Mountlake Terrace Library Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Librarian: The Reality Series-Episode 2

7:00 am Arrive at work.
Yawn. I am NOT a morning person. I need to be here this early because...? Oh, right, another computer class. I don't really mind. I get a great deal of satisfaction teaching basic computer skills to people, especially seniors and newcomers whose first language is not English. I was so touched when one of my students, who took a class on setting up a free email account, contacted me by email to tell me she had sent her first email to her son in Korea, who she hadn't seen for two years. That makes it all worth it.

7:15 am Hear a noise.
It is creepy in the library when I am here all alone, especially this time of year, when it is still dark in the morning. I am not going to go out into the lobby to turn off the alarm until another staff member gets here. I don't like to go out there in the dark ever since I was startled by a man lurking in the shadows. I jumped 20 feet, which is pretty difficult when you have on Manolo Blahniks. OK, I exaggerate. It wasn't 20 feet, and of course, my shoes were not Manolo Blahniks - I'm a librarian.

7:30 am I jump.
Furnace just kicked in. The first time I was here alone, and it came on, I thought we were having an earthquake. Coming from California I have lots of baggage.

8:00 am Reserve computers for the class and log them all in.
Have completed all the opening procedures. Now just have to wait for my students. Oh, good, a staff member has arrived to help me with the class. Now I can venture out into the lobby.

8:15 am Six students arrive.
Four are seniors and two Spanish speakers. Today I am teaching the basic computer class which demonstrates the use of the mouse, scrolling, how to use check boxes, radio buttons and text boxes.

9:30 am Class complete.
I am always amazed. Of the 165 students I have taught so far, not once has there been a student who was too advanced for these classes. Everyone is very grateful for the class. I am glad people can look to the library for this kind of help.

9:35 am Back to my office to do email and prepare to be on the reference desk.

10:00 am Library open for business.
ESL tutor arrives. We are lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer who is helping people with their English. He is faithfully here every Tuesday and Friday morning and has at least 5 at every class.

The morning regulars amble in. The man who was doing his back exercises in the men's restroom has returned and is now doing what looks like tai chi in the lobby. Better go talk to him.

10:05 am It wasn't tai chi.
He said he was practicing his ice skating moves. Ooookay. Whatever. I told him that ice skating might be more appropriate in the parking lot.

10:10 am "I am writing a paper on the expression and localization of the calmodulin-binding protein neurogranin in the adult mouse olfactory bulb." Can you help me? (It could be a long day)

11:00 am Fix the headphones on the pre-school computer.
Little girl's knitted brow smooth again.

11:05 am Book the meeting room.
Our meeting rooms are heavily used by the community. Not many free spaces are available for people to meet, so it is great that we can be a community gathering place.

11:15 am Phone call.
Another regular. She asks the same questions every day. Many of them. Help her once again, but have to politely limit her to 5 questions or I would be on the phone all morning.

Is it lunch time yet?

11:35 am "Can I have my library card number?" (school must not be in session today)

11:37 am "I am looking for a book I had a couple of years ago. It has a blue cover and a picture of a dog on it. Do you remember that book?"

11:40 am "Can I get my library card number?"

11:42 am "I need help. My landlord won't give me my security deposit back. What should I do?"

11:50 am "Are you the librarian? I have a complaint. The water in the drinking fountain doesn't come up far enough. Can you do something?"

11:52 am "I need my library card number." (school is definitely not in sesssion today).

11:55 am "Help! I'm running out of time on my computer and I need to print something. It's a very very important letter that took me two hours to write! What do I do?"

12:00 am (Another few minutes and I can go to lunch). "Excuse me, M'am, I need the names of every judge in the United States...."

12:30 pm Finally get to take my lunch.

1 pm Spend some time reflecting on our programming.
We have "Family Night at the Library" on Wednesday nights, "Saturdays at the Library," ESL classes twice per week, citizenship classes (with a trained volunteer) every Thursday night, computer classes at least twice per month, teen programs every Wednesday afternoon and at least one Saturday per month, baby and family story times every week and Russian Family Story Times twice per month. All are getting very good attendance.

What other programs should we offer to meet the needs of Mountlake Terrace residents?

2pm Work on my presentation for the Reader's Advisory Workshop on December 8 - work on new computer class - Changing Careers - work on scheduling.

4pm Wow, can't believe the day went so quickly.
I can't say being a librarian is boring, that's for sure. In fact, it is very gratifying.

It's been a good day.

I am going to reward myself and head for H & M. My inner Carrie Bradshaw calls. I may not be able to afford Manolo Blahnicks, but I hear that Jimmy Choo is designing a line for H & M that a librarian CAN afford. I'm there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is The Book Dead?

What do you think of this statement?

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books."

This was a comment from the headmaster of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts and the chief promoter of their library going bookless.

Since the advent of the Internet, comments like these have abounded. And, yet, like The Dude, the book abides (If you don't get this reference, see "The Big Lebowski").

No Kindle for me. Part of the pleasure of reading is holding the book, looking at the cover, turning the pages and savoring what is to come. I will never forget in the movie "Fahrenheit 451" when Guy, the hero, who felt books had no value and whose job as a fireman was to burn books, finally reads one for the first time. He opens the book and reads aloud everything on the preface, including the publication date and other things one would not normally read. But that is probably what someone would do who had never read a book before. I have never forgotten that moment. That one moment encapsulized what a voracious reader feels before embarking on the journey that the book in hand offers. No computer can do that.

No matter how difficult the economic times, you can get away from your troubles and find pleasure in books -- and they are free at the library!

So what do you think? Will the book go the way of the Dodo?

Share your stories.