Thankful

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Both Stephanie and Phil spent over an hour answering my questions and giving me a tour. When I got home, I immediately wrote them a note to thank them. Their time with me was not a break for them, as they were still manning the reference desk while listening and answering my questions. I was impressed with their patience and their willingness to inform me. I not only came home with a more thorough understanding of libraries and their incorporation of technologies, I gained a new appreciation for dedicated librarians.

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Reflections…..

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I learned a lot through this interview and some of it surprised me! I have worked in a small public library and that was my reference point for technology and all that surrounds it: funding, furniture, maintenance, training, etc. In the small library, the entire staff was responsible for troubleshooting, bringing in consultants was done infrequently. This small library relied on the staff to learn the systems/hardware and the most tech-savvy staff members were used to do tackle the more difficult troubleshooting. It was surprising to learn about the high level of tech support that East Regional Library can access through the system’s technology department. The librarians said it was a relief to have this service, as they know any problem can be addressed by experts and free up their time for patron and collection services. The system-wide department can even create library flyers and software updates are sent through the large server.

Also, I was fascinated by the relationship and transactions that occur between the library and their Friends of the Library group. I have been involved in one other Friends group and they lacked any formal procedure for requesting funds. Consequently, the Friends did not always understand the request and the extenuating costs. I’m impressed that the Friends group at the East Regional Library requires a grant proposal before any funding is extended. They accept grants twice a year, spring and fall. Then, with all of the current grant proposals on hand, they can review and fund the technology and other ideas that they consider the most needed and useful for that time period.

Gooooo!

On Wednesday, October the 21st I drove the short distance from my house to the East Regional Library in Durham. I had that “first day of school” feeling as I was excited and a bit anxious to walk into a new library and make connections (other than emails) with library professionals I had never met, in my brand new town. The blue skies and fall colors added to my excitement- it was a beautiful day here in NC!

I met with Stephanie, the Adult Services Librarian, and also Phil Locey, an Adult Services Librarian. Stephanie is the managing librarian. They had me sit with them behind the reference desk so that they could answer my questions and multitask at the same time.

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What types of software are available for staff and patrons?

All library staff computers run Microsoft Office Suite 2013 and the public computers will upgrade to this version by the end of November. As the library’s website states, all public computers run the following software:

  • Windows 7
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Java
  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Reader
  • Adobe Digital Editions
  • Nook Reader
  • Kindle Reader
  • Overdrive Media Console
  • Office 2007 (Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint, and Publisher)
  • Windows Live Essentials (Writer, Movie Maker, and Photo Gallery)
  • Creative Docs .Net
  • VLC Player
  • Quicktime
  • iTunes
  • Audacity
  • Musescore
  • Scratch
  • Blender
  • Synfig Studio
  • Paint.net
  • Inkscape
  • Gimp

Stephanie and Phil mentioned that the staff also has some additional art-based software on their computers: Paint.net, Movie Maker and an upgraded package of Adobe.

Hardware?

Staff: new desktops with touchscreen monitors, two iPads, one laptop for programming, copier/fax/scan machine and a projector.

Library: 20 adult computers, 12 children computers, 2 OPAC-only computers, 3 15-mins computers, printer at each service point, self-service check out stations, copier/fax/scan station, large screen monitor mounted on the exit wall for patron announcements

Tell me about the internet connection here at the library: networked, wired, wireless and type of connection?

This was an interesting question for Stephanie and Phil as were some of the other questions that I’ll get to. They do not have an on sight computer tech staff member. Because this library is part of a regional/county-wide system, they have a separate computer department that handles the real techy issues and funding for each library within the county-wide library system. Consequently, they did not have detailed information concerning the computer wiring/funding systems.

This is what they did know: all public computers are non-password protected and run on a county-wide network. Staff computers run on a different network. There is wireless available in the building with multiple access points. They both commented that the wifi connection is strong in all areas of the library building.

Do patrons have access to services through different devices: reference chat, email, apps?

Patrons do have access to online chat referencing and can access e-books through the OverDrive app. The library has in its collection E-books, E-audiobooks and E-magazines. All are accessed through the library’s web portal.

Do you have a website, web portal, and who maintains it?

