Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Finally - People Came to My Library Program!

I have been getting beaten down this season, because many of the computer programs that I designed had to be cancelled due to low registrations.

"Improve Your HISTORY Grades @ the Library" went down first; then "Improve Your LITERATURE Grades..." bit it - both great programs for focused learning about library research tools. After that, "Blog This! Blogging for Teen Writers" had to be cancelled too, since I guess teens already know how to blog?

The unregistered public lectures also didn't fare very well. Fewer people than I expected came to the first two programs in my lecture series on Emerging Technologies (Web Design with Flash, Blogs and RSS). With the public lectures, we are always competing with other community events - I guess there were a series of lectures about the Syncrotron on the same nights, and the weather wasn't great one night either.

Last night, though, there were eight people who came early and eager to learn, for the final Emerging Technology lecture: "20 Tips for Power Searching". It was the Gwen and Gwen Show (I presented the program with my colleague, the other Gwen), and we did a damn fine job, despite some technical difficulties. Eight people doesn't sound like a lot, but they were very keen and this is a pretty good turnout for an adult program here. Whew. I thought no-one would show up.

A recurring challenge for us as librarians who want to train the public is to get people to come out and learn how to use the catalogue and the online databases that we subscribe to. There is so much quality information there that not enough people know how to use. If we offer a class on 'learning how to use the Library catalogue', then no one registers. If we offer a class on 'using the library databases to find information', no one wants to come either. But I think we pitched it just right this time:

"20 Tips for Power Searching"

"Want to get the most out of using your Library and the Internet? Learn how to take information searching to a new level! Two librarians share tips and tricks you can use to maximize your search results. Sit back and watch the professionals at work in this lecture-style search fest."

*Snort* "Search fest!" I make myself laugh.

Anyway, had a great time (although the catalogue went down once, and the server went down once - all in the same hour!)(we were reduced to talking about Google on a theoretical level, with chalk and blackboard, for about 10 minutes).

After this success, I might just have the energy to plan some more programs for the Spring. The chances are that at least one of them will fly. In February, we are already planning to do a program on "The Invisible Web", which is another way to pitch the databases. Database content is one of those types of information that doesn't show up in a search engine search (hence is 'invisible'), so we are going to focus on teaching people how to find this quality content.

Am I boring you? I'll stop.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that why "library squirrel" doesn't show up on a Google search? Are you an invisible squirrel?


7:40 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

I am a deeply-cloaked incognito squirrel, scampering stealthily through the underbrush of the web, avoiding detection at all costs.

"The acorn has landed."

2:10 pm  
Blogger liz said...

I would love to find out how to search databases! Even in a search fest context. Or *especially* in a search fest context!

2:50 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

But this is why you're really a librarian in disguise. I know you want to be a psychologist, but anyone who says she'd love to learn about databases has the mark of the squirrel on her. Sorry, but it's true.

4:48 pm  
Blogger liz said...

"The Mark of the Squirrel" will surely be my first (and probably only) short film.

12:47 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

Hey, have you ever seen the movie "Party Girl" with Parker Posey? It's a cult classic librarian movie (right up there with "Desk Set"). She's a Gen X party girl, who can't stop arranging her clothing and records in order by subject (that born-to-be-a-librarian stuff), and then finally sees the light and becomes a librarian.

1:50 pm  
Blogger liz said...

No, but now I think I should.

5:54 pm  

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