Books and other vices

So I was sick last week and was told to give up coffee for the medication to work.

“Okay, no problem, just please make me better!” was my response.

Little did I know how much coffee I was consuming daily.

I love coffee, I discovered it during my research aspect of my undergraduate dissertation. I never drank hot drinks before, it just felt weird.

Only after my partner counted how many cups he saw me drink on my day off did I notice I might have a little problem.

My idea of heaven is to have a really good book in my lap, a good jazz album in the background and a cup of coffee that never ran out next to me.
The smell of a new book and the aroma of coffee just go together!

That was until I had my first coffee-hangover.

I am 25 years old and have been to all of my close friends 21st/30th birthday parties in Ireland, so I have had alcohol-hangovers before. Ones where I feel like I can not walk, but keep going. I have given up alcohol for a little bit, as the price of it made me cry!

My first coffee-hangover was on a different scale.
Here are a few things that a doctor won’t tell you will happen if you give up your habit of 7-cups-o-joe cold turkey;

1. You will have a headache, non stop for the full seven days.
2. Lights are brighter, it will sting your eyes.
3. You are going to be so irritable until you wake up naturally.
4. After 3 days, you have this energy reserve you never knew was there.
5. A banana or an apple in the morning will wake you up to the same extend.
6. You feel like your have more time in the morning and will be more relaxed, more focused.
7. You don’t need coffee to function, it can be a treat but only occasionally.

In public libraries, and most that I know of, hot drinks are a huge no no and we have to ask patrons to please take them out side or throw them away.

They can ruin books and tables if split and the smell could make other patrons (like me) carve its contents. I love books too much, I can never give them up.

I had my first coffee today after a week, when I had all the 7 steps, and now I have a headache.

If I was given a choice between having no coffee again or never reading again, books all the way!

Open Access Week

All over Twitter world last week the hashtag #OAWeek was trending and blogs were flying around about the topic.

My main passion for entering Library School last year was the open access to information that every one should be granted, with most being permitted.

What is your public library like for access for people who have a disability? There are many types of people who have hardships in life and people with special needs who need to be catered for. When was the last time you saw someone with a mental health need in the library enjoying themselves?

The systems in Scotland are fantastic and everyone is welcomed with open arms.

Where I grew up, not so much.

I am not saying the whole of Ireland does not have access for someone with a special need, be it physical or mental, but are they welcomed as much as other patrons?

I find it difficult to walk to a certain library in Cork county due to the pathway being so small, I couldn’t imagine a person with a wheelchair being safe without falling onto the road.

Simple things can change this, having an open, honest discussion with library staff, to see if they are fully comfortable if they were asked to help someone. 9/10 will say they are comfortable, but would they really? Are they just telling their bosses what they want to hear so that they will not get fired? This is a really scary time for Librarian Assistants in Ireland, as they are stuck between a rock and a hard place, have a look here to see the jobs that are available: These jobs are for people who are on unemployment, but need the MSc and have no experience, and they only received €50 extra a week. This link is the #1 reason I left my family and friends, as there are no jobs that I could have done without going on unemployment benefit.

There are regular users who will visit the library who have certain needs, and every day you learn how to help them access the information they are searching for a little bit easier.

What I would love is someone, anyone who is reading this and works in a library or with the public and is asked, “Are you comfortable with helping someone who has *insert certain need here* unattended?” and they honestly answer, be it yes or no.

The need for less usage of the Internet (for things we used to be able to do)

The irony of this title does not escape me. I am writing on the internet about how we should all use the internet less!

Statistics show that 36 hours 49 minutes is spent by each adult per month online, which is an increase from the previous figures by over 6 hours a month (Ofcom, March 2014).

My partner is always saying to me, “You use your iPhone too much! I am right here in front of you, talk to me!”

When I walk up in the morning, I use the alarm from my iPhone (and hit snooze far too many times) to summon me from my epic dreams and bring on the harsh reality I need to get up now. I am not a morning person. The second thing I do is check my texts and emails, followed by my newsfeed on Facebook. I have ran 4 apps, 3 which use the internet before I have even dragged myself out of bed and had a shower.

