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!

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.