Sunday, January 29, 2012


This week I worked two days at the library. I was there on Friday , January 27 and Saturday, January 28. On Friday once Liz, the Children’s Librarian and I had straightened up from Thursday’s patrons and reshelved returned material we sat down to discuss story time and  the after school program for next Thursday. I will be working the story time for Preschoolers on Thursday, February 2 with Liz’s help and guidance along with the after school program that day.

             Liz first went over how to search for books pertaining to our subject for the week-Groundhog Day and we were able to find some at our library and the  others were coming over with the courier’s afternoon delivery.  We read through the books to see what would be appropriate for the age group we will be working with that day. We selected several, one we especially liked to show  exactly what a groundhog looks like along with their habits. We also gathered up our supplies for the craft project we will be doing with the children that will go along with the stories about groundhogs.

            With that all done for Thursday’s sessions we began to look at books for future story-times in the coming weeks. Liz plans about 4 -6 weeks of story-time themes at once. So,some of  the upcoming themes for February  and March are Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, and Spring/Planting a garden. I pulled some of the books for these themes so we could go through them now and order the ones we need from other libraries in the system. Liz told me some guidelines she uses when choosing the books such as for preschoolers if the books are too wordy the children lose interest and become distracted. Not being around really young children in quite a few years that was helpful, because you forget that their attention span is not that long.

            For the after school program we are using the same theme and I selected several books that I think the children will enjoy. With this age group we will also be exploring shadows along with the groundhogs. We will also play a Groundhog trivia game with them after we share some facts about the day with them. I am looking forward to Groundhog Day at the library.

            On Saturday the library hosted the Tail-Wagging Tutors from Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi. The group is a non-profit organization that has registered Pet Therapy dogs that come to the library once a month in Fall and Spring so that children can read to them. The Pet Teams, a dog and their handler, also visit hospitals, nursing homes, senior day care facilities and the VA hospital all along the Gulf Coast counties. My husband and I have been a member since 2009 and I have helped develop the TWT program to where we now visit 3 libraries in the Harrison County system. We are now visiting Pass Christian, Margaret Sherry and the Biloxi Library once a month. I usually have 2-4 Pet Teams at each location, all on the same Saturday and at the same time. We previously tried every other week rotating between the three, but that was taking up all our Saturdays. And before that we only visited one location in Kiln and just continued to have low turnout of children and too many dogs. So, changes had to be made and we are seeing success at last.

            The numbers have been on the increase at each location. This month's session was a very good one with the Biloxi Library having 16 children read to the 3 dogs that were present. The other two locations also did quite well, Pass Christian had 18 children with only 2 dogs and Margaret Sherry had 11 with 2 dogs. The children’s librarians at Biloxi and Pass Christian are just wonderful and supportive. Margaret Sherry does not have a Children’s librarian at this time, so those numbers for them is a great achievement. The 2 Children Librarians we do work with are very supportive and make every effort to notify the children in the area that we will be there.

            The children and their parents welcome the chance for the children to practice reading aloud to the dogs and where the dogs are not judging the child. The dogs love the attention that the children usually shower on them before, during and after the reading is completed. The goal is to let the child read aloud for 10-15 minutes without someone criticizing  them or making fun of how they may pronounce a word. It is a worthwhile outreach program to the community and over time I have seen children improve their reading skills.

Here are a couple of photos from our session on Saturday-( when parents sign permission forms, they are also signing a photo release to our organization).

John and Gumbo listening to Alora read at TWT. John is my husband and Gumbo is one of our dogs. I was so busy I didn't have the chance to have someone take a picture of me with Coco and a child.

Buddy and Tiger Babe listening to Marielle read at Biloxi Library.

             In the next couple of weeks I will be working with Liz at some of her Outreach Services in the Biloxi area. We will be going to a Head Start program and to a local school that requested a Library instruction class. Also, I will be going shopping with Liz for supplies for some of her upcoming programs so I can see how she budgets her money for her supplies.

