Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Subject line: naked student

Email from Marylou, "There are jeans on the floor next to one of the tables near compact shelving and there are socks hanging over the back of one of the chairs. BTW, there is a book bag on the floor & books on the table." Gotta love exam week!

Day 2 Exam Week

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Think I Might Know Why They Use the Library

We had a dinner for our freshman advises sat their dorm on Tuesday night. It was great. The RA really did all the work. She ordered Indian food, which turned out to be perfect. The kids are sick and tired of pizza. Some of them had never eaten Indian food! The RA also arranged for one of the students on the hall to give an informal Indian dance performance. It was super fun. The boys all sat squeezed together on one side of the lounge, punching each other. The girls all sat squeezed together on the other side of the lounge, giggling. I forget that they were in high school last year...

I came away with another reason why students might be coming to the library in droves. The dorms, at least the dorm I was in, was pretty grim. I saw four sterile, ugly lounges. The first thing that greets you when you come in the door are the washing machines and the smell of wet clothes. There are no elevators. To get to the fourth floor, I had to trudge up an ugly, cement brick stairwell. In comparison, the library must seem like the Ritz. Beautiful furniture. Big tables. Clean. Attractive. What will we do if they ever upgrade the dorms?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Less is More

I had the opportunity to be a user the other day. The only difference is that I knew better than to just give up or go buy the book from Amazon when faced with an error message. I wanted to request a book, but didn't notice that it was already checked out and so chose the wrong form. If it happened to me, I'm pretty sure it happens to other people too. There are actually FIVE different forms to choose from if you want to "request this item".

  1. Pick up item at my circ desk
  2. Get checked out/overdue item for me
  3. Put on reserve for my course
  4. Request a pdf of article or chapter
  5. Email a pdf of this microform

    I can see that each choice is different. I realize that there are probably at least five different back room processes for each of these choices, but do users really need to know about them? Haven't we learned anything from google? One box please.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Place for Everyone

I was over in Carlson Library this afternoon and Trina showed me this list (edited slightly) her circulation students have made. It made me laugh. I love it that there are fans of *everyplace* in the library!

Reasons Why We Are Better Than Rush Rhees:

  1. We have Trina
  2. Carlson has coffee and tea
  3. Overall super awesome staff of epic proportions
  4. We have Ferdous (Super TA) & 2 human calculators
  5. We have earplugs
  6. We have Sony headphones and real calculators and Rush Rhees has 99 cent headphones and calculators
  7. We have a glass staircase
  8. We have better bathrooms
  9. We are not attached to Gleason
  10. We have study rooms
  11. Carlson is fireproof
  12. We have good lighting
  13. We have a combine 8,000,000,000 credit hours worth of science knowledge
  14. You can't get lost in Carlson

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Writing a Book

This morning Alan showed me the gorgeous book he helped his wife write. It made me dream again about writing a book. Well, not actually writing a book. I would love to HAVE WRITTEN a book. Sadly, not only is writing a very painful process for me, I don't think I have a book worth of content in me. Darn it. Brenda just finished a book. Susan has written two books. I'm following two people on twitter who just finished their books. Everyone around me is writing books and I'm writing dorky blog posts. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Anyone Suprised?

We saw some usability footage the other day for our new website. We asked some undergraduates to find a book on x topic. A librarian of course would immediately go search the OPAC by keyword or subject. What did one of the undergraduate do? Go search the subject in wikipedia and scroll to the end of the section looking at the references. When the references turned out to be only articles and not books, they just jumped over to Amazon. Not only were they able to find books over there, they could read a review which helped them choose one book. And then and only then, did they go to the OPAC to find the call number.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Can Do That???

We, we libraries, are just terrible at marketing our services. We had a design workshop for graduate students this week. In the course of drawing a picture of their ideal library space, they also made suggestions for new library *services*. One enthusiastic and articulate student suggested that we offer a new service where you could request a book and it would be delivered to a circulation desk. Great idea. In fact, we HAVE this service. We offer this service. The graduate student has been at the UofR for seven years and has never found the service, despite actively looking for it. Groan. We're rolling out a new interface today for our request forms. Hopefully this will help. We have no where to go but up.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Making Shields - Kid's Day

