Monday, February 23, 2009

Beware Of Papercuts - A Library Assistant Blog

This happens to me every now and then. I was having a conversation with a group of people. It was totally friendly. I was explaining my concerns about the switch to digital television. One person asked me could I dumb it down for normal people.

There was laughter. I must have had my deer in the headlights look. I simplified what I had mentioned that even if you have a digital converter it may not work for a number of reasons.

Honestly, inside I felt stupid. I forgot to switch from nerd/nerdette speak to folks that don't know what a blog is or why it is important to know. It is important to be language aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. I get so eager to share that I forget to switch modes.

Will I do it again? Heck yeah but hopefully I will pause and make sure what I am saying is going to be heard and not blocked because of the way that I am saying it.

Laughing Library Clerk

A few months back there was a comment about how some of the items that I post tend to be about technology and don't really have anything to do with the program. I have to plead guilty to my biases. However my lust for information technology really does have a lot to do with the evolving workplace known as the library.

After you leave the program you will encounter these technologies and expected to use them or learn them very quickly. There will be things that have not been invented yet but those items will impact your life and your library visitors.

So I'm doing a little happy dance when I found the Beware Of Papercuts blog. Podcasting for Libraries - yes you should know how to find podcast beyond iTunes, how to create them and why that could be a useful skill. Twitter? For sure. Tools for your cell phone? Check.

So if you have a chance check out the Laughing Library Clerk as she gives you real working examples of how to incorporate technology with providing services.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Intellectual Freedom and Teens Video at YALSA Blog

Over at the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blog there is a video about how intellectual challenges affect teens.

Joseph Wilk of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Katie, a teenager who blogs at the library talk about how challenges to a book or material can affect teen patrons.

There are a few minor quibble with the video. It is not captioned. In this video, it would have really helped because it was hard to hear Katie. I had to crank up the volume to hear the good points that Katie made concerning access to book with subjects such as drinking, drugs and sexual activity.

One of the points that she made was that if a book is written for teens and it contains the kind of things that teens might encounter who are you protecting by challenging the book?

To be fair, this was the first video. I hope the YALSA blog continues to try video blogging. It can be a great way to engage their population about how the library can serve their needs better.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

UNT/CSUN MLS Program Information Sessions

For anyone interested in applying to the CSUN/UNT MLS program there are two upcoming info sessions -- one is a Pasadena!

March 9th, 2009

Pasadena Central Library - 3pm
285 E. Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA
(626) 744-4041

Buena Vista Library - 7pm
300 N. Buena Vista
Burbank, CA
(818) 238-5620

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

"It's a good thing when children enjoy books, isn't it?" Judy Blume (New York Times article, 22 October 1999)

While I enjoy my library position at the Circulation desk here at the PCC library, I have to confess that I absolutely love my library aide position at the elementary school where I work three days a week. I look forward to seeing the young faces that come in week after week to return books they've had the pleasure of reading for a week in exchange for a new book. One thing that always touches me is when students point to a book amidst the piles of returned books on my desk and say how much he liked that book. Or they wait to hand a book to me just to let me know that was his book for the week as opposed to putting it in the bookdrop. Seeing the books I put on display being picked up and looked at is a wonderful feeling. Even better is when they're actually checked out which is quite often.

One thing I have encouraged is greater use of the library at the elementary school. Before the middle school students could only check out one book at a time but I decided they should be able to check out 2 at a time since I knew at the high school level, they can check out 3 books at a time. What better way to encourage enjoyment of more books! Often times, the school staff have not realized they could check out books as well but I have done my best to let them know of the opportunity there. Now I have a few of the D/HOH (deaf/hard of hearing) aides regularly checking out books for their young children at home. In addition, I get to hear how much their kids loved the various books they borrowed for them.

More recently, most of the middle graders haven't had the pleasure of coming into the library due their teachers not taking the time to bring the class in. In a continued effort, I am soon going to be having the library open during their recess time so they can come in on their own. Even though it was something I had started to look into due to the classes not coming in, what surprised me was having the older students come up to me in the hallway asking when they'll be able to come to the library.

