Carambas, it’s good!

It’s an occupational hazard, or maybe just a wierd sort of hobby. Whenever I’m in any business, I look for customer service, especially as it parallels that in libraries. Tonight I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and saw a textbook illustrated right before my eyes!

  • When we walked in the place was full . . . people were enjoying themselves, kids were noticeably welcomed.
  • The staff, and especially the owner, were smiling and greeting everyone.
  • Service was prompt, the food arrived with a smile.
  • The product was attractive and fantastic as always.
  • Several times someone spoke to us, finding out if we needed anything.
  • We must have come right after a rush — suddenly a bunch of people left and there was a lull.
  • The staff, led by the owner, grabbed rags and sweepers and bustled around, tidying up and putting things in order.
  • The owner made a point to come over, sat down at an ajoining table, and chatted with us.
  • We complimented him on his growing business.
  • He said he’s had a number of invitations to move it elsewhere. But he likes the clientele and service he can provide right there, where his customers are, in the homey neighborhood that’s not known as a prime location or one of the better places in town.

We left, promising to return soon, as we always do. We got in our car which was parked in front of another food place on the strip mall. There was nobody in it, and the workers were lounging in the booths looking bored. Not too hard to figure out why the restaurant we had visited was getting all the business.

Fallibility in a print source

As a librarian and teacher, I’m always looking for examples to point out that just because it’s printed (or on the Internet) doesn’t make it so. I found a wonderful example tonight of something really wrong on the pre-printed part of our family kitchen calendar — the Norman Rockwell version we got from our dog kennel last Christmas.

In the block that says November 26th, the calendar printer put “Advent.” Now, any good Lutheran (of which I have been said to be) knows that Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas, which is Monday, December 25th. So Christmas Eve, which falls on Sunday, December 24th, is the 4th Advent Sunday.

Guess I’ll save this calendar to use in research classes to illustrate that it’s always a good idea to check 2 sources. It’s not only the Internet that sometimes gets the facts wrong.

Let ’em down with a smile

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” — a really good thing to remember when we’re thinking about customer service. I pulled up Bloglines earlier this evening to find out what’s buzzing in the blogosphere, and though not successful (at least for a while), I couldn’t help but smile at the resulting screen below. Although we try really hard not to say no, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Finding a way to say it good-naturedly and leaving them smiling is certainly a good goal to reach for.

Bloglines Plumber

Delivering the keys to ELM

Would I like to do training for a library on a Holiday? Would I like to teach that class at 8:00 a.m. at a location 45 miles away? and finally . . . . would I like to travel to that class in a snowstorm that was dumping 3 inches per hour over roads that were not plowed? Hmmmm . . . . the answers are “Sure”, “Well, OK”, and “What?”

Such was the case on Friday, the observed holiday of Veterans Day. I have been working with Wabasha St. Felix School and had assisted them in getting their IPs authenticated so that their students could use the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). ELM is a state-funded collection of online magazines. Friday November 10th was their scheduled staff in-service day, and they invited me to teach them how to use ELM.

One of the top reasons I love my job is visiting schools and libraries, showing people how to use ELM. Subscription databases of magazines that are funded through state $$$ have become so commonplace to me, that I am frequently surprised anew when I find out how many libraries and individuals have not discovered them. When I do training, I feel like Santa Claus – giving away huge amounts of magazines and references to expand their libraries. Every session I’ve taught has been nothing less than exciting. I constantly beg libraries to let me come in and teach exploratory classes in finding magazines that will be useful.

Friday in Wabasha was no exception. As tough as the driving was, all the teachers were there — many traveling as far as I had through the 12-inch snowstorm. It took the technology teacher an hour and a half to get from Goodhue (a distance of about 30 miles). We had great fun and all reported that they’d found valuable resources for their classes. One said she’d not used the computer much, but intended to practice using ELM.

And once again, I’ve got this warm, fuzzy feeling that I’ve contributed in a positive way to kids’ education (of course after I’d returned safely home through the snow). Next stop for the ELM roadshow — LaCrescent-Hokah, 3 weeks from now. I only hope for better weather.

Veterans Day Salute

Today is Veterans Day. Coming from a heritage that places a high value on commitment to patriotism and many years as a military spouse (career and now retired), I know first-hand the pride, satisfaction, and cost of military service. Few of the Veterans in my family talk much about their time in uniform. In fact most are reluctant to talk about their part in an era of family contributions that span World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and all the years through the Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Veterans Day Salute

Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. It is a collection of audio- and video-taped oral histories, as well as documents such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and home movies, of America’s war veterans and those who served in support of them. The collection is maintained through the Library of Congress and is being built by volunteers — including many libraries and history centers.

As a librarian, I also take seriously my professional role in preserving democracy and individual freedoms. We call it intellectual freedom — that assurance that citizens have a right to uncensored access to information. No unit of government should make a policy that supresses anyone’s access to a broad range of ideas. In cultures of oppression, the government doesn’t want people to know or see anything in oposition to the philosophies of the powerful. Education is not nurtured or may even be denied.

Today is a good day to review the Library Bill of Rights: from the ALA website

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

I also can’t help but comment on the salute to Veterans Day posted on and the noticable omission of observance by Google. Veterans Day 2006