It’s All Becoming Clearer

These past few weeks have gone by fairly quickly! As I go forward in my internship at Katie Wheeler Library, I’m finding myself getting really immersed in the activities. I’m feeling more like a librarian, although I still have a ways to go.  I’ve been working the reference desk quite a bit, both with my supervisor and on my own (of course, with a librarian within call range!). One morning, I was asked to take the door count and put out the daily newspapers the library receives—the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and  a Korean daily. At another public library where I work part time, this task isn’t completed by the reference librarian. We also receive other newspapers, but not everything arrives every day. I’ve discovered that the phones generally start ringing right on the dot at 10:00 am and will continue for the first 15 minutes at a steady pace. So you need to be ready to go! Many of the questions still deal with specific title requests, where you have have to do an item search to see if the library owns the title, or check to see what other branch has it and have it transferred in if the location is too far. I’ve also had opportunities to do more subject searches, though. These, of course, tend to be more complex. One gentleman asked me how he could research materials on businesses that have failed. At first, I was stumped! I had no idea how to begin searching the topic. Something to do with businesses! So I just typed in “business failures” because I couldn’t think of anything else, and to my surprise, that was an actual subject heading! I was able to locate appropriate materials for this patron to get him started. Another patron called on the phone to see if we had books on helping children cope with divorce. A search under the subject “divorce” brought up way too many headings and in the interest of speed, I transferred the request to a librarian. I did manage to conduct a reference interview and found out she wanted books children can read rather than books for parents so they can help their kids deal with divorce. A subtle change in semantics but one that makes a huge difference in what the patron was asking for.

I  played  with the Kindle and iPad a few more times to make myself more comfortable around them. I even walked a frustrated patron through downloading a Kindle book, for which he was extremely grateful. Being familiar with the procedures for downloading e-books to the Kindle and iPad made it much easier to do the same for the Nook, which was a new device for me this time around. I’m going to have to play around with that one a bit more, as it entails using Adobe Digital Edition and a USB cable (as opposed to being a wireless transaction). Also, my supervisor invited me to participate in an e-book open house the library is holding next month. I’m super-excited about it! I love that the library is recognizing a need for instruction in the community and is acting to provide that information on a personal level.

I also continued with collection development activities. I continued to log information about the holds coming into library to the Excel spreadsheet. There are patterns emerging, which I will analyze at a later date. I continue to weed full shelves to make room for new arrivals and rid the library of books that have not circulated in a while. This process is becoming much easier for me. Some decisions to discard are quite easy to make while others are iffy. With those, you really need to factor other criteria into your decision. These, I talk over with my supervisor and explain why I think something should be discarded, and I’m happy to report that she has agreed with my decisions 99% of the time! Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about discarding last copies. Those decisions are made by headquarters, and they will either tell us to get rid of it or reassign it to another branch. I find that I have to struggle a little to put aside my personal preferences when it comes to weeding. I need to remind myself sometimes that it is not my library but my community’s, and if they’re no longer interested in the book, it needs to go.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with the direction of my internship. I’m learning and doing professional activities that will help me achieve my learning outcomes and getting great advice on just about everything library-related!

Carrying On

The past couple of weeks, I have been working on both reference services and collection development. I’ve started covering lunch breaks at the desk both in adults and children’s all by my lonesome and this has really made me grow in the role. I guess I’m not as tentative and insecure when I don’t have someone looking over my shoulders. I’ve also come up with an Excel spreadsheet with the help of my supervisor to track holds coming into the library. The objective is to log different kinds of requests in order to analyze what patrons are asking for and to see if there are weaknesses in the collection that need to be addressed. The spreadsheet tracks the number of fiction, nonfiction, audiobook, CD, and DVD requests. Then I go into our catalog and check the titles against our holdings to see how many titles our branch already owns and how many we don’t. I also log call numbers for the nonfiction so we can later see what subjects are most frequently requested.

books at the Katie Wheeler libraryThe library had just finished weeding according to a last-circulated list, but many of the shelves were still full. So the librarian asked me to pull the books from the full shelves onto a cart and go through them in the ILS to see what can be weeded further. At least one book must be weeded from each of these shelves. Although it pains me to discard books that have circulated within the year, necessity dictates this course of action. The library’s fiction collection is a small one, and room must be made for new additions. This is a library where users are always requesting newly published books, and this particular demand must be met. I looked at several statistics- last date checked out, number of times checked out during the period the library owned the title, number of books within OCPL, and whether the title is still circulating at the other branches. The year of publication was also taken into account.