I have always enjoyed books since I was growing up and still do. That is what I hope to bring to these kids at this elementary school. Another interesting thing has been when kids make the effort to finally bring in their signed library contract just so they can check out a book I've put on hold for them. All those books waiting for them are now available for their pleasure. And that's my quote of the day from one of my favorite children's authors of all time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yeah, I'm Checking You Out!

When you first glance at this title, you may think I'm talking about checking out a book or even just checking you out. But alas, this humorous post has to do with checking the photos on the student IDs when people check out items here at the Shatford Library. I have to confess before taking the LIB 103 Introduction to Circulation class, I would tend to get lazy about taking the quick extra few seconds to look at the college IDs that students, faculty and staff use to check things out especially when things get crazy at the Circulation Desk. But after listening to our teacher, Eric Hanson, who is ironically also my boss, say that he certainly hoped his Circulation workers were making sure to check those student IDs, I vowed to start taking the extra time to always make sure the person using the ID in hand belonged to that individual. Upon doing so, I recently made a list of the interesting things I noticed as I really took notice of the college IDs.

The most unforgettable card that a student handed to me was truly all mangled up so it was truly hard not to check it out. Immediately, I wondered how on earth the card got in that shape. I tried not to convey any kind of expression but maybe I didn't succeed. As I was typing in his student ID number, he said that his dog had tried to eat his card. I have to confess that I wouldn't have guessed that! I did joke that his dog truly must have been hungry then. It's not as if those plastic student IDs are all that tasty.

Another time I had to look back and forth from the student and the ID card several times because the student really looked very much different from the picture. It's not often surprising to see pictures where the guy had longer hair and a beard in the picture and then currently be sporting a buzzcut and be cleanshaven or a girl has her hair in a completely different style and color. But this guy just seemed not to look like the same guy. After a few looks, I decided it was him. I was tempted to suggest maybe he needs to take a new picture since he had changed so much since his picture was taken.

Other Things Noticed

  • Many people do not like to smile for pictures.
  • Some people were so not prepared for picture day!
  • Magnetic tape falling off or completely missing so have to type in the identification number.
  • Bent cards (Perhaps kept in back pocket at one point as I've been known to do.)

I will confess I didn't think it would be much fun having to remember to look at each individual ID card when people are checking things out but it has turned out to be much more entertaining than I could have imagined. I actually look forward to checking people's id cards now when I'm on duty at the PCC Library Circulation Desk.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

ZIP Codes and A Bit of History Too

Did you know that the letters ZIP refer to the Zone Improvement Plan? Or that the character on postal advertisements is known as Mr. Zip? You can learn a lot of things by visiting the post office web site. For those of you who are building your Ready Reference toolkit here is one more goody that you can use.

Most folks know that there are ZIP code books published by the United States Post Office. Two large and heavy books. The only problem with the books is that ZIP codes can be changed or modified. Or a city is renamed. Or the city name "disappears."

There is an better way if you have access to the Internet. The ZIP Code finder is very helpful.

USPS Zip Code LocatorYou can find the ZIP code for a specific address or a city:

If you know the ZIP code you can find the city name:

Finding A City In A Zip Code
This is where the history part comes in. Many cities have multiple names for the same geographic area. Some are historical or regional. City names change over time, so that the name the patron uses might not be the actual city name.

For example:

Manhattan vs New York
The legal city name is New York. People who live in that area or who have written about that specific area may call it Manhattan. The Post Office would like you to address mail as New York, NY but you might have a patron approach you to find the zip code for Manhattan. By using the City or ZIP Code search you can obtain the correct information.

Now it doesn't always mean you can't use the historical or regional. In the Los Angeles area we are aware of the city of Eagle Rock. The Post Office considers it an acceptable city name:

Eagle Rock ZipIn this case it is ok to use either the legal name, Los Angeles or the historical/regional name, Eagle Rock for this section of town.

Other Uses for ZIP Code Finder

This could be helpful for genealogical searches. A patron may have a document that states a person was born in a certain area of town. They can't find it on a modern map. You can use the ZIP Code search to help you find out the historical name and the contemporary name of a location. You also might want to cross check with a gazetteer as well.

There are certain schools, hospitals and businesses that are so large they have their own specialized zip code. 00401 belongs to the Reader's Digest Association in Pleasantville, New York.

So if you want to build up you pecks continue using the books. If you need to know right now then you should visit