The library has a webpage on the Durham County Libraries website. There is a portal that contains the OPAC and links to many digital collections and resources.  Services can be accessed through the portal as well: renewing, interlibrary loans, managing patron accounts, registering for classes. The county website is maintained by the county department and East Regional is responsible for updating their own page. Stephanie and Phil said any staff member can update that page.

Does the library have a social media presence?

The county system manages and updates the county-wide Twitter account. East Regional Library does have a Facebook account that is managed my Stephanie but she encourages all staff to create postings. Stephanie indicated the content of posts are usually event/programming related.

Do you train your staff to troubleshoot computer issues?

Both Stephanie and Phil chuckled when this question was asked as there is no formal training and when problems arise the entire staff is learning on the job.

What technology troubleshooting issues do you deal with the most?

loose connections, jammed papers, pesky websites that require task-manager to close

Are major computer issues fixed in-house or sent out?

So this is the either the cool or frustrating factor of working in a library that is part of a large system: any technology issue that is not easy to fix is addressed by county-wide computer technologists. The expert help is appreciated although there is a lag between notification and resolution.The library shares this tech with one other library and issues are brought to his attention through an online service order. Some issues can be fixed through remote access and for other issues the tech visits the library.

Are the computer set to save power during inactive periods and are they equipped with surge protectors?

Yes. Also, the library building is LEED certified and is outfitted with sensors that monitor all of the lights in the building. The public computers are all shut down simultaneously through a remote action that happens 15 minutes before closing.

What kind of furniture is in the library for technology users and is there any type of furniture that the library has on a wish list?

The library is fairly new and is outfitted with beautiful wooden computer carousels and desks with matching wooden chairs. The librarians commented that many staff members have put in purchase orders for different desk chairs for themselves.

Has the library considered ergonomic issues when ordering furniture?

As indicated by the above answer, Stephanie and Phil noted that the staff’s current desk chairs lack flexibility, do not fit many sizes and offer little support. When funding allows, new chairs will be purchased.

What type of adaptive or assistive aides does the library provide or have in its collection?

The library has large print books, audio books, and computer settings that allow the user to control the size of the font, and handheld magnifiers. All computers are outfitted with IP relay capability (main library). The website posts information about The Library for the Blind and Visually Handicapped that is located nearby in Raleigh, NC.

Does the library circulate any hardware: laptops, tablets, DVD players, community equipment?

The main library in Durham did circulate Nooks but this service is no longer available. Generally, the East Regional Library does not circulate these technologies but the librarians did say that patrons who hold meetings inside the building, can barrow the laptop and projector.

What is the circulation period and type of storage for DVDs, CDs, videos?

DVDs circulate for seven days, the rest of the library’s collection circulates for three weeks. The entire collection is open to patron browsing. The DVD shelving was great: specially designed shelves, sized just for DVDs.

Does the library have any type of security to prevent theft of equipment, DVDs, videos, CDs, books?

All library materials, excluding magazines, have RFD chips. Scanners are located at the exit point.

Does the library have a way for patrons to download eBooks, iFlicks, MP3 and audio books?

Yes, all are accessible through the library’s OverDrive subscription and the library’s web portal.

What types of unique services does this library provide?

The library community is made up of a large Hispanic population so they have a wonderful collection of Spanish books and audio books. They also offer various computer classes: Office, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. The library hosts (not responsible for teaching) ESL classes.

In terms of the library’s entire budget, what portion is spent on technology, databases, CD’s, video and DVD software?

Stephanie did not have data for this question as the budget is handled at the county level. The website did post a copy of the 2013 budget and had information on revenue and expenditures for the whole county system but did not specify by line items.

Has the library applied for any grants to cover technology costs?

The library has a Friends of The Library fundraising group from which the library can access funds through grant requests. Last spring they wrote a grant proposal for a digital picture frame to display library pictures. The proposal was accepted and the picture frame is located at the children’s service point.

Out of all of the technology available at this library, what works best?

The website. The librarians and county webmaster worked hard on the website to ensure that it is accessible, easy to navigate, and includes all of the pertinent information and links.

What types of technology does the library need to revamp or rethink for optimal use by or for the patrons?

