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I’m terribly bad at following through with my promises on here, aren’t I? I believe that I said I would talk about how programs and teen advisory groups build community. When I mentioned that, I was planning a short post because I was hoping to give a presentation on it at WLA this April. Instead I will be helping facilitate a round table discussion. No more qualms about talking too much.
I absolutely love having a teen advisory group. As I said before, I looked at a lot of programming ideas before I settled on on TAG (I’m a dork, I like to say “TAG, you’re it!” on publicity. The teens forgive me.) but after talking to Jackie I just felt like this was the right fit. Our branch has a lot of teens and younger kids, a lot of families. We lose the teens for a while in high school because they just have so much gosh darn work to do–I don’t think I would have gotten this group if they hadn’t started out in middle school last year. Now they are in high school and they bring in their friends. That means more teens using the teen area and the homework table. More teens being a positive presence in the library.
When we have programs, our meeting room is right in the front of the library and everyone looks in to see why we are having so much fun. If it’s a TAG meeting, we get curious gazes. When we have a program, I make sure to put a sign in the window so that everyone knows what’s going on. We celebrated National Gaming Day on Saturday and we got about 15 teens right at the start. Later, families started to show interest and as the teens were game, we invited them in to play with us. Moms, Dads and kids all came in and played Apples to Apples and Mario Kart. I got to tell them why gaming in the library is so cool and they told me how wonderful it was to do something on that rainy day outside their house. I invited everyone back to our inter-generational game and craft day in late December.
Building these bridges with teens, kids and parents is invaluable at the library. Giving teens a library connection to hold onto when they get into high school is key to getting them to return as library users when they become adults. Having friends that advocate and sell library with the air they breathe helps that happen, as does seeing that friendly librarian face as they’re racing towards the lunch room at school. I table a couple of times a year and offer candy for library cards. I revel in the teens that can recite their library barcode numbers to me. The ones that don’t have them want to know what all the fuss is about so I end up giving out applications with a “you’re going to need this for school” talk. Teen advisory group members stopping by to say hi helps pave the way.
I also try to draw the community into programs. When we had the neighborhood scavenger hunt last session, some of the locations were local businesses. I took the opportunity to talk with the employees and managers of the businesses to let them know that they would have visitors and that there is a library, right down the street. I’ve made acquaintances with some of them–we nod and smile now on the street–and one place has become very connected. The employees use the library and the manager has offered to help with some prizes in another program down the line. Full disclosure; I’ve been buying coffee and doughnuts there for a couple of years now. I don’t frequent the other businesses as much and my coworkers don’t talk about the library as much as I do (they probably think I’m crazy ;) I wear my badge proudly and talk about books and services when I’m out and about. Stalkers be damned. But my point is that if I spread my spending money out a bit, I would probably have a wider impact.
I don’t have to tell you that community is the lifeblood of public libraries. Some libraries get sleepy, though. They forget. They serve the people who come in their doors with excellence, but don’t take the extra steps to bring in more (and yes, even when we have more patrons than we know what to do with, we need more advocates, more users). What do you do to entice people through your doors?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the mentor program at work to help me figure out if management is the right path for me. I am reserving my opinion on that for the moment. At the same time, I am pursuing other professional opportunities outside, or somewhat outside of my workplace.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a PhC student at the University of Washington asking if I would be interested in taking part in an educational project at a local high school. A peer from my cohort recommended me; she is someone I see in my work neighborhood and knows a bit about my work with teens. The volunteer experience entails giving instruction in database use and being a professional contact for students after they have chosen a research topic.
I also helped the PhC student get in contact with librarians at the county library system when I found out that the school would be in their area. I was able to do this easily because I know their cluster manager. I gave her the information on the program and let her decide if it was something that was supported by the library system’s goals. She conferred with the librarians and they decided to support it.
I met with the teachers and other librarians last week, then today I taught my two database classes. The other two librarians are teaching tomorrow. The biggest challenges teaching these classes had little to do with navigating the website. One was to NOT show how much better my system’s website is than the county’s. That wouldn’t help. The second was to keep the workshop within a half hour. The first one went over and the second one I left out authority. I was sad when I realized that.
The good news is that I wasn’t nervous. What I learned is that I want to get better at my delivery, so that is what I’ll be working on the next few months. My poor adult computer learners will be my guinea pigs. I’m sure they’ll love it.
Other things I do in my own time to supplement my resume? Mentoring a teen in the juvenile rehabilitation system, taking part in my P-Patch government, being a board member for my union and participating in conferences–although that last one is partially on work time. I say only partially because there’s a lot of effort that goes into getting myself to a conference. Some of the cost is covered and some of my time is paid, but not all, and if I didn’t have a will, I wouldn’t find a way. Over the next couple of years I plan to focus more on local conferences, as it will minimize the time I’m spending away from home and be a bit easier on the pocket book. I’m looking forward to participating in the Washington Library Association conference this year, where I will probably be facilitating a round table discussion.
