Archive for April, 2012

Last weekend, I was a volunteer at the LA Times Festival of Books.  As much as I hate to admit it, I like the festival at USC better than the layout at UCLA.  I love my Alma Mater, but when you’re running around lugging heavy boxes and simply exhausted from standing at different booths all day, it’s nice not to have to tackle one more hill and to have a few more places to sit.  That said, it’s easier to find food in Westwood than it was at USC, so I suppose there’s the trade off.

I volunteered throughout the festival.  My husband’s theater company, DOMA, had a small booth where I helped (read as: was unpaid labor) to stuff freebie bags, tell passers by about the upcoming season and let people know about the chance to win season tickets in exchange for joining the mailing list.  This took up about three hours Saturday morning and most of the afternoon on Sunday.   Working a booth is a lot like working the circulation desk, you smile, you have certain amount of information or goods you can offer, you answer a lot of questions and send the patron away, hopefully with what they wanted.  As I was talking with people coming up to the booth I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was better at doing the please give us your email address talk than my husband and some of the young office interns and actors who came to help out.  I didn’t stick to a particular script but I had points I knew I needed to hit and I made sure the person I was talking with had a bookmark with the company’s website and info so they could find any information I’d missed by themselves later.

After a few hours at the DOMA booth, I was volunteering at the Reading to Kids booth trying to convince the book-loving public that they wanted to share this love of reading with children on the second Saturday of every month or so.  Believe me, this is a tougher sell than it sounds but it’s a great program, I’ve been with them for nearly four years and if you’re in LA let me know you can come read with me at Magnolia or track me down with any questions you have.  The booth was being manned by myself and a few other volunteers.  Everyone had a different style when approaching people walking by.  Two girls would wait for people to approach them, another would walk up to anyone nearby and ask if they were interested in a “FAN-t[ah]s-TICK” volunteer opportunity (I can’ t quite get the inflection in print).

About forty minutes into this one of the staff members dropped by to see how we were doing.  I’d worked with her over the campus holiday closure getting some computers ready to be donated.  Somehow by my doing this I became one of her go-to computer people. She said she knew I was good at computers and wanted to know if I could install some RAM in one of the towers and if so when I’d be available to help.  I always have some trouble (except on resumes, in which case I’m great at all forms of technology, especially if you’re a hiring manager) saying I’m good at computers because for me good is a relative term.  I went to school with some of the best and the brightest in the state if not the nation and so I usually fell somewhere near the middle or upper middle of any spread of skills.  Compared to my physicist friend, I am okay in math.  Compared to my friend the baker, at least I can make something edible.  But I have a problem separating good from being the best, I am competent at many things but I have much still to learn – how much do you need to know to be good at technology?  In the case of working with this organization, I’m the computer person because I can do the job well, if not in the most elegant fashion, and because I can be depended on to show up.

The last part of my Saturday was spent in one of the information booths for the festival.  I was helping people with any and all questions.  Most of them were directional – I’m hungry, where’s the food, where’s the children’s section – and I was very happy that I knew how to read a map.  The map wasn’t great, it made the campus look much more spread out than it actually is, but it was what I had to work with.  We had two USC students in the booth with us, which helped with answering questions like where’s a drinking fountain or where is the Kinkos (things not on the map).  Again, compared to the two USC experts I was not the best at helping all of the people looking for information, but I knew enough to know when I needed to refer someone.  Not a bad way to earn a free t-shirt.


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As promised, the long delayed overview of what I saw at the CARL conference.  These notes are an extended version of what I brought back to my department. Please scroll to the end of the post if you’re interested in a brief recap of what I saw at the conference. 

One of the things I’m currently struggling with coming back from this wonderful conference is how to apply what I’ve learned to the job when for the past few weeks I’ve been bogged down in my job.  I shared my notes with my coworkers and my supervisors are supportive but I’ve heard very little back from my partners in crime.  I may not have made a case for just how fun and existing the ideas or maybe we’ve just gotten to the point where we’re working so hard at the way we do things now we can’t take a step back and add more in or make adjustments. 

I love the beginning of the quarter because I see it as a fresh start to change up some minor things with how we do things in the department.  However, the last procedural change we made with our student worker’s way of processing materials petered out after a few months.  I don’t blame the students for this, but rather inconsistencies between staff members when we tell them what is and is not important in their work flow.  For example, banding books to go out has been treated as a make-work project rather than a central student worker job.  This has had several unintended consequences.  The first is that when the students do get around to making bands they do so slowly and while talking because they don’t view it as time sensitive.  Another is that the processing staff has had to regularly band material in the evening to process books for the next day.  Since I’m banding books every evening, I can’t work on the article tutorial or the stats project or other long-term projects.

How do you work with coworkers to get (and keep) them excited about possible changes to procedures? Getting the support of supervisors is not enough if not enough people on the staff commit to it as well.  My department is staffed with great people but while we all seem to warm up to new ideas, our department seems to have a problem with the follow through. 

Thursday, April 5th

Incorporating Instructional Design Approaches into Library Instruction
This talk was mostly about how to best teach material using a combination of online and in-person teaching of library material.  It was interesting but not applicable to much of what we do in ILL.  Dominique Turnbow did recommend two books on information literacy and learning theory that looked interesting.

Creating your own peer-learning community
This was an extended version of the presentation given at the SLA conference I went to in October.  The presentation improved in the extended format because we were able to network with people in the room.  The theories presented by the AULs made more sense when they walked you through the World Cafe model they used to implement discussion.

