stranger and The Children's book have both ended their runs....]
  17. Started making notes for August's monthly report (Is that insane? Well, too bad. I try to crack away at it in little bits and not leave it to the last minute. Besides, it's not like I don't already know we are going to have a SRC closing party.
  18. [Finished the Express checking and status changes at 11:55; moved on to the graphica weeding. Some are new-ish, so I am going to check overall circ and what other branches have them before deciding what to do...]
  19. Washrooms...
  20. Made final decisions about graphica; reshelved a few and put a few on display to give them one last chance. Straightened up that whole section and pulled some damaged items.
  21. Hooray! New books have arrived. I always look at them before they go out on the shelves; sometimes I put them on display (we have dedicated units for new adult books, but haven't had much interest in our children's new books in a separate section, so we ditched that shelf during the renos). For once I finished my display when I was, um, finished, instead of having to stop and start in between patrons.
  22. Hooray! Time sheets! (not really).
  23. Request: Fern Michael's The Sisterhood series...
  24. Dealt with some random items in the collection that circ had brought me (catalogued wrong, mis-scans, etc).
  25. Monthly statistics time! I don't mind doing this, actually... I really like looking at the results, but inputting the info while on the desk can get hairy, so I have come to not really like doing them.
  26. Which libraries are selling the community bus passes? [this is a pilot]
  27. [phone call] Do you have computers? Turns out the patron goes to Main, but lives closer to us, but didn't realise there was a library here. Sigh. Says we look like a church. And that Loblaws is in the way. Oh well, at least he knows now!
  28. Worked on publicity for Fall children's events (you can have a look here).
  29. Reported a problem with our list that runs to tell us which holds have expired to Digital services.
1:45 2:20 - Lunch! I can - and should - take my hour, but when there's no one to replace me, I feel badly. I sat on the bench in the garden again, with an older couple.

  1. Strategised about work priorities with a page.
  2. E-mail.....
  3. Transferred notes written on my hand to the Post-it I wrote in bed last night - to do this aft!
  4. Placed some holds on my program card for fall programs
  5. Complicated RA question in French from a regular patron who likes family sagas in French.
  6. Took a patron to 616s
  7. RA Q came back... She is also slightly cranky about the amount of French fic at our branch. We've had this convo before. I went over ordering, popularity of the collection, the ability to request items not here, and she still sort of darkly threatened to go over my head. I re-iterated
  8. Another complicated RA q in French about similar type of books. These books are all in series, sometimes series that overlap or generate spin-offs, and it's all very confusing (for them and for me!)
  9. SRC reading reported by a very enthusiastic young boy...
  10. Woman needs computer ASAP to print for a job interview....
  11. Lonely regular patron wants a chat.
  12. 3:08 - automated system shutdown in 5 minutes. This happens from time to time. $_#(*&#($&!
  13. Regular introduces himself as local businessman I have been corresponding with re. library stuff via e-mail. Ha! Funny!
  14. Can I get a library card? Of course you can, young man! [walk him over to circ]
  15. Colleague asks, did you take a lunch today? Yes, but you may have missed it!
  16. Excuse me, Naked brunch. You are mis-labelled in the computer as non-fiction. Come over here and I will fix that....
  17. [I have a headache]
  18. 3:33 - finished July statistics. We did 11 programs this month, seeing 15 toddlers, 93 pre-schoolers, 25 kids, 3 teens and 101 adults (that's my outreach to the women's drop in centre and Aboriginal centre - yay!) for a total of 237 peeps this month. That's lower than usual, but it's July. Glad I squeezed the outreach in a quieter month. Oh, and there are also the 100+ people I reached at the pool program!
  19. Colleague tells me there is another oil leak - wtf?
  20. Australian guy needs help saving a webpage on his laptop to view later.
  21. Staff member calls re. being a little late.
  22. Finished my Wimpy kid read-alikes bookmark (here if you care). Will build display tomorrow or next week.
  23. [5 min fruit break while sorting damaged items in the back workroom for mending, re-surfacing of DVDs, or withdrawal]
  24. I had a call for a hold yesterday and then again today...? Man, our phone system has been spazzing.
  25. Did my own mending (I sometimes do this - takes me back, you know - but rarely. In this case, it was a new book that just needed some solid Scotch Book Tape).
  26. Checked out my own holds! Program books include Shark vs. train ("Who would win? Well, that depends on if they're in the ocean or on the railroad tracks!" BUT this books gets -5 points for a negative librarian stereotype); real-life books include Wish her safe at home....
  27. Interesting older gentleman who wanted to talk about electronics, inventions, and how digital books will save us a lot of space.
  28. Damn Shared collections... Forgot about one bunch I was planning to do today...
  29. Checked in with our Art Gallery rep for next week's SRC program. Outlined details, our location, etc. Wanted to check how they felt about siblings, since we have many families who come together and the program has an age restriction....
  30. Did YOU join the SRC? Damn, I'm striking out this week.
  31. Janet Evanovich on hold, pls.
  32. Final attempt to clear out some e-mail; casual working arrives 10 mins early, bless her - she is updated on what to do tonight.
  33. Convo about the budget. Sigh.
And home to take some Advil. But first, a stop in the basement for shredding of confidential docs (I LOVE SHREDDING), LANCR business, and a quick reply to a colleague's question.

Happy comment from yesterday I forgot to report: “Summer reading club just wasn’t the same without you last summer!”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Library day in the life ... day 3

First of all, I remembered a few things I forgot from previous days: I woke up the other day at 4:30 am with an idea to shift around some collections, grouping together (hopefully) languages and ESL / literacy, which I think makes a lot more sense. With some recent weeding and shifting, I think this might be possible. I also had a convo about a security issue with every full-time staff member on Monday.

And we're off again!

9-10: As usual, 7 million things before opening. Um, ok. I am writing these notes at 9:25 and I already forget what happened. Oh yeah - I found a guy lurking in the bushes. It was the IT guy who was coming to replace a broken CD drive on a public PC. He was looking for our facilities operator, who is always in early and whose window is beside the bushes. I let him in. Before I even got my bag upstairs and my lunch in the fridge, I had a strategy convo with an employee about security (I wish I could say, but I totally can't, for security reasons...). Then I started pulling some books to fill a display and got into a convo with our facilities operator: he is going on an emergency trip to Bolivia to be with a sick family member and will be gone for a month and a half. I am bereft. We discussed procedures for handling things while he is gone. Ack. Then another employee and I discussed ensuring there is someone in the building in the evenings this week who has an alarm code (with two people off, and some mix-ups with people being sick, we wanted to check everything). Then the IT guy left, explaining he needs to come back with another CD drive because the power on this one is on the opposite side and it won't connect properly. Sigh. I checked who would be in on Friday to let him in the door, and realised OH CRAP I changed my own schedule on Friday and forgot about it (I would normally work Sat.) So I assured the IT guy I would let him in and then re-arranged my plans for Friday (having assumed I would be off - why am I such a loser? AAAH!). THEN I finally finished that display, and we all had a loud voices convo about another branch that is having some staffing issues. Since we are closed between 9-10, it's a good time to yell over to your colleagues at the circ desk - ha ha. Actually, it is kind of fun - team spirit! We also debated about who would win in a fight between a library staff member and a city employee who is kind of a jerk (our money's on our staff member: she's tiny but craftier). Then the boss came by and we talked more security and other stuff (By now, I have clicked snooze on my morning Outlook reminder like 5 times, I still have 89 items in my newsreader, and the new books have to be looked at before we open and it's 9:45). Mad dash to do everything before we open.... also, I notice we are up to 170 kids signed up for SRC - yay! Left message for patron regarding a comment card submitted right under the wire at 9:59 am (like to have these convos before we open...).

