The OPAC Isn’t The Only Problem

December 30, 2006

Meredith Farkas has a great post over at Information Wants To Be Free – It’s not just the OPACs that suck. I think Meredith hits the nail on the head when she writes: “It’s not just that our OPACs suck. The physical layout of our space sucks. I would guess if you did a survey of patrons, they would rather have a welcoming space and good materials than an OPAC that doesn’t suck.” I would add that welcoming and helpful staff is also essential. All of the recent talk about sucky OPACs on the part of librarians is certainly valid – and is a conversation that we need to have. But I agree with Meredith that our patrons probably don’t really care – and would be more impressed with inviting spaces. Until we offer a welcoming atmosphere to our patrons – in every respect including our staff, our physical layout and our online resources – we aren’t going to make people want to come to the library. It seems to me that everyone who talks about libraries has stories about unwelcoming and unhelpful staff, confusing signage and/or layout or overall bad experiences. Don’t you find this really troubling???? Fixing our OPACs, but not fixing our attitudes isn’t going to help us gain constituents. I am utterly amazed at the number of stories people have about library staff making them feel unwelcome. This needs to change.

Like Meredith, I will admit to not being a library user. I can’t remember the last time that I was in a library for a non-work related purpose. Part of this has to do with the fact that I can get whatever I need from the library where I work and part of this has to do with the fact that because I work in a library, I can honestly say that the last place I want to go when I am not at work is another library. Realistically, this means it is very hard for me to view libraries from a user standpoint. However, it stands to reason that a space in which we want people spend time and feel comfortable needs to be designed better – with the patron in mind. People linger in bookstores, browse their collections and return again and again. Libraries aren’t bookstores. Yet, we do compete with them in a way. After all, if people choose to buy every book they wanted to read, there would be no need for libraries. Meredith writes: “No matter how great our Web presence is, if we don’t create a space that people want to be in and that is conducive for the kind of browsing most people like to do, we will lose people.” Very well said!

I will also second Meredith recommendation of Walt Crawford’s Patrons and the Library article in January 2007’s issue of Cites and Insights. The article has a great summary of the problem and of the discussion surrounding the topic. Can I say how surprised I was to have a couple of my blogs posts quoted in the article??????? Wow!!!

Update: Mark Lindner from Off the Mark responds to Meredith’s post with some salient points that are well worth reading.

Making Progress With LibraryThing

December 27, 2006

One of the only things that I have spent any significant time doing this month is adding books to LibraryThing. I was reinspired after hearing Abby Blachly speak at Nelinet’s Annual Bibliographic Services Conference in November. I now have about 1600 books cataloged. Of course, one thing that I have noticed is that I get easily distracted. As I’m adding books, I feel compelled to re-read my favorites – or ones that I don’t really remember to well. I suppose this isn’t really a bad thing, but it means that cataloging books takes a lot longer than it needs to. On the plus side, I’m neatening up my collection of books which was previously strewn about in a rather haphazard manner. Hopefully, I can finish up my entire collection before school starts towards the end of January.

December 26th Might Be My Favorite Day Of The Year

December 27, 2006

I had a wonderful, but very low-key Christmas this year. I wasn’t able to accomplish even 1/4 of what I normally do. My mom & I didn’t bake any cookies. I only went shopping once. I didn’t decorate or even get a Christmas tree (which is a first). I didn’t get all of presents that I should have. I didn’t write out Christmas cards. And, I didn’t even buy myself stuff when shopping (which is one of my favorite Christmas past times). Life really got in the way this year. Classes didn’t end until December 4th. Once I turned in my final exam for ILS565 – Library Management, I decided to take about a week to recoup – and made a conscious decision to put off all holiday preparations. Unfortunately, all sorts of rather weird things started occuring. My mother had been sick off an on, but took a really bad turn – and ended up with pneumonia (she is doing awesome now). I spent an awful lot of time with her. My dad had surgery on his rotator cuff on December 15th (he is doing really well now too). I had an allergic reaction to some Chinese food that I ate and ended up with hives. I itched for about a week – and had several days where I was incapacitated by the itching, swelling and burning. At all Christmas gatherings (including those on Christmas day), at least one family member was ill. A really nasty stomach bug made its way through both my family and my husbands. My husband ended up with it yesterday – and I am hoping that it misses me.

