Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Busy day!

What I've done today:
  • Attended a "webinar" (online FREE seminar) about using web 2.0 tools (like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) in academic libraries. It was excellent, and it was co-led by one of my classmates/Christian fellowship colleagues from library school!
  • Responded to e-mails from psychology professors and a patron looking for a bit of history/biography about {My university} (patron was directed to the university archives department).
  • Read a really informative e-mail from a library school colleague who is also a science librarian. I am NOT a science librarian but am going to be helping with a class period for an online Science and Technology Resources course because I am somewhat familiar with online/distance ed. resources. I am excited but nervous! I know next to nothing about helping with science questions!
  • Typed up the information I have gathered thus far about what we collect related to the American South for a meeting with a consortium group I'm working with. Discovered areas that I still need to investigate.
  • Helped some patrons (mostly visiting high school students).
  • E-mailed a few other people I know who are either scientists or science librarians to ask for help on above-mentioned assignment.
  • Read some blogs and am updating this one.
I feel like a real librarian today!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quiet week

It's been a full week since my last post, and there's not too much going on in {my academic} library land.

Here are a few tidbits:
  • As the liaison to the history department, I've been working on updating various history guides on the website. I was dismayed to find out that I would have to get them all reapproved by my supervisor before sending them to our systems librarian for posting, which is a very lengthy process. Luckily, I found out yesterday that this is not the case (only for new pages or pages that are not just my responsibility), so that makes the update work more worthwhile to do. Does anyone know of research on the basics of how effective library websites work--specifically how regularly they need to be updated?
  • I got a bit.ly account for use while Tweeting--because I had a long url I wanted to send someone. It only took 5 minutes, but felt like a major "techie" step.
  • Gave some freshman a tour of the library. I need to spruce up my tour presentation, but it really seems that "short and to the point" is the best way to go with 20-30 freshman at 5:00 PM, just before dinner.
  • Despite a quiet reference week (it's the last week of the first summer session, and it seems like exams are the norm rather than projects), I had a doozy of a ref question today--finding detailed literary criticism on Maya Angelou's poetry. It seemed like it should be a snap but most criticism is on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her other prose. Finally found a few short (but specifically critical and analytical) articles on specific poems and two dissertations (thank you, Proquest!). The patron then had to create a new free online e-mail account, as his first e-mail account couldn't hold the huge files (he was from a cooperating institution, so couldn't access the dissertations online from home). Phew!
No new LibraryH3lp testing, but I will hopefully get back on that bandwagon next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweet success

The {My Local} Public Library is going to purchase the Marsden books! Hooray!!

In celebration (and because I like to have book covers on my blog, since I don't really post pictures), I am posting my review of the first book in the Ellie Chronicles:

While I Live (The Ellie Chronicles #1) While I Live by John Marsden

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amazing continuation of Ellie's story after the Tomorrow series--good balance of the day-to-day struggles and adrenaline-pumping action. Definitely made me cry. Waiting for the next one on ILL and feeling inspired to read about Australian history just to know more about Ellie's home country!

Also, I WON a free book from Goodreads:

Smart Mama's Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child's Toxic Chemical Exposure Smart Mama's Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child's Toxic Chemical Exposure by Jennifer Taggart

And finally, here are two upcoming books to look forward to:

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, Book 2)
Coming out September 2009.

Hamlet: A Novel
Coming out August 2009.

Happy reading! Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When the library fails...

I asked my husband last week if I was melodramatic. Ok, I actually said something like, "I'm not that melodramatic, am I?" Obviously, the answer should have been no. It was more like, "sometimes." So I followed up by saying, "I'm not as melodramatic as N!" (our son). My husband replied, "You're also not 1 year old."

This is all to say...the title to this post may have been a little melodramatic.

As you may recall, once I finished the John Marsden Tomorrow series, I decided that I absolutely had to read the follow-up trilogy, the Ellie Chronicles. I checked the first in the series, While I Live, out from my local library and devoured it in two days. For me, this is very fast, even with a YA novel. I knew going into this that our local library had no copies of the second two books in the series. No problem--I would just ILL them (order them through InterLibrary Loan, for those of you who don't speak librarian) through work. Our ILL person can get ANYTHING!