  1. Employee calling re. being late tomorrow morning
  2. Where's my hold? I can't find it...
  3. Why is the computer still booting up?
  4. I was able to place a hold on a new DVD. Aren't new DVDs non-requestible?
  5. I tried to reserve a computer this morning and the system wouldn't accept my barcode 5 times!
  6. Y a t'il des groupes de jeu à la bibliothèque?
  7. Looked into a record for a book that seems to have some errors in it (brought to me by staff) - sent back to cataloguing.
  8. Can you show me how to unsuspend a hold?
  9. What formats are your digital audiobooks available in?
  10. Peeled the post-it notes made at home last night off my list of things to do. Starting knocking those suckers off, including checking the work of a casual librarian working last night, and submitting revisions to Preview.
  11. RA for a young girl (8ish?) and her brother (11ish): he likes Harry Potter and she likes Mercy Watson. The boy is reading definitely at a teen level, so we talked about Terry Pratchett and James Patterson's Maximum ride, and other titles. I talked up Medusa Jones and Ruby Lu to the little girl, especially after hearing she has traveled and lived abroad in Russia. I also showed her the Peter Sis books since she definitely wanted things with lots of pictures. P.S. I like it when parents (or in this case, grandparents) say, "You can take as many books as you like!" Damn straight.
  12. Confessions of a shoe addict? Turns out it was published in Canada under Secrets of a shoe addict.
  13. Do you work here? Can you check out my books?
  14. Do you have parking (I am working on getting us signage for our totally hidden lot)
  15. I got an e-mail about a hold that is here for me but I don't see it....
  16. [10:45: momentary lull.... Read a few news items... I have to decide if I am going to participate in the Professional Partnering program at McGill next year.... And then there's Northern Exposures to Leadership... hmmmm]
  17. Boy from earlier needs more picks. Charlie Bone and Kenneth Oppel are called to duty.
  18. Time to bust a lady on her cell phone - if I can hear you, it's too loud!
  19. Our automated phone system that notifies people about their holds is not working again. I notify our Digital services department.
  20. Est-ce que je peut utiliser cet ordinateur?
  21. [still writing e-mail about Preview edits. Realise I have to call a colleague to go over a joint submission so file as draft until she calls me back]
  22. Long distance phone call re. patron having problems with her record.
  23. Official motorcycle guide? NOS - found on truck in basement
  24. Apparently a whole whack of boxes of stuff came in the mail for me
  25. Sorted tokens for the prize draw this afternoon.
  26. Troubled patron who believes people are harassing him. We have helped him before by getting community housing info and mental health info for him, but this time he just wanted to rant a bit. I told him if he is harassed in here to come and get me and I will deal with it. Discussion with staff about dealing with this gentleman.
  27. Wrong job code on a timesheet - have to correct it.
  28. Do you have a water fountain?
  29. [finally finished Preview reviews at 11:30, even after bringing them home last night; still saved as draft]
  30. Go through org chart to figure out who to e-mail about something
  31. Go through boxes - sweet, it's the 123 Read with me stuff I ordered...
  32. Put swank posters on bulletin board (I know I am overqualified for this task, and many others, but I try to have a look at the board every few days - just to check in....)
  33. Figure out the person to e-mail about something is the person I thought it was. Well, clicking on those arrows in the org chart is always fun....
  34. La part manquante de Christiane Bobin and others by him. Which ones are at Main? Can you print the list? Can I pick up La part Manquante at another branch?
  35. [I have had to go to the bathroom for an hour]
  36. Composed whole e-mail (see #22 and #30 above) and realised I no longer had the patron's barcode. Thank God for the "Undo" button - I had copied it but not yet pasted, and got interrupted. Story. Of. My. Life.
  37. Livres sur le peintre David Roberts (Too many David Roberts... Is he Scottish? DOB 1796? Yes, he is...) et livres par Eric Butterworth. Former n/a, latter reserved. Offered to check databases for Roberts but patron not interested.
  38. True crime section? (I would have gone with him but he didn't want to wait for me to finish #37)
  39. Invitation to dinner because I am a lucky girl with nice friends.
  40. [I am going to the bathroom now. Just try and stop me]
  41. Reserved Grosse Pointe Girl for myself because it looks good.
  42. Reserved a few children's PBs from series I really like so I can booktalk them / recommend to patrons coming in....
  43. Beat newsreader into submission; reserved Emma Donoghue book (did I forget about it? Who knows... Oh, wait, it's because it's about "a five-year-old boy who has never left the room where he was born." Well, we'll see). Whoa - I forgot this weekend is the Rideau Canal Festival.
  44. Filled SRC Jungle display
  45. Ordered new library pamphlets of various sizes and languages.... We are low on library pamphlets in Punjabi, Urdu, Vietnamese and Hindi.
  46. Finally finished the instructions for casual and part-time staff re. sending out shared material. Drum roll, please! That only took 28 hours.... Saved draft e-mail about it for our circ sup.
  47. Screw thinking! I am replacing the Midsummer display with "Staff picks" - everyone can throw up their choices.
  48. Went over to help at circ but only served a few people before someone wanted to pay a fine by Interac. Then Interac machine and I are not friends, so I left her in someone else's care.
  49. Outlined duties to staff taking over
1:00-1:40: Lunch! Interrupted by phone call with colleague re. #21.

1:40-2: Chocolate break while checking e-mail and news. Finish set up for monkey program.

2-3:30: Monkeys! Not too many kids today, which is a pity, but I did get to spend some quality time with the ones who were there. Someone pointed out when we sang "5 little monkeys" that we had five kids for the program, which was kind of funny.

One of the mums asked me about what education is needed to be a librarian (she was surprised). She is going for her ECE.

Here are the monkeys we made:

3:30-4: Monkey clean-up! Brief meeting with boss!

  1. P.C. Cast books in either French or English (placed STP for French vols 2 and 3) - regular patron who I was happy to see. Young boy who I have watched grow up over the past few years...
  2. Ou sont les magazines?
  3. You know what I love? When people waiting for the Express PCs grind their popcorn bits into the carpet (I only saw this when I came back upstairs)
  4. Books reported from SRC....
  5. HR assistance for boss.....
  6. Running around looking for boxes because we are out of grey bins we ship material to other branches with.....
  7. Back downstairs to talk to boss
  8. Hold request for The Lost Symbol
  9. Name of composer, and score or lyrics for "It's now or never" (Presley!)
  10. How many DVDs can you check out?
  11. Washroom....
  12. Carl Jung
  13. Help downloading antivirus software... on our PCs.... um, no.....
5:05 pm: Dashed off to the basement to make up my to-do list for the rest of the week and send some last e-mails I didn't have time or concentration for.