Thoughts about weeding (collection development): I had one book that I was really on the fence about. It was Comanche Moon, the last in the Lonesome Dove saga by Larry McMurtry. It was a gorgeous new copy, but the last checkout was in March 2010. We didn’t have any other books in the series except Lonesome Dove in paperback. The county system listed 23 copies of Comanche Moon, with only one copy currently checked out. I thought, big name author, beautiful condition book. I don’t want to discard it! But…it was written in 1997 and was not circulating at our branch. So out it went.

Thoughts about reference: I think what I’m finding the hardest thing to figure out are the subject term(s) to use when searching for books on a particular topic. I had one young lady ask me for books about careers in psychology. I tried several combinations of “psychology” and “career” and “guide”in a subject search but came up empty. Often, the terms you think you should use are not the right ones! Practice practice practice, I suppose. After a while, I’m hoping the right terms will come to me automatically.


I’ve started my internship for LIBR 294!

To begin: my internship site is at the beautiful Katie Wheeler Library, one of 34 branches belonging to the Orange County Public Libraries system in Southern California. The library is situated in the Irvine Ranch Historic Park and the exterior is a faithful replica of the 1900s Irvine family ranch home. While the interior retains many of the architectural aspects of the original home, such as mahogany accents, fireplaces, and a “grand staircase,” it has been adapted to meet the needs of a library. Opened in February 2008, the Katie Wheeler branch is 11,250 square feet on three floors and offers over 50,000 books, periodicals, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. The atmosphere inside is very warm and cozy, and yet it is a fully functional, modern library with wi-fi access, computer workstations, and self-checkout. It feels like no other library I’ve ever visited, and I’ve visited plenty!

Check out the video below for a virtual tour of the library:

My primary goals are to gain hands-on experience in reference services and collection development in a public library setting. To this end, I developed the following learning outcomes:

  • To analyze data and apply various criteria in the selection of library resources
  • To demonstrate ability to provide reference assistance and conduct effective reference interviews
  • To enhance knowledge of popular electronic devices used by library patrons and provide instruction
  • To assess collection for weeding using statistical data and assessment strategies

Although I’ve volunteered at this site, an internship is a much more official capacity. So the adult services librarian, who is my internship supervisor, started off by having me read the policy and procedures manual, which I hadn’t done before. She also went over the procedures that the librarians and library assistants follow upon opening and closing the library. I spent a lot of time observing reference interactions the first week. I am also extremely fortunate that my supervisor is on the training team for e-book devices because one of my learning outcomes is “to Enhance knowledge of popular electronic devices used by library patrons and provide instruction.” She went over the steps that patrons need to take in order to check out e-books on the iPad. We had a brand new iPad2 to play with! We also went over the Kindle.

What I’ve discovered while observing the reference desk at a public library is that there a lot of directional questions. I mean, A LOT. Where’s the bathroom, where’s the elevator, where are the children’s books (children’s materials are on the second floor, which is not immediately apparent for newcomers)….There are also a lot of ready reference questions. By that, I mean patrons asking whether we have a specific book – they will either ask by title or say something like “the latest book by Stephen King” or the biography about Steve Jobs.” Current best sellers are popular here and almost always all checked out throughout the county system. So we are often putting titles on requests for patrons. No meaty reference interviews yet! I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the province of academic libraries. Because of the uniqueness of the library, I have to learn the history of the building and the location so I can answer the inevitable questions about our library. People are genuinely interested and you have to know this stuff!

Navigating my way through the iPad was a fun learning experience. My supervisor first had me try to follow the iPad directions listed on a bookmark that OCPL gives out. Basically, I was testing it out as a patron to see if the instructions were easy to follow. It’s easy enough to follow  basic directions to get started and to download the ebook, but it’s the in-between searching for the ebook part that’s difficult.The searching part tends to get glossed over in any ebook downloading direction I find. Same with the Kindle. If the patrons are in the library asking about how to dowload ebooks, going over how to search for ebooks by demonstrating it on the iPad or on the computer really helps them with the whole process.

