July 30, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Round 5, Day 5 (Friday)

Today was way more hectic than I thought it would be. I'm downtown today -- it's Friday, and there are three librarians here instead of just two switching off, but a lot of students had questions!

8:00-10:00am - Worked in my office, caught up on some reading (nods to College & Research Libraries and 100 Ways to Reach Your Faculty (PDF)), and was glad to hear a friend from library school got a full-time job at a public library. Also found out that I get to represent the library for a new student orientation coming up for fall semester -- I'm excited!

10:00-12:30pm - Had a training for all librarians on our campus registration & financial aid processes. We learned what steps the students go through, what paperwork they need, and what they can do with their campus management accounts. We get so many questions about this stuff right before the semesters start, so we were glad to get some training.

12:30-1:15pm - At the reference desk, helping mostly speech students with finding pictures for their presentations, how to put photo sources in a bibliography, and how to cite the sources parenthetically in PowerPoint. Explained the difference between informing and persuading and showed a student how to make her persuasive-y section headings more informative-y. Only blocked one porn site today and one download.

1:15-1:45pm - My turn for a quick lunchbreak. Since you must be dying to know what I ate, yes, I will tell you: half of a PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread, an apple, and tortilla chips with 1/2 an avocado + lemon juice. I had to throw it together before I ran out the door this morning but think I did alright.

1:45-3:00pm - Back on the desk, answering a lot of similar questions as before. Students here are incredibly nice and always say thank you to us for our help. I'm not helping people just for recognition, but it's nice to get a thank you sometimes.

3:00-4:00pm - Office time. I would have liked to go to our second floor and map out the floor plan and location of subjects and call numbers for a map we will be giving students (already did the first floor). I'd like more time all at once so I can get it finished in one shot, so might work better on Monday. I leave at 4pm a few days a week since I participate in our Wellness Program, where if you agree to workout for an hour, the college gives you a half hour off (they contribute a half hour, and you contribute a half hour). It rules especially since I like to work out anyhow.

Next week, I'll be reading over our HOLA (Honing Outcomes & Learning Assessment) and QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) materials more, as well as Bloom's Taxonomy, and then I will begin working on my zines lesson plan for a humanities class!

July 29, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Round 5, Day 4 (Thursday)

Working a later shift again, but this time at our satellite campus. This location opened only about a year ago, so it's pretty quiet here (especially opposed to downtown). Typically, when I'm out here, because it's so quiet, I will catch up on things like collection development, pathfinders (finished for now!), work on lesson plans, and get caught up on professional development reading. The librarian at this campus is on the desk all day and is the only reference librarian here; the only other person (working) in the library is in circulation, so it's just two of us.

So far, I have looked at Brandon Hill Updates (via Baker & Taylor, a company many libraries order most or all of their books from) and Rittenhouse for new updates to standard texts in health occupations. Since I am responsible for general health occupations, sonography, radiology, respiratory therapy, and surgical technology, I needed to make sure we have the most up-to-date versions of major books in our collection since medicine/science fields need current materials. The pattern seems to be new editions are published every 3-5 years, so what I'm doing is looking at our OPAC, and if the most recent version we have is 2007 and earlier, I am trying to order the new copy (if there is one). If we have a book published in 2008 and after, I am not going to order since the cycle will refresh itself soon.

All the collection development librarians at my library look at Choice and Library Journal (and sometimes Booklist, though that is more suited for public libraries) to find new books to order. We need to justify why we are choosing something, so having a credible review source to cite in our brief note (for putting it in an ordering cart) is almost always mandatory. That way, if someone challenges a book, asking why we ordered it, we can point to the credible review source. Looking at subject-specific magazines and journals is also helpful (like Artforum for art, The Chronicle for education, and so forth). You can also search for topics in Baker & Taylor, and then click a tab for reviews (often from some of those noted sources), so there is that option as well. Personally, I do like finding interesting items from alternative sources; although we cannot order from them or list an obscure blog as the review source, I'll then search for the item in B&T, and then find a review from a standard.