P.S. Happy birthday to a dear friend from high school!

CILIP stands up for libraries

"Without ACL and MLA, who will provide the strategic leadership to develop policy like Framework for the future, deliver improvement programmes like the Peoples Network, and make interventions in the public interest like the Wirral Inquiry?"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Library day in the life ... day 2

5:30: Get up and go for a 6k run with the husband.

7:30: Read news of the day while eating grilled cheese on French toast (there is extra time for fancy breakfast when I get up early):
8:45: Arrive at work. Make coffee. Cream in the fridge expired on June 15. Ick.

9:00 - 9:45:
  • Edit Shared collections document: Rideau has a significant overflow of some Shared collections; staff here re-distribute these collections according to procedures... I updated the doc I keep in our Info desk binder for casual staff, clarifying some recent misunderstandings about what gets sent, what goes where, and whose job it is to evaluate what goes and what doesn't. 'Nuff said.
  • Put up a flyer about a local author's new book on the community bulletin board. Remove non-community info from the board, as well as expired flyers. Remove garbage inserted in plastic slatwall for pamphlets. Ew.
  • Employee at circ called in sick. One person already here offers to stay later this afternoon; other person calls the list to see if someone else can come in this evening. We decide if no one can, I will agree to have her do overtime.
9:45 - 10:00: Preparation for Contes

10:00 - 10:30: Contes for a local preschool. This was fun, of course, with the added bonus that they haven't visited in awhile (loooong story!) and I signed the kids up for SRC. Évidemment, I did a jungle-themed contes. We read La grenouille qui avait une grande bouche, Voilà la pluie!, and Le grand plouf. I had some jungle (and non-jungle) stuffed animals around the room that we related to the books; we also talked about what happens before it rains (les éclairs, la tonnerre grande, les nuages gris....). I also had a snake song on CD I forgot to play (duh) and 5 little monkeys in French that I didn't feel like using (the class was rowdy enough already, and I wasn't in a singing mood).

Songs we did sing: "Si tu aimes le soleil", "Tête, épaules genoux, orteils"
Fingerplays and rhymes we did together: "Claque, claque tes mains", "La petite araignée" (with the help of Alice the spider puppet), and "Coucou" (couldn't find this online; text below)

Coucou Je cache mes yeux !
Je montre mes yeux !
Je mets mes mains en l’air !
Je mets mes mains derrière !

… Je cache mon nez !
… Je cache mes oreilles !
… Je cache ma bouche !

10:30-10:50: A slew of questions (I guess people missed me?):
  • Can I reserve the latest Sandra Brown / Ken Follett?
  • Did I already reserve the latest Michael Connelly?
  • Can I reserve Turmoil and Triumph by that Shultz guy who was Secretary of State?
  • Where are your nature books?
  • Where are your computer games?
  • Do you have spare headphones?
  • A regular patron, a lovely older gentleman from the senior's home next door, asked about a musical group I've already forgotten. He is really into classical music and opera, so I told him that I had recently seen Kathleen Battle; I told him about her amazing encore, a kickass rendition (with scat) of the hymn, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" He was happy to chat about it; I'm rarely a chatter at the desk, but I do have a soft spot for this gentleman. He recently fell, and is recovering slowly (I am anxious that he is moving a lot slower these days)
  • The class I did Contes for came upstairs; the teacher asked me for a copy of the songs I use.
Random thought: Sometimes I think I could spend all day pushing in the unoccupied chairs at the public computers. Does no one push in their own chair anymore? Not cool.

10:55 - 1: More questions and random stuff:
  • How do I reserve a computer?
  • [interim: helped at circ because there was a line up]
  • [same patron, when it appeared there were no computers free here until noon] How do I get to Main Library? Can you print me out a map? What bus can I take?
  • Do you have books about angels?
  • Consult with circ. re making a new card for a patron who legally changed her name but had ID with her previous name only.
  • Strategising with boss re. author visit in the fall.
  • Lost sunglasses found.
  • PIN number problems for computer login.
  • Is it OK if I bring my laptop and [mumble mumble] - turns out he wanted wireless access. Yes, of course!
  • I'd like to use a computer...
  • Alex replies to some old e-mail ....
  • There's a message on the phone and I only noticed now. Crap.
  • RA en français pour un jeune fille: romans d'amour. I showed her the obvious (Nora Roberts, Isabel Wolff, Sophie Kinsella) and also tried to suggest some "stretches:" Sarah Dunant, for instance. She left with her Nora Roberts and a book from the J'ai lu collection.
  • Do you have books on knitting?
  • Where is my book on hold?
  • Pest control monthly report handed in to me.
  • Donated copy of Munsch's Smelly socks scored for a SRC prize. I love it when circ brings me the good donations.
  • How many people are waiting for the museum pass for the Science and technology museum? (You don't want to know). Follow-up Q: Opening hours, costs and directions to Science Tech Museum and the Agriculture Museum (visiting grandkids). Patron tells me her grandfather convinced her as a kid that brown cows gave chocolate milk. Hee hee! I encouraged her to bring her grandkids to library programs (here or elsewhere).
  • Washroom?
  • Called a taxi for a patron who is blind.
  • Two colleagues showed up at once to say "hi!" - one from Main Reference, one from St Laurent.
  • Request for L'énigme du retour par Dany Laferrière.
  • Finally go upstairs for the rest of the coffee I made (at 8:45) around 12:30. Bust a dude on a cellphone on the way back to the desk.
  • Have you seen today's Globe and Mail? (ongoing saga)
  • Hey, kid, did YOU join SRC?
  • Where are the physical fitness books?
  • Task preparation for the librarian working this afternoon so I can have more off-desk time.
  • Whoops and she's here already! I love people who are early. She debriefed me on last night (tons of RA questions from kids and teens: we discussed read-alikes for Twilight and Hush, hush, for future reference, including the lovely Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray). I outlined her tasks for the afternoon/evening.
  • Quick trip to my desk in the basement to drop stuff off and make a few notes for this aft.
  • Trip back up to Info for a technical question from staff.
1:15-2:15 - Lunch! Hooray! I ate outside on the bench in the garden. I used to do this a lot, then I stopped because too many patrons came up and asked elaborate questions (plus the bench is a popular spot for smokers from the businesses nearby). I'm tentatively trying it again; so far, regular patrons have waved but kept walking, which is good. I also popped into the post office to get a bubble envelope for some stuff I am mailing to Miss Z and Miss K in Cape Town. I miss them a lot.

