Get your wiggles out

I walked into work this morning, and there was a sign on our library door “Storytime cancelled today due to illness.” When I asked “how come?” I learned that Vickie, our most excellent children’s storytime leader, had been at the hospital ER last night and was too ill to come in today. She had tried her regular subs and found no one available, thus storytime had to be cancelled.

Well, as the new Director, I thought — disappointing children and their parents is not a good thing to happen on my watch. So I walked through the library and offices, asking who wanted to take me up on the “opportunity” to read for storytime. No takers!

So, as my grandma would say, “the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.” I started out my career as a teacher, so this was not foreign to me. What was difficult was pulling together a storytime in a short time — but I was told the well-prepared Vickie had the lesson plan, complete with books, finger-plays, songs, and a video, all neatly piled on a cart. As encouragement, Carla said that she’d be right there for me guiding me through as my technical assistant.

So, just prior to 10:00 I went to the children’s area to greet the kids, who kept coming and coming. The floor seating area was covered with attentive little ones, and still they kept coming. We lost count after 50; they don’t stay still to be counted.

Well, aided by Carla we went through the planned program, moving from finger plays (put your hands in your lap), to stories about marsupials (it was Australian animals day), to picture puzzles (the kids assured me I draw good). Somewhere in the middle of the get your wiggles out song, I discovered we were ALL having a wonderful time.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the office, I had temporarily foisted my 10:00 appointment off on my able assistant director and technology staff. The appointment was with a network security guy, who was gathering information on our needs to prepare a proposal. Pretty heavy stuff compared to storytime.

But what is really important? Planning for secure computer networks to serve the growing technology demands or literacy training for 50+ pre-schoolers and their parents/grandparents/care givers.

Such is the life of the public library. Constant demands for a wide range of programs and services by a diverse clientele. Not enough time or resources, but somehow we get it done.

And the kids left with big smiles on their faces. And the computer network guy got all the information he needed. And although I was late to get to the start of the state library association meeting, I know I did what I’m called to do — and I had a very good day!

Veterans Day – no apostrophe

Next month there are 2 American federal holidays – Veterans Day (always November 11th) and Thanksgiving (celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November – this year November 22nd).

Many libraries will be putting up signs – “Closed for Veterans Day.” One of my pet peeves (gosh, there are so many) is misplaced apostrophes. And because of my family involvement, Veterans Day is important to me. So, please forgive me for this soapbox pitch . . . . “Veterans Day” has no apostrophe.

And good librarian that I am, here’s my source from an FAQ on the website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:

Q. Which is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?
a. “Veterans Day”
b. “Veteran’s Day”
c. “Veterans’ Day”

A. Veterans Day (choice a, above).Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an “s” at the end of “veterans” because it is not a day that “belongs” to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.

Closing the Norwegian consulate?

Somehow it just doesn’t seem right! According to the Star Tribune, quoting the Grand Folks Herald (good librarians cite their sources), Norway is planning on closing the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Minneapolis. The article says “The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to convert consulates in Minneapolis and Edinburgh, Scotland, to “honorary” status while opening new consulates in China and Spain. Officials said the move would make better use of government resources.” It further says that Norwegian-American groups dissuaded a similar intention in 2001 through a letter-writing campaign.

Norwegian-Americans unite. This is the closest we’ll get to the homeland. Join Ole and Lena and Sven carrying signs in Nicollett Mall.

Be the Bridge

On Friday, when I was in our northernmost library I saw terrific customer service — and an example of the library being the bridge over the technology divide.

A man came in who needed his time sheet FAXed to his employer. The FAX machine was broken at his customary workforce center and he came to the library. Incidentally, the library deserves another attaboy for having positioned itself as a go-to place.

The Branch Manager told the man that the charge for sending FAXes was $2. The man said he didn’t have $2, and could not cash a check, since he didn’t have an account in town. Watching from a short distance away, I could see the desperation in his face and body language. Since Friday was my pay-date, I could identify with how important it was for him to be paid. In truth, I’ll bet his immediate need for a pay-check probably was more acute than mine.

The Branch Manager did what I see as the right thing — she treated him with respect, offered assistance, and sent the FAX and told him to pay her when he could. Wow! Congrats, MB. I’m proud of you and our libraries!

Patience in feeding

Michael Stephens’s Tame the Web post this morning, Advocates Overcoming IT Resistance to Web 2.0, resonated with me, in my new world which is very 1.0. Michael pulled out two concepts from the Carson article about Morgan Stanley’s implementation of 2.0 tools: (1) -Feed the open mouths; don’t force it. and (2) -Be patient, because change takes time.

As the new Director, I’ve seen a number of places where 2.0 tools would improve not only my efficiency but our collective ability to communicate with and serve our customers. I even have a 1.0 (paper, pen, and ink) list of possibilities and have identified a few champions to start the journey with me. Now, how to identify, prioritize, and hold back are my major challenges.