Something to keep in mind when collecting for a community college is reading level. We look for general audience and undergraduate-level items almost exclusively. B&T will often tell you the level when you search, but when they don't, it's something that should be discerned before ordering because we have a lot of students with lower skill sets (at our location) based on where we are and the school districts feeding in (Dallas Independent School District has a fair share of problems). But also obviously, we do not have graduate students here, as we are tech program and transfer-student focused.

The rest of the day will probably consist of catching up on reading some library blogs (I have been looking at libraries using QR codes lately and hope we can do that at our library; even though we have many disadvantaged students, there are still a lot who have nicer, camera phones this would work well for -- nicer phones than I have!). I also try to keep Meebo chat open while here for virtual reference, and although questions tend to be few and far between, it's nice to have it be an option.

Tomorrow is Friday!

July 28, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Round 5, Day 3 (Wednesday)

So I got to work today at 12pm since I'm working until 8:30. My first two hours here were on the reference desk, and we're still getting a ton of campus/registration-related questions. We're also realizing we might need to change one of our policies for the public-use computers (specifically, our scanner computer) because people have been abusing it lately. It can be hard to monitor every area of the library when there are a lot of questions, and we only have one librarian at the reference desk at a time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to bring zines into our library (currently not to check out, but can be read in the library, as our magazines are). A bigger display is going to go up by the entrance, which I'm very excited about! I will get to incorporate zines into a lesson plan for a humanities class, and hopefully students will start interacting with the collection more with it being promoted. Here is the pathfinder brochure I made for the current collection:
Zines Pathfinder


The rest of today will be tutorials on a couple of our databases I would like to be more familiar with, reading over course texts for classes that have assignments this week (so I understand any terminology better), and then just being on the reference desk in the evening. I have finished revising all my pathfinders and making LibGuides for my subject areas, so it feels great to have that under my belt. As you can see in yesterday's post, I am responsible for many areas, so it took awhile to do all of that!

If anything especially interesting happens later, I will probably make an edit, but it is typically more quiet here in the evening.

July 27, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Round 5, Day 2 (Tuesday)

Is it really only Tuesday? Before I get to anything else, let's first talk about germs. It's unbelievable how many germs it's possible to pick up as a public services librarian. I actually got sick at the beginning of this month with a cold, I think from not washing my hands often enough after being on the reference desk. Now, I'm adamant about washing my hands throughout the day, and especially immediately after helping a patron who might be sick.

Today has been kind of crazy with students needing help setting up campus accounts and filling out FAFSA. I think there were 20 reference questions on campus help alone in a 2-hour period (and most took longer than just 5 minutes to help the student); I think I probably actually sat at the desk during my time out there for maybe 10 minutes. Some days are just like that, though. We are going to be getting trained on the campus registration forms and procedures so we can help students when they have those questions -- right now, financial aid, admissions, and counselors are sending them up to the library to do all this stuff, but we're not sure how to help them. When we don't know the answer, we have to send them back down to wait in incredibly long lines, so hopefully this will help.

Otherwise, during my office time, I started reading more materials on instruction and information-seeking behavior. I'm back out on the desk when my lunch break is over in 30 min., and I might try to order a few more books, but I'm guessing there will still be a ton of questions. Tomorrow, I'm working an evening shift downtown, so that will be my first time working at night at this campus (I regularly work some nights at our satellite campus)... so, until then.

July 26, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Round 5, Day 1 (Monday)

I participated in Library Day in the Life before, but now that I'm a little more settled in at my job, thought I would document my week with Library Day in the Life Round 5.

Last week was pretty crazy for me with patron confrontations -- mostly people not following or trying to abuse the rules: I had to call security 3 times in one week. I was really hoping this week would be more tame, and relieved that so far it is. Maybe it was the heat!

My day started off in my office where I ordered Role Models by John Waters for our collection based on a review I read in Artforum. I checked the schedule for the week and saw it's going to be a bit crazy with a lot of summer classes coming in for library orientation sessions, which means I will be on the reference desk most of the day.

