Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Post! P.O.W - Right in the kisser!

Finally, a NEW post! It's been far too long.
As you may or may not know, I am doing my final practicum for school in Regina at the Central Public Library. I have been exposed to a whole new world! Things are very different than in Saskatoon, but it's always fun to see how other libraries operate. It's especially interesting because as a part of SILS we are all technically on the same system, but not always on the same page. ;) -Ha! that was a pretty good on!

Today Amy, Kelly, Robin and I had the opportunity to visit the newest branch: Prince of Whales. POW is part of a shared community facility - much like Rusty Macdonald, Cliff Wright and Carlyle King at home - so there's even more there to draw members of the community into the library.
POW seems a bit like a guinea pig, or a lab rat if you will. They are trying a number of new things at this branch including a Media Bank(pictured below) which dispenses DVD's and CD's for patrons to borrow. It's as simple as scanning your library card barcode and browsing the titles that are listed by genre, then the machine pops them out for you.

I love the idea of this... truly I do. However - yes, I said however - there are some definite drawbacks. For example, you can only return the items to THIS machine. They go back in the slot, and you have to scan your card first. You cannot return them inside or to any other branch, which could prove irksome to people. Also, it doesn't tell you how to log out. So if you weren't paying attention, you could end up staying logged in and some one could come a long and withdraw items on your card, possibly incurring fines that you don't want to pay - oh my! Also, the staff said that there have been some issues with the machine technology-wise, and sometimes the machine itself has been physically damaged by the public. I do really want this idea to work though! As soon as all the kinks get worked out, I will start to campaign to get some in Saskatoon!

POW is a truly attractive branch though, very aesthetically(ooh big word) pleasing. Basically, I think it's pretty! :) The colours are mainly green, brown and a soft blue, which makes for a very calming and tranquil environment. (Great for reading of course) The large windows let in tons of natural light, which is also really awesome. If it's possible, I kind of felt like I was outside in a meadow while I was inside. Blows your mind, doesn't it?
Much of the shelving is floating so they can be moved around to rearrange the collection or to make room for an event.

 Let's talk BISAC! BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Standards and Communications, and the concept is to organize a library's collection similar to that of a book store. I have mixed feelings about BISAC. This morning I was working in Tech Services, actually assigning BISAC subject headings to different material. The problem with it is that it's very difficult to choose which heading the book should go under, and how is the patron going to know where to find it. What may make sense to me, may not make sense to someone else. Take a book about kids and their behaviour. It could go under the Parenting heading, or it could go under Relationships - Family OR it could even go under psychology. It was a tough little game I played with myself trying do make the best decision.

On the other hand, BISAC is a great way for patrons to browse the items. Much like the book store, the shelves are labelled with the topics they contain and you can peruse as you like. Many of the books are faced out so you can choose based on the cover, rather than staring at the spine. In a smaller library like this I think it works. You have less staff that can muck things up for you - they know where to find things on the shelves, because they put them there. The collection isn't too big, so the chances of losing a book aren't that great. I'm not sure if this would work in a branch as large as Central or Frances Morrison back home. I DO think it would work in many of the small town branch libraries though.

 As usual, I checked out my favourite section of the library - the fantasy section! I have to say, I was a little disappointed. But for different reasons than you would think: RPL labels their books differently than SPL does. RPL has Fiction, Mysteries, Science Fiction, Westerns, and Romance. SPL has the same but also has Fantasy and Horror sections. So I was sad to see that all the Fantasy books that I would usually enjoy placed in what I would call the incorrect section. But this is a decision not made by the POW branch, so I can't be mad at them for that! :) 

 Lastly, POW boasts 2 self check-out stations for patrons. (Pictured below is Kelly using the self check-out, it's so easy to use!) I really wish that we would get some of these at more branches around the province. The concept is great, although I can see how some patrons might find them scary. Also, it's just like when you have self check-out in grocery stores - some people just prefer to have the human interaction.

Our visit the POW was great - the staff was super friendly. (thanks so much for having us!) If you get a chance to visit Regina, please go down and check out the POW branch!