Posts filed under ‘Libraries’
A post by Cynthia Lambert
In the past I have blogged about what surprised me when I first came to libraries. Many people commented on the drunken patron—an unexpected customer service challenge if ever there was one. One thing I expected, but three years later still have no idea how to deal with, are the mentally ill or chemically altered patrons. I am not alone.
When I get together socially with librarians both new and seasoned, often the talk of customer service turns into laments about the homeless, the mentally ill, drug addicts, and the unwashed. No one it seems has any idea how to properly help and/or deal with these people. Why is that?
A March, 2009 article in Public Libraries gives a list of 10 tips for dealing with the mentally ill, all of which suggest training. In library school—only one class, a class on communication, even touched on the issue of mentally ill people at the library. Of the four libraries I have worked in, not one gave me training, despite mentally ill, homeless, and drug addicted patrons causing problems—some small, some very significant. In fact, at one, most of the staff simply will not deal with the issue. Rules in place against sleeping or pornography are ignored and management explicitly stated that maybe it is best to just let them sleep unless another patron complains.
The San Francisco Public Library is trying something new to deal with the problem. They have hired a full-time social worker. While I think that is fantastic, the reality is that very few libraries have the money to hire adequate library staff these days, let alone getting into the business of health care. So what is there for the rest of us?
Other than a handful of articles, I have found no indication of a training program in place to help library staff identify and deal with the mentally ill or drug addicted. I am sure there are many programs out there, I simply cannot find them. I found programs for educators, for families, for children, for teens, and for law enforcement, but nothing for libraries and library professionals.
The literature I did find is limited, suggests speaking to experts, and provides a list of ‘tips’. Much of what I do know, I have learned informally on the job or from other librarians. (For example, never yell, speak harshly, or seem upset–simply speak in a calm voice, speak clearly and in short sentences, show respect, enforce the rules).
Librarians love training. We love meetings. How many offers of training on Twitter or Facebook have you seen in the past year? Now think about how many you have received for dealing with drug addicts or the mentally ill? How many hours have you spent in endless meetings discussing the best way to support e-books? Now consider how many hours have been spent on dealing with difficult patrons in a safe and effective manner (and get management does not cut it given there lack of availability at night and on weekends).
So I ask you dear readers—please send me your training programs, your tips, your tricks, and your coping strategies for dealing with the mentally ill or drug addicted. It is my goal to create an online professional directory of services, training, tips, and discussion to assist library professionals in dealing with the most needy and most challenging of patrons.
by April Bunn
The tables are cleared, the mini-cash registers are closed and balanced, and the wheelable bookcases are packed and closed. The library looks a bit empty after our PTO’s Scholastic Book Fair closed last week.
Don’t get me wrong, I am always relieved to get my circulation desk (also my personal desk) back and unpack when they leave. It is a challenge to move out of the place and teach my lessons on a cart, but overall Scholastic makes it pretty easy to “wow” the kids. They market with a theme, which this year was Destination Book Fair- reading around the world.
You should see it- the students arrive with books circled in the flyer, chomping at the bit to get in the library and spend every cent of the money they’ve brought in envelopes and Ziploc baggies. It’s priceless to see the excitement in their eyes when they walk into the wonderland that the PTO members create with these book fairs twice a year.
Despite the economic conditions, the sales were good. Of course, we quickly sold out of Jeff Kinney’s latest hit, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Also, it was great to have a parent purchase and donate the picture book, Dewey: There’s a cat in the Library! which I had on my wish list.
I didn’t have the experience of my library transforming into a Book Fair growing up- the bookmobile came to our school and impressed us. Can you remember visiting the bookmobile? Do you remember the buzz in the school when it arrived?
At my school, in suburban central New Jersey, we’d line up, a few students at a time, and head into the bookmobile to spend our money on a brand new book (I don’t remember buying the erasers, silly pens and pointers, posters, and all the tchotchkes they widely sell now).
