Ask A Librarian: How do you get/pay your intern?

tweet from the linked URL including a photo of my intern and me

Here is a post talking about how Drop-In Time functions. Now I’ll talk about a recent addition: my intern.

From the mailbag: I love your tech drop-in tweets. They’ve inspired me to get outside of my comfort zone in troubleshooting and helping patrons with their technology. I have reached out to my local high school about getting a student to help me run a drop-in time. My contact at the school has asked for a job description for the student and I’m wondering if you have any advice on specific skills I should list? (e.g. I know I am pretty hopeless when it comes to Macs so it would be very good to have someone who could fill that gap.) Also, I think you mentioned that your program is grant funded? May I ask if you pay your student assistant? and if so, ballpark $? I would love to hear any other advice that you have. Maybe I should just take a field trip to one of your drop-ins for the in-person rather than tweeted experience!

Now this is a question near and dear to me because I give the stink-eye to “for the experience!” unpaid internships for adults or college kids but when a kid is supposed to do community service as part of school, it seems odd to make that a job. So E and I had a compromise. He could keep an erratic schedule and show up when he felt like it and I’d treat it like an unpaid internship. Once he was a regular part of drop-in time (which I am hoping will happen this year), we’ll find a way to reimburse him. And, luckily, I had a short-lived job this summer where I wound up with an extra nice laptop. So that is going to be his payment for this year. Here’s the rest of my response email. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How do you get/pay your intern?”

Ask a Librarian: How to engage a community with limited volunteer hours?

cover image from linked document saying "Principles of Community Engagement, second edition"

From the email box: One of my book followers is doing something very brave for her, volunteering at her branch library. It’s a little branch with a lady running it, who is something out of the 1950’s  —  and not in a good way. It’s quiet. It’s serious. And it’s falling apart without any new visitors at all. So, this lady is asking her new one-day-a-week volunteer to “do something” to get new people to come into the library.

I’ve been giving my friend lots of ideas, based on what I see at my own very vibrant branch library – including mothers’ clubs, reading hours and clubs, tech training, etc. But I wonder if you are aware of some source of inspiration to help library workers that are very low on the ladder, yet eager to invite new energy to a branch? Maybe you have a clever list of the easiest and most successful types of library programs? What seeds can they plant and how often should they be watered?

I think that is a good idea. First off: Five Minute Librarian is made for your friend

http://www.5minlib.com/ Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: How to engage a community with limited volunteer hours?”

Ask a Librarian: File management

old files in leather bindings on a shelf

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog post.

From a local librarian:I get to take over the duties of someone very beloved by patrons who recently left us and this includes computer help. I’m trying to create a repository of ‘self-help’ documents both for staff who often need it and for patrons to take home with them when we do something like set up an email address and they need the steps repeated. I’d rather not reinvent the wheel… it occurred to me that maybe you already have some that you can share? If not, can you provide me some pointers on what to include?

I’m also charged with cleaning up the staff file system on our server and coming up with good practices for file naming, document organization, and teaching our staff how to do it…. I’m hoping you know of some examples of local libraries with excellent file management in place or a set of best practices somewhere so I can give more models of what I’m trying to fix. Where might I find something like this?

Those sound like challenging tasks. I am happy to help as I can. Some of it is really going to be moving people to a “digital readiness” place where they feel deputized to do some of this themselves and that is challenging and needs to be as much an emotional task as a physical one. Lots of positive “you can do it” feedback and lots of “ok let’s try this again….” sorts of stuff, patience, etc. Trying to view improvement as improvement, even if it’s ever-so-slight as opposed to “Man, this is just a MESS.” I know I’m not telling you things you don’t know, but I have found that if I reframe some of the “work” as just being supportive and patient, I can feel better about what I do manage to get done. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: File management”

Ask A Librarian: Tips for Avoiding Online Banking?

banknotes at eh Ottoman Bank Museum
Live porn
Context: I wrote a column for Computers in Libraries magazine about practical technology tips. Here is an email from a reader.

Your December 2017 column, “Money Matters” doesn’t seem to contain any information that would advise or reassure a person who, like me, avoids online banking because she is, frankly, somewhat paranoid about identity theft. As you yourself point out, I’m not the only one who worries about that. Would you consider writing a column that specifically addressed those concerns?
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That is not a column I am likely to be writing. Not because I’m not interested in the topic, but because ultimately my column is a tech column and the solutions to not using online banking often involve offline stuff. Which is good! But at the same time, as much as I respect your own personal choice to not use online banking, I feel that it’s not the weak point in the complex system of electronic transactions that permeate our life nowadays. I feel like those are more like

  • debit cards which get stolen with alarming regularity and are used, sold, and traded
  • non chip-and-pin credit cards though most banks have done away with those
  • social engineering to obtain access to bank accounts through phone banking.

While it’s totally true that not having online banking can limit some of the access points, I sometimes feel that having and securely locking down ones online banking (using something like two-factor authentication, a good long password, and not logging in from anywhere other than a home computer) is actually safer than not having it and risking someone else potentially activating it.

All of this is not to try to sway you from your position which is yours and, as I said, I respect everyone’s agency to make the personal choices that work for them. At the same time, a lot of what I do is to slowly nudge people to make better and more secure choices that allow them to use technology, even as I acknowledge that they may choose, ultimately, not to. runetkix.top

Ask a Librarian: How does Drop-in Time actually work?

image from twitter at the link given

 

Excerpt from an email from a librarian in the Midwest: One of the goals for the new [library] strategic plan is that “Patrons will find support and expertise in technology instruction.” I’ve never taught classes before but I do like to mess around with technology.

I don’t know if it is my perception or not, but your drop-ins seem like a great community building atmosphere where disparate characters can come together and learn about tech and get help. I’d love to know how you have designed/fostered their growth.

I do drop-in time work within the context of a technical high school not the public library, just as an FYI. I started there ten years ago after my last library job had ended (it was grant funded) and I was like “I am taking some time off and will not take a job unless I open the paper and there is a ‘teach email to old people’ job listed…” and well, there was! The vocational school was hiring a VISTA volunteer to help with community tech work. Basically it’s a regional school so all the “sending towns” send kids and money to the school but don’t get as much back as the town that houses the school. So we thought about how to fix that. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: How does Drop-in Time actually work?”