Posted tagged ‘patrons’

Loving What You Do

August 21, 2009

In keeping with my theme this week of rhetorical diatribes, how important is a librarian to have a well rounded knowledge of the culture around them.  That’s a long winded way of asking must a ya librarian read Twilight?

I don’t think anyone would argue that a librarian must be able to relate to their patrons, but just how much does that require?  A colleague mentioned to me recently that they were looking forward to being able to read an adult novel over a vacation.  Let’s think about this comment for a moment.  A librarian is never going to be part of the target audience for any childrens or YA book in our collections, and while many adults can enjoy those books anyway (I’m certainly one of them), you can’t expect that from everyone.

So, how much exposure is necessary?  And is it bad if watching/reading/playing like a child or a teen becomes work?  Particularly as that’s work that must be done off the clock.  Or, is it possible to get by on the How to Talk about books you haven’t read approach?

Challenging Patrons

June 5, 2009

OK, some things just piss me off.  Censorship is at the top of that list, so I’m not exactly a fan of people who challenge books, or other things (our Halloween decorations on one occasion).  So I got really ticked when I read this report about a challenge in Wisconsin.

A group of concerned patrons unsuccessfully challenged the YA book Baby Be-Bop. So they took things up a notch and filed this wonderful claim:

the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for “allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.

What the hell is wrong with people!

The Stats Game

May 28, 2009

Yesterday was our latest round of long range plan development, and it was probably the most fascinating discusion we’ve had yet.  But the key moment to my mind was when we got to the topic of tracking reference stats.

Now one of our objectives is to increase the amount of reference transactions.  However, we quickly reached the consensus as a group that there is little we can do to really improve those numbers (besides maybe cooking the books, which clearly isn’t an option).  The feeling is that the nature of the world has changed to such an extent that people can obtain much of their information elsewhere, through more convenient means.  Furthermore people felt that the majority tend to prize convenience over accuracy, clearly illustrated by the recent Maurice Jarre wikipedia hack

So now we’ve set ourselves a goal that the group pretty much considers impossible.  Maybe we were all just under the weather (it was depressingly bleak outside all day), but probably not.  Reference work has diminished, and it’s likely not going to come back.

Survey Madness Part III

March 17, 2009

We finally got around to discussing our survey results at our planning committee meeting today.  The ensuing discussion was actually incredibly fruitful.  

The trends I commented on earlier were put into a slightly different perspective ones the group had a chance to pour over the data.  In particular the slew of negative comments were counterbalanced by the incredibly positive feedback scores we received.  But that’s not to say the negative comments will be ignored.  Everyone present took them to heart, in particular the ones about our poor service.  But we’re also focusing on the noise level, the lack of awareness of many of our services, and the quality of our a/v collections

All of which means that we’re finally ready to get down to the business of charting our future.  Looking forward to it.

Survey Madness Part II

March 10, 2009

Last week I posted about results of our patron recent patron satisfaction survey.  But at that time we hadn’t sorted through the slew of comments we received.  So guess what I’ve been working on for the last few days.

36 pages later we at least have them in some sort of (possibly) useful order.  The comments themselves are definitely interesting.  According to the more frequent comments we’re a great asset to the community, however:

We could do a better job of customer service

We need more parking

We need more/faster computers

We need more dvds/audiobooks/graphic novels/music

and we need to tell people to be quieter in the building

As you might imagine that last one bugs the hell out of me.  Particularly because most of those comments included things like the library should not be a social place and that quite a few of our (noisier) services are inferior uses of the library compared to traditional research.

We spend so much time trying to become a modern library and quite a few patrons seem to want us to resist those changes.  We even had multiple commenters request that we bring back the card catalog!  ARGGGHH!

Jealousy

January 8, 2009

The new Darien, CT library is about to have it’s grand opening after a $24 million renovation, and by all accounts they may have created the ideal library environment.  It’s designed as a community center first and foremost, has a cafe, built in placements for laptops, patron friendly stacks, and the roaming librarians have tablet pc’s with them to help answer questions on the fly.

Everyone, pay attention to what they’re doing, this is our future.

Would You Like to Take a Survey?

January 5, 2009

Five years ago (before my time) my library conducted a survey of our patrons, and the number of responses was not great.  Now we’re doing it again, but we’re providing an online option via Survey Monkey, and the response has been a bit better.  

However, the results are a bit skewed.  The people filling out the survey online seem to be doing it from home.  As a result, the responses are all from patrons that don’t use the library’s computers because they have their own, and we’ve even got one that is from a person who says they’ve never been in the building.

Now we have paper copies of the survey available as well, and it will be interesting to compare the two data sets when we’re done.  But it would be nice if we could get some of our regular computer uses to fill out the survey as part of their hour long sessions on our public pc’s.

Early Thoughts on cataloging for patrons

November 22, 2008

Goals for workshop:

Give patrons undertstanding of differing quality levels of records in our database and why this is a necessary evil.

Train patrons accordingly so they may place holds on items with higher accuracy (i.e. avoid records showing characteristics of large and regular print editions, which will be weeded out).

Identify for patrons some local policies (i.e. dividing line between memoirs and biographies) that may aid them in browsing the collection.

Explain basic cataloging principals (show how MARC records influence OPAC display) to open up library procedures.

For Possible Inclusion:

Future directions for cataloging (FRBR, tagging, etc…)

Discuss heirarchical model for organizing information vs. Everything is Miscellaneous model

Cataloger’s Discretion

Copy cataloging vs. Original cataloging

Local catalog vs. shared catalog

To be avoided?:

Based on one conversation, avoid giving patrons enough knowledge that they can second guess the library’s decissions (i.e. call number assignments).

Upstairs/Downstairs

November 8, 2008

It’s booksale (scroll down a bit for the announcement) time at my library again.  One of my favorite times at work, albeit not for my wallet, or for those of quite a few other people if the crowds are anything to go by.  Although what’s interesting to me is those crowds were not reflected elsewhere in the library.

Mostly I’m interested because I’m one of those people who would have completely bipassed the main library in favor of the sale downstairs in the auditorium.  Even in the current economy there are still plenty of people who seem to need to be surrounded by books at all times (my current count stands at 1,725).  Honestly, what attracted me to libraries was less having access to all those books, than just being in their presence, it’s my comfort zone really.  And I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

So here we are with a sizeable population of book lovers, who are willing to come to the library but don’t actually utilize it.  This is possibly the best argument to become more than just the sum of our collections.

The Dance

October 15, 2008

Still feeling sickly, but the Librarians who LibraryThing forum gave me a good laugh today which helped.  To paraphrase Tim Spalding, those who publicly embarrass librarians ought to be stabbed with pencils.

But on a more serious note, the forum went off on a valuable tangent comparing reference interviews to tech support calls.  I can definitely sympathize with all those who get annoyed at fighting through the idiot IT questions (yes it’s plugged in, yes I’ve tried rebooting, etc…) in order to obtain some real help.  What the forum points out is that librarians do the same thing when they’re behind the desk.  It’s a necessary evil really, but I don’t think we always consider the plight of a sufficiently advanced patron who may still need assistance from us.

I know plenty of librarians who do ask “what have you tried already?” as part of their reference interviews, but it’s really easy to skip that step.