T is for Training Meme

Our illustrious leader, Maurice Coleman aka baldgeekinmd, challenged the cast of regulars on the podcast T is for Training to answer these 27 questions.  We had to limit our answers to one sentence.  So here are the questions with my answers bolded.

1.) Your One Sentence Bio

Coordinator Software Support and Training for Howard County Library, social web aficionado, budding photographer.

2.) Do you blog? If yes, how did you come up with your blog name?

Yes.  A variation on the name of my blog from Maryland’s 23 Things.

3.) What is your professional background?

Jacquelynn of all trades, mistress of some regarding work in the library (Circ[past], ILL [past], IT and training [current]).

4.) What training do you do? staff? patrons? types of classes?

Yes, yes and technology/social web based classes for both.

5.) What training do you think is most important to libraries right now

Technology based training – anything from social web to word processing to apps for mobile phones.

6.) Where do you get your training?

Pick it up where I can.

7.) How do you keep up?

TisforTraining podcast, Twitter (trainers group), blogs and RSS feeds – especially from the cast of regulars (they rock)!

8.) What do you think are the biggest challenges libraries are facing right now?

Funding and getting the respect they deserve as part of the education process within the community.

9.) What are biggest challenges for trainers?

The students, seriously you can teach almost anything but if the person is resistant….well.

10.) What exciting things are you doing training wise?

Nothing really other than using Jeopardy as a way to access if the class got it – they have fun and so do I.

11.) What do you wish were you doing?

List is too long to put here.

12.) What would you do with a badger?

Release it to the wild or give it to a wildlife sanctuary.

13.) What’s your favorite food?

Food!  Literally I love all kinds and they are my favs (but big on carbs and sweets unfortunately).

14.) If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

My cell phone because it would keep me connected to the world (assuming that I’d have coverage there).

15.)  Do you know what happens when a grasshopper kicks all the seeds out of a pickle?

Umm, it curls up inside and goes to sleep???

16.) Post it notes or the back of your hand?

Big Post-It note fan here.

17.) Windows or Mac?

LINUX!

18.) Talk about one training moment you’d like to forget?

My Twitter class for the public when within 10 mins of starting 2 people left which rattled me for the rest of the class.

19.) What’s your take on handshakes?

Firm has to be firm because wimpy just doesn’t do.

20.) Global warming: yes or no

Sadly, yes although if you judge by this winter you wouldn’t know it.

21.) How did you get into this line of work?

See blog post for how I got started in library biz – I feel into the role of training and discovered was good at it and people enjoyed/learned from my classes.

22.) Why is the best part of your job?

That I honestly learn something new every day!

23.) Why should someone else follow in your shoes?

Because they love to help people, love that ah-ha moment and love to learn themselves.

24.) Sushi or hamburger?

Sushi, definitely.

25.) LSW or ALA?

LSW without a doubt.

26.) What one person in the world do you want to have lunch with and why?

Hmm, would have to be some of the brains that work at Google because they are innovative and rate a high cool factor 😉

27.) What cell phone do you have and why?

MyTouch 3G (running on open source Android OS) because I love to stay connected and informed.

My fellow T is for Training folks and their answers to the questions:

Nicole Engard – The T is for Training Challenge

Polly-Alida Farrington – The T is for Training Challenge

Bobbi Newman – T is for Training Meme

Alison Miller – A T is for Training Challenge

Maurice Coleman’s Getting to Know All About Me Post

Betha Getsche – I Like Sushi & Libraries

Laura Botts – “C is for Challenge” at “T is for Training”

Heather Braum – T is for Training Challenge Meme

Jill Hurst-Wahl – Me. Coffee. Morning.

Pete Bromberg’s 23 things (minus 3): A getting to know ya post

Stephanie Zimmerman – A Get to Know Me Meme from TIFT

Marianne Lenox – 27 Questions (Supplemental Pictorial Essay)

Paul Signorelli – Paul’s Getting to Know Me Post

Lauren Pressley – 23 Questions with Lauren Pressley

Buffy Hamilton – 27 Questions with Buffy Hamilton

Jay Turner – 20 Questions for Just that Guy

Julie Strange – T is for Training Questionapalooza v 1.1

Angela Paterek – Getting to Know Me

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Help Me To Help You

Psychic Spell Breaker
Image by Metrix X via Flickr

Folks seem to have a lot of faith in the IT department. Not only can we fix anything we can do but we do so because we are psychic. Just takes a laying on of hands or a mere mention “it doesn’t work” and we know everything required to solve your issue. There have been numerous jokes, YouTube videos and the like making fun of the “stupid” other person (be it an employee or customer). I don’t like to poke fun at other people’s expense but there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. Let me shed some light on things from the other side. You want help –

You want help – so help me to help you.

