Bowdoin site visit by Todd

Bowdoin circulation November 18, 2012 notes from meeting with Library staff

Bowdoin Library is a 70’s style building attached to the old library building. Much like Starr was, it’s not air conditioned and the stacks are spread throughout the building and an adjoining wing of the old library. Their collection is similar in size to Middlebury’s with about 850,00 monographs. One thing I did notice and appreciated was there were a lot of couches throughout the building, which was nice for sitting and talking to the circulation staff during my tour.
One of the first questions I asked the circulation staff at Bowdoin is whether or not they had a stacks supervisor? The quick answer is no. Instead they train all their circulation students to shelve and they are responsible each day for shelving. The bulk of re-shelving is done at night when it’s quieter.
Amy says that she follows a strict three strike policies with the students. Tardiness and absenteeism without a good reason are not tolerated.
Bowdoin books are returned to the front desk and checked in just as books are at Armstrong. They do not have a check in station like we have here at Davis. They are sorted to holding shelves just behind circulation and to the right (this for entire library). When a section is ready to shelve students sensitize them and do a second check in. Then they are put in order and taken to the stacks and re-shelved.
Amy and I did talk about shelf – reading. In the past Bowdoin had stacks monitors, each in charge of a certain section of the library’s stacks. These positions did not work out as these students weren’t always diligent about working their shifts or shelf reading their assigned section. Currently Amy and other staff walk around the building each day picking up loose books and looking for areas that need straightening up. One interesting thing that Bowdoin doesn’t do is sweep public carrels or study areas leaving books and papers where they are.
Reserves are kept right behind the circulation desk, and shelved by class, not LC?
Equipment is separate from the circulation desk and it sound like IT is more separated from the library then it is here. The circulation desk does loan computers, but the usage is low.
Bowdoin does allow public use of the library, but limits computer use to just 6 computers which are grouped together on the first floor. If the library is busy then the public have to yield use of these to Bowdoin students. Printing is reserved for students, staff and Faculty, via a print card. Students are allotted $50.00 a semester. Circulation does have a card that they can swipe for the public to use.
I also visited the science library on campus for about an hour and talked with Jeff as he gave me a tour of this new facility. I found it similar to Armstrong as it had three long narrow floors with a lot of study space on each side. Jeff asked me a lot of questions about the science collection here and how we dealt with space concerns. They too like Armstrong use compact shelving, but face issues of enough shelf space.
The last part of the day Barbara Harvey show me how they (Bowdoin Staff) had done a large shift on their own with just students and staff. Using a map of the building Barbara laid out plans showing students where exactly each section of books had to be put and when. The plan was simple but very effective. Overall I feel the trip was very worthwhile. Not only was it good to see how another NESCAC school’s circulation department runs, it was also helpful to be able to talk to the staff at Bowdoin and compare notes and answer their questions about how we do things. Amy was very interested in knowing how the penalty point system works out for us.

Conference report by Kim Gurney

Conference: Unlocking the 21st Century Library
Atlanta, GA, Nov. 8-10th, 2012

The conference started off with Warren Graham talking about library security, an ever increasing concern in public and academic libraries across the country. He advocates simplicity, clarity of rules, administrative back up and training. He uses the “any behavior that is disruptive to the use of the library” as the rule of thumb. He pointed out that your co-workers lose credibility if you let the rules slide or give preferential treatment to some patrons. Another point was “just because you pay does not mean that you don’t have to follow the rules. Warren created his 30,30,30 rule; take 30 seconds every 30 minutes to observe the library for 30 days, you’ll learn a lot about the ebb and flow of the patrons and what goes on in the building. Over all it was a great start, the speaker clearly knew his stuff. He described some of our patrons as “reality impaired.”

Several workshops focused on customer service and working with students. The University of Michigan has developed a video training program for their student and staff who work in circulation. This came out of the need to have consistency across different buildings with multiple access points, with staff working different shifts. The video has a movie theme, the staff being the actors learning their parts. They also serve popcorn when doing a screening to complete the ambiance. This approach has worked well for them; other departments are asking for help to creating their own training videos as they run into the same challenges with location and different shifts.

Texas A&M is a huge college, over 50,000 patrons of various types. The access services manager created a program called; Get it for Me. They’ve refined and tuned the service, sent out surveys to gain information, and have been given an A+ rating from their constituents. The presentation of the system was really top notch, one of the best at the conference.

Technology in the library and our patrons using technology was a hot topic. In general it was noted that continued training for circulation staff was a must and that patrons like convenience, eBooks being a good example. Access services teams should regularly discuss the future of their team and what they can do to improve and stay informed. One thing the University of Seattle did to simplify was to make just two patron types, those affiliated with the college and those that were not. That may not work for us, but I did notice that we have many types of patrons; maybe we could simplify a little.

Virginia Tech came to the conference to discuss what they did after a shooting to respond to a lock down or an evacuation of the library building. Working with law enforcement they have devised a plan that works so well they can evacuate the building in about 5 minutes, it’s a big building so this is a feat. The library has four different entrances, one half of the building has 6 floors and the other half has 4 making it awkward to lock down quickly, but they were persistent and can also lock the building down in under five minutes. All staff members have a part to play in both scenarios and they regularly have drills to keep them sharp. It was clear to everyone that Virginia Tech totally revamped how they respond to emergencies; they are well trained and are passionate about protecting themselves and their patrons.

Bound periodicals on reserve for GEOG 0239

Several bound periodicals of Fortune Magazine (from Special Collections) are now on reserve for Prof. Knowles’s GEOG course. Since the items are huge, they’re sitting on a flat cart in the vicinity of the “K” reserve shelves (K12 Knowles). They’re all banded with call numbers and barcodes etc. Hope this isn’t too confusing for everyone, I tried to make things as clear as possible. If you can think of other signage that would be helpful, please let me know!

STATS WEEK, Fall 2012

November 11th-17th, Sunday to Saturday.
If you get asked a question at the desk (other than, “Can you get x for me?”, where x is something that we normally provide to patrons, like a reserve book), please tally it here: (also, GO/zoho_circ)

So if you get asked where the bathroom is, record it.
If you get asked how many books are in this place, record it.
If you get asked how to photocopy, record it.
If the phone rings and someone has a questions, record that.

Get it? (don’t record that)

“Why are we doing this?” you might ask. It helps us figure out staffing, hours, service points, and all kinds of other fun stuff. We only do a week per semester, so please try to be diligent with recording these.