The Joy of Something New

by Janelle

There are new colors on the tree leaves. Green is giving way to bright yellow, fiery orange, and deep crimson. Every season announces itself in a unique way, and fall at the riverside Belding library is breathtaking. New colors burst around it every day. Are you a seasoned patron of the library, or are you brand new?

I’m new! At least, as a worker, I am new. I had volunteered (and had an amazing time!) at the library for WordCamp this summer and I’d visited the library on a weekly basis for a long time. But now, I have the privilege of co-directing the youth services programming with my fabulous partner in not-crime Olivia Carlson, under the headship of our fearless leader Britney Dillon. Everything feels wonderful and new.

New things can be a little scary. If you’ve never set foot in our library, it may be daunting. You’re literally stepping into a place where over 100 years of history is meeting 2018 reality. The door frames, the fixtures, and even some photographs have stood the test of time behind the library’s columned entrance. Concurrently, our new addition is bright and beautiful with huge picture windows that overlook the Flat River, and there are many engaging activities for kids.

As I’m learning the ropes (and books) here, I’m discovering amazing things I never knew about the library. Not only do we carry books on CD, we also have CD players available for patrons to check out if they don’t have one at home! There are fun Early Literacy stations with unusual activities for kids to try with books – have you ever driven a school bus over the words on the page of a book? It’s fantastic.

The greatest joy of being a new children’s librarian is meeting the kids who come through our doors. They are unique, wonderful, and full of wonder. A library is a great place to be full of wonder. I can’t wait to meet more children at our programs and everyday fun activities/happenings at the library.

If you’re new, you won’t be new for long with this bunch. The entire staff at the Belding library is amazing. We’re excited to see you, happy to help out, and seriously patient with newbies (I know from personal experience!) Come on in and get connected! Who knows where your new experience here will take you to next.

 

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Here a Book, There a Book

by Britney

As the director of the Belding Library, one of my responsibilities is curating the library’s materials collection. That’s a fancy way of saying…

I get to pick the books.

So, that stack of books you just walked out of the library with? The best seller, the quirky YA, the picture book for your kiddo, the manual to help you build your new bird feeder? Those were selections that I made, with the hopes that people would check them out and enjoy them, and justify the dollars I spent on them from an extremely limited budget.

No pressure or anything, right? If no one wants to check out the books I buy for the library, not only am I fully responsible for wasting the library’s resources, but I’ve let my patrons down by not providing them with materials they deem valuable. Therefore, I take my collection development job very seriously.

But I’m also a Book Lover, with a capital B.L. And as such, I want to buy all the books.  All of them, I say! But, as painful as it is for me to admit it, that’s simply not financially feasible. Sadly, heartbreakingly, the library does not have unlimited funding. In fact, because of some other financial obligations the library has, our materials budget is one of the smallest allotments we have. So every single dollar counts.

Recently, I had a friend ask me how I decide which books to purchase for the library. And the answer to this question is: very carefully.

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One of the biggest factors in building a collection that circulates well is knowing my population, and which types of books they like. I spend a lot of time looking at the books our patrons check out, and becoming familiar with what their interests are – at all ages and reading levels. I mean, there’s no point in me buying a book no one is going to read.

After that, I choose books that are entertaining, are good for creating discussion, are thought-provoking, and are bona fide must-reads. And every now and then, I get specific purchase requests from patrons for books, and try very hard to accommodate these requests.

One thing that makes my book-choosing job easier is talking to my patrons. The more I talk to people about books, the better idea I get about what they like to read, and what they want to see in the library. And on top of that, I just plain like to talk about books! So if you’re in the library and see me, chat me up about what you’re reading – I’d love to hear what you have to say, and I’d love to hear your recommendations!

At the library, we’re in the business of patrons and books – and if the two can compliment one another, all the better.

Happy reading!

 

 

Panic! At the Library

by Britney

Hello to all of you out there in Reader Land. (Waves enthusiastically.) Today’s post is for you!

I am a series reader. Though I enjoy single titles, and admire authors who can tell a tale from start to finish and contain it within the confines of a front and back cover, I prefer multi-volumes. When I read a story I really enjoy that has characters I like, I am always glad to get to spend more time with them in subsequent installments. I also like the additional glimpses I get into different worlds, cultures, and times. After all, if J.R.R. Tolkien had stopped writing after The Hobbit, I would have thought Middle Earth consisted only of The Shire and the Misty Mountains, and I never would have gotten to meet the Rohirrim, or seen the White City. See what  mean?