Bookmobiles are back in, apparantly, because in 2010, ALA is celebrating bookmobiles and their 100 years of service on National Bookmobile Day, Wednesday, April 14th, during National Library Week.
Bookmobiles are more commonly used by libraries now, to reach out into the community, but the idea is the same. Drive up, open the doors, and let the excited patrons, young and old, enter the magical kingdom of books.
As librarians, we are lucky to have daily experiences with the joy of connecting people to new books. I feel extra lucky working with children, because they give us such uninhibited delight when they find the “perfect” book. Walking into a special place focused on books, whether it be a library, book store, book fair or bookmobile can be all we need to inspire our reading spirit.
Happy Holidays to all of you for keeping that spirit alive.
by April Bunn
This week, we’re pleased to have a guest post from two wonderful librarians:
- Justin Hoenke is the Teen Librarian for the Cape May County Library.
- Melissa Brisbin is the Media Librarian for the Cape May County Library.
Thanks for sharing this with LG readers! -PB
Justin: I’ll start off by saying this. It’s been two weeks since our Teen Library Lock-In ended and I’m not sure if I’ve recovered yet. My brain is still a bit fuzzy and I still don’t think I’ve caught up on sleep. If I tend to ramble or get lost when I’m talking, we’ll just blame it on that. You got my back Melissa?
Melissa: I’ll watch your back if you watch mine. I’m still sort of in a sleep-induced coma.
The Initial Idea
Justin: My Teen Advisory Board kept on talking about how they wanted to spend the night in the library. I thought they were sort of crazy at first, but the longer I thought about it the more it seemed like a really great idea. And I had this feeling that the teens would freak out and love the program.
I did some research on how these types of events were structured. I must say that without the guidance of the teen librarians at both the Corvallis-Benton County Library and the Willingboro Public Library I wouldn’t have ever got our Library Lock-In off the ground. I borrowed bits and pieces from their lock-in programs and created an outline and a permission slip. With these two things in hand, I had something to give my directors.
Melissa: One of the biggest concerns we had when constructing the Cape May County Library Teen Lock-In was how to keep our participants entertained and out of trouble. We decided that the best way to go about this was to implement activities such as an Library Olympics and a scavenger hunt, combined with an ongoing marathon of Harry Potter movies, crafts, and computer access, as well as continuous usage of our video game systems, such as the Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox.
Justin: The idea was to start the lock in right after our weekly game night ended. The games would already be set up and I thought gaming, especially Rock Band, would be a good community building game where the kids could get to know one another. After the scheduled events such as the library Olympics and the scavenger hunt, things got a bit looser. We had one room dedicated to a Harry Potter movie marathon, the video games still set up, one room for tabletop gaming, and crafts in the children’s room. We wanted to have some structure to the program but at the same time let teens be teens and have some random (and very supervised) fun.
Justin: Once I got the OK from my directors to have the lock-in, I knew that I had to assemble a REALLY good team of librarians and library associates to help run the event. I sort of felt like I was putting together “The A-Team” of Library Lock In staff members. I knew I had to have the right blend of people who the teens could identify with and not feel intimidated by. I ended up with 7 (counting myself) chaperones for the thirty teens that had signed up. That’s roughly 4 teens to every chaperone, which is something I thought was manageable.
Making it all work
Melissa: As an example of one of our planned activities, I will highlight the obstacle course, which like the scavenger hunt, was created to promote fun activities that would also reflect library usage. For instance in the obstacle course, all participants were told to carry a book on their head, paperback of course, and then proceed to the next activity. Teens had to carry a book on their head, walk with the book while wearing box shoes, crab walk with a book on their stomach, jump down an aisle while still carrying the book and find works written by a variety of author(s), and finally dig though a box filled with scrap paper in order to locate a library card that had a Teen sticker on it. All participants worked in teams and were timed. For the winners, we planned an award ceremony that was similar to the Olympics, complete with medals for first, second, and third place.
