AUGUST 22, 2008
Visiting a Chinese Library
Nihao (hello) from Beijing!
As the Summer Olympics come to an end, you may be saturated by coverage of China. Here is something you might not see between Michael Phelps and the Chinese gymnasts: My day job is at the checkout desk of Monterey Public Library. Right now, I am lucky enough to be on vacation in Beijing. I stayed with a Chinese family for several days, and the mother (Joy) was a tour guide, fluent in English. I asked her if it was possible to see a Chinese public library, and she said yes, if you visited with a local card-holder.
We drove about 15 minutes from her house to her district library. She explained there are eight in the city of Beijing, plus one large central library. The building looked like a modern office high-rise, but inside it reminded me of high school classrooms. On the 3rd floor, we found the equivalent of the checkout desk. There were two library catalog computers as you walked in, and a desk with two clerks at computers. The shelves here were “open,” meaning you could browse them just like in Monterey. The shelves were numbered and each book was numbered, but I could not make any sense of the organization.
Joy looked up a novel she wanted in the catalog. The computer had a keyboard with English letters but somehow it typed Chinese characters. Even after she found the “call number” of her book, she had trouble finding it and had to ask a clerk for help. At the desk, the book was scanned and de-sensitized with equipment very similar to ours in Monterey. Joy could take the book home for four weeks, and it was renewable by phone. She said if it was late, there would be fines but she didn’t say how much. The clerks were curious to learn about my job in the USA, but I said it looked like what they were doing!
On the next floor, we found a large room with desks and many shelves of magazines and newspapers. Down the hall was another room full of small student desks, like a classroom. Joy said we could not go there because you needed a special card: Students paid money each term to have a quiet study room. We ended our visit here so I’m not sure what else, if anything, was in the library. When I asked Joy if there were children’s books, she just said no, not here. I forgot to ask how to apply for a library card (of course, I forgot many questions) but I really enjoyed this non-tourist glimpse at Chinese life.
Categories: In the Know, Library Tech
AUGUST 21, 2008
Time to Chill at the Library
Yesterday we kicked-off a new teen program at the Library: Chill Time. This weekly, Wednesday afternoon event provides an afternoon gathering-spot for local teens where they are free to listen to music, play games, watch movies, or just relax.
Our first day was a great start. Monterey High School students from freshmen to seniors stopped by for free sodas, Wii games, and a lively Risk game battling for world domination. While we were elated by the turnout, we are hoping that our local teens will expand our offerings in the future by bringing their own movies, games, books, and music to share.
Chill Time runs Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:00 P.M. in the Community Room. Check the Teen Zone Events page to offer your own entertainment.
Category: Teen Zone
AUGUST 12, 2008
Finally, an exercise program that works!
Yes, the Library has lots of fitness books and DVD's, and I've tried most of them. But nothing worked for me, mainly because I would rather lie down and read a good book than work out any time. But now, the Library has the perfect thing: Playaways! These tiny little machines (about the size of a small cell phone or calculator) come with a book on a chip inside. I plugged in the earbuds I got on my last plane ride, and started walking. Now I can't wait to get back to my exercise, because I have told myself that only when walking can I listen to my book. I want to hear the next part. I love it! - and my doctor will too. I am listening to Jodi Picoult's Vanishing Acts , but there are many others I want to read. There are 38 in the new collection, with more due in any day. You can see a list of them by searching under the call number PLA . Check it out, and wave at me on the beach trails!
Categories: Staff Reads, In the Know, Teen Zone
AUGUST 9, 2008
A Bloomin' Pleasant Errand
Today I made a visit to the local nursery to buy some potting soil for the Library’s Boston fern, which is getting a little to big for it’s terra cotta britches. Upon arrival, I spotted a woman watering flowers and I and asked if she could help me. She looked up and smiled, "Oh, you’re the lady from TV!" She said that she enjoyed watching Library staff compare the movie version of Mary Poppins to the book by P.L. Travers on a recent segment of the Library’s book discussion program, "Cover to Cover" , which airs on local public access TV. In turn, I noticed that she was wearing a denim apron bearing the Monterey Public Library logo. I said, "Oh, you’re wearing a Library apron!" She said that she won it as a door prize when she visited the Library’s booth at Monterey’s annual free plant distribution event "Cutting Day". She said that she loves the apron and that she never comes to work without wearing it. We continued a pleasant chat about the Library while I completed my purchase.
Participating in community events and promoting reading on television are just a couple of the ways that the Library reaches to people wherever they are. It’s also our way of trying to build a community of readers and lifelong learners who support and value the Library. Do these efforts work? Would the nice woman at the nursery have positive feelings about the Library even if she didn’t view "Cover to Cover" or if she hadn’t visited our booth at Cutting Day? Well, I don’t know for sure, but walking back to my car today, I couldn’t help but smile and think, "Yes, maybe we do reap what we sow!"
Category: In the Know
AUGUST 2, 2008
Business is good for the community and for libraries, and libraries are good for communities and for business, so we were delighted to take part in last Thursday evening’s Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards banquet. The Library was just one of the many local organizations and businesses that signed up to decorate a banquet table. The Library’s table theme was "Books and Reading" and featured a centerpiece of spiraling books. The décor also included colorful bookmarks, sparkling confetti, and gift bags that contained reading-related goodies, little bundles of library pamphlets, and a library card application! We congratulate this year’s Business Excellence Awards winners and wish all our friends in the business community "happy reading!"
Category: In the Know