Monday, March 28, 2011

Reader's Advisory Abyss

“Do you know any good books?”  Every staff member gets this question eventually.  But how do you actually provide reader’s advisory?  Do you have to know every genre, subgenre, author, plot twist, and character out there?  No.  Just like providing reference services, you just need to know what type of questions to ask and where to go to find the information the customer needs.  In many ways, doing reader’s advisory is very similar to conducting a reference interview.  Customers often don’t know how to articulate what type of book they want.  They just know they want a “good” book.  You may find that you have to ask a few probing questions to find out what they mean by “good.”  Some examples of questions you could ask include:
“What authors do you like to read?”
“What was the last good book you read?”
“What was the last book you read that you did not enjoy?”
“Do you want something light or something serious?”

HCPL has an online
Reader's Advisor service
called Book Hunters. Let your 
customers know about it and
check it out yourself.
As customers start giving you answers, you will begin to get a clearer picture of what type of book they are looking for.  Now, it is time to offer them some suggestions.  There are many resources you can use to provide the customer with a list of suggestions.  Let’s explore them in our hunt.
On to the Hunt...
Record your entries using the form on Harriet.  Be sure to submit when you are done.

You may want to make NoveList one of your first stops on your hunt.  This database has a treasure chest full of resources and options for searching.  On NoveList, you will find links for Author Read-alikes, Recommended reading lists, Grab and Go Booklists, and a Reader's Advisory Toolbox.  If your customer gives you a book title or author they like, you can look up the book in NoveList and find links to books with a similar pace, tone, subject, writing-style and more.  You can also search for books with specific appeal factors under the Advanced Search function.  One benefit of using NoveList to search for reading lists is that it is connected to the HCPL catalog.  So if you find a title you think a customer may be interested in, you can check the HCPL catalog directly from NoveList.  An online tutorial of NoveList can be found here.
  1. Your customer has read every single Janet Evanovich book and is currently on the wait list for her newest title.  List 3 authors that NoveList suggests if you like Janet Evanovich.   
  2. What are the two "pace appeal" terms used in NoveList?  List one book title written for adults for each of these terms.
Book Lists and Blogs
So many books, so little time.  How do you keep track of them all?  Well, there are many great book lists, newsletters and blogs out there to help you help our customers find great books.  On the HCPL website, you can find links to many of these, such as the New York Times Bestseller List, the HCPL Kids and Teens Newsletters, websites such as Overbooked, and Series and Sequels Websites.  HCPL also has lists of New Titles added to the catalog, Most Requested Titles, and Most Circulated Titles.  These lists are updated at the beginning of each month.
  1. What are the 3 most requested Young Adult Fiction Titles this month?
  2. Using one of the Series and Sequels Websites on the HCPL website, look  up the Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts and list the titles of  the first two books in that series. Note which website you used to find  this information.
Reading Levels and AR Lists
Accelerated Reader Program(AR) is a program which many schools use.  AR tests whether or not students have read a particular title.  Students read a book from the AR list.  Each book has a level and point value associated with it.  The student then takes a test at their school which tests them on details of the book.  The reading levels assigned to books range from 0.0 up to 15.7.  In general, books with a level 1.0-1.9 could be considered 1st grade, 2.0-2.9 considered second grade, and so on.  Parents are often looking for a book for their child to read at a particular level or level ranges.  Many branches will have binders of AR lists for their local schools.  However, even if your branch does not have a printed list of AR books, you can still help parents and students find book in their desired level through the Accelerated Reader BookFinder website.  If you use the Advanced Search option, you can search for a particular book level range.
  1. A customer with a second  grader wants a fiction book with a book level range between 2.0 and 2.5. Using the Advanced Search function, find one and list the title, author, book level, and point value assigned.
Kids and Teens read too! 
Learn More:
Reader's Advisory Training
Don't forget about kids.  Providing great reader's advisory for kids and teens help them realize that libraries are welcoming places that value them.  NoveList has a database titled NoveList K-8.  While very similar to the regular NoveList, NoveList K-8 highlights resources of particular appeal to children, parents and teachers.
  1. Little Bobby is obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid because it is so funny.  He wants a book just like it.  List 3 books that NoveList K-8 suggests.

Congratulations! Searching for the answers to these exercises  and submitting the form has earned you the Reader's Advisory Key to the Treasure Chest!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Island of Misfit Software

Record your entries using the form on Harriet.  Be sure to submit when you are done.
Pharos is the booking system used at most branches to make reservations on the public computers. Information on Pharos can be found on Harriet in the Network Services section.  Customers use their library card number or a visitor pass to log into the system.
  1. When printing visitor passes, what fields MUST be filled in?
  2. How many times a day can a customer login to a public computer?
Ticks is used to submit a ticket to the Network Services Help desk.  You can find a link on Harriet and more information in the FAQ.   The serial number, machine name, and a descriptive title are very important when submitting a ticket.  

Serial numbers (or service Tags) can be found in various places depending on the model of the computer.  On laptops, they're generally on the bottom; on desk tops on the back or side.

