Friday, August 31, 2007

Curtain, Pay No attention to the man behind the

Hot librarian in the backThe WDL is no longer a librarian.

Whats this? you say: It's true.

I am now the Interim Tech. Services Manager.

I have a whole new appreciation for the process that it takes to get a book out on the shelf in a timely fashion.

It's more than just ordering a book from Baker & Taylor. There is a whole team of people working to make this happen - the catalogers, the pages, the processing staff.

I took it upon myself to sit with each of my new staff to "do what they do" for a few days. I've yet to spend a few days with the Interlibrary Loan folks, but I have always worked closely with them.

For the past two days I have been processing books. Taping, gluing, stickering, labeling pieces. Mylar jackets are hell. Processing donations is hell. Children's books with thin spines are hell.

Everything has to be measured, and done with such care. My back felt like it was going to snap from leaning over the desk so much.

It is a totally different work climate. The staff is here to support the old job I used to do - customer service on the front lines. I now know that when I would call downstairs and ask them to quickly process a book - that I was actually asking for a lot more. It might require cataloging, processing, and checking in to change the status - and they did this time and time again for me.

Everyone works independently, but ask questions of each other. It is a true picture of team work - and it is glorious.

Above is a picture of me processing a cart of children's and YA books. I had ink all over my hands from stamping the top edge of the book with an ownership stamp. The room has no windows, and poor climate control - making it both warm and slightly damp. It is quiet, no drone of people, no buzz of children - no radio. The process was rewarding - to see an entire wagon of processed books.

Do I miss answering reference questions? Sure. But the success of knowing that I helped make the process move is great.

Am I waxing romantic? You bet. I encourage everyone to try a new aspect of librarianship- we need to be versatile to survive in this new climate.

Moral of this blog: Cataloging is hot.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Names, Nick

I will punch you if you call me that one more timeOne of the many joys of working with the public is that I get to wear a name tag. My staff ID picture is even pretty good. It doubles as my security pass too. A multi-purpose tool.

Only one part makes me adjust my collar, and is a huge pet peeve of mine.

My name tag clearly reads "MATTHEW".

That's fine, right? However, the cultural custom of our society dictates that we must instantly make a nick name for any name.

Christine becomes Chrissy.
Bradley becomes Brad.
Elizabeth becomes Beth or Liz.
Margery becomes Marge, or Margie, or Gigi

And so follows, Matthew becomes Matt.

A simple phone reference to illustrate this point:

WDL "Good Morning, XXXX Library, Reference desk. Matthew speaking. How may I help you?"
Customer:"Hiya Matt. I'm looking for the number to the local dump."
WDL: "The number you are looking for is 555-555-5555. Does this completely answer your question?"
Customer "Yes Matt. Thanks!"

More than anything this amuses me. If someone calls me Matt, I know they don't know me at all. If I've taken the trouble to introduce myself, I additionally know they don't care a lick about what I just said. No one calls me Matt, spare a few colleagues from High School. After "amuse" wears off, annoyed sets in. That is usually followed by complete and total frustration. If I wanted to be called Matt, wouldn't it read as much on my white plastic security -cum- ID badge?

I say yes, and I am unanimous.

Then there are the people who just can't be bothered to call me Matthew at all.

This second group of people only half remember my name and call me Michael.

Once they feel warmed up to me, they may even call me Mike. Which is very kind on their part, and I'm sure they feel that way.

I never take the time to correct the public. If they can't read my tag, I'm just glad they made it as far as the library. It's the right place to start when you want to learn how to read.

Co-workers are another thing. I will correct a co-worker who calls me Matt. Business Etiquette, and Library Etiquette for that matter, dictate that the person should be called by the name they initially introduce themselves by. That's not so hard is it?

Unless they like to be called Jiggles, Hoppy, or Dingles. These names are best reserved for 1930's British School chums whom you vacation with during summer holidays.

Moral of this blog: Say my name, say my name.