2:15-3:50: Off-desk.
  • E-mails beaten into submission (for now).
  • Quick scan of news feed (Cape Town book fair! Streets in Ottawa named after fictional characters!).
  • Chose monkey books for tomorrow's program and began set up in the program room.
  • E-mail again: Yikes! The class I am teaching at Algonquin in the fall might be from 8-10 on Monday mornings....
  • Printed up fall program info in draft form to proofread: my Outlook calendar, Preview magazine, and in-house posters and bookmarks must all be the same! I know, I killed some trees, but proofreading is not one of my talents and I need the paper format (both for myself and so I can find a willing victim to check my work). I am also going to try to throw myself on the mercy of the Preview elves and ask them to toss in a program I am submitting late (It's not my fault! I swear!): coffee with a community police officer, which is an idea I stole from TPL, and I hopw will attract people of all ages and walks of life (including newcomers and some of our transient population), to discuss community safety and also just get to know the local officers / build community goodwill in a safe setting.
  • Chit-chat about various work things with boss!
  • N.B. my old job at St Laurent is posted on the city website, if you are interested!
  • Fielded questions from the page working today about items not found....
  • Good God, the e-mails.... I kind of ignored some yesterday, and they totally came back and bit me in the ass today.
3:53: Went up to Info early because, um, I had to pee for the past 1/2 hour and kept putting it off.....

4:00-5:00: Info desk again! A flurry of 5 Internet questions all at once, including a headphone replacement for one computer. The computers are super busy; when I came upstairs, 3 people were waiting for our 2 Express stations. Over the next hour, I also:
  • Got the hairy eyeball (when walking by me, in both directions - petty, much?) from a regular who is mad at me because I wouldn't proofread his 2 pg document last week. Seriously, dude, we are not editors; we are librarians. It's a pet peeve of mine.
  • Put some NOS items in missing
  • More e-mail - AAAHHH!
  • Strategising with pages re. duties (it's like the shelves vomited everywhere today; massive pick-up. Plus we started the day with 0 book trucks and ended with 5 - wtf? Pick up makes me crazy and sometimes I do it myself - shhh don't tell! but I want the place to look nice... and I need to fill displays anyway....- but today I had to turn a blind eye....)
  • Long drawn-out convo with dude who glared at me earlier, this time about his holds. We have the same convo frequently; it's like the "Who's on first" skit. Most of it revolves around the question, "But when will the book arrive for me?"
  • I may have had too much coffee; my hands are shaky. Wheeeee!
  • What was I doing? Oh yeah, grabbing the Curious George books to add to the monkey stuff, filling the Preview stack in the program room, checking out my own holds, sending some inter-office mail, and e-mailing again....
  • I have to log out and log back in to do a renewal, because Symphony's Info module doesn't have that option (only if you login as circ). Damn you, Sirsi!
  • Fielded a response to a comment card.
  • Phone call answered after dashing back out from workroom (sorting timesheets and pay stubs): Avez-vous des nouveaux livres de Barbara Taylor Bradford? En livre de poche? Ah, et alors, de Danielle Steel? Et est ce que ce sont des livres de poche? Et le premier titre, de Bradford, est-ce que celui est sortie en traduction français déjà? etc. (regular patron; TV blaring in the background; accent very hard to decipher, even on a good day, and this was not really a good day!)
  • Circ staff has excellent display suggestion for the DVDs. Implemented!
  • Lillian Brown? (= Lillian Jackson Braun)
  • Today I sent 23 e-mails and rec'd God knows how many. Kill me now?
And, holy crap, it's 5 pm again. On the way out, flagged down a page to ask her about a shift next week someone cancelled, and got caught talking to another page about the backlog of trucks to put away.

Got home and learned via FB that my friend Tara is now coordinator of her department at OPL - three cheers for Tara! Congratulations!

Man-Booker longlist

Link to announcement here.

The titles are:

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Room by Canada's own Emma Donoghue
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Long Song by Andrea Levy
C by Tom McCarthy
The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
February by Canada's own Lisa Moore
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Trespass by Rose Tremain
The Slap by Chris Tsiolkas
The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner

Monday, July 26, 2010

Library day in the life ... (Rideau style) day 1

I put "day 1" up there, thinking positively, but I make no promises that I am going to do this all week. I can promise today, and I can promise today will be thorough. Beyond that, we'll see!

It's kind of neat that last time I did this I was at St Laurent - fun to compare and contrast.... It was also summertime. Somehow I missed round 4. Anyway.

For the new arrivals to this blog, welcome! Here you will find the ramblings of a public librarian in a small urban community branch (serving a population of approximately 24, 000, seeing 2000 patrons a week). My CV is here. My passions include readers' advisory, outreach, services to children and teens, and social justice. I have also been known to get riled up about collection management (i.e. weeding!), library architecture, and censorship, .... and to get excited about literary awards, library conferences, and excellent customer service.

Today is not entirely typical, in that it is summertime and quieter, in general. Also, two of my colleagues are away: one is my Children's programming and public service assistant, and the other is the branch's supervisor of circulation. On the bright side, I replaced myself off the Info desk from 1 pm onwards today (and most of this week), so I do have some off-desk time, which is rare. The theme of last week was meetings (various OPL committees, plus a visit by the City Librarian and four new senior managers last Friday), so it was nice to know I would be in the branch all of this week.

9 - 10 am: I began my day with the usual e-mail and blogroll reading. I actually almost unplugged entirely this weekend, firing up the computer only once to log a run, post a link to FB, and check brunch plans. So my blogroll was clogged (I clear-cutted 280 news items Sunday evening, and another 130 this morning: skimming, skimming, skimming). Some things I did pause to read included:
  • "Public Libraries Nourishing the Mind" by PC World's Phil Shapiro: OK, I likes the food as much as anyone else, but seriously, culinary arts in the library? This may be going too far....!
  • A lovely review of Folly, which reminded me to reserve it.
  • Annoyed Librarian's rant about the Dominican study of summer reading club programs: I confess I hadn't had time yet to read the Dominican study, and when I read excerpted text from it in her post ("While not definitive in addressing the additive effect of summer library reading programs, this study has been helpful in demonstrating the need for more rigorously controlled research studies") I was a little dismayed, too. She is kind of right that "the kids participating were self-selected from the group of children who already read more and had more money and access to books, so of course they have higher reading scores. They participated in summer reading programs because they like to read already. [The study] does NOT show that the students who most need summer reading programs are the ones participating in them. On the contrary, it suggests that the ones who need them least are the ones who participate the most." That's why there are no SRC studies out there: it's really hard to show that the students who really need SRC programs are the ones benefiting the most.
  • My cousin's blog post of a few of his poems, "Selections from Flying on the Lucid Fringe." Librarians, take note: Sim writes in the notes for his book that he thinks poetry should be shelved "in the reference section. Right there, next to the Cape Town map [...] and the dictionary and the what to do in an emergency type book. Where you can pull it out and intuitively (with a little help from the angels) turn to the right page to: inspire your dreams with a poem before bed or your day with a poem after bed, hit a deeper note with your dinner guests, share some words for your spouse's birthday or for your granny to dance to, take you beyond the daily playback routine while waiting for that train, find the real news that you won't find on CNN or even Facebook."
My boss stopped by the Info desk as I was reading and drinking my coffee, and we had a little convo about the vending machine article that came out in our local paper over the weekend. Specifically, he said, "hey, so your Facebook friends don't like our vending machine, eh?" and we laughed ruefully. Alas, my friends are not the only ones. The vending machine makes people panic because I think they believe it is intended to replace a library branch, which it is not; the idea is that it allows communities in which there is no library (at least, currently, but vending machine stats would be a good argument for building one, wouldn't they?) to have some service for pick-up and drop off of materials. Rudimentary, granted, but again, better than nothing! Also, what if the vending machine, placed currently in a community centre, generates interest about the library from non-users (I'm thinking thick-headed sports fans) - wouldn't that be cool?

