Saturday, May 31, 2014

This week at the library; or, Preparation, Perspiration, and why, yes, I AM totally insane

  • Elementary School Visit
Random Commentary
  • I don't really like summer. Nothing to do with programs or being busy - that's cool. It's the weather I hate. Ugh. Hot, sticky, sunny. Just, ugh. Not my thing. Anyways, in between trying to coax the little bit of cool air in one end of my tiny apartment around the shelves, down the hallway, and into the bedroom, I worked like crazy to finish all the myriad things for summer reading, mostly programming but also supervising decorations, marketing, inventory, etc. It's awfully relaxing to have an associate and aides to do the decoration, something I majorly suck at (and don't have any time for anyways).
  • I also did one of my big school visits on Friday with my associate - I only needed to see Kindergarten through 4th grade, so about 400 kids. Summer spiel, booktalking, rinse, repeat, sore throat. My associate is confident that she can take over some of the spiel at our next visit and I'm excited! Half the talking, less sore throat!
  • On top of that, because I felt that summer really wasn't tough enough, the big project this week was moving the teen area! You enter our library downstairs by the information desk and circulation desk. There's a quiet magazine area, adult fiction, adult av, then at the back is the children's area. In between is a no man's land of very tall shelves (audiobooks and back issues of magazines) and computers. If you choose to go past the information desk the other way, you will come to the stairs. Upstairs there is a second computer lab, study rooms, the genealogy library (run by the genealogical society not us, thank god) a large room facing the computer lab that was originally reference but is now teen and to the left all the adult nonfiction and a sort of nook that overlooks the lobby which currently houses adult graphic novels, adult Spanish, local history, and the microfilm machine (i.e. everything we didn't know what to do with). There is a reference desk by the teen room and computer lab, but it's never staffed (we can barely staff the information desk, let alone the children's desk, never mind the upstairs desk).
  • The teens were originally moved out of the nook because they were in dire need of more supervision. The current teen room is large and reasonably attractive if somewhat old-fashioned (it's part of the original building, 114 years old). However, even with security cameras and staff in the offices next to the computer lab, there still isn't enough supervision. We are inundated every day with middle school and high school students. A small portion of them come to study, browse, and wait for a pickup. A much larger, and more problematic number, come to "hang out" often for hours (or until they get kicked out). Some of the things staff, patrons, and other teens themselves have complained about include bad language, rough-housing, making out, disrespect, general noise, theft, bullying and vandalism (including displays in the teen area. yes, even when they helped make them)
  • Basically it's not fair to ask the teens to be completely quiet and adult. It's also not fair to the teens who actually want to use the library that they have to put up with all the yahoos and we don't have the staff to supervise that many areas as closely as they need to be watched (incidentally, there is an after school center in town, but the problem teens won't go there - I've never gotten a good explanation why, but I suspect it's a combination of not wanting to be that closely supervised and having to walk farther). Also, the new adult services librarian would like to make a lot of changes in the adult areas upstairs and for the number of teens actually using that space, it's going to waste.
  • In a perfect world, someone would donate millions of dollars and we'd renovate the basement into a teen area and a middle school area and hire a librarian to staff it and....yeah, we don't live in that world.
  • So, the decision was made. The audiobooks will go upstairs, the shelves will be shifted into a kind of U shape, and the teens will come downstairs. This is the basic "get everything where it's supposed to go" move. We will eventually need to purchase new furniture, specifically for the computers. We're definitely going to get the opac computer out of there and wall-mounted (anybody know an inexpensive way to mount a catalog station on the wall?). Hopefully at some point we'll get rid of the shelf standing alone and replace it with a single-sided shelf, since browsing in a 3 foot walkway isn't very handy. We'll have room for more furniture when the computers are downsized from their current massive desks.
  • The end result - this area is smaller. The teens won't have as much freedom, since they're right next to the kids' area. It's unlikely that we'll ever have even a part-time teen librarian, since there's nowhere for a desk. There will be a lot less "hanging out" at the library. Am I a little sad? Yes. However, I confidently expect some good things too. Higher circulation, since they'll be in proximity to the YS desk and have someone to ask for recommendations. The misbehaving kids will be out in no time flat because there will be someone (me) in close supervision to keep the area friendly and welcoming to all. As we've seen in the past, when we get rid of the bad apples, the kids who actually want to use the library show up. I don't foresee any problems in getting them to use the new area since a lot of middle schoolers and teens already trek down to the children's area to say hi to me and chat. The rules will be a lot simpler - upstairs quiet, downstairs indoor voices. We'll still have Middle School Madness and Teens on Screen - we'll just be using the storyroom.
  • During the final parts of the move on Friday, the big group of problem kids came in, looked around, chatted a bit, and left almost immediately. I had 3+ reader's advisory questions for teen books. I'd call that a success already! There are still things to move and shift and signage etc. to do, but everything is more or less in the right place.
(I'll have more pictures later - someone else took these for me, as you can tell by the quality)
The old audiobook area, waiting for the shelves to be moved

YA books and the shelves
(had to be removed so the city guys could dismantle and move the big shelves)
The new organization. The back wall needs...something.
One of the big computer desks has been pushed against the wall to the left.
Some empty shelves - will probably shift the ya fiction around some
Nonfiction and audiobooks immediately behind the seating
Magazines in the corner. I need to adjust the shelves - you can't take them out right now
The magazines, I mean
The chairs face the manga and graphic novels.
I am planning to buy more superhero gns.
The back of this shelf is empty -
we plan to replace the entire unit with something one-sided.

And the bulk of the fiction is on the opposite side of the long shelves

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