Apply and improve reference skills.
Project Description & Reflection:
Of the 10 hours per week I spent at Ballard Branch, 2-4 of those hours were spent at the information desk. Most often I would shadow my librarian mentor when she was scheduled to be at the information desk, which varied day-to-day. I observed the librarians and Library Associate IVs as they answered reference and non-reference questions, roamed the library to make sure everything was running smoothly, responded to behavior violating the library's rules of conduct, and worked on tasks when they had a moment.
I partook in this multitasking soon after some training in the Horizon ILS and an introduction to the SPL intranet. It also helped that I, as an SPL patron myself, was already familiar with the library catalog and many of the library resources and policies. And, of course, my coursework in reference services and experience as a Reference Assistant at Seattle Central Community College Library were useful in becoming comfortable at the information desk and in searching for information effectively.
With the guidance of those staffing the information desk, I helped answer patron questions as I could. While the reference desk at the community college requires me to field a high percentage of research queries from students, the Ballard Branch information desk serves a broader population with a wider range of needs. One of my hopes with this DFW was to gain a good sense of what sort of questions are being asked at public libraries, and I would say that I accomplished that in the last several weeks. Typical non-reference questions that I helped library patrons with included looking up items in the catalog, placing holds, finding phone numbers or directions, or using library resources, e.g. computers, study rooms, e-books.
During my time at the Ballard information desk, the most common reference questions included Reader's Advisory or finding resources for job hunting. Also memorable were the elementary school or middle school students who came in to ask for help on their school reports. A whole class of students came in one day and each asked for books about religions they were assigned to report on. Hannah and I led them to the DDC 200s to browse the section on Religion and see what was available to check out right away. Most were able to find several books on major religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc., but we had to help a few students dig a little deeper--checking the table of contents of general religion books, looking at World Book entries, or placing a hold on an item from the catalog.
When not assisting a patron at the information desk, time is spent working on other projects or tasks. These are usually activities that don't require a deep level of concentration, so as to be alert and available should someone need your attention. The nature of a busy information desk means being able to multitask and being prepared to be interrupted. I practiced these skills at the information desk while preparing books for displays, familiarizing myself with a new library resource, examining books for condition.