Machine names are on the sticker on the computer.  However, if the sticker is gone, you can find the machine name by
  • Clicking Start
  • Right clicking on My Computer
  • Clicking Properties
  • Clicking the Computer Name tab.  
On public machines, the machine name can be found on the Pharos screen.

Descriptive titles help Network  Services staff assign priority to tickets.  For example, if this is the description: "Computer freeze at DOS screen. Will not boot up."  then ADM53 Computer Freezes at DOS Screen is a better title than Computer Will Not Boot.
  1. What is the name and serial number of the machine you are using right now?
  2. The machine is displaying several errors. Main error is that it is out of virtual memory. Some times when clicking to close the error message, the computer will kick you out of Horizon and display the regular desktop screen.  Which of the following is the best title for this problem:
    • DOS will not boot
    • I virtually forgot
    • FB25 Virtual Memory Error affecting Horizon
    • Brrrr, Horizon froze on my computer
Technical Problems
Ticks is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about technical problems.  However, some other departments and/or people handle some other areas.  Who to contact is covered in Who Does What.
  1. Who would you contact for questions about the Digital Media Catalog?
  2. If Horizon goes down, what is the best way to contact the Help Desk?
  3. List the contact names and method of contact for pull list problems.
  4. If you're having problems with the website, to whom do you send an email?
We have access to multiple drives at HCPL.  Drives are a storage mechanism for data and can be something you hold, such as a USB Flash drive or a diskette that is used in a disc drive or they can be on the computer, such as the hard drive, or the server such as the S drive.  The main drives we have access to are:

"C" Drive - This is the hard drive inside your computer.  It is only available on the individual computer.

"P" Drive - This is your branch or department's shared drive. Note: It might have a different letter than P.  You and members of your branch/department have access to this drive.

"S" Drive - This is the HCPL shared drive and is used to share large files.  It is not permanent storage and you should only put copies of files on the S drive.  All staff have access to this drive. More information may be found in the FAQ.

"Z" Drive - is your network drive.  Only you have access to it.  It is the best place to store your documents as it can be accessed from anywhere in the system.
  1. Create a document.  Include your name and branch code in the document's file name and save it in your Z drive.  Go to the S drive, locate and open the Treasure Hunt - Software folder.  Place a copy of your document in the sub-folder labeled Drives.  What is the name of your document you copied to the Drives folder? (Note: Your File will be deleted after you get your key).
File Extensions
Extensions are suffixes to file names and indicate the file format of the contents.  The extensions often correspond to a specific program that creates or opens that type of file.

Documents: The most commonly seen extensions for documents are
.doc for MS Word "documents"
(.docx for Word 2007)
.xls for MS Excel spreadsheets
(.xlsx for Excel 2007)
.pdf (Portable Document Format)
for Adobe Acrobat files Note: PDF files 
are not easily edited, and are used 
as a way to present information 
with a fixed layout similar to a paper publication.
Images: Three of the most common image extensions are:
(Joint Photographic Experts Group)
Generally used for photographs
(Graphics Interchange Format)
Generally used for illustrations
(Bitmap Image )
Tend to be large files, so
used infrequently
For the difference between JPG and GIF see eHOW.

Music files are usually either:
(Moving Pictures Experts Group)
(Windows Media Audio)

Video files are
(Moving Picure [Experts] Group)
(Windows Media Video)
(MOVies from QuickTime)
  1. Look in the File Extensions sub-folder of the Treasure Hunt-Software folder on the S drive.  What are the file extensions for each of the items in the folder?
Congratulations! Searching for the answers to these exercises and submitting the form has earned you a Software key to the Treasure Chest!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Database Dunes

Texshare databases are
funded by the
Infrastructure Act.
HCPL offers over 70 subscription databases to our customers.  Some of these databases are provided by HCPL, such as, while others are provided by TexShare. The databases to which HCPL subscribes can be divided into two groups:
  • The majority are searchable collections of data on a topic such as news articles, genealogy, or business (e.g. Masterfile Premiere, HeritageQuest Online, and Reference USA)
  • The rest are learning centers on a specific topic.  An example of this is Mango Languages, through which you can learn a new language.
Most databases can be searched by keyword and then can be further refined used limiters defined by the database provider.  For example, in Masterfile Premiere, a basic magazine and journal database, you can refine your search by publication and date published.  In the census search in HeritageQuest, you can limit by census year and state.  For more detailed instructions, see Database Presentations on Harriet.