Before we opened I also looked into some items I want us to buy (I placed some suggestions to purchase like the rest of you plebs), checked in my own holds (including this, which I'm excited about, and this, which did not impress me, honestly), and did a headcount of SRC supplies (sent surplus back to Main to be re-distributed).

10-10:35: Swear to God, I did not make this up. These are questions I received in the first 35 minutes after opening at 10 am:
  1. Where is the washroom?
  2. Phone call: can I reserve this book? I can't remember my PIN.
  3. I heard about this book on the radio - do you have it?
  4. Login dispute over 15 minute express computers (which was kind of funny, as we had been open 10 minutes...)
  5. Are there any computers on another floor? (Honey, we don't have another floor!)
  6. Do you have any maps?
  7. Can you help me? I think I cancelled my computer booking...
  8. Do you carry Architectural Digest here?
  9. Do you remember that book you reserved for me? (Suuuuure I do.....) Is it here yet? (Turns out our copy says on shelf but is not, so I marked it missing)
  10. Where are children's DVDs?
  11. Request: Michel David's new book
  12. Request: Elizabeth George's new book
  13. You told me last week about an online dictionary website - what is the url again?
  14. Staff q: where are the extra rolls of masking tape?
  15. Copy-specific hold (patrons can't do this themselves yet in many cases, so for items with multiple volumes - eg. Great Courses - they have to come to us)
  16. I can't find this book.... (turns out it was in our PB section, which both Philip and I wanted to get rid of, but had to keep because of shelf space available).
  17. I can't find my hold....
  18. Where is the public printer?
  19. Do you have a public telephone?
So, do you think I saw the vast majority of those 2000 patrons a week this morning? 'Cause it kind of felt like that.

In between the madness, I also tried to get two kids to join SRC (they turned me down) and checked if a newborn had received his 123 Read with me book (he had; I gave his dad info about family storytime in the fall @ Rideau instead) . Gertrude from A Company of Fools came by to pick up her Midsummer display ('bye, donkey!), so I helped her a bit and cleared up the books on the display after she left. Crap. Had to fill that space, so put up a "books made into movies" display (DVDs and books). Filled other displays (new books, etc.) on the way by.

10:35 am - 1 pm: Other random morning questions:
  1. Oh, those die-cut animals for SRC are nice. I work for a daycare - can I bring in paper and cut shapes on the die-cut machine? (Um, no).
  2. Tracking packages in the U.S. mailed from here (this fell between "rant" and "reference question" - sorry your package is lost, lady!)
  3. A woman dressed in full-on Mad Men-era clothing (right down to Betty Page hair and bright red lipstick painted over the edges of her lip line) inquired about volunteering.
  4. You know what I really hate? Patrons who come up to you and throw down their item (in this case, a package rec'd in the mail) and make demands with no preamble. So this woman tossed her grimy mail on top of the time sheets I was verifying, and said, I want to watch this. I was like, well, good for you (and what is it?)! Also, personal space! No, I was very pleasant to her, but I kind of felt invaded.
  5. Can I reserve some museum passes?
  6. I want to get my Chamberfest souvenir guide. Is the Chamberfest office open today?
Our volunteer who is helping out with SRC came early, and I was still printing out monkey body parts for her (we are doing this craft this week). We decided she would cut out the cardboard and the kids could decorate their own monkeys. I also chose a video to watch during the activity (I really want to watch "Hot hippo," but this week is about monkeys, so no go).

I gave a patron an eviction notice. He left, swearing loudly.

I was overjoyed to see a patron I made a library card for during outreach last week come in. I am terrible with faces, but luckily I remembered he is deaf. Through charades, I figured out he wanted time on a computer, so I logged him into an Express terminal. I need to learn sign language (well, beyond "Twinkle, twinkle, little star"). Five minutes later, another patron from the same outreach came in to use a computer!

I faxed the branch time sheets to our city payroll department (full-time staff do this stuff online but for part-time and casual staff, we still use paper time sheets): this process involves checking the hours worked and making sure everyone got the cost centres (and all other info, including sometimes their own names!) right. Usually our branch circ supervisor looks at these first, and I double-check and sign off, but with her away, it's all on me. Today, there were nine of them. Check, check, sign, sign, fax, fax! While checking, I lent someone masking tape to fix a broken high heel.

I also inputted SRC statistics for last week into the shared Excel sheet. We are up to 151 kids registered at Rideau for SRC 2010, and so far, they have reported 525 books read. In the past week, we signed up 31 new kids for SRC 2010, and kids reported 261 books read.

1:15: A few more quick questions (CD drive on one of the PCs not working, etc.) and then, LUNCH! At long last! I thus shook off the shackles of the Info desk until 4 pm.

My current lunchtime book is Holding still for as long as possible, because it is the next Algonquin Reads pick, but so far it's nothing to write home about. My lunch was interrupted 22 minutes in by a vision from the attic staff room of two women dumping our dying (well, dead) mugo pine beside the dumpster in the parking lot. Hmmmm... Out I went to investigate! Long story short: the lovely peeps at the Horticultural society donated our garden; a volunteer (not ass'd with the Horts) maintains it once a week. Some of the plants suffered damage over the winter (esp. due to salt-filled snowbanks), especially some small pines near the staircase. The two lovely ladies here today were removing the dead pine and replaced it with some pink and white rosebushes they assure me are hardy breeds. Seriously, most of what I know about gardening I have learned from talking to the people from the Horts, our volunteer, and our facilities operator in the past few months.

