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I want to be a library director. When I am presented with this opportunity I want my main focus to be community. My library would be full of people. It wouldn’t be loud, but there would be motion. I would definitely have a large sitting area near newpapers and magazines. There would also be a coffee bar here because who wants to read the paper uncaffeinated? In addition to this area there would be a teens area near the YA materials where they could hang out. It disgusts me that so many children and teens don’t have anywhere to go. While there are a few that I have had to kick out of the current library I work at, I think this space is needed. It would be a place where homework and socializing could happen simultaneously. My third “space” as it were would be the children’s area where they could play and learn at the same time. In addition to these spaces there would be a reading room for those who still want the silent place to read, a meeting room that has presentation capabilities, but also the ability to show movies. This could also be classroom space for community education classes, book groups, knitting circles, and yoga classes. And finally there would a lot of computers and a lot of places for laptop use as well.

I realize that there are most likely libraries out there like this. I have seen some that come close, but they’re all huge libraries that don’t really create a sense of community. On example of what could be done is all of the stuff in the previous paragraph could be housed on the ground floor, while the books, dvds, and other materials are housed on a second floor…

And I think that’s the end of my rambling on this subject for now.


So I actually got to thinking about this issue before I watched that awesom video that Aaron posted about public spaces. More or less it started when I was listening to Thomas Friedman’s new book in my car on the way to orchestra rehearsal. He too discusses the lack of meaningful spaces in his book. I wish I had a copy of it, but alas, I had to return it to the library! His reasoning differs in that he was examining international travel and discussed that people from other countries don’t visit the US as much as they used to. He feels a part of this is the seeming lack of care we take in our appearances. This relates to Kunstler because no one wants to look at Wal-marts.

While I don’t buy Kunstler’s idea that meaningless spaces creates a feeling of anxiety, I do think it creates a feeling of disassociation. If there is no meaningful PUBLIC space, no one will care what happens. I feel a library can be that public space. A library is not just  a place to house information anymore, it is a community space that can host teen movie nights and wii sports tournaments as well as summer reading program events. I believe that the library should do as much outreach as possible because the more we present our institution to the public as a true service to the community, the more the community will engage with us in return.

I have some screenshots to share of a search for books that I performed. I pretended that I was a typical library patron who wanted to know information about organic gardening. My first search was my search of a very usable database: Then, I compared that search using the term “organic gardening” as both a keyword search and a subject search in my libraries OPAC system.

The keyword searches are similar enough. I think that under the lens of usability they are very similar. The OPAC is a little more difficult to read due to layout; However the usability problem becomes quite obvious when a patron attempts to do perform a subject search. Below is the screenshot of what happens when a patron performs a subject search

I don’t think people relate this to what it really is: an index. The main issue I have with this is that it makes the user think too much. Most users don’t understand that this list represents a list of the controlled vocabulary in the database. They understand that they have to click something, but they aren’t sure why or what the implications are (such as choosing between “Organic gardening — Dictionaries” and “Organic gardening — Encyclopedias”)

I work in a small library in which I do a lot of different reference and circulation duties. Most of that time I work at the circulation desk, but on occasion, I have to leave shelve books if there is no volunteer at that time. One thing I have noticed is that I often get approached by patrons asking reference questions.

I think the idea of Roving Reference is really a great idea. I believe that the reason the reference desk isn’t used more is that once a patron comes up to the desk there becomes an automatic power shift. I think people are intimidated or feel like their questions would be a waste of our time  (when the reason we are there is for them)

I think it works in my scenario of shelving because I am not closely paying attention to them. I think that having someone walking through the stacks looking for someone to help could feel invasive. I believe in order for roving reference to work there must be an equal balance between availability and approachability without “looming”.

Before messing around with the Style Sheet:

From Screen Captures

After playing with the style sheet:

From Screen Captures



(Purple is my favorite color.)

Here is the homepage of the McMinnville public library. I like their homepage when compared to other libraries’ pages. In general I find that library web pages are not very usable. What I like about this page is things are very simple.

For instance: the name of the webpage is at the top left corner of the page; the links to different areas have  ‘>>’ which is a visual cue for movement indicating that clicking there will get you somewhere. Another thing I like is how they present they have a blog. I know that many of the patrons I see at library would give me a look like I was crazy if I suggested they look at a blog for current events. This site on the other hand states: “Looking for a list of new DVDs at the library? Want a book suggestion from a librarian?” This indicates to the reader that this is a place they will find current information, not just some web 2.0 jargon.

From Pictures

I’m going to be honest here, it is very difficult for me to seperate out my customer service experiences from the customer service I provide and that I receive as that is what I do at my full time job. I feel I am pretty good at it and there are a lot of things that I have discovered working in the corporate end that has rubbed off and influenced how I deal with patrons at my part-part-time library job. For instance, the way that I deliver information has changed. “I’m sorry *blah blah* BUT here is what I can do” Making the customer feel like you are their hero I’ve found is the key. Unfortunately you get people who don’t care about that and want to talk you into circles until they get thier way.

Before I get carried away with stories about nasty customers, I suppose I should get to the point of this posting: my good and bad customer service experiences.

I hate it when credit card companies want you to enroll in their credit protection plan. They always call me and want me to join. I’ve heard the same spiel over and over again. But every time they try to convince me and they won’t take no for an answer. I think this is just a way for them to make an extra buck. Part of the reason I believe this is because of a negative experience that my parents had in which they didn’t disclose everything to them and then made it incredibly difficult for them to opt out….

Which leads me to the customer service philosophy that I believe in: people talk, and unfortunately they usually talk mroe about the negative than the good. The attitude that you give to your customer will influence how they speak to others about your organization. For my corporate job this means that a negative customer service experience means that when that person chooses to make the investment in windows in the future, they won’t choose us, and they will tell their friends. (Which is also why I will never buy a gateway computer again) I feel that that rubs off in the public sector as well with public libraries. Bad service could mean one less supporter when the library needs help montarily.

Good customer service is doing what you can to make the customer satisfied. They might not getting everything they want, but they are satisfied with what you have been able to do for them.

What Am I Reading Now?

my currently-reading shelf:
Stephanie's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)

Some genealogy links

Flickr Photos