Justin: Call me a hippy, but I’m all about good and positive vibrations. I always wanted to make sure that both the chaperones and the teens all respected each other and created a positive community.
Melissa: We also wanted to stress to teens the importance of good behavior, and how exceptional actions would be acknowledged and rewarded. We implemented a Good Behavior Chart. Teens were awarded stickers that they could post next to their name in order to win an array of prizes at the end of the night. I have to admit at first we were not sure if this idea would work, or if teens would see the idea as somewhat immature and childish. However, like teens have a tendency of doing, at least for me, they proved to be an exceptional group of young adults. They really went above and beyond to help out the librarians and each other. There was definitely on ongoing competition among the teens, but it was never malicious. They were all super positive and a lot of fun to hang out with.
The Actual Event
Justin: I got into work the day of the event at 4:30 and made sure all the loose ends were tied up by the time we started at 7pm. The first few hours were a bit hectic in getting all the teens together and in one place. Once that was done, we started off on the scheduled events. Some teens didn’t want to join in, so that was a bit difficult in explaining to them that they had to be there and once these things were done they’d have a bit more freedom.
Melissa: Once we were finished with the scheduled events, the Teens were allowed to be in either one of three rooms. They were great about telling us where they were going and we didn’t experience any problems with them disappearing. Most of teens just meandered between games, movies, crafts, and lots and lots of conversations.
Justin: We asked the teens at the beginning of the program to always tell at least one chaperone where they were going. We told them that this was one of the most important things they could do throughout the night. They were amazing
Justin: The alternate title for this section is “This is what we’ll do differently the next time around.”
We had one incident at the lock in that sounded the alarms. During a game of hide and seek/manhunt, two teens collided with each other. One had glasses on, so the other teen got quite a big gash on their head. It was big enough that stitches were needed. We had to call their parents at 1am and let them know what happened. They came to the library and we had to go to the Emergency Room. I accompanied the teen and the parent there, and 20 minutes later, the teen was all stitched up and ready to go. The parent let the teen come back to the library. I feel like I lucked out on this one. Incident reports had to be filled out and the overall mood of the lock-in really changed after that.
Melissa: Yes, everyone really mellowed out, such as a lot less horsing around, and became more interested in hanging out, talking to one another, and playing video games.
What We Have Learned and What the Teens Taught Us
Melissa: The overall of theme of the entire Lock-In was camaraderie. It was evident from the beginning that there was a relatively wide range of ages and maturity levels, as well as groups and interests. However, throughout the night, it became extremely evident that all the teens were just interested in hanging out with each other in an array of activities. The entire Teen Lock-In produced a fantastic sense of community atmosphere. In all, this event was A LOT OF FUN WITH A GREAT FLOW AND POSITIVE INTERACTION. It was a fantastic opportunity to librarians to get to the teens and vice versa. We have received a great response from teens, parents, and administration. We will definitely plan more Teen Lock-Ins for the future, using the knowledge and lessons we have learned from our initial experiences with this program.
Justin: I thought 30 teens would be manageable, but now that I think about it the next time around I’d limit it to 20, possibly 25 teens and maybe have it twice a year. I also may reconsider having any kind of hide and seek activities since we had a bit of a snafu this last time. But it worked so well and the teens loved it! Agh!
P.S. For those wondering where the title comes from…The most common response to “We’re having an all night sleepover at the library with 30 teens ages 12-18 was “ARE YOU CRAZY?”
P.P.S For more photos of the lock in, click here for our Flickr gallery
by April Bunn
Most of us have no control over it.
It gets people really upset when they run up against it.
The Internet Filter
Hopefully you aren’t trying to read this at a school computer because you’d probably have your “access denied” with most of my links below.
