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Minnesota, United States

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Excellent Readers Advisory article

Just thought I'd share this http://lu.com/ranews/dec2009/nagle.cfm

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Using Novelist to find lists of classics

Did you know that the NoveList Plus database also provides annotated reading lists of classics for children, teens, and adults? To access the lists, enter "classics" in the search bar. Under the Curricular Connections tab, you will find compiled lists of classics appropriate for children and teens. Here, there is also a list of classic readalikes and retellings set in a contemporary or alternate time. The adult version, Classics Revisited, can be found by limiting the search to adults and then clicking on the Recommended Reads tab.

NoveList also provides annotated lists of classics in various genres such as romance, western, horror, etc. To access these lists, enter "classics" in the search bar and then click on the Recommended Reads tab.

Finally, if you enter classics made into movies in the search bar and click on the Recommended Reads tab, you will get just that: A list of classic novels that have been made into movies.

Have fun rediscovering old favorites and perhaps finding some new ones!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Library Subbing Checklist

For those who are subbing in a new library, here is a checklist I use that you may find helpful.

*Head librarian:
*Youth services librarian(s):
*Other librarian(s):
*Circulation supervisor:
*Support staff:
*Volunteer coordinator:

LIBRARY EVENTS (date and location):

*Adult fiction:
*Genre fiction (what genres have their own sections?):
*Paperback fiction (shelved separately from hardcover? Which genres?):
*New books:
*Large print:
*Music CDs:
-List of newspapers available at this library:
-Today’s paper:
-Back issues:
-How far back are issues retained?
-Current issues:
-Back issues:
-How far back are issues retained?
*World language materials:
-What languages are available and in what formats and for what age groups?
*Books for sale (if applicable):
-Charge for each type of item:
*Special sections (e.g. travel, business/careers, local history, etc.):

*Other things to note:

*Consumer Reports:
*Phone books:
*NADA Used Car Guide:
*Other things to note:

*Graphic novels:
*Other things to note:

*Juvenile fiction:
*Series fiction (e.g. American Girl, Captain Underpants, etc.):
*Juvenile nonfiction:
*Easy readers:
*Picture books:
*Board books:
*Comic books:
*Music CDs:
*Toys and puppets:
*Other things to note:

*Book drop:
*Self-checkout machines:
-Cost per page:
*Drinking fountain:
*Fire extinguisher:
*Other emergency equipment:
*Holds pick-Up:
*FAX machine (or location of nearest one):
*Meeting rooms and study rooms:
-Policies on use:
*Pay phone (or location of nearest one)

*Catalog stations:
*Internet stations:
-How many?
-How are they numbered?
-Any age restrictions?
-Time limits
-Software available
*Computer reservation station (if applicable):
-Cost per page:
-Is there a coin box to pay for prints or are they paid for at the desk?

*Pencil sharpener:
*Black markers (“Sharpies”):
*Paper clips:
*Rubber bands:
*Scratch paper:
*Extra paper for printer/photocopier:
*Extra staples:
*Three-hole punch:
*Post-it Notes:
*Sanitary wipes:
*Things for the little ones (e.g. stickers, stamps, crayons, coloring sheets, etc. If library allows):
*Emergency manual:
*Information desk manual:
*Other things to note:

*Lockers or place to put your coat/bag/etc.:
*Break room:
*Timecards (if applicable):
*Lost and found:
*Keys to get into staff area (if applicable):
*Cleaning supplies:
*Supply storage area:

*Bus schedules:
*Drivers manuals:
*Tax forms:
*Library-related brochures (library locations/hours, library events, etc.):
*Other giveaways of note:



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Substitute Librarian's Survival Guide

As some readers of this blog may know, I am a substitute librarian. I have been subbing in public libraries since February 2007 and have worked in three different library systems.

I find my work very rewarding. I sub at different libraries depending on where the need for a substitute is greatest. (I have subbed in over 30 libraries) I love the variety of working at different libraries and seeing the different ways libraries do things. Some libraries I’ve worked in are very large, urban libraries; others are small rural ones. The libraries have different patron demographics and collection strengths. Regardless of where I work, it’s always an interesting and educational experience and I get to meet lots of wonderful people.

