The Bulleted Library Technician

November 24, 2008

no gaming in the library, please

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: , , , , , — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 7:57 pm

At least not for the next 2 weeks…  I was told today to put up the signs:

no gaming sign

See more of the signs I created for the library in my Flickr set “InfoCommons & Library Computer Help Desk.”

I can’t believe that Study Week & Finals are coming so soon!  This is Week 14 of the semester, how did it all fly by?


August 18, 2008

Enhancing Productivity with Web 2.0

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: , , , , — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 2:00 pm

My notes from a presentation I attended at the Nevada Library Association (NLA) Conference on Friday August 15, 2008.   Presentation title:  “Enhancing Productivity with Web 2.0.”

Presenter:  Janie L. Hermann, Technology Trainer at Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ.  She is a co-author of the LibraryGarden blog and the Talking Technology blog.  She is a very engaging speaker, with a cute Canadian accent.  Now I have to look up some words that either she pronounced “the Canadian way” or I simply don’t know how to pronounce properly!  (You know how it is, when you are familiar with a word in print but you’ve never heard it aloud — you don’t always have the right pronunciation in your head….) 

Web 1.0 was the first iteration of the Internet.  Basically, only those who “know the code” (HTML) can contribute.  Everyone else just reads.  Mostly static pages (not many updates/changes.)

Web 2.0 is not a whole new Internet, it’s just a trend toward more interactive web sites.  Anyone can contribute, it’s easy, no special code needed.  We can all write often, have conversations, etc.

Free web sites to try:

  • HitMeLater = resends an email at a later date so you can remember (it won’t get buried in your inbox)
  • MemJog = will send text message to your phone to remind you.  send on any date you choose.  set up recurring reminders.
  • WakerUpper = a wake-up call to your phone.  you go to the website, type in a message (150 characters) and it translates it to voice, calls you at the date & time you specify.
  • DemoGirl = a blog that tours new web tools, with screen casts.
  • MonkeySee = experts in various topics post short how-to videos.
  • Delicious = store your bookmarks online.  you can use multiple “tags” for each bookmark instead of hiding them in a single folder like browser favorites (I’ve been using this for over a year, I love it!  see my bookmarks here)
  • Flickr = store your photos online.  other users can add comments.  good place to search for images, too.  (Another one I’ve been using, it’s great.  see my photos here)
  • Zamzar = file conversion.  lots of options for word processing files, image files, audio files, etc.  (Another one I’ve been using, and recommending to my patrons.)
  • Picnik = image editing in your browser (nothing to download.)  works inside Flickr, too.  most of the useful functions are free, you can pay to get some extra functions.  Princeton Public Library offers classes in online photo editing.
  • FlickrCC = search Creative Commons images on Flickr.  yes, flickr has it’s own search feature, but this one is better.  great way to find free images to use in presentations.
  • Doodle = to try to find a meeting time that works for everyone.  you go to the web site and input some dates and times, then use your private email system to send the URL to the invitees (so the Doodle folks do not see everyone’s email addresses.)  each invitee then marks each time yes or no, and the results are tallied and sent to you. 
  • Jott = call a toll free number, tell it something, it gets transcribed and sent to you or someone else via text message or email (the email version includes a button to click to hear your voice.)  good for reminders, to-do-lists — can even dictate postings to your WordPress blog!
  • TaDa List = to-do-lists, can share via RSS, save for later.
  • Send U It and You Send It = to send large files to one or more people without jamming up your email inboxes (you simply send a private URL that they click on to retrieve the file.)  On SendUIt, you can set an expiration time (30 minutes to 1 week.)
  • SlideShare = basically it’s YouTube for PowerPoint.  Great place for professional development (see the presentations of experts, whether or not you can attend the conference)  I checked this out a few months ago, it’s pretty cool.  And now it can record your voice as you present you slides!  See Janie Hermann’s presentations here.
  • FileHippo = safe place to download software (shareware / freeware.)

