1.17.2014

things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #12

I'm enjoying my new position so much! Things are going really well so far. I'm preparing for teen book club, researching display ideas, and planning some (I hope) interesting programs. I'll write about those as they happen.

So far I'm feeling well, too. I'm still adjusting to full-time work, but I'm not collapsing from it, either. Readers, you were right. Doing work that you love makes a huge difference. So does a more humane work environment. In the library, no one expects everything done yesterday, everyone understands the concept of a learning curve, and most people truly understand teamwork and support each other. And because I belong to a union (and, management would say, because the City of Mississauga is a good employer), I have a full hour dinner or lunch break, good ergonomics, and other supports. This is a tad different than working as support staff in a corporate law firm!

Today's "things I heard..." highlights two features of our library system that I love - features that illustrate the importance of libraries to the community.

Next week, secondary school students begin exam week, and we expect to see a huge influx of students needing a place to study. The library opens extra rooms to accommodate them, and offers other little supports, such as designated areas where people can eat, extra space for group study, and a "stressbuster" room so students can get away from their books and computers to refocus.

Yesterday I attended a little prep session for library staff on our exam-week policies, and how we can support students who need us. Along with a review of our policies, our manager reminded us: be kind. Be understanding.

The other program I'm seeing up-close for the first time is our homebound library service for people unable to come to the library themselves. This can be a long-term arrangement for a senior or person with disabilities, or a short-term arrangement for a customer recuperating from an illness. (Of course, plenty of people with disabilities come to the library, which is fully accessible. This service recognizes that not everyone can.)

When I'm at my desk, I overhear two staff members from my department on the phone with homebound customers. They learn how customers felt about their last delivery - which books they enjoyed, what they want more or less of - and make notes for their next delivery. Then they select four weeks' worth of materials - books, music, movies, magazines - for each customer, and that shipment is delivered to their door, sans due dates or fines.

These are the kinds of things that make me proud to be part of the larger library community.

8 comments:

James Redekop said...

Good to hear that the work's going so well!

If you ever get stressed, just think of this photo, showing what British library conditions could be like during WWII. "Keep Calm and Read On."

impudent strumpet said...

I was actually just wondering if something like the homebound library service exists, so I'm glad to hear it's already been thought of! (That might also explain why I've sometimes seen that books in the catalogue are checked out with a seemingly impossibly long due date).

Are customers allowed to request specific books to be sent to them (or at least get put on the holds list and get the book when it's their turn)?

laura k said...

Oh sure, if homebound customers know what books they want, they certainly can request them. They may even get priority in the holds queue, because deliveries only go out monthly, so it would be difficult to coordinate holds otherwise.

Here are TPL's mobile library services, which includes Home Library Service (a better name).

Amy said...

I can't tell you how happy I am to read how happy you are. I remember you struggling with the decision about whether to go to library school, and it clearly seems that you made the right decision.

I am now curious about whether our library provides a service of delivering books. I could see volunteering to set something like that up if it doesn't already exist or volunteering to deliver the books. What a great idea!

laura k said...

Thank you! It has been tremendous affirmation - even vindication - of my career change.

Our library's home service does use volunteers. I believe Allan has thought about being a volunteer driver.

If your library doesn't have this service, I sure hope they don't allow a volunteer to set one up. That is not a job for a volunteer! But delivering books might be great.

Amy said...

I wouldn't expect to set the whole thing up, but perhaps I could be someone who prompts them to think about doing it.

And who knows? They may have already done so!

laura k said...

Did you check the library's website?

Amy said...

I've tried---it seems to be down. Maybe after MLK Day.