Saturday, October 20, 2007

Views from my Saturday

Today was my last Saturday for this term (she gleefully announces to all asunder) and I spent a great deal of time catching up on what could be termed busy work, but is more kindly referred to as things I can drag with me to the reference desk. Much of what needed to be done was technology related, blog postings and web page updates for the new library web page design samples, and easy enough to do no matter where I was stationed with my trusty lap top. The other task was collection development, also known as spending money. I gleefully perused October issues of Booklist and School Library Journal for juvenile fiction; picture books, middle readers, and YA selections. While doing so, I had time to reflect on how much time it took to complete these three seemingly simple tasks.

I spent two hours today, if the post times are to be believed it was between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, adding juvenile and young adult titles to the resource center blog. Final tally of the project numbers thirty-two titles; six different categories of posts including graphic novels, juvenile fiction, young adult fiction, recreational reading, picture books, and special collection juvenile titles; strategic placement of six book covers highlighting several young adult and juvenile titles (Fire from the Rock, Useful Fools, and Freak); and linked each title to the library catalog for easy access to call numbers, availability, and location. I felt the usual sense of satisfaction when complete, but had a fleeting moment of concern when reflecting on how many things I had on my plate to accomplish today. Statscounter and Feedburner numbers are not huge for this particular blog. Was this time well spent? I have to say yes.

Two to three hours every couple of weeks posting titles to the resource center book and information blog is time well spent. It saves me time from sending various email to education faculty concerning titles they expect to be added, but did not specifically request. It saves the same faculty members time from deleting unsolicited messages from their email in-box. It saves me time at the end of the year as I no longer spend days/weeks putting together book lists for the resource center web site. The blog is searchable, faculty and students may look for particular topics and find posts matching their area of interest, and the blog is an archive of titles added to the resource center collection, as well as education, reference, and juvenile titles. Many of the newest "hits" posted lead directly from the resource center "what's new page." Therefore the blog is working well in tandem with the web page. That I enjoy doing the blog is a great side benefit, but not the sole purpose of the project. Guilt assuaged regarding the two hours spent blogging

The initial hour and a half of my day was spent updating and tweaking the samples created on Friday for the new library web page. After our two hour meeting, the boss presented and we discussed the twenty-eight academic library web pages that contained design layouts the faculty librarians liked, it was evident there were similarities in each of the designs. We liked clean, simple pages without drop down boxes and frills. The layouts most desirable were basic tables with clear-cut directions for further library information. Some of our favorites included:

With these things in mind, I developed the aforementioned sample web pages to give us something viable to view. Personally, I am a very visual person. When starting the resource center web page redesign, I grabbed a pen and paper and made rudimentary sketches of how I wanted things to look. My pen and yellow legal pad did not suffice for everyone to view, hence the sample pages. Taking time this morning to look at the three samples on several different computer screens it soon became apparent that I had neglected to create one page with no specific background color. I opened one of the already completed samples, saved it as another document, made a few simple adjustments to the existing layout, and pulled the background. Now, we have four samples to evaluate.

This evening I have taken a look at the samples from my dinosaur computer at home. They load pretty quickly, even with my dial-up modem, but the 800 pixels we determined to try do not fit on the screen, nor do they print on a single page. Since I do not want to bog things down with the idea of the printer friendly page (in my humble opinion, it should be printer friendly to start with), tomorrow I will send out an email and have everyone look at the pages using different computers - or just make the changes and not mention the problem. I'm thinking 750 pixels is a better size; decisions, decisions, decisions. Our next web page re-design meeting will be scheduled for some time next week. The charge this time is for each librarian to pick the ONE page they like best and then find several design elements in any of the pages they thing would be a great addition to our page. Another couple hours out of my day, but this was an assignment, per say, not a choice.

My third, and probably most favorite task this lovely Saturday was collection development. As I have mentioned before, purchasing for the juvenile collection is one of the great perks of my job. Today I could not help but reflect on a post I read on Read Roger earlier in the day. In it there was discussion concerning a Child_Lit list serv discussion thread concerning a class of library students, the very real concern by their instructor concerning hesitancy to promote books with instances of language, sexuality, and drugs in book talks, and the subsequent comments from the post regarding the lack of back bone these students have and ultimate question ... would they buy the books in the first place? I was going to comment on the post, but for the first time lost my nerve (hence a lack of link to the actual post, go there, you can find it easily).

I wonder how much of this stems from the fact that library students, especially school library students, are somewhat bombarded with issues of book banning and challenges while taking classes? It can be overwhelming. Pre-teens, teens, and young adult readers are looking for books that reflect their lives. And, whether you agree with the language and subject matter being presented, librarians owe it to patrons to purchase high quality titles that deal with patron interest. The library collection cannot and should not reflect personal bias of the librarian purchasing. Are these mlis students not cognizant of the issues facing today's teens? Or, are they really serious about having collections not representative of their patrons/students? It is hard to believe a younger student in "library school" would not be more aware of this distinction.

Did my collection choices take longer than normal today? I do not think so. There are plenty of books in my collection (yes, right now it is indeed my collection) that are great titles, but not something I would care to read. Since the juvenile collection is not about what I like to read, but about supporting the curriculum and providing quality resources for the students, the point is moot.

Tomorrow is my last Sunday evening for this term. Naturally, it is a Sunday evening when the Steelers are the NBC night game so I will not see yet another football game. My plans for the day include adjusting those web pages; in fact I have just emailed myself a reminder on that subject (it's sad, but it works) and starting that article I am supposed to submit in less than two weeks.

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