Have Passport, Will Travel

passportAnd now from the “If only this had happened just a bit sooner” file….

MPOW will officially become a Passport Office on Monday August 10th.  Ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate will take place at our East Columbia Branch at 11:00 am that Monday.

Oh, how I wish either my trip to Spain had been a bit later this year or that the Passport Office had been ready a bit earlier.  Having to take the MARC train and Metro to the Regional Passport Office in Washington D.C. was not fun.  I had to go there once myself and my husband went the next day for me to actually pickup the passport (name change and it had expired).

The residents of Columbia, Howard County and Central Maryland don’t know how lucky they are.  They won’t have to fight commuter traffic to go to D.C. or stand in line at the post office bored out of their mind.  Instead if they do have to wait they have the whole library at their disposal to keep them occupied – books galore, plenty of computers with access to the Internet, periodicals, newspapers, books on CD, Playaways and lots more.

This is just another in a great line of services that we offer our community.  Makes me proud.

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Library Folks Have Real Lives Too (or Two) – Day 3

How ironic that last year when I chronicled my week for Library Day in the Life, I had to take my husband in for some testing.  Turns out this year wasn’t going to be an exception except this time it was my Mom.  She was scheduled to have a bronchoscopy.

Day 3

Woke up early because I was sleeping in a strange bed (at my parent’s house).  Went back to sleep and woke up again at 7:30 (which is sleeping in during the week for me so that was a treat).  Jumped in the shower and got dressed.  My Mother never listens – she is going to feed you within an inch of your life if she can.  I told her cereal for breakfast was fine (that is what I have at home) but of course she had peaches cut and a blueberry muffin in the toaster oven as well.  I humored her on the peaches (love ‘em) but wasn’t hungry enough for the muffin.  Checked email quickly (both work and Gmail) before we left for Chambersburg Hospital.

Same Day ServicesQuick drive to the hospital from my folks house.  Walked into the Same Day Services area of the hospital and checked Mom in.  We found 3 seats (Dad, Mom and I) and proceeded to wait for her to be called.  Odd thing is they called my Father’s name instead.  Gee, maybe Dad would do the procedure for Mom instead?  Nah.  They went back to get her prepped and I settled in for a wait.  Pulled out my iPod and shuffled my tunes.  Grabbed my book, The Moses Stone by James Becker (picked it up at Heathrow) and didn’t get very far when my Dad came out.  They would allow me to go in the room with her (which was much better than waiting in the waiting room).

They wheeled Mom into the procedure room.  2 students were there to observe the procedure.  One student, Joe,  turned out to be a med student who had attended University of Maryland and had worked in Columbia, MD for awhile.  Small world!  The nurses couldn’t have been nicer and Joe and the other student were great.  Dr. Jamblin came in and asked if we had any questions (my Dad almost asked him where he had been as he was 30 mins. late).  We left to go wait.

I swear they were done in 15 minutes or so.  The nurse said that Mom was a good patient.  We went back into the room and the doctor told us how things went.  Unfortunately, we won’t know the results until Monday the 3rd of August.  Gee, thought the procedure was bad but waiting through the weekend might be worse.

After they took a chest x-ray to make sure Mom’s lung hadn’t collapsed they wheeled her into recovery.  She wouldn’t be released until her gag reflex returned.  It did as the numbing drugs wore off but so did the realization that a strange foreign object had been down her throat.  She said her throat was on fire.  Nurses said we could use Tylenol and throat lozenges to ease the discomfort.

Dad went out to bring the car around and I stayed with Mom.  Then off to get lozenges for her throat and lunch for all of us.  We stopped at Panera and I was really surprised – their Panera had a drive-thru!  Wish the ones here did.  Took all our goodies home and ate lunch.  Poor Mom probably shouldn’t have eaten as much as she did as she wound up getting sick.  All the stuff they gave her (and they warned us this can happen) just didn’t agree with soup and a salad.  So I shipped her off to bed.

