Our patrons love to look for signs from the universe in everyday occurrences...
Patron: "I saw two spiders! I need to know what that means!"
Me: "You mean, besides that you might have a spider problem?"
Sometimes you just have no idea what you're going to find yourself saying some days...
Patron: "What kinds of books are these?"
Me: "Well, that one is lesbian fiction and the other two are chick-lit/ easy summer reading."
Patron: "So, lesbian as in two girls?"
Patron: "And fiction as in not true?"
Patron: "So, girl on girl and not true story?"
Patron: "AWESOME! Thanks!!!"
Patron: "You cut your hair!"
Me: "No I didn't."
Patron: "Yes you did!"
Me: "No. I didn't."
Patron: "Yes you did! You are a fibber."
Little did she know, all I did differently this morning was blow-dry my hair muahahahahahaha!
This seems to be a popular topic, so here are some more tips that I recently shared with a loyal reader via our new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I interview people for my library, I like to ask a mix of your "standard" HR questions (i.e. what are your goals for the next 5 years, do you work better alone or in a group, what are your strengths and weaknesses, etc.) and situational questions about things you will encounter in a prison library. The answers I am looking for are not necessarily right or wrong but will give me an idea about your ability to creatively problem solve and your trainability.
Some of my favorite situational questions are:
"A patron comes up to you and tells you he/she was just diagnosed with herpes and they want to learn more about their diagnosis. What do you do?"
"You see two patrons sitting very close and holding hands. Your library has a strict no-touching policy. How do you handle this?"
"A patron comes up to you and starts telling you about their kids. Then, they ask you about your kids. How do you respond?"
Generally, you will never go wrong with situational questions if you cite policy, or if you say something along the lines of you will follow whatever policy is in place.
I also really like it when candidates have questions for me at the end of the interview. If it's not covered in the intro, it would be good to ask about what kind of training you can expect. Also ask about their collection development policy and what the library looks like. (If you can take a tour even better.) Ask them what personality type will succeed in this position because you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Make sure you take plenty of copies of your resume and get the card of the supervisor so you can send a thank you after the interview.
Good luck with all your interviews, dear readers, and please feel free to ask if you have further questions.
Until next time!
Hello dear readers! Last week we completed an inventory of our library collection. I did not blog about this right away because of the drama, but I am finally at a place where I can laugh about it.
Compared to most public libraries, our collection is very modest. We have approximately 9,000 items in circulation which is a little bit low for the size of our population, but I would rather weed books that have pages torn out and coffee stains in them than have the recommended amount of items with half of them being disgusting. But, prison weeding is a topic for a whole other blog...
Anyway, this was our first inventory in 5 years, and nobody was going to help us. It was up to us to rely on a text-heavy set of instructions and two borrowed wireless scanners. Like so many things in prison libraries, we were just going to have to figure it out. (Note, if you like to work with extensive direction and don't prefer to be adventurous and think for yourself, a prison library may not be the place for you. On the other hand, if you don't like to be micro-managed and are a creative self-starter, then we'd love to have you!)
About an hour into the inventory, Mintern and I and the clerks were finding our rhythm and actually doing really well. We overcame the stress of having two computers not set up correctly and just made it work with the other two clerk computers and our staff computers. Mintern and I had a good system going where we would switch off who was scanning and who was verifying with each cart-load of books. (Note: you can't think too much when you are just reading strings of numbers from a computer screen or you will transpose them or make other mistakes. It's very "Librarian Zen" haha.) We were doing so well in fact, that we finished 4 hours ahead of schedule!
We sent the clerks back and made the necessary notifications that we had completed scanning, then sat back to await our missing items report. We were very proud of ourselves-and then the phone rang...
Me: "Library, how may I help you?"
IT: "You're going to hate me."
IT: "I didn't know the computers were logged in as 'Clerk' so it didn't save any of your work."
IT: "Yeah, you set it up wrong, so it didn't save to the hard drive."
Me: "Well, how was it supposed to be set up?"
IT: "You were supposed to log in as 'Student.'"
Me: "And how was I supposed to know that? That information was never communicated to me, nor is it in the instructions!! Can't you just copy and paste the information onto your computer and email it to us?"
IT: "No, I closed it before I realized it wasn't saved."
Me: "Oh you've got to be kidding me..."
IT: "Nope, sorry."
I hung up then because I couldn't believe it. ALL that work, and for nothing. I told Mintern the terrible news, to which she replied, "Ha. Well that's typical for this place." (That's sad that she knows that and she hasn't even worked here for that long.)
So the moral of this story is that when you are doing a prison inventory, know what important questions to ask IT before you start scanning everything to avoid losing all your information.
The clerks were also dismayed and weren't amused by my explanation that it was a GREAT practice run. They say we owe them pizza for next time, and I laughed and said "We'll see." I think IT needs to buy them pizza and possibly come and do all the scanning themselves next time.
Overheard on the radio:
Yard Tech: "Control! I need first responders to the east yard!!"
Control: "Attention First Responders, unknown situation, east yard."
Control: "Yard Tech? What's your situation?"
Yard Tech: "Disregard. It's just a bunch of offenders crowded around a puppy."