Window Display

Interview with a Librarian Part 3/3

Today is the final instalment of our interview with a librarian. Click here for part one and part two. My thanks again to Shannon for taking the time to answer all of my questions!

Q. What’s one thing you wish every library user knew?

How to use the library’s catalogue system, and how to find books on the shelves! We don’t have a physical card catalogue in our library any longer, but our catalogue is online and can be accessed on two separate computers by the front desk. I am constantly surprised at how many adults don’t know or don’t care to know how to use these catalogue computers, or else are too lazy to spend the time to look for a book on their own. I realize that a lot of people aren’t computer savvy, and a lot of older people learned to use an actual card catalogue, but most of the time, that isn’t the case; most of the time, people just don’t want to look for themselves, and ask us to look for them instead. I certainly don’t mind look up books in the system for someone or showing them where it is on the shelves, especially for children who are too young to read the labels on the books, but sometimes, we librarians just don’t have the time do so at the moment, depending on how busy we are. We just don’t have the time to help every single patron all the time, even if we wanted to! And our catalogue is so very easy to use—you just type in a title or subject or author or whatever you like—and anything in the library that comes close will pop up, and show where it is in the library and whether or not it is available. It just kills me that so many people don’t even want to try to look for something on their own first, partially because I was always that kid in the library that didn’t want any help from the librarians to find something. I always wanted to find the book myself!

Q. What’s the most interesting/funny thing that’s happened to you while working in the library?

This is an incredibly hard question to answer, and because as I constantly tell the other librarians, there is never a dull day in our library! There is always something crazy going on; we get all sorts of strange people in the library, every week, even every day, and there are many times when I think, “Did that really just happen?”

Here’s one of the most interesting things, which happened to me only recently, and it still makes me smile to think about it. Each of we librarians has a bulletin board or window display that we are in charge of decorating every month, and I have a window display. Most of the other librarians do their displays based on the month or the season, like the start of spring of for Christmas, or theme their displays based on a cute saying, but I usually like to base my displays based on a particular book or author or genre, and I always use books that can be found in the library and checked out. For example, for July I usually do science fiction books about aliens in honor of the Roswell Crash, and just last month my entire display I did on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, in honor of Banned Books Week. This month, for October and Halloween, I did my display on Neil Gaiman’s “spooky” books—“Coraline”, “Neverwhere”, “The Graveyard Book”, “M is for Magic” and his newest book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”—which included images of the books’ covers, illustrations for a few of the books, quotes from the books, quotes about books and libraries from Neil Gaiman himself, and I even made large button-shaped cut-outs for in honor of Coraline. I always work really hard on my display every month so that they look as good as possible, and I always hope that someone will walk past my window, see something that looks interesting, and perhaps come in to the library and check out one of the books that I’d picked. Two weeks ago, I was sitting at the front desk when a patron came to check out three library books. Two were Terry Pratchett books, but the third was “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman—which just happens to be my favorite Neil Gaiman novel. I told the patron that it was a really good book, as I often do with patrons when they are checking out books that I’ve read and loved. And the patron said, “I’ve never read any of Neil Gaiman’s books before, but I saw that display outside and thought I’d start with this one.” I was so excited that I almost fell out of my chair, and I told him that that was my display and that my mission was “accomplished”, because somebody actually noticed and wanted to read one of the books I picked. I have no idea whether or not the patron liked the book or not, but I thought that that was so cool, that I actually made somebody want to read a new book and a new author!

Window DisplayWindow Display2

 

Library Interior

Interview with a Librarian Part 2/3

Now for part two out of three for our interview with a librarian (click here for part one).

Q. What do you think is the best resource your library has?

Free internet and printing! We have 24 computers for public access, which anyone in town can use, even if they don’t have a library card. I think that that’s great because a lot of people in town don’t have computers or internet at home, and they know that they can always come to the library to check Facebook or do their homework or pay their bills online. Many of the patrons who come in to the use the computers are college students in town who don’t have computers of their own and need another place to go when the computers in the college library and computer labs on campus are all full. Everyone also has a chance to use the computers, because everyone gets a time limit of one hour on their cards (whether it’s their own library card or a guest card they borrow from the front desk); therefore, no one is allowed to hog a computer for several hours when other people may be waiting to use it. And everyone has the privilege of printing out 10 free pages every day, which is especially appreciated by kids or college students that are working on school projects and need to print out multiple pages at once. We also have a separate teen room that is not only a “hang out” for kids 12-18 where they can read or do their homework without any interruption, but also includes 4 extra computers that is for their use only. One of our biggest priorities in the library is ensuring that kids are taken care of, that they have a place to go afterschool or on Saturdays, and that they hLibrary Interior3ave as much time as they need to get their homework done. We also have free Wi-Fi in the library, and outlets in many different places, as well as tons of tables and chairs, and 2 study rooms, for people that want to bring their own laptops to work on. In other words, we are very computer-friendly at our library!

