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dbmamaz
11-04-2011, 09:20 PM
I'm wondering what kind of experience people are having with the librarians near them?

My library is closed for a year for renovations. Its a really small library, and Raven has a hard time remembering an inside voice for very long, so I really didnt go all that often. Most of the time, when I need books, I just go on line and research what i want, and had it delivered to my local library for pickup.

Well, the next closest library is 15 minutes away, which doesnt sound like much, but sometimes spending 30 minutes picking up books feels like a lot. Plus, we've been having some video game and now D&D meetings at a smaller library, 20 minutes away. So I have tried finding things in THAT library a few times.

I have had rather unsatisfying experiences with the librarians there. 2 weeks ago, I told Orion to ask for help on a paper he was writing. It was about the black sea, but it had asked about a specific property of the black sea. So Orion said he needed to write a paper about the anoxic properties of the black sea, or something like that, and was told they had nothing, but given a link to somewhere he could look on line.

Really, not a single book about the black sea? Ok, i shouldnt be too suprised, maybe, since last month, at the bigger library (probably 2nd biggest in the county system), there was not a single book about King Richard the Lionhearted.

So, today I was looking for several things. I asked where books about Thanksgiving might be, and a librarian found it - tho she did have to do a double-take sort of thing. I explained I was studying Pilgrims and she nodded and picked up and put down several books, but seemed . . idk, like I wasnt even sure she heard me?

I did find 3 I liked. When I showed her what I liked about them, she nodded agreeably. So then I asked about the book Light in the Forest or other books for a sensitive teen about colonists and indians, and she suggested I talk to the children's librarian.

Ok, i assumed she was, since I found her in the childrens' section. So she got the attention of the childrens' librarian. It was not easy, as he was very involved with his computer. I started talking about Light in the Forest, and he interupted me to say he wasnt familiar with it. I was startled, but i went on. I explained what I was looking for. He looked very thoughtful for a moment, then said "I dont know. I dont read that period." He looked thoughtful for another moment, then shrugged as if he was done.

I smiled and said thank you.

Ok, i do think the women at the bigger library, in the childrens section, are generally more helpful than that. And at my (closed) library, the info desk guy would at least do a search for what I wanted, to try to help me find something. But is this sort of behavoir common in libraries? Or am I right to be somewhat frustrated with it?

farrarwilliams
11-04-2011, 10:02 PM
I've found that a shocking number of children's librarians have absolutely no deep knowledge of children's books. It's completely bizarre to me, but I've now encountered (different, as I don't go around quizzing librarians) children's librarians who have never heard of Mo Willems, David Shannon, or Eve Bunting. WHAT? I've also encountered children's librarians who don't appear to know the Dewey Decimal system at all. And children's librarians who can't come up with a recommendation for a really simple topic, like say, can you suggest some books about friendship or emotions. I'm sorry, but if you can't do that, why are you even here? I've also had some very strange experiences where children's librarians want my children not to read books they can read because they're too hard (they're just easy readers, leave us alone!) or on the other end, seem to recommend books that are WAY too hard. Like, if I say my kid can read Magic Treehouse, then obviously the fourth Harry Potter book is going to be a bit long kind of way off base stuff.

I know I'm a bit of a children's book snob, but I certainly haven't read everything by any means and I love it when people know more. If only it was everyone.

Luckily, we go to a lot of libraries around here - our closest one is also under renovation, but there's another one we can also walk to, and the central library downtown and a larger branch with a good retrospective collection (as well as a parking lot!). And I've also met really good librarians who are really helpful and a few really great children's librarians. At the library we go to most often, there are two librarians, the one I can't stand who says nasty things about homeschooling and yells at kids and the newer one who doesn't have the exhaustive level of knowledge I wish, but who has taken the time to get to know my kids and who I like to chat with and who often has new ideas for books and is always really helpful.