Bad example:

Dear IT,

I can’t access _____.

This is the equivalent of saying “I can’t see the blue sky.” There could be many reasons why you can’t see the blue sky. Are your eyes closed? Are you looking up? Is it day time? Is it cloudy? Is something blocking your view?

Good Example:

Dear IT,

I can’t access _____. I tried to do this and then this and when I finally did this I wasn’t able to access ____.

Using the same analogy again. This lets IT know that your eyes are open, you are looking up, it is daytime but alas you are still unable to see the blue sky. This gives us a starting point, a reference. It let’s us know what you did up to the point where you had a problem.

I don’t expect everyone to understand every piece of technology that crosses their path. But I do expect people to tell me more than it just isn’t working. Try helping someone without knowing what they did or where they started. Not every person starts from the same point (e.g. I might type in a URL, someone else might have it already bookmarked and a third might do a Google search to find the URL).

I know folks get frustrated, I do too with technology sometimes (but that is usually due to my expectations – expectations just set you up for disappointment). I want things to work properly as well. But often I’ve found that user error (too fast clicking, not waiting for something to load, using the wrong software to do the job, etc.) gets in the way.

So just breathe, try again and when you still can’t get what you want – document all the steps you took up until the problem occurred. It will help me to help you and hopefully get you back on the road to what you were doing – sooner!

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Home Away From Home – Day 2

Ah, day two and it should have started off better.  Knew I had to leave a bit early from home to drop my son off at his Dad’s new house.  Still trying to figure out best routes to and from his house.  This morning with the hazy fog it didn’t help and I was a few minutes late getting to work.

EntranceFirst one in the office this morning.  Dropped my stuff at my work space and scurried to get to the morning duties (I had switched days with a co-worker).  Unforwarded the helpdesk phone and then proceeded to swap the tapes on both the Horizon and Authority Works servers.

This was to be my IT @ Admin day so I needed to focus on the morning duties and get them out of the way.  Once logged into my Ubuntu and Windows machines I did a quick cursory check of email (no dire messages).  I then proceeded to do the morning duties (just like yesterday).

Once they were out of the way I checked the helpdesk tickets and assigned them accordingly to my co-workers (seems some days I get a lot and others I don’t – it all evens out in the end).  Opened Twirl so I can peruse Twitter (both my personal account – @mlibrarianus and the library’s official account @HoCo_Library).  Then I queued up a Tweet for the library’s account using TweetFunnel.

Our Network Administrator came into the office and had mentioned that we had a power outage (clock in the workroom before ours was behind).   PACs were showing red on PACMON (our own montioring system that our web programmer wrote) but luckily the Day End computer finished running Day End before the power outage (having to run day end in the morning before people start logging into Horizon is not a fun thing to coordinate).

I proceeded to work on the email bouncebacks.  I’m still amazed at how many we get.  Are that many people really changing their email addresses and not updating them with us or what?  Still trying to figure out the best way to ensure our customers get notified without this having to deal with bouncebacks.  It is a labor intensive process that should not be handled by IT.  Haven’t come up with the answer as I know that there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a tweet that made me chuckle.  I don’t normally follow the trends on Twitter but this one caught my eye #verydullbands.  Some were pretty good.  tumour seemed to be on a roll.  Time to head to our Administrative office in the East Columbia Branch and be the IT guru of the day (each of us takes turns spending a day at Admin helping with computer/software related issues that arise).

Home away from homeAfter getting my lunch in the fridge and things settled into the IT cubicle, I logged into the Ubuntu machine we have set aside for us.  Last time I was there I used Good OS – as if Google and Mac had a love child this would be it.  I really liked the operating system and having the Google gadgets.  Alas I was back to our staff desktop version of Ubuntu which is nice too.

