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Warm & Fuzzies & Frustration

9 Mar

lafe-epicIt’s storytime folks, so get comfortable and read on about this experience I had recently that is probably not at all shocking for other librarians, but may be eye-opening for non-librarian readers.

Two older gentlemen came up to the desk the other day and I happened to be able to help them on the computer. The older gentleman explained, that his home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and basically all he had left was in the manila envelope in his hands. He is one-month shy of his 90th birthday. The other gentleman with him was his younger brother (he’s 87 years old) with whom he’s been staying with. He has been given insurance money from his property and although he was able to set-up a bank account and deposit money, in order to access the money he needed a photo ID A few years ago, he had given up his license and had not gotten a state-issued photo ID at the time. In order to get his photo ID, he needed his birth certificate. Do you see where I’m going?

So, the bank couldn’t help, they couldn’t go to the DMV and so they came to the library. So I learn that although he had his original birth certificate (without the raised seal), his certificate of baptism, his social security card and a host of other documentation with his name on it, none of it worked to get his photo ID.

So without giving away too many of his personal details, I jumped online and found the website to order a New York city birth certificate, after helping the man fill out multiple boxes, we got to a required field for email address… he didn’t have one and neither did his brother. So that day, I sent them home with the phone number of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and wished them luck believing they could order the birth certificate over the phone. They left happy with my help, even calling me “beautiful and nice.” (in the sweet way, not the creepy way)

The men called back the next day and asked to speak with me and explained that the person on the other end of the telephone call with the Department of Health directed them to the website (the website we had already been on), so I told them to come back into the library and we’d see what we could do. Because, if I couldn’t help them, who would?IMG_20170308_150715771_HDR

After a little more research on my end while I waited for them, I found out that without a debit/credit card in his name, the only way to get a birth certificate was with a money order and a mailed in application that can take 4-6 weeks to be processed. So, the gentlemen came back to the desk, I printed out the application, helped the gentleman fill it out, made copies of documentation to prove that he is who he says he is, two envelopes, two stamps, help from out part-time notary/staff member who happened to be at work and directions to the nearest location to get a money order, I sent them on their way. They were so appreciative and kind, even trying to slip me a tip when I said goodbye.  I assured them that they could come back anytime and went about my day shaking my head at the difficulty of the government at times. I came back from lunch to discover red roses on my desk from the brothers because they wanted to express their thanks. I don’t need the roses, I just hope that this gentleman can get his birth certificate.

And although this is one of those times that took well over an hour of my time between the two visits, it was well worth it to help someone who needed it. I don’t need recognition or thanks, I just want people to know that libraries aren’t just about books and librarians aren’t just around to say “shhhhhh.” We are (I truly believe) a special breed of people who want to help and often go above and beyond to do so. Because libraries are for everyone.

Director’s Thoughts #6

22 Feb

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While many people had a long weekend, ALL my staff was at work on Monday for a staff training day. We have, what I would consider a medium-sized library with almost 50 people on staff (most of whom are part-time or very part-time).  We haven’t had any sort of large meeting with staff for as long as I’ve been working in the library and although I can type up memos and emails, it’s a lot different when I can actually speak to the staff about my expectations for our library.

My main focus was on customer service – simple reminders that our staff sometimes forgets or may be unclear on – patron privacy, pop-up windows on our ILS system and easy ways to engage with our patrons to make for stronger relationships. Although I didn’t get a chance to see everyone at one time, I offered a 2-hour training in the morning, afternoon and in the evening to get to all my staff members throughout the day. While staff was not in training, they were able to work on projects that they can’t usually get to because they’re focused on customer service. It was a great choice to be closed to the public as much of my staff was really happy to be able to get to those long lingering projects, spent time cleaning up their desk or worked on our large weeding project! I ended up with more work as I was in training sessions all day, but much of my staff said they enjoyed the training and that it was very helpful to their jobs.  Now, I’m hoping that everyone remembers our little reminders.

