Hello and welcome to Stacking Up, a blog for the "modern" librarian! The great thing about today's librarians is that we are so diverse: different ages, backgrounds, personalities, looks... this blog is here to share this diversity with ideas, insights, stories, experiences and opinions for anything and everything having to do with being a librarian!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reference 101: What to do when...

So this is a new little feature I'm going to start throwing in every once in awhile, for new librarians on the reference desk. As a new reference librarian, I have come across a variety of different situations, some more extreme than others, that I have had to learn first-hand how to deal with. Here are a few more recent ones:

What to do when...

A patron calls and says they've been mugged and all their library books were in their bag.

Answer: Tell them to bring in the police report with a description of what was stolen. At that point the branch manager will most likely discharge the fines.


A patron calls in on Friday and says they returned 2 DVDs on Wednesday, but when they looked at their account today, it says one of the DVDs is still charged out to them and is now overdue.

Answer: First, look up their patron record to see which DVD title is still overdue. If it is from your own branch, look for said DVD first to see if it's on the shelf or if it got put somewhere else. Clerks come in handy here. If you can't find it or it is from another branch, place a claims return on the DVD. This will basically freeze that overdue item so that no more fines are added on, while also flagging the item to be looked for. Let the patron know you placed a claims return, meaning we know they called to report they had returned the book but it's still on their account, and tell them the system will have the library look up to 5 times (or whatever the policy is in your system) for the item. Once found, the fines will be removed. Also, try to "gently" ask the patron to keep their eyes out for the DVD, in case it accidentally was not returned...

If the DVD was from another branch, also let the patron know that the DVD probably was never discharged after he returned it, but it is most likely still in transit back to the original branch. Explain what the claims hold does, and in the meantime, tell him to wait patiently for a week, keep an eye on his account, and call back at the end of next week if the overdue item in question has not been removed yet.


A patron calls in and says they checked out a book and they want to renew it because they misplaced it, and they want more time to look for it. You go into the patron's account to renew it, but realize they've run out of renewals and the due date can't be pushed back any further. The patron demands you do something about it.

Answer: Tricky one. Explain to the patron that once the book is checked out to them, it is their responsibility to return it on time, and there is nothing else we can do from our end because they have exceeded the number of renewals for that book. Unfortunately, this is not going to make them happy, so if they're still giving you a hard time, refer them to the branch manager, or let them know when the branch manager will be in next. Try to stay polite-- but don't abjectly apologize, because it's not your fault they can't keep tract of their books!


You're sitting at the reference desk and out of the corner of your eye, you see some guy in the stacks masturbating.

Answer: Call the police immediately! If the branch manager is there, let them know what's going on. If you're on your own, alert the clerks or whoever you're there with, but don't approach the culprit unless you're OK doing so. Yeah, this is always a fun situation to deal with...


These are all situations that I've had to deal with in my year as a substitute reference librarian for the public libraries. Of course, the way you do things for your branch libraries may be somewhat different, but I think that in general, these are valid solutions to scenarios you may run into.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Technologies that Revolutionized Libraries

Here is another link that I wanted to share with you guys, which I found through a fellow librarian's blog...

The article is called 10 Technologies that Revolutionized Libraries, and it takes an interesting look back in time, and toward the future, of the different technologies, old and new, that have had a revolutionary impact on how libraries function and serve their communities...

I will give you a snippet from the beginning of the article, because I thought it was really good in how it supports the purpose of our libraries-- and anywhere I can find support in defense of the library is worthy of note to me!

"Libraries form an essential component of human society — they educate, they enlighten, they entertain. But, most importantly, they bring together members of the community in order to keep intellectualism and innovation flowing. And in order to stay relevant, libraries have to open themselves up to emergent technologies, discovering creative ways to apply them in the service of the people." 

Here there is mention of such forward-thinking innovations as the written language, scrolls and paper-- it provides a brief but interesting history to some of the things that we take for granted (what would we do without barcode scanners??), but that have really changed the way we live and think... It ends with the Internet and eBook Readers, which are definitely changing how we librarians define our jobs and the places we work-- in a good way! Hope you enjoy this short walk through library technologies that have revolutionized our jobs.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Librarian in Charge


OK, I know it has been awhile since I have posted anything here, so I thought I would FINALLY take a few moments to update everyone on what has been going on! As you may know, I also have another blog where I review YA fiction books, so that has also been taking up my time.

It has been a little over a year since I graduated from library school at Syracuse University, and I have been so blessed in the opportunities that I have had between then and now. Currently, I am still working as a part-time Reference & Instruction Librarian at a small satellite campus that provides undergrad and grad programs for more "non-traditional" students-- AKA, students who have been out of school for awhile and mostly work full-time and have families now. This is a challenge, but it also provides a great opportunity to work within a unique area of librarianship. At this college, I can hone my skills at library instruction and reference within a smaller and more intimate environment, which has been really nice.

I am also still working as a substitute librarian for the city public libraries-- there are around 11 branches and I have worked at all of them but one! This has also given me some really diverse experience with working with all kinds of different people and communities, while also seeing how individual library branches are customized to their specific areas and the patrons they serve. For example, one branch has a really large Filipino community, with many children, and the branch manager at that library has worked tirelessly to provide after school programs and meals and tutoring in English for those kids. Another branch in a very run-down area of the city has a toy resource center for the children there. So it has been really great to see those adaptations, based on the communities that each individual library serves.

I would have to say that I have already reached a rather... interesting point in my young career. I just received news last week that the other librarian who I work with at the college was just offered a full-time job at a university-- this means that I will be going from second-in-charge to "Captain of the Ship" here at our campus. Needless to say, I am excited, but I am also majorly freaking out-- I really want to thrive in this new position, even though I have never held such a managerial position before (I was a weekend manager at a local sub shop when I was an undergrad, but I don't really think that compares!).

So, in a month and a half I will essentially become a branch manager myself, at an academic library. I will be in charge of organizing and running all of the library instruction classes (that probably has me most freaked out), scheduling and running the Writing Lab, scheduling and organizing any "boot camp" classes for students who need extra help, and then of course doing all of the day to day tasks to keep the library running. Eventually, I will also be developing, organizing and running various workshops on certain library-related topics as well-- but first thing is first, I need to get used to running the place!

I think that this is an awesome opportunity for me as a new librarian, and even though I'm a nervous wreck and question my own capabilities after being here only 9 months, I fully intend to put everything I have into this new challenge and making my library (haha, yes my library) a great one for students to go to and get extra help. I won't be totally alone- we'll be hiring a new part-time Ref & Instruction Librarian as well. So there will be some training to do, too. Not gonna lie, sometimes I'm just like, wow this a lot for one 26-year old to handle, but it is an opportunity that has been given to me to advance my career and learn a lot of new things as a librarian, so I guess I need to just embrace it and do the best that I can!

I will probably be posting more frequently now, as I want to not only keep a record and share the experiences that I go through in my new job (and my old one at the public library too!), but I also want to be encouraged and provide encouragement to any other newly-graduated library school students, who may be facing similar challenges, or are still trying to get their feet on the ground in their new careers. I have a month and a half to learn as much as I can about running the library, and then I'm on my own...

But then hey, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and wing it!