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O Librarian, My Librarian

The first round of library volunteer work training was quite fun; interesting people, good volunteer coordination, and I'll be shelf-reading the etiquette section. I took scattered notes from the whole thing, included within.

They're applying a distributed-computing solution (one to four hours of a human's eyeballs) to a serious problem: keeping a massive amount of physical material organized.

Right now they break up the sections at arbitrary boundaries, hoped to be the ones that will provide for an hour and a half of shelf reading, on average.

Shelf readers have early access to the library, as high-traffic sections are harder to get through in a short amount of time during the day. They've also been reniced, lower in priority than readers at the library.

It feels like a group of people adapting well to the world changing; biggest library ever, just moved buildings, and yet somehow they're functioning. It's not at top efficiency, but it's certainly going well so far. Now they need more hands.

Degree of skill at shelfreading seems to have nothing to do with education, training, material read, etc. I think there's an answer in a combination of mental traits that work out with shelf-reading as a side effect.

There's a social benefit to shelf-reading: you can meet new people. However, it's probably not the best time to talk to them. For that, there's breaks and rest areas.

They've a need for people with interest in children's books. A desperate need, even. If you're living in the Eugene area and want to help the library, there's openings.

I used to read the shelves at Powells, and really there wasn't much conversation. I had conversation in the coffee alcove, though, and the library here has one of those too. Should be interesting.

They seem awfully concerned about critiquing books and the like; basically, giving opinions. I think the volunteer organization has an agreement with the library. They don't want you shelf-reading until you've got your badge, either. It's interesting ? I respect their control over the situation, it makes it measurable. What about anonymous help, though?

New openings will come available for those looking to advance to other things, at a later point. It's interesting that way; volunteering seems to be the route to the library, in this case.

We're temporarily organized books by last name only, to ignore first name entirely until the label correction people have swept through and fixed a lot of the computer data's call numbers. Then it all sorts nicely. Until then, it's last name only. Chaos! Doom! Regularly library users are catching on; the reference desk is also available to help.

Having a non-obvious, shelf-colored ignorable marker to stick to a shelf if you have to walk away would be nice; post-its in black or something (though I don't know what color the shelves are).

You can take out and throw away objects in books that aren't valuable (bookmarks, etc.). Lost & found will happily take items of some worth and try to return them through research.

It'd be really cool to train a class of children to shelf-read the children's section, splitting up 30 people into one single shelf in an hour. Add ten volunteers to offer help, and you've got the potential for a mass of youth who volunteer at the library for fun. Worth exploring.

Can we get a list of missing books, so we can keep our eyes out for them? It'd be nice for my brain to say "hey, that was on the missing list".


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