Transforming Word Help to Genealogy Resources

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my interactions with patrons. I’ve written about it before, but I’m now wondering how common is my method of assistance for patrons. Here is yesterday’s interaction:

I received a long email from a very stressed out patron asking for help in creating a template in Word. Then I’m told that this patron is in the computer lab asking for help. So I go out and she tells me the background of her project. Together we work out how to accomplish what she wants. I also show her an alternative method. She wants to stay within Word. We work through the problem to a solution that she is happy with. Then, I, acting upon what I had gleamed during our chit chat, ask her about how she’ll be presenting and sharing the data she is collecting. This then leads to us talking genealogy software and I introduce her to the concept of GEDCOM (genealogy files) software. She’s been filling out her family tree in Ancestry but had not realized she could export it out into the genealogy software she already has. I then inform her and show her how to access the Library’s Ancestry.com account.

Most of my private interactions with patrons go along these lines. I suppose this is how a reference interview goes, but I’m not entirely sure? My favorite part at the end of these conversations is the patrons’ eyes lighting up as they realize all the other resources the library gives them access to.

Bump on the Head & Dust on My Knees

Today I helped set up the last twelve thin clients in the Lower Level computer lab. The work isn’t bad — especially since I was not the one drilling bracket holes or setting up the digital space. Instead I was popping in the thin clients, mounting the bottom “cage”, and then arranging the cords. I’m not quite at Lifehacker photo worthy levels of cord management, but I think they’ll stay out of the way! The desks are very low, so I have to sit under them with my head completely tilted sideways. My boss and coworker are too tall, so they have to lay on their backs to work. I think the worst part is how the rough velcro ties rip at your fingers. However, when we were done, the room looks clean and wide open with all the new desk space after the almost-five year old Dell towers were removed.

Patrons then kept me hopping while I was on desk. One lady wanted to use the typewriter. I think she’s officially our third patron to use it while I’ve been here! Her friend had told her we have one. The one I set up is a new Brother typewriter. It’s very different from the typewriter I used 18 years ago. Together, the lady and I struggled through understanding how to use it since it had lots of ALT/Code key combinations to set up the paper before typing.

I was then allowed to bow out using some of my comp time. I escaped home to finish up Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which I highly recommend!

Teaching & Presentation Review

Yesterday I gave my Online Security talk to my coworkers. It went well over the two sessions. The most valuable interaction happened afterwards. My colleague praised my teaching style saying that I allowed people to chat, but also smoothly pulled the class back on course. She also said something about liking how I made it easy for people to understand the topic. I’m thankful for this feedback because I usually live in my head and have my own perspective about how I come across. That is, I see myself as being a bit awkward and self-deprecating. My goal is make people laugh while making sure no one is left behind.

Today I assisted a colleague in listening to her big presentation, giving feedback, and then edited her slidedeck on Hospitality in Libraries. This proved to be a valuable lesson for both of us as we got solidified her thoughts and I got to teach her about designing slides. She then took over and finished the work. Great job, Sally!