Oh, and my policy is usually that if we're going to hang out at the library, it *must* have a separate children's section. My kids aren't usually loud, but they're also not usually quiet. The larger libraries here all have an upstairs floor devoted entirely to children's materials. The library we can walk to (which also has a really good children's librarian) has a great little programming room with comfy chairs too. I can't stand going to the libraries where the children's section is just a corner of the big library. You can't read aloud to the kids in those.

farrarwilliams
11-04-2011, 10:04 PM
What's strange to me about your experience, Cara, is that the librarian didn't have basic reference materials. Like, black sea? Okay, let's take out an old fashioned Britannica. And an atlas. And let's see what we've got in the upper 900's (I forget the Dewey number for all those countries) about countries around the Black Sea. But I guess that's the other piece - the library collections are really sad now in some places. No books about Richard the Lionhearted? That's just pathetic.

dbmamaz
11-04-2011, 10:16 PM
The Richard the Lionhearted, i was baffled, and went to the librarian. He was baffled too and asked if it was for a school project (as in, a local school so all the kids had checked out all the books). This library I was in today, and the one near my house thats closed, both just have a corner for the kids, but the shelves help SOME with the noise factor - but really they are so small there are often not that many adults there. The bigger one I usually go to has a seperate room with a cool entrance, a large bay of computers, and a smaller teen room, too. (the adult books are downstairs, but the video collection and circulation desks are outside of the kid area. also some meeting rooms). There is another big one, only a few minutes further, but I had really unpleasant experiences there w the kids and moms - very upper middle class 'my kids cant do anything wrong' parents. In fact, i went to a puppet show and the show started with a reminder about taking kids out if they are noisy . . . instead, the kids were running around yelling during the show, and the moms just chatted to each other louder to be heard over their noisy kids. Horrid.

Just for reference, tho, the 'big' library has 200,000 + books. the one I was in today has . . um, doesnt say. Recently expanded to 25,000 square feet and a 'founding fathers' collection? The big one is 53,000 sf. My location was 12,500 sf and 80,000 books.

dbmamaz
11-04-2011, 10:17 PM
And i know i dont know much about books, but Farrar, am I right that Light in the Forest is something most librarians should know? I am thinking of getting an audio version of it - the 'big' library near me has it.

lakshmi
11-04-2011, 10:43 PM
Kara and Shonica. My childrens librarians. Both a little wacky. There is one other one too and she is nice and I feel bad that I forget her name. They buy the books I want. They know me by name. They don't have a Light in the Forest in a book form but in audiobook form. I searched for Black Sea but got a bunch of seemingly unrelated stuff.

We're there every Thursday right now. I order books mostly from other libraries in the system. And if I have to, I order books InterLL. The director of the library invited our family over for a party last Spring.

Our library is small, and in a tiny town. I expect to find nothing, and therefore am surprised when I do find it! They are in the process of creating a Young Adult non-fiction section. And have lots of programming from toddler to teenagers. I like it. We spend a lot of time there.

But as for being a book snob, and knowing about books and remembering titles and stuff, not so much. So it would be easy to know more than me. Most of the books that we read when my children were little came from a free pile of discarded stuff. So, things like Cowboy Sam and Shorty. Stuff with fabulous old graphics. Books for me are about enjoying them. Right now, my daughter has been checking out all the cat books. Each book about cats has a sticker. So she only checked out cat books.

Teri
11-04-2011, 11:07 PM
I wonder if they are not as current as they once were because people don't utilize them? I mean, I can't remember the last time I asked the librarian for help. The catalog is accessible online, so I can search by subject or title at home, put it on hold and then pick it up.
I haven never heard of The Light in the Forest, but I just got on the library website and found it on cd and the book at our library.

Richard, the Lionhearted gave me similar results (when searched as subject).

bcnlvr
11-04-2011, 11:17 PM
I am spoiled. My librarian is a PhD (dunno what field) and is a genius. He has a sense of humor, a Aspergerian daughter, and he has a Flying Spaghetti Monster (mybtbhna) decal on his vehicle. We are also in the same humanist group here in town. I am truly, truly spoiled. He even helps me pull together my books for ds9 (esp history, my nemesis).

dbmamaz
11-05-2011, 12:15 AM
bacon, you are truly touched by his noodley goodness, or whatever that is.

hockeymom
11-05-2011, 08:17 AM
Our librarians are amazing. They recommend books based on whatever DS is reading and are super enthusiastic and helpful. Our library--really all the libraries in our local villages--are beautiful, enriching spaces, architecturally interesting and thoughtfully designed. We cannot believe our good fortune.