We offered a new activity for freshman orientation this year -- a session for kid's day (activities for the younger brothers and sisters of freshman). Kids signed up to make a shield in the Robbins Library, a medieval special collection in Rush Rhees Library. Of course it was fantastic thanks to Alan, Barbara, Rosemary, and Nora. Barbara cut shields out of heavy paper. The kids could draw or paste things on the shields. When they were done, Alan took their picture with the shield. The shields were fabulous. They were decorated with ballet shoes, cows, hatchets, and pink pompoms! It was a lot of work for us, but I bet it made a huge impression on those kids.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Freshman Advising

I am doing freshman advising this fall. Six freshman. I have so much to so say about the experience, I hardly know where to start. It has made me remember back to when I was a freshman. I was often afraid, alone, lonely, uncertain. I spoke on the phone to my parents once a week. I communicated with my high school friends entirely by letters. We never even spoke on the phone. What a different experience my freshman year was these first year students. My advisees talk to their parents on their cell phone all the time. I know they had long discussions about what classes to sign up for. I made my choices entirely on my own, for better or for worse. They talk and text and facebook their high school friends. Even when they haven't made any friends at the UR, they are still very much in touch with their old friends. I'm guessing it's easier to be a freshman now than it 30 years ago. But maybe it's harder to make new connections when the old ones are never broken?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Always Connected

I went to convocation on Friday. I frankly sat on the grass and kind of spaced out in the gorgeous weather. But not so, the students all around me. Every single one of them was either texting or listening to their ipod. I had one of those "ah ha" moments. They simply are always connected. I'm still struggle to understand what that's like.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ice Cream Give Away

Our last event for orientation week was giving away ice cream to the freshman when they come off the buses from their day of volunteering. It was cold. It was drizzling. We gave away 900 pieces and for the first time ever, RAN OUT!!! We wore our new t-shirts - thanks to Marc and student from the Art Library.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Book Sale -- Orientation Week

Good grief. What were we thinking? We had three events on the Tuesday of Orientation week. Helen and Eileen (with many volunteers) had a small book sale in the reference area. We used to have our major book sale before school started. The parking was ideal, but there were no students. Now we deliberately have more frequent, smaller sales while the students are on campus. It's fun.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Parent's Breakfast

This is the third year we've had a parent's breakfast. If I do say so myself, it was the best year yet. I'm not sure exactly what the difference was, but librarians and parents were deep in conversation for the entire hour. The first year was reminiscent of a high school dance - librarians and parents awkwardly standing in separate groups. This year, Susan wondered if she should even interrupt and give her welcome. My initial advisor training left me feeling completely overwhelmed and unprepared for the task. Ha ha! It turns out, I did learn something and was able to answer all kinds of questions from parents about classes, withdrawal, writing requirements, etc. Very satisfying! The librarian in the picture is Stephanie, head of the Art and Music Library. One of her students came up with the original idea for our t-shirt. Marc translated the idea into the actual design. Very sharp.

Presidential Jeopardy

Day one of freshman orientation. Students and their parents have to sit in their cars waiting to move into the dorms. While they're waiting, they have a big bag of information to look through. We always include a handout with a piece of candy taped to it (so ours stands out from all the other paper...) This year the theme for orientation was board games. Our invitation to the parent's breakfast on Tuesday had a candy land theme. On the other side of the handout Lisa made a presidential jeopardy game. They can call the reference desk and enter a contest to win a flash drive. We don't get a lot of calls, but we hope they see the invitation and maybe the game helps pass the time for those trapped in the car.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Cart Drill Team

Last week was a shocking one for Cynthia. She learned about the fall out shelter, pornography, and last, but not least, book cart drill teams. There are two camps. Those who think the book cart drill teams are silly (Susan and Stanley). Those who think the book cart drill teams are FABULOUS and go out of their way to watch the competition at ALA (Katie). I wonder which camp Cynthia will fall into?!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Newbery Project

This is going to be fun. Kathy found a group of people who are reading all the Newbery Award winning books. I am onboard! I've randomly read 14 so far. (I'm not counting books I read as a kid and can't remember anything about like "Johnny Tremain".)

