People N Patrons

Social Workers @ Your Library

Important story from the Associated Press about the San Francisco Public Library hiring a social worker to help homeless library patrons.

Every day, when the main library opens, John Banks is waiting to get inside. He finds a spot and stays until closing time. Then his wheelchair takes him back to the bus terminal where he spends his nights.

Like many homeless public library patrons, all Banks wants is a clean, safe place to sit in peace. He does not want to talk to anyone. He does not want anyone to talk to him. The day he decides he wants help, he knows what to do: ask for the library's social worker.

The main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, where hundreds of homeless people spend every day, is the first in the country to keep a full-time social worker on hand, according to the American Library Association.

Cities across the country are trying different approaches to deal with patrons who use bathroom sinks as showers or toilet stalls as drug dens. In Philadelphia and San Francisco, libraries have hired homeless patrons to work as bathroom attendants who guide others to drop-in centers or churches where they can bathe.

A Literary Approach to Speed Dating

Reading a good book is like falling in love - it’s exciting and keeps you on your toes. A real page-turner will have the reader staying up late nights and hardly able to concentrate on anything else for long.

But even an excellent book is no substitute for real love.

The Franklin Community Library in Elk Grove, CA hosted a speed-dating event for book lovers on Feb. 16 so that readers could share the titles that make their hearts throb.

Guests were instructed to bring their favorite, or least favorite book, to discuss during each five-minute date. Elk Grove Citizen.

If you were looking for love...what book would you bring?

Library User Privacy in the Age of Social Networking Fanaticism

There are some librarians who want to empower library users by giving them the freedom to expose all of their library borrowing records to the world. Or they want readers to share their book selections and DVD rentals with complete strangers. And I have very mixed feelings about this.

I love getting comments on my blog. And I think library patrons would enjoy being able to link their borrowing records to some social networking widget that lists all (or some) of their books on our library site or embedded within the online catalog or launched out into cyberspace and posted on Twitter or Facebook or LibraryThing or wherever and to comment on what everyone else reads or watches. So on this, I agree with the empowering librarians; I think it would be a fun thing to do.

I would love for my patrons to share their thoughts and ideas with others who may despise them and use those thoughts and ideas as weapons to wage personal attacks, and possibly combine those attacks with the minimal research needed to attack my patrons at their homes or at their places of business. Because I love freedom.

As you can see, I have no faith in mankind to behave with civility. So my role as a protector of borrower privacy is pretty much set in this framework: "I will protect your privacy because you don't understand the dangers associated with losing it." -- Read More

This Book is Overdue! Contest-Contest-Contest!

Whoopee! Three contests in one...enter to win a free mousepad (and who knows what other fame and fortune).

Three ways to win: Here is a contest for This Book Is Overdue! 1) on the Facebook fan page, and another one on the 2) blog page of the This Book Is Overdue website...pick your contest location and ENTER TO WIN!!!!!!!!

The author, Marilyn Johnson, will personally mail a mousepad stamped with the zooming librarian to the person who posts the sweetest true story of a librarian helping a patron in these digitally challenging times.

And to make it a triple threat, we'll add the ability for entrants to enter the contest RIGHT HERE by posting their story about helping a patron as a 3) COMMENT BELOW THIS STORY. Contest is open through March 15.

Man to Serve 140 Days in Jail for Beating Houston Librarian

He must serve 140 days in county jail for brutally beating a librarian in December. Here's the story about the assault incident.

The sentence against the man was finalized Wednesday after he reached a plea deal with prosecutors for his misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury charge. The 57 days he already has spent in jail will be credited toward his sentencing.

He pummeled a librarian at the Houston Public Library's Robinson-Westchase Branch after she warned him twice about his disruptive behavior. Houston Fox reported on the sentencing.

Getting the Stats on Connecticut's Libraries

Stamford Times: The libraries are always keeping records. They know how many books go out, how many are returned and which ones are overdue. They know how many people come to their programs, and they know how many people walk through their doors.

But how many people use the public library on a single day? On Feb. 18, the state's libraries will find out.

Next Thursday, 150 of the state's 285 public and academic libraries will closely monitor their activities for one day. The event is called Snapshot Day.