Queued up another tweet for the library’s official account (which is approved by our Public Relations dept. and released to the Twitterverse).   Talked to a colleague who had heard I’d been recently to Spain recently and was thinking of going.  So I sent her a link to my photos from Espana on Flickr.

Consulted with fellow IT co-worker about iTouch and our collaborative software, DeskNow.  He had a Blackberry and wasn’t familiar with the iTouch.  Went around the Admin office asking staff if they had an iPhone or iTouch.  Found someone in Public Relations that had an iTouch who was able to help with the question another staff member had asked me.  I won’t mention my extreme jealousy of those with the iPhone or Blackberry (I soooo miss my Blackberry).

Helped another colleague with a PrintNow problem.  Think the delay was due to her Java update message wanting attention.  Once I clicked on that PrintNow printed the screen shot she needed.  Stopped by the cubicle of our Training Coordinator to discuss a request that had come up in my visits to the branches regarding our Staff Intranet.  She was open to the suggestion that the less formal “Lunch and Learns” be part of the training calendar as well as a notice on the Staff Intranet.

ITBack to my cubicle.  Checked on the Merlin site since I was playing admin while Nini Beegan was on vacation.  Cleaned up a bunch of registered users that were clearly spammers.

Consulted with web programmer and network administrator about the best way to get a new image onto our PAC screensavers.  The library’s unofficial (yet very professional and wonderfully talented) photography, Fritzi Newton, had taken shots of each of our 6 branches along with iconic views of our county and mixed them with photos she was able to obtain from Enoch Pratt.  She put these altogether as a screensaver for our public computers.  There was wording on each saying where the photo was taken.  After 2 years of these being out there for the public someone had realized that one of the slides had Maryland misspelled.  Fritzi corrected this and gave us the new image (with correctly spelled state) to use.

Realized I hadn’t really talked to our staff at Admin about the revamping the Staff Intranet.  I had been to all the branches to get feedback so I wondered around the office and talked to different staff.  Along the way I helped with a couple browser settings.  The one feature that I love on our Intranet was one that I pointed out to several folks.  Our web programmer had created a staff directory – the staff search box searches that directory.  So if you don’t know what branch, the phone number, the exact spelling of their email, what title they have, etc you can search for a person (last name or first name or full name) and see all of that plus a picture.  I convinced several people that using the staff directory search was 100 times easier than scrolling through the phone list.  This made me realize that this well used by many but missed by some box needed a more prominent spot on our Intranet.  So I moved that up further on the left hand side along with moving the Quick Links further to the top as well.  These are just temporary stop gaps until we revamp the whole Intranet.

LUNCH!

Assigned to myself and closed helpdesk ticket regarding receiving spam from old email address.  *sigh* The only 100% sure fire way to not receive spam is to not use email.

Played telephone tag with the editor of our reader’s advisory blog, Highly Recommended, regarding a few tweaks and a new idea that had come up in a meeting.  Then I went about interviewing more of the Admin staff about our Intranet and what ideas they might have.

Dealt with calendar settings for two people in Public Relations.  They didn’t have a box checked so the calendar invites were not showing up on their calendars the way they should.

Debunked an Urban Legend that was sent via email to IT.  I love Snopes.com.  I used to hang out on their bulletin board and I do miss the folks from there.

Discussed ideas with the Events & Seminars Manager about the use of voice recorders regarding local authors.  Getting them to read excerpts from their books or interviews with them as part of a podcast.

Answered an email from staff about the spam filtering option setting in our email.  Explained that we use Barracuda, spam filter, on the main email server so there is no need to use the one provided by DeskNow (if you do it actually creates more work).

Decided to make another change to the current Staff Intranet (that was brought up by staff at the branch) and managed to not screw it up.  Deleted code and things still worked properly.  Then I got a little too confident and removed some more – this time I did screw it up.  THANKFULLY, our web programmer who has the patience of a saint with me was able to figure out what I did wrong and fix it.

Way past time for me to go, so I turned off my machine and headed home.  I had to pack and drive to PA that night since I going with my parents the next morning to the hospital.  My Mother was having a biopsy of her lung done.  Here’s hoping it all goes well and the results are good.

A Day in the Life III

Beginning to think the titles of these posts are bad movie rejects 😉

Day 3 of week of keeping track of what librarians or library workers do so we can see the diversity of the jobs we do.