How to search (video)

On to the Hunt...
Search the databases for the following items, fill out the form by recording the requested information.
  1. Reference USA is the most popular database to which we subscribe.  It is a business directory (as well as health and residential).  Information on businesses includes their contact information, type of business, and sales. There are two types of searches, Quick Search, which searches for a company by name, and Custom Search, through which you can find businesses by type, location, and other factors.
    1. How many Bank of America locations (of any kind) are there in Houston?
    2. How many Greek Restaurants are located in Harris County?  Need help? View the video.
  2. HeritageQuest and both cover genealogy.  They both include US Census data and then each has specialized data.  In general, has more detail than HeritageQuest. HeritageQuest can be accessed remotely, while is only available in a library branch.
  3. includes
    all persons in the census
    not just the Heads of
    1. Search the census in both databases for Jack Faber without limiting results.  In which database, did you get more results? 
    2. View the Military results for Jack Faber in What is the date of birth and place of registration for the Jack Faber who registered for World War I?
  4. Mango Languages is an online language learning system.  It offers languages such as Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Russian, and Greek.  In addition, it also offers English as a Second Language for Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Polish speakers.  Users can create an optional account to track progress.
    1. How do you say "Good Afternoon" in Brazilian Portuguese? (Hint: this is in lesson 1)
    2. In what countries is Dari spoken?
    3. English courses are available for speakers of a number of languages.  Which language is not represented? (Hint: hover over the languages for a translation)
      • French
      • Korean
      • Urdu
      • Turkish
  5. LearningExpress Library offers practice tests and some preparation materials in a wide variety of subjects including standardized testing in K-12 schools,  GED, SAT, cosmetology, and US Citizenship.  Customers (and you) will need to create a free login, separate from a library card number, which is required to access the tests as it will keep track of progress. Navigation to discover available tests areas is found on the left side of the screen on the main page, and across the top of the page throughout the database.
    1. In GED preparation, what are the four categories available?
    2. In the US Citizenship practice test, what is the first question, under Principles of American Democracy?
    3. What Occupation Practice Test areas are available for the military?
  6. ChiltonLibrary provides repair information for vehicles from 1940 to the present.  Information varies greatly by both vehicle and year.
    1. Not all vehicles have information available yet .  Of the following, which 2010 Ford Model is available?
      • F150
      • Mustang
      • Escape
      • Taurus
    2. On a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, Copy/paste the first step to removing (changing) the headlights? TIP: This is generally found in Repair/Chassis Electrical/Lighting/Exterior
  7. EBSCO is one of the major database providers.  One of the many EBSCO databases we have is MasterFILE Premiere, which is a general magazine/journal database.  Use it to find articles on a variety of topics back to the mid-1980s.  You can limit your results to full text, by publication, by date, as well as several image options.
    1. Find a full-text article from 2011 about HarperCollins and Copy/Paste its citation in the Chicago/Turabian Humanities format.  Hint: Cite is found under Tools on the right
    2. What is the month and year of the most recent article on cell phones from Consumer Reports?  
Congratulations! Searching for the answers to these exercises and submitting the form has earned you a Database key to the Treasure Chest!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reference Reef

The Reference Interview
Alternate PDF of Good Reference Behavior.

On to the Hunt...
Record the requested information on the form.
  1. How should you answer a reference question (or any request from a customer or co-worker)? Please list your answer in priority order: or yer'll be keelhauled
  2. List the five phases of the reference interview. Please list your answer in chronological order: 'less ye like the feel o' the cat on yer back
  3. In which phase or phases of the reference interview is it helpful to use a close ended question?
  1. What are the MUSTIE Guidelines?
              M is for _________________
              U is for _________________
              S is for _________________
              T is for _________________
              I is for _________________
              E is for _________________

An' if yer fowled mouthed answer has any thing te do wid the captin, yer grog ration'll be cut off

Ready Reference                 Now fer some real digginn'
Resource:  HCPL maintains a collection of ready reference websites.
  1. Using one of websites find a site that contains key facts and statistics on countries of the world. Paste its URL on the form.
  2. What is the capital of the Kyrgyzstan (the Kyrgyz Republic or Kyrgyz Respublikasy) and what is (are) its official language(s)?
Resource: Harriet.
Library transactions are confidential. The reference interview should be conducted as discreetly and quietly as possible to preserve confidentiality. Staff must not discuss a customer's questions or reading habits except in the course of conducting library business. Hint: We be lookin' fer a procedure here, not ye policy!
  1. What’s the proper way to respond to a police officer who says that she’s found an HCPL book at a crime scene and wants to know who checked it out?  Find the procedure, read it carefully, and paste the URL on the form.
  2. Whose responsibility is it to review the form of a subpoena for any legal defect?
    Don't get smart wid t' law. Capt.Kidd was hung at the Execution Dock before being drowned under three tides then his body was left suspended at Tilbury Point near the entrance to the Thames as a warrrrrrrnin.' Ye could see his rottin' corpse swinging from the gibbet fer years.

    Resource: ILL Policy
    1. What library materials cannot be obtained through ILL services?
      1. books
      2. eBooks
      3. videos
      4. photocopies
    2. What is the maximum number of interlibrary loan requests and loans that a customer can have at one given time?
    3. What happens if a customer's pet squirrel chews the cover off a book belonging to another library?
    What scurvy swab let that rodent aboard ship??!!!

    Request for Reconsideration
    If a customer has a complaint about materials in the library's collection they can request that the material be reconsidered.
    1. Where do you find a “Request for Reconsideration of Material form” to give to the customer to fill out? Please paste the URL.
    Tell 'em t' go ask Davey Jones! Har! Har! Har!   Arrrrrrrr!

    Congratulations! Searching for the answers to these exercises and submitting the form has earned you the Reference Key to the Treasure Chest!