"It's like a slice of life," said Linda Avellar, spokeswoman for both Stamford's Ferguson Library and for the Connecticut Library Association's publicity committee. "[We want to] get a sense of how heavily our libraries are used."

Snapshot Day -- a joint project of the CLA, the Connecticut State Library, and the Connecticut Library Consortium -- is meant to collect specific data.

Patron Expectations vs. Librarian Expectations in Library Service

I work with the public. You know, those people who are the first to say that they pay my salary even though they haven't paid taxes in years. But even though I serve the non-taxpaying public, they still represent the taxpayer. And more than representing figuratively, they stand in for the taxpayer in the real way that allows the taxpayer to live the carefree lifestyle that comes from knowing that most of the rest of the public is safely inside the library and not out on the streets. But enough about my bosses...

I think the general public are satisfied with library services. But I think the librarians are convinced that services suck. To read what librarians are saying about libraries is to get an image of libraries continually at the center of failure. The librarians say that libraries need new or more everything: more social networking features, more e-services, more e-books, e-readers, 2.0, 1.0, open source software, koha (whatever-tee-eff that is), iPhones, iPads, IM, SMS, Wii, virtual reality, real reality, Facebook, face punch, sustainability, sustainability???, advocacy, political action, fundraising, programming, css, drupal, SEO,... it doesn't matter how much librarians know or do, there always seem to be other librarians who demand that we know and do more. Like it's a personal offense to them when we aren't up on the latest, ... whatever, whether it's a new author or a subject or a device or a philosophy. -- Read More

Books Gather Dust Without Librarian for Teens

What do inner-city teens want and need in a public library? Boston.com's Lawrence Harmon talks about how teens are using the new Mattapan Branch Library and how he thinks they will remember it when they look back at their childhood.

Not a single teen at the Mattapan library so much as touched a book on the shelves during a recent hour-long visit. Granted it’s the digital age, and several kids were using the computers constructively for homework projects. But there is still something off here: a city builds a $16 million library, designs it in such a brilliant way that kids come streaming through the door, yet can’t staff it adequately to introduce the young people to the full range of library materials.

Less is known in the world of library science about how best to serve teenagers than adults or young children. The teens in Mattapan appeared happy just to spend unstructured time with friends in the comfortable, well-lit space. But how does that experience differ from a clubhouse or community center? Teen librarians make the difference, provided they have adequate time to do their jobs.

The library, a $16.7 million modern building with an airy mixture of wood, glass, and attention-grabbing color, opened last year, despite a budget crisis that has imperiled many city projects, programs, and services.

Google Person Finder Helping Haiti's Survivors

Since librarians are good at finding things (and people), you might want to consider adding Google Person Finder to your database.

Here's info on the API, which is now available via open source.

Google has a crisis response group that quickly went into action after the quake in Haiti in January, coordinating with groups internally and externally, including governmental and non-governmental authorities. A crisis response page was soon posted at here.

It was realized there would be a need for a way to find out the status of family and friends who may have been impacted by the quake. As groups began to coalesce around this need, it was discovered that a Person Finder application had been created in the aftermath of the WTC attacks in 2001. Another was created in response to hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, a quick survey showed these applications could not be revived in a short time.

However, they have since worked out the kinks and created a viable program. Google now cordially invites you to work with them in a coordinated effort to help the crisis relief efforts for the people of Haiti.

Bookmark Collectors...Mark Your Calendars

On February 20 and 21, 2010 the first convention for bookmark collectors will take place online. For 24 hours, bookmark collectors from all over the world will meet to give and attend seminars, view galleries, shop, swap, and socialize with other collectors and enthusiasts. For many collectors, this will be the first time they will have the opportunity to meet and discuss their passion with other enthusiasts, live.

If you collect bookmarks, make bookmarks, or are curious about bookmarks; if you are interested in ephemera, biblio-paraphernalia, craft samplers, book history, small art, or collectibles; or if you are interested in seeing the first virtual convention for collectors of any sort, then stop by the website and register for the Bookmark Collectors Virtual convention.

Convention Websites are BMCVC and Bookmark Convention. Organizers are Alan Irwin, info@bmcvc.com and Lauren Roberts, lauren@bmcvc.com, who also runs the website Bibliobuffet. In My Book® will participate in the convention as a vendor.

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