I was already planning on visiting my middle school on Monday, but because of timing and communication, I was just going to staff a lunch table, telling kids about library services and rewarding them for library cards. Then yesterday I got an email–can I come to 6 classes and talk about library searching, books and services?
I love visiting classes and my regional manager happened to be in house yesterday, so I was able to say yes. I have the weekend off, so I had to prepare that day. Luckily I found materials in my library that covered all three subjects that the students would be reading about (that’s really unusual) and I had the experience of searching for them using our catalog fresh in my mind, so showing the search mechanisms is going to be a snap. I’ve been wanting to do a Prezi for a while, but I can’t be sure of the internet filters and I really didn’t have time to do it right anyhow. Next time.
Life at home has been pretty normal. The Boy has a lot of homework, I’m at a new level of geekdom–watching The Guild–and crocheting a lot to try to get some projects done for the holidays.
What’ve I been reading? The City of Thieves by David Brnioff, Adult fiction with teen appeal. Lev Beniof is 17 and living in the middle of a Nazi siege of the city of Leningrad during WWII. One night a German soldier’s body drifts to earth and Lev is caught looting the body. Usually this means instant execution, but instead he and another detainee from the night, a deserter named Kolya, are sent on a mission for the Colonel. To find a dozen eggs in a land where bread is made of sawdust. Well written and intriguing, I’d recommend this book to almost anyone.
Ok, go over here and read this short piece on Revamping Reference by Aaron Schmidt. Make sure you give him till halfway through the post before you write him off as another radical roving reference advocate.
He makes some very good points about engaging the public and not being afraid to wow them with technology. Some of the best interacations I have about digital materials are with people I can show that I know the technology. It gives them confidence that I can help them.
I think a lot about roving reference and how difficult it would be with our current set up, at least at my branch. The person at the reference desk is also the person that answers the phone. The desk is the service point where many patrons know to go for help (which kind of help is another matter), and where circulation staff know to send people.
But this article is the first time I seriously started to think about solutions to those issues, and not just ones that required others to staff the information desk.
What if we had head sets so that we could answer calls on the fly? We could refer some to the circ desk (because half of the calls are for them, really, even if I do usually just help them at the info desk). There could also be a pager (or even better, built into the headset) that would alert us if someone needed help at the front. And how about having a tablet that would allow us to have access to email, infonet and horizon. Oh my, and what if that tablet could be used for outreach? With 3g so that internet access wasn’t an issue?
Yes, I know. Pipe dreams at the moment with all our budget woes. Does anyone else see a different future for reference?
xposted to work intranet
I started my Teen Advisory Group last year after looking at several options and talking to a friend about her group. My branch had a lot of requests for teen volunteer positions and no history of regular teen programs. When I came to work there, it was during a rather unsettling reorganization. None of us was doing much, and I got a few extra responsibilities that put a serious cramp in my ability to plan anything for teens. By the time I was able to train someone to take most of those responsibility off my hands, it was summer. The time was perfect to plan… something.
I considered a couple of different things. Weekly programming seemed like an option, but keeping things fresh could be a problem and we don’t house our region’s gaming equipment, so getting it regularly would require more driving than I wanted. Then I talked to my friend in another system about her teen advisory board and it sounded like the right fit. I didn’t have any funding yet, so I thought I would start with a once a month meeting. Now that timing seems right. We have supplemental meetings when we need to. And now we have funding, at least for this year, so they get to have pizza.
For the planning, I asked the librarians at the Teen Center for the forms they use for their Teen Center Advisors; an information sheet and a contract with a place for students and parents to commit to the time responsibility. I edited these forms and sent them to the local high schools and put them out in the teen area. I offer service learning credit for participating. Despite the fact that all the forms disappeared, I still had that moment where I didn’t think anyone would show up.
Instead I had 12 teens at the first meeting, and all of them stuck with me through the first year (two sessions, Sept-Dec and Feb-May). We planned an author visit, celebrated National Gaming Day and helped with an all ages winter family day. In our second session we made two videos, one for the ALA Why I Need My Library contest, the other to support our Steampunk Summer theme, and planned a community scavenger hunt.