2:15-4: I made the most of my off-desk time! I managed to:
  • E-mail my boss about the garden
  • Scan an issue of Public Libraries that came for me via routing (it was May/June 2009, so no news there; we have since decided to no longer route professional journals here at OPL, which I think is a good idea)
  • Do some research for Fall programs for adults at Rideau (I know I keep promising you updates on what I have up my sleeve... soon, my pretties!)
  • Send some e-mails and create a new distribution list for some of my latest outreach contacts to send them info about adult programs at the library
  • Spend some time fighting with the laptop so I could preview the Anansi tale with a King Monkey (Anansi and the talking melon) on DVD for Wednesday's program. Every time your network password changes (every few months?) you have to re-connect the laptop to the network to be able to log on. Annoying... Also, the voice of Anansi in this DVD is oddly Brooklyn accent-y (slight nasal tone!) and King Monkey sounds very pukka. Weirdness. Hope I can watch it with a straight face!
  • While on break, responded to more comments via FB re. the vending machine library. Apparently my friends aren't as scandalised as I thought. Also, positive byproduct: more comments means the story will move to the top of people's FB feeds. Hmm.
  • Tried in vain to read "Immigrant Readers: Feeling "at Home" in Library Reading Programs" before going back up to Info but failed and brought it up with me.
4-5: I handled:
  • Printing up the weekly bestseller lists (Main Library's Collection Management Department kindly generates these lists of the Globe, New York Times and Librairie du Soleil (local bookstore) lists, with what we own and have on order written in).
  • Checking out the several (heavy and oversized) books about Carnegie and his libraries that came in for me (for an article I am writing for a CILIP group).
  • Read the new Laura Vaccaro Seeger book, What if?, which is a great pick for dialogic reading in storytimes with younger groups. Even if the basic scene repeats throughout the book, you could have a different child in the group describe it each time, for instance. Lovely art, too.
  • Helped a guy on the Internet who had clicked on "sign in with a single-use code" in Hotmail and was totally confused.
  • Perused a book about animal crafts for SRC ideas (while walking up the stairs - I am nothing if not a multi-tasker): I found a great Haida raven craft but nothing good for Destination Jungle.
  • Looked over a proposal for an event from a committee meeting last week.
  • Read I'm the best, the new Lucy Cousins book. Verdict: super cute story about bragging, being a show-off, appreciating your uniqueness, and saying you're sorry, plus great illustrations (as always).
  • Handed out a flyer about fall storytimes to a regular patron and her son.
Plus the following questions:
  • Do you have Jaws 2? (Oddly, no, so I e-mailed our AV selector)
  • Do you have books about evolution?
  • Where are your materials about learning languages?
  • How many times a day can someone use the Express computers?
  • Where's my dad? (Located behind stacks in annex)
  • Could you reserve Season 1 of Slings and arrows for me?
  • Where is your non-fiction section?
  • Wouldn't it be great if you had movie viewing stations here? (NO!!!! But film events at the library would be a fun idea - with PPR films, of course.... Added to my adult programming list).
  • Can I use your desk to sort through these DVDs?
  • Où sont les livres sur CD? (Wow, just realised that was my first French q of the day. That's really atypical.... Or did I just translate some of the above ones without realising? I do that. Definitely the Michel David q this am was in French, obvs).
  • It says you have a Museum pass for the War museum here.... Where is it? (Looked everywhere. NOS. Filed as missing).
And then I went home! Well, first I went to the basement to my desk to drop some stuff off, make some notes, and approve a sick day for one of my staff. While down there, I got caught by another staff member wanting advice about an ethical dilemma involving computer time on the public PCs. Wheeee.

I never did finish that immigrants and reading programs article.....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I need to go to Wales

To see the beautiful Cathays Library redesign (Cathays is a Carnegie, opened in 1907. The symmetry of the exterior is especially lovely).

Until then, I will have to content myself with these stunning photos of it (seen via Designing Libraries).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Library services to the poor / homeless

I’m reading a book called Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can, and it quotes from this interesting article:

“There is no better test of the profession’s dedication to equal and democratic public service than the extent to which the needs of the “least among us” are recognized and fulfilled.”

There are some interesting ideas for programs in the book I want to try out at Rideau, based on the outreach I have been doing this month (I have visited drop in centres for women and Aboriginal people, and on Friday a group of refugees is coming for a tour of the library). Many of the resources mentioned in the book are American, but most of the ideas have Canadian counterparts ....

[Exits, stage left, planning world domination...]

3D digital picture books

Yup, that's right. Get out your 3D glasses, kids; a brave new world for picture books is upon us.

I get the points below (and agree) but still feel like this is a bit weird!

Q: "I want to talk a little bit about this digital age of reading. Many people, myself included, are wary of all this new technology when it comes to literature. Picture books are the first books children come to. What are we saying if their first reading experience occurs on the screen?
A: Well, children are exposed to television very early on. They know the form. What we're trying to do in our work with these picture books is strike a balance between text and image. We don't want this to read exactly like a book, or else what is the point? We also don't want it to be too image heavy and just develop into a short film. It's about balance, and we're constantly re-assessing and working on that. We want children to have a dynamic reading experience. We're passionate about that. [...] Authors and artists have always kind of pushed the limit. For example, those tactile picture books that used to exist when we were kids. The ones you could touch. Even the "choose your own adventure" books."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bookstores, RIP?

There is an interesting article in today's Globe and Mail about bookstores, and their (possible?) survival in this digital, aliterate age. Like the whole, "are libraries still relevant?" debate, this article parades out the usual tired comparisons and cloying reassurances. No, actually, it is somewhat worthwhile....

It opens with the usual trite debate question: "Do dedicated booksellers have no choice but to lock the doors, open a long-saved bottle of wine and wait for the cultural tidal wave to wash them away, aged feline store mascot and all?"

Ha. Ha. I'll have you know that during my four year tenure at Nicholas Hoare (whoops! Forgot to include that in my roots! I learned a lot about face-out merchandising, and made good friends in Nicholas, and David McDerby and Myriam David in the now-closed Ogilvy store), we had two lovebirds as mascots. So there. (P.S.: I somehow managed to avoid cage-cleaning duties.......)

The article then goes on to seriously discuss matters. It quotes Ben McNally (former Nicholas Hoare manager, now running his own shop on Bay St. in Toronto, shown above at right, as photographed by me) and Christopher Smith, manager of Ottawa’s own lovely Collected Works, who "agrees with the notion that independent stores must evolve or die." In one vision of the future, bookstores will “transform themselves from mere book purveyors to cultural emporiums or meeting places.” Smith "daydreams 'that in the future I will finish a hand-sell by asking my customer, ‘And how would you like that – hardcover, paperback, audio or e-book?’”

As with libraries, bookstores will be less about the format than about a service (both places have never been about the former, anyway; people just misjudged and romanticised): selling knowledge rather than a paper product, just like we give away knowledge for free, rather than giving away a paper product for free. As libraries search for new partnership and outreach opportunities in the community, so too will bookstores be looking at new opportunities to be a third place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

...Short post... Melting....

More outreach for me today, this time poolside (I know, hard life!) at a local wading pool.

Exhibit A, with explanation below:

So, as I have previously tried to explain, I am pretty shy (although mostly masked). I arrived at the pool, and the organisers had set up my tent on the raised platform behind the green fence in the top L of the above photo. I did something very rare: I complained. Well, not really complained, but asked the Parks and Rec staff if they could help me move the tent and table closer to the pool, because, um, NO ONE was going to come up onto that platform. Seriously. It would have been so boring. It took a lot of courage (and about 2 minutes of internal conflict) for me to speak up. YAY me.

