Displaced in the STA

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to put in some hours at a busy regional branch. The Main library where I work had to be closed for a few days for repairs. The staff scheduled for that weekend headed over to the St Andrews branch library. Recently, they had started to organize their collection to implement a self checkout system. In order to do this, we had to tag and link all of the books in that library. The staff at the branch only have so much time to get this kind of work done. It was great to take the opportunity to help them out.

In addition to working on the self checkout process, I also spent some time on their reference desk. It was a little different than what I am used to. I have worked at the Main branch for several years. Working the reference desk at a branch was much busier than I am used. I expected this. I also realized how little experience I have with readers advisory. At the Main branch, we have a separate department for that. It’s just one of those examples of “if you don’t use it, you loose it.” It reminded me of my days working retail at the Mt Pleasant during college. That job taught me more about multi-tasking than any other.

All in all, it was great to experience something different from what I do everyday. I felt the same when I started my internship at CofC. A new environment can be a refreshing change of pace.


Bibliographic Instruction: More important than you may think…

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in and observe a few bibliographic instruction sessions at the CofC library. One was for a freshman English class, one for Cognitive Psychology and the other for a business course on Managing Diversity. All of these are very different subjects so I was glad I got to see some variety.Even though these classes presents similar information, each librarian has their own teaching style. I know this from my education coursework background.

The technique for the English class was slightly different. The library has assigned an embedded librarian for the course and their first meeting with him was a scavenger hunts of library services. I thought this was an interesting way to go for an introduction to the library. In my opinion, the last thing students want to do is listen to a librarian talk at them for an hour. So they were split into groups and assigned questions. They were then given a time frame in which to explore the library and get answers. They were encouraged to interact with other library staff. Then, the class came back together and resented their findings. The librarian teaching the class supplemented information as needed.

I also found the class on Managing Diversity to be very interesting. These were International Business students and they were assigned the task of creating a training manual for managing diversity in the workplace in a chosen country. The business librarian walked them through the different databases that would help them find information on their topic. This class had a different focus because the students were there for a specific assignment and had likely already been introduced to some of the library services at a previous session.

Observing these sessions has been very enlightening. It is important for students to feel more at ease about using the library’s resources. These classes work towards fostering a positive library experience in the hopes they will continue to use the library for their research needs throughout their academic lives.

Thoughts from the Reference Desk…

Part of my internship is working on the reference desk at the CofC library. I have been doing this mostly in the evenings and not seen much reference activity. However, this week my reference skills were tested. I have worked reference for quite some time but in a public library setting. Students tend to ask more in depth research questions. I was able to put my experience and knowledge to work. I had been a bit nervous just because this was a new environment for me but I found my footing rather quickly.

I had one pair of students looking for a source on the Aiken-Rhett House. After checking the catalog, there were several good one in the Special Collections area of the library. But of course, true to form, the students needed the information right now and Special Collections wa closed. I was able to find them an article that would suffice for their assignment. (Thank you Architecture LibGuides!)

After doing reference work for years, I have learned that experience is one of the best teachers. You only get good by getting asked questions and working out answers to them. I am so thankful that I get to experience this in an academic setting. Also, all those years of conducting my own research and consulting reference librarians is starting pay off.

Taxes: It’s that time of year again…

Well it’s that time of year that I mostly dread: tax season. It’s not that my own personal taxes that are well “taxing” but rather that I seem to be bombarded with questions regarding the tax code, forms and where free tax services can be found. I want people to have as much information as possible when it comes to their taxes so here is my attempt at doing just that.

First, there are several organizations that provide volunteer tax preparers and provide tax assistance at no cost. There may be some limitations to this service, (i.e. income restrictions, special circumstances). It is worth checking into to avoid the high cost of an accountant.
Here is a list of tax assistance offered in the area.
2011 TaxSites-Charleston/Berkeley/Dorchester

Some individuals still prefer the paper form system and wish to file using these forms. Well, the IRS does not print as many forms as they used to. In recent years, the IRS has printed fewer and fewer forms. As a result, libraries have not received as many for distribution. Needless to say, the government is trying to encourage the electronic filing system. However, if you really need forms or know someone who does , they are available. Most forms are available directly from the IRS website.