  1. The Higher Power of Lucky - Sweet story with a happy ending. My favorite kind.
  2. Criss Cross - Hmmmmm. Read it twice and appreciated it more the second time.
  3. The Tale of Despereaux - Started very strong, but petered out...
  4. Holes - very scary. I had to keep telling myself it was only a book.
  5. Maniac Magee - My first Spineli book. No wonder kids love him.
  6. Sarah, Plain and Tall - The words in this book are beautiful.
  7. The Westing Game - This is a fantastic book. Of course I couldn't figure out the mystery.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia - Oh boy, I didn't see THAT coming.
  9. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Loved this book!!! What a surprising plot line.
  10. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Another great one.
  11. A Wrinkle in Time - Can you believe I had never read this book before? Fantastic.
  12. Onion John - Sweet and sad at the same time.
  13. The Twenty-One Balloons - Liked the premise, but found the book a little boring.
  14. Caddie Woodlawn - I remembered liking this book as a kid and it held up after all these years.
I'm going to take a systematic approach and start with the first winner in 1922 and work my way to the present. Here we go with "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon! I wonder how long it will take me to read the remaining 72 books?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lending Library at the Beach

Oh this was great. I went to Tod's Point Beach for my family reunion. There was a lending library of paper back books by the concession stands. Sweet. I borrowed a book and read it for a few hours. Great idea Perrot Memorial Library.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Freshman Class of 2012

Here is a list of electronics a UR freshman (on facebook) is bringing this fall:

Alarm clock
Laptop, charger

Desk lamp
MP3 player
Cell phone

Extension cord(s)
Multi-plug power strip
Digital camera
CD/DVD case
External hard drive
USB flash drive


I highlighted the items that didn't even EXIST when I was a freshman. I was very popular on my floor because I owned a popcorn popper - yes - I went to college before there were even *microwaves*!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

newlib listserv

I have re-subscribed to the newlib listserv. Some days it makes me want to tear my hair out. The complete lack of direction and advice that seems to exist in many library schools is shocking.

But today there was a message that made me smile and smile. It was from a young woman who thanked everyone on the list for help getting a position. She said,

"I'm so happy to be in an academic library that I hardly know what to do. "

She's right. I have a great job. I am lucky.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We had an "Alternative Coronation" for Susan last week. Alan read a proclamation. We gave her a crown, a velvet robe and a septor. There was harp music, cake and presents from each department. They were fabulous! The real installation was lovely, but nearly as lively. More pictures on flickr.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I love award ceremonies

I love award ceremonies. I love to attend them and I especially love to speak at them. Last night I got to present the Friends of the Library award to Stephanie Frontz, art librarian extraordinaire. Here is my text.

I have a big long list of accomplishments for Stephanie:

Stephanie has been an Art Librarian since 1973;
she currently manages the Art/Music Library ;
for many years she was also in charge of the Multimedia Center in Rush Rhees Library;
she managed the Library at the Memorial Art Gallery for a ten years;
she was a member of the College Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable;
she is also a long-standing member of the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries Executive Committee;
she has been very active in the planning of the annual Book Sale and Holiday Reading;
Stephanie is a member of the Art Libraries Society of North America;
she has written articles and given presentations at national meetings;
she created an annual student art prize on the River Campus;
she is a member of the Gleason Library Art Committee;
and she has served on zillions of library committees over the years

But the list doesn’t really tell you why we chose Stephanie for this award.

Stephanie is passionate – she is passionate about art, about libraries, about librarians, about her students and her faculty.

Stephanie never cuts corners – Everything she does – from arranging flowers for orientation breakfast to teaching a class for graduate students – is done to perfection.

Stephanie sets the bar very high for herself and for everyone around her.

When Stephanie is on a project –everyone wants to be part of it – because they know the end result will be amazing and they will have tons of fun working on it.

Stephanie accomplishes more in a day than the rest of use do in a week. She is the original energizer bunny. And she doesn’t carry around piles of paper or even a big notebook. She carries a tiny, black calendar with her everywhere she goes and jots microscopic notes in it. Stephanie never forgets a detail or drops the ball.

Stephanie represents the very best of what being a reference librarian is about. She knows her subject and her users and her collection and works tirelessly to bring them together. I think that all of us who have worked with Stephanie over the years consider ourselves very, very lucky.

I know I consider myself privileged to have worked with Stephanie and would like to be the first to congratulate her on winning this award.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It Feels Like the "old days"

Trina told me yesterday that circulation in Carlson has increased 46% since 2004 . Wow!

She and Delores observe that "more professors use multiple textbooks and are not expecting their students to buy the books. Instead they are putting them on reserve and using a chapter or two from several books."

Our statistics may also be "affected by the number of unusual items we have on reserve – lamps, locks, headphones, etc. And those all have high circulation. "

Wow. As Trina observed, "it feels like the old days".

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Paper helicopters - Carlson Study Break

We tossed paper helicopters from the third floor stairs in Carlson Library at our Study Break Sunday Night. It was fun. And this is our first youtube video - go Kenn!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Very Public Phone Interview

Where: main staircase in Rush Rhees Library with a constant stream of people going up and down the stairs

What: young woman on her cell phone clearly answering interview questions (job? graduate school?)