This gave Dad time to play around with his new Blu-Ray disc player and for me to catch up on Twitter, Facebook, email and such.  Wound up writing my blog post from the previous day at my parent’s house.

Day and Night

Between the pouring down rain storms I managed to get outside and take a few photos.   A neighbor’s daylily had blown off it’s stem and landed in the road.  I liked the dark orange against the blacktop of the road.  Didn’t get to stay out very long as the next line of storms came through.  So I went back inside and fixed dinner for my folks.  Nothing big just leftovers from the birthday dinner I had taken up for my Dad on Sunday (lasagna and salad).

Then I headed home to Reisterstown.  Once home I was greeted by 2 very happy dogs.  Maddie, the English Springer Spaniel and my constant shadow, had missed me terribly.  But Dani, the Lab mix, was also glad to see me.  Dealt with dogs, downloaded and edited pics …. crawled into bed around 9:30.  Thought I was tired but wound up watching “Top Chef Masters” instead.  Actually never did see who was the final winner.

I would have much rather been at work than in the hospital.  But since she had to go through this I was glad I was there for Mom.  Let’s just hope the results are good.

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Reference Interview From Far Away

MLx, aka as the Gadabout Library Trainer, is attending the Alabama Library Association conference.  Now I’m here in Maryland yet I feel as if I’m getting the best out of this conference because she is using Twitter to share some real gems.  Currently she is in the Renewing Your Involvement in the Reference Interview presentation.  Reading her tweets have been great so I thought I’d post some here and include my two cents/my observations as someone who used to work the customer service desk for many years.

#alla09 Tweets from MLx in bold

(my 2 cents follow)


people don’t come to the ref desk because they are uncomfortable or consider the staff ‘unhelpful’

(As someone who worked the circulation [now called customer service desk] for many years I can’t tell you how many times a customer sounded very reluctant to “bother” the librarian – they appeared as busy because they were sitting behind a computer screen.  Found this interesting since the circulation staff stands behind a computer but since they had to come to us to checkout they were able to strike up conversations easier.)

when patrons ask ‘where are the encyclopedias’ they probably don’t need the encyclopedias

(Good point.  People in general use terminology that is comfortable to them or is an euphemism for what they really want.  This is why the interview process of asking open ended questions is vital in helping our customer get what they need.  This is the same no matter which desk you work (circ, children’s, info, etc.).)

Ask how much time the patron has for the ref interview. “Librarians like to look for things, patrons like to find things”

(This goes for the customer service desk as well.  When registering a new customer it is an opportunity to share with them what your library has to offer.  Offer to take them on a tour of your building or walk them to the information desk.  But only after finding out how much time they have.  Don’t assume because they are here they have all the time in the world.  They may only have a few moments before picking up Janie from ___ to get a card and a DVD. Offer them choices – don’t have a lot of time here let me get what you need quickly – have a bit more time let me give you a tour.)

Prof sent ‘secret shoppers’ who were MLS students to libraries in search of ref interviews that lived up to RUSA standards – overall they found many librarians approachable and interested, that they excelled in searching – secret students were exposed to ‘librarian’s disease’ during the ref interview (too much information)

(Again anything applied at the Information desk can be applied to any customer service desk.  Librarians aren’t the only ones to can give too much information.  I’ve seen Circulation staff do the same thing.  Listen to what the customer is saying, ask those probing questions before you respond. )

users believe that if they find the physical location of the type of information that they can find the actual info on their own

(Amen to that.  I’m very much like that.  If I can find the section in any store/business/library than I can usually find what I want.  If I can’t then I ask.)

avoid respond immediately and without clarification to the question unless you’re sure you’ve interpreted correctly

(Goes back to my previous comment - Listen to what the customer is saying, ask those probing questions before you respond.)

don’t confuse the user with library jargon during the ref interview

(As a profession we are ALL guilty of this one no matter which desk we work.  Customers don’t know what Circulation is but use terms like checkout, returns, etc.  I love how some libraries are making sure their signage reflects this.  Reminds me of how I describe what tagging in the Web 2.0 world is about.)