I just want to stress that librarians are not tax professionals, so we cannot answer any tax questions. The federal and state tax codes are very complex and tax professionals spend years learning it. As Io work in a public library, we provide access to the information. For example, I can look up a specific forms for a patron by title or form number but beyond that, there is little other advice we can legally offer.

Internship: Week 2 Thoughts on PASCAL and ILL

Part of my internship at the Addlestone Library is working in the Interlibrary Loan office. A large function of that office involves circulating books through the PASCAL network (a cooperating network of SC academic libraries for resource sharing). I have been learning the process for this system. I think its a great way for libraries to share their collections with each other. However, the process is very labor intensive. There is always a large volume of returns and items going out. The PASCAL process for shipping labels is very time consuming. They need a system that can allow multiple labels to be generating and printed at the same time. Currently, you have to manually generate each one as a separate order and print individually. It just seems like such an time-consuming way to ship these items through the courier service.

I also spent some time this week learning more about the ILLiad system. After working with the Web-based FirstSearch system, this software is fantastic. It does a lot of the work for you and you can more easily manage a large volume of requests in a timely manner. I look forward to learning more about it.

The King’s Speech: A must see

I don’t usually blog about movies on this space but I thought this one deserved to be singled out.  The King’s Speech is a biopic depicting the relationship between King George VI and an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue. The movie focuses on the time between the two World Wars. Prince Albert, called “Bertie” by those close to him, is played by Colin Firth. The film hit a few limited theaters in the US a few months ago but has recently been sent to full US release due to the attention it has received from the Golden Globes and other award nominations. Firth was also recently honored with a win at the Golden Globes for his performance.

I love British history and I have been a longtime fan of Colin firth. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing this movie and was very pleased that it went into nationwide release. This film focuses on the difficulties that Bertie endures with his stammer, which plagued him since childhood. When I was growing up, I had a very dear friend who also suffered from stuttering. So this film was of particular interest. It is amazing how much courage it requires of those who suffer from this speech impediment. A simple thing like giving a short speech can be one of most terrifying things in the world.

After seeing this film, I also ran across a book of the same name written by Mark Logue, Lionel Logue’s grandson, and journalist Peter Conradi. This book is a memoir based on the letters and papers of Lionel Logue and locuses more on Logue than the King. So far it is a very interesting read. I donloaded a copy on my Nook.

I also enjoyed this film so much that I have pre-ordered the DVD today. (It just became avilable for pre-order.)


Life as an Intern @ CofC Library: Week 1

Day One- I am doing my internship in the reference department at the College of Charleston, my Alma mater. The first night I spent some time pulling books to be sent out to other libraries on the PASCAL network. This took longer than I thought as I have not used the LC classification system in some time.
I also spent some time pulling reference books that were to be weeded from the collection. Nothing is a better workout than lugging lots of reference volumes from the shelf. My allergies didn’t like it but I am suffering for my art.

Spent some time on the reference desk with one of the reference librarians. It was very quiet in the library probably because classes had just started that day. C of C had to delay the start of classes by a day due to the winter weather on Monday. Needless to say, that meant a pretty dead library. I am sure things will pick up.

Day two- When I got to the library this evening, I only had a few books to pull. I did not have mch else to do this evening. I spent more time on the reference desk this evening. I was able to answer a few IM reference messages. CofC uses a slightly different system to receive messages than we do at CCPl. They use an open source software called Pidgin which is fairly easy to use. I like how they keep a detailed account of IM Reference questions where you can indicate subcategories of the reference interaction.

Day Three- This was the day that I got to come into the library during the day. I met the rest of the ILL staff and got an introduction to the PASCAL system. This is cooperative network among the academic libraries in South Carolina. It is a way to borrow and lend book through a system separate from Interlibrary Loan. I was introduced to the headaches of printing individual labels for this system. The labels are generated in a web-based system but is very time-consuming. In my opinion, the system could be updated to be more efficient.