How to find out about all the cool new Web 2.0 stuff:

July 25, 2008

A Week in the Life of a Library

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 3:40 am

Now that I have completed one week of blogging about my work, I have finally added my name to the list on the “Library Day in the Life wiki.” Maybe next month I’ll have time to read what everyone else has written. Now it’s time to get back to the homework. 😦

July 24, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technican: Tuesday

I’m writing this on Thursday, so I might forget a few things I did…

New emails to deal with:

  • new software “images” for scanner section & multimedia section are ready to test
  • problem with JAWS screen reader software in the new “image” for the InfoCommons area might be solved. Latest version of the “image” is available on 3 sections of patron computers.
  • am I going to Nevada Library Association (NLA) conference next month? let’s have lunch (from a friend in the UNT SLIS Nevada Cohort)
  • online version of a new encyclopedia in our collection which I used recently (Magill’s Medical Guide) will be activated soon
  • can I cover Computer Help Desk Friday 11-1?
  • can I cover Research & Information Desk Friday 3-4?

Major activity for this day was planning for the new Multimedia Design Studio space. My supervisor (Carmen) met with Alexis and I to discuss it. We came up with a lot of points that need to be covered before we move in, such as who will live over there, what hours will it be open, will it be staffed all the hours it’s open, etc.

I took a bunch of measurements and created a floor plan, to the scale of 1 pica = 1 inch. And I played around with lots of different possible layouts of the furniture & computers (I will try to attach some later.)

Kinda fun really. Except for the fact that I got so involved in it that I stayed til 10:15 pm! Boy was I hungry when I got home! I had only planned to work til 7, so I didn’t have any dinner with me, and my stash of snacks in my desk is sadly depleted…

July 22, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Monday

Our new mobile white boards arrived! And they’re huge! 6 feet wide by 4 feet tall (and that’s just the board — the frame makes the whole apparatus even larger.) Our department head Tom Ipri ordered 3 of them, as part of an ongoing project to provide more flexible spaces for groups to study together.

We only have 18 actual Group Study Rooms in our library, and students are always asking for more spaces to get together. Each Group Study Room has a whiteboard (actually we just replaced them earlier this summer, most rooms have 2 shiny new whiteboards instead of one old icky whiteboard.) See my flickr set “Group Study Room” for pics.

So my task was to make a sign to go on each mobile whiteboard. They are double-sided and can be flipped over to use the backside. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a good way to word the instructions (it’s not completely obvious how to operate the locking mechanism.) And we are a little worried about people flipping the board over without looking to see if there’s a wall, table, or person in the way. So I decided to just write “This board flips over. Please don’t!” Of course that won’t be on the final sign, but it made us laugh for a moment.

I served 1 hour on the Computer Help Desk. I can’t remember what questions I answered (I’m writing this a day later), but I know there weren’t many.

In the afternoon I went into our new Multimedia Design Studio space and took some measurements. We have to figure out how to configure the tables and/or cubicles so we can get all our equipment in there comfortable and attractively (and hopefully still have room for new equipment, if some extra $$$ falls into our lap sometime)    🙂

It’s a very odd-shaped space, and my measuring tape is not very long, so it took a while. Then I drew a floorplan in Microsoft Publisher. I’ll try to attach it here later.

July 19, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Saturday

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: , , , , , — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 2:28 pm

This is my assigned Saturday for the month. Usually it’s a good day to hide in my cubicle, away from distractions, and get lots of work done. Today hasn’t worked out that well (lots of interruptions.) I wanted to get lots done on the Excel 2007 training, clean up some emails & paperwork, maybe start looking for a new camcorder to replace our broken one, and grab a few books for my homework. But pesky patrons keep needing assistance!

I say that completely tongue-in-cheek — of course I love to help patrons, that’s why I’m in this business. I had the opportunity to do a job with a lot less public contact, and I knew that wouldn’t work for me — I’m a fairly sociable person who likes to be out on the front lines.

If you can remember the theme song from the old TV show Green Acres (listen here), try singing this: “User Services is the place for me, helpin’ patrons is the life for me. Students linin’ up so far and wide… Keep Tech Services just give me that public side!”

