Posts Tagged work experiences
Productive this week. Notable things done:
- Officially hit 1,000 entries for ProQuest dissertations added to SURFACE. Whew! Just 24 more to do, and then I can move on to another project.
- Went to an instructional class about library resources and Blackboard. The most interesting part was learning the exact URL for the SU proxy server; the rest was all stuff that I felt was fairly obvious, at least to someone (cough, me) who spends a lot of time of forums and blogs. (e.g. I was curious about what needed to be done to make a link open in a new window, but it turned out that this was as obvious and simple as checking a box that was labeled as such when creating a link. Nothing new there.) But still, gave me a chance to use the latest version of Blackboard, which I had to use irregularly at UT and not at all at SU, since the iSchool has its own version (but apparently is dropping it after this semester after all).
The NOPL 23 Things:
My main, ongoing project
The original 23 Things was created by Helene Blowers to instruct staff in Web 2.0 technologies; it has proven very popular, and has since been adopted by hundreds of organizations in several countries.
This was the project I took on this summer at Northern Onondaga Public Library. Kate wanted to get the ball rolling on it as soon as possible: after all, when normal staff is already busy, you don’t want to waste the opportunities afforded by intern power. My initial assignment was simply to research possible topics to cover and any associated issues (e.g., free or pay services, basic info, etc). This outline was presented to the committee responsible for organizing Staff Development Day, during which the 23 Things would be officially announced.
Beyond a couple particular topics Kate wanted to be sure were included, such as Overdrive, the library eBook service (not strictly Web 2.0 but useful for staff to be familiar with), I was given free reign to determine the vehicle of the lessons (I chose the fairly typical blog, and WordPress over Blogger for almost everything), the context and exercises, the readings, and the schedule (which did need to be approved).
I opted to make each “Thing” an exercise for a topic rather than a whole topic itself, though I’ve seen it done either way. This was primarily for simplicity’s sake. All major topics and sites of Web 2.0 were covered, and judging from the slow progress of the participants, I’m certain that it was a good call to not require even more exercises per topic.
Participants were instructed first to come to the 23 Things blog for sign-up instructions, which boil down to: 1) create a blog, and 2) fill out this form. (I previously discussed some of the difficulties with even this.) For each completed thing, participants are supposed to create a blog entry about their experience with and opinion of those things in order to get credit. Those who have completed all 23 Things (and have the blog posts to prove it) will be eligible to win their choice of a Flip camera or Sony eReader at the end of the official program in mid-October. Ultimately, I believe we got most of the full-time employees and many of the part-timers to sign up, for a greater than 50% overall sign-up rate. Follow-through, on the other hand…there are to this day blogs that never got a first or second post.
Side note: I’m kind of worried that when it’s time to pick a winner, no one will be eligible. 4.5 months were allowed for what I would consider to be pretty simple activities. I understand that people are busy at work and then have other obligations at home, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect 30 minutes one day to at least skim the “lesson” and do the task and create a short blog post on it. I’m not sure whether its a testament to the participants’ other duties’ pervasiveness, or my failure to inspire an interest in the relevance of this subject, or both, or what, that’s to blame.
I drew inspiration from a number of other 23 Things sites (sites and videos to use as references, possible topics to cover), but all content is original. This is partially to my discomfort with wholesale “borrowing” of other work, even when permissible through the Creative Commons license, and partially due to the fact that at this point, let’s face it: Web 2.0 has been around a while. Many of those older projects referenced sites or topics that no longer existed or seemed relevant, or at least weren’t as relevant as other, newer developments in social media.
I tried to strike the (very challenging) balance between catering to the completely inexperienced while trying to come up with enough new or interesting things to maintain the attention of the more experienced users. (Interestingly, the earliest sign-ups seemed to be from the people least in need of Web 2.0 lessons!) I also devised “the 24th Thing” to take care of this problem: for any lesson that was old hat, participants could instead explore something new to them, or at least come up with some new twist on the given topic (for instance, one person explained Yahoo! Pipes in her post on RSS feeds). Alternately, if they were pressed for time or just incurious, they could simply write about their past experience using XYZ– the purpose of this project was not expertise or drudgery, but rather simply ensuring everyone had the exposure they wanted. I tried wherever possible to address multiple services (e.g., Microblogging = not just Twitter but also Plurk or Tumblr) so as to limit anyone to the Internet’s equivalent of big box chain stores, and to address issues like the Creative Commons and fair use and privacy.
