Rick Speer Gets It Right

October 9, 2007

I was catching up reading the H20boro library blog  and I found an entry on the theft of two copies of the sex ed book It’s Perfectly Normal from the Lewiston Public Library in Maine. Here are two more links about the issues: in herzogbr.net blog and an article in the Portland Press Herald.

I was impressed with Rick Speer’s response to the patron who sent in a check covering the replacement costs of the book – he returned the check to her along with the library’s form for reconsideration of library materials. The Lewiston Public Library is my home town library, and I was an enthusiastic patron there for many years, especially during high school, when I sought refuge in the New Books section at least twice a week. It’s the library that first taught me what a public library was supposed to be and how it was supposed to serve its patrons, and Rick Speer is still doing just that, demonstrating how to resolve a conflict over contested materials even when the patron doesn’t recognize that their approach is wrong.

I haven’t yet handled an issue of contested materials at either of my libraries, but I hope that when I do, I’m able to follow Rick Speer’s model and represent my library as well as he did.

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The Long Haul

September 12, 2007

I’ve renamed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, “The Long Haul, Parts 1 and 2” because they are both marathon 10-hour work days, and because they tend to be uniquely weird and challenging days, which unfortunately occur back to back. The other oddity: Tuesday at one library, Wednesday library,Wednesday at the other, the upside of which being that if complete disaster occurs on Tuesday, at least I don’t have to go back to it until Saturday.

The Long Haul, Part 1: I would really appreciate it if the web experts would stop breaking the website. Every time they fix a bug, they temporarily disable some huge part of the site’s infrastructure, meaning that when I come into work, I am immediately greeted with a chorus of, “OMG THE SITE IS BROKEN!!!” I email the web guys, and they say, “Really? Weird!” And then, a few moments later email me back and say, “It’s fixed. I guess the bug fix we did messed some stuff up. Oops! But it’s all better now.” I want to buy them some Quality Assurance Staff for Christmas.

The Long Haul Part 2: I would appreciate it if the print reference collection and I could be friends. Right now, the collection has its secrets held close to its chest, and no amount of searching the catalog will reveal things I know actually exist, I’m just not calling them the right thing – it’s a combination of town records that aren’t easily cataloged, things being kept in certain places because they’ve always been kept in those places and you only learn this by asking someone else, and my lack of familiarity with print reference sources in general (all the indexes!) This will be one of my major, ongoing challenges – both to befriend the collection so it tells me about its inner life, and to find a balance between print sources and my instinctive turn to digital alternatives.

Policy issues: We’ve recently barred groups of middle-schooler/teenagers from using any of the study rooms on the second floor where the adult collection is housed. They can’t use the computers upstairs either – all such activity should be kept in the teen room. I have mixed feelings about this. Apparently the decision was based on some serious vandalism that occurred in one of the study rooms, and in that case, the decision makes sense. We can’t police the study corners and we can’t manage noise control in any consistent way, but I’ve found that I have more encounters with rude or otherwise offensive adult patrons than I do with groups of noisy middle-school boys (who want to know if my tattoo hurt when I got it done) and so I feel a pang when I have to herd them back downstairs while they’re protesting that they are really here to do their homework.