Public Library: A Day in the Life

Hello! I’m Heather Love Beverley, and I’m a Children’s Librarian for a large public library district in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. This is my day- Welcome!

10:45am-11am: Today’s a late start day for me- I work one evening a week, and today’s my day!  I have a late morning meeting first thing, so I arrive 15 minutes before the start to do a quick check of my email. I’m glad I do, because I discover that a second meeting I had planned for the day- set to start immediately after my first!- has been canceled and moved to another day. Continue reading

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What They Didn’t Tell Me in Library School

by Emily Hamstra

My favorite article in the latest RUSQ is “What they Didn’t Tell Me (or what I didn’t hear) in Library School: Perspectives from New Library Instruction Professionals.” In the article, three new librarians reflect on what they have learned in the field of library instruction outside of library school. Julie VanHoose writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that students don’t care about learning to use the library.”  Bridget Farrell writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that sitting down with the faculty and administration is a vital step in the process of preparing for information literacy sessions.” And, Emily Rae Aldridge writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that my colleagues would be my biggest asset.” I couldn’t agree with these personal reflections more. This article made me think about what they didn’t tell me in library school about library instruction.

They didn’t tell me in library school that working on the reference desk is library instruction. In library school, they teach you about library instruction and information literacy, and they teach you about reference resources and services. I was reminded of this last week during a particularly busy chat reference session. A patron asked me for our book request form. I sent the patron a direct link to the form. The patron chimed back with a “thank you,” and asked me how to get back to the link in the future. In my rush, I had forgotten to teach the patron how find the form on her own. Good thing this patron kept me in line!

At the reference desk, we encounter a lot of patrons who have never looked up a book in our catalog before, never read a call number before, or are baffled by which database to start looking for the information they need. This is library instruction at the point of need. Moments like this are when the patrons we help are going to learn and retain the best, because they need the information we’re giving them. Library instruction in the classroom, as I encounter it, is not often at the point of need. The paper or project we’re talking about in the class might not be due for another week or two, sometimes longer. At the reference desk, a student comes searching for books and articles she needs right away. She needs to do research for paper, and the paper is no longer something far off on her calendar. I have her attention, and she wants to know how to find information on her topic.

They didn’t tell me in library school that learning starts with a question, and so does every reference desk interaction. They didn’t tell me that reference is more than a fabulous service, it’s an opportunity to teach.

Olympic Resources

by Emily Hamstra

I can’t get enough of the Olympic Games. Whether you love the Olympics or are already growing weary of the coverage, we all have patrons who will be asking for resources related to the Olympics. I pulled together some resources related to the Olympic Games to help as you put together displays, and answer readers’ advisory and reference questions.

Online resources:

The Olympic Studies Centre has a library of resources related to rules of the Olympic Games, history of the Olympic Games, champion records, and funding opportunities for those interested in Olympic studies, to name a few.

The International Olympic Committee Library (IOC Library) contains Olympic publications. Search for your favorite sport to read about the events at the London Games brochures, and to see brochures from Olympic games of the past.

The LA84 Foundation has made available an interesting collection of journals, bulletins, oral histories with Olympic athletes, and results from Olympic games.

If you’re interested in images, the Guardian has collected some photos of the Opening Ceremonies from 1924-2008. Library as Incubator has a post about images from past Olympic games.

If your library has a subscription to the database SPORTDiscus, search there for more comprehensive coverage of scholarly journals and trade publications related to sports, kinesiology, and fitness.

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Why Use Reference Books?

by Emily Hamstra

When I was in high school, one of my favorite books was M. C. Strong’s The Great Rock Discography. From The Great Rock Discography I learned how different bands were connected, which albums to listen to, and which albums and bands to skip. It was the age of dial-up internet, and I built a record collection using a reference book and my parents’ expert knowledge.