We know well the flip side; in the town we used to live in the librarians were rude and cold and clearly loathed children and anyone who might ask questions. The library was cold and dusty and a truly awful place to spend time.

The experience of a truly excellent library cannot be understated, and we feel incredibly grateful for ours.

Jilly
11-05-2011, 10:14 AM
We go to a wonderful library in a different town just for the librarians. They are so knowledgeable and they love homeschoolers. There is a group of us that are always in there, and the librarians are eager to help the kids with anything. I think it is the children's passion that the librarians admire.

Riceball_Mommy
11-05-2011, 10:55 AM
Since our experience with the librarians at the front desk is never pleasant I try to look up anything I need online before we get to the library, sometimes I'll just get a few call numbers so I'll know the general range I need to look in. I'll put specific things on hold too so I don't have to go in search of them. The front check out desk women can be very rude, they have two self check out computers and then at least 1 - 3 of them standing around by the manned check out computers at any given time. Some things can only be handled by a person, but if you approach them they immediately try to re-direct you to the self-check out. If you tell them you need them to do something they get this terrible look, and sometimes roll their eyes.

Greenmother
11-05-2011, 11:19 AM
Okay, having a major WTF moment here: So the Children's Librarian has no idea how to use his own internet data base or card catalog? What the hell kind of attitude is that.

I tell you what, I will move there with my highschool diploma and my homeschool mommy testicular fortitude and show them how it's done. That is just amazing that they give you attitude and then don't even bother to look. I mean what are we paying them for?

And even if that local library doesn't have the book in question--you should be able to order just about anything through Interlibrary Loan.

They should be kind, courteous, and they should know how to do their job!

Amanadoo
11-05-2011, 12:11 PM
I way jealous Farrar can walk to TWO libraries!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-05-2011, 12:29 PM
I've had good experiences with our children's room librarians. The last time I was in, looking for books about animals getting ready for winter and having no luck with the database, the librarian led me to a section I hadn't even though of and found a few books that were perfect. She asked me, "So are you homeschoolers?" (I was by myself, so it wasn't obvious). She then showed me a slip I could fill out if I wanted to have a librarian pull out a bunch of books on a particular topic for me! I rely more on interlibrary loan than what's on the shelves, but it was nice to know.

I've also had some nice chats with one of the women at the circulation desk--an older, British woman--about Rosemary Sutcliff and some other things I was reading.

farrarwilliams
11-05-2011, 01:16 PM
We are pretty lucky that we can walk to two libraries. We can almost walk to a third. And we can metro to another dozen or drive to many more, all within 10-15 minutes away. It's pretty sweet. Also, they don't give fines on juvenile materials.

I don't know how many books are in our library system - I was curious after Cara said how many but I couldn't find it. It's not the best public library system, but it's not bad.

I do think Light in the Forest is a slightly out of date book. I would *hope* a children's librarian would have heard of it, but I think it's pretty uncommon for children's librarians to have heard of older books. Part of me thinks all they know is how to point kids to Pinkalicious, Pokemon books, Harry Potter and Magic Treehouse. If you're lucky, they've read or at least heard of the Newbery's and Caldecotts, but only the ones from the last 5 years. :(

It depresses me. It especially depresses me that I'm not a professional and I know more than many of them, easily. With an MLS degree, I'm guessing they know a lot more about databases and various other things than me. But how much use is that when it's your job to help schoolkids with homework, police the kids, point kids to good books and create programming for kids?

JinxieFox
11-05-2011, 02:49 PM
We have two libraries - one on each nearby base. I haven't tried using British libraries yet. Heh.

Anyway, the experience definitely depends on the library and the personnel. Like Riceball Mommy, I do my research in the online catalog beforehand, especially since our interlibrary loan encompasses all of the US military libraries overseas.

