Thursday, June 16, 2011

Send Me On My Way

Hello, hello!

It's been about two weeks since I last posted, so I figured I should hop on and update you all! You lucky ducks. Actually, this post is mostly happening because facebook is down and goodness knows that when facebook is down, life as we know it changes. And life as we know it involves Kara NOT updating her blog regularly, so clearly: Facebook. Is. Down. :P

In any case, the thing I'm probably most obligated to fill you in on is my internship. After the first day last week, the rest of my days at the library last week and two days this week were spent training to work the reference desk. Good times were had by all! The first two days on the desk, I just sat at the second computer clicking through the modules Connie set up on Scholar for the interns to familiarize themselves with the library. There wasn't a whole lot in there that I didn't already know because most of it you could figure out just spending a day in a library...or being a student and having to write a research paper. But the few points of interest I did learn were these:
+ A patron's privacy must be protected. You can't share what a patron asked about without their permission, even with your spouse, because sometimes the information they're seeking is of a very personal nature (say someone came in asking for a book about prostate cancer because someone close to them was just diagnosed).
+ Working reference is all about bridging the information gap: taking what the patron is actually saying and figuring out exactly what they're looking for and how best to help them. For example, say someone came in asking for "information about Ohio." But what they really want to know is the best places to go bird-watching along Lake Erie. The way you direct them for general information about Ohio and for prime birding locations would be entirely different.
+ Don't ask "yes" or "no" questions while working reference if at all possible. Ask open-ended questions that will draw information out of a patron to help you bridge the information gap.

Maybe all of that is SUPER dorky, but I kind of love it. I was also taught how to work LiveRef, which is the feature on our library's website which allows you to receive help online by chatting with the librarian working the reference desk. I know how to tell if a user is an undergrad, grad, professor, etc. by looking at their information, and how to tell if they're accessing the website from an on or off-campus location by looking at their IP Address. I haven't actually run LiveRef by myself yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm actually capable of helping.

Otherwise the reference desk is pretty neat. When a patron actually walks up and asks for help, we have a dual monitor system so that they can watch how we work Addison, the library's online catalog. That helps them figure it out for themselves next time, and helps them realize we're not just gurus...we just know our way around the resources. :)

After I finished reading and clicking through all of the modules on Scholar, I started working on cross-checking our database/catalog of books in the collection with this month's list of published works. This is one heck of a list, guys. It's a full book itself, with 7-10 books listed and summarized on every page. What I do is type each title's ISBN into Addison and see if we actually have the book in our libraries. If we don't, I mark a little empty circle next to the title. If we do, I mark a little check. It's fascinating and wonderfully mind-numbing. You really don't have to think much at all while you do it if you don't want to. I've done upwards of 50 pages in the book so far (which is hardly an eighth of the whole thing) and am challenging myself to see how much of the book I can get through this summer. :) You wouldn't believe the prices on some of the books in this list. I've seen some that are upwards of 500 dollars. The really expensive books tend to be references like encyclopedias. It just makes me so curious about which of these books will actually be used someday (our copies specifically...although some of the titles make me wonder who would ever read those books...ever. Hahaha.). In any case, I love even the menial work involved in my internship, so that's GOTTA be a good thing! :D

Neeeext up is updating you on the job front! I waited a week for Mill Mountain to get back to me since I was told they'd call within a few days of my interview. When I didn't receive a call, I called them Monday morning to discover that they'd picked someone else for the job and were keeping me on file in case they ended up needing someone else. Which meant that I was back to square one: more applications. Gross. I stopped in to Jimmy John's and Mike's Grill. Jimmy John's was out of applications so they told me to print one off at home and bring it in. Mike's Grill allowed me to fill one out on the spot and the lady I spoke to actually seemed interested in having me work as a waitress there in the Fall, which would be AWESOME. I love Mike's Grill, so I have a hunch I'd love working there, too. :)