In instruction sessions I often teach undergraduate students about reference books. When I ask undergraduates what they think of when they hear the word “encyclopedia” they often say, “Wikipedia and World Book.” This gives me an opportunity to tell them about the fabulous world of subject encyclopedias. I explain not all encyclopedias provide us with general information like World Book does. So often in first-year classes students are just getting a grasp of a particular concept or topic for the first time. They don’t always need to use an article database to find the latest article on metaphysics. Sometimes what they really need is an encyclopedia article from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy on metaphysics explaining the main concepts, arguments, major scholars, books, and articles in the field. Just like I needed those foundational albums to start my record collection, students often need a subject encyclopedia to find the foundational elements of the topic they’re researching.

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Meet RUSA’s new committee: Health and Medical Reference

by Sarah Elichko (with help from Karen Vargas)

 
RUSA’s Reference Services Section (RSS) recently welcomed a new committee to the group.  The Health and Medical Reference Committee was formed to address the needs of librarians who work with health and medical information.  You may wonder why another health sciences library group is needed – don’t the Medical Library Association and ACRL’s Health Sciences Interest Group have this covered?  Karen Vargas, Consumer Health Librarian at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (South Central Region) and chair of the RUSA Health and Medical Reference Committee, took some time to speak with me about her plans for the new committee and what sets it apart from existing groups.
 
The new RUSA committee serves public, academic, and special librarians, including both librarians who only handle medical questions occasionally and those working in health sciences libraries.  HMRC focuses on reference librarianship first and foremost.  This decision is reflected by the committee’s origin and first major project, the revival of RUSA guidelines for medical reference.

 

Library Hours: CLOSED FOR JULY

by Amy Barlow

Providence Community Libraries (PCL), a private not-for-profit branch system with nine location in Providence, RI, is outraged over the city’s decision to cut 10% of its funding. The city’s budget meeting has been postponed several times, but should take place tonight. As a radical coping strategy, PCL is considering the closure of all library branches for an entire month (July, September, or December/January holiday season), in the event that the city passes the budget, as is. Instead of limiting hours during the day, or shaving days from the week, it is hoped that a drastic closure plan, during one of the busiest months, will cause public uproar and demonstrate the value of the branches in the communities that they serve.

I spoke with PCL’s Andria Tieman, an Adult Services Librarian, about the budget shortfall.

  • Andria, briefly summarize how the city’s fiscal decisions will impact the operation of Providence Community Libraries.

Andria: The reduction of PCL’s budget by 10% represents a reduction of $355,000 for a library that already operates on a shoestring budget.  Last year’s annual report shows that the bulk of our money was spent on staffing the libraries with little else for materials purchasing or any extras. All of our media collections are donated materials. Presently, according to a study funded by Broadband Rhode Island, 30% of Rhode Islanders lack basic computer skills. Add to that the high unemployment rate in the state, and that means we need libraries more than ever, but a 10% reduction in services would force libraries to slash hours and lay off staff.

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Undergraduate Library: A Day in the Life

I’m Emily Hamstra, Learning Librarian at the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library. I support student learning and engagement through developing meaningful instruction sessions and collections. No day at the library is ever the same for me, so here is a snapshot of one day at the Undergraduate Library.

9-10:30am

The Librarians’ Forum meets monthly to discuss issues the latest issues facing University of Michigan librarians. Sometimes these meetings are focused on campus issues, sometimes they are focused on issues that affect the library profession as a whole. This month the meeting was about different publishing initiatives in the library and on campus. Representatives from Deep Blue (University of Michigan’s institutional repository), MPublishing (University of Michigan’s publishing department, a department of the library), Open.Michigan (open access educational resources created at the University of Michigan), and HathiTrust spoke about how they support the University of Michigan campus and scholarly publishing. There was a lively discussion and donuts.

10:30-noon

Once I’ve cleared out some email, I get started on an order for the Undergraduate Library’s leisure reading collection. I maintain a large leisure reading collection. All books from this collection are purchased through a local independent bookseller.

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