One Year

This month I celebrate one full year as a librarian. I officially began work as the Director of Innovative Family Services at the Fayetteville Free Library on September 1, 2012. Since then I have been involved in a great many things. I started two afterschool clubs for middle schoolers around STEAM subjects, I created LEGO robotics programs, I planned and ran the teen summer reading program at my library, I presented professionally on 6 occasions, was invited to join an ALA Committee, I pushed for a Minecraft server for the library, mentored an intern, was interviewed twice by MLIS students at Syracuse University, coached a First LEGO League team through our very first competition, managed 8 collections, and I can’t even remember what else. I could never have done these things if it wasn’t for the supportive and positive team environment at the FFL. Thank you guys!

I’ve done a lot, but it hasn’t been all work and no play. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of play (because who wants to plan a program for teens that won’t be fun to run). In fact, here you can see some teens playing video games at the Library Overnight end-of-summer-reading party. These boys were playing Let’s Dance and singing along to Katy Perry’s Firework.

Don’t think that I’m done yet! Oh no! I’ve still got a lot of ideas that haven’t been fleshed out yet and I am constantly being inspired to do more and better.


In 2013 I Resolve to Blog Again.

Happy New YearI am, at last, exactly what I want to be: a full time public librarian. As the Director of Innovative Family Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY I manage children’s and teens fiction and graphic novel collections, plan teen programs, oversee volunteers, and basically get to be very very cool all the time. So far, for my job I coached a First Lego League team who won an award at our very first competition, went to NY Comic Con, trained patrons on how to use our Makerbot 3D printer, and designed some amazing new programs for middle schoolers. In 2013 I will be presenting at my first professional conference, running the teen summer reading program, making decisions, rearranging spaces, and making some very good things happen.

As I am becoming comfortable in my role I’ll be using this blog to talk about my successes, failures, ideas, excitements, disappointments, and learning experiences. I will also be posting reviews for children’s and YA fiction and graphic novels.

So stay tuned for good times and general library geekery (because that is just how I roll).

Digital Learning Day (#DLDay)

The FFL's DLDay display table with all our handouts and devices.

Yesterday was the first ever Digital Learning Day. It was a day to learn and teach about digital media and technology with an emphasis on trying something new. The Fayetteville Free Library put together a display table showcasing all of our circulating devices, new databases, and all the digital and technological services offered that patrons may not have been aware of already. The table was placed so that patrons were met by the DLDay display as soon as they walked in the door.

Our library regularly offers a special service called Tech Time which is a one on one appointment with a librarian to ask about any technology questions patrons may have. Usually this is something like learning to use a new e-reader or computer program. These Tech Time appointments are very popular and are fully booked at least 4 weeks in advance. One goal of our DLDay table was to give patrons a walk-up all-day open Tech Time. In the four hours that I spent manning the table with the librarians, I showed patrons how to download e-books from Overdrive, explained the various types of e-book readers we circulate and the differences between them, introduced many patrons to our new Mango Languages service, exchanged friendly anecdotes about digital and analog technologies, and basically had a great time geeking out with people who were interested in learning about technology.

My favorite experience was when a man walked in the door to the library and when I greeted him with, “Happy Digital Learning Day!” was told that he bought his first smart phone today. I was able to give him one of the bookmarks we had put together for DLDay with our top ten recommended free apps and he was really excited. There was also a young boy who became entranced with our new Playaway View devices so much so that he completely ignored the iPad on the table.

I learned how to use the Kindle Fire. I tried to check out an e-book using the web browser on a black and white Kindle and almost succeeded (failed because it doesn’t allow multiple web browser windows). I heard a funny story about “analog technology.”

What new technology have you tried?

Tweet-up? No birds involved.

This is cross posted from the Fayetteville Free Library’s Library Schooled Blog. A blog for the LIS students working at the FFL to write about our experiences in school and in the library. 

Since beginning library school in the fall of 2010, I’ve developed a fondness for social media, Twitter in particular. This summer I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. While there, I attended my very first Tweet-up. A Tweet-up is a gathering of people who communicate together primarily through the social media network, Twitter.  In many cases, Tweet-ups aren’t exclusively Twitter users, but other social media networks users as well.  At ALA I was able to meet, in person, the other library school students around the country that I had been tweeting with for a year. It was amazing to enter a room full of strangers and realize that we weren’t strangers after all. So, it was with great excitement that I joined the small group of Fayetteville Free Library staff who organized the FFL’s first ever Tweet-up in September.

I’m not sure who had the idea first, but I was more than willing to help make it happen. We discussed what a Tweet-up is and what the goal of ours would be. We saw it as an opportunity to meet the patrons who rarely come into the library. Having the Tweet-up at the beginning of September was also motivated by our desire to let new Syracuse University students know about our library and the amazing services we provide. In one event, we hoped to bring in patrons who rarely utilized the library as a physical space as well as a brand new group of library users.

To market the Tweet-up we coined the hashtag #ffltup and began an almost entirely paperless campaign. First, we made invitations.  Twtvite is an online tool that lets you create an invitation to an event allowing invitees to RSVP using Twitter or Facebook. We created a Twtvite and a Facebook event for the Tweet-up that were open to the public. We drafted tweets and status updates that alerted our friends and followers to the event by broadcasting the URLs for our invitations. Then we designed posters to hang around the campus at Syracuse University to draw students and included the information in our print and digital newsletters.

For the Tweet-up, we pulled out the library’s new laptops for attendees to tweet or post, set up the gaming station to entertain any gamers in attendance, and put together a photo booth with all of the life-size cardboard cutouts in the library. Captain Jack Sparrow was very popular.  Everyone wore a nametag with their Twitter username as well as their real name, so we could recognize each other. I kept a close eye on the #ffltup hashtag during the event and played the part of the candy fairy, delivering sweets to anybody who tweeted during the event. King David’sprovided the delicious food, and Café 300 sold drinks.  Towards the end of the night, I took a few of the attendees who had never visited the FFL on a tour of the library.

Everyone who attended said they enjoyed the Tweet-up. I’ve personally been a lot more active with the library patrons (especially the Tweet-up participants) than I had been before. I hope that the FFL will be able to host similar events in the future and draw larger and more diverse crowds.

If you want more information or just to say “Hi!” you can tweet me @tophile.

Phase One Complete

Stacks of nonfiction books waiting to be processed during the move to Dewey-free.

In the ongoing move to a Dewey-free nonfiction collection, the first part of the project is completed. All of the nonfiction books were removed from their shelves and organized by topic. About a third of the books have been put in new record sets according to topic. Here’s the temporary workstation where I was processing today. The stacks are also being rearranged to make use of the maximum amount of light possible. Today they got taken down and the base frames were reassembled in the new orientation. Tomorrow I imagine the shelves will be replaced and perhaps some of the processed topic sets will be shelved. I’m really excited to see what the final product will look like.

Do you Dewey?

Today, the library where I work began a (hopefully) week-long project to transition our nonfiction collection to a Dewey-free layout. First, all of the books need to be removed from the shelves and sorted by topic. We will affix stickers on the spines of each book identifying the topic and update the library catalog with the new information. Then, the shelves are being moved to maximize the lighting. Finally, we will begin the process of re-shelving the books accordingly. Today, we took down about half of the collection, sorting as we go, and tomorrow we will hopefully finish that first phase.

I am interested to see how it all turns out. I’ve heard of Dewey-free libraries but I have never seen one myself. I think it is a great move in terms of patron usability. Browsing will be easier and the topic groupings will be more intuitive than Dewey’s designations. And when searching for a particular book, the library catalog will still be able to direct patrons to the specific place they need to look.

Does your library do Dewey?