Poster Sessions
How a learning management system improved training and communication for library student assistants
California Lutheran College has been using Blackboard to help train their students for basic circulation desk encounters.  This lets the students learn much of their training material in a self paced manner, allows for consistency between trainings and give the students a chance to go back and review procedures for activities they do not do often.  They included quizzes and grades to help the staff keep an eye on which students needed to review material.  From the training module they included a link to their scheduling system so they students could go to one place to be trained, locate their time sheet and if needed switch shifts with another student.

Food for fines
I’d love to do this here, maybe at the end of the spring quarter since that’s when students get ready to move and would be cleaning out their fridges.  I don’t know what the logistics of the fine end would be but I’ve worked with the Second Harvest Food bank for a drive before and they were very helpful.  The presenters were from Pasadena City College, so they are dealing with a smaller population, though.

Friday, April 6th
Keynote speaker: Saying yes: building innovative libraries by killing fear and getting the job done
Jenica’s speech was very interesting and she had a lot of good general ideas about trying to meet patrons needs using creative imagery.  I nice speech that I think was recorded for the virtual conference.  I’ve been following her blog for a while (www.attemptingelegance.com) and she usually has something interesting to say.

#doesthatreallywork? Transforming the traditional, rethinking and letting go
This was the talk was the most access services oriented of the conference.  Sally Bryant and Michelle Jacobs-Lustig of Pepperdine shared a number of things they’ve done to make their space more inviting for their patrons.  I particularly enjoyed their points about using different marketing techniques for different audiences in the library.  I like some of their suggestions for training and using student workers.  Many of their suggestions are little things that seem to have paid off.  For example, they have their students wear name tags when they are in the stacks so patrons know who to ask questions of – an added benefit was complaints about unhelpful student workers went down and productivity among the students went up. 

They are currently using LibAnalytics, one of the statistics packages we are looking at to replace our stats system.  The highly recommend LibCal for scheduling student workers and desk hours for the reference librarians. It seemed to be a great way to schedule students who could put in which hours they are available and when they’d want to work and the program has built in reminders about putting in double shifts if the person requested one, and other common scheduling difficulties. (LibCal product overview here: http://www.springshare.com/libcal/tour.html)

So you think you can handle an institutional repository
This was a presentation given by two librarians from CSUSJ – it was a good introduction for me on what an institutional repository and I found some ideas I could borrow for my class.

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I attended my first library conference over the weekend.  I spent Thursday – Saturday (well the first part of Saturday) at CARL and I learned a lot from both the presenters and my fellow attendees.  I went to my first unconfrence session which was wonderful, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk in person to other library school students and librarians.  It is sometimes lonely being a California distance student for a school in New Jersey but I made some great contacts and hope I will see many of them at future conferences.  I also saw my first poster session and now that I’ve seen that it’s like a science fair I think I can manage one myself so I’m trying to figure out how 1) get a little more about our tutorials (stats and whatnot) and 2) where I want to submit so I can go present it.  I came home with a lot of notes that I hope to present here but the combination of Holy Week at home and student workers not being secure in their schedules yet means I’ve had a lot more work than I’d anticipated yesterday and today.  I will try to have a post about the conference up for everyone by the end of this week.

Now on to the what prompted the title of this post.  A patron asked me to look up a book that she believes she returned and now I’m doing a search.  A typical ILL search means I go into the stacks to make sure (although it is highly unlikely) that the book did not find its way into our stacks, check around the ILL office, check the lending institution’s catalog and finally call the school to ask them to do the same on their end.  In this case the patron borrowed a book from BYU – look at what appears in the right hand side of the search results when you open a record.


It shows you where in the stacks the book should be!  I’m so excited about this, go do a search for yourself it looks pretty accurate to me but I can’t check from here – does anyone read from Utah, will you check for me?  I need to know how to get this widget and if I can convince my supervisor and the powers that be to put it in our catalog.  I don’t think it will play nice with Melvyl but it should work in Antpac.  If anyone has any details about how to get this up and running or if your library has something similar let me know!

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Last week was productive, fun and incredibly busy.  I had the opportunity to go to go to Mamma Mia (thanks to KCRW for the fee tickets!) and to Iris but around the fun things I also had a group work assignment to complete in addition to the normal school work and homework to complete.  Additionally, on the work front, I represented UCI as one of a handful of staff members at the Southern UC ILL Conference.  I loved being back at UCLA for the day, it still feels like home and UCI somehow temporary even though I’ve been at UCI since 2009. 

As far as group work goes, I enjoy working with my classmates for the most part.  There’s always a few stressful instances where you have to give up control to others and trust them to do their role but I had two great people in my group for our diversity and library management presentation.  This semester’s group project was the efficient and productive to date.  We set up a weekly chat session and stuck to the once a week commitment (we had a few rescheduling instances – but we still managed to meet at least once a week).  We had deadlines which we updated constantly to keep pace with what we needed to get done and left ourselves some wiggle room to allow for delays.  We also had time to make edits and give each other feedback on our different sections. We turned in our final website (it’s a very nice looking Google Site with several imbed YouTube Videos, including one we made using Screencast-o-matic) and discussion question a day earlier than the absolute deadline. 

Coming into this week I’m chipping away at my final projects.  I am working on a statistics project for management and a digital archive for digital libraries.  I’m getting excited about going to CARL in San Diego on Thursday and Friday.  The conference runs through Saturday, but I have a baby shower – I’m going to attend a morning session or two and then head back to Irvine. Ink and Vellum blogged about an Unconference during the CARL conference – I’ve never been to an unconference I hope to have more to blog for you this week as the conference goes on.

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