The librarians here are hit or miss. Then again, the libraries themselves are too. One library has such a bare children's room, it looks like the visitors' room of a prison (seriously - shelves, but nothing decorating the walls or the room). The other one has a gorgeous children's room. Fortunately, it's that gorgeous one that's in walking distance. :)

However, neither one has children-specific librarians, and some of the librarians are nicer or more knowledgeable than others. Guess its the luck of the draw.

speech mom
11-05-2011, 02:49 PM
Our small local library is horrid. I worked at my university library in the circulation and reserve departments. When I moved back home and applied for a position shelving books, I was told that only boys were strong enough to shelve books. WTH? That local library has a lot of local history stuff, so we scheduled a field trip to have the librarian do a presentation for the kids. When we got there, 3 librarians were at the desk, but it took me 10 minutes to get their attention. As I stood waiting with 25 kids. I was told, sorry that librarian isn't here today. Then they went back to ignoring us. When I was in high school, they refused to let me check out a couple books saying they weren't appropriate for a girl my age. My argument that said books were assigned by a nun at my catholic high school fell on deaf ears.

The large library in the next community has a pretty good selection and they are great with the little kids. Now that mine are older, they seem to have a really hard time with their reading levels and interests. Couldn't figure out why a 6 year old wanted to read about Mary Queen of Scots and directed her to Junie B Jones. Not really the same thing. I can tell them the 13 year old's reading level and the latest books she has read and they will hand her something way beneath her. But when I ask for something for the struggling reader, I get stuff like Lord of the Flies.

belacqua
11-05-2011, 06:47 PM
We lucked out with our children's librarian. She's patient, informed, and puts on a stage-worthy storytime, complete with puppet shows and original songs. The best part is that she confessed to me, when we ran into one another in a social situation unrelated to the library, that she actually loathes children. She just loves children's literature.

Penguin
11-05-2011, 11:28 PM
We have two children's librarians, JoJo and Jay. They're fun and silly and they know me and my kids. But they're not all that knowledgeable when I ask for recommendations. They're happy and willing to look stuff up, but really, I can mostly do that at home without having to explain the nuances of what I'm looking for to someone else. I do a lot of reserving books online, because our library is not all that big, but is part of a larger two-county system and we can request books from anywhere.

Our library is a cute old building (it has a neat history, it was started by the first mayor of our town who was a woman, in 1919) and the children's area is sort of separate but not totally. But no-one has ever complained about my kids or any others being loud in there, even when they're running around chasing each other with the huge dinosaur puppet with sharp teeth. Children are just generally welcomed in there, and all the librarians are friendly and helpful to people of all ages.

Jeni
11-06-2011, 10:36 AM
You know it's not that they don't have it, it's that they are too lazy to look. The children's librarian sitting at his computer and not bothering to do a search on the book title?? Lazy. As someone pointed out, reference material that isn't allowed to be check out for history or science topics, simple. They may not have had non-fiction books on King Richard, but I bet they had historical fiction where even the authors note could have helped your kid gather some information about the topic. I know our small town library has no computer system, but the larger branches certainly do and most adept librarians can do a simple search on what you need.

Lou
11-06-2011, 11:23 AM
Our closest library we frequent often. All of the librarians are friendly & helpful, but the head librarian knows us by name from always being in there and my kids feel very comfy with her, asking questions, getting help, etc...One of the librarians homeschooled her children (who are now in their 30's) and she is a wealth of info for me, but she is the strictest librarian. My kids rarely remember their quiet voices, the librarians will gently remind them, but you can tell all but the strict one are not bothered or expects much more from two little ones. The strict one has a grouchy,firm style, but she is VERY HELPFUL and loves to chat with us...just don't want to hang out if we are having a wild day and she's there.

This particular library has an entirely separate part of the building for the children's books. IN the children's room, the kids can talk in normal voices, play computer games (with the headphones they talk loudly when they do talk), look at books, color, do crafts, etc...but in the adult area they are expected to not run, be quiet, etc...

If our library doesn't have something they are quick to get it from another library or put it on an order list. I spend a lot of time online searching the libraries for books and having what I specifically want/need sent to my library. If I don't know what I want/need, just have a general idea, then I'm not shocked if they can't help me, because I have already searched their system online at home. It's more of a last ditch effort before going to the book shop and having to buy the book myself.