However, I must admit to a short-lived moment of sheer panic when I read the last word of the last book in series. Ahhh! What am I going to read now??? What if I don’t like it??? What if it’s not as good as the books I just read??? But I want something EXACTLY LIKE what I just finished!!!

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This is where I force myself to take a deep breath, and I assure myself that everything will be ok. I will find another book. I will discover new, awesome characters. I will traverse another imaginary land in search of action and adventure.

Now, be honest. How many of you out there experience this same sense of dread when you finish a book? Perhaps you look over at your TBR pile to find it has grown claws and threatens to crush you if you don’t pick a book to read immediately. The PRESSURE! Time is a valuable commodity, and you don’t have any to waste on a book you don’t like.

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Never fear. I’m here to help.

Did you know librarians are trained in something called “reader’s advisory?” Reader’s advisory involves us talking to people about a wide variety of things in an effort to pair them with their next “perfect read.” Here are some things we may ask you:

*What are some of the TV shows you like to watch?

*What types of music do you listen to?

*What do you do in your free time?

*Which books have you enjoyed in the past?

*What were your favorite books when you were a kid?

*Which books have you read that you disliked?

*Are you a history buff? Are you interested in space? Animals? Travel?

*Do you like to listen to things while you work/exercise/study?

If you think some of these questions have nothing to do with reading, you’d be right. But they all help give us information that will allow us to learn your interests, and your likes and dislikes, to help us help you find a great book. Books aren’t just about reading; they’re about experiencing all that book has to offer. And that is a multi-faceted process.

So next time you close the cover on a book you’ve just finished, don’t panic. Rather, look at it as a challenge. And then let us at the library be your book warriors and help you attack the Next Book Wilderness!

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Why Libraries Are Worth Fighting For

by Britney

My posts on this blog are usually lighthearted and fun, having something to do with books, writing, or how much I love the library. And this is true. I do ❤ the library.

But today, my post is a little more serious, a little more “let’s be real.” Bear with me, and you’ll see what I mean.

Yesterday the White House released its budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year, and the Library World was rocked; Donald Trump has proposed the complete and total elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS provides more than $183 million dollars in funding to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act,  and 42 million more dollars in funding to public museums and archives. The justification for this proposed elimination is that it’s not a core concern of the government.

So, what’s the problem?

The withholding federal support for libraries and museums means withholding necessary services from people; it means restricting access to free and unbiased information; it means defunding literacy programs for those with the greatest need. All things that create a strong, enabled, and informed population.

So, why does this matter?

Libraries are essential now, more than ever.

Really? I keep hearing that libraries are going to be obsolete in ten years.

No, they won’t. Here’s why:

1. Libraries offer FREE educational resources to everyone. Public libraries are one of very few places in the United States that can be considered open resource centers. They offer unrestricted access to educational materials, databases, educational and training programs, safe spaces, and information. Additionally, libraries double as conference centers, tutoring centers, and meeting places. On top of that, librarians are always available to help people – with whatever they need! Need help learning about your new laptop? We got it. Need help proofreading your resume? We got it. Need to learn how to use Facebook? We got it. Need tax forms? We got it. WE GOT IT.

2. Libraries provide essential roles to under served and depressed populations. Every day when the public library opens its doors, it becomes a haven for those with nowhere else to go, a safe space for those who aren’t guaranteed one anywhere else, and a learning center for people with no resources of their own. Not everyone has access to internet at home – or even a computer, for that matter; the library has them for free use. Not everyone has disposable income to spend on books; the library has them for free use. Not everyone can afford to take professional development classes, or to attend informational and instructional programs; the library offers them for free.

3. Libraries are good for business. Yes, they foster community partnerships and engagement, and help support community endeavors, but they are also good for the local economy. When people need help looking for jobs, writing resumes, or filling out job applications, they come to the library, because they know they will receive quality help without judgment. It naturally follows that these individuals will become working, contributing members of the community. Additionally, many libraries enjoy a reciprocal relationship with local businesses; in exchange for support for resources and programs, libraries often offer advertisement and patronage to local businesses.

