Computer Black Out

A story from Monday, the first day after Hurricane Irene…

Our Power Library computers are set to go off five minutes past closing each day. I and everyone else who works with patrons that use our computers forgot this fact on Monday until a call from the reference desk twenty minutes into my closing shift reminded me of this fact. We are staying open 90 minutes later than usual this week to give people extra time to have access to computers, power, internet and running water. Several frantic calls, Twitter direct messages, and instant messages later it dawned on the closing staff that no one knew how to reset the computers so they would not shut off at the usual time. Panic.
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Travel Planning

Patron help of the day: Last week a lady came in seeking advice on how to digitize her personal document collection. I was working in the computer lab at the time, so I could not devote my attention to her. She came in today and realized how crowded our library was since 40% of the Town was still without power. So very considerately she made an appointment to come see me next week. Two appointments in fact. I’m a little nervous about spending four hours with one patron, but at the same time, I think it will allow me to produce a guide on how to teach digitization and digital preservation for the average public library patron. Hopefully I can turn this into a class for our Adult Technology Classes. As well, these two sessions with her might be the first stepping stone towards creating a true archival program at my library.

Speaking of which… I don’t recall if how I decided to not run a PhotoStory class and instead decided to focus on creating a job program/promotion thing with our reference department. I am required to spend nine hours a week in the computer lab helping patrons. Most of this time is spent showing people how to fax using our three-step method, how to print, answering questions about why so-and-so isn’t friending you on such-and-such social network. However, I also get to see what our real patron needs are. One of them is that many of the people who come to our computer labs are looking for work. They ask me questions about how Microsoft Word or Google Docs works and I am often witness to their less-than-ideal formatting of cover letters, resumes, and emails. It weighed on me that I would be doing them a disservice to promote a fun but silly software program when there are people who need help competing for work.

I still need to pitch this idea to the reference department now that their head is back, but I think we can work out something that will be beneficial to our patrons. Another random insight is that we REALLY need wireless printing. My coworker would probably be the one responsible for this, but his plate is very full at the moment.

Summary of the rest of my day: Continue reading →

Long Day

It’s past my bedtime since I’ve been playing with my new Samsung Epic phone. So just a quick list of today’s activities:

  • Meeting to talk about the web redesign plans. We basically just rehashed last week’s conversation.
  • I started theming my first View for the classes’ schedule.
  • Emails returned! A glitch deleted any emails which were sitting in our inboxes so I lost about 8 messages. I can only remember one of them…
  • Signed up for Internet Librarian.
  • Dashed around the computer lab and into the Teen Room non-stop for four hours solving problems.

The highlight of things this evening was discovering that ~sedna presenter is now compatible with my work computer so I can fully take over the digital signage now!

UX things to look into:

  • Which databases can be accessed remotely.
  • Wireless printing.

The library was mentioned in the local paper for keeping its door opened late. Yay!

I am a tag

On the way home tonight, Thomas and I were talking about what a UX librarian does. I only have the limited experience of my own job which my boss had a hard time describing. He wouldn’t have used the phrase “catch-all” but it is fairly adequate. I prefer to think of my work as “Solver of Problems” (though sometimes its just
“Discoverer of How Things Don’t Work”).

In the literature, UX is referred to as someone who immerses themselves in thought experiences about the user experience, observes the physical and digital environment that a user is forced to interact with at the business they patron. I always picture this UX expert as resting his chin on the flap of skin between his thumb and pointer finger with pursed lips and purple-tinted glasses. I confess that I probably got this image off some book cover. However, my job with the title of UX librarian does not match the representation of what a person involved with user experience does day-to-day. As discussed above, my job is more fluid as I handle whatever gets thrown at me. Perhaps the people writing about the lofty goals of UX as a profession are people who are hired as consultants to work on specific projects instead of someone who is hired to be the go-to-person for UX-related questions. I think the two variations are vastly different spheres.