Working at a community college is definitely a combination of an academic and public library as far as who you help and the types of reference questions asked. Often, I will help someone, who has hardly used a computer before, set up an email account. This might be someone from the public using our public computers or a soon-to-be student starting to register. Today, I had questions about how to change your address with the post office, how to find an old dissertation in the University of North Texas library catalog, and how to get to and fill out FAFSA. I also gave a new student a library tour and showed him where the books are for what he'll be studying. I was also able to finally alert my supervisor to a particular patron who is not a student but always sneaks into the student-only computer classroom we have when I'm busy with questions; I've mentioned him and described him, but today he was finally in the library when she and I were in the same place.

I'm about to go back out to the reference desk and will be there until I'm done for the day. We follow an embedded librarian format, where the librarians work very closely with many instructors; this makes it so helpful when students come in with questions because we know ahead of time what their assignments are, as well as instructor expectations. There are a lot of speech classes getting into their informative speeches this week, so many questions will be on researching a topic for this speech as well as using PowerPoint.

Edit: instead of going to the desk, my supervisor told me I could have some more office time today, so now I am reviewing newly-received books (new books that we had ordered), and will notify instructors in my subject areas of the title, author, call number, and a brief description. If curious, I am responsible for arts and humanities, careers, remedial reading, education, culinary, business, interior design, music, sports/fitness, and health occupations (general, radiology, sonography, respiratory therapy, and surgical technology).... so, a lot!

More tomorrow!

July 1, 2010

Early career credibility

I've been thinking about credibility a lot lately -- credibility with students and in collaborative relationships with faculty. Being a new librarian, it can be difficult to gain trust when not only are you new to the organization, but also new to the profession. Some students are set in their ways with asking for help from a particular librarian, and some faculty do not seem as open to working with a new person they don't really know very well. Not always having the answers and having to ask another librarian for input doesn't always help the case.

When I asked my very excellent ACRL Instruction Section mentor what to do if someone asks a question in a session I am teaching and I do not know the answer, she told me it's okay to say that it is a good question and I'm not sure of the answer but will find out. This also applies to the reference desk; my supervisor has encouraged me to come to her with questions because since I am new, I am not expected to know everything. I have only had one teaching experience at this point, but when I'm on the desk and a student asks me something I don't know, I will first try to find the information together. On one hand, this can really work to my advantage by turning it into a teachable moment because once we do arrive at the information being sought, I can say "hey you did great it's really just trial and error," and it makes the student feel more comfortable with the library as well as asking me for help. That really has been one of my favorite scenarios.

However, and this has happened a bit too, when a student asks me a question and I really am baffled, I will have to say I'm not as familiar with that subject as my supervisor but I will go find out or go ask her to assist them. I've had a few individuals approach me at the desk and ask for my supervisor specifically, when I say she is not available, I really have been asked if I "know what she knows." I will tell them I might not know everything she knows but I know a good amount and would they like me to help them. Usually, the student will say yes and I am able to answer their question (or figure out where to find the answer). I feel like with the students, this will just take time for them to get used to seeing a new face and that I am able to be helpful.

When I see students again that I have helped, I make sure to follow up with them and ask how their paper or presentation went, and that usually seems to help form more of a relationship. Now I do have students come back to me for help without hesitation, albeit there still are a few that only want help from a specific librarian. Building relationships first with faculty, outside of anything having to do with the library, is another great piece of advice my mentor gave me.

I have not yet met most of who I will be working with from the faculty since it is summer, but I have been trying to provide good service regardless of whether it was asked for or not. For example, I am now sending out emails about new books to instructors in certain subject areas, and I plan to ask for input on collection development once I have more interaction with them; if I don't know an answer to a question, I follow up as soon as possible. One instructor came in looking for an online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, and I wasn't sure offhand if we subscribed electronically; my database and then catalog search took a little longer than I had hoped, so I made sure to later email him to follow up and point out the other online dictionaries we have instead of the OED and let him know where the print version was located for future reference.

I think I will need to explore faculty collaborations a bit more because I know some instructors in my subject areas do not bring their classes to the library (never have and don't necessarily plan to), and I hope to find a way to work with that -- or at least come to a compromise of sorts. Again, a lot of this will just take time, but I'm trying to get on the right track from the start. Hopefully, once I'm introduced to more instructors in my area I will have more opportunities.