            This week I also worked the Book drop, taking the books from the drop, checking them in and locking and unlocking the bin for the weekend. I helped with closeout for the evening assuring no patrons were still in the library at closing, shutting down the computers and lights. It was a good week for me as far as the library goes.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week One

   Technically it was week one of classes and this practicum, but I began working at the Biloxi Library over Christmas break to test the water, so to speak. I was able to work only two full days (7.5 hours each) because of the library's holiday schedule but it helped me to learn the layout of the facility without it being too busy. Since those first two days I have been at the library for three Saturdays now working 5.5 hours each day, since they are only open 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturdays. With work and school Saturdays are the easiest days for me to put in my hours. I have scheduled some week days at the library with the consent of my department at USM so that I may experience the type of patrons and services required on a daily basis rather than just Saturdays. 

   The Saturday patrons consist of parents with children, working adults, teens, and some regular computer users. The huge attraction at the branch seems to be there DVD collection; I was completely amazed how many people come to the library to check out movies and other DVDs. The collection contains some fairly recent movies and TV shows. There are of course travel DVDs, biographies and many audio book sets available. I have encountered several commuters that check out the audio books to listen to while driving to and from work. 

   The first day I worked was after the Christmas weekend. I was assigned the pull list for our interlibrary program within our county. After a tour of the library with Liz, the Children's librarian, I was given the list to locate the books requested and pull them from the shelves. After completing the list, I then scanned the books to see which location was requesting the books or DVD. After scanning and labeling the items are placed in baskets labeled for the different locations. The courier comes once a day to pick up  the items and delivers them to the various locations in Harrison County.

 It was a very good way to get me acquainted with the layout and where everything is located making it much easier to help someone when they ask now for assistance as I am now familiar with  where items are located.

  Over the last few weeks some of the duties have performed are-

·                     check-in and check-out material
·                     assisted patrons in locating books using the online catalog
·                     updated patrons records
·                     library card replacement
·                     shelved many books and DVDs

   One thing I have learned is that a librarian’s job is not just sitting behind a circulation counter. It is a very active environment and one in which you are constantly moving around, whether you are shelving books or helping patrons locate a book. It is a constant flow of activity with books coming in and going out and the least little slow down of the computer can really hurt when you are busy. So, it pays to have a good internet connection.

   A lot of things that we have discussed in class don’t seem to be a part of this library. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are not even thought of at this location. Other libraries in the county system do have a Facebook presence where they communicate activities being held at the library. And after the event they publish pictures on the site to arouse interest. Other facilities also have a very well developed email program that sends out messages about their planned activities. I think that Facebook, Twitter and emails can be effective in promoting the library and the special events held there if someone is willing to put in some time maintaining the sites.

   An important asset to have for being a librarian is good customer service skills since you are dealing with a variety of patrons, varying in mood and temperament. We are there to answer there questions, no matter how silly they may seem to us, we are the ones they are looking to for the answers. Most of the patrons are very nice but some seem to go to everyone at the circulation desk to see if they will receive a better answer or one they like. That happened to me Saturday when a set of parents first asked one librarian if their child could use one of the library’s laptops and they were told no since there are laptops available in the young teen area and in the children’s area specifically for them. They continued to ask all of us and were upset when we all told them the same thing. Not knowing all the rules for computer and laptop use put me at a disadvantage, but I plan to clarify the rules with Ms. Longino, Head Librarian, this week we I see her.

   This next week I will be at the library on Friday and Saturday and plan to work with the children’s librarian preparing for Pre School story time the first week of February plus the after school program that same day. On Saturday we will be hosting a special program presented by a volunteer group with dogs called Tail Wagging Tutors, TWT for short. I am actually part of the group and have been for about 2 ½ years now. We have registered Pet Therapy dogs that the children read aloud to helping building their reading confidence. It is usually draws a fairly good group and has helped children who weren’t too sure of themselves when reading aloud. It is not usually a very quiet time in the library when the dogs are visiting.  More about that next week.

   Well, I feel as those I am putting my skills to work in the library and hope to learn quite a bit with my hands on experience. In the coming weeks I hope to learn some about the Genealogy Department located at the library, some of the Outreach programs offered and the planning and shopping for Children’s services, all planned for February, March and April. That’s it for now.