Wednesday January 28, 2009

11:15 – arrived at work (late opening because of ice conditions)  after attempting 3 times (4th was the charm) to get up the hill on my road so I could get to work. Main roads fine but side and back roads are still a mess.
11:20 – took call from staff member about computers not recognizing IP address. Network Admin made a change and the Linux computers stole the Windows IP’s – poor Windows didn’t know what to do.
11:30 – logged into email, IM, Staff Intranet, Friendfeed
11:40 – perform morning task such as checking our catalog (login, searching and requesting working), making sure Day End process finished correctly as well as several other processes, checking several server logs, making sure Zserver connects to Marina (our ILL for the state), verify that telephony system is working, etc.
12:02 – another call about the Windows machines not recognizing IP’s
12:10- finally got around to posting my first ditl blog post for Monday – only 2 days behind
12:20 – checked email bouncebacks
12:30 – support services called about building request login (forgot) – found username/password so they could login and take care of requests
12:36 – call from Info staff about unable to connect to Marina ILL – turns out they had old URL bookmarked
12:40 – went back to email bouncebacks
12:50 – staff call helpline when they need a specific person and I wind up having to transfer to their personal line – hate being the IT secretary
12:55 – helped staff member clean (properly) a donated laptop
1:10 – lunch
1:40 – removed someone from email alias
1:41 – read and answered some emails
1:45 – wrote announcement to remind staff of URL change on Marina (statewide ILL system) and notified Sailor so they can change it on their site.
2:12 – worked on CIL09 slides
3:02 – created sign to welcome our new staff member Julian Clark to IT dept.
3:16 – posted 2nd day in the life to blog
3:17 – back to CIL09 slides
3:43 – home to get ready for Lost and hope I don’t fall asleep before 9 pm!

Kicking and Screaming

Well thanks to strangelibrarian for tagging me on this my 2nd Meme (1st one was actually my first blog post). Interesting how a comment on FriendFeed takes on life of it’s own.

Funny I’ve told the story many times about how I got started here at Howard County Library but it wasn’t until this that I really thought about it. So here goes it….

I was born a poor black child….wait, that isn’t right.

It was a dark and stormy night……hmm, that doesn’t quite sound right either.

Like many of my fellow library workers, I suspect, my road to Librarydom started with a love of reading. As an only child it was often up to me to entertain myself and I often turned to books. I was definitely a fiction reader from early on but I also know I spent time scouring through our bicentennial editon of World Book encyclopedia. My folks also had a collection of medical encyclopedia’s put out by Reader’s Digest. The thought of that makes me laugh now. I know I often went to it as a teen who was too afraid to admit ignorance to my parents or peers and actually did find some good info in that collection. So basically everything from Dr. Seuss to World Book encyclopedia was devoured.

Then in middle school I had the opportunity to be a library aide. I can’t remember how I got asked to do that just remember shelving materials during lunch time.

Forward a bit to my 16th year and my Mother literally forcing me to apply for a page position (yes, we called them pages then – god knows what they are now they’ve been called many things over the years) at the Long Reach branch of the Howard County Library. I always tell this part as “she took me kickng and screaming…” which isn’t too far from the truth. Ironically my straight A student next door neighbor also applied for the job. Somehow my experience as a library aide in middle school must have given me an in because I got the job.

I was convinced that only the nerds, geeks, losers of high school worked at the *gasp* library. Back in that day there was actually more prestige associated with working at McDonald’s than at a library. However, my first day at work changed my opinion of libraries for good. The senior class clown was there working in my branch. How could someone that cool work at the library? Hmm, maybe this wasn’t such a bad place after all.

Forward about 7 years after I had left my page position at the library I find myself answering an ad for Circulation Technician. Wet behind the ears, I find myself dealing with the normal first job issues including having an elderly gentleman have a heart attack, fall to the floor and die on my desk shift. Ah, just another day in the life of a library.

A few years later I took a position as the Evening Supervisor. Basically was in charge of keeping the pages (then called something else forget just what) in line on nights and weekends. Some of the kids were really motivated and great workers. As usual the slackers were the ones that made my life hell. Not sure I was the best suited for that job and the hours soon wore on me. At the end of my stint doing that I found myself back in college and planning a wedding. Talk about stress.