Fortunately, my nieces and nephews didn’t seem to notice that the adults were a little bit weary of the holiday rigamarole. They all seemed to be caught up in the wonder of Christmas – and seemed to love all of their presents. Despite my sister in law being extremely ill during my husand’s family gathering, my mother being absent from my family’s festivities and my dad having to take a nap on Christmas Day, everything went well. However, I can tell you that I was absolutely SO happy on Christmas night that it was almost all over. Tuesday was wonderful – there was nothing to do, nowhere to go. It could have been better because my husband was sick to his stomach all day long – but I was able to relax and to do NOTHING!! I am psyched that I still have lots of time off before school starts up again.

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

December 27, 2006

Over the past week, I’ve taken a break from blogging – writing on my on my own and reading others. While catching up on all the new blog posts, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning five new things about so many of the bloggers in libraryland. I wasn’t sure whether I would join in until Ryan Deschamps from The Other Librarian specifically tagged me this morning. I’ve been thinking about it all morning – and trying to come up with five little known, but  not completely boring facts about myself. Enjoy!!!

  1. One of my favorite leisure activities is doing math & logic puzzles. I’ve always been a huge fan of Cross Sums (or Kakro) and have had a subscription to Dell’s Math Puzzles and Logic Problems for years. A couple of years ago, I discovered Nurikabe and Slither Link which have now become my favorites. I have been ordering Nurikabe and Slither Link puzzle books from a company called Nikoli in Japan for about 4 years now. They also have an online site on which they release new puzzles every day. Interestingly enough, Sudoku doesn’t really do it for me. I usually leave those puzzles until the end.
  2. When applying to college, I seriously considered studying computer science. I took as many programming classes in high school as I could – and absolutely loved them. However, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do the math. This is ironic because if you were to look at my high school transcripts, math was my best subject. I didn’t realize this until well after I graduated from college. I ended up as a history major. I have since taken many computer science and math classes without any real problems. I have no regrets because had I not taken the path I did, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now (working with computers in a library setting).
  3. I am a tv and pop culture junkie. Whenever I am doing something at home, I always have the tv on. I can’t do homework without it on – although I do make sure that the show isn’t one that I need to (or really more importantly want to) pay close attention to. I gossip about celebrity news with several coworkers at lunch. As an aside, I absolutely hate reality tv. I have no desire to watch people fight and argue on tv – unless of course it is the Teutuls from American Chopper. They make me laugh. Mikey is my favorite. I meant to ask for a “Mikey Rules” t-shirt for Christmas, but forgot.
  4. I have never, ever seen the following movies (and have no intention of ever seeing them either): Titanic, any of the Lord of the Rings movies, or any of the Harry Potter movies. If someone is watching any of these movies (in addition to any war movies or any of those feel-good, rah-rah sports movies) I literally feel the need to leave the room). I wish with every fiber of my being that I hadn’t seen Forrest Gump – probably my all time most-hated movie. It is of course one of my husband’s favorites. I threatened divorce when he tried to name his boat “Jenny.” Another little know fact is that I hate to be called Jenny. My grandmother, assorted aunts and uncles and one cousin are the only ones who can get away with it. I can live with (and answer to Jen), but will always refer to myself as Jennifer.
  5. I once spit an entire mouthful of water all over a conference table at a meeting at work which included the college’s CIO, the Associate Vice President for Finance and all of the IT staff. One of the tech guys made a face that made me laugh while I was attempting to take a sip of water. Needless to say, the water went everywhere. The CIO was very helpful in cleaning up the mess. The guys in IT remember this incident quite fondly – and it may have helped me gain acceptance into their ranks.

Since another little known fact is that I never pass along chain letters, chain emails, pleas for help or money, etc., I can’t actually tag anyone else. Please feel free to join if you haven’t. It is actually quite fun!!!

It Was A Bit Of A Surprise . . .

December 21, 2006

to discover yesterday afternoon, that the professor of my ILS530 – Information Systems Analysis & Design class had not only graded the final project that was due on December 4th, but had also calculated our final grades. Actually, I was stunned. Given that there was a great deal that I felt compelled to complain about from this class, I thought I should make it a point to comment on this positive development.

