Category Archives: Reference Desk

Design Thinking: New ways to look at reference and instruction

The Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking was referenced in this article in the ILA Reporter. The article suggested this design thinking course as a library retreat activity.

This quote sparked my interest in design thinking and I am planning to investigate further.

“We often ask smaller questions aimed at incremental improvement like “how can we improve reference?” What if we started asking big questions like, “How can we foster accomplishment, community, and creativity?” If we ask those types of questions and begin our design there, there are no wrong answers.”–Andy Burkhardt, Champlain College Library

There’s a keyboard in his pants!

There are so many things I love about students, including their bizarre ways. 🙂

Last night at the reference desk, which is adjacent to the circulation desk a group of 4-5 students gathered. The students were carrying many objects. A wall clock, easel, fake flowers, and a student stuck a computer keyboard into the back of his pants. I was shocked. There instructor sent them on a scavenger hunt, and obviously this resulted in them ravaging the library for objects to present.

There is never a boring day!

What was I thinking?!

I have scheduled myself to work 10 hours today. I am teaching a graduate research course, and I have to prepare a presentation in tomorrow’s staff meeting about tone in instant messaging. At least a slow day of reference has allowed my to work on projects.

A librarian’s job is never done!

Image from: mechanicrobotic.wordpress.com

Being an Online Reference Librarian

I am finally getting used to being an Online Reference Librarian. At first I thought it was really different from doing reference in person. It is actually very much the same. I am serving the same students as I did at the community college. In addition to the problems of understanding assignments we have computer problems. Computer and copier problems in the physical library are different. You are there and you help the student by rebooting, or turning the copier off because it is overheated. They are sitting at home and we cannot help. Call tech support! Thank you Tech Support. We love you.

think know this experience is making me a better librarian and teacher. When you have to do reference interviews through chat you have to be very clear and to the point. You have a lot of students to help. In email you have to be clear as well. You do not want to confuse a student that is already baffled by the notion of an online library.  Teaching in a virtual classroom is something I never thought I would be doing, but it is cool. More to come… Image from: didatticadellamatematica.wordpress.com

Eventful day: Student recorded a video message, Intense reference interview, and a workshop

Today, the library is buzzing. The study tables and group study rooms are full, and almost every computer is occupied. I came in the door this morning and there were students at the reference desk and circulation. This rarely happens, because there are so few classes held on Friday. Next week, is the last week of the semester, and everyone is trying to finish those last few assignments.

A student was going around campus asking random people to record a happy birthday message for his friend. So, I wished her a happy birthday. Immediately after that a student comes to the circulation looking for a book on reserve for her class. She does not know the name of the book, the course name or number, or her professor’s name. I told her to get some more info, or go find her instructor to get the information. The professor comes back and gives us the title of book, but we cannot find it. It was shelved incorrectly. A student comes to the desk and insists I help her. She refuses the other librarian’s help. I guess I helped her before, and she liked the result. Her paper is due at 11pm. She does not have a thesis. So, I have to dig it out of her. In class they discussed U.S. influence over Brazil’s economy, and she read it in her textbook. I went to the textbook on reserve, and showed her the bibliography. We found some New York Times articles in the database, and books on our shelf. (I was shocked to find the books.) Since, we had some keywords we continued to search the databases, and found an abundant amount of information. As I was typing this blog posting a returning student looking for a Spanish-English dictionary wants to know if we still have it behind the desk. It was re-shelved, and he did know how to use the library catalog or find books using the LC call number system. He was not happy. I made him search the library catalog, and find the book on the shelf. He was frustrated, but in the end he thanked me. I think he was happy he did it on his own. I told him I am about teaching students how to find materials, and not just giving it to them. Now, I have an APA/MLA workshop. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

Librarian=Authority figure

Last week, a student came to me looking for an article in the New York Times. He needed to use the microfilm. I told him to look at the index and identify the reels he needed. Then, when he found the reels he should come back to me, and I will show him how to load the microfilm reader. Maybe 20 minutes or so went by, and I went to check on the student. He was gone!

Yesterday, he returned to the library. I asked him a series of questions. He said yes to everything I asked him. He was ready to use the reels. He picked the reel, and I helped him load the microfilm reader. I was having some technical problems so I enlisted some help from my kind colleagues. Turns out he never looked at the index, and used Wikipedia. I asked him if he used the index, and he said he did not know he needed to use it. It was amazing. A few people told me I was an “authority figure” and he did not want to tell me he needed help. This left me baffled. You come to a librarian for help. Why not tell me you did not do something or you do not understand? I work very hard at being approachable. He came back a few hours later looking for something else. I learned a little bit about him, and asked my questions differently. Image from: http://www.microfiche-microfilm-scanning.co.uk/microfiche-reader.html

That reference interview took over an hour

Wright College Library Reference Desk

I am asked a lot of questions on a variety of subjects. I was really stumped for search terms to use in EBSCO and ProQuest for this student’s topic. The topic is rehabilitation and treatment of pedophiles on probation. I started with rehabilitation and pedophile, and a few things popped up. She already searched cognitive therapies. I needed to think about this without her staring at me at the reference desk. So, I told her I would continue to look, and check back with her. I can see her sitting at a computer station from the reference desk. She was advised to focus on the laws. Since it was an English course I decided to be more liberal with my search. Some of my search terms were: behavioral intervention and pedophilia, pharmacological interventions and pedophilia, Depo-Provera and pedophile, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone and pedophile, chemical castration, phallometric testing, and incarceration and pedophile. I removed the scholarly journal limiter and my results included articles from periodicals such as Time magazine.

I knew I was not going to get a break today. The young lady I tried to help before this student only spoke a little bit of English. Spanish was her first language. Luckily the Head of Reference was able to help her, and speak to her in Spanish.

Student Freak Out

It’s only Monday, but it does not mean things will not happen in the library. Ten minutes into my reference desk shift a young lady asks for a paper bag. I ask if she can breathe, and she nods no. We give her a shopping bag to breathe into and call security.

I commend Wright College’s security for coming within seconds, and being very compassionate. They were great with the student. It turns out she was on her way to astronomy class, had previously been in the military, and going to Africa in summer on a school study trip. (All of this revealed through her emotional rant.)

I gave her cold water, rubbed her knees, wiped her tears with a tissue, and told her everything would be okay. She was worried about missing class, and was embarrassed she was having anxiety attack in front of people. Security and I reassured her we only wanted her to get better.

Minutes later a team of about 7 or 8 fire fighters arrived with equipment, and a stretcher. They seated her, gave her oxygen, and she was on her way. She received help quickly, and was handled with care.

Hopefully next time I see the student it will be for research help. Image from: http://www.mtv.com/photos/made-season-8/1563810/2621658/photo.jhtml

Bartering for Library Services

Yesterday, a student that attended my research workshop insisted I come see her. She offered me coffee and treats on my next visit to the cafeteria. I know the students are relieved to get help. Especially, when I clarify an assignment and they begin to understand how to do research. I like to help them. I don’t know if they realize I get paid too. I have received thank you cards, email, and letters. I wonder if any other librarians have experienced their patrons offering them free services or goods. Image from: http://barterintheboro.com/tag/barter/

Security!

This is the first time in years that I have worked with tattle taped books. The textbooks we get from the bookstore cannot leave the library. The sensors go off,  and I run over to search the person’s belongings.  Of course, some people try to run downstairs to the open computer lab with the textbooks. I ran after one student, but I lost him somewhere on the first floor. A few hours later he returned to the library. The second time I ran after a student down the steps to the open computer lab. I made him come back upstairs to the library.  Not only am a librarian, but I am also security.