Beginnings

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!