Monday, December 21, 2009

Library Staff Donates to Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry

As you may know, the Library annually holds its "Food for Fines" week in November to benefit the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. During this time, people can bring in unexpired, nonperishable food items for credit toward their overdue fines. The Library also places a collection jar for monetary donations to the Food Pantry during that week. This year $237 was collected from the public.

Going into the holiday season, the Library management team and I knew that some staff were struggling financially. We had an idea to replace Secret Santa or gift exchanges among staff with a donation drive for the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. Our goal would be to collect at least as much as we had collected from the public during Food for Fines week. That way, each staff member would put in as much as they were comfortable with, without having to disclose any financial hardship to their co-workers. Then the idea snowballed...

One management team member pledged to match dollar for dollar the other staff members' donations. Another had her whole family join in to donate. Two others convinced a club to which they both belong to make a group donation.

Together, the staff and their friends and family donated $1,250 to the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. I am very proud of the Library staff and their generosity to this amazing organization.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Question of the Day - Why Hold In-Service on Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day?

The Library closes twice a year for in-service training. On these days, the staff of the Library has meetings and workshops, planning sessions and refresher courses on topics ranging from Disaster Recovery to Library policies.

Several years ago, we studied our usage patterns on certain days of the year, over 3 years, to determine what might be the best days to use for In-Service training. We focused on Fridays in the summer after Summer Reading was finished and holidays for which the Library was not closed: Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and Good Friday. The holidays were selected because staff noticed that usage tended to be down on those days, with frequent phone calls about whether or not the Library was open. Summer Fridays were the default In-Service days prior to the study. The anecdotal lower-than-average usage of the Library on holidays the Library did not close was corroborated by the study. Summer Fridays were found to have average usage. Columbus Day and MLK Day were selected in an attempt to spread the dates out as much as possible through the year. Good Friday was not seriously considered due to the religious beliefs of certain staff members and the fact that the date varied year to year.

So, when the Library is closed on January 18, your staff will be inside, brushing up their skills and preparing to better serve you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Questions about DVD collections

With more people making use of the Library's free DVD checkouts, we've had a few questions about DVD ratings and how the location for certain DVDs are determined. Just like the books are divided into collections to help guide patrons to appropriate materials for their age and interest, the DVD collections are too.

The Library's collection of DVD is divided into Juvenile (J) for kids, Teen and Adults. DVDs intended for children are in the J DVD area. These have an MPAA ratings no higher than PG. DVDs of particular interest for Teens are housed in the Teen DVD area and can have a rating up to PG-13. Anything rated R or unrated is located in the Adult DVD area. This is not to say that you will not find G or PG rated movies in the Adult section. DVDs are divided by intended audience first. This means you will find "Sound of Music" and many other classic movies in the Adult DVD area because their primary audience is adults.

Some have asked why we do not label DVDs according to their content. I argue that they are already labeled by content - not only are they in a particular collection at the Library, the MPAA rating information is on the DVD case. This rating information generally includes the category upon which the rating is based, such as graphic violence or sexual situations.

The public library's role is to make materials available. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure that the material selected by their own child is appropriate to that child, just as you would at the video store.