When the Media Desk student took his break, he put up the bell and it rang several times:

Media Resources Desk

Media Resources Desk

  • 1 patron wanted to borrow headphones for use with the computer
  • 1 patron wanted to borrow a laptop computer (but he had fines on his account, so I said no)
  • 1 patron wanted something that I don’t remember now
  • 1 patron needed help with WebCampus/Blackboard in the Disability Resource Room (DRR.) Boy, that ZoomText makes everything HUGE!

Then the student worker came back to the Media Desk, and I retreated back to my cubicle. I got really “into the zone,” then I was called back to the DRR. Rinse & repeat. Once working steadily away again, the Computer Help Desk student went on his break (putting up the sign to “go to Media Desk with questions.” Pretty soon the Media Desk student asked me to come out for a question about RefWorks (which I referred to the Ref Desk, as I really really needed to finish eating my cold hamburger left over from breakfast. I have some minor blood sugar issues… I get cranky when I don’t eat. Plus I had some unknown Whopper juice running down my hand, and not a sink in sight.)

So far, it’s been a typical day in cube-ville: Workus Interruptus. We’ll see how the next 4 hours go. 🙂

See more pictures of Lied Library in my flickr collection.

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Friday

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: , , , , — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 1:57 pm

Friday was a day off for me, since I have to work Saturday. Most of the staff in my department are in the Saturday rotation, so we each work about 9-10 Saturdays a year. Which means a day off sometime during the week, usually Friday, to run around and do errands.

I spent my day off doing homework for “library school.” (I feel so silly calling it that, but it’s concise, and everyone knows what you mean.)

While I was gone, something very excting happened: we got approval to move the Multimedia Design Studio into that new space! YAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!

old DDS office

old DDS office

July 17, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Thursday

This morning I sent an email to all our Library Computer Help Desk (LCHD) student workers (and a few selected Media Desk student workers who help out at the LCHD sometimes.) Office 2007 is coming soon on the patron computers, so I’ve worked up a 6 page “hints” document with lots of screenshots, and 3 pages of brief practice exercises for them to do. Now I wait and see if they actually do them, or if I have to hound them all week to get it done. 🙂 We already have Office 2007 on one section of 7 computers, so they could be getting questions on it anytime, and our Library Technologies department (a.k.a. “Systems“) will be expanding the number any time now. Which reminds me, I need to create a new floormap of all our computers, since they recently added 16 more to second floor. We must have about 275 general-use computers now (another thing I need to work on: counting them!)

I served 1 hour on the Library Computer Help Desk. A little busier today than yesterday, but still a typical slow day, as all summer days are when compared to Fall Semester or Spring Semester.

  • 1 student didn’t have enough money on his card, needed 2 pages free
  • 1 student needed help printing PowerPoint handouts
  • 1 student needed help with APA Style citations
  • 1 student wanted to know the location of the nearest machine to add money to his campus cash card (RebelCard)
  • 1 student needed help adding money to his RebelCard online
  • 1 student wanted the heavy-duty stapler
  • 1 student wanted to know the location of the nearest fax machine

On July 1 we started using an online product called DeskTracker to keep track of all our patron contacts. After 12+ years of making marks on a clipboard, it’s tough for me to reach for the mouse instead of a pen.

using bubbl website to visualize my ideas

On my lunchbreak, instead of homework I did some web surfing. I need a catchy name for this blog, I can’t keep calling it “Michelle Hawkins Thiel’s Weblog.” That’s just too long and too dull. So I did a little brainstorming, and tried a free online service called Bubbl. It allows you to easily create “brainstorming charts” where you have ideas in colored bubbles, linked to each other in various ways. Kind of a neat tool. It really did help me to organize my thoughts. Normally I organize with hierarchical bulleted lists, or tables, so this was a new, rounder technique for me.

Then I used Google’s Blog Search to find what other librarians, library workers, and library students have named their blogs. And so many good names have been taken already! I will post a list with links later.