Once the program got rolling, part of my week was divided between the three branches in the immediate NOPL system to help anyone who needed extra guidance. I certainly did help people through, there’s no arguing that, but in doing so circumvented all that hard work I put into writing entries for the blog…after all, there’s no need to read if I can give you a 2 minute summary and instructions. On the other hand, I suppose that means I really only needed 2 minutes worth of text: again, a problem in part due to the wide variation in experience and interest levels of my audience.
In the intervening weeks, I have…
- attended a Staff Development Day, which was a lot more fun than it sounds. The bulk of the day was devoted to a Technology Petting Zoo, which consisted of 5 or 6 “stations” small groups rotated between to see examples of and play with various gadgets or programs. I helped man the Skype/wireless printing table.
- I also got to officially announce the 23 Things, which was bolstered by all the other tech-oriented activities and demonstrations of the day. More on this later.
- attended a Public Relations Roundtable, in which PR folk from various libraries in the system (those who can have their own PR person) discussed potential outreach ideas.
- This concluded with a tour of the library the meeting was held in, the recently remodeled and expanded Onondaga Free Library. It was gorgeous! There were separate areas for kids, teens, and seniors, and everywhere there outlets and tables for laptops. Large print items and CD sets of old radio programs were in the senior area. The children’s area and community room were the most incredible though: it was designed around a woodland theme, complete with carpet to resemble a brown pebbled path winding through grass.
- attended a ChiliFresh demo– this company offers a sort-of plugin for Polaris that adds ratings and reviews options to the patron the way Amazon does. It definitely seems like a feature whose time has come.
- sat in on another manager’s meeting…fabric samples were again a big topic that needs to get decided. I’ve learned that fabric duration can be measured in “rubs,” as in “this fabric is good for 250,000 rubs.”
- I’ve also learned that New York state obscenity laws are very specific, so that technically there is a wide variety of nasty things people can view on library computers and not be breaking any law. A delicate situation when correcting this behavior.
- helped out at a library outreach event in the form of a live t-shirt screenprinting booth at Canal Days in Brewerton. For those who had library cards, shirts were only $2; $5 if they didn’t, but we also had application forms and a branch right across the street. The t-shirts were of a sad bunny who needed “more library” and included the NOPL name and logo across the bottom. Sadly, the small event had not been organized nor publicized well at all, so there weren’t many people in attendance overall.
- Ace the library dog was present as well. He is a very well-behaved mutt who comes in to each of the 3 branches once a month to be “checked out” for 20 minute intervals, during which he can be read to, taught tricks, or just loved on.
- Sat at the reference desk and finally fielded questions! I answered a question to whether anything could be saved to the library’s computers, how to change the line spacing in Office 2007, and whether we had books by a certain author. A few more people wandered over with book availability questions, but I had to direct them over to the other computer where the library’s manager was stationed, since I don’t have a log-in for Polaris, and it doesn’t seem very useful to get me one for my last couple of weeks (most of which is not spent doing reference).
This past Monday I started my internship with the Northern Onondaga Public Library system. I’m primarily at the main Cicero branch, but director Kate McCaffrey has been helpful enough to plan visits for me to North Syracuse and Brewerton to get acquainted with all the libraries and their people. My primary personal goal for this internship is simply to experience working at a library. My past internships were more archival in nature, and while I do enjoy that kind of work, I need to know what else is available career-wise…so why not start with the iconic “public librarian” role?
While I am working at the library, however, I will actually be working: my main project is to develop content for NOPL’s own version of the 23 Things.
New things experienced this week:
- Sitting at the reference desk (though sadly no one asked anything while I was there)
- Children’s story hour at Cicero and North Syracuse for kids 2-5 (divided into two age groups). The librarians read gardening-related picture books and afterward the kids got to plant their own seeds in a cup to take home.
- Sat in on a library manager meeting where the business-end of library management was discussed, e.g. new employee time sheets and looking at fabric samples for the new comfy chairs to be ordered (definitely not the focus of library classes!)
- Observed and helped catalog new books and DVDs, and processed them (adding relevant stamps and stickers)
- Shelved books
- Sat in on a committee meeting for the upcoming Staff Development Day, during which my 23 Things will be formally announced