Exciting Things!

I AM GOING TO FANGIRL EXCITEDLY FOR A BIT BECAUSE SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED AT WORK THAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING.

So my supervisor told me I was doing such a great job with my non-fiction section that she turned over the YA graphic novel section to my control which is basically all I have ever wanted in life.  The section hasn’t really been taken care of for a WHILE, and it shows – many, many of the books need to be replaced simply because they’ve been read over and over and over again.  We also have a bunch of single and random volumes from series that we received in donations, that are never checked out because of lack of interest of lack of availability for the rest of the series.

My first step is, like before, to do some serious weeding.  Manga and graphic novels go in and out of style pretty regularly; the first thing I’ve been doing is checking some of our older series to see if people are still reading them (series weeded due to this: Negima!, Oh My Goddess, No Need for Tenchi, Inu Yasha).  The second thing is finding the series that ARE being read, but that need holes filled in (Rebirth, Crescent Moon, Alice in the Country of Hearts).  Third, I’ve been ordering replacements for series that are so well read we have books just falling apart (Naruto, Bleach, Death Note).

I’m still working through those things.  But what I am also doing is identifying huge holes in our collection – the most egregious being, I think, the lack of traditional superhero titles.  The last person who was in charge of the GN section was a manga guy, which is fine – but it means we don’t currently have ANY New 52 titles, and our Marvel collection is pretty much limited to some Spider-Man, Thor and Iron Man.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE MOST EXCITING PART OF ALL OF THIS.  My boss gave me the go-ahead to set up a meeting with our local comic shop, so we can create a pull list for some trade paperback titles.  I get pretty much full autonomy in what we order, as long as I don’t go over budget (which is not a problem, it’s a big budget).  I’ve already got some titles in mind that I know I want to add (Batgirl, Swamp Thing, Uncanny X-Men, Hawkeye, Unwritten) and I’m looking forward to hearing what the guy at the store has to add based on what he sees teens buying.

Basically I am super excited that my boss trusts me this much.  What titles do you stock in your graphic novels?  What do you consider quintessential to your collection?

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A Small, Temporary Negative Digression

Things have been going well at the library. The weather has been getting better incrementally, which means people have actually been showing up to storytimes – I’ve had my usual attendance of two or three kids, which isn’t exactly a booming turnout but it does give me a chance to really focus on each kid, which they respond very well to.

The longer I work here, though, the more of a particular off-putting trend I see in the way that our patrons respond to and treat us as the librarians. I feel weird commenting on it at all, except…well, you’ll see.

I see it mainly with our teens, but also with their parents. Adults are guilty of it too (as I’ll mention).  Younger children might be the worst about it, but the most easily redirected. The problem is this: it seems sometimes that people expect us (us being the librarians) to be able to solve all of their problems, and be on hand to assist them with any need, at any time.

Even reading that makes me feel ridiculous. I’m a librarian. I help people. It’s what we do. But should that extend to, say, providing personal answering service to our patrons? Because every day, especially after school hours, our phone rings off the hook with parents trying to reach their kids, leaving messages for them that we are expected to deliver. Just this afternoon, I had a gentleman call looking for his wife, and when I couldn’t locate her in our department he asked me to, if I saw her, ask her to call him.

I frequently have kids ask me for things that either we don’t own or doesn’t exist (I’ve been asked for light boards, better computer mice, cups, forks, and other dishware, etc.). Multiple times a day, I’ve had patrons ask if we had phone chargers they can use – and as a follow up, since we don’t, can they borrow mine?

This is not to mention every time a kid or teen asks if we can bend or ignore a rule so they can check something out (despite hundreds of dollars in fines), exceed the person-limit in a study room (despite it being a safety hazard), let them have more computer time (despite the line of people waiting for their turn). Also adults feeling entitled to use our spaces with little to no warning, regardless of whether we’re hosting or preparing a program in the space they want to use. I don’t know how much of this is intentional or not, but there comes a point when it feels like patrons expect us to accommodate their every need, regardless of how plausible, possible, or inconvenient it may be.

I’m proud of the services we offer. I’m proud of how well we serve our community and patrons, and every time a patron thanks me for my help I am proud that I made a difference in their day. Is there a limit to how much we should accommodate our patrons? Should there be?

The Pleasures of Ordering

One of my newer duties at the library is maintaining our folk and fairytale collection.  My first big job was to weed the section – it hadn’t been taken care of in a while, so I had a lot of work to do just clearing out the broken down and old books.  Now that I’m mostly done, I get to start on the next phase, which is making me feel a bit like a kid at Christmas – ordering new materials.

The 398’s were TREMENDOUSLY out of date.  We had maybe 8 different versions of Aesop’s Fables, but only one, lone (ugly) version of the Arabian Nights.  Twelve Mother Gooses and one Robin Hood.  Our multicultural folk tale selection was abysmal, and most of the section was a wall of old, beige, boring color.  Nothing eye catching or interesting, lots of super dated (and kind of creepy) illustrations.

But now I’m submersed in book catalogs, and the choices are endless, and beautiful, and I’m glad that my supervisor has final approval on my choices because otherwise I would be ordering ALL THE THINGS.

Being involved with making actual purchases is probably the part of my job that makes me feel the most connected to my library – decisions I’m making now will affect the materials patrons see, use and have access to for (hopefully!) long after I’m gone. That’s a powerful feeling.