Monthly Archives: June 2008

Honey Bees

I am not even kidding.  Take a look at this:

a) I love the website, incredibly well done
b) honeybees are cute
c) you could do a children’s program on the topic

Librarians must seek inspiration everywhere. 😉  And an ice cream company is a good place to start. Yum.

The pirate’s life is not for me

I have been stealing wifi. But it is going a bit hay-wire and now I am attempting to stand in the middle of my living room with a lean to the left so that I can stay within “very low” signal strength.

I guess I must consider giving up the piracy if I want to continue to access the digital world. Damn.

Now I will press the “publish” button and hope that the signal stays steady enough for you lovely readers to actually SEE it.

Any Department Interview

Before I was a librarian, I was a circulation clerk. I understand what the life behind laser gun is like…and I appreciate that library clerks face so many more people than librarians tend to. Everyone has to pass the clerks’ desk. Librarians are slightly more easily avoided, depending on the size of the library!

I just started a new gig as a library sub at an area library. I’m still trying to understand all the processes and the way things are done there. It’s a great organization and things tend to flow super smoothly between departments, but I am still in the “new-girl-gets-confused” stage. Yesterday, I went to a circ clerk with a question about a book I had requested for myself. I asked the wrong question, in the wrong way. She responded by throwing out a series of potential locations of the items and statements about circulation policy. We went around and around and we didn’t understand each other. And then it hit me…

The clerk wasn’t doing a reference interview and I wasn’t acting like the dream patron. I barged up to her desk and blurted out a question based on a series of assumptions (and you know what they say about assumptions…) about the catalog, the system for holds, and the timing of request delivery. She didn’t ask me deeper details about my needs and instead launched a series of standard answers and statements. We weren’t upset, we weren’t hostile, but we weren’t helpful to one another and we were mildly frustrated.

It made me realize that all library employees, everywhere should be trained in the Reference Interview. Librarians need constant refresher, Clerks need to get the basics. The reference interview is a life skill. It can help you understand people and their needs more effectively whether it’s a patron, your own child, or a person walking down the street looking for directions.

I was a bad, bad patron yesterday. I have renewed appreciation for the reference interview, and a new appreciation for that patron that makes assumptions.

Passport to Learning

If you are a foodie, then at some point you have heard of the Ann Arbor, Michigan based delicatessen known as Zingerman’s. I was fortunate to meet one of the owners a couple of times when I worked at a business incubator. He would come in and give talks to meetings filled with eager entrepreneurs who had visions of success, fame, glory, and eventual corporate buy-out.

Okay, my point…

The success of Zingerman’s relies on it’s strict training. Employees are trained for months before being allowed to work. They must know every type of exotic, stinky cheese, every variation of olive oil, every grain in the multi-grain bread. To train properly, they are given “passports”. And like a real passport, after learning a section and passing a test, they get a stamp on the page dedicated to that particular topic. There is more to the process than that, but you get the idea. In the far back of these passports are quick notes and cheat sheets as well as a brief guide about who to ask questions of. I think they also helped people track their days off to ensure accountability.

So, a few applications of this:

Ensure library employee training in the same way…provide concise passports to track new employee training.

For schools, use passports to train kids about different aspects of the library. My teacher friends say that rewarding them with a prize for a completed passport would not be good (contrary to today’s teaching methodology) but somehow make completion a big deal.

Or, somehow include the use of passports and info literacy into summer reading.

I see so many ways that this could be a fun and unique tool for tracking accomplishment and learning in a short form way!

To learn more about the Zingerman’s training process, visit their training website at

Are librarians antipreneurs?

This Business Week article almost describes librarians and libraries in some ways. I think the terms “small-advertising budget”, “all about the consumer experience”, “interested in the products’ unique attributes” all were mentioned.

Isn’t this us?

More widgets…

LabPixies…just fun to look through.

Famous in Abilene

So this week, I’m almost famous in Abilene, Texas.  I wrote a story that was featured on the website well over a month ago.  Since it was e-published, it’s been reprinted in hard-copy form in eight states, either in newspapers or library newsletters.  This week, the Abilene Public Library is printing it in it’s section of the local newspaper.  I guess I struck a chord, discussing how libraries can help people get through economic downturn.  I thought I was just talking about inexpensive or free stuff that libraries do, instead I’m getting emails thanking me for concisely summarizing library offerings.

I like librarians…we’re a good lot.  And we sure are trying.

Here is the article…

Why does this feel pornographic?

People take pictures of their bookshelves for others to see.

Well, at least they aren’t their drawers!  ha ha ha! 


Couldn’t resist.

Women Who Tech

If you are a Facebook fan, then you may already be aware of the strong community that exists with the organization “Women Who Tech”.

They host an amazing telesummit which fills up QUICKLY. It is fascinating to see that the digital ceiling that exists in the rest of the tech world does not always apply to the library world. That isn’t always true, but more often than not it is women leading the digital ship at major academic libraries and many public libraries. This is also true because of the overwhelming number of women in the library world.

Brown Bag Summer Reading

I was at a public library in Kansas over the weekend and they had a neat idea for adult summer reading.  They create grab bags with two or three books of the same genre and patrons can just grab one on their way out the door.  They had mystery, romance, historical fiction, Christian fiction, and some non-fiction in addition to many others.  The books are just donated paperbacks and have no due date.  And smarty pants that they are, they put that big ol’ basket of bags and a catchy display right in the hall between the children’s section and the exit.

Now, if they manage some sort of drawing along with it, I’m not sure, but I bet you could drop a postage-paid postcard in the bag and then the folks could just drop it in the mail if that was easier for them.