We have a small coffee shop in the corner of our library, called The Book N Bean. During the summer they close at 2 pm. And occasionally they have some leftover food that they give away to library staff. Today they had a TON of food, so I had a nice tuna bagel to supplement the meager lunch I packed, and I got a chicken sandwich for dinner this evening. No cooking and no fast food, yaaayyy!

I spent the afternoon working on a “hints” document for Excel 2007. I fear it will be much much longer than the 6 page one for Word 2007. So I will probably break it up into parts. I have found that Excel is a weak point for many of our LCHD student workers, so I really want to be sure to cover it thoroughly. Long ago, we used to gather them for face-to-face instruction sessions on all the software, but in recent years they have been coming to us with a lot of basic knowledge already, so it’s generally not necessary. But I may reconsider for Excel…. There’s just so much to know, and I’m getting bored with making screenshots and writing instructions.

This evening the LCHD student came to me with an Excel question he tried to help a patron with. It was a scatter chart, which sadly I know nothing about. So I went out to the InfoCommons and gave it a shot, then came back to ask our resident mathematician, Heng-Wei, if he could take a look at it. And yes, he knows all about numbers and data and charts, so he helped the patron out very nicely.

Heng-Wei is one of the many classified staff in our library who were student workers here for many years, then got hired on full-time after they graduated. This city has a fair amount of migration out as well as the incredible migration in, so we often have positions open around the time our best students are ready for “a real job.” Unfortunately, with the state requiring budget cuts of all the campuses, we aren’t likely to fill any of our vacancies soon (we currently have several classified & faculty positions that have been vacant for months….) One of the things we are planning to discuss in a Hot Topics session this year is “mentoring, job sharing, and succession planning.”

July 16, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Wednesday

I arrived 10 am today, later than I intended, but still early compared to my usual 11 am schedule (I’m trying to come in early to beat the heat on the long walk from the parking lot.) I’m a “Library Technician II” at UNLV‘s Lied Library. I work in Media & Computer Services (formerly the two departments of “Media Resources” and “Information Commons” — I was hired into the latter when it was brand-new.)

Almost every day the first thing I do is chat with Alexis, my cubicle-mate, for a few minutes. Today we exchanged a few stories about funny or annoying patrons we encountered earlier this week, comparing them to some from the past. We both started here over 8 years ago (she in Media, me in InfoCommons — but the merger has been great for us.)

Then I prepped for my 11 am meeting with our department head, Tom Ipri (Tombrarian.) This actually included more talking with Alexis (she’s a great sounding-board for ideas, and some of the topics actually concern her job as well.) Tom (and I) wrote a proposal to move our Multimedia Design Studio (MMDS) to a larger space nearby which was recently vacated when another department consolidated its operations. I pulled up an Excel spreadsheet I made several months ago, to compare the features, hours, staffing, names, etc of similar facilities at other university libraries.

I met with Tom, and we decided to take a peek at the proposed new space. It’s HUGE! It would improve our services so much, enabling us to serve more users at once, and to teach classes. We already have a couple of professors who are sending their entire class over here in onesies and twosies — it would be great to get them all at once and teach them the basics they need to know for their project.

current Studio has space for 6 people at 3 computers

current Studio has space for 6 people at 3 computers

Our current space is far too small and too hot for groups of people –we tried it in April, and it was miserable! (Okay, not truly miserable, but very crowded & sweaty, and certainly not the shining success we hoped our first official instruction session would be.)

While we were in the proposed new space, our Director of User Services, Wendy Starkweather, dropped in. She commented on the excitement in my face. Yes, I guess I am really happy about this possibility. The Multimedia Design Studio is my primary job responsibility, and I really want to see it grow and develop. Eventually I will finish my MLS and move on, so it would be nice to leave that as a legacy, so to speak… It was started by Diane VanderPol, now Director of the Library at Westminster College, and continued by Jennifer Church-Duran, now Assistant Dean for User Services for the Libraries at the University of Kansas. They both provided great vision and leadership. But for sheer number of hours spent helping patrons — well, I guess I win on that count. 🙂

After finishing up the meeting with Tom & Wendy, I took Alexis into the space. She’s our point person on the Disability Resource Room (DRR) [a.k.a. the Assistive Technologies Room], as well as a great person with multimedia issues. We measured the doorways to see if we could combine the MMDS and DRR into the new space, but alas, it would require expensive rennovations to accomodate the automatic door opener and be wide enough for wheelchairs. So the DRR will stay where it is.

