Learning by Doing

I continue to work the reference desk for both Adults and Children’s Services, which is my primary focus, and I’m learning little “tricks” all the time. I’m finding that sometimes it’s best to go with intuition rather than formal knowledge—real life does not always adhere to rules!

I’m doing a much better job searching our computer system for titles in a particular subject.For example, in the past, I would just search the title or subject field. For the title field, I would only input actual titles or their close approximates, but now I’m learning that if a subject search does not turn up what the patron needs, I could input keywords in the title field and that could turn up relevant titles that I can then use to find appropriate subject headings. (Whew! That was a mouthful.) I’m learning not to be so rigid and to be more creative and experimental. I guess this is all part of becoming more comfortable on the job.

Headquarters has put out a directive about tracking the use of reference resources for two weeks. I believe they are trying to decide what to do with reference books county-wide. At some of the branches, reference books are intershelved with the general collection that circulates. It sounds like headquarters is trying to figure out which shelving system would promote a greater use of reference books. Anyways, my supervisor asked me to read the memo and think about how I would implement a way to track the use of reference books at our branch (we have a separate reference collection). I’m pleased to say that my idea was pretty much what she had in mind—to place a small cart by the reference with signage directing patrons to place reference books on the cart once they are done using them. What I didn’t think about were the reference books that would be left on the tables and circulating carts. So pages and other staff members would need to be informed of the procedure. Communication is key! It will be interesting to find out the results of the tracking county-wide. I would imagine that reference books that are shelved with the general non-fiction collection would get more use due to more patrons browsing the general collection, but we shall see.

I worked on weeding movie DVDs to make room for new ones. The general criteria were low circulation and a last check-out date of at least 3 months prior. I was amazed at how well movies circulated. Even titles that were really old and which I’ve never heard of circulated well and recently. Of course, discs that were terribly scratched were discarded. I also worked on adding and processing donations to our collection. I checked the computer to see if we have the title, and if we don’t, check other branches to see if the title is circulating well elsewhere. Of course, current best sellers get added no matter what because there is usually a long waiting list county-wide for them!

In my collection development class, we learned about merchandising books to promote their use. There isn’t a lot of space to do this at Katie Wheeler, but we make the space for new and rental books. Just like in retail (my previous career), merchandising books makes them fly off the shelf, no matter what the subject is. I am constantly replacing books to face out because patrons keep taking them. There was one business book that sat in the new shelf area for days. I decided to face it out and it was checked out that afternoon. Coincidence? Maybe not.

I have a couple of interesting projects coming up. One is the e-book reader open house next week. The other is a selection project for Chinese books. My supervisor has ask me to help select new Chinese books for our Chinese collection because I know a little Mandarin. We have a list of books that our regional library has selected for their collection and we will need to chose from that list. The description of the book is in Chinese, so that doesn’t help anyone at my library. More on these in the next post.

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