Thank you for your warm welcome, encouragement and ideas.  I'd like to respond to some of the suggestions while this topic is still fresh, so to speak. 

Walkie-talkies, we did try this route.  Not as easy and straight-forward as one would wish.  There were battery problems (needed coverage from 8:30a-12mid), staff putting them down and losing them, sound interference, even disability (I am deaf, me + walkie talkie = bad idea), and reluctance to have to carry one around.  

Intercom, we do have one and have considered a ping only to encounter complaints from readers.  It is a library that is supposedly quiet after all... we only use this to announce that the library will close in 15 minutes, then 5, then.. closed!  

We even scheduled backups to the backup.  Staffed a person to sit at a desk behind the service points.  

But there's always work that takes folks back to their main workstations.  Now about the workstations -- we're a large staff, about 50/60 so they're seated broadly in two different libraries which means they are away from service points.  So, we can't holler for help like a cashier did when I was in Joann's Fabrics yesterday.  I was impressed at how easily it was for her to just yell, "need second cashier!" when a lined formed.  I do wish it was that simple for us.  

So, I started thinking -- why can't we create some sort of floating message 'ping' -- like those 'netflix' ads that somehow open as a second page when you're surfing the web.  and how likely would it be that there are 50 staff members away from their computers/workstations when someone 'pings' for help electronically?  Right?  

I'm so happy and encouraged to see such responses.  Thank you!!  


-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Karen Coyle
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 11:33 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] A newbie seeking input/suggestions



I think your situation in your library is a very common one, most likely more common than being a "coder" in the sense of creating new software or adding functionality to existing software. In fact, in every office I have been in, including ones not in libraries, many people who didn't start their careers with computer science in mind are the ones maintaining systems, creating reports, running queries.

In the library world I think we have an obligation to provide as much support and encouragement as possible for library employees who perform these tasks. As you imply, oftentimes these employees (librarians by MLS or not) have been kind of thrown into the job and have few places where they can go to ask questions, get needed training, or have a shoulder to cry on.

The code4lib list and the two related IRC channels (both on the freenode network), #code4lib and #libtechwomen are good places to start. If you need help setting up IRC, contact me off-list and I will do my best to walk you through it. Also, there may be similar lists specifically addressing the library management software in your institution, and the experts in that particular system probably hang out there.


On 2/21/13 7:57 AM, Greenspun, Cindy wrote:
> Hello -
> I'm a newbie to this listserv.  I'm not a librarian, nor am I a coder.   I primarily do systems related work with our library management system, run SQL reports as needed and project management.  I also work for Access Services and even though I'm considered IT, I'm not in the library IT department.  This is a new position in my department and we're still figuring things out as we go along.
> I work in one of the many libraries at Yale University.  In the department I work in, we have three busy service points - two circulation desks and a privileges/registration office.  There are about 50/60 staff members and roughly 50+ student employees who rotate at these service points.  There are times when there are students who are late reporting to a service point, no-shows, or suddenly there's a long line and only one person at a staffed service desk.  At a meeting recently, I was listening to a work leader lament how, if she is the only person there, she is just too busy to make a phone call or send an email asking for help - a common occurrence.  After I heard her, I wondered how possible it would be to create some sort of desktop 'app'.  One that requires only one click and is smart enough to know its service desk location and is sent to the right folks who could come assist right away, upon demand.  These would be on Windows workstations.
> Recently, I've seen many encouraging responses to the latest 'getting 
> started...' emails and feel motivated to write to this listserv as I'm 
> eager to learn and to try to do this myself.  I hope that this will be 
> a simple enough project for me but I'm just not sure where to start or 
> what I should be looking at.  So, here I am, not a librarian, nor a 
> coder.  I write to this listserv seeking suggestions, ideas and 
> encouragement.  :)
> Thank you -
> Cindy

Karen Coyle
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skype: kcoylenet