So how does UX work in my library? My actual UX projects are massive and have a timeline of years for when they will be approached and implemented. An example would be the evolution of my library’s website. However, most of my day is spent addressing small, frantic, tech emergencies from every other department in the library. I squeeze in my definition of UX librarian in always being observant for ways to improve customer service and interaction in the library. My coworkers use me as a UX tag because they will think of or observe something and will then hunt me down to tell me about. So far they prefer to not do it via email or by responding to a quick survey I send out. They want to see me in the flesh and then give me the history of the problem, how long they’ve been asking for it to be solved, and what they’d like to see happen. I use the tag analogy because when they see me walk by, it triggers an Oh, yeah! moment, and then they call out to me. They spill their story/suggestion and I make a mental note of it for I am their walking UX tag.


This post is for Thursday, August 25th:

  • Worked on classes registration some more. Trying to see if Google Forms vs. Webform Events Drupal module was the best option.
  • Created panel for an upcoming exhibit.
  • Created a post for next month’s eblast newsletter.
  • Wrote to some people about how to promote our texting service more (which was what the newsletter article was about).
  • Emails!
  • M

  • anned the computer lab. Heard some interesting stories there…

Making Headway

Today’s projects and their statuses:

I finished modifying my first Contactology template. I added some functions such as she can easily click to insert photos and text without changing the template layout. I’m pretty pleased with it! Contactology lets you paste your code and then refresh the page to see how the changes look. So I spent a lot of time tweaking the code in Dreamweaver, pasting it over on the website, refresh, click around, and then go back to Dreamweaver for further changes. Btw, the find search box is the best tool in any designer’s toolkit.

I went to a conference call meeting with the guy in charge of usability testing for my library’s website. It was a little awkward when I was put on the spot and asked what did I think of the usability report when I had written a response which was basically, “A+ job. You pointed out 90% of what I already knew.” I was given a heap of things to do before the project can move forward.

The immediate biggest issues are changing the site from a fluid to a fixed layout and the taxonomy/breadcrumbs is going to be a nightmare. On the other hand, as the other members of the group talked, I was rapidly drawing thumbnails for how to address certain issues. For example, it is vital that we have an archive of past events on the website. Currently, those archives are a mess and it’s generally more an issue of just using the search bar and hoping to find everything. My proposal involves creating say a Meet the Author page for each visiting author. We’ll use Views attach to create a gallery of posts about their visit, photos, and videos. That’s a pretty tall order, but I feel confident that I can achieve it. What makes me a little uneasy is creating tightly controlled templates for content so they all have an identical layout. I will have to do some research on that one.
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Embedding a Google Form in Drupal for Event Registration

I also worked on creating embedded registration forms on the website for this fall’s adult technology classes (signups are next week!). Below is a quick summary of the process which involved using the library’s Google Docs account to create a form using the plain theme. I had to tweak the questions several times till I found a satisfying solution. Later I did some work to remove the form title and am researching how to enforce limits on how many people can fill out the form. I also need to change the confirmation code so it’ll redirect back to the class list page.

Lots of tweaking my settings to get this!

The finished page

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Earthquake Adventure

The highlight/fright of the day was the 5.9 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. No injuries and no major damage has been reported. My adventure began with me being on lunch in the break room. One coworker was standing in the doorway, trying to leave the room, but the other coworker distracted her by asking a question. I was looking at the table, trying to tune out their conversation when nausea rolled from my crossed knees to my chest. I’ve had this sucky cold/flu thing for the past week, so I thought “Oh, God, it’s back with a vengeance.” I then look up and see that the water splashing in the water cooler across from me. Then I notice that my coworkers have stopped talking and their eyes are staring at the cooler. I hop up, rush to look down at the magazine room to see that the patrons don’t seem to notice. Nor do the people walking around at the car dealership across the street. Maybe it’s just this room, this floor.

“It’s an earthquake!” I said. A moment of hesitation as we three exchange looks. We then decide to book it down the emergency stairs and flee the building. One coworker stops to gather up her lunch and I yell, “Leave it!” even as I scoop up my Nook Color. I hold open the door and order them to hold the handrails as I go into full older sister mode with two women old enough to be my mother.
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