395.3 – Gratitude

We’ve reached the end of this portion of my journey.

Sad, I know.

But it’s probably the most important component of a journey and that is gratitude. So thank you to the Eugene Public Library and, especially, Adult Services Supervisor, Lorie Vik for sharing the library space with me, both literally and figuratively.

I gained an incredible amount of insight into the possibilities and realizations that libraries can offer staff and patrons. As a library student, and one who will be the first to admit, lacking a bit in technology education, I am excited about the community creating services that libraries are offering.

So, one last time, THANK YOU to EPL for opening my world just a little bit more.

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021.01 – But Wait…There’s More

In my previous posts, I shared the technology services that the Eugene Public Library (EPL) has for the community, but I wanted to share pictures of the services I mentioned, as well as a few other products, programs, and services I encountered on my visit.

The library does a great job in posting information about policies and programs, as well as the uses of specific computer areas, such as the adaptive workstations, the InfoHub, and self service stations. There are technologies and related accessories easily accessible around the library, like microfiche, scanners, and headphones. The library also provides a free 15-minute internet reservation service to community members that may be outside of the city limits (so do not qualify for a library card) or visitors to the community.

607.1 – Techno-volution

Stagnation is the mark of death. A slowing halt of progression and the decline of innovation and adaptation easily identify a cessation of relevance.

That is why the exciting evolution and constant re-evolution of libraries is why these formidable institutions will never become obsolete (despite what all those articles, blogs, and talking heads would have you believe for the last 10 years).

In a recent article, which focuses on teen services, but creates valuable discussion of libraries as a whole, Denise E. Agosto noted that it has become increasing necessarily for librarians and library staff to become, “…public educators and public libraries (to become) public education institutions, with a focus on public librarians as digital literacy educators.”

The creative forces at the Eugene Public Library (and libraries around the world) have recognized the technology needs of their patrons and begun to adapt their physical space to meet those varied needs of their patrons.

Three of the most exciting areas of the technology services at the EPL (Downtown Branch) were the introduction of dual-function furniture with technological capabilities, the MakerHub, and the MediaLab.

USB Port Tables and Towers of Power

EPL 11

The day that I interviewed Ms. Vik, the library had installed two new technology pieces to address the changing needs of patrons. The tables were placed around the parameter of the third floor of the library in between chairs. Patrons can use the tables as traditional side tables, but also to plug in phones and devices, as needed. As we walked around during the interview, we were both excited to see that many of them were already being utilized.

EPL 12

The Towers of Power (I hope you said that in the same powerful movie narration voice that I hear in my head when I read it – think Thor like) have a similar purpose and were placed in the center of circular seating. These locations would be ideal for patrons who needed to charge a device while enjoying or book, or, possibly, for patrons looking to watch a movie or work on a laptop in a less formal setting.

MakerHub

The MakerHub space is a specially designed room on the third floor where patrons (of all ages, but must be 10+ to work by yourself) can explore, create, learn, and collaborate. There are established tools and technology for robotics, electronics, sewing and textiles, paper crafts, 3-D printers, and so much more that can be used for their intended purpose or in a number of new (but safe and appropriate) ways as the maker sees fit.

Currently, the space is open 7 days a week from 1pm-5pm and requires a EPL library card. Staff are trained in certain areas, as well as volunteers, and there are occasionally hosted tutorials and workshops.

EPL 2

The greatest part about this space, outside of the REALLY cool toys, gadgets, and technology, is the encouragement of community. Makers can share there ideas and creations using whiteboards on the wall and the large table in the middle of the room encourages overlap of space (if desired) and creates a space for natural collaboration. This is an exciting space for patrons to continually discover and a service that can be appreciated by many patrons.

MediaLab

EPL 8

Equally exciting is the MediaLab next door. The same hours and rules apply as in the MakerHub, but the lab is all about computers. A few Macs and PC’s fill the desks and patrons can use a suite of products for digital creations. Some of the most popular uses are for photo editing with Photoshop, digitizing analog items, such as VHS tapes, and music recording and editing.

EPL 9

Some classes are provided on the technology in the MediaLab, but most of the patron use is self-directed. Resources, such as printed guides and online tutorials are available and easily accessible in the space, as well as reliance on other patrons through direct or indirect (whiteboard space) collaboration.

The flexibility showing by the EPL in response to patron needs is both exciting and harrowing (when considering implementation). These services add an incredible amount of the library space and continue to build on the trend of libraries becoming much more about the community they serve rather than the collections they hold.

Bonus: Library Automation

EPL 10

The small libraries I’ve had the opportunity to staff and be a patron of have not had automated library systems. I was excited when Lorie suggested a behind-the-scenes peek at the libraries automated system. I had a small efficient organization nerd moment stepping into the room with the RFID reading machines and zigzagging conveyor belts. I immediately starting considering the feasibility of such a system in my home library.