Q. What do you think is the most underutilized resource in the library?

Our genealogy room, which is a private room that is for the sole use of, obviously, researching genealogy, without interruption, and it includes its own computer and printer for internet access. It also has a Microfilm machine and 100 years of local newspapers on microfilm, as well as tons of books of not only genealogical resources but also local, state and national history. We have free access to both Ancestry and Heritage Quest, which patrons can access in both the genealogy room and on any of the public access computers in the library. Very few patrons use the genealogy room at all, but those that do are regular users; the same several people use the room every week, and do a lot of research on their family history. What I think is crazy is that more people aren’t interested in using Ancestry or Heritage Quest when we offer free access—you don’t have to have an account, you just have to log on with your library card—because you’d think that people would want to fiLibrary Interiornd out more about their own personal genealogy. I guess that most people just aren’t very interested in finding out where they came from, and I think that it’s sad that more people don’t take advantage of this option, or use the genealogy room itself more often.

 

Check back tomorrow for part 3!

Library Interior2

Interview with a Librarian part 1/3

As promised, here is the first part of our interview with a librarian series. Since my cousin, Shannon, works at a library I pounced on her asked her politely to do an interview, and she kindly agreed.

Book Club Flyer

Shannon works at Portales Public Library, and I have to say that it sounds like a fantastic library. One of the things she does there is run the Adult Book Discussion, including designing the flyer to the right.

Anyhow, without further ado, our interview with a librarian!

Q. What’s your favorite part about working in a library?

A. Checking books out for our “regular” patrons. There are a lot of people who come in all the time, every week, sometimes every day, and what I love about that is that you really get to know people well, including what books and authors they read. For example, I know which patrons read James Patterson or John Grisham or Nicholas Sparks, and I know which patrons will request new books two months before they come out and which patrons will wait for the book to be released before they ask to be put on the list. But the very best part of knowing our regular patrons, for me, is getting to know all the families that come in for the children’s programs. There are so many moms and dads that bring their children to the library every week for story time for the younger kids, or for book discussions and movie nights for the older kids and teens. And we also have some families and kids that don’t come to any of the programs, but come in to the library every week or two just to check out books, and I love seeing families come in together, because that means that reading is still important to some families. It’s a way for many of them to spend time together, and you can really tell when that’s the case, as opposed to parents not caring where their children are or what they’re reading, or if they’re reading at all. I also always try really hard to memorize everyone’s names so that I can call each child by their first name, especially the little ones, because it makes them feel special—and it surprises many of them that I remember their names at all, which I find funny. As for our older regular patrons, I very rarely call anyone “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Everyone is on a first name basis, which I think is one of the best benefits of living in a small town; everyone knows each other. And while our patrons are checking out books, whether it’s an adult or a child, I never hesitate to say whether or not I think a book is good. That’s definitely another of my favorite things: recommending good books!

Q. What’s your least favorite part?

A. Withdrawing and throwing away books! We get a lot of book donations, and I am one of two librarians that go through the donations and decide whether or not they are good enough to keep for our collection, or if they can be put in our used bookstore for sale. That isn’t something I ever mind, because then the books are going to good use in some way and can still be read, but sometimes people donate books in terrible condition! I have seen and handled books that are dirty, wrinkled, warped, wet, mildewed and stained with things I can’t even identify, and that drives me nuts! Why would anybody donate books in such crummy condition? Whenever that happens, we take the books out to the dumpster to get rid of immediately, and then we immediately wash our hands afterward! It is just the most disgusting and frustrating thing to me, why people would think we would want books in such condition. But withdrawing books is almost worse! Sometimes books just get so over-used by being read so many times that they are no longer physically acceptable to be re-shelved, and sometimes books get damaged while they are checked out, so they need to be deleted out of the collection and thrown away. Sometimes the books are re-ordered, but sometimes they aren’t, depending on how popular or unpopular they are. And sometimes, there isn’t any room on the shelves for new books, and therefore older, less popular books need to get weeded out to make room, which I have personally done for our Christian Fiction section and our Large Print section. It was difficult for me to decide what to withdraw and what to keep for both sections, because many of the books weren’t necessarily in bad condition; they just weren’t going out at all, and that always makes me a little sad. Whether it is withdrawing a book from the library or throwing away donations, I always find it hard to get rid of a book, because, in my opinion, a tossed book is an unloved book. But sometimes it just has to be done, and you can’t let yourself get sentimental about it, because then you wouldn’t have room for newer books to build up the collection.

Check back tomorrow for part two!

Library Interior2

Interview with Evie Woolmore, author of Equilibrium

Equilibrium

A few nights ago, I was in the mood for trying something different, and the baby was actually asleep, so I downloaded the sample for Evie Woolmore’s Equilibrium. It certainly was something different for me. I had never even heard of the genre, magical realism, before, but I thought I might as well try the free sample. Well, that was my evening (and night) shot. Immediately after finishing the sample, I bought the book and read straight on through til morning (does 1:00 a.m. count as morning?). I am a person who needs strict boundaries in my life: this is science fiction, this is mystery, this is travel, and so on. Of course life doesn’t fit into tidy little boxes and neither does this novel. There is some mystery, some fantasy, some history, and the categories all blur smoothly together. Essentially this is about different people trying to untangle the mistakes and questions of the past so they have some hope for the future. What sucked me into the book was the rich characters – I felt like I was there with them, a part of their struggles and joys. Read the blurb, try the sample. I dare you to put it down after that!

For more information, check out the author’s webpage here (from here you can buy the book as well as try the first chapter), or you could click through and keep reading for my own INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR EVIE WOOLMORE!!! Not that I’m really excited about it or anything…

Continue reading