I live in a different country to my parents, so I do like to know everything is okay once in a while by using social networking sites, emails and messaging apps. My
childhood friends are also in regular contact with me through the same apps. I
have a lack of friends over here, in comparison to Ireland, and I really do
think it is because I do not connect with people as much when I have the
magically machine in my hand. The thing that annoys me the most is that I can
actually have a book I want to read on my lap, open ready to devour, and my
phone beeps. I check it, reply, like, share or what I see fit and then… It has been at least 30 minutes and I haven’t even got through a chapter.

I have made friends with people by discussing topics in cafés and have met up a few times in person and it has been great. Since I have had a Facebook, we have the initial talk in the café then “Add me!” chat which had lead to a lack of a follow up
conversation IRL (in real life) and the human connection that I know if I do have not, I get very down.

A few weeks ago, the internet at the library I work at was down due to back weather (it was awful)!

Patrons were frustrated and the library has been pulled back into “15 years ago!” as one user put it. Has it been that long since it was open access to all to the magic machine that if you know how to work it can answer all your questions? Note how I wrote, if you know how to work it correctly, as it really is difficult for new comers to the technology of today to grasp how to use some operating systems and gadgets.

Where I work, and I presume in most modern libraries, when the network crashes, none of the user access computers work. No one can log on to even create a work document. Staff are also in this difficult situation all their appointments and to do lists are in the calendar in their email account that they are locked out of. This is problem for modern day offices, there is not way around it as a lot of the work we do is collaborative and on cloud systems. I have to admit I do like the library this way, it is like my childhood before they put in that one PC in the corner you had to book a week in advance. Patrons were reading book and looking through the stacks.

It was not a slow day in the library whatsoever! Regular users were browsing the stacks and picking up items to read! The micro-film machines were all in use and the questions were all based on the stock we had there and then and the patience for the search were increased. It was really a breathe of fresh air as a MLIS student (aiming to get my dissertation in by January 2015, thus the lack of consistency of posts) to see that everything we had been taught was really geared towards the new digital library and the usage of the internet as a tool for learning, and not just cat videos and sending silly messages about cat videos to one another.

There is a way around the usage of internet in social aspect. I like calling people, I always have. I am chatty, no one will debate on that one. I have turned my conversations with people into threads online and emojis I think fit the topic. I have reduced our friendships to text on screens and alert tones from iPhones.

I have a call plan for 5,000 minutes a month. I rarely use 100.

I need to change that.

The Power of saying “Thank You!”

Working with the public can be tough, you have good days and bad days, in any sector.

Being thanked can mean a lot to people, even myself have had a little bit of a blushed face upon accepting a compliment or praise. (That could be considered an Irish thing, but I will not be talking about that here)!

I have been asked, on numerous occasions, what do librarian do?

There are many daily tasks that could be discussed here, but it all boils down to one thing, “helping people.”

A person doesn’t understand how to use a computer, you help them.

A patron can not find a book on the shelves, you help them.

A library member needs help to check if they are on the voters register for the Independence Referendum for their region, you help them.

The common denominator, is helping people.

My title is “Library Assistant”, so it goes even goes in the job description, we are here to assist the patrons. It is strange the queries that are on the KPI’s per day, with even the same patrons asking the same questions every week…. it can test your patience!

As previously mentioned in my last post I have worked with the public in different sectors. Those people who are asking the same questions every day, it might be only human contact throughout their day where they can connect with someone and have a conversation.

I always try my best to think about I am treating them daily, as I can not expect to receive respect for not showing any to them myself.

Imagine the last time you were thanked at work… Didn’t it help the day go faster?! Always say thank you for services you use, it will help everyone along with their day.

Education VS Experience

Many colleagues that I have had the pleasure of working with, are not qualified in the area of Librarianship. It goes without saying that these workers are fantastic at their job and I hope I could be comparable at some stage of my career, but it poses the question, does experience out weight the education?

I have worked a lot of different types of jobs, which on one hand makes me desirable. I have the skills sets needed to work with the public, but what type of public is that?