The library homepage might be the first step in the ref interview.

(What a fabulous idea!  I really like this and want to explore it with our Public Relations team and our web programmer.)

The most difficult reference interview is when a parent tries to get the info for a child.

(I’ve witnessed this.  Fault can lie on both sides.  Parents mean well and that can leave staff unsure to whom they should direct their questions.  Parents need to butt out.  Library staff need to converse with the person (no matter what the age) that needs or is going to use the information.  Not an easy situation when some parents are very pushy.)


I’m sure this was a great session to attend in person but I got a lot out of it miles and miles away.  Thanks to Twitter and MLx!

T is for Training

I had the honor of participated in a niche that was finally filled today. To paraphrase what baldgeekinmd said “if you see something missing on the web you fill it – that is part of the read/write web”. Maurice was inspired by Greg Schwartz’s Uncontrolled Vocabulary show. And after searching around the podcasts out there realized there wasn’t anything that addressed training especially in the library world. So hence T is for Training was born.

Today was the “dress rehearsal” for the show. I joined Maurice, Jennifer Ranck (Training Coordinator for Eastern Shore Regional Libraries), and Bobbi Newman Digital Services Librarian at the Missouri River Regional Library.

I expected to be just a causal testing of the software (TalkShoe) but Maurice dived right in and had an agenda setup and the topics were quite interesting. Everything from do librarians need survival training to Bobbi’s 2.1 program to general talk about the aftermath of 23 Things here in MD (once Bobbi left the room was full of just MD trainers so we slanted the topic to us) and even a small trainer vent session. I suggested that Maurice keep the last 3 minutes of the show for the trainer vent session (will save a lot on our therapy bills).

I’m excited about this show and hope that lots of other trainers (library related or not) will join us on September 12 at 10:00 am for the first show and all the others to come.

Social Networking – Friend or Foe?

As a socializer, social networking sites are just a natural extension of my being.  Yet I was struck today, after attending a meeting which included representatives from many (but not all) of the counties in my state, by the feeling that I was more connected to the library folks on FriendFeed and other social networking sites than I am in my own state.

So is social networking friend or foe?

Friend – positive:

I’ve been exposed to different library folks in different states from different types of libraries with different job titles.  Exposure to different situations and different view points helps to broaden my horizons. Even if I had a great rapport with everyone in our state it wouldn’t afford me the same benefits as reading comments, blogs and web sites from other library folk in other states with different viewpoints.  Mainly because Kansas or California or Michigan isn’t Maryland and even if they are from a public library these folks have a different take on things that perhaps can give me some insight.  This is not to dismiss the value I place on my fellow Maryland library folk – just that sometimes an outside, unbiased opinion is needed.

Foe – negative:

Feeling as if I have more kindred spirits in the library world virtually than I do in reality.  I guess I’m missing what I get from the virtual world in my work world.  I miss the flow of ideas, the support, the differenting opinions (said with respect), the fun little give and take that I get from the social networking sites.

I’m not giving up on social networking by a long shot.  I just need to find a way to incorporate the positive side of social networking in a virtual world into my daily work life.

One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap for Open Source

Oh I feel so vindicated right now.  For the Doubting Thomas among you, this one’s for you.

I received an email alert “Due to incompatibility issues between the new version of Marina and Internet Explorer, please use Mozilla Firefox for your Marina requests.”  Marina is our state’s version of URSA a product provided by SirsiDynix.  SirsiDynix really seems to love Microsoft products so the irony of this is not lost on me.

I imagine libraries all over the state of Maryland are scrambling to install Firefox on their PACs so their customers can submit their interlibrary loan requests.  Ah, not at the Howard County Library.  We ONLY use Firefox and have for many years.  So for all of those customers and staff members that worried that Firefox couldn’t do what Internet Explorer could, I salute you.  You were right.  It can’t do what Internet Explorer does – it can’t install malware, spyware and the ilk, it can’t have problems with pages that are written with bad code, and it can’t not submit an ILL request through Marina.  Gosh, what a horrible browser it must be.

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