A Day with the Kids

Spent six hours in children’s services today at YL, and it’s always like night and day up there when compared with adults! A bit noisier, to be sure, and livelier, too. I was surprised that most of the kids seem to know what book they want. They may not know the exact title, but they certainly know what they’re looking for. One young man asked me for “Magic Tree series #8.” Now, I’ve never heard of that series (I feel old!) and the child did not know the title. But a look through Mid-Continent Public Library’s terrific Juvenile Series and Sequels database got me the title of #8 in a jiffy. This database contains over 3,700 children’s series with the books listed in order, and seems to be updated frequently. I commend the staff over at Mid-Continent PL for maintaining this indispensable resource, which I know I’ll be using over and over!

YLPL children’s department also has a Discovery Dig “Play and Learn ” play island on loan for a few months, and I saw it today for the first time. It’s a small, interactive, museum-like exhibit that “encourage[s]  purposeful play in the public library.” The toy pieces “incorporate problem solving, sorting, sharing, early literacy skills, design and testing, and collaboration,” according to Rancho Cucamonga Library, which has four of these Play and Learn Islands™ islands. The kids are certainly drawn to the one we have here on loan and enjoy playing with it very much. It does add to the noise level, though!

I also spent the shift signing up many kids to the Winter Reading Club. It’s a reading program that allows children up to 8th grade to earn prizes after 5 hours of reading or finishing 15 books. They have three opportunities to earn these prizes, and the ones that came in to claim their prizes seem quite thrilled to get them. It’s also exciting and gratifying to see kids signing up for these kinds of programs. Love seeing them motivated to read! Traffic slowed down dramatically  after dinner time, and I spent time printing out colored signs and logging supplies that are to be taken to the Performers Showcase. Yep, these tasks, sometimes mundane, still need to be done. Hey, I learned to send color print jobs to the printer from our work station!

I still feel tentative up there in children’s. Although I am quite familiar with the children’s classics and books that I grew up with, I am unfamiliar with most of the  titles and series that are popular today. Working here will hopefully get me up to speed!

First Day as a Substitute Librarian Assistant!

Yorba Linda Public LibraryToday was my first day training as a substitute librarian assistant at Yorba Linda Public Library. I started at 9:00 am and was first given some basic information such as parking and other nuts-and-bolts topics. Karen in Adult Reference then proceeded to give me a tour of the library from a reference librarian’s perspective and showed me how materials were organized throughout. I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous because some categories are in odd places. The revolving paperback displays are scattered all over, with science fiction/fantasy here, mysteries and westerns there, and romance somewhere else. I’m sure I’ll eventually remember where everything is located, but in the meantime, I ought to do some wandering about whenever I can to get everything imprinted in my brain!

After Karen showed me where everything was, Lynn took over and showed me how to do searches in the Horizon ILS. It’s very different from WorkFlows over at Orange County Public Libraries (OCPL). I was able to go through some search questions that Lynn had on a list. There were questions like:

  • Who wrote Death of a Hussy? When was it last checked in? When was it added to the system?
  • What is the latest SAT book published by Barron’s?
  • What is the title of one manga and one graphic novel that the library owns?

Some questions required searching in Horizon; others took me to the library website to find answers.

Afterwards, we looked at the databases offered by Yorba Linda. Again, I had a list where I was asked to find information. Examples include:

  • Find an article on gun control.
  • Using Novelist, search for adult mystery books which have a paranormal aspect to them. Email the results to ******.
  • Find a character profile for Hester Prynne. What book(s) does she appear in?
  • Find the most recent article in Consumer Reports that gives ratings on mp3 players. What database did you use? What date is the article?
  • Which databases/subscription sources would you use if you wanted information on abortion-statistics, history, articles, etc.?

Most of the time, it’s a matter of choosing what you think is the most appropriate database (or database within a database) and just searching by trial and error. MasterFILE Premier is rather like Academic Search Premier and can be used for many, many topics. It is also the database for searching Yorba Linda’s online periodicals.

The rest of the time was spent observing the staff work with patrons. I was able to help out a couple of them – one gentleman wanted to know where he stood in the queue with his holds. Fortunately, I remembered how to look in the Searching folder on the left and then click on the Request folder to view the Borrower Request List! Lynn and I also shared authors that we like, sort of like a reader’s advisory session! She recommended a few authors that I will definitely check out – over winter break. All in all, it was a good introduction to the work I’ll be doing. I’m looking forward to being able to help out a few folks on my own tomorrow!