Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gateways Conference is sweet 16!

It's hard to believe that the Support Staff conference has been happening since 1994. Get ready to come celebrate with your peers from around the state on Friday, July 23rd at the Salem Conference Center. Attend great sessions including "Treasures from the Vault - Special Collections"; "On the Front Lines: Support Staff and Intellectual Freedom"; "Author Author: Support Staff Writers", and more. Or sign up for the all day Book Mending Workshop.
Great food, Gift Basket raffles, Keynote speaker Maureen Cole - Director of Oregon City Library, a display of the history of OLA's Support Staff Division all await you.
See you there!
Margaret Harmon-Myers, Conference Committee Chair

Friday, May 28, 2010

Seeing through a visitor's eyes

Sometimes first time visitors to my library comment on how beautiful it is and I smile, say thank you or some such and immediately think of all the ways the architecture is unsuitable to a library setting. There's the dim lighting over reference desks and much of the stacks. The open, circular staircase in the center of the building which allows sound to travel from first floor to the floors above, sound that can be cacophonous with crying kids and loud cell phone users. The shortened open third floor allows sound to spill over into sections of the second floor disturbing those patrons who are studying or reading; and of course second floor noise carries up to the quiet areas on the third floor.

Well, the other day my perspective changed when before the library opened a coworker beckoned me out to the public area on the second floor and pointed to the windows at one end of the building. There I saw what I hardly pay attention to, something visitors notice, and it filled me with joy. Spring green trees framed in the morning light by the stained glass windows that reach straight up from second floor to third. It was breathtaking.

Over the next few days I looked around at the rest of the library differently. I stood in the circular tiled rotunda looking at the smooth polished wood framing the curves of the central stairs, up, up to the far domed skylight on the 4th floor. From the magazine area on the second floor I saw the rich red wood of the third floor ceiling, curved in a wave pattern. The two oversized carved chairs - usable art pieces. I'm with the patrons - I think it's all beautiful.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Enthusiasm: it's not just for kids

I work at the Oregon State Library. Because of both our mission and the architecture of our 70+-year-old building, we're a little different from most other libraries in the state.

One of my occasional duties is giving library tours. They're generally for state employees, or for visitors from other libraries. However, this week, I gave an hour-long tour to a group of 20 5th graders. The kids, from Chenowith Elementary School in The Dalles, were very well-behaved and interested. But what struck me most about them was their enthusiasm.

Not that the adults who tour the State Library aren't enthusiastic. They like learning about the history of the building, and enjoy the behind-the-scenes trip into our warehouse-like closed stacks.

The elementary school visitors liked those things, too, and asked good questions. But they liked pretty much everything else, too. They were impressed that our federal documents collection includes a game to educate kids about the danger of underage alcohol use. They were interested in the genealogy research folks can do in our Reference Room. They were impressed with the Talking Book and Braille Program. They paid attention and asked good questions. They liked our heavy bronze doors, and even thought getting to ride in the freight elevator was cool.

After they left, I started thinking about enthusiasm, how important it is for positive attitude, but how elusive it sometimes is. I probably sometimes sound like Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't try to engage my enthusiasm, because I haven't got one."

However, the kids were right. Our building is beautiful, the collection is full of treasures, and even the freight elevator can be kind of fun. I see it all every day, so I start taking it all for granted.

So, to engage my enthusiasm, I'll start paying more attention to things I see every day.

If you'd like to highlight cool stuff that you see every day at your library, post an comment!