Thursday, May 28, 2009

Help Me Help You: Library Logistics

This post concludes my series, Help Me Help You: What Librarians Wish Patrons Knew About the Library. Make sure you check out Part 1: Research and Reference and Part 2: Storytime. And here we go with

Part 3: Library Logistics

The library is not totally silent. Yes, we want you to do your homework here. Yes, many libraries have quiet areas or silent reading rooms. But what you've got to understand is that the group of chatting teens or giggling three-year-olds have just as much right to be at the library as you do. The library is for everyone and it's no longer always a silent space. If you're looking for a quiet place, I can probably recommend some places that tend to be quieter, but I will defend the teens' right to use the library, too.

If you reach a voicemail when you call, we will get back to you! But we can't get back to you if you don't leave a message. It's helpful if you leave a phone number and say it slowly and clearly. Along the same lines, if you IM and don't get a response, don't give up! The person checking the IM might be on the public service desk and helping another patron. Please be patient or if you can't wait, please call.

We appreciate when you cancel your holds for items you no longer need. We know that you want the new stuff and sometimes you (like me!) just can't wait. If you get the book from a different source, please cancel your hold. Many libraries order additional copies based on how many holds are on the item. And if you've got a book on hold that you don't intend to pick up, it's just sitting on the shelf when it could be in someone's hands.

It's okay if you are unable to come to a program you signed up for. Just please let us know! We understand that things come up, plans change, and you might be unable to make it. What you should understand is that there might be a waiting list for the program and/or we might base our prep and materials on how many people are registered. If you let us know that you can't make it, we can let someone else take your space. They will appreciate it and we will, too!

We want you to follow us into the stacks when we're showing you where something is. Our job is to show you where things are, not to fetch them for you. (Of course, if there is some reason you can't follow us into the stacks most librarians I know would be more than happy to help you out and pull things for you.) You never know what you might find on your venture into the stacks - maybe something on a nearby shelf that is an even better fit for your needs!

Librarians, this is the end of my Help Me Help You feature. This was going to be the end, but I'm working on Part 4: What Librarians Wish Teachers Knew About the Library. What should be on it? And please keep in mind that this is meant to actually be helpful, not as a venting of frustrations. What should teachers know about the library in order to use it to their full advantage? How can they help us help them? I've already got some suggestions from previous comments, but give me your input and I'll get Part 4 up early next week.

Librarians, what have I missed in my Help Me Help You posts? I've gotten lots of great additions in the comments so far, but what else?

Parents, teachers, readers, teens, kids, what would you like librarians to know about patrons? What are your questions for librarians? Maybe there will be a Part 5: What Patrons Wish Librarians Knew...

ETA (June 11): Do check out Part 4: Teacher Edition and Part 5: Wrapping it Up!


Naughty Librarian said...

The public library has items your school board may or may not approve of - I'm back in library school working on a K-12 certification and am a little surprised by the divide between media specialists and public librarians. While the teacher librarian must meet the needs of the school and the student, at times bowing to the demands of her administration - public librarians must meet the needs of all patrons, and in some ways (depending on the library of course!) have more freedom and ability to uphold ALA intellectual freedom principals

AJ said...

I've really been enjoying this series and am looking forward to the fourth installment.

The comment above about materials the school board might not approve of is a really good one. I know that while we do pay attention to the curriculum frameworks, we also pay attention to what kids come in and ask for and what just doesn't ever leave the shelf.

The first point that came to my mind that I'd want teachers to know already got mentioned, I think but is worth mentioning again: Please don't take everything we have on a single topic. The public library is there to serve everyone, not a single school or a single classroom.

Also, it's fantastic when teachers let us know that a big assignment is coming up and give us enough notice and details that we can really work to help kids get the information they need.

Kristi(e) said...

To make sure that they (and/or whoever else is in charge of creating summer reading lists) are aware that some books are out of print and most likely will not be available for purchase by librarians. Amazon informs you if a book is in or out of print. The summer reading list for my community was just released and it contains the same books as last year... the same out of print books as last year.

MissSusie said...

I will agree with the other posts and I wanted to thank-you for Part 3-I rarely hush anyone in my library and I have more kids reading because of it,this is a place they can come and hang out and in a little town like I live in it is good they have a place.
Thanks for this series its been great!