A break for lunch at my desk, and homework. I’m attending the University of North Texas School of Library & Information Sciences (SLIS). One of the assignments in my current class is about “user-centered spaces” which is a topic I’ve been researching off and on for quite some time. I’ll be blogging about it later. Today I just did some searching for info, while munching a couple of sticky granola bars I found in my desk. I forgot to pack a lunch again, and it’s far too hot to venture outdoors! Although I saw out my tiny window, we were actually having some “weather” today — it was not the blazing hot blue sky of a typical day around here, we had clouds, complete with lighting & thunder & some wetness!

Then off to a “Hot Topics” meeting. This is a highlight of nearly every month for me. Any library staff member (faculty, pro staff, or classified staff) can participate as a speaker, listener, or committee chair. Today was the annual brainstorming session for the upcoming year. We looked briefly at what topics were suggested in the past 2 years, which ones were covered already, then we compiled a list of topics for next year. Lots of great ideas, as always. Our Hot Topics leaders have presented (or brought in guest speakers to present) a lot of great info in the past, and it looks like 2007-2008 will be great also.

Two friends from the Architecture Studies Library on the other side of campus were here for the Hot Topics meeting. They are also students in the UNT SLIS Nevada Cohort (there are actually 6 of us students working in the UNLV Libraries!) They heard about our proposal for the Multimedia Design Studio and wondered what it’s all about, so I gave them a tour of our current MMDS space and some adjacent media preview rooms.  See my flick set “Media Lab” for pics of our current MMDS space.

I ran into our Director of User Services again, she was asking about a leak. Apparently that rain we had earlier found a way inside the building! We don’t get that kind of excitement around here often, since this building is still fairly new and pretty sturdy.

Then I served 1 hour on the Computer Help Desk (part of our first floor Information Commons area.) Moved several print jobs for a student who’s payment card didn’t want to work on 2nd floor, but it works okay on 1st floor. Moved several more print jobs for a student who lost his card (actually did an over-ride and gave it all to him free.) Fielded a couple phone calls from a mother who bought her daughter (due to enter UNLV next semester) a new laptop and wanted to know about Internet connections. Chatted with the librarian on the “Research & Information” (reference) side of our shared service counter. One of our frequent MMDS patrons walked by the desk, smiled, and promised “no help today” (meaning he didn’t need me to assist with his video editing project.)  See my flickr set “InfoCommons & Computer Help Desk” for lots of pics of what life is like around here.  🙂

Back to my cubicle to slog through some email. And in the “American Libraries Direct” email I found the link to the “A Day in the Life of a Library” project. And I decided to join. So now you know it all.

Tomorrow I promise to explain less backstory and write more about the day. 🙂

“A Day in the Life of a Library”

Filed under: Librarianship (general) — Tags: , , — Michelle Hawkins-Thiel @ 6:11 pm

Something interesting from today’s “American Libraries Direct” email:

Librarians and other library staff are encouraged to participate in this project:  “A Day in the Life of a Library.”  Simply blog about what you do every day, then post the URL of your blog to the project’s wiki (so everyone can find your blog.)  As the organizers say, “it’s a great way for students who are interested in the library profession to see what we really do.”

I think it would be great if a bunch of “library technicians” and “library assistants”  participated.  Let the world see what “paraprofessionals” or “nonprofessional” library staff do all day!  After all, we vastly outnumber the “real librarians.”    🙂


At the time I checked the wiki, there were 28 people signed up — and only 2 with job titles that don’t sound like MLS-holders.  So we should all throw in our 2 cents worth!

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