Each library has its own layout, policies, patron demographics, and atmosphere. It can be a challenge to keep all of this information straight. In particular, when subbing in a certain library branch for the first time, or if you are new to subbing how can you avoid getting overwhelmed? I will share some tips that have worked well for me.


Half of the battle is knowing where things are located. To avoid the embarrassment of not being able to answer or answering incorrectly the patrons’ questions as to where things are, if possible, I recommend visiting the library before you are scheduled to work there. I would especially recommend this if you are subbing there for the first time or if it’s been a long time since you subbed there. When visiting, do a thorough examination of the library’s layout. I find that a checklist template works well for me. The template lists things that are common to each library. I print a separate copy of the template for each branch and take notes as to the locations of things. This works particularly well for libraries that I only work at on a very occasional basis. I find that if several months pass by between library visits, I forget a lot of the details as to where things are located. The notes are helpful in refreshing my memory from my last visit.

What kinds of things should you be looking for when visiting a library? I will post a more detailed list in a future blog post, but I recommend paying attention to where the different parts of the library collection are located. Where are the fiction, nonfiction, large print, new books, audio books, videos, music CDs, magazines, and newspapers? In the children’s area, look for the juvenile fiction, picture books, easy readers, board books, magazines, videos, and audio books. Are there any toys, puzzles, or puppets available for the kids to play with? In the young adult area, look for the fiction, nonfiction, magazines, audio books, graphic novels, and manga.

Some libraries may shelve items differently. For example, some may place paperbacks separate from hardcover books while others file them all together. Some libraries may interfile juvenile nonfiction with adult nonfiction, others may keep them separate. Genre fiction may be shelved differently between libraries. There may be separate sections for genres such as mystery, romance, science fiction, or westerns. In the children’s area, some libraries may have a section of books that part of a series (e.g. American Girl, Captain Underpants, etc.). Different libraries may have their own special sections. For example, there may be a travel section, local history section, holiday books section, or jobs and careers section. Pay attention to anything that’s unique about the way the library shelves its materials.

What foreign languages does the library have? What formats are the foreign language materials available in and for what age groups?

Take note of the library’s reference collection. Learn the locations of commonly used reference sources such as the encyclopedias (also the circulating set), dictionary, almanac, atlases, NADA guides, consumer reports, phone books, etc.

Regardless of where I work at, patrons ask me several times a day if they can borrow certain desk supplies. When you arrive at the library, study the layout of the information desk area and learn where the commonly asked for supplies are. If your workstation is out of something, do you know where the library’s storage room is in case you need to get more?

Patrons frequently ask for giveaways such as tax forms, bus schedules, drivers manuals, list of upcoming library events and classes, library card information, library hours, etc. Learn where these are located.

Also study the layout of the library’s computers. Where are the catalog stations and Internet stations located? How are the computers numbered? Does the library use computer reservation software? If so, where is the reservation station? What types of software are available on the library’s computers? Are there separate computers for children, teens, and adults? If so, are there age restrictions on them?

What is the library’s policy on computer usage? Are they available to only those with registered library cards or are they available for everybody? How does the library handle patrons who don’t have a library card, forgot to bring the library card, or are just visiting the library for the day? Are they granted a guest pass to get on the computers?
Is there a time limit on computers? Can patrons be granted a time extension and under what circumstances?

Where is the printer? How much is the charge for printing? Do patrons put money in a coin box to pay for prints or do they pay staff members at the desk?

Where is the photocopier? How much is the charge? Where is extra paper for the photocopier/printer stored?

Where is the book return?

Where is the drinking fountain?

Some libraries may also have one or more of the following: Meeting room, study room, self-checkout machine, and holds pickup area. What are the policies regarding meeting room and study room use?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, where are the restrooms?


