Monday, 21 July 2014

“Can you tell me why so many wars and battles were fought on National Historic sites?”

(The following presentation was part of a recent staff development workshop on the subject of Readers’ Advisory for Seniors .  It has been condensed.)

I’ll admit it – one of the things that scares me most is the concept of Readers’ Advisory. My heart starts racing, my palms get sweaty! For a few seconds, I immediately feel like the librarian who has lost her way. How are we supposed to know about every genre, author and topic in the library? It’s impossible. Then I pull myself back into reality knowing that even librarians who are voracious readers know that they can’t read everything.  

Readers’ Advisory is a critical personal library service.   Our patrons come in for our friendly and helpful service. They want to get in and out with something to read. When they find just the right book and have a wonderful reading experience, they want to visit the library more often. Our best marketing tool is a satisfied customer who spreads the word about the wonderful service that he/she received at the library.

We try to be welcoming and helpful so that our readers leave our libraries with what they came in for, and often more.  Approachability is the key.  Except during the crazily busy times, we can make sure that patrons understand that we have the time to talk about books and reading with them for a few minutes. We want them to feel comfortable coming to us for help.

Sometimes, people are lonely and like to talk about lots of different things, so we try to be respectful but not stray off topic for very long. That said, some older adults crave kindness and human contact and the library may be one of the few places they encounter these on a regular basis.  We look at this as a customer need and understand that we may have to spend more time working with older adults to help them find what they need. This isn’t always possible when working alone or during very busy periods but we should always be aware of its place in the customer service skill set.

 One reason older adults are often so appreciative when receiving good or excellent customer service is that in today’s fast-paced world, service staff can be impatient with anyone who needs extra attention. It’s important for librarians working with seniors to remember that becoming an older adult can be a challenging and stressful time.  Apart from the pre-school crowd, no other group is as openly appreciative when they receive the help they need.   They are also quite likely to point out how young we are on a satisfyingly regular basis!

When people don’t want to search our shelves because they’re in a hurry or because they simply don’t know what they want, they come to us for help. We are the human version of a search engine and we’re supposed to magically produce the perfect books for them in a matter of minutes. And do you know what? We do just that every single day that we work!

So, when people ask questions like:

“Do you have any books with photos of dinosaurs?”
“Can you tell me why so many wars and battles were fought on National Historic sites?”
“Do you have a list of the books I’ve read?”

Then the question: “Can you help me find something to read?”  can be a welcome one!

Sue Aldred
Branch Manager
Rosa M. Harvey Library, Middleton

Monday, 14 July 2014

Library Days at Oaklawn Farm Zoo

Get in touch with your wild side at Oaklawn Farm Zoo.   Located just outside Aylesford in the beautiful Annapolis Valley,  Oaklawn Farm provides a visitors an up-close view with over a 100  species of animals.  Summer is always a busy time at the Zoo.  Many new babies have been born, including goats, llamas, monkeys, sheep, and the list goes on.  Most recent additions at the zoo include a group of Lion-tailed Macaques that arrived in May and three Cheetahs that arrived in June.  The young lion pride of Sterk , Nyah and Obi are a huge favourite to many visitors, as well as the gibbon family of BooBoo, Zandor and their little ones. Come out and discover your favourite creature today!
This summer, the library has partnered with Oaklawn Farm Zoo to offer a great opportunity-- everyone 18 and under who shows their AVRL library card on July 15 and August 12 gets in FREE!  So make sure you have your card in hand, and join us. In addition to the amazing animals, we will be doing storytimes, art, and math games. You can also take a StoryWalk while you are at the zoo! Come find us on July 15 or August 12 from 10 AM - 4 PM, by the deer pen. You can also mark off some activities on your STREAM card. See you at the zoo!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Kids and summer vacation

The Nemours Foundation has some of the most comprehensive, family-friendly health information that you’ll see.  Their   website  has one of the highest rankings in the world on this subject.  I have chosen some sites from this organization to help you keep everyone safe and healthy on summer vacation this year.

*Thinking about camping or hiking in the woods ? Read THIS
*Going for a swim? Read this first.   *How about a plane trip or travel to another country?   Here’s info for you!

And  speaking of vacations,  if you are planning to stay close to home this year the Nova Scotia Tourism publishes the Doers and Dreamers Travel  Guide, the Campers Guide and the Park Events Guide.  Get your copy online or call 1-800-565-0000. 

Thinking  farther afield? We can help there too, check out our travel books at your local library and make plans. And don’t forget to sign up for the Summer STREAM, and try some of THESE great activities. Have a fun and safe summer!

--Patricia Milner, Head of Reference Services


Monday, 30 June 2014

Tablet Time Wrap-up

Last year we received a grant from the Family Learning Initiative Endowment Fund. These funds are made possible by a partnership from the Halifax Youth Foundation, the Department of Human Resources & Social Development Canada, and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education. The intent is to foster learning within the family –not just for children, but also for their adults. Goals include engaging families through positive literacy interactions, enhance a parent’s ability to support their child’s learning, and to promote collaboration. 

The basic structure of our Tablet Time was to offer 4 sessions of personal, hands-on time with our set of 6 iPads loaded with Early Literacy apps, couched in a traditional storytime setting with a take-home literacy craft. We shared books and crafts, had a snack, and then explored an app. Each session paired a book with an app, which the child and parent explored together. Once they tried the featured app, they had time to explore the other learning apps on the iPads.
We had 25 families attend the program in 5 of our library branches. (Each session was limited to 6 families.) The children that attended were between the ages of 2-7. Nearly all of the families that attended own a home computer; 15 own a tablet and 11 own a Smartphone. 16 of the families currently use apps with their children; many reported wanting to find out more about educational and fun apps and less “Angry Birds” type apps. 

From our “exit” surveys (14 returned) we learned that 12 of the families now feel more comfortable with using tablets with their children, and 7 of the families have downloaded some of the apps we used in the program. Several parents reported that their child’s alphabet knowledge increased, and most reported that their children really enjoyed the program. 

This was a pilot project for us, and we did learn some things. When we advertised the program simply as “Tablet Time”, we had fewer attendees. When we changed the name to “Milk and Cookies Tablet Time”, attendance increased. This change also coincided with an improvement in the weather, so we are not absolutely positive that the cookies made a difference! Nearly every family that attended remarked that they would like more time with the iPads, and as a result, we are holding drop-in “APPy Hour” programs in some of our branches this summer.
We will continue to look for quality apps to share with parents and children, and we keep lists of apps that we install on our iPads on our Pinterest boards—for kids, and for older kids. Check your local library’s calendar of events and see if there’s an APPy Hour close to you! 

-Angela J. Reynolds, Head of Youth Services