Monday, July 27, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

Here is my addition to the Day in the Life of a Librarian project.

What's it like to be the Head of Youth Services at a public library in suburban Chicagoland? Imagine the circus act of plate spinning combined with putting out fires and working a customer service desk. Nice. Never boring. I'm lucky to work in a great library with excellent patrons and staff.

This particular day, my official schedule was 12:30-9:00. Working evenings and weekends is one of the great pros/cons of working in public service. It is a great opportunity to build relationships as often patrons visit the same night each week.

However, a librarian's work is never really done. I check Twitter before I leave for work in the morning. On this day, I stopped at a new coffee shop in town and scoped it out for a possible location for a game night program! Would be interesting to pursue...

Here's what I did during the afternoon:
  • Picked up book on hold and checked it out in under 1 minute. See this video I shot of a librarian using our self check.
  • Broke out a bag of Chex Mix for Youth Services staff. This particular group craves salty versus sweet snacks. Management Rule 1: Keep the troops happy. Food helps.
  • Waded through email since I left early on Friday and came later on Monday.
  • Caught up with staff members about recent programs presented.
  • Finalized September work schedule, adjusted schedules to work around a library school student's schedule (happy to!).
  • Communicated with staff about big, "sold-out" program scheduled for tomorrow and what programs to be promoting by word of mouth.
  • Started conversations with programming librarian about planning programs for Summer 2010.
  • Requested graphics from PR Manager.
  • Followed up with AV selectors regarding orders due today. New selectors, various vendors, gets complicated. Stressing need to have items available on street dates (Next 39 Clues audiobook for example) for patrons.
  • Tried to register for Handheld Librarian conference. Fail. Will try again.
  • Beat my head against the wall. Only a little.
My evening was spent working on the reference desk. It was a fairly quiet night. This summer we did an online summer reading club for the first time. We have worked hard to continue our goal of creating positive, interactive experiences at the library by awarding readers with beans that they put into a large hourglass for every book they read. They also receive prizes: bookmark (5), free book from Friends of the Library (10), personalized bookplate in library book of their choice (15), ring the library GONG (20), patch (25) and beans continue after that. That being said, here's what I did on the reference desk this evening.
  • Awarded readers prizes for completing various levels of the reading club! So fun.
    The beans are the best incentive.
  • Helped patrons with various requests.
  • Restocked Caudill and Monarch (state reading award nominees) displays. These are very popular with students and teachers.
  • Reviewed book and AV orders submitted by staff. This took the majority of the evening with several new selectors involved.
  • Wrote emails with tips for new selectors that were lost when my browser crashed. Urgh.
  • Rewrote what I could remember of emails that were lost.
  • Considered adding standing order DVD selection for our small branch collection.
  • Read through ILA Reporter. Will staff want to do "Scare Up a Good Book" for next summer's reading club theme?
  • Walked through department and imagined future reorganization. We are adding some new graphic novel/magazine shelves and removing some reference shelves which should allow us to create a more appealing TEEN fiction section, as well as an in-house gaming area. However - we will need to work hard to still have an area for quiet study...continuing to brainstorm.
  • As Librarian in Charge, I coordinated the building closing at 9:00.
Another benefit of working an evening - when I come home my dog acts like I've been gone for a year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's my birthday, I'll read if I want to!

While counting the days to my birthday, and moving up to the next demographic, I decided that I should plan a birthday party. They aren't just for preschoolers anymore! My husband and I brainstormed several options and finally I decided to have a Birthday Bookclub Party.

Lame? Think again.

First, I needed the perfect location. One phone call to the Southern inspired Mint Julep Bistro in Palatine, IL and the party quickly started taking shape. This intimate, gourmet restaurant offers an afternoon tea service with tea, soup, finger sandwiches and desserts.

Next, a book to read and discuss together. Why, you ask? Well, most of the party goers would be the diverse, quirky, and never-shy-about-their-opinions women that have become the Women Walking Fast bookclub. Given the ambiance of the Mint Julep, I chose to provide a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with each party invitation.

The afternoon spent with dear friends, delicious food and literary discussion went beyond my expectations. We were definitely on Southern time and were able to savor the food and conversation.

An added bonus was a visit by one of the owners who gave us an impromptu history lesson on English high tea. After the party, I learned that the other owner of the restaurant was from Savannah and she shared thoughts on the book, the movie, and the events from the best-selling true crime novel. We also learned that the soon to be opened Mint Julep Room would be hosting literary events in the future!

All in all, it was a memorable afternoon. Many thanks to the party goers who made arrangements to spend their Saturday afternoon celebrating my birthday, good friends, and great literature.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ALA 2009 - Downloadable Technology for Teens

ALA 2009 Downloadable Technology for Teens

OverDrive (MyMediaMall) Presentation:

Popularity of audiobooks growing. Nearly all downlaodable audiobooks can go to iPod/iPhone now.