But in any case, that still left me without summer employment, which was part of the deal for me staying in Blacksburg and doing this unpaid library internship. This is where the story gets neat. Tuesday morning, I was really discouraged about the lack of a lead on a job, so I spent the morning doing laundry and watching Gilmore Girls. In the middle of those two activities, my Aunt Terri called and we discussed my job situation as well as life in general (I LOVE HER SO MUCH!) and she said she had already been praying for the job situation to work out for me, but she'd just have to pray extra hard now and have my cousin Abby do the same. As soon as I got off of the phone with her, I saw that I had an e-mail from my brother in my inbox. He had forwarded me information about a job opening for a receptionist at a local independent insurance company. I immediately sent him a thank-you e-mail and e-mailed the woman at the company who had e-mailed a friend of my brother about the job opening for her to forward. By that afternoon, I had an e-mail response and a request to call and set up a time to come in and interview. I did both immediately and went in Wednesday to meet her and talk about my application and resume. She is so so so sweet. The whole office is! It's very family-oriented, and I have a suspicion that almost everyone there is related somehow. As a military brat, seeing a company in a small town where everyone has known each other for years and years and live near enough to each other to be able to work at the same company...that just blows my mind in a good way. Haha.

Today I went down to the office again, but this time for training. ;) I'm officially set to work all week next week 12:30-5pm. I'm so excited! Training was great, but somewhat overwhelming. I just keep reminding myself that this is a small company, so it's nowhere near as overwhelming as it could be. Take Nicole for example, who's one of at least 80 interns and just started with training this week. I can't even imagine how stressful and taxing that must be, so after training today, I still don't feel like I can properly appreciate how tough it is for her to get her bearings in that company. Praying harder for her for sure. Anyway. I was introduced to everyone in the office and then got to learn how to actually work the receptionist desk from a really friendly girl who's going to be a senior this fall at Blacksburg High. Her dad is actually a client at the insurance company, so I got to have another "SMALL TOWNS ARE SO CUTE" moment. Haha. In any case, she was so pro at the job I thought she'd been working there for a while, but she told me she's only been there since Monday! I was sincerely shocked. I hope I catch on as quick as she did. Haha. So far my favorite thing about working as a receptionist (besides the people in the office, whom I really like) is the postage machine for the mail. It weighs the mail and then puts the postage on! OKAY. FINE. Maybe that's not that fascinating. But TRUST me when I say it's fun. :D

Okay. I'm sincerely tired and I'm still fighting with facebook so I can upload my Collegiate Girl Squad video. I'm going to cut you off from over-indulging in boring details about my life. :) I love whoever you are for reading this! <3 Until next time! :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I should have known...

...that I would feel like life was finally progressing past its faltering, stuttering, dissonant halt once I set foot in the library. Don't get me wrong. It's a very very subtle progression back towards happiness, but the utter abnormalcy of my new engagement with the library has been exactly the thing I needed all along to feel some semblance of normalcy. Puzzle that one out. ;P

What I mean to say in my pretentious convoluted manner is that I started my internship in the library today, and it was absolutely and utterly incredible. I cannot even begin to explain why it was so amazing to me, but, in true Kara form, you know I'll try just the same. :)

I woke early this morning, before 8 (this is very early for me...don't judge :P) out of sheer excitement--and the fact that Will was banging around in the kitchen, perhaps unaware of just how loud he was. Hahaha. After showering and making myself a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, I watched the first half of last night's episode of The Bachelorette (GOOD RIDDANCE BENTLEY. UGH.). This delightful diversion used up all of the extra time I had before my 10 o'clock appointment at the library, so I quickly brushed my teeth, snagged my backpack, and ran out the door. I walked to campus because I'm a romantic and that means I love to walk just about anywhere if it is a reasonable distance. I do love walking, but the truth of the matter is that I'm too cheap to buy a parking pass. ;) In any case, I walked to campus, which took me about 15 minutes. I tried calling my mother to catch up as I walked, but she didn't pick up. I arrived at the library 15 minutes early, so I amused myself by walking around several of the stacks on the 3rd floor (and thoroughly freaking out this poor guy who probably thought I was stalking him...whoops).