I think maybe the staff members weren't thrilled (hee hee) but we moved everything (OMG was it ever hot), and being beside the pool (and the booth for public health, where they were serving watermelon) was a good call - I was busy for the whole two hours I was there. Weirdest poolside reference question: can sharks see (answer: yes)?

And now I am completely exhausted. I blame the heat!

Forthwith, to sleep.

P.S. If you enjoy this blog, you might also enjoy this collaborative blog about food, by librarians, that went live today - and which I am writing for!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Library day in the life, Round 5

I have signed up, and it starts July 26th, so stay tuned!

I'm not sure if I'll do one day or several. We'll see how it goes....

Monday, July 12, 2010

Library roots and routes

So I stumbled on this wiki via CILIP today, and have decided to tell my (as yet, fairly short!) story and add it to the wiki.

As a child, I was a regular library user in most of the cities and towns we lived in: when I was very young and we lived in Verdun, my mum had the car one day a week and would bring me to Atwater and Westmount libraries. My grandparents would bring me to Fraser-Hickson when I visited them (they lived one block away). When we lived in St Lambert, I went to the local public library there (and I remember they used date due cards and - gasp! things of the past! - stamps!). My high school, rather uncommonly in Quebec, had a two-floor school library (and a rather hot librarian, as my Grade 11 math teacher never hesitated to point out). I oddly don't remember public library use in Otterburn Park, but then in Bedford I visited the tiny local library housed in the basement of the old school, with its one dusty shelf of English books. Needless to say, when it came time to write my 10-page thesis for my IB diploma (about the war crimes tribunal at the Hague for the Bosnian war criminals), my mum drove us back downtown to Westmount.

When I entered Marianopolis, I began working as a student library assistant there, shelving and working at the circulation desk. After my first year there, my mum suggested I apply to Westmount, as we were moving from Bedford to Pointe Claire, and thus my long tenure at Westmount Library formally began, as a page in the children's department.

Actually, funny story there. I was first interviewed as a page for the adult department, and got the call back that they wanted to hire me when I was on the train on my annual trip to Stratford with my mum. When I told the woman I would be back in a week (and yes, I am protecting the identity of this employee, even though she is no longer at Westmount), she said they really needed someone right now and would have to hire someone else. She said she would pass my name on to the children's librarian (the fabulous Wendy Wayling, undeniably my first mentor and, to this day, a wonderful friend). Wendy did call me in for another interview, and hired me soon after. So, thanks, Wendy, 'cause otherwise, who knows where I would have ended up!

In many ways, I think I am tied to Westmount in spirit because it's the longest I ever spent in one municipality, for work or "living," even though I never did live there. It is the longest I have ever spent in one area, save my grandparents' neighbourhood.

This time in my life, at Marianopolis, was a great turning point in many ways: I met my rez girls, I lived "on my own" for the first time, I returned to downtown Montreal from years in the 'burbs and country, I began my first romantic relationship, I studied Liberal Arts and continued my love affair with Math, and I began formally working part-time (at one point working three part-time jobs while attending classes full-time).

After graduation, I went on to a BA Honours in English Literature (as did, what? Easily half of us librarians? Sigh). My initial minor was Math, but within a few weeks at McGill, I realised my dream of being inter-disciplinary was going to be too much (I could see Math homework eating up too many hours in the week for a minor that was essentially supposed to be "fun" for me), and I switched my minor to World Religions. By the last of my three years, I was still working at Westmount (now at circ, and also getting my first storytime experiences, as seen at left, with my first homemade felt), had recently ended my first relationship, and was unsure what to do next.

[Post-publication edit: I also worked at Nicholas Hoare Books during this period, where I learned a great deal about hand-selling, readers' advisory without the aid of a computer, face-out merchandising and displays, not to mention I made some wonderful friends - including Nicholas, got a 40% discount on novels for university, and was encouraged to read at work! I actually miss the bookstore sometimes; especially the comraderie among staff, the joy of helping a harried customer who doesn't expect to be served by knowledgeable staff, and unpacking the brand new books from the warehouse... Sigh!]

My decision to enter librarianship was shaped by my upbringing (around books, in libraries, in a family in which learning was very much valued), my Liberal Arts-inspired interest in every subject (and the heartbreaking realisation that I could not study all of them), and my life experiences encountering ignorance and prejudice, and observing the importance of education in overcoming both. I was also intrigued by the diversity of jobs within the library profession: I could work with the public, in the government, for a company or private organisation, in a university, or a school.

So off I went, back to McGill, having merely slid down the hill from the Arts Building (or rather, the steps of the Arts Building, where I spent most of my time), to the dingy basement of McLennan.

I continued to work part-time at Westmount, gaining experience at circ in all three departments (children's, AV, and adults - during my summer full-time contract in the latter department, I had that "dress to impress" convo). I also decided to experiment a bit, taking another part-time job at the Health Sciences Library at McGill, a job I found alternatively fascinating and (during the quiet periods) boring. I discovered I was not made for sitting behind a quiet desk, even if there were projects to distract me. In my second year, I left Health Sciences, and took on a Practicum working at Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School, again in the spirit of experimentation. Steeling myself for a return to the world of primary and high school (where I began as a reasonably cool kid, and, following successive moves, ended up hanging out with the marginals), I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I loved ECS, loved the students and faculty, and loved the work. I did, however, miss being in a larger library with colleagues to work with.

I was very worried about finding work after graduation, and so, a few months prior to that, upon a tip from Wendy, I accepted a job at the Eleanor London Côte-St-Luc Library. The deal was, they would hire me part-time for now, and move me to full-time after graduation, to replace a librarian who was on maternity leave until January the following year. If you're keeping track, that means I spent my last months in school also working part-time at Westmount and Côte-St-Luc, while also finishing up Practicum hours. Wheeee!

I learned a lot during my time at Côte-St-Luc, but it wasn't the best fit for me, and after my contract ended, I decided to return to Westmount, where a good friend and reference librarian was taking maternity leave. Her colleague was also poised to retire, and I was hoping to compete for that post. I did, and lost (coming in second after a rather intense written exam and formal interview, with the largest and most diverse panel I had ever been interviewed by, including librarians from other communities on the Island of Montreal). I elected to stay and do the mat leave job, working with the person who had been hired for the other permanent job I had lost.

It was a very difficult, and also in many ways very wonderful, year. I helped create a formal Readers' advisory corner, undertook extensive archival research into Westmount writers for Montréal, capitale mondiale du livre, animated our Readers to Readers book club, attended some of my first outreach activities (health fair at right) and updated and edited the website, all while negotiating a difficult relationship with a colleague, navigating the de-merger of Westmount from the City of Montreal (what I ultimately believe was a somewhat understandable, but miserably short-sighted, decision) and panicking about how to find a permanent job. I was frustrated with the insularity of Westmount, the divides between our library and most others, and the fact that, overall, my home city and province were, essentially, more than a century behind in terms of public library services. A little-known fact: Westmount offered to extend library services to the neighbouring municipalities after de-merger: if Montreal would give Westmount a cut of the taxes received from NDG and St-Henri residents (two mostly working class areas, with abysmal library services), the Westmount Library would give these people free memberships. Montreal turned us down, citing plans for the improvement of library services in these neighbourhoods "in the next ten years" as the reason. Sure, and just screw the kids growing up there right now.

