In the End….or Is It a New Beginning?

Today was the last official day of my internship at the Katie Wheeler Library. My supervisor had asked me to write a brief report based on the holds data I had been collecting over the weeks. Namely, I was to briefly describe the quantitative results (adults vs.children, fiction vs. non-fiction, percentage of New books to all holds brought here, etc.) She also wanted me to describe subject areas which have come up most often in the holds. I was free to include any observations/conclusions on improving the Wheeler Adult Collection based on my analysis of the holds data. Below, I’ve listed some of these:

  • By a 3-2 margin, the library has a higher percentage of requests for fiction ton non-fiction, with newly-published books and best sellers always popular. The library does in fact own many of the fiction titles that patrons are requesting (44.4% compared to 27.5% of non-fiction titles), which emphasizes the point that Wheeler patrons are heavy readers of bestselling fiction.
  • Certain subject areas came up most often in requests, such as Psychology (namely motivational and self-actualization works), Marriage and parent-children relationships, Personal health and safety (namely nutrition and fitness), and Vegetarian and healthy cooking.
  • Audiobooks are an intriguing category. The percentage of requests is not high; however, the audiobook collection is very small. In light of the popularity of audiobooks in general, is this an area that should be strengthened to increase demand and interest? How are audiobooks at other Irvine branches circulating?

I had a great wrap-up session with my internship supervisor on this last day. We talked about what I might expect as far as librarian interviews go and she imparted some wisdom about the process that I greatly appreciated and have taken to heart. She also asked me how I would handle my first job as a librarian – what would my first steps be, how would I get to know the user community, etc. They were tough, practical questions, and honestly, I hadn’t given much thought to this area until now.

Do I feel prepared to take on the title of “librarian” at this moment? Yes and no! I realize that my internship only covers the tip of the iceberg of the many responsibilities that librarianship entails. But I’ve now gained some real-world experience to back up my education; participating in actual activities undertaken by librarians has allowed me to apply theoretical principles and academic knowledge, and adapt them as needed, in a work environment. I was very fortunate to have a mentor who was incredibly generous of her time and provided professional guidance and feedback throughout this invaluable experience. I feel all of my desired learning outcomes were successfully achieved. Most importantly, I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in providing reference assistance and performing collection development activities. There is still much to learn, though.

Now that my internship is behind me, it is time to seek new professional challenges!

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.