Posts filed under ‘Libraries’

On Andy Woodworth and the Old Spice Guy discussing libraries

Let's eat peanut butter

Let's eat peanut butter

Andy Woodworth, popular NJ Librarian and friend, suggested that I illustrate the response to his tweet from the recently retired Old Spice Guy (OSG). The response, if you’ve not seen it, is a video in which OSG talked up some of the benefits of libraries, which in turn started some larger conversations and discussions about the interactions of commercial ventures and libraries and what that means. Andy details the exchange here.

The video stated, in typical genius, free-thought OSG style:

“I’m handsome. You’re pretty. Let’s eat peanut butter. Stop throwing pigeons. Jump onto that giraffe.”

Nice work, Andy, for keeping the discussion on libraries public and active, and we’ll miss you, OSG.

July 22, 2010 at 9:08 pm 4 comments

When in doubt, visit a library (or ask a librarian)

When in doubt, visit a library

When in doubt, visit a library

The message here is a simple one — if you need a clear answer, a library is a great place to start. Made in Inkscape, the premier open source design tool.

Thanks to Marie Radford’s suggestion, I’ve created another version that has a larger worldview. Thanks, Marie!

Ask a librarian

Ask a librarian

Posted by John LeMasney

May 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm 10 comments

Books still matter (and so do school libraries)

by April Bunn

Times are rough for librarians in New Jersey. In the education world, librarian positions are being cut at an astronomical rate due to severe cuts in state aid.

I have been quiet here on Library Garden lately because I am part of the statistics- my position was cut- leaving our school without a librarian. I have been busy advocating for our positions with my teacher’s association and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.

While I’m shocked at what happened to school budgets in the Garden State in such a short period of time, I’m finding a shimmer of hope in the cover story of the May issue of the New Jersey Education Assocation (NJEA) Review: Keeping Dewey relevant in the digital age: Why books still matter by East Hanover teacher and author Ralph Rabb.

Rabb argues that with our help, books, in their original printed form, will inspire  literate, passionate readers. His primary concern is that students are doing their reading online and not picking up hard-copy text enough. The new term for all this online reading is called being  “e-literate”.

I was immediately hooked into the article because Rabb describes one of my major reasons for loving libraries since I was very young- the SMELL of books- “It’s absolute olfactory heaven.” He calls libraries “temples built for the love of books” and suggests that teachers need to take their students on field trips to the great libraries, such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

I take my youngest students each year on a trip to our public library and their excitement is contagious. And while my library is not a NYPL, it is still my temple and it’s still a baby. I’m extra sad to see it close* next year since I “built” it from scratch. The prior superintendent had a vision for the school that included a large library with an adjoining technology lab and they were dedicated in September of 2005. She’d be sad to see this happening.

*I said it was “closing” next year, which I consider the case, but my Board doesn’t see it that way- they think teachers taking their students down to “pick out books”  and volunteers shelving books is keeping it alive. By the way, the technology department experienced no budget cuts.

May 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm 2 comments

Save NJ Libraries: reverse the cuts

Save NJ Libraries

Save NJ Libraries

My reasoning behind this design was to underline how important libraries are in New Jersey for people who otherwise don’t get the opportunity to sit and listen to, or better yet interact with, a brilliant speaker, enjoy an amazing array of books, magazines, newspapers, and journals, do scholarly research in a vast set of rich databases, enjoy entertaining, informative, and beautiful audio/visual media, and maybe even just get a chance to hop on the internet. For the rest of us though, it means a cornerstone of society, community and culture being quickly and deliberately dissolved.

Please tell everyone that you know to tell everyone that they know that the cuts to libraries are a devastating blow to social progress and societal stability in New Jersey.

March 19, 2010 at 12:51 am 3 comments

The Training Not Given…

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.

February 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm 9 comments

Book Fairs and Bookmobiles inspire the reading spirit

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.

Book Fair picture

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.

Library transformed

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, old-style bookmobileand 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

December 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm 7 comments

“Are You Crazy?” aka “A Library’s Journey into the Teen All Night Lock-In”

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

IMG_DDU 068

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.

Planning

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

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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.

The Focus

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

The Aftermath

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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

November 10, 2009 at 9:00 am 3 comments

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