I also bring tons of books/media/curriculum to the library when I'm done with it for the main librarian to dig thru and pick out what she wants to put on the shelves before I donate it to various other places, sometimes I donate to them to sell, but if I think I'll want to check it out again for myself, then I request it's put into the system. If I go searching for a book and they can't find it in their system, and I end up buying it for myself, I normally give it to them so they have it for the next person & myself should I want to look at it again.

I'm pretty certain libraries aren't used as much as they used to, so they don't get much money to keep them super current...but with the economy I'm guessing it will pick up with time...in the meanwhile, I'll just use the library to store my over abundance of books on their shelves and check them out when I need them...ha, ha... (otherwise my house might look like a library or a book hoarders home)

I chatted with our librarian once about how they choose what to keep and what not to...they go off how many times it's checked out in a year...if it's been over a year since it was checked out, they teeter on how OLD is the book, Is it a classic, how much value it offers their library and how much shelf space it takes up...but many times they just toss out books that haven't been checked out within the year and make room for new books. They have a space between the kid's room and the adult area that has shelves with books to buy..so they try to sell them, so they can buy more recent books.

At Christmas if anyone does a "GIVING THEME" you can always buy a few of your favorite books for the library...or donate so they can get some updated books. (I find donating the books is less $ & more helpful for MY needs in the long run...otherwise the money might be spent on bathroom maintaince or some random need of theirs when I want books!) :)

Lou
11-06-2011, 11:27 AM
I'm pretty certain libraries aren't used as much as they used to, so they don't get much money to keep them super current...but with the economy I'm guessing it will pick up with time...

ha, ha...that sounds funny...I meant because people aren't able to buy books as much as they might otherwise have, I'm guessing the librarians will get more support then they were in the past recently years.

tamitakesphotos
11-06-2011, 12:57 PM
We're a bit new to the homeschooling/library scene, so I'm still giving it some time. Hopefully, we'll meet some awesome librarians. So far, it's been eh. But, I don't interact a lot. We have the tiniest branch of a pretty big and nice system here. So, I usually search online, put the books on hold, and go pick them up. We might browse a little for fun books, movies or video games, but not too much.

On one of my first visits to our little library (really, it's just one room), I decided I'd ask for help. Ds had found a Batman easy reader, but it was a level 3, which was a bit too much for him at the time. So, I figure, it's a small place, with a small children's section, maybe the librarian would know if they had something similar, but at a slightly easier level. She looked at the book, said it's already an Easy Reader level, so the only thing lower would be a picture book. She didn't pay attention at all to the reading level on the book, just how it was categorized. She then looked up Batman in the computer catalog. I told her it didn't have to be Batman, but maybe some other superhero type book. She took us to a Batman graphic novel. That was completely not appropriate for a 7 yr old. And she left us there. But, it was cool to find that section. It's small there, but we did find some easy reader graphic novels that were much more appropriate. I really thought the librarian would have been more help. There are not that many books in the whole place, let alone the Easy Reader section. Oh well.

Just recently, I signed up online for a card at another small town library nearby. It said I could get the card in 48hours. When we went in to pick it up, the librarian there was extremely nice. She immediately gave us a full tour of the library. It's not that big either, and we probably could've figured it out, but it was nice. We found some things we wanted (the reason I signed up there is there are some books I was looking for in our other system that had a big waiting list on them, and this library had them in!). There was one book I couldn't find, but gave up. When we checked out, she asked me if we found everything. I thought, what the heck, and said no, telling her what I was looking for. She walked over and found it quickly. It was a new book, and they keep some of those on the front part of the shelf. Yay! Plus, this place does a homeschool day once a month. We went Friday, for a Story is Like a Cupcake (and yes, we got cupcakes!).

So, I've had both in my minimal interactions. Hopefully, there will be more good to come!

christineoc
11-06-2011, 03:56 PM
Our librarians are awesome. To a person (mostly women), they have been extremely thorough when helping with inquiries. In fact, I believe they err on the side of being TOO thorough. What you mentioned is just unacceptable.

Out of curiosity, I checked for Light in the Forest. The county has many copies--it's on the "reading list" section. They also have an audio recording and Cliff Notes.

Cafdog
11-07-2011, 02:51 PM
Hey kids - actual librarian here, with a MLIS degree (Master of Library and Information Science). Yep, actually went to graduate school for the thing! LOL

When I worked (before my stay-at-home mom days), I worked as a researcher in corporate libraries, but did do some student work in the public system. And I fully agree, it is a real mixed bag whether you get passionate, helpful folks, or government worker burnouts.