I’m thinking about offering training twice a year – looking at offering training in the fall, most likely on Veteran’s Day. It’s helpful to be closed to the public on a day where many businesses and schools are already closed. I’m thinking about going through a lot of our online resources so that staff is more familiar with these services so they can promote them better. What type of training do you think would be helpful for library staff?

30 Non-Fiction Titles & Biographies for Black History Month

17 Feb

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I’m working on a few other Black History Month booklists, but I’m in need of some help with a few questions, so while I’m doing some research, I thought I’d at least get a chance to promote some non-fiction and biographies. Although thirty titles seems like so many, there are so many more options available out there, I could never fit them all in one blog post!

  1. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison

  2. Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier and illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter

  3. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

  4. Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier

  5. When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Brian Selznick

  6. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate

  7. Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
  8. Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

  9. Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

  10. One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
  11. Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

  12. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

  13. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
  14. Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier
  15. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  16. Jazz by by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers
  17. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale

  18. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
  19. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

  20. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls

  21. A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jennifer Fisher Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
  22. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

  23. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Elspeth Leacock, Susan Buckley, and illustrated by P.J. Loughran

  24. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  25. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
  26. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  27. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
  28. Courage Has Not Color: the True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
  29. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
  30. March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell

Preschool Expo

26 Jan

This is one of those program ideas that doesn’t work for all communities, but is really beneficial for ours.  Our library is situated in a suburban community of about 30,000 residents.  We have 20+ childcare and preschool options for families and for the past few years, we partner with our local Mom’s Club to present a Preschool Expo for one evening where we invite as many centers as possible to fit in our meeting room.  We also bring in other community resources to share their materials with families.

Families get the chance to ask questions, meet teachers and directors and see what makes each school special. They can also learn about the latest in seat belt and car seat safety, the programs offered by our Parks & Rec department and this year for the first time we offered babysitting.

Our middle school volunteers and our children’s librarian pulled out crayons and paper, books and toys and were available to babysit to allow parents to spend the time they need to interview the schools of their choice with out their  little ones pulling on them and getting bored.

We used to offer this program every other year, but we feel it’s a valuable resources and we’ve just started offering it every year.  With 100 people in attendance last night, I think it was a great educational resource for families and a great way to connect the Mom’s Club and the library together!

Top Ten Tuesday:Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books I’ve Read

17 Jan

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  1. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
    A novel about what it’s like to want the best for someone else, but also feeling guilty for wanting something for yourself.
  2. The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
    A historical fiction, mystery novel about the first female detective for the Pinkerton Agency in 1859 – she might even have the chance to save Lincoln’s life!
  3. The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
    The perfect book for those looking for adventure in a fun and quirky package!
  4. The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore
    Firefly Lane is the perfect utopian society until Ilana moves in, then the kids start asking questions…
  5. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
    Corinne’s story is rooted in Caribbean folklore – a great story for those who love fracture fairy tales and fairy tales re-done.
  6. Last in a Long Ling of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre
    Lou learns about her family’s past as she tries to save her family’s home from being condemned – a story that doesn’t shy away from slavery, racism and prejudice both in the past and in present time.
  7. The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau
    A story that spans generations – this is a beautiful story of friendship among the most unlikely of people.
  8. Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia Spencer
    Randi Rhodes is not only a ninja but also a detective and she’ll need all her wits about her to save the Founder’s Day Festival and her small town.
  9. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
    Another folktale-esque story of a peasant girl and a princess who are charged with a quest to cure Aon’s sadness, but prevent the fall of monarchy at the same time.
  10. The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
    Brine Seaborne (best name ever) has a past that she can’t remember, but with the help of an obnoxious apprentice, Peter, some pirates and a little bit of magic, she may discover who her parents are or they’ll be eaten by sea monsters – either one!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created byThe Broke and the Bookish

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