I realized very early that I had to have an agenda and that it helps to write it up on the white board where everyone can see it. I have a couple of strong personalities in my group and I’m still learning the best way to channel their enthusiasm. But having a clear agenda with a few ideas for projects helps a lot. I try to make sure the ideas are the teens, but within the limits of what I can do at the library and as relevant to library ideals as possible. I was amazed by how many of those ideals the kids got when they made the Why I Need My Library video. When we planned the scavenger hunt, it came about because of a box of prizes that I had that should be used. I asked them how I should give them away, we brainstormed and the scavenger hunt idea was born. They created the posters, helped me with the clues and the structure and helped with the program itself.
I require them to communicate with me by email. Otherwise I would have to make 12 phone calls every time I wanted to talk to them. They have to write a blog post every month. I’d say that is the biggest challenge we have is getting those in from a couple of people. In the new session that just started, I introduced a log sheet for each participant to keep track of their hours and blog posts. That way they can all see what’s expected and how they’re doing.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little bit about TAG’s, programming and community and how the library can build stronger ties to it’s neighborhood through TAG activities.
Ok, I’m back (I think, might be too soon to say). The Boy and I have been setting up house, getting used to each other again and struggling with homework discipline. He is coming around on the latter, slowly but surely. His grades are good, but it’s early to say that and the hard projects are coming. I’m hoping we can get him into a healthy pattern before they start. He seems to see the wisdom I’m preaching, when he isn’t rolling his eyes or telling me not to act like he’s stupid. We’re working on it.
And “The Boy” just sticks for me. I guess he will always be my boy, so not a big deal to call him such. Especially here where he never bothers to tread. I try to keep the embarrassing bits to myself anyhow.
So, libraryland is busy as always. The new session of TAG is underway and while my group is smaller, it seems more solid. I have a lot of kids back from last year and a few new people. There are definitely a couple of dominating personalities, so I will be looking into learning about moderating meetings in that situation.
I took a beginning Excel class offered to city employees. I expected to be bored for most of it, since I’ve been using Excel pretty often for the last 10 years, but I was pleasantly surprised that I learned something new through most of the training. Part of it was learning where things are in the ribbon, which I admit has been making life difficult since the upgrade to Windows 2007. I got my questions answered too, which will make me a better treasurer and would likely land me the temp job of my choice!
I also wrote my first “professional” blog post, over there–> It’s nothing revolutionary, but something I am interested in and not necessarily librariany. I have some thoughts for a couple more, but need a few minutes at work to write them down. Then I have some more reading and thought processing to do.
I had some fun with the pictures in the header. They are all pictures I took, mostly around Seattle. I like how they fit my mood and seem to fit my profession.
Ok, I’m off. Lots to do this lovely Saturday that is likely to be the last sunny day in a while. Ciao.
I’m still in New Orleans, but ALA is over. Many of the librarians, et al, have packed up and gone home. The Mister and I have one more day to enjoy together before we both get on planes going to different places. I find myself unable to make up my mind as to what I should do with this last day. I have a couple of souvenirs to pick up and a box of books to ship home. We should probably eat something. But right now we are just sitting companionably in our artfully messy hotel room listening to the St. Charles street car go by every 10 minutes.
I have been to conferences before, even ALA. In fact, I have been to dental conferences (don’t ask). This is the first conference where it really clicked why I am here. The sessions were good–I learned a lot about the future of digital media (ebooks, music, etc.), cloud computing, databases, and most importantly, myself. I talked to people I didn’t know and gave them ideas from our system that they will take away and use to make their school library more interactive with students. I learned from them too, in many ways. Mostly I learned that my system is amazing, that we do a lot, even if we librarians sometimes feel that we, as a system, don’t take that first innovative step until someone else has tested the field. There are a lot of places where we are the front runners in public libraries.
The panel I moderated went amazingly well. Forty people came, which was great since it was in the very last time slot for presentations at the conference and that’s about what the room could hold comfortably. There was a good representation of academic and public libraries in the audience and many of them had zine collections. Our panelists, Jenna Freedman, Chris Ritzo and John Stevens made for a well rounded presentation. Jenna is a librarian at Bernard College, which has an extensive zine collection. Chris is a volunteer librarian at the Urbana Champaign Independant Media Center. And John is at the State Library in Melbourne Austrailia, where zines are archived for the future. Both John and Jenna have their own zines in addition to helping preserve them. All three are very active in the zine culture in their areas, as well as in their professional pursuits.
After the panel we all trooped out to the parking lot to ooh and ah over the Zine Mobile, which will be taking a jolly band of zinester librarians (and honorary, or rogue as the case may be ;) on a road trip that passes through Florida and ends up in Milwaukee for the 3rd annual Zine Librarians Un-Conference. I loved the van:
Once again, I am not going to tell you about what I am reading now because I wouldn’t do it justice under all this conference talk. I’ll have a special book review edition after I return home.