I knocked on Connie Stovall's door promptly at 9:59AM, which, in my book, is early. Hahaha. Connie Stovall is the fabulous librarian dedicated to the liberal arts and human sciences with whom I am absolutely honored to work. She really is incredibly awesome for having both created this internship and taken all of the associated interns under her wing. I already know that I shall forever see myself as indebted to her for her generosity and kindness. Not to mention that she's very funny and encouraging. I've only interacted with her a few times so far, and I simply cannot say enough about her. If that's not a testament to her character, I don't know what else could be!

Anyway! I knocked on her door, and she greeted me quickly and apologized because our appointment had snuck up on her and eluded her calendar (which I am quickly learning is very dynamic and extremely essential to librarianship). In true form, she immediately set aside what she had been working on and gave me a tour of the library's 6 floors, introducing me to countless other librarians and library professionals along the way. Ohhhhmygoodness. My heart was racing at first, but I quickly fell into pace with everything going on around me. Everyone is so quirky and funny and genuinely nice. I only remember a few of their names, but I'm going to sincerely try to acquaint myself even better with the majority of them, and hopefully help them when I can be of assistance! Connie really wants this internship to be valuable to those interested in librarianship in that she wants our experience to be as varied and wide-ranging as possible, having us take on projects in all sorts of realms of librarianship...some of which I didn't even know existed!

Perhaps one of the funniest things that happened while we made our rounds of introductions was meeting Carolyn Meier and laughing with her and Connie about the library's recent acquisition of several books in the Gossip Girl series, and how they simply could NOT be put in the American Literature stacks. Hahahahaha. I about died. They defended them by saying they were fun to read, but it was just too funny that that was the most that could be said for them. I might end up being involved in a project aimed at evaluating the current juvenile fiction section, as well as the pop fiction section. I might even get to help pick which books are on display on the second floor--the stacks you see directly on your right after the computers when you enter the library along the alumni mall or across from War Memorial Chapel! How cool is that?! I am beyond excited about how great all of this is going to be.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Paul Metz, whom I discovered is the husband of Nancy Metz who does invaluable work for the English Department here. When he discovered that I intend to go to library sciences school, he inquired where I was thinking of going. I immediately responded that I was thinking about UNC Chapel Hill, at which point he stopped me and said, "Think no more." Hahaha. Connie informed me that he did his undergraduate work at UNC, and I have to admit that perfectly explained the utterly smitten look on his face and the way he placed his hand on his heart the moment I said the school's name. You can call me silly, but it was kind of a magical moment for me which made me feel very secure in my decision to apply there! :)

Other highlights of my tour included learning about "Dinosaur Alley" which I won't disclose the meaning of here; actually getting to see "The Important Floor" AKA the 6th Floor "where everything happens" which allowed me to confirm my suspicion that there are vending machines on the 6th floor (I knew that reddish eerie glow I could see from my dorm room all last year had to be a Coca-Cola vending machine! :P); and getting to take a very brief and exclusive tour of the Special Collections (where I got to see Virginia Tech's incredibly aged books, including their Civil War collection...they also have a really fascinating collection that is out of copyright, so they cannot share it and I probably can't talk about it. Gosh. It was all just so cool! I'm the biggest nerd in the world. Hahaha.

It's midnight now, so I should be getting some sleep to prepare for tomorrow! :D I get to learn all about working the reference desk tomorrow as well as go through several intern tutorials! WOOOHOOOO. Day 2, here I come! <3

Before I go, though, here are the non-library-related highlights of my day:
- Dinner with Catie and Alex and Alex's unfortunate D2 meatloaf
- The awkward boys who thought they were being subtle about talking about me and watching me two tables away (usually I'm oblivious to these things, but I caught them out of the corner of my eye and then realized just how obvious they were being. Almost as bad as the two boys that took a picture of me with their cell phone as they drove past on I-95 on Saturday! I will never ever understand. :P)
- Sneaking up on Winfield at the drink fountain
- Seeing Lyndsay from across the dining hall and running to her to get a hug after seeing her super-happy face <3
- Figuring out who I want to dress up as for the Harry Potter Premiere (it's a secret for now ;D)
- Aaaand finally....watching the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice for the first time ever. Oh. My. Gosh. So much better than the Keira Knightley version! Be still my beating heart. <3

I dearly love the two of you that I know read this blog! ;) Let's hope I actually update again soon! Until then. <3