I still haven’t decided what is the best way to make an official complaint about this class. I really don’t want to think too much about it until after the holidays, but I know that I must do something.

A Month And A Half Later . . .

December 14, 2006

and the professor in ILS530 – Information Systems Analysis & Design graded my system case study paper. The paper was due on October 29th and was graded today. Is it just me or is that a huge time lag????? Anyway, that means that all grades except for the final project are in (and I don’t really expect to get a grade on that paper – just a final grade in the class sometime in early January).  I will admit that I have been logging into the class site a couple of times a day since I completed the final project in hopes of finding out about a grade on the system case study paper.

The good news is that I will pass. Yeah!

Bloglines Continues to Disappoint

December 6, 2006

It has now been almost 72 hours since my feed for this blog has been updated in Bloglines. I have officially (there was a big ceremony and everything) decided to move on to Google Reader. Most annoying!!!!!

Update: I just noticed that Bloglines finally noticed all of the posts I have made since Sunday. I took roughly 68 hours before they showed up.

I Have Registered For Spring 2007

December 6, 2006

Is it really going to be 2007 soon? Yikes – time flies way too quickly. I didn’t want to start thinking about school so soon after finishing my work for this semester. However, I have already made the mistake of waiting to long to register for classes. Anyway, I officially registered and paid for a spring class – and yes, only one. I will be taking ILS656 – Information Architecture. I tried to take this class during the summer of 2006, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. Currently, there are 10 students registered for the class, and I certainly hope that is enough. There really isn’t anything else that I would be interested in taking. I hope it works out because I am extremely excited about this class. The professor already has all of the class information, including required texts, class description and the syllabus, posted on her web site. This bodes very well for the overall quality of the class. Classes don’t officially start until late January, so I will have a nice break to recharge my batteries. Cool!

A Truly Dedicated Professor

December 5, 2006

The professor for my ILS565-Library Management class is truly wonderful. I passed in my final exam yesterday evening about 5:45PM and received an email with my grade about 10:40AM this morning. This is a habit that he has had all semester – and a refreshing change from the time involved to receive grades in my other class this semester. It is absolutely wonderful to have things graded so quickly, especially the final exam. I admit to being very nervous about the exam. When I opened it and read through the questions, I blanked for a bit. I wasn’t very confident – and know that I made some silly mistakes. Fortunately, I  caught most of them (but definitely not all). I was never very comfortable while taking the exam (despite everything I tried to do to put myself at ease). So, I’m very happy with my grade – which should translate to me being happy with my overall grade in the class.

However, my intention in this post is to say a big thank you to this professor. I can tell that he has spent a great deal of time figuring out how best to teach in the online environment. As a result, this class (and ILS501 – Introduction to Information Science and Technology which I also took him for) was one of my all time favorites – even though I could have done more to be a better student. It was engaging, challenging and even fun. The class discussions were lively, entertaining and extensive – mostly due to great discussion questions and the way in which the professor participated. He stepped in to make points when necessary, agreed with points students made and yet did not overshadow or hamper our commentary on the subject matter. I looked forward to reading what my fellow students and the professor had to say each week. Overall, his teaching style has become the bar that I use to measure all others professors against in the online arena.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!! Now, I am truly relaxed.

Changing Feed Readers

December 4, 2006

Given my irritations with Bloglines, which have been shared by others, I have been testing some other readers – most notably Google Reader and BlogBridge. I really, really want something web-based. While BlogBridge is a local program that needs to be installed, one can syndicate their feeds so that they have access to them from different computers. It is ok (although I find it quite slow), but part of me is just comfortable with Bloglines, and I wish I didn’t have to switch. Google Reader is getting better and I think I may end up going with it simply because it is web-based without any additional installs.

For a while, it seemed as if feeds were updating quicker in Bloglines. However, it is still inconsistent. It has been over 24 hours since my feed for this blog was updated in my Bloglines account – and I have written 4 posts today. This is extremely frustrating. I have no idea of how many other feeds are affected – especially given the inconsistent nature of this problem. Anyway, I’ve decided to make the switch. I am a bit sad, but figure soon enough I will get as used to something else as I did to Bloglines.