I’m here in New Orleans and enjoying myself immensely. The Mister and I have walked all over the French Quarter, checked out the River Walk and tasted some mighty fine gumbo. We’ve given up on finding a grocery in walking distance, but I found a farmers market this morning and we got some peaches. I seriously need fresh fruit or the gummy bear addiction goes into overdrive.
Yesterday I volunteered with NOLA School Volunteers through ALA’s Libraries Build Communities. We helped paint a school room at a local high school. Pictures above.
Also pictured is a promotional postcard for a galley I am looking forward to reading. I met Jessica today in the exhibit hall and we had a great conversation about incarcerated youth and she offered to skype with my new mentee’s home. I hope to take her up on it.
I’ll fill you in on What I am Reading when I am back at the computer.
I guess all I had to do was lament how hard things were getting for them to get easier. I adjusted a few things on my bike and kept riding and it got easier again. I am powering up hills now in much higher gears than I used to, and I ran over 3 miles without stopping after a 3 mile bike ride. The sun definitely helped.
In Libraryland, TAG has been asked to make a video promoting our Summer Reading program for teens. It might be difficult to pull it together in time, but they seem willing. Steampunk Summer! I think the adults will be jealous.
Yesterday was a difficult patron day. Some days I just want to put up an invisible barrier that will bounce out anyone who doesn’t really want me to answer a question, they just want to hear themselves speak. I’ll add it to the list of superhero powers I need to develop.
I got off an hour early to go to the Bike to Work celebration in Ballard, which was so nicely distracting. The ride to Ballard was very satisfying; I felt strong and I passed a ton of people. The weather was still ok and I met up with some good work friends and we finagled some nice swag. I also had Second Ascent take a look at my bike and the guy said that I need to replace all my gears, front and back, and my cables. Only a few hundred dollars. Sigh. Maybe in the fall. I can’t really mess anything up worse by continuing to ride on it and none of it is going to fall apart in the next couple of months. He did fix a snaggle tooth for me, though, so that should help with my chain problem.
I got the Boy last night and he has just been a bundle of depressed hormonal joy. He is grumpy about a girl and doesn’t want to talk about it. Much better to mope and snap and sleep. Ah well, perhaps cleaning the bathroom will distract him!
What am I reading? Well, yes I am still reading The Scar. I am happy to say that I made it to the half way point. I think this is my last day of check out on the ebook, so I’ll have to decide if I am ready for the second half right now. Might be a good book for the plane next week.
I am also reading Paul Pope’s 100%, which is an edgy sci-fi comic. I haven’t quite figured out the story line, but I like that sometimes. I don’t want to be able to guess what is going to happen next all the time.
A friend lent this to me months ago, but somehow it got lost in the bedside table stack and I found it again just 2 nights ago. Fascinating stuff. Strong female characters who don’t have everything figured out (I get a little tired of feminist agendas where you are always supposed to have the right answer).
Bike to work month is wonderfully under way. We had a great start on Sunday with temperatures in the 60′s, followed promptly by 2 days of frigid rain. I have ridden every day and even included downtown in my commute when I had meetings down there 2 out of the 3 days. The rainy ones of course. And I’ve been running. I can make it around Green Lake, even with all the biking, without walking or stopping and in under 3o minutes. I keep forgetting to check the time when I start, but I know approximately. I’ve been going to bed at a fairly normal hour and getting up EARLY! So early for me–6:30am. And not feeling dead. So yes, exorcising…exercising, I mean…is good for me.
Some of those early meetings downtown were the staff interviews for the City Librarian candidates. I missed one, but hit the other two. I won’t state my preference, or even my opinion on the individuals, as I think it is too touchy a subject to air here. The one I missed, though, is one I hope to miss entirely. Forever. I don’t think I have to worry about that.
What am I reading? Well, almost done with Brain Jack, and it is shaping up and becoming a little less like Little Brother, but only a little. I like the characters and the premise, minus the feeling that Brian Falkner and Corey Doctorow were sharing half a brain when they wrote these books.
I was away from my print books and needed something to read, so downloaded The Scar by China Mieville from the library. It’s good so far, but I’m only a few pages in.
I am also doing some nerdy reading: Exemplary Public Libraries by Joy Marilyn Greiner. I am mostly finding it interesting because the first couple of chapters are about libraries in the UK around the year 20o0, and now those libraries are in desperate jeopardy. So much that the Guardian UK felt the need to post this op ed piece, somewhat late, about how great libraries really are and now necessary. I agree with one of the goodreads reviewers that the book could have used a bit more editing and a better structure. Plus now it is 10 years out of date and could use a brush up. I was reading it to refresh my library theory and I am getting some of that, but finding it a bit repetitive.