Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Days - Part I

My first year as a library aide at an elementary school (K-8) has felt like a series of first days. I have learned more than I ever expected to in these nine months that have flown by.

It's hard to believe that the school year is quickly coming to an end. But alas, it is. Next week is the last week of check-outs. After that, it's the challenge of getting all the books returned, lost book fees paid, and all those books re-shelved and organized better before I close the doors for the summer.

When I first was given the keys to the library back in September, I'll never forget my initial reaction as I walked into the library since there was no signage. "How is everything being organized? What system are they using?" I will admit there still is no signage but I have attempted to start reorganizing the library during the limited time I have the few days a week I'm there. I have put in extra hours on my own time as well in what seems a never-ending project. Coming on board to a library that has been primarily run by people who knew not much about libraries hasn't helped this dear little library which I've come quite attached to and call mine. I'm determined to get it in better shape in order to function as a more effective library and information center.

I will admit there are pros and cons to working in an elementary school library but one thing I have come to learn is the real need for its existence. Most kids at the school I work at don't have parents who take them to the public library. Outside of their classrooms, this tiny modest library is a primary means of serving their needs whatever they may be-anything from reading for pleasure, getting information for a research paper, and discovering new ideas or interests.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series as I reveal more details about everyday life in an elementary school as a library aide.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Science.Gov Portal To U.S. Science Information

I found out about this via the ALA Federal Library and Armed Forces Library Roundtable ListServ. is a portal to various governmental databases and technical information sites. It might make it a little easier to locate governmental authoritative sources.

Portal to Science.govI looked under the category of Science Education. There are links to sources from the Library of Congress, National Science Foundations, NASA and so many more agencies that have science data.

You can enter a search term or you can use the advanced search to find by keyword, title or to select just the area you want to discover. is a great help in finding data but I do want to mention a concern. I followed a group of links about chemistry clip art from the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the links were dead or long gone.

Not blaming the FDA for this, external websites change all the time. Part of the responsibility is trying to maintain quality links so you do have to go back and see if a source listed in 1999 is still viable in 2009. is a cool resource that can help you locate governmental science related materials. I'll spend a little more time checking it out.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Example Interview Questions for Library Technician Positions

Example Interview Questions for Library Technician Positions

Warm up questions:
  • Tell us how your background and experience have prepared you for this position.
  • Highlight your education and experience and describe how you are qualified for this position.
  • What made you apply for this position?
  • Briefly summarize your work history and education

Work History:

  • Can you describe one or two of your most important accomplishments?
  • Why are you leaving your present job? or Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is important to you in a company? or What do you look for in an organization?
  • What library automation systems(s) have you used? Describe your experience using the system. (Also known as an Integrated Library System (ILS) or Integrated Library Management System (ILMS)
  • Describe your experience using Office computer software.
  • What experience do you have working in a multicultural environment?

Job Performance:

  • Everyone has strengths and weaknesses as workers. What traits or qualities do you feel could be strengthened or improved? Or In what areas would you like to improve?
  • There can be a great deal of pressure working at a public service desk. Describe a situation with a problem customer and how you handled it. You may give an example that is not related to a library position.
  • What experience have you had working in groups or as a team?
  • Describe your experience in creating or revising documents such as policies, procedures, or any other form of written copy.
  • Please describe any supervisory experience you have.

Summary Statements:

  • Is there anything you would like to add about yourself?
  • Do you have any questions about the position?
  • Would you like to make a summary statement? (You should always be prepared for this question)

Interview Advice:

  • Dress appropriately and arrive 15 minutes before your interview appointment time.
  • There may be more than one person interviewing you. Try to maintain eye contact with the interviewers.
  • Do some research about the library before you have your interview. You can show that you have a real interest in working for that organization if you are able to work into your answers what you know about their library. This may also help you ask relevant questions at the end of the interview.
  • Some ways to research the library:
    o Look at the library’s website to see what services they provide and explore the library automation system they use.
    o If the library is open to the public, visit the library a day or two before your interview to observe or ask a question at the Reference Desk. Observe how you are treated as an anonymous patron. This also helps you decide if you want to be part of the organization.
  • Resume Tips (may require PCC login for access):
    YOUR MONEY; CHOOSE ME; How to craft a resume in the modern age. Even in these hard times, our tips will help you stand out from the crowd.
    Tiffany Hsu. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 29, 2009. p. B.1

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Microsoft Encarta Is No More - My Thoughts

Microsoft has decided to stop publishing the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. This includes the software that accompanied certain Microsoft software packages as well as the Encarta web site. You can get more information about the announcement at the Encarta FAQ page.

The Encarta website will be discontinued on October 31, 2009. Those that have the Student Edition and Premium software will be supported for the next three years.

The New York Times thinks that Wikipedia put the shank in Encarta. Well, maybe but I think it was more that the users made a decision on how they wanted to access information. Encarta became a tree in the forest that no one could see except those that knew that path. It was a question of did you have time or was it worth your effort to get what you needed.

I will be honest, there were times that I actually used Encarta on my computer but I had to think about it or just glance at the icon. The times that I did use it the information that I wanted was hit or miss, generally miss.

For static information it was ok. But very little in our modern world is static. I could connect to the Encarta web site for more information but having gone through the program it was easier for me to conduct my our search strategy with a variety of search engines, ProQuest and other online resources.

But something about this bothers me. The constriction of verified resources that are now locked behind paid walls of access. There is no need to have a paper encyclopedia anymore - a good one cost a good chunk of change. When a fairly inexpensive software encyclopedia (to purchase, not produce) goes away then how does the average person or parent get access to information?

Yes, some folks do pay for online subscriptions but there are still folks on dial-up connections or schools that need CD/DVD access. As much as we want them to some folks will not come to the library. Let's not forget those students that wait until the last possible moment to write their papers.

I guess I hate to see a loss of affordable resources.