The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Monday, March 28, 2011

Common Sense

Over the past few years I seem to sense a decline in basic common sense.  I see it in the ridiculous lawsuits for products resulting in labeling that is even more ridiculous (i.e. do not iron clothes on body), watching people drive (left hand turn from the right hand lane - nice), and a myriad of other examples in every day life.  Has the ability to think for oneself been completely lost?  Not to mention the lack of ability to take responsibility for oneself when consequences arise from such no-brainer incidents. 

Today, I experienced another example of a complete lack of common sense - this time regarding using library materials.  First, let me explain how libraries work for those of you that are unfamiliar.  You borrow materials that belong to other people for a short time and then bring them back so that others may do the same.  Seems a simple premise, yet it seems to be quite difficult for many library patrons to understand.  Due dates, fines, and much more cause substantial consternation among library users who seem to not understand that these materials do not belong to them to use however and for as long as they want. 

Today, I received a complaint from a patron that was being charged a replacement fee for an interlibrary loan book she had decided to highlight.  Not only was it not her book, but it wasn't even our book.  I'd have felt bad enough if it had belonged in our library, but the fact that it was the property of another library made me feel even worse.  Her complaint was that she didn't feel entirely responsible as she had not been informed of a policy stating that patrons could not write in books.  Really????  Seriously????  This is something they have to be told????  Borrowing books that don't belong to you and you need this spelled out????  That's like saying hey you told me I could borrow your car but you didn't say I couldn't wreck it.  Is this not common sense?  I am used to the lack of responsibility exhibited in fine waiver requests (it's not my fault because....fill in the blank) but this goes far beyond that to the complete realm of WTF?!?!  Apparently common sense is becoming less and less common (whoever named it that was definitely an optimist) - maybe the phrase should be changed to the romantic languages translation of the phrase - "good sense." 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where oh where can my outlet be?

This is a problem for our library as well. I feel the pain myself often searching for a plug or having too many things to plug in and not enough outlets, not to mention the bag of power cords I have to carry around with me. You see people sitting on the floor, cords snaked here and yon waiting for unsuspecting ankles, furniture moved to accommodate outlets - who knew a simple thing like power could be such a big problem. Glad to know we're not the only place dealing with this issue - hell it's even a problem at the Pentagon. The furniture options mentioned is a great alternative for those places that can't magically make a new building or reconstruction happen. I would also love seeing the longer lasting batteries developed. In the meantime, I wonder what other creative solutions are hovering out there.

A Digital Generation Scours the Library for a Plug

By Michael Kelley
Dec 30, 2010
Thirty years ago, the only person in a library looking for an electrical outlet was a blue-smocked cleaning person who had to plug in a vacuum cleaner with a very long cord.
Times have changed.
Universities struggle to keep up
The problem cuts across all library sectors.
"The lack of adequate power is a fairly big issue for [the Dimond Library]," Tracey Lauder, the assistant dean for library administration at the University of New Hampshire, told LJ. "Students frequently move large tables and soft seating closer to walls with outlets, or they bring their own extension cords, which obviously can be a hazard," she said.
"Plugs are popular" was number four on the list, because without them the digital generation cannot power the connection to information or with one another.
"It extends the social network, where students can sit and talk and collaborate," Stephens told UAB Magazine.
To complicate matters, installing new outlets is considered an extra, and Dimond Library has to dip into its operating budget to pay for them. And they aren't cheap. The recent installation of six wall and six floor receptacles would have cost $10,568, but the decision was made to install the wall receptacles only during the library's redesign since the floor outlets would have required drilling.
Redburn also noted that at public libraries it's not so much the collaborative nature of work, as it is at universities, but the hard economic times that drive more people to the library in search of an interface for their media.
"People can't afford Internet service at home anymore, they can't afford a print cartridge, so there's a causal relationship between the economy and the growth of people using the library," she said.
"Consider the need for additional floor electrical outlets at circulation and reference desks, workrooms, offices for staff use, audiovisual areas, and in reading areas for customer use," reads one example in section 3-5.4.
But when a library wants to raise the bar on its electrical infrastructure, the answer is two words: raised floor.
The main benefit with raised floors is that the power distribution does not run in a fixed conduit, so the library can change the configuration of outlets.
Still, the ultimate answer, several sources said, may be longer lasting batteries, a part of the natural evolution of technology and the many curious problems it brings. Down the road, the question may be what to do with all the unused outlets.

A Librarian's Niche

This was a very interesting article, and I think underscores the need for librarians to really market our niche in information management. It is not that students can't find what they want (though many times it is and they don't realize it), but that they find so much they don't know how to parse the good from the bad. Critical thinking and resource evaluation are critical skills that we as librarians need to be focusing on in our work with students.

Survey Finds Students Often Use Library Resources, But Not Services

A new report released this month from Project Information Literacy at the University of Washington (UW), "Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age," [PDF] finds that many higher-ed students struggle with sorting through the vast amounts of information available when doing research, but they tend not to ask librarians for assistance. Indeed, to keep the research process as simple as possible, many appear to fall back on predictable routines that may not produce the best results.
The report's authors, Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg, recommended that academic librarians emphasize teaching research strategies to students, rather than simply helping to find sources for a particular assignment.

Libraries - More than just books

I came across this story this week while cataloging iPads that UNCP will begin circulating next week. Not only do I like the idea of the poochie, but I love that the library is doing something so unique. It makes me wonder what other types of unique items libraries circulate, and I would love to do some research on this topic. Probably the most interesting thing we circulate are some biology reserve items - namely the box of bones.

Law library offers dog for check-out

By Nikita Lalwani
Friday, March 11, 2011
Soon Yale Law School students studying at their library may be able to check out a dog in addition to books on Constitutional law.
In an email sent to students Thursday, librarian Blair Kauffman announced that the law library will run a three-day pilot program in which students can "check out" the certified library therapy dog — Monty — for thirty minute periods. He wrote that he hopes the program, which will begin March 28, will reduce student stress.
"We hope that making a therapy dog available to our students will prove to be a positive addition to current services offered by the library," he said in the e-mail. "It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being."
Kauffman added that although Monty is hypoallergenic, visits will be confined to a "dedicated non-public space in the library" to alleviate concerns other library users may have about dogs. Additional information regarding the program will be available with a sign-up sheet that will be released March 21.
If students respond well to the program, the library may institute it permanently during stressful periods of the semester. Law School Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy said that no more information is currently available about the future of the program.
Two students interviewed said the therapy dog pilot program exemplifies the creativity and originality of Yale Law.
"I think it's a really fun idea and I'm sure that a lot of people will take advantage," Stephanie Turner LAW '12 said. "I definitely hope that they extend the program beyond the pilot period."
According to Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating and testing therapy dogs, studies have indicated that visits with therapy dogs help decrease blood pressure and stress levels, while providing a nice break from daily routine.
Aside from providing comfort to students, therapy dogs are most often used in hospitals, retirement homes, and nursing homes.