303.48 – And Now I Have Answers

Blog Post 4
The answers lie in the libraries ability to create community

Last post, I raised the ire of all of those classmates that want to leave exactly when the bell rings only to be held in their seats by my seemingly never-ending list of questions. This post, I have the answers I seek.

My interview with Lorie Vik provided me with answers, more questions, introductions, and more knowledge than I expected. This post will be straightforward answers to the questions I ended up asking.

  1. What is the community of Eugene like?
    • about a population of 170,000
    • university town (University of Oregon)
    • large range of needs
    • the downtown branch opened in 2003
    • 2 other branches
  2. How long have you been with the Eugene Public Library?
    • 2003
  3. What type of technologies are available for patron use in the library?
    • 120 public terminals with full internet access (no filters)
    • 8 “info hubs” without full internet, but access to library catalog, databases, the library website, and libguides
    • patrons with a library card can use the computers for up to 3 hours a day in 60 or 90 minute intervals
    • wifi access is free and unsecure
  4. What technologies are used by staff?
    • automated system
    • staff has access to mobile devices for teaching purposes and to familiarize themselves with downloadable content
  5. What technology can be used by patrons outside of the library?
    • circulating laptops at branches because of space constraints
    • addresses the physical space issue
  6. Who manages the technology? If multiple staff members what does that collaboration look like?
    • the staff has 3 technicians full-time that help with technology needs
    • system admin deals with technology needs beyond the capability or access of technicians
    • 1 city technician assigned to library needs
  7. How much of the overall budget (proportionally) is spent on technology, including devices, databases, and software?
    • part of the collection budget
  8. What systems are used? Are they up to date?
    • updated 3 or 4 years ago to make them more usable and manageable
    • update every few years
  9. What type of training is provided to those working directly with technology?
    • each work group handles training differently (focused by needs)
    • included in professional development time/budget
  10. Is there training for staff not directly working with the technology? Troubleshooting purposes?
    • self-directed based on needs
    • use a document called Eugene Public Library Skills of Success to determine what training needs to happen to understand role and/or specific programming
    • webinars
  11. What type of network is used?
    • public computing
  12. Who maintains the website?
    • customer relations and marketing post on social media (Facebook and Twitter)
    • most of the website is static, except homepage slide show, calendar
    • libguides are changed by specific departments as needed
    • booklists accessed through hyperlink
  13. Is the library automated? If so, which is system is used?
    • yes, the library is automated
    • RFID (radio frequency identification)
  14. Do you have policies and forms related to technology?
    • there is a policy on the computer when you sign in (must accept/reject)
    • internet use policy
    • parents are responsible for monitoring the computer use of children
    • computers in the children’s area are for 12 and under (according to birthdate on library card account)
    • children’s computers have different search engines
    • teen area computers are reserved for patrons ages 12-17
    • in order to get the E-rate grants, the library uses filters on some computers
  15. How often are they assessed and modified?
    • Not often, but they are reviewed
  16. How is technology repaired? In house or sent out?
    • basic troubleshooting is done in house
    • city technology support manage repairs and other problem solving
  17. Are fines assessed to damaged technology items?
    • yes, if checked out
    • clearly stated in policies
  18. Are your physical spaces conducive to the technology uses? Have their been modifications to accommodate?
    • being wired posed challenges in the old building
    • the limitations are access to plug-ins and data ports
    • creating access is expensive
    • addressed the needs with new tables with usb ports and outlets
    • purchased “towers of power” for strategic locations
  19. What kind of assistive technology is provided? Are they available for check-out?
    • software and hardware
    • adjustable desktops
    • Braille printer
    • Sorenson software and webcam for hard of hearing
    • unfortunately not connected to the reservation system
  20. What type of security is in place?
    • firewalls
    • DeepFreeze (on reboot)
  21. What do you think works well?
    • process are simplified
    • youth services has Minecraft on PC’s (popular)
    • printing systems have simplified
    • internet access to card holders
  22. What can be improved on?
    • access is restricted to only those within the city limits
    • outreach to schools

Not mentioned in my interview questions or responses was the MakerHub and MediaLab, which are a cornerstone of the technology services provided by the Eugene Public Library. These exciting spaces bring together the creativity and exploration of community members across demographics – exactly the outcome all libraries should strive for.

029.4 – I Have a Question

Questions on Door EPL
I’m not the only one with questions.

I am that annoying classmate of yours that always had a question at the end of a lesson when the rest of you were anxiously casting side-glances at the clock face and trying to silently, surreptitiously drop your books into your bag without catching the attention of the teacher.

“Are there any questions?”

And there I was, hand raised, look of anticipation on my face.

As I prepared for the interview of Adult Services Supervisor, Lorie Vik, of the Eugene Public Library, I created a list of questions compiled from the resources provided and the my own curiosity.