As a School Library Media Specialist, I am all too familiar with a great teaching moment being ruined by a blocked website. Linda Underwood’s School Library Monthly article “21st-Century Learning Blocked: What is a School Librarian to Do?” (September’s issue-not available online yet) inspired me to think more about this topic. This past week one of my colleagues was blocked from using National Geographic and another was blocked from downloading her Promethean Board software, so I knew it was time to get this done. The technology teacher and I just convinced many of these teachers to branch out and use new technology and this filter is discouraging them rapidly. Just to give you an idea of what it’s like with these filters:
- We can’t use any image or video sites at all (so long to those Google Images on our web pages and for student projects and no-can-do on that great video you found on Abraham Lincoln on YouTube).
- Also, no access to sites that have a shopping cart feature, like Barnes and Noble, making it a serious challenge to place orders when we are registering for conferences, ordering books and supplies.
- No technical or business forums (see below)
Ironically, as I try to finalize this post, sitting at my desk after school dismisses, I am blocked from previewing the post on WordPress with the response screen below:
|You cannot access the following Web address:|
|The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Technical/Business Forums|
|Temporarily override filtering on this computer if you have an override name and password. (Note that your administrator may be notified that you’ve bypassed filtering.)|
|Use your browser’s Back button or enter a different Web address to continue.|
Surveying other Libraries
After suffering from blocks preventing her from using pieces of Web 2.0 in her teaching, National Board Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Integrator Sharon Elin used her blog at edutwist.com, to conduct a survey about which popular sites were blocked and find out what other schools were allowing. Her results, displayed in colorful graphs, represent the more controversial of sites, but even simple sites that include questionable images are blocked from most students.
As Media Specialists, we are responsible, along with our Technology colleagues, for teaching about safe internet searching and strategies for effective information retrieval. As one of Elin’s responders wrote, “Teaching students about internet safety in a highly filtered environment is like teaching kids to swim in a pool without water.”
So why do we have to have them?
In 2000, Congress enacted the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). As a result of that Act, many schools and libraries got grants for technology or joined the E-Rate program, a discounted pricing system set up by the FCC for telecommunication services, Internet access, and internal connections. One requirement of these programs was to certify that you are using computer filtering software programs to prevent the “on-screen depiction of obscenity, child pornography or material that is harmful to minors”. Nobody is really arguing that schools against schools being a safe place, away from highly offensive material. As librarians, our collection development is monitored by administration and the purchasing has to be supported with some curricular connection. What we as educators are saying is that the filters that are in place in schools are blocking educational information that could be inspiring to a child. Parents must understand that their children are losing out on dynamic learning communities created by Web 2.0 developments.
We’re being forced to bypass the filter
In most cases, educators are waiting for technical administrators to release the block after explaining how they are going to be using it in they teaching. By the way, these tech administrators are NOT teachers or librarians; they are IT people and network security experts that are now responsible for evaluating things like 5th grade students’ research on endangered species. Are we even speaking the same language? I don’t think so. In my school, those requests are only read once a week.
As a result, we’ve (older students and teachers) resorted to bypassing and unblocking the filter on our own. My Google search returned over 1 million hits when using the search terms “how to bypass school internet filters” and the responses included videos and instructions galore. A large portion of these requests could be from students as well.
A few examples are:
is just one of the many sites giving step by step directions how to bypass the filter. They call it a “circumvention” of the block and don’t make any attempt to discuss the issue: “Whether or not these blocks are justified or a waste of time, whether they are a form of censorship or a method of managing resources, are topics that can be debated another time.” They give 3 sets of directions depending on what you’d like to use: a translation service, URL redirection service, or web proxy.
Quick Online Tips (www.quickonlinetips.com) has a page called “Top 10 Ways to Unblock Websites”
We know about it but won’t widely risk it
Most of the school librarians that I spoke to knew that these methods existed, but many had only used it once or twice, or were scared to be caught. The law specifically states, “An administrator, supervisor, or person authorized by the responsible authority [i.e. school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of such school] may disable the technology protection measure concerned to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.”
Can’t we just block the students’ computers?
