Monday, March 26, 2007

Take This Idea and Run With It

Book Club in a Bag

I had never seen this before (probably many of you have), but it was first brought to my attention by science fiction writer and all-around great guy, Robert Sawyer. The Kitchener Public Library has started offering book clubs in a bag, where you get a set of ten copies of the same book, plus a book-club discussion guide and everything checks out as one item.

When I read Robert's post, I thought that's a great idea! Then, when I finally got a library card at my local library, guess what they have? Yep! DIBs or Discussions In Boxes. From their website:
A selection of challenging and entertaining discussion books plus a binder full of reviews and information about the authors is available for a checkout period of 6 weeks.
And here's a PDF explaining the service at Bettendorf.

How cool is that? Is this something your library could do?

(cross-posted at Pop Goes the Library)

So, it's been about a month-and-a-half...

since I moved to IA to take the job as Access Services Librarian at Palmer College of Chiropractic. So what's happening with me, you might ask?

I have to say the transition from public to academic library has been (and will be) a little rough. Things are very different from one type of library to the other.

In the public library, there were people coming in the library all the time. True, there were fewer people who used the library than paid for it with their taxes, but all the same, when you were on the reference desk, you had questions. Here, I can sit an entire shift on the reference desk (which entails three hours at the desk and the remainder of the day on call...yes, your reference shift technically lasts for the ENTIRE work day) and not get any questions. Even sitting at the circulation desk I go an entire work day without interacting with a patron.

It goes without saying, but there's a different focus on collection development. I bring it up since here at Palmer, we're concerned with health care and specifically (predominantly) with chiropractic. I do not have a health care background, nor do I know much about chiropractic. It's a steep curve I have to take to learn enough to be able to help someone should they decide to ask me a question. Here, if it's not healthcare...and I should really just say if it's not chiropractic...interest, we don't order it. Instead of getting dozens of books each week, we might get a dozen a month. We do order McNaughton books (remember those from collection development classes? The bestselling books that you keep for a limited time?) so that we have some popular reading; but those books don't circulate very much. I'm not involved in collection development at Palmer, whereas all the librarians at the public library were involved. I do see the McNaughton list and can recommend up to two titles, but that's a lot different from the vast amount of ordering I used to do. At the public library, I did collection development for: fiction, the 000s, healthcare (ah, you lied! you do have a background in healthcare! not really, not when I order books based on reviews and Amazon rankings), parenting, science fiction & fantasy, and young adult books.

I did a lot of marketing and creative planning at the public library. There were easy places to make signs, and create website stuff, have interesting programming items, etc. that just don't exist here. At least, they aren't as obvious here. It's not even like we're a more comprehensive college/university with lots of majors and departments. We're very focused here, and it's something I don't have a background in. The website is set. There's no need/way for me to create cute links, or reader's advisories, or Web 2.0 stuff. I can update content, but I can't change the way things look or feel. There's no programming. I could certainly make signs, but I believe signs should be a minimum and once I have the few done I think we need...then what? It's not like the YA stuff at the last library where I could create a new wacky sign every week.

Like I said, it's been rough. Everything is different. Everyone has been here longer than I have so I feel a lot of pressure (all personal, it's not pressure from my bosses) to do better at my job. So I've been trying to think of ways to take what I do well at a library and apply it here. I could create new signs (i.e., for the new books, for our hours, etc.). I could work on getting some sort of programming going here...have chiropractors come into the library to talk to students about being a professional, or about a book they've written. Maybe even see if anyone would be interested in having in 'fun' authors in to talk about books (sort of a diversion from studies). Maybe I could create some internal wikis or blogs to help set a home for policies/procedures.

It took me until last week to start thinking this way again. I've been so overwhelmed by what I don't know, that I was forgetting what I do know.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Non Library Blogs

From The Liminal Librarian (Rachel Singer Gordon): a list of five non-library blogs that I read regularly. This idea came up when people mentioned that they felt library blogs were suffering from nepotism (they should check out the science fiction world!).

While I'm no Steven Cohen, I have somewhere around 230 feeds in my reader. There are some 60 library feeds, around 80 feeds from science fiction & fantasy writers, some 30 or so publishing blogs (editors, publishers, etc.), about 10 feeds that are searches on different formats for my zine and feeds from my zine, and the rest are a bunch of misc things...five of which will be highlighted below:

BoingBoing - I met Cory Doctorow many years ago when he was an aspiring (and already talented) science fiction author. I worked for his publisher, Tor Books, for a number of years. When I found BoingBoing online through Cory, I knew I had found a place that would collect all sorts of things of interest to me: from science fiction to copyright to movies & television to weird weird weird stuff, BoingBoing has it all. Plus it updates all the time, so there's always something new to read.

Lifehacker - One of the most useful website I have ever encountered. This gives me tips on software and organization and shopping and everything else. There are a ton of great things I've learned from here. This website is indispensable to me. Plus, I'm an approved commenter!

Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch - My daily (who am I kidding, multiple times a daily) fix of Entertainment Weekly Magazine. Updates on movies, music, television, and all things pop culture (not so mcuh books...sniff). I love getting their instant reviews on last night's television. It's like they're inside my head watching what I watch.

Best Week Ever - Covering much of the same types of material as Popwatch, but with attitude. They don't pretend to be nice to the stars and what the stars are doing. If you've seen the TV show, you know what I mean. Often rude, often caustic, but again, often what I'm thinking anyway. They have a great feature called 'Listen Up' where they post links to mp3s of new music, both from established bands and up-and-coming artists. A great way to hear some stuff before it comes out. This makes you sound like you're in the know. :)

I read a dozen or so marketing blogs (what's good for small business is good for the library) but Creating Passionate Users is my favorite. Librarians are already passionate users of the library, and Kathy Sierra (even though she's talking about software) gives great insight to make your users (patrons) passionate users, too. She's creates these great (kind of ugly) charts and graphs to illustrate her points. They show that you don't need to have the perfect design and art to get your point across. Definitely worth checking out. Don't tell Kathy, but I print out her posts so I can refer to them later!