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.

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