However, in defense to my profession, I do feel the need to point out that most of the people we interact with at the library desk are not "actual" librarians. The person checking out your books and doing most of the interaction with the public are hourly workers with no library degree - some are quite good, some are not. City and county library systems tend to have only a handful of MLS/MLIS-trained librarians. Small branches are lucky to have one, and they are often consumed with managerial duties, and not on the reference desk. Sad, eh?

The school system is even more pathetic. My daughter's school district does not have one single trained librarian. I think the entire county school system only has one or two on staff. "Librarians" are usually part-time parents working in the school system at 20 hours a week or less. They are on the whole, dedicated folks who love working in the library. It just bums me out for my profession. Trained librarians are (relatively) expensive, and usually the first budget cut in any organization - private or public. Boo.

Lou
11-07-2011, 04:10 PM
Hey kids - actual librarian here, with a MLIS degree (Master of Library and Information Science). Yep, actually went to graduate school for the thing! LOL

When I worked (before my stay-at-home mom days), I worked as a researcher in corporate libraries, but did do some student work in the public system. And I fully agree, it is a real mixed bag whether you get passionate, helpful folks, or government worker burnouts.

However, in defense to my profession, I do feel the need to point out that most of the people we interact with at the library desk are not "actual" librarians. The person checking out your books and doing most of the interaction with the public are hourly workers with no library degree - some are quite good, some are not. City and county library systems tend to have only a handful of MLS/MLIS-trained librarians. Small branches are lucky to have one, and they are often consumed with managerial duties, and not on the reference desk. Sad, eh?

The school system is even more pathetic. My daughter's school district does not have one single trained librarian. I think the entire county school system only has one or two on staff. "Librarians" are usually part-time parents working in the school system at 20 hours a week or less. They are on the whole, dedicated folks who love working in the library. It just bums me out for my profession. Trained librarians are (relatively) expensive, and usually the first budget cut in any organization - private or public. Boo.

I knew the 'staff' weren't actual librarians because my mom has worked at several libraries in her day...and she's not degreed...I am pretty sure the head librarian at our little corner is degreed, because there was talk of it when she got the position and the old one retired...but the others are not, just passionate and loyalty...the staff at our local libraries have been there for 20-30 years depending on which one we are referring to...the main librarian before the current one was there for 30 years and when she retired the current one filled the spot, but she had been there for at least a decade before...I can recall these same ladies from when I was a student going in for referrence material...

Got off on a ramble there...I meant to say I knew that not all the people we interact with or get help from are ACTUAL librarians...I always assumed they are just people that love litature...

tamitakesphotos
11-07-2011, 04:25 PM
I also knew not everyone in there is a librarian. I just figured, that in my teeny tiny library, someone would be familiar with the collection. I'm getting familiar with it myself, and we don't hang out there that much. But, seriously, there are 4 tall shelves in there, maybe 10ft long, that contains all adult fiction and non fiction. The easy readers and picture books are on 1 maybe 15ft long waist high shelf. And it's far from packed tight. But, maybe she was new or something. I was just hoping for something more than putting "batman" in the catalog search, which I totally could have done myself.

In general, I love librarians and other library staff! I hope to meet more of the knowledgeable kind. And at least lots of the helpful kind.

Cafdog
11-07-2011, 04:56 PM
The funny part is...I am the WORST at remembering the Dewey Decimal system! :o Cataloging was my absolute worst subject in library school - I couldn't have cared less. I'm more of a big picture than a detail girl - I was happiest doing research in the business world. Suited me better. I enjoyed helping out in reference, but would have been a very, very poor cataloger!

ercswf
11-07-2011, 04:57 PM
My local library is Awesome as far as the staff goes. Heck they often tell me the magic library fairy came through and my fines disappeared. :) Any time I need help the staff is there and go the extra mile. Many times they will call my home and ask if there is anything I need delivered because they have a delivery near my house(if you are homebound and or elderly they deliver books)


Many of the people there have been there my whole life and others at lest 10 years.