Thursday, August 27, 2009


I was excused from serving on a 3 week jury because of childcare issues. Whew! It would have been very interesting, but finding someone to watch Nathaniel all day would not have been fun.

I hope to be excused in another way, too: I had a serious reference desk blooper last night.

A very nice patron came in trying to find out if we had a book by a specific author (we didn't). I was able to find out that the local public library had 1 copy of the particular book she cited, and gave her instructions on getting a card (as a university student) and requesting the book from a branch that was a little further out. Then I found out that she just wanted something fun (preferably a western romance) to read that night.

Well, if I were at a public library, I would have shown her the romance section, shown her the western section, and let her have at it. I am not at a public library, and I have to say that our collection is very light on the genre fiction books.

I tried searching for the author. I tried searching for a couple other authors that popped into my head. I tried to find one western book and then copy the LC subject headings from its catalog record. I tried to find some suggestions on Novelist (this link just goes to their advertising site--see if your local library subscribes to this super database!). None of these worked.

I had a brainwave about halfway through and sent her upstairs to the library school's library, where they have an actual fiction collection. However, I don't know whether or not she found anything.

The most frustrating part? These are the kinds of questions I LOVE! I love it when people come it to a library looking for something good to read. This is why I'm a librarian, for crying out loud!

Today, in order to try to learn from my mistake, I did two things. First, I went and played with Novelist some more to get a few more of their features under my belt (I used to rely mostly on the "read-alike" feature, but you need a specific book for that to work). I've learned both about their genre search and the really fabulous "feature articles" that highlight a genre and/or topic. There was one on western/frontier romance, too!

Next, I got on ACRL's "collib" (college libraries) listserv and asked for advice on doing RA (reader's advisory--the fiction side of reference) in an academic library. One librarian sent a list of official subject headings for some genres, which I have duly printed off and highlighted, to be ready to grab next time.

I just hope the same patron comes back...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Praying and Jury Duty

Two notes:
  1. I'm off to jury duty tomorrow, with mixed feelings. On the up side, I believe in serving as a juror (I always figure that if I were on trial, I'd want someone like me in the jury!), it's a change of pace from the usual schedule, I will likely have lots of time to work on getting through my huge Australia book, and I will be even more likely to get to see my husband tomorrow evening. On the downside, child care could get hairy if I have to serve for more than a couple of days (we have a retired friend from church helping us out tomorrow), I suddenly (as of this afternoon) have 3 instruction sessions scheduled for next Tuesday that need planning, and I will have to get up around 7 AM after going home at 1 AM. I think this works out to hoping for either non-selection or a 1-2 day trial.

  2. I spend most of my blogging time discussing library-related matters, and so it may seem a little out of place to have a "praying for" button on the blog. While I use this blog to discuss professional life, it is my own personal blog and represents my opinions and nobody else's. My opinion is that I am a Christian and a mom before I am a librarian, and that Jonah and his family can use all the prayers they can get (He has a rare genetic disease that makes his skin blister very easily. It also affects his mucous membranes, so things like eating can get quite painful for him). Discussions about the personal/professional divide came up in my public library class during library school, too. Maybe I'll post more about it in the future...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Madeleine L'Engle again

As some may already know, Madeleine L'Engle is my all-time favorite writer. (Because I'm sure you're dying of curiosity, some others are Robin McKinley, Sharon Creech, J. K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Tolkien, Austen, and often any author I happen to be reading).

Anyway, Ms. L'Engle passed away in the fall of 2007, but I haven't read all of her books yet, so I still get to have new encounters with her. Toward the end of the summer (and to provide a break from an interesting, but long, book about Australia), I started The Other Side of the Sun, which I found at a used bookstore sometime in the last 3 years.

I always find it interesting to see how Madeleine L'Engle's books fit together. Even though there are defined series (The Time Quartet/Quintet, the Austin family), even her stand-alone books often fit in with other books she had written. Several characters (Zachary Gray, Adam Eddington, Polly O'Keefe) appear in different storylines, and it seems like almost all of her books have a similar feel to them. L'Engle always recognizes the presence of evil in the world, but affirms the greater presence of good. Many of her characters are much too innocent for the "real world" (although, having found myself being embarrassingly naive many times during my life, I find them real), but she creates situations that include all the nasty messiness of reality.

The Other Side of the Sun takes place on the southeast coast of the U.S. (something of a departure from her frequent New England settings), and it's not a contemporary novel--it takes place in 1910. Still, it has the same feel as the other books I've read and loved, and some of the characters are delightfully quirky. One thing I'll be interested in is seeing how L'Engle handles the issues of race and racism, which are prominent in the book.

I'll post my review once I've finished!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Making haste slowly

We have some progress on the virtual reference front!

As I mentioned after our big presentation meeting, our library director would like us to get our feet wet in the virtual reference world by working through our statewide, co-op like virtual reference service. We now have two training sessions set up with the NC Knows coordinator, so all the reference librarians will get trained. This involved a little bit of eating crow on my part, as our group originally set up a date for those of us who presented the idea to begin with. Our idea is now "out there," and we have to remember to work with everyone! Thankfully, it was a relatively easy situation to solve.

Once we're all trained, we'll be able to take on some hours of monitoring the service. After that, who knows...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Yikes, need to update...

The "yikes" is because my last post was so completely devoted to tooting my own horn, and then I LEFT it there for over a week.

There is not very much to report in library land. The summer lull continues, even though it's the last week of summer classes (apparently the computer lab downstairs is slightly fuller, but that's the only sign we've had).

There's also very little news on the chat reference service. We will hopefully have a conference call with the coordinator of our state chat reference service, which our director would like us to work with before completely setting out on our own. I haven't played with LibraryH3lp much recently, due in equal parts to other work, lack of motivation and diligence, and lack of possible further steps until we are ready to actually try out some chatting with more staff, if not with patrons.

Otherwise, all is quiet on the reference desk front. Students begin their fall semester in two weeks, and hopefully more stories will abound!