After interviewing and being offered one job I wasn't thrilled with, and following up on two leads that didn't pan out (they weren't hiring yet, and that wasn't good enough), I began looking in Ottawa, on the advice of Megan, a good friend from library school who was happily working for OPL already. Rideau Branch continues to be a good fit to this day, a busy urban branch with some Westmount similarities (sandwiched between low-income and wealthy neighbourhoods, attached to a seniors' home!) and some big differences (part of a large, amalgamated library system and city).

And I guess that's pretty much it, so far!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adichie on To Kill A Mockingbird

"She reminded me of the imagined version of myself I liked best. Her knowing older brother Jem was very much like my brother Okey, whose happy shadow I was, and her small southern American town, Macomb, was similar to my town, Nsukka in eastern Nigeria. It was a place of open doors, of the one strange family about whom everyone gossiped, and of petty hierarchies and loyalties; a place both smug and safe. But Macomb was also much less sophisticated than my town, in a way that was fascinating, with little boys who did not bathe for weeks and deals sealed by spitting into palms."

Full article.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Outreach visit: new library cards, comics and a few juicy readers' advisory questions!

This morning I did something I have had on my to-do list for far too long: I visited a local women's centre (the centre provides services to homeless and disadvantaged women and their children in the city).

Actually, truth be told, my to-do list includes a dozen similar places I want to visit for outreach. I have been in touch with four or five so far, including a short-term refugee centre (they are visiting for a tour in 2 weeks) and an Aboriginal centre.

We (myself and the centre staff) weren't sure how much interest there would be from the women about library programs and services, but I am thrilled to report the visit was a great success. I tried to keep it super low-key. When I arrived, the women and their families were finishing breakfast and doing chores, and the staff invited me to grab a cup of coffee. As you all probably well know, I have never met a cup of coffee I didn't like, so I grabbed away. Just the simple act of sitting down with the women was really nice for me, and I hope for them. Coffee is a great ice-breaker.

Eventually I graduated to nabbing my own table, and I spread out my wares. I have a checklist of things I bring on outreach (to schools, daycares, or community groups like this) and it usually includes most of the following:
  • Rideau Branch program brochures (I make these in-house: this time, I brought our Summer programs for kids bookmarks)
  • Copies of Preview / En primeur, our library magazine with programs at every branch. Someone asked me about programs for their teen daughter at other branches, so that was useful.
  • Membership kits (Two women filled them out on the spot and I am going to drop off their new library cards next week. One has a daughter who's into Dear Dumb Diary, so I included some free books that are read-alikes for that series in my envelope to her; another just started reading again and likes Readers' Digest, so I found some old issues and tucked those in her envelope. Two other women asked about fines on their cards, so I will work with our supervisor of circulation to try to work out a deal for the women).
  • Literacy tips for families - always popular!
  • Bibliographies - I kind of threw these in thinking, hey, you never know. And just to prove my point, I had a good 20-minute conversation with a woman who is a big mystery lover. She enjoys the not-so-gory ones, and is a PD James fan, so I pulled out my list of British mysteries (based in part on Nancy's kickass list here) and we chatted about Inspector Morse, Brother Cadfael, and their buddies. She asked about good Canadian mysteries - I recommended Louise Penny and Inger Ash Wolfe.
  • Usually I bring Every Child Ready to Read material, but this time I didn't. Since it was my first visit, I didn't want to focus too specifically on one thing, and I wasn't sure how many younger kids would be there. I am going back next week with the cards for the two women above, and I will then bring some SRC kits to sign up the kids I saw - most are school-age.
  • Business cards - the main point of this whole visit was to make a personal connection with the women and the staff, so they know one person at the library and feel comfortable asking me for help if they need it. I told them to call me with any questions about the library, programs, borrowing, fines, school projects, and so on.
I also brought an OPL metal water bottle (ha. A propos in this heat!) to raffle off, and tons of free books for all ages (culled from donations to the library, and carefully selected by me to be in mint condition and at various reading levels - I found a happy home with a young boy for a Wolverine comic) All the free stuff created some interest and drew the families in to my space so I had a chance to talk to them.

Then I went back to work, made more coffee, and spent a busy afternoon on the Info desk (fun questions of the day: what's that mystery series with a US president and his wife as a crime-solving team? Answer: My gal Sunday by Mary Higgins Clark; the movies of Louis de Funès).

All in all, a pretty rewarding day. It was really lovely to just be with the women at the centre, hear about their lives a bit, and spend some time with them.

Camilla Gibb news, as read in Quill & Quire

You may have seen her on the cover of this month's Quill & Quire, if you're into that sort of thing.

I love her. I have loved her since Sweetness in the belly first came out, and I heard her speak at Blue Met. Shut down your computer and go read Sweetness if you haven't already. It follows Lilly, orphaned by her hippie British parents and left to be raised in an Islamic shrine in Morocco. Lilly later emigrates to Ethiopia (not a great idea in the 1980s) and, later, England, and the book follows her journey as both an eternal migrant and a global citizen, always somewhere between two worlds. She eventually sets up an organisation in London that attempts to reunify families separated by the Dergue regime and Ethiopian famine, becoming the link between people in more ways than one.

That being said, I hadn't heard too much from Camilla since Sweetness. I am not one for gossip, either, but this story moved me. Q & Q informs me that Camilla has a new novel coming out in August, The Beauty of humanity movement, and is working on a memoir. More personally, she is finding her way through the second trimester of a pregnancy after her longtime partner left her three months ago.

I also learned that Camilla's writing took off after an acquaintance gave her $6000 to quit her job and write (he left a note: "No strings attached"). She is now paying it forward, so to speak, by giving $6000 to a Vietnamese tour guide and who dreamed of opening a pho restaurant. Phuong helped her with her new book when she was on vacation, introducing her to a cook who became the inspiration for the main character in her new book.

It's really not often that I tear up when reading Q & Q. I swear.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Liberate your librarian

CHANGE IS OVERDUE - a public charter for libraries

"We are currently in a situation where two thirds of people in the UK read in their free time yet only one third of the population visit libraries. Why is this the case when libraries offer 24 hr web services, are open to all and provide access, free of charge, to books and an array of other interesting reading materials? Either it is because a public library service is not relevant today or, the more likely, libraries are not meeting the needs and wants of their local communities."


"1. Make the libraries local
2. Increase opening hours
3. Improve library collections
4. Improve the library environment
5. Embrace technology
6. Liberate the library staff
7. Collaborate and share best practice
8. Don’t waste money
9. Performance feedback
10. Engage individuals and communities
11. Don't close libraries
12. Make and keep a promise"