Even though the library you are subbing in may be part of a multi-branch county or city system, it may still have its own unique policies. If you are subbing in a library for the first time, it’s good to ask what these are. If it’s been awhile since you’ve subbed at that library, you should also ask if there have been recent changes in policy. For example, some libraries may have age restrictions on usage of certain computers or may hold the patron’s ID or library card for heavily used items such as today’s newspaper.


Chances are each library you sub in will have a different ‘feel’ to it. If subbing for the first time, it’s a good idea to visit the library in advance and talk to the staff members to get a sense of what it’s really like to work there and what to expect. Some libraries may be busier and others quieter. When are the library’s peak periods of activity? Patron demographics also vary between libraries. For example, one of the branches I often sub at has a large number of teenagers who come in after school to use the computers. Another branch is very close to senior housing, so the library has a large number of senior patrons. I’ve subbed in libraries where there are a large number of recent immigrants, so common requests are for foreign language, English language learning, or adult basic education materials. Socioeconomic factors can also affect patron needs. For example, if the library is located in a poorer section of town, the patrons are less likely own a computer and may depend on the library for computer usage. What are the demographics of the patrons in the library? How will this affect what the most common patron needs are? In addition, the personalities of the library staff will be different depending on the library, which may also affect the ‘feel’ of working there.


If you are scheduled to open the library, know how to access the building before it opens. Some library systems may issue keys that will work for multiple branches. With others, you may not have access to a key, so you will need to ring the doorbell or knock on the door at the staff entrance to be let in.

If it’s your first visit to the library, you should be shown where to put your coat/bag/purse/etc. Many libraries will have lockers available for you to use. Some come with a padlock. If so, what’s the combination? Also, you should be shown where the break room is. Most libraries break rooms will have a fridge and microwave. Some may also have toasters and coffee makers. Some libraries may charge a small fee if you wish to have coffee.

It’s good to arrive at your workstation several minutes before your shift begins- earlier if it’s your first time, so you can get your questions answered before the patrons arrive. If there is more than one workstation, ask which one you will be stationed at. Make sure you can login to your library’s workstation and the ILS (Integrated Library System). If there are special passwords to log on, know where they are stored in case you forget.

Make sure the phone at your workstation is working. In some library systems, you may have to “log on” to the phone. Become familiar enough with the library’s phone system, so you can put a caller on hold or transfer as needed. In case you need to transfer the caller to another staff member, be sure to have a list of the library’s phone extensions nearby.

If your shift is several hours or more, you should get a break. Find out if this break is paid or unpaid and when it is and for how long.

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER YOUR TIME THAT YOU WORKED! Different library systems handle this differently. Some literally have you punch in and out, some will have you fill out paper time cards, and others will have you submit your time electronically.

Here are some more things you should know:

*The library’s hours, address, and phone number

Who’s Who
*Who will you be subbing for? What’s the reason for the librarians absence? When will that librarian be returning? (if known)
*Who will be the librarian in charge when you are working? (This may or may not be the same as the head librarian or branch librarian)
*Who is the circulation supervisor? (if applicable)
*Names of other staff members
*Who is in charge of library volunteers? I frequently get asked about volunteering and it’s good to know who to direct the patron to. Will there be volunteers coming in today? Who are they and what will they be doing? It’s good to know, especially if you are subbing for the person in charge of volunteers.
*Where is the staff schedule posted? (I frequently get asked if a certain employee is available and when.)

*Are there any special events or programs occurring in the library today or in the near future? What time? Where? Is registration required?

*If you are scheduled to open or close the library, what is to be done?

*Any other library news I should be aware of?

Resources near the library:
*If the library doesn’t have a FAX machine for public use, where is the nearest one?
*Where is the nearest pay phone? (Some libraries may let patrons use the staff phone to call for rides or for emergencies. Other libraries may have a ‘courtesy’ phone for this purpose as long as calls are limited to a couple minutes. Ask what the phone policies are)
*Where is the nearest notary?
*Where is the city hall?


The irregularity and limited number of work hours may pose another challenge with subbing. While some subs may regularly work part-time at a particular branch and sub every now and then to work additional hours; many other librarians who sub do just that. They are not permanently assigned to any branch and have no set work hours. The number of work hours can vary widely from week to week. Since there is no guarantee on the number of hours, library subs are typically not eligible for benefits. In addition, library systems may have limits as to the amount of hours a substitute can work in a given week or per year.