Some initiatives:
Have app on smartphone to download audiobook right to phone.
Scroll covers of downloadable titles on homepage (Burlington County Library System).
OverDrive Digital Book Mobile visit.

Beth Gallaway's Presentation: Lots of programming possibilities!

(See for current and future presentations.)

GameTap: video game subscription service (download to library computers for patrons/games have ratings).
PlayFirst: direct to drive, ESRB privacy certified, ratings, no ads.
Comcast games on demand.
Download Board Games - Days of Wonder
Prima Strategy Guides - Steaming/PDF versions available for kids at library?
Games for Change (see AYITI)
Ben10 Alien Force game Creater

Kate Pritchard's Presentation: Downloadable Music (see the Teen's Blog at her library).

Downloading music stats are declining - streaming is on the rise.

Live Music Archive
Pandora: Personalized Internet Radio Station
FineTune (playlists plus social networking / can embed)
Myspace music (Online resource for where to get legal music online.)
Hype_m (searches music blogs)

How to stay informed:

Escapist Magazine

*Program idea: Holiday Gadget Workshop - after holidays have teens show people how to use their new gadgets.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ALA2009 - Preconference

PLA @ ALA: Building Communities through Innovative Applications of Technology - July 10, 2009

Here are selected links and my short list of futher tips/ideas to pursue for each presentation. See the complete presentations on, ALA Presentations Page or the PLA Page when uploaded for information.

Presentation 1:
Using Videos to Build Community in Your Library by Melissa Kiser, Information Technology Librarian, Allen County Public Library

"What's Happening" videos on YouTube: Short, quick videos taken through the library and community connecting community, library events, and library collections in friendly, personable ways.


1. Create a bookletters with top ten most popular books each week.
2. Follow people from your community on Twitter by finding them on Twellow.
3. Host a Tweetup with library followers.
4. Create a video "How to Print" and load it on the library computer desktops.
5. Check out GT system (gaming)
6. Searchable database of area artists (example from Allen County:
7. Create podcasts describing gallery exhibits for people to download and take a self-guided tour. 8. On library blogs, post events such as holiday closings of community agencies, community events, parking alerts, etc.
9. Use Google Analytics to determine website statistics.
10. Investigate WorldCat Local Quick Start.
11. Consider the success of innovative programs and services as not just a measure of statistical output (hits, visits, etc.) but also the qualitative library/patron benefits.

Presentation 2:
John Blyberg, Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience, Darien Library, CT.

Check out his presentations:

Visit the Darien Library website and explore!

Open source integration of ILS and OPAC - creating one dynamic website that takes the burden of experience off the patron instead of forcing the patron to navigate between the OPAC and ILS. Creates engaging patron experience. I want to learn more.

Presentation 3: Social Networking and Libraries
Meg Canada, Senior Librarian, Hennepin County Library

Presentation available here:

Meg started out her presentation with a plug for


1. Connect with interactive marketing associations.
2. Check out
3. Important for social marketing to have one voice.
4. Create a social media strategy (see presentation).
5. Check out Air Force's blog response chart (see presentation).
6. Monitor what people are saying about you/your organization. Examples (more in presentation): (searches comments)
7. Consider guidelines regarding tags, releases, pictures in sensitive areas of the building.
8. Use "insights" in Facebook for stats.
9. Ask questions and post memes in Facebook to engage patrons in conversations.
10. Patrons send in pictures for Hennepin's Bookspace page:
11. LinkedIn!
12 Investigate
13. Webcams!

Presentation 4:
Sandy Farmer, Houston Public Library

Sandy stressed that libraries need to react to the surge in downloadable technology and focus on create culturally literate children (which includes diverse electronic life). Her presentation shared a lot of programming and gaming spaces information.

Idea highlights:

1. Open gaming systems - have players check games out from the circulating shelves.
2. Assign controllers to consoles to save start-up time.
3. Pokemon gym program.
4. Webkins/Club Penguin programs.

We finished this thought provoking day with an appreciative inquiry exercise led by moderator Aaron Schmidt of the DC Public Library. The concept that resonated with me as I left the conference was the need for all of us to "Think It Forward."

We work so hard to meet the needs of patrons today and tomorrow, we don't give ourselves the freedom or the time to imagine how we can meet their needs months and years into the future. Preparing ourselves to help patrons when they encounter the future is vital to our continued relevancy in their lives.

On that note, Aaron shared that the DC Public Library has rolled out an iPhone app. We already knew this (at my library), but what we didn't know was that is was open source and that a BlackBerry App is in the works. He went on to stress the need for a focus on mobile devices as their use continues to skyrocket.

Very motivational program!

Ironically, I wanted to Tweet about these topics throughout the presentation. However, I spent the whole day off the grid since there was no local WiFi for my iPod Touch. I've since recovered from the tech withdrawal, although maybe not from my buyer's remorse. :-)