Stephanie spoke of how the entire building is electronically controlled, including exit doors, toilets and phones. When the power goes out, it makes for an uncomfortable situation as they cannot open doors, flush toilets, or call for help except for personal cell phones. Also, she would like to see a system initiated that would allow patrons to pay online for late/damage fees.

Questions, Questions, Questions!

As I was preparing for the interview, I realized there were many suggested questions  and they might not cover all of MY interests. I told Stephanie, Adult Services Librarian at the East Durham Regional Library, that I would need no more than 45 minutes of her time. With this concern in mind, I added two questions that were not on the assignment sheet and scratched one or two where the answers were plainly visible on the library’s website (AUP information) .

QUESTIONS:

What types of technology hardware does the library have available for staff and patrons? (computers, tablets, laptops, printers, copiers, FAX, other)

What types of software are available for staff and patrons?

Tell me about the internet connection here at the library: networked, wired, wireless and type of connection?

Do patrons have access to services through different devices: reference chat, email, apps?

Do you have a website, web portal, and who maintains it?

Does the library have a social media presence?

Do you train your staff to troubleshoot computer issues?

What technology troubleshooting issues do you deal with the most?

Are major computer issues fixed in-house or sent out?

Are the computer set to save power during inactive periods and are they equipped with surge protectors?

What kind of furniture is in the library for technology users and is there any type of furniture that the library has on a wish list?

Has the library considered ergonomic issues when ordering furniture?

What type of adaptive or assistive aides does the library provide or have in its collection?

Does the library circulate any hardware: laptops, tablets, DVD players, community equipment?

What is the circulation period and type of storage for DVDs, CDs, videos?

Does the library have any type of security to prevent theft of equipment, DVDs, videos, CDs, books?

Does the library have a way for patrons to download eBooks, iFlicks, MP3 and audio books?

What types of unique services does this library provide?

In terms of the library’s entire budget, what portion is spent on technology, databases, CD’s, video and DVD software?

Has the library applied for any grants to cover technology costs?

Out of all of the technology available at this library, what works best?

What types of technology does the library need to revamp or rethink for optimal use by or for the patrons?

Getting Ready!

ILS 225 blog

I have been in contact with Stephanie Fennell, Adult Services Librarian, at the East Regional Library in Durham and we set a date and time to meet for the technology interview. I have sent her a copy of our assignment and I think she is as anxious as I am about adequately covering the depth of information required. She has been very accommodating and is asking another librarian (one with a bit more tech knowledge) to assist her during the interview.

To prepare for the interview, I have considered the previous assignments and readings to create additional questions. I will definitely be incorporating a lot of the ideas from our assignment page and adding some of my own topics too.  Two additional topics from our class work that I am anxious to discuss with the librarians are: staff troubleshooting of technology problems and any grant applications that they have written.

As you can see in the above photo, I have typed out my questions and am ready to go…..here’s hoping my pen can keep up with all the information I know I’ll want to write down!

REFERENCE

Burke, J. J. (2013). Neal-Schuman Library Technology Companion: A Basic Guide for Library Staff. Chicago: American Library Association.

Getting started……sort of!

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Hi, for my  Library Information Technology class we have an assignment to create a blog that documents our visit to a library and our interview of a library staff member. The interview will focus on the library’s technology. This is easier said than done for me. First of all, I moved from Maine to NC less than two months ago and I am not fast nor good at making connections BUT I am good at completing my assignments, so here I am!

I contacted an adult services manager at one of the Durham public libraries near my home. Adult services is my interest and passion. I am glad that our professor stressed that our first contact should be through a formal email; less stressful for us introverts, yes!?  We have sent two emails back and forth and still have not locked in an interview date. I sent her a copy of the assignment criteria and she mentioned that it may be better if I speak with the library system’s technology manager. With not much time left to actually report on my interview, I may need to follow-up my emails with a phone call tomorrow.

At any rate, I am looking forward to making a connection with the Durham Public Library system. Durham had the first free, tax supported library in North Carolina and also the first bookmobile in North Carolina. Clearly, Durham considers libraries an important service for its citizens. http://durhamcountylibrary.org/about/