Depending on the library system and the state of the economy a substitute librarian may or may not feel comfortable with subbing as the sole source of income. Some substitutes may find that they need to take on an additional job to feel comfortable financially. Substitutes are often needed during weekends, right before and right after holidays, and during major library conferences. Substitutes who are available and willing to work during these times have the greatest likelihood of getting more hours as well as those who are willing to fill last-minute vacancies.

Depending on the library system, you may be notified of shifts via email, phone, or via an online scheduling system such as AESOP, or a combination of these. One of the library systems I sub in uses AESOP for posting substitute vacancies. The first person to see the shift and accept it gets it. It’s good to check your email, phone messages, or online scheduling system frequently for potential shifts. .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Science Databases

Earlier this month, I attended a free webinar sponsored by MINITEX on science resources. The webinar emphasized two databases in particular: Science Reference Center and General Science Collection. I frequently provide science reference services so I am already familiar with these databases but I was hoping to learn more about them in depth.

Science Reference Center is one of the EBSCO databases. This database is a good "one stop shopping" resource for science related information, featuring the following:

--181 full-text science periodicals
--626 full-text science reference books
--23 full-text science encyclopedias
--812 full-text science essays
--3790 full-text, full-length biographies of scientists
--61 science annotations
--10,000+ science images
--519 science videos

The articles in this database all correspond to state and national curriculum standards.
Additionally, science experiments can be searched via advanced search. This will really come in handy when the science experiment books don't have what the student needs. One can also limit searching to a certain lexile level here.

Science Reference Center can be accessed through three different interfaces, depending on the age level of the user. The default interface is geared towards an adult audience, accessed by selecting Science Reference Center in your library's list of databases. A second interface geared towards middle school and high school students can be accessed via Student Research Center. There is also an interface designed for elementary school students via Kids Search.

General Science Collection is one of the GALE databases. Compared to Science Reference Center, this database seems to be more geared towards high school and college students. The database searches over 200 science journals covering a wide diversity of scientific fields. The database's main page features a "What's New" section and tabs for search results for three very common topics: Stem Cell Research, Global Warming, and Animal Rights.

When searching General Science Collection, the search results are divided into the following tabs: Academic journals, magazines, books, news, and multimedia. The results default to the academic journals tab, which is usually the majority of the search results. To see results in other formats, simply click on the corresponding tab. The multimedia tab is used when you wish to limit your search to articles containing images. If you search with limits, remember that if you switch between tabs, you will lose any limits you set.

The advanced search allows for limiting your search results by document type, publication date, publication title, publication subject, or lexile level. I learned that biography is listed as one of the document types.

Discovering Collection (another GALE database) was also mentioned as another electronic science resource. This database is geared towards middle school and high school students and curriculum standards avaiable.

One way to access science information in Discovering Collection is via the database's Topic Trees. The Science Topic Tree represents the most frequent searches for scientific topics. This list changes approximately every 6 months. Science experiments can be searched in the advanced search by selecting "Experiment Activity" as the document type.

One new thing I learned about Discovering Collection is some articles have corresponding MP3 files. You can download the MP3 file and have the article read to you.

Some of the other databases containing science information include:

*Expanded Academic ASAP (GALE)
*Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
*Student Resource Center Gold (GALE)
*Britannica Online School / Public / Academic Editions

Friday, December 11, 2009

Using Science Reference Center to locate videos

Did you know that you can use EBSCO's Science Reference Center Database to search for videos? This is a great alternative to searching the library's often limited collection. To search videos, click on the "Images/Video" at the top of the database's main page. To limit the search to just videos, uncheck the "Image Collection" and the "Image Quick View Collection" boxes while making sure the "Science Video Collection" box is checked. Most videos are under 5 minutes in length but there are some longer movie-length ones. If your library doesn't subscribe to Science Reference Center, Google Videos and YouTube are some other sources for science videos.