The point here is that I would never ever do this. I separate my work (interview) and personal (talking on a cell phone in a public space). Undergraduates don't, or don't to the same degree that I do.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Campus Tour

Just came back from a campus tour. The library was the only academic building we actually entered and the tour guide was pretty accurate.

  • The library is the "center of campus"
  • The library has "tons and tons of material"
  • She (the tour guide) loves studying in the periodical reading room, though it gets crowded. (Really? I wonder when that is?)
  • You can eat in the library.
  • She knew about the senior thesis exhibits in the Art and Music Library.
  • Multi media library is a "mini-blockbuster".
  • The pit is very popular in part because you can buy food there and take it to the library.
  • Not a single mention of reference, reserve, or even circulation.

Other miscellaneous statements:
  • The tunnels are "awesome". (Of course I beg to differ)
  • The buses are "really great". Really???
  • The University has pledged to buy only local food for the dining halls. (?!)
  • One of the mothers asked if the showers were open 24X7. ???!
  • Tour leader didn't have a clue as the significance of the dandelion .
  • She mispronounced Louvre, as in THE Louvre.....
  • We have a tanning salon on campus. Who knew?
  • Lots of questions from mothers about what hours the dining halls are open. What was that about?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The 2008 Student Employee of the Year

works at Carlson Library - Phuong (Lucy) Tran. We are sooooo proud! I don't think a student worker from the library has ever won this award. In fact we almost didn't submit the nomination we were so sure one of our students could never win. Here are few quotes from her nomination letter:

"She is a delight to work with and represents perfectly the highest standard of service we strive to provide in Carlson. "

"Lucy not only is an asset to large scale projects, she shines performing everyday tasks with a strong commitment to the library and a recognition that all of the small tasks are necessary for the library to succeed, allowing her to achieve a high level of excellence as a work study student. "

"Lucy approaches all tasks with enthusiasm and excellence. She puts herself into everything she does from the mundane to the complex. "

"Another student commented..., “who is that girl at the desk who always smiles and is so helpful to me?” Again it was Lucy."

We have very mixed emotions about Lucy graduating this May. Of course we're excited for her. She has worked hard and has been accepted into Pharmacy School for the fall. This summer she is taking a long deserved vacation home to Vietnam. But darn it - we're just going to miss her like crazy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Library Myths

Blue moon? I feel that the misinformation about library services is running rampant this week.

1. You have to pay to get articles through InterLibrary Loan. Ouch!

2. You can't recall books. What?

3. And one patron didn't know how to find articles you "don't need to pay for". Turns out they were searching via the web (not Google) and didn’t know about our databases page.

Happily all were thrilled to find out that we do not charge for ILL, do subscribe to online journals and do allow books to be recalled. Maybe we shouldn't worry so much about getting the word out about the NEW services we offer, but go back and review the basics....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Anyone Else Here Not Sure?

Acceptance letters were sent out last week. I love to read the facebook posts from incoming (potentially) students. My very unscientific observations:

1. Many are having a hard time deciding which school to attend. At least two high school seniors were accepted by 11 schools!!!

Got into 11, grararrrr
I’m really confused
I’m really undecided
It’s so overwhelming
Difficult decision time
I have no idea what I’m going to do
I’m VERY confused
It’s driving me nuts

2. Financial aid is a big factor in their decision.

“U of R has been my first choice but I really didn’t get enough financial aid”
“I guess we’ll see when my financial aid comes…”
“The decision pretty much comes down to financial”

But of course, you can never make a blanket statement about students – sometimes financial aid does not seem to be the deal breaker.

“XX offered me a really nice aid package, but I think I like UR more”

3. A few mentioned academic program, i.e. that UR has programs they want – premed, political science , Bio, BCS

4. Quite a number are concerned about the CITY of Rochester, especially those who currently live in a big city. They worry that “Rochester the city isn’t gonna do it for” them.

5. Who are the current UR students who respond to these posts? RA's maybe?

Friday, April 04, 2008

I Do Not Care Why

I do not care why.

When I look for the online version of Cell in our catalog (journal title), it's entry number 30.

Searching for Scientific American online by title -- number 76.

Philosophy (online) is entry number SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY ONE. (search by journal title)

I don't care about the cataloging rules. I don't care about the serials solutions load. I don't care. All I know is that people choose google and Amazon over the library catalog for good reason -- it's almost impossible to find things in our OPAC.

