Covid-19 has brought us some very interesting times indeed and we have been forced to rethink our library offerings without a physical space. I touched on this in the last post. But now truly, even though at SMCL we are proactive about being at the forefront of new ideas, we do not have a physical space to carry out many of the main functions of the library. I always tell people that helping patrons check material out is only a small portion of what I do at in my position and now that we do not have access to the branch, patrons are more and more finding this truth out as well.
Through our many digital resources, which are by no means unique to my library system, patrons are able to check out books, watch movies, listen to audiobooks the same as if they had access to the building, albeit with a more limited selection. In the lecture for Library Everywhere Module, Professor Stephens said, “People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.” Now more than ever, this rings true. From home, patrons are learning their way around the technology that scared them, mostly out of need.
I spoke in the last post about the text service we were about to launch (https://smcl.org/blogs/post/have-a-library-question-text-us/) and happily, I can report that it has been a tremendous success. We receive tons of text messages a week and we help patrons with any myriad of question from “My book was due but I can’t return it. Will I be charged a fine?” or also, “My hotspot has been disabled but I can’t return it. What can I do?” We are able to help them resolve most of their issues and 9.9 times out of 10, the answer is to their satisfaction.
Hopefully we will soon return to the branch and once again be able to begin providing patrons with the full range of services we normally provide.
Curiously, the KQED article, “What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like?” touches on one of the major pain points that we as staff have experienced as we opened the new Half Moon Bay Library, back in 2018. The article talks about how staff were finding their footing with the local teens and managing their behavior in the newly remodeled space. The article mentions that although the initially had troubles pacifying the teens during the first two years of the remodel, they were eventually able to rely on the students to keep each other in check, “Students police each other if they become disruptive to others.”(Vangelova, 2014) This year we would be entering our second year in the new building and we were developing plans for how to help the teens hold each other responsible to maintaining the peace.
The idea we were about to implement was to close the teen space until after the High School let out. Our building is right next door to the local middle school and we are inundated with preteens. The High School has later dismissal and so by the time they can come to the library, they usually don’t want to because the pre-teens have taken over their space, effectively making the Teen Spot a Pre-Teen Spot. All of this is moot though if schools won’t hold physical classes for the foreseeable future and the library, if and when we re-open, will see limited library service until normalcy is restored.
It’s really hard to gage how to implement big ideas when you literally don’t have the space.
One last thing about why the library system I work for is not “your dad’s library,” so to speak. Along with a designated team of staff and myself, I have been assigned to help our county health department print out PPE with our branch 3D printers. You may have already seen other maker groups out there making 3D printed ear saver straps or make face shields for frontline healthcare workers. Essentially, our task is exactly that, make as much PPE as possible with the PLA we have on hand, while following the guidelines given to us to make safe and effective equipment.
Professor Stephens in the lecture said “The heart of libraries, then, I think, is supporting learning and our users’ curiosity through every means possible.” (Stephens) In this scenario, I think the curiosity that’s being supported is really my own and that of my curious tinkering coworkers. I got involved with the group because when we closed the library, I took a 3D printer home to tinker around with. Word came across the right people and eventually this group was assembled. It’s because I have been very fortunate in having managerial and administrative support, that I am able to be part of this group and print out PPE.
Have a Library Question? Text Us! (2020, March 23). Retrieved from https://smcl.org/blogs/post/have-a-library-question-text-us/
Human “Book”. (2019, August). Retrieved from https://smcl.org/humanbook/
Stephens, M. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e38d4a22-9626-4b29-a038-aaef0124ee52
The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills. (2017, March 13). Retrieved from https://digitalpromise.org/2016/01/28/chicago-public-library-the-library-as-a-gateway-to-21st-century-skills/
Vangelova, L. (2014, June 18). What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like? Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/36326/what-does-the-next-generation-school-library-look-like