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!

e-Books and more

eReader Open House sign My internship continues to roll along…

Katie Wheeler Library held an e-Reader Open House on Tuesday, April 3rd, between noon and 2:00 pm. The children’s floor was used for this event since it would be quieter at that time of the day. There were sections set up for the iPad, Kindle, Kindle, Nook, and Android devices. Patrons could bring their own devices, or they could play with the demos the library had on hand in order to decide which one they would like to purchase. At the end of each training session, the goal was for each patron to walk away with an e-book successfully downloaded from the library’s digital library.

It was interesting to note that the iPad and Kindle sections had the most participants, and that many patrons had more than one kind of device (generally an iPad in combination with an e-reader). I really thought most people would be older, but there was a fairly wide range of people who came. I helped greet and direct traffic to the appropriate tables. Although my internship isn’t focused on programming, it was extremely informative to watch one being planned and set up, especially since it dealt with e-reader devices and instructing patrons on how to download library e-books. The key is to remain flexible and be prepared for anything! As the result of what I learned about e-readers from this event and from my internship supervisor, I created a video on how to download a library e-book to the Kindle that I used as an artifact in my e-portfolio:

I used the principles I learned from teaching ESL students back in the day, and from instructing patrons one-on-one, in order to make this video user-friendly for beginners. My internship supervisor forwarded this to OCPL’s information systems training coordinator and apparently she liked it enough to post it on their training site!

I asked my internship supervisor if she had a policy about facing out the books in the new book section. She said she only had a few “rules”:

  • display an assortment of genres in the fiction area or subjects in the non-fiction
  • promote titles that people may not immediately be interested in
  • try to vary the colors of the book covers (e.g.rather than displaying all blues or all reds)

I’ve also been working on selecting materials for purchase. Selection criteria is really important here. I’ve been keeping track of transfer requests coming into the library the entire time and the data has proved very useful. Although keeping track of the information on an Excel spreadsheet isn’t practical over the long run, it can be something that can be done for a short period of time (say a month) in order to gather data on what patrons are requesting, especially those materials that the library do not carry or does not have enough of. I’ve found this data to be very useful in the selection process. Since we are a county system, there are evaluators at headquarters who have already preselected a list of titles that they are purchasing for specific branches. Other individual branches have the opportunity to purchase copies from this list through headquarters from the money in their budgets. I was asked to select a few titles for purchase, and I based my decisions on the transfer requests data, price, circulation statistics for the subject heading (these titles are already cataloged, so I can check their subject headings and see how well titles under these subject headings circulate at the branch and throughout the county, as well as when they last circulated), whether there are any holds for that particular title (and for which branches), what I knew about the community, and Amazon reviews. The most important consideration appears to be what the public wants. This was also something that was stressed in my collection development class. If there are patron requests for titles not on the evaluators’ lists and not in the system, the library can ask the evaluators to consider them.

I found the selection exercises to be fun but particularly difficult since I am working off of someone else’s list. Also, how do you know when you have enough titles (for the time being) on a particular popular subject? For example, autism is a popular subject at my branch, and we have a good number of titles for our library’s size already in our collection. But since they circulate extremely well, most titles are not available for browsing at any given moment. Do you buy more on this subject, or do you try to balance the collection with other purchases? The money only buys so many! I guess you learn from experience. Baby steps!


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!