Except, unfortunately, she can't. I requested the series' second book, Incurable, and today was told that she couldn't get it. (I hadn't ordered the third book yet--I wanted to wait until I had the second in my hot little hands, since I know that sometimes later books in series arrive sooner than earlier books--and you don't get an extended loan to wait for the earlier book to arrive.) Apparently, of all the libraries in the world (or at least the U.S.) that own the book (and there aren't that many of them), only 2 of them are possible lenders to us, and neither would fill the request! Boo, hiss!

After despairing for about a minute, then thinking that I'd better go order them on Amazon (and actually looking them up; $7.50 each, which isn't bad, but I'd want to buy the first one, too, and would also be tempted by the first seven books--and we're buying an organ soon, so I need to cut back on book buying to make some room!), I decided to try one other library option. I filled out a suggestion form to ask my local public library to buy these two books.

Keep your fingers crossed...and tell your local legislators to support funding for libraries!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today is a good day to work!

  • I had enough work to keep me busy for the whole day, but not so much that I couldn't steal a few minutes to read.
  • I resolved a scheduling conundrum without making anyone mad (ok, so it turns out that in the end there was no real conflict of interests, but still!).
  • I got the librarian who I least expected to have any interest in LibraryH3lp to practice chat with me, simply by providing her with log-in information and the information that I'd be online for several hours...AND she said it was FUN!!
And if you like the Star Trek reference, you should totally buy this shirt from www.unshelved.com.

(I am putting it on my Christmas list--which I start compiling not long after my birthday in March...it's scary how materialistic I sometimes am.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Annual Goals

I meant to post today and couldn't think of anything post-worthy until now, when I have about 5 minutes before I need to start herding patrons out of the building (ok, I only actually herd when it's ALREADY closing time and they are doing "one more thing" on their computers).

My post-worthy thought: I had to complete an annual report (this sounds very official, but the actual drafting of the report felt much less official, since I don't have to provide statistics or fill out a specific form), and as part of that, had to set goals for the next year. Here they are (mostly verbatim, although I changed them from a narrative paragraph--admittedly not a very good one--to a numbered list, because I think lists are more readable on blogs):
  1. Increase program offerings during evening hours, by planning, marketing, and implementing at least three open workshops each semester, including introduction to such tools as databases, RefWorks, and InterLibrary Loan.
  2. Continue learning LibraryH3lp and assist with the possible implementation of this service at {My} Library.
  3. Find additional ways to work with psychology faculty; thus far, I have found offering services that are helpful to history faculty quite easy but learning what the psychology faculty needs to be more of a challenge.
  4. Continue keeping up with trends in academic librarianship through both reading and trying out new technologies.
I will also use this opportunity to list some of the steps I see arising for the next stage of getting virtual reference here:
  1. Give other staff members accounts and get them to start chatting, just to get used to the feel of chat conversation.
  2. Receive training for, and begin working with, NC Knows chat service (this is at the request of our supervisor, who wants us to have this training before we strike out on our own--actually a pretty good idea since few of us have really done chat reference before. My own chat reference experience involves 1 reference class--thanks, Pam and Tommy!--and conversations with myself when testing LibraryH3lp).
  3. Have as many test conversations as possible to figure out "bugs" in our use of LibraryH3lp.
Admittedly, these steps are not very nice and concrete, so it will take some creativity on my part. Any ideas for getting regular chats going? Any ideas for other goals I should pursue in the next fiscal/academic year?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Family Friendly Libraries

... and I don't mean this group, whose website I am linking to ONLY out of a librarian's decision not to censor a viewpoint I disagree with. I feel that the organization Family Friendly Libraries has shown by its actions that it would like to set standards not only for the families of members but for other people's families, too, and that they don't take into account needs of minority (in all senses) groups in the community.

But back to my original post.

I am stepping away from my tech learning focus for a post in order to talk about an issue that is now by default an interest of mine. When I talk about family friendly libraries, I mean libraries that are family friendly for employees. This is important to me, first of all, because I have a 1 year old and hope to have more children at some point. While my current job has been great, it's not perfect. I would rather work part-time than full, but part-time professional positions are few and far between. I was able to pump milk with support from both my supervisors when I started my position with a 6 month old...but the place I could find to pump was behind some shelves in our closed reference stacks area. Plus, I had to ask one of my (male) coworkers from downstairs to cover the reference desk each time I pumped, which wasn't always easy for them, since the first floor of our library is always busier than the second.

