People N Patrons

People do the craziest things in libraries

Almost half of poor Americans go to the library for Internet

Almost half of poor Americans go to the library for Internet
There's more data coming in on the extent to which low income Americans depend on public institutions for broadband. A new report released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says that 44 percent of those living below the poverty level access e-mail and the Web via their local public library. And nearly a third of Americans over 14 used library Internet services in 2009. That's about 77 million people.

Who needs a library?

Why do you need the library?

Why does anyone need the library?

Why do we need anything?

If we, librarians, could define the role of the library, then we, library users, could decide if we really need them. As it is, we are letting technology define the role of the library. Whereas I think that our service to people should define it.

I think it's a matter of ego. And Homo NOVUS, the superior iPhone-clutching human, can be a huge ahole. Whatever he needs, he gets, with a simple tap of his as-yet-to-be-determined-rightful-ownership-through-patent-litigation futuristic touch-screen. He (and She, the ladies can be aholes, too) is multi-tooled, unlike his club-wielding and single-minded predecessors.

It truly is ego. The new library is about who owns the authority. In the old library, the librarian was the authority. But things change.

(there should be a table here, but I don't think we can use tables)

ANTIQUUS (old library) --- NOVUS (new library)
Librarian-centric --- User-centric
Fixed Authority --- Dynamic Authority
Repeated shushing --- Constant bleeping

So clearly there's a power struggle. But it's not between librarians and library patrons, but between librarians and inanimate devices. NOVUS totes the device around, searching for signals, or wireless connectivity, and follows. So who is the master? the human or the device?

Are public libraries glorified babysitting services

"My town officials think all we're running here is a babysitting service" a librarian recently shared in a moment of frustration. She went on to mention studies about the proven impact on cognitive abilities when toddlers are actively engaged in library programs like Lapsit versus passively engaged with toys &amp; videos. This was news to me; my how the educational product companies and toy manufacturers had shaped my understanding! <strong>I also hadn't thought of toddler programs as educational initiatives.</strong> When I've seen adults and toddlers together at the library, I've usually thought "<em>oh, aren't those kids adorable</em>" and "<em>I'm glad people are getting together to have fun</em>". Though it now seems obvious, the educational and literacy component of Lapsit was lost on me. This last point was intriguing, so I did some quick research. I googled "Lapsit" and got plenty of results from library websites around the country. I clicked through to the top 20 (all different libraries, by chance) and searched for the terms <em><strong>literacy</strong></em> and <em><strong>education</strong></em> in the page content, in images or as part of the navigation. <ul> <li>80% made no mention of literacy or education in conjunction with Lapsit</li> <li>20% contained the term literacy</li> <li>10% contained the terms literacy and education</li> </ul> Clearly these stats don't tell the whole story, but they tell a good one about the help libraries need presenting information to the public. *********

I Spy: Library Edition

Yesterday was incredibly busy. There was a children's program in the morning and it was raining book returns from the sky. The door count just eked over the 1500 threshold.

But it was a good Saturday because certain managers were not working which can just make your day.

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Borrow Books, and a Kindle To Read Them On @ Your library

The Shaler Library is letting Phil Breidenbach, 54, of Glenshaw PA and a handful of other patrons experiment with an Amazon Kindle, a hand-held device for reading online books. Shaler will be the first local library to lend such gadgets to the general public when it introduces them during National Library Week in mid-April.

"If books move to a format that doesn't take up space, that will free up libraries to do other things," said Marilyn Jenkins, executive director of the Allegheny County Library Association, a group of suburban libraries, including Shaler. Story from Pittsburgh Live.

The Subconscious Shelf (Or, What Your Books Say About You)

The New Yorker débuts a new photo feature on it's blog today... you submit a photograph of your bookshelf, and we (The New Yorker) tell you what it says about you.

Less than 50 minutes and no charge, if you're picked.

Separated by Distance, But Reading Together with Readeo

Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown is working with Readeo's CEO and founder Coby Neuenschwander to launch the new service, which promotes shared reading over the Internet.

Readeo (try it for free) allows two people who are separated geographically (such as a grandparent and grandchild or a military parent and his or her child) to share books together in real time while connected in a BookChat (in which they can see each other via a video connection). On the screen, they see the same digitized picture book and turn the pages together.

Readeo is launching with well-known titles from four publishing partners: Blue Apple Books, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. In her role as editor on the site, Brown works with Readeo's publishing partners to select the titles she believes best enhance the read-aloud experience.

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."

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...

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, [email protected] and Lauren Roberts, [email protected], who also runs the website Bibliobuffet. In My Book® will participate in the convention as a vendor.

Three Dollars a Month Is...Too Much

It's the classic story...the community wants the library and all it has to offer, but it doesn't want to pay .

When a technology lab bus from the OH state library system parked itself at the Amherst Public Library for a week to offer a variety of computer classes, library officials knew they had struck the right nerve.

“We had over 20 classes and they all had waiting lists,” library director Robin Woods said. “We had over 250 people taking classes in Excel, Facebook for adults, genealogy and resume-writing.”

Since the bus visit was a response to community surveys and feedback that told library officials that residents wanted this kind of service and others, Tuesday’s rejection of an $11 million bond issue to finance a 24,000-square-foot addition to the library is more than a bit puzzling.

The 1.17-mill, 28-year issue, which would have cost $3 a month for owners of homes valued at $100,000, was defeated by 933 to 809, according to unofficial election results. Chronicle Telegram.

Rules of Circulation #09 (RoC)

"There is No Such thing as Patron - Circ Desk Confidentiality."

I don't know what it is about the circ desk, but it seems like patrons seem to frequently throw the general sense of self disclosure out the window. It's quite similar to someone telling their whole life story to a bartender at the bar.

Tonight I was part of one of the most awkward discussions I have had at the circ desk.

A mother came up to me at the circ desk and told me that her two children had been out of the country for the past year and that they needed new cards. Sure thing, easy transaction.
When I was looking up her children's accounts by searching with her last name, she saw the PC screen and said to her children, "Wow there are a lot of people with our last name, I mean, my ex-husband's last name." Her son looked up at her and asked, "You and dad got a divorce???" She quickly changed the subject by having him sign his name on his new card. I tried not to react at all, but I may have winced when he asked.

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Extending a Helping Hand to the Jobless

Today marks the opening of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Job Help Center. NC State Librarian Mary Boone, county commissioner Jennifer Roberts and library director Charles Brown were on hand for the occasion.

Here's the webpage for the Job Center, which allows you to reserve a PC, register for courses in Excel and other computer skills, create a resume and even try out interview techniques. Funding for the Job Help Center at Main Library has been provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mecklenburg County ABC Board, Phillip L. Van Every Foundation, and The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation

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