No. The FCC’s E-Rate program is specific that every computer have the filter engaged, “The FCC is imposing the requirements on ALL Internet-accessible computers used by the schools and libraries, including public, student, staff and administrative workstations on the Internet because the law made no distinction between school and library computers that are used only by adult staff, and those used by children or the public.” If we’re hoping schools will allow us to have more access than our students, it looks like we’ll be waiting awhile. If you refer to Elin’s survey, the communication service Skype is almost the only site that was allowed on more teacher computers than student ones. That wasn’t true in my school this month when a teacher was blocked from Skype or Google Video Chat to demonstrate communication across the world with her son who is teaching English in Korea.
What can we hope for in the future?
I’m trying to be optimistic in how I think filters will be used in schools of the future. Otherwise I’d feel like my degree in Library and Information Science may not be best suited for a school library career. My dreams are for:
- Trust from our Administration that we are professionals and will use the internet wisely in our teaching
- Filtering programs that are created by educators and parents
- Websites designing “school-safe” versions for filter approval
- Open access to dynamic information online without lurking viruses and predators
- Faith from the parents whose children we inspire on a daily basis that we are working to create better global citizens
by April Bunn, School Library Media Specialist in a PreK-6th Grade School
I give you definition number 5 from The Free Dictionary by Fairfax
5. a person or thing on which one can always depend: your loyalty is a rock
-retrieved http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rock, 08/31/09, 3:46pm
They came to use the free Internet stations to communicate with friends and family back home, and to look for work and apartments. They came to our computer classes and created resumes and learned how to search in our databases and in our catalog for books, dvds, cds. Their children used the library after school to play games on the computers and to do homework and socialize with other students.
Rock Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aeu04117/581816877/
This is awesome on so many levels that I just had to share:
I found out about this video from Sophie Brookover via Facebook. Sophie reports that she is planning to run the race — and perhaps even throw the race all for the cause.
I love it when a clever fundraising idea is promoted so brilliantly and I hope that this will be a huge success for Brett Bonfield and the teens who need a space to hang out at the Collingswood Library.
Click here for more info on the 5K Race and Collingswood Book Festival.
There have been dozens of posts made over the last few months reminding everyone to nominate their favorite Mover and Shaker from libraryland for the annual Library Journal supplement. I myself am in the midst of polishing my M&S nomination for submission before the deadline on Monday November 10th, so I thought while everyone was in nominating mode I would post a reminder that nominating season need not end on Monday!
There are lots of ALA professional recognition awards that you can nominate your colleagues and institution to win — and many of the awards given by ALA have a December 1st deadline, giving you three weeks to put together your nomination!
I spent the last two years serving on the ALA Awards Committee and this year I was appointed the chair of the jury for the ALA/Information Today Library of the Future Award. This is not only a really prestigious award but a really cool one too — as is evident by the list of past winners. Look over the requirements, then think about what your library is doing and how you might possibly qualify:
… to honor an individual library, library consortium, group of librarians, or support organization for innovative planning for, applications of, or development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting.
Criteria should include the benefit to clients served; benefit to the technology information community; impact on library operations; public relations value; and the impact on the perception of the library or librarian in the work setting and to the specialized and/or general public.
I know, for a fact, that there are many libraries with innovative, forward-thinking and amazing technology-focussed programs that are deserving of this award, so step forward and nominate yourselves or your colleagues.
As some of you already know, I am a career changer—after ten years as a financial analyst, I returned to school (Rutgers) to pursue my MLIS. It was time to follow my childhood dream to become a Librarian. I continued to work at Dow Jones at first, then left in the fall of 2007 for library work. I now juggle two part-time adult services positions at Princeton Public Library and Mary Jacobs Library (part of the Somerset County Library System). I love my jobs–love working with the public, love hunting down information, love teaching people to use library resources, and love providing reader’s advisory help. From the very first moment I began my public library internship, I knew that I had made the right choice!