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

Yes yes yes about the library not beign silent!! We have silent places, but the whole building is a buzz of people getting information, finding books, magazines, computers and that's very cool and exciting! If you need total silence, please ask for a study room-we'd love to help you book one.

For teachers-we really do want to help your students, and we'd love to come talk to them about summer reading and other events going on at the library-and we need your help to promote it! The library offers lots of great programs that your students can take advantage of over the summer (and during the school year) but without a plug from teachers, many students never make it to the public library or know what's there. I've been making school visits all week and it's been great to make connectiosn with the teachers and students I'm meeting and it's great to know someone else is talking up the library too-it really helps us!

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

And one other thing that may not hold true at all libraries, but it's true for any that tries to have a children's or teen area I think: if you are in the library without any children or teens, please refrain from using the tables/computers/chairs in those areas. Children and teens really need their own space and when they're around adults all day, the last thing they want is to be around adults all afternoon at the library. We want them to have a place to hang out and have fun and be themselves, and when adults are in the area, they don't feel like they really belong there-and everyone should feel like they belong at the library. Please feel free to use any books/movies/music or other materials from these areas if that's what you're looking for, but please leave the space open for the children and teens.

Trisha said...

Yay, you're doing a Part 4!

I think most of my suggestions for teachers have already been mentioned here or in the comments to the previous parts, but I think the big ones are: for homework, don't do a blanket ban on info from the internet, because our online databases are great resources for students; let us know about major assignments *before* you assign them so we can better assist your students, whether this means making items non-circulating for a while if the entire class needs to use the same couple of books or that we'll order books on the topic (provided such books exist); likewise, we'd appreciate you giving us a copy of your summer reading list before summer (and would appreciate it even more if the books are still in print and the list includes more information than just titles and authors last names. Full names and an ISBN would be nice. Sorry, this last part got a little ranty.). For non-homework, I agree with GreenBeanTeenQueen about teachers' role in getting kids to the library; and while we may be able to accomodate last minute requests to visit the library/visit your class, it'd better for all of us (librarians, teachers, and students) if the visit was scheduled two or three weeks in advance.

Oh, and one more thing to add to the library logistics: we do our best to order books we think the community will use, but sometimes we miss things. So if you want a book/CD/DVD and the library doesn't have it, don't hesitate to ask a librarian to order it. We may not be able to purchase everything (especially in the current economic climate), but it doesn't hurt to ask and we'll certainly do our best to order what we can.

Cat Fancy said...

I can't believe I forgot to suggest this before, and I'm not sure if it belongs here or in the storytime category, but I can't let it go unsaid.

Please obey the age restrictions on programs. Siblings are allowed most of the time at storytimes, but certain programs are designed for specific ages. Do not come in and expect to sign up your 2nd grader for a program designed for 4th and 5th graders. I don't care how gifted/talented/amazingly brilliant your kid is, the age restrictions are there for a reason.

Sometimes it doesn't hurt to ask, but please don't get all huffy when we say no.

Laina said...

In case you ever want to do more of these... a little bit of a different perspective.

My library (the one I go to, not one I work at, I'm just a patron) is very small. The sections, like what would be the history section in another library, are probably under 50 books each, and the YA and Junior section (which is sort of middle grade, they're all mixed together) section is probably two shelves, plus a couple of those spinny-rack things. The children's section is two shelves high, and I think 6 or maybe 8 tops of shelves about 3 feet across.

The entire thing? Two rooms. One is the front desk, the children's section, the computers (five of them) and the books, and currently a very long table of books for their book sale. The other is bathrooms, the room where they hold all their things like story time and such, a storage room, and currently an art exhibit.

I have more, but I don't want to lose this comment if my computer messes up (it's a jerk, lol), so I'm gonna send it, and then maybe add a bit more unless you immediately say not to.

Laina said...

Our library is part of a regional system, the entire southeast part of my province, with close to fifty other libraries, so you can order books yourself at home or on any internet source (something I take much advantage of :D lol), but it's necessary, at least for me, because of the small size of the library, especially a lack of YA books.

Something else different at our library: There are no late fees. I'm not sure why, maybe it's a regional thing, maybe it's just ours because a lot of people come into town only a couple times a week, or even a month, I'm not sure.

Sorry, it's late and I'm zoning, I'd planned to write more, but I can't think of anything else right now.

Great series of posts, though!