Library Day in the Life Project – Day 2a

Sigh.  What a day!  I had every intention of taking pictures of my library but a number of things prevented me from accomplishing this task.  Essentially the day can be broken down and categorized as either the positive or the negative aspects of my job.

Let’s begin with the negative.  Public service librarians, such as myself, work one evening shift a week.  My regular evening shift is Tuesday so I started work at 1 pm instead of my usual 9 am.  From 5 pm onwards until closing time at 9 pm, I also serve as both shift supervisor and building supervisor (or as my manager calls it, the PIC (Person in Charge)).  To be perfectly honest, Tuesday nights tends to be usually quiet but not tonight.  We had a newish security guard who spent most of this evening coming by the reference desk getting advice from either myself or my other two Library Assistants (LAs) with what to do.  The first incident had to do with a group of unruly teens who were just being loud wherever they went in the library.  We have had problems with this group of teens in the past.  The most serious problem with them is the fact that they tend to hang out in our foyer and generally make other people uncomfortable when they walk into the library.  Anyway, the teens were upstairs making all kinds of noise that I finally had enough and ended up following the teens back downstairs to have a chat with them. I put on my “stern” face and basically gave them a verbal warning that if they caused any more ruckus, they would be escorted out of the library.  They seem apologetic and surprisingly, the evening was much quieter afterwards.

Little did I know that that unruly teens would be the least of my problems.  Around 8:25 pm, one of my LAs and the security guard walked to my desk at PHR to inform me that we had an unconscious patron passed out upstairs in one of the seats.  The LA pointed out the patron was still breathing but definitely reeked of alcohol.  He recommended that we wait 15 minutes before we wake him up since the patron wasn’t causing any problems.  My gut reaction was to call 911, which is probably an overreaction but last Saturday, when we had a similar situation with a passed out patron, we had to phone the police.  Anyway, I compromised and let the patron sleep it off for another 10 minutes before I headed upstairs.  The security guard eventually found me trying to wake the patron up.  I spent 5 minutes trying to rouse him without any luck.  By this point, I had to make the decision and I got the guard to phone 911.  As we waited for the police to show up, the clock was starting to count down and the prospect of staying past 9 pm loomed largely in my mind.  After talking to both staff at the reference and circulation desks, I swung back upstairs and tried again to wake up the patron.  Eventually the yelling did the trick and he woke up about 2 minutes before close.  He staggered to the downstairs escalator and out the building. The security guard phoned to cancel the request for police assistance and a “crisis” was averted.

Let’s not kid ourselves here.  Working in a public library especially in one that is located in the middle of downtown is not always easy.   I hate confrontations so having to talk to unruly teens about their behaviour in the library is not my idea of fun. I also felt out my element when it came to dealing with the passed out patron, trying to decide whether or not to call the police right away.  Yes, I know.  You are probably wondering, “Doesn’t your library have a policy to help you deal with these matters?” The short answer is no.  Our library has a security committee that quite frankly, has yet to do anything helpful.  Every time a staff member files an incident report, the report is never posted to the staff Intranet because the manager and head of the committee questions whether or not our situation a) qualify as an incident b) is fearful that our written incident reports could be subpoenaed by the police.

My point here is that sometimes you will be unsure of yourself especially in “stressful” situations and that’s okay.  I have been a supervisor for over 5 years but that doesn’t mean I always know what to do.  Often you have to rely on your own instincts and experience to get you through the situation.  Just don’t be afraid to “tackle” the situation.  Even though my library’s policy is less than ideal and our security committee appear to be ineffectual, I will still push to get clarification from management about what our policy is towards loitering in the front foyer and unconscious patrons.  Remember that minor incidents like these can escalate to something bigger unless you are better prepared.  So always “hope for the best, while planning for the worst”.

Library Day in the Life Project – Day 1

So I decided at the last minute to participate in this fabulous online project to share a week of my work life with a broader audience.  I currently work as the Prairie History Librarian at the Prairie History Room at Regina Public Library. I am primary responsible for maintaining this collection which contains non-circulating local history & genealogy materials. I am also one of three reference librarians at my library.

My plan is to blog every day from January 30 to February 5.  Here is Day 1:

7:30 am to 8:30 am: Stumble out of bed, wash up and eat breakfast while watching one of my random show on my PVR.

8:30 am to 8:55 am: Walk to work.  Despite the fact it’s January 30, it is only -4 C so the weather is actually mild.

8:55 am to 9:15 am: Catch up with my supervisor who informs me that we had an incident this past Saturday with a patron who was tossed out of the library for berating staff.  If this individual shows up in the library, he is to receive a letter from management that banns him from the library’s premises for up to a year.  I also find out that our new business librarian who was to start today, has called in sick.

9:15 to 10:00 am: While drinking coffee, I receive a much anticipated phone call from a fellow genealogy librarian who is currently the library director in her system.  We congratulate each other for all of our hard work in establishing the new Local History and Genealogy Services Network within CLA and discuss some tentative plans for our group at this year’s annual conference in Ottawa.

10:10 am to 11:55 am: A colleague stops by to chat about her weekend. After a quick break, I start to tackle my email messages including a couple of reference questions (one regarding an Interlibrary Loan request and the other is an obituary request).  Maintenance also stops by to deliver the 5 fans that we ordered for my office, our work area and our reading room.

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm: Lunch.  Out of the 6 staff members in our lunch room, 4 are reading books, 1 is reading on an eReader (that be moi!) and another is listening to music on her iPod.