I certainly understand that the balance between work and family involves certain choices. We chose for my husband to pursue a graduate degree, and so, for the time being, I have to work. We chose to find a way to raise our son as much as possible ourselves, and so I chose I job that is not in the area of librarianship that is my first interest (children's/school librarianship), and I also chose a job in which spending time with my husband is difficult. And yes, we chose to have a child, although I find myself repelled by those who say that having children is a choice and so, therefore, all parents should be left alone to the consequences of childbearing. (Full disclosure: I am pro-life. I am also pro-available/affordable birth control, anti-war, and pro-socialized--or at least more-socialized--healthcare. I am not a political activist, but these are my opinions on these select few subjects. I still question what I would do when presented with logical-extreme scenarios for many of these issues.)

Anyway, the reason I mention LIBRARIES in particular is that librarianship has traditionally been, and still in many ways is, a female-dominated profession. And, yes, family issues affect fathers, too (as my husband can attribute), but when it comes down to it, women have the babies. And if you want to feed babies breastmilk for the first six months-year of their lives (which I believe is recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics, but I couldn't find the actual recommendation, so I'll update if/when I do), a women is necessary. I am all for women having the right to work, but I don't think we can, or should, completely ignore biology.

Since so much of child-raising from the prenatal period through infancy has to do with women, then, I would like to think that women-dominated professions would make child-bearing easier on careers, with such benefits as paid maternity leave, or at least longer unpaid maternity leave, that allows for a guaranteed position upon return. Alas, it is not so. Teachers, another female-dominated profession, have rotten maternity options, and while I don't feel like libraries are especially unfriendly to employees having children, they certainly don't win any family-friendly awards.

I'm now treading on shaky ground, having not done extensive research on this subject. However, at my own institution, I would be eligible for Family and Medical Leave (the twelve-week unpaid leave mandated by the government, see here for more information--and I am shocked--as a pro-life, anti-war person--to see that they have added twenty-six weeks to care for a military family member!! But only twelve for a new baby or non-military ill family member!!), and I could ask to take a longer leave of absence. But my understanding is that this would all be unpaid. Not optimal. Less optimal for those who are single mothers.

Then there is the child-care juggle once maternity leave ends. Staffing a library desk is inherently harder to be flexible about than creating online presentations, making sales calls, or many other types of work. But libraries do have to be open at odd hours--evenings, weekends--so why aren't there more positions created to try to accommodate parents who'd like to work those odd hours? (And in that case, those employees who like to work the M-F daytime shift would win, too, with fewer evenings and weekends to cover.) And why aren't their more part-time professional positions, or positions that are shared?

My final word on the subject for now (since I've realized that I need to do more research before I speak more extensively) is that, however women chose to do their child-bearing, there seems to be a professional cost. Even if a woman could afford to take several years off, have kids, nurse them all, send them to kindergarten, she would then face the challenge of re-entering the workforce with a gap in her employment history. Why can't raising kids go on the resume?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The meeting...

...went fairly well.

On the downside, our chat "demonstration" didn't go so well--partly because LibraryH3lp was having an emergency fix-it day, but also because I don't think we practiced quite enough. And I think I should have left off the gateways and just shown the service with the widget. We were also presenting information about doing coursepages, and got more bogged down than we expected explaining the purpose and mechanics of these.

On the upside, it seems like there is agreement that we need these services. I think implementation will be slow--our director indicated an interest in starting by fall, but also wanted us to start by using the state-wide service. This will really slow things down, because we'd all have to get state training and sign up for question-answering time, which will take more time away from learning the LibraryH3lp system.

But it's a start.

I don't know exactly what my next LibraryH3lp steps will be. I think I'll need to create some more accounts and set up some practice chats--first just keep it librarian to librarian to get people used to chatting at all, then introduce some "patron" chats. I've also realized that I very much need a GoogleTalk gateway, since our students' e-mail accounts have recently been converted to Google Apps.

I've been remiss in posting lately, but will make up for it by adding 2 posts tonight--I have one that's been in draft format for awhile and just needs to be finished and posted!