Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Questions I asked at Midwinter

For Five Things on a Friday, I was going to talk about five things I took away from the recent ALA Midwinter conference in Dallas. I'm still processing so that will have to wait. Instead I want to tell you about the five questions I took with me to the conference. These were questions I asked in discussion groups, at dinners, and hoped to find answers and inspiration from my colleagues.

I always go excited about certain sessions, or speakers, but knowing the real treasure of knowledge happens at dinner in a random restaurant or conversations between formal presentations. Here is what I asked and learned. All of these could be (and still might be) a post on their own, so I am trying to keep it brief.

  1. What do you do when patrons have the latest gadget but no supportive equipment?
    This has been bugging me for a few years now. Parents, especially in the lower socio-economic bracket, will buy a cool gadget for their children. But many of them don't work without a computer to synch them with, or an itunes account and credit card. And the library has computers locked down so tight that we can not download the needed software onto them. It's crushing to tell kids that I can't make their new present work. Brainstormed this with several people. More solutions later.

  2. How does a library manage large numbers of teenagers?
    I've talked about my afterschool hours before. I didn't get a ton of new solutions, but I did get reminded that all of our staff needs a break. I can feel in my soul and see in my staff's faces how very weary, jaded and burnt out we all are. Our busiest hours are 3pm to 5pm so I try to stack reference desk shifts for 2pm-4pm and 4pm-6pm so no one does the entirety of the worst time, and people get a break. Still pondering, especially how do I keep my staff from burning out?

  3. What new book(s) are you excited about in 2012?
    I primarily asked this of publishers as I visited their booth/dinner/breakfast. Partially spying for comittee work, partially to know what will excite my patrons in the next year. (Confession: I heard someone else ask this the first day and stole it.)

  4. Would you still advise people to go to library school?
    This is a question I ponder a lot. Short answer: I probably wouldn't. Long answer to come, at some point. More people said they would not recommed library school than those that would. Of course I didn't ask at any of the library school booths.

  5. What is Newbery going to require of me?
    I am scared and overwhelmed by the responsibility of being on the Newbery committee. That was my primary goal at conferene to understand better my responsibilities. And I do. I'm still overwhelmed but now I'm only quite nervous instead of extremely scared. There are a lot of books to read

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