4. Libraries promote the importance of reliable information. Libraries house collections of learning, information, history, and truth – four things that are becoming increasingly important, and increasingly under attack. In an age where truth is relative, libraries provide an open path to the facts to whoever is interested in learning. By offering this unbiased and unrestricted access to information, libraries champion equality and truth, and defend against the spread of propaganda and misinformation.

5. Libraries preserve history. Often, libraries are entrusted with the history of entire towns. With the rising popularity of the studies of genealogies and family histories, the demand for local archives, birth and death records, cemetery records, military records, and property records are in constant demand. Libraries have hard copies of many of these things, and often hold subscriptions to online programs and databases that allow library users to find the information they’re looking for.

6. Libraries are at the heart of the community. Libraries are like one-stop-shopping. They offer entertainment, education, resources, and information all in one place. Parents and caregivers with kids of ANY age can trust the library has programming that will be safe, fun, and valuable to their children; adults can take part in enriching programs geared toward their own interests; local schools can be confident that the library will support their efforts to provide students with as many resources as possible; young adults can take advantage of jobs training programs; and readers of any age can enjoy materials of all kinds in multiple formats, often recommended by librarians who care enough to talk to their patrons and learn what kinds of things they’re interested in.

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All this to say…?

In May of this year, our library celebrates its centennial anniversary. That is something we are immensely proud of. We are SO honored to have been a part of the Belding community for so long, and hope that we can continue to serve the community for another hundred years. But in order to do that, we need people who share our belief that the library is important, that the library is valuable, and that the library is worth fighting for.

I Don’t Know, But I Can Find Out

by Kristen

Remember back in Kindergarten, when we were all taught to share? Share your toys, share your crayons, share everything except your cooties… Of course you do. Well, librarians will always have to remember that little tip. Share, share, share. Librarians share knowledge and resources on a daily basis, not only with eath other, but with patrons. Patrons come in and have something terribly pressing that they need to learn about. The truth? We don’t know everything about everything.  But… we don’t need to know everything about every topic. What we do need to know is a resource that can help us find the answers, whether it is a coworker, a librarian from another library, a book, or simply Google.

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I have been working in libraries for almost three years, now. Whereas to me, this seems like a long time, compared to my coworkers and other library professionals, this is truly only a short amount of time. Although sometimes I would like to pretend that I put on a cap of knowledge and know every answer to every question, and say that all of the information I have ever helped patrons with, throughout this time, was my doing, it would be an entirely false statement. So I won’t even pretend that I knew everything. The best part about that? It’s okay!

Patrons come in and want to know which banks were open in Belding in 1903, who the best cardiac electrophysiologist in the world is, which type of geranium grows the quickest, how many rivers in Michigan connect to the Grand River… The list goes on and on. To tell you the truth, off of the top of my head, I don’t know the answer to any of the questions I just listed. However, I could find out the answer to each of them. (Except, perhaps not whom the best cardiac electrophysiologist in the world is; that’s partially an opinion-based question. *Sigh.*)

I think the most valuable knowledge I have learned, so far, is what I have learned from my coworkers. Whenever I have been stumped by a question, I know I can always look to my peers for help. Between all of us, and our trust in Google (ha!), we can come up with an answer.

So, the next time you are stumped, stop by and hit us with the hardest question you can think of; it’s what we are here for!  And if we don’t know the answer, we can find it!

Ahh, the Library Life

Ever wonder what it’s like to work in a library? Here’s your chance at an inside look!

by Britney

What does it mean to be a Librarian?  The answer to that question is far more complex than one might think.  Immediately “book super hero” comes to mind, and this is, of course, completely true.  However, we are so much more than just books!

We are also: computers and eReaders and job help and tutoring and programming and volunteer opportunities and activities and databases and legal forms and notary services and information and copies and faxing and story times and, and, and…  We are constantly working to expand our offerings to the public, and want to have something for everyone who walks through our doors.  Want personalized book recommendations?  We LOVE recommending books.  Need to check your email, but don’t have wifi at home?  We’ve got you covered.  Have to construct a resume for a job application?  We can help!  And did I mention that MOST EVERYTHING is FREE?  We believe the library is one of our more important community resources, so we want to provide people with what they need.

We hope that our blog will give our followers a glimpse into what it’s like to work in a library – the successes and the struggles, the serious and the funny – because we hope you will love learning about The Library Life as much as we love living it.

Cheers!