I worked as a “Deli Girl” for most of my undergraduate, graduated and waiting-for-my-postgraduate-to-start years. It was in my local supermarket and I really had no idea what I was doing at the start. I had worked in a deli previously but it took a bit of adjusting. I was given the easy tasks at first, then all of a sudden; I could close up on my own and had enough hours to fund a car. I left my steady job a few times (as most of my peers before me) and they took me back. They understood I wanted to grow and learn different skills, and never judged me for it.

I am forever grateful for my deli job, it showed I could have a work life balance to employers in career style roles.

I have a few younger family members and *fabulous* friends who are currently beginning their third level education. What they all seem to think is that the piece of paper will be worth it in the end, and they will get the “dream” job.

If only that is how life works.

I have friends who have graduated and who have gone through college/university without working, in any sector. At the time when I was in my undergrad, I was jealous. Looking at their CVs now… I feel sorry for them.

My generation is going through what seems to be a never-ending-circle of “experienced qualified employees needed” (but we do not want to give you any experience). Some people have to work in a sector that is not reflective of their studies, to LIVE.

They obviously would love to work in the sector they are qualified in, but love doesn’t always pay the bills.

When it comes to the Education VS Experience debate, I am truely on the fence. I am one of the lucky ones that had time to volunteer to gain experience and work in the deli. A graduate in any discipline could come out of university with 1:1, has never worked with the public and has no social skills. Each graduate is different, each person is different.

Employers are going to have to start making changes, they need to at least give people a chance to prove themselves.

Do your best, be nice, and you will get there.

Working with the public

When I applied to Library School last year, I was adamant that I was going to work in an Academic Library within the Arts Department. I did not care what University or Institution is was going to be, as long as I ended up there. I was leaving my car, dogs, extremely supportive; family, boyfriend and friends in Ireland to hop on a plane and go to a country I had never been to.

Here I am, a year later in my first paid library assistant role, and I am in a City Public Library.

Upon reflection, I have always enjoyed working with the public. I have been in part-time or full-time roles in the customer service sector since the age of 16 (with breaks here and there for study purposes, thank you parents)!

I did not know that my skill sets were really geared towards a public library setting, until I was given the fantastic opportunity to work as a Summer Relief Library Assistant. If you had told me a year ago that I would be working where I am, I would have told that I would never do that!

Returning to full-time education after a two-year gap (I graduated in 2011 from U.C.C with my BMus, and went back for my MLIS in 2013) has humbled that little stubborn, fresh-faced, ‘driven’, 20-something girl and has really turned me into an independent woman who can actually do this.

It was really a confidence issue with me, I did not think I would be able to handle the vast types of information enquiries that are thrown at you every day. For example, the KPI’s can be questions on the local voters role, researching family history, how to correctly send away a CV for a job and then… and only then will I consider the traditional “stacking the shelves” that I was constantly told that I was getting a Post Graduate degree in. (And also, the “You need a degree for that?”)

I will share a story with you from my job this week, which has actually help me establish that I want to work within the Public Libraries Sector for the rest of my career.

I had signed up a new library patron who did not have much English a few weeks previous. They arrived in upset and asking for help, as they had been kicked out and had been homeless for a few days. I was a bit overwhelmed at the challenge and asked for help from other L.A’s and Librarians to cover the desk for me. After a few internet searches and Google Translate, I was able to help the patron fill out a form they needed to submit for emergency housing. They left with a smile on their face and being positive, which is all I could ask for. I went out for my lunch date with my partner and came back for a research meeting (off the clock) with a colleague in the department I worked with. As I was leaving, the patron had bought me roses and left them for me.

This made me feel very conflicted. The gesture meant so much to them, due to their cultural background, and I have never been given flowers from someone apart from my parents. (I checked with management and due to the gift being under £10.00 I was able to accept them).

Every time I think about them, I smile.

They are in my flat (which I have been living in for 3 months) next to my pet fish in the kitchen and…. I am really grateful for it.

It has made me realise, when I am trying to help people every day, no matter where they are from and what that information need is, I am making a difference.

I am in the right profession, and I am helping people. Not in a “I am soooooooooooo great so I am”, but as a simple fact. I can do my job. I can do it well, and I love it!