Within 2 years I entered into a job share position and had to step down a level but it was worth it as I was a new mother and it afforded me time home with my son. Just before he entered kindergarten I went back full time. Within a few months I was able to move back up to my previous level as Senior Circulation Assistant.

During this time I had managed to learn quite a bit about our ILS system and was often the go-to girl for other staff. I had worked off and on in Interlibrary loan during the years so when a full time position in ILL became open, I went for it. It was perfect timing for me as in the 6 years I spent in ILL I learned 3 different ILL systems (AutoGraphics, Sails which went on to become Marina (URSA from SirsiDynix), and OCLC passport). As someone who loves variety, loves to learn, likes to just get in there and get her hands dirty and learn my years in ILL were filled with many new learning moments.

Then it looked like the face of ILL was going to change so I applied for a position in Automation. Luckily they wanted me for it (as I didn’t have ALL the requirements for the job) but my thorough knowledge of our then ILS system was in my favor. Again, the opportunity to learn more about our ILS system (classic Dynix) plus a whole new department gave me many years of learning enjoyment.

Then the migration to Horizon came which was MORE than a learning experience for me. But it opened a new opportunity – training. I had done a few training sessions on our email clients (Netscape, Thunderbird, Webmail) but now I got offer classes on how to use Windows and Horizon. I stumbled upon an area that I was good at and really enjoyed. Funny, when I first started my library path I never would have envisioned training being part of my future.

Shortly after our migration to Horizon, the Automation department joined with the rest of IT and I got a new boss. Again I found that my job gave me variety and plenty of opportunity for me to learn but to also help others learn. My new title reflected that – Coordinator of Software Support and Training. More classes were offered (RSS feeds, how to use our new Linux OS, Groovix, on our PACs, AquaBrowser) as well as written instructions and FAQs.

I was then given the awesome task of recreating our staff Intranet using Joomla! So again, I got to learn something new, get in and get my hands dirty (oh you are suppose to read manuals? Nah!) and loved every minute of it. I’ve now brought up 3 other sites on Joomla! and continue to learn about the product as well as good web practices. This opened another path for me – web design. Well not quite that good but it enabled me to work with our web programmer on our new website. If I was only half as cool or knew half as much as he does I’d be happy. But I learned so much and appreciated his patience with such a web neophyte.

Now as we migrate to Koha I have another opportunity to learn and train. I’ll be working with one of our librarians to help create the training modules used for our staff. We will first look at the work flow issues in each department and how they do it now. I’m looking forward to that as well as eventually working on YakPac.

My next new learning moment for me will come this fall when I branch out from training staff to our customers. I will be giving my first class for customers on Web 2.0 this fall. I designed a 5 part series with the help of other web 2.0 enthused staff – overview (my part), wikis, photo sharing, social networking, and audio streaming. I hope to bring my love of Web 2.0 to our customers and help them to understand and navigate the web a bit better.

The future holds, I hope, more opportunity to grow, learn and be able to give back to others the knowledge I’ve gained.

Okay, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now it’s your turn – so I tag the following:

Theycallmetater (whom I work with)

Library Trainer (who I’ve not met in person but would love to hear her story)

Greg Schwartz (who I’ve not met in person but had interesting email exchange and love his show Uncontrolled Vocabulary)

almostBaldGeekinMd (who I’ve met in person and worked with virtually) who was also tagged by strangelibrarian (so maybe we can tag team him?)

Girl Power

This won’t come as a big surprise to many female librarians I know (and probably an equal amount of male librarians as well) … the Power of Female Blogging.

This statement from the article struck me –

“Today, women are not only the most powerful consumers in the world, we’re also the power users of Web 2.0 and social media technologies,” said Lisa Stone, BlogHer co-founder.

If I looked around my office, my library branch, my system I would agree.  But then my field (IT) is more male than female (although in our office we have 50/50).  The guys in the office haven’t heard of Twitter, don’t blog and only buy computer components.  My main profession (library) that I work for, however, is predominately female (but you boys are coming on strong).  More of us gals have Facebook pages, Twitter, FriendFeed, blog and/or wiki not to mention some serious online shopping.  Population statistics say that females out number men so is Lisa’s statement really all that earth shattering?  Would by sheer numbers females be more powerful consumers and users of the web?

Interesting to know if other professions find that the women in their work place are the power bloggers, power consumers and are leading with the social media.