1:00 pm to 5:00 pm: Scheduled shift on the PHR desk.  Still amazed by the fact that we are fully staffed today (3 people on the main ref desk and 1 on the PHR desk), which is abnormal because we have been short-staffed for such a long time.  During my shift, I managed to update our PHR blog and wrote a couple of draft posts that can be published at a later date, decided against adding 9 out of the 10 books that were being weeded out of our main collection for the PHR collection, and had a brief telephone conversation with another colleague about planning a local history-themed public program in May.  Also received a phone call from a researcher in Toronto who wanted access to a book that only exists in our library and the legislative library.  Interesting chat with the researcher.  In truth, I am not sure how we managed to get a copy of this manuscript, which this gentleman has been struggling to track down.  Needless to say, it’s one of the best things about my job when I get to discover a “hidden gem” within my collection.  While on my scheduled coffee break, I try to think of ways to rewrite one of our Reader’s Advisory libguide that in all honesty, is really skimpy in terms of content.  Also spent some time catching up on reading my RSS feeds, including a link to a free podcast from RootsTech (technology for genealogists).

5:00 pm to 5:30 pm: Chatted with my Library Assistant. She worked yesterday which happened to be stat tracking day.  We had 13 patrons use our resources.  7 reference questions, 7 directional questions and 3 technical assistance.  Quite the busy Sunday afternoon for us.

 5:30 pm to 6:45 pm: Have dinner with yet another colleague who I haven’t seen for several weeks.  Yes, I spend a lot time with librarians both at work and outside of it.  Unfortunately she will be missing most of next week’s Archives Week celebrations.  Luckily, her husband who is an archivist and one of the chief organizers of the event, will still be in town next week.

6:45 pm to 6:55 pm: A quick walk with my colleague back to the library.

7:00 pm to 7:45 pm: Attended a union meeting held at the library.  Struggled all day to be enthusiastic about it.  Normally union meetings seem to go forever but this meeting was thankfully short.  As our union president reminded us, it is now 25 months without a new labor contract and the conciliation talks have now failed.  Meanwhile, one of our branches is moving to a temporary location until the permanent location is ready so 1/2 of the branch staff are being “temporarily displaced” for the next 5 months.  I just shake my head at all of this.  I accept a ride home and treat myself to a nice cup of green tea as I unwind.

So here was my day.  Sorry about all the text but tomorrow, I plan to take some pictures to show off a little bit more about my job.

Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

Well we are only mere hours away from celebrating one of the biggest holidays in the Asian calendar—Chinese New Year! While governments, businesses and schools in Asia will be closing down on January 23, I like many Asians in North America, will be going to work tomorrow instead.

Still Chinese New Year is a great time to celebrate the “pomelo” in all of us.  Even though my family got together for dinner on Saturday night for Chinese New Year, I can’t help but think taht it seems kinda wrong that we don’t make a much bigger deal out of this holiday. My sister phoned earlier to today and she asked if I remembered to give the little red packages to my nephew and niece. Quite frankly, I had thought about it but couldn’t get organized enough to do it.

So what else did I forget to do this New Year’s Eve? According to this website, I should also be doing the following:

  • Clean the entire home to get rid of all the things that are associated with the old year. I had to chuckle when I read that very few modern families follow “all” the cleaning traditions. Thank God!  Although I did manage to sweep my living room floor and clean by upstairs bathroom.  Does that count?  
  • Put away all brooms and brushes. Oops! Now that I put all of that away, I can count this off my list.
  • Pay all your debts. Sorry. 
  • Resolve differences with family members, friends, neighbors and business associates. No issues with family members, friends or neighbors.  Work colleagues are a totally different matter.  Too many issues that will need resolving to get it all done by tomorrow!
  • Pay respect to ancestors and household gods. Acknowledge the presence of ancestors because they are responsible for the fortunes of future generations. Sorry, no shrine to the household gods. 
  • Open every door and window in your home at midnight to let go of the old year. Yeah, not going to happen.  It’s -20 outside.  No way I’m opening every door and window at midnight to bring in the new year.

Well according to the list, I will be very unlucky.  Oh well, luckily I don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to follow every tradition perfectly in order for one to be considered Chinese.  I believe you take the best of that tradition and adapt to suit your current situation.  Namely, the most important thing was to spend time with my family.  So what if my nephew and niece didn’t get a lee see  from me?  The kids know I love them and would do anything for them, including emergency babysitting.

So let’s  take a moment and just say, Gong Hey Fat Choy! Wishing you prosperity, luck and happiness in the Year of the Dragon!

Review: Samurai Girl by Carrie Asai

The Book of the Sword (Samurai Girl, #1)The Book of the Sword by Carrie Asai
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One night, I was flipping through channels and came across the TV series Sammurai Girl (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091234/). Unfortunately, it was at the tail end of the series so I couldn’t follow what was going on. Luckily, I discovered that the TV series was based on the book which I was able to get through my library.

Disappointment pretty much covers what I felt about this book. I’m sure if I was in Heaven’s place where my wedding ceremony is interrupted by an assassin, I too would be pretty shell-shocked too and make dumb mistakes. But that’s not what really bugged me about the book. It’s the fact that once Heaven finds “sanctuary”, she spends all of her time training to be a samurai instead of seeking answers that could help to explain what’s going on. She seems so blasé about her predicament, especially when her father tracks her down and slips an envelope underneath her door. Gee, I don’t know. I think I would freak out that the person I’m trying to run away now knows where I now live. But oh no, this only gives Heaven an opportunity to go out shopping/partying (I really can’t remember).

Sigh. Like I said. Disappointed.

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