  1. What is the community of Eugene like? Describe your patrons and their needs.
  2. How long have you worked with the Eugene Public Library?
  3. What type of technologies are available for patrons to use IN the library?
  4. What type of technologies can be used by patrons OUTSIDE the library?
  5. What technologies are used by staff in the library?
  6. What type of Internet-based services are provided for patrons?
  7. Who manages the technology? If there are multiple staff members, what does that collaboration look like?
  8. How much of the overall budget (proportionally) is spent on technology, including devices, databases, and software?
  9. What type of systems are used? Are they up-to-date?
  10. What type of training is provided to those directly working with technology?
  11. Is there training provided to staff not directly working with this technology?
  12. What type of network is used?
  13. What type of Internet access and connection?
  14. Who maintains the website?
  15. Is the library automated? If so, which system is used?
  16. Do you have policies and forms related to technology? (i.e. Acceptable Use policies, time-limits on computer use, etc)
  17. How often are these assessed and modified?
  18. How does technology get repaired? Is this done in house or sent out?
  19. Are fines assessed to damaged technology items?
  20. Is your physical space conducive to the technology uses and needs? Have there been any modifications to accommodate?
  21. What kind of assistive technologies are provided?Are they available for check-out?
  22. What type of security is in place?
  23. What do you think works well?
  24. What do you think can be improved on?

Ok, I’m done.

Class dismissed.

060.1 – A Plan Comes Together

EugenePublicLibrary
Eugene Public Library Downtown Branch  By User:Cacophony (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I often tell the students I work with that I don’t work in libraries nor am I a library student because I like books. It is because I love to organize.

I love to order and alphabetize.

I love that the true success of a library is that information is accessible and it remains accessible because it’s in a predetermined, logical place. Every time.

(Note for those new to the library world: it’s not in it’s predetermined, logical place every time and that is frustrating)

And I love to plan.

Which explains why I started on this week’s part of the assignment months ago. I first contacted the public library in the coastal town where I will be residing after August. It seemed logical and potentially a great way to get a foot (heck, I’d take the nail on my pinky toe at this point) in the door, but I did not get a response. I moved on to the Eugene Public Library, as I would be spending about a week in Eugene after the end of the work-school year.

After searching their website, I wasn’t clear on who the best contact would be and intended on throwing a dart at a name, crafting an e-mail that ended with a subtle plea that if the recipient was not the best fit for the interview that they pass on my information to the staff member that was, and hope for a response.

But I was saved by a small bit of incredibly smart library programming that I hope to find in many more libraries soon:

Book a Librarian!

Beyond the wittiness of the pun-y title, this program allows patrons to book 30-60 minutes of one-on-one time with a librarian for training or information on library services and resources, such as basic computer skills, how the library catalog works, reader’s advisory, how to use the products in the Maker Space, and, as it turns out, interviews on the technology services offered at the library.

I got a quick response to my request the next day from Adult Services Supervisor, Lorie Vik, who graciously extended an invitation for me to visit in the few days that I was going to be in town. After the usual game of e-mail tag, we were able to find a date and time that worked for both of us and before the visit I sent her a list of questions that I had compiled.

Truth time: I have had little experience with “cold interviews”, so I had not actually considered sending the questions before the interview, but was prompted to by Lorie’s request. After conducting the interview, I’m glad that she had suggested that I send the questions because it gave her more focused topics, helped us utilize our time better (which gave us extra time for a behind-the-scenes tour <insert nerding out>), and, overall, helped ease the anxiety I felt about interviewing someone on a topic that I was just starting to discover.

It just went to prove my theory that one can never plan too much.

027.007 – The Purpose of My Visit

Chicago Cultural Center
Always in pursuit of (library) knowledge – even on vacation. The Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the first central public library in Chicago (completed in 1897).

As an Information and Library Services student and, overall, library nerd, my immediate response is, of course, does there need to be a purpose?

Can one not just visit a library for the sake of wandering the stacks admiring the passive programming and taking note the expertly crafted displays?

Or excitedly (but surreptitiously) taking pictures of the technology spaces designed for discovery, creation, and exploration to post on social media thus making a very public declaration of said nerdiness?

Yes and yes.

But, while I will undoubtedly get to indulge and unabashedly let my nerd flag fly, my upcoming visit to the Eugene Public Library will be under more formal pretenses.

As a student in the University of Maine at Augusta’s Information and Library Services program, this summer I am enrolled in Introduction to Library Information Technology (ILS 225). To expand our own knowledge and practical experience with library technology, we have been given an assignment to visit a local library and interview a staff member who works directly with the technology services provided.

In addition to gaining knowledge of the real-world applications of the information technology we are reading about in our textbooks, this visit provides us with an opportunity to engage in conversations that will be commonplace in our future library roles. This exposure to technology-based services and issues will add another layer to our foundations in library and information science.

(And I’ll also get to oogle shelf signage and Makerspaces – squee!)