Tag Archives: america reads

Last Class Reflection-Librarians Always Educate

At the end of the semester, we looked back over what we’ve done and how it all connects. I think that this course, Professional Practice has been one of the most immediately useful of all my SI courses. Today at America Reads I was putting together another screencast and a series of How To guides for how to use the library program that I found for them. As I was working, I made sure to go back and add in steps that aren’t obvious to me but need to be understood. Professional Practice has really given me the tools to think about how do I in my role as a librarian no matter the setting make sure that I’m helping my patrons get the information they need. Also how do I keep myself up to date and I think that’s such a challenge as the world communicates so quickly now and librarians are very connected. Its so key to know who to ask and where to look to figure out what’s going on, what matters and who to listen to.

I think the aspect that helped me the most were all the various hands-on assignments because they showed me places to start. I know that when someone asks me if I know how to run a book club or a one shot workshop I’ll say yes. If the semester was longer, I would have liked to have time to polish some of the assignments but I feel like I have a start and a good base knowledge.

One of the best lessons I took away was making sure that everyone who might come to your library has a way to learn and feel connected. I think this is one of the trickiest parts of being in the world of public libraries and one of the most important things. Libraries have to be safe and welcoming.

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Reflections on Twitter and the Webinar

Class this week was rather short so we could have time to work on our webinars. We talked some more about Twitter and the pros and cons of it. I really enjoyed hearing all the perspectives on it from people who’d been on before and used it in a new way or brand new users. Twitter is a good tool because its so adaptable, which is why I think its going to be around for a while longer.

Elluminate is rather strange, it works but I’m still not sure how I feel about it. My group did our webinar last night and it went quite well. We created a presentation about how libraries can help the unemployed called From Let-Go to In-the-Know, Michigan Libraries Helping the Unemployed. There’s a link to the archived record on my links column. Since we didn’t have any reading and don’t have class this week, I’m going to use this space to write about the experience of a webinar. I was in charge of the chat and so worked to create a discussion that added to the presentation being done by the rest of my group. This was challenging but one thing that helped was we created questions that were in the presentation to engage the chat. Also since we’re one of the first groups presenting people were patient with us, I think we were the second group. Another webinar was done at 6 pm and ours was at 7 pm. We had a small audience of about four people who asked wonderful questions and seemed quite engaged. I think the balance of not just presenting and not just focusing on the chat is the real trick of webinars. I’m not sure if its something that I would rely on too much, it feels like a great way to open a conference up to people who can’t get to it. I’ll be curious to see how the other webinars go.

I want to share something about my work with America Reads that makes me incredibly happy. I’ve been working there since June of this past year and in that time, I’ve inventoried and cataloged the books. Now things are at the point where tutors are going into those records and adding particular searchable references for the literacy objectives that they work with. In the next few weeks, I’m going to be polishing things and putting together a manual and more screencasts to teach when I’m not there.

At first it was strange to realize that other people were doing what I thought of as my responsibility, but now I see how good it is. I picked a system and set things up in such a way that America Reads has a functioning library and doesn’t need a librarian anymore. Instead they can make the changes that they know are best while knowing I’m reachable to help.

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My Summer-Internship at America Reads

I meant to write about America Reads here during the summer, but I never got into the habit. This is one of the dangers of various blogging spaces since SI provides one for the internship credit so I tended to write there. This summer has ended up being not what I expected and far more rewarding due to that.

In May, I was thinking that I’d be doing an internship at one of the many wonderful public libraries in the area, focused on youth services. I interviewed at the Clinton-Macomb library the Canton library, finding those interviews was exciting as I discovered just how confusing Michigan highways can be. I wasn’t chosen for either of them and kept looking, I found an internship at the UoM Depression Center, which sounded interesting, but didn’t quite fit.

Then an email showed up on the SI mailing list from the Ginsberg Center and America Reads saying they needed a library volunteer to help them organize their library. So I went to speak with them and everything fell into place. America Reads is an incredible federal program that provides tutors for elementary school students in high risk areas to assist them with learning to read. The program is an a wonderful old mansion that holds a number of other service programs called the Ginsberg Center. America Reads was recently able to move their library to a larger space in the basement, where they have a collection of at least 3000 books. I don’t have an exact number, because every day there seem to be new donations and I helped to purchase more books.

I began my internship by finding out what America Reads needed and wanted by crafting a Google Survey for the tutors and speaking to a few of the tutors. Most of the information was helpful and focused on an online searchable catalog along with making the library neater. These two pieces of information helped decide what I did the rest of the summer.

First I began by inventorying the books and taking them out of the subjective topics sections that they were in as I researched cataloging systems. I soon discovered that when a library is under 5000 books, there isn’t a lot of literature on the options, because that size usually doesn’t have a full time librarian. With the help of my mentor from the Technical Services department of Hatcher Graduate Library, I was able to find resources on Church library informational pages. I ended up narrowing my choices down to two automation library systems, Surpass and LibraryWorld and chose LibraryWorld. LibraryWorld is a company that I think will keep doing very well, because it changes the business model of automation systems. From my experience, they seem to mainly be sold in modules, so that a librarian who isn’t aware of what they really need could easily buy too much and spend a lot of money. LibraryWorld on the other hand provides everything online, cataloging, importing records, circulation, patron records, reports and a link for an online catalog. So this was the system that I chose and since July, I’ve been in the process of cataloging the books along with organizing them. When everything is finished, the books will be arranged alphabetically in four main categories; picture books, board books, chapter books and non-fiction. This way students can do in-depth cross referencing online and then come to the library to find their books and check them out. At this point, America Reads has hired me on full time to work with them throughout the year, even after I have all the hours I need for my internship.

I think this experience is going to put me in a great place to work in the kind of library I want to be, one that’s small and my skills will help it become the best library for its community.

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