I gave a talk about how difficult it was to find PRINT serials in the OPAC at ALA in Miami in 1994 - almost fifteen years ago. I feel like I'm in clip from "Ground Hog Day".... The journals are online, but it's still just as hard to find them in the catalog.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mobile Rush Rhees

Eileen and I are in Gleason Library on our first afternoon of "mobile Rush Rhees". Eileen selected some books from the popular reading collection and we put them on a book truck and we're in business. w00t! We brought a laptop and a scanner but the two wouldn't plug together, so we're using the low tech approach; we're writing down names and titles. So far we've had four people check out books - not bad for our first try. Eileen can go into sales if this librarian thing doesn't pan out.

P.S. We really stole this idea from MIT - a library with many great ideas!

P.P.S. Eastman student, Gregory, suggested the name "mobile Rush Rhees".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fabulous new signs

Marc made us the greatest signs for our trash campaign in the Gleason Library. They are everything I wanted in a sign. They are edgy. The pictures are gross. The message is not immediately obvious. We're going to leave them up for about two weeks and then take them down.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wish I'd Had My Camera

Oh rats. I wish I'd had my camera with me on Friday. I would have taken pictures of

  1. The young woman lying on the couch in Carlson totally engrossed in reading "The Double Helix"

  2. The young man trying to fit in the last, few all black pieces in the Mona Lisa puzzle

  3. The optics graduate students playing the piano for a concert in the lobby of the BME building.

Darn it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Collection Development 101

This has been a humbling two weeks. I never was a very good selector and apparently what little I knew, I have completely forgotten. Oh yeah, and of course I've waited until a few weeks before the deadline to figure all of this out. Sigh.

1. It took Alison and me over an hour to figure out how to actually ORDER a book through GOBI.
2. Oh yeah, you need to double check the catalog so you don't order a title we already own. Sigh.
3. Those rascally book series are going to be the death of me. By the time I remembered I had to search the series title, well, I'll probably end up with some dupes unless the people in acquisitions catch my goof ups.

And this is just the easy part, the book selection. By my accounts there are between 4 and 6 places to pull serial information from. That's definitely for another day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Houston We Have a Scanner

Finally, finally, we can turn this "no" into a "yes". We just got our own scanner. Yeah. I am not making this up. WHILE Stuart was installing the equipment, I had two BME students say to me "this is great, I need to use a scanner this afternoon". Sweet. Thanks Nora for convincing me to finally DO something about this!

Friday, February 01, 2008

We will miss Raphael

Raphael worked for the housekeeping department and was assigned to the first floor of Carlson Library. He has been at the University for 30 years. I don't think any students or faculty knew him. He didn't select books or teach classes or work on the reference desk. Yet, the work he did was vitally important to create an environment that students and faculty find attractive and comfortable. Without that, the rest of it really doesn't matter much. We will miss him. A lot.

Friday, January 25, 2008

No to reserves. No to ebooks

This was interesting. I just had someone desperate to get a copy of "Numeric Recipes in Fortran". Of course all the copies are on reserve. The reserve loan period was absolutely not long enough. A link to an electronic version of the book was useless; he needed to "flip through the pages". Hmmmm. So much for my stereotype that computer scientists find e-books useful.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


We had visitors yesterday from Cornell. I love to talk to people from other libraries. They were curious as to why we hadn't installed lockers in the new Gleason Library space. Students hadn't asked for them; I guess we just don't have a "locker culture" here. One of the women told me that before she left Ithaca, there was a line snaking around the library (I'm not exactly which one) of students waiting to sign up for lockers! Lockers are given out the first day of the semester on a first come first serve basis. Wow. They definitely DO have a "locker culture" there. It's always useful to remember that what's a big issue for one campus, may not be on another.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Serrandipity at Midwinter

This is the second time that I have accidentally stumbled onto the meetings of the YALSA committee that chooses the Best Books for Young Adults. Wow. It is an amazing process. The committee must read over a hundred books. They discuss and vote on them several times. They also get input from teens who have read the books. I think they met Friday, Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday of Midwinter. I was amazed at how much work they had done, how very seriously they took their work, AND how very open the process was. I probably sat in on the their meetings for several hours just listening and watching. I was wildly impressed and now I can't wait to go read some of the books on the list!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Please Use Elevator

Bat in Stairwell.

Sigh. The first Monday of 2008....