Last week I did a quick review of the job posting lists on-line (NJLA, Rutgers SCILS, Somerset County, Mercer County, Ocean County, and Middlesex County). There was exactly one full-time Adult Services position in New Jersey public libraries posted. This has been the case for months now–a job here, a job there, but never more than three at a time, usually less. Many folks tell me you have to put your time in working part-time. No problem! As I noted above, I love my part-time jobs. However, there is one very difficult issue—health insurance.
To put this in perspective, the cost of my health insurance each month is:
$60 more than my car payment.
Over 25% of my take-home pay.
64% of my mortgage payment (not including property taxes, after all, I live in NJ!)
When I lament my lack of health insurance and the bleak outlook for any full-time employment in NJ public libraries, I get a very disturbing response: Can’t you get insurance from your husband’s job? This has been the response of both co-workers and classmates. This is generally the first response. Has the library profession become one available only to married people? Why does everyone expect some other employer to insure me? Why do so many people in the library field think this concept of not getting benefits from your employer is perfectly ok? Am I the only person who finds this attitude disturbing?
I am about to graduate in May. This means I have to start thinking more about full-time work. I am not actively looking at the moment–I hope to have my part-time work turn into full-time work. However, I do keep my eyes open for interesting posts just in case. What I have noticed is that I am now looking at postings for jobs in the corporate area again. I don’t want this, but I know it may be my only chance to have affordable health insurance. At some point, that will become critical. Now, each time I look at online postings, I hit the old finance lists after I finish the library ones.
I will leave you with one last thought–When all the semi-retired, part-time, adult services librarians retire, will there be anyone left to take their posts? Or will they have left for full-time positions outside the library field?
New Pew Report Looks at How America Solves Everyday Life Problems Using Libraries, the Internet, and Government Agencies
With interesting timing to those of us who are into holiday parties, hanging out with friends and family, and looking forward to the New Year, on December 30th, 2007, Pew Internet & American Life Project (PIAL) released their latest major report. Information Searches that Solve Problems: How People Use the Internet, Libraries, and Government Agencies when They Need Help studies the problem solving strategies of American adults who are 18 years old and older as they deal with 10 everyday issues. These issues included addressing health concerns, investigating school finance or enrollment, improving their work skills or changing jobs, and wrestling with problems involving government related programs such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and tax issues.
PIAL has become a leading source of research for up-to-date and reliable information on how Americans are using the internet and libraries. Once again, this latest report does not disappoint. Leigh Estabrook of the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Evans Witt of the New Jersey based Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), and Lee Rainie, Director of PIAL have crafted a well-written and highly readable report. From June to September 2007, PSRAI conducted 2796 phone calls yielding 2063 usable interviews with a deliberate over-sampling from African-American, Latino, and 733 households with “low access” to computers and the internet.
The full 42 page report Internet Searches that Solve Problems that chronicles the results of these interviews is well-worth reading, but if you want to just hit the high points, check out the first 6 pages of executive summary.
Some findings I’d like to highlight:
- Public libraries and government agencies got high marks from the respondents when among the choices for their information seeking when faced with everyday life problems, but (of course!) the star was again the internet. 58% of respondents said they used the web when they recently (within the past 2 years) encountered everyday life problems.
- When faced with the above problems, the age group that reported visiting the pubic library the most was Gen Y (18-30 years old) with 62%. Trailing Boomers (43-52 years old) were second with 57% and Leading Boomers (53-61 years old) had an even lower percentage of 46%. This finding surprised me since I think of the Gen Y group as being more oriented to online resources and less likely to visit “brick” libraries.
- The most frequently encountered problem reported (45%) was a serious illness (either themselves, or someone close to them). This finding confirms other studies that find health concerns to be among the top reasons people use the web when addressing personal matters as opposed to school or work-related searching.
- Regarding privacy issues, Pew found that only 20% of the respondents “were concerned about privacy disclosures as they hunted for information” and “they were somewhat more pronounced for the low-access group” (p. viii). Since some of these issues were very personal in nature, I would have expected this number to be much higher.
There are many more intriguing findings from this report, take a look – perhaps when you recover from New Year’s celebrations! Happy Hols to all!