Thursday, October 29, 2015
Today At The Desk....
I actually got to use my degree today! Of course I use my education degree when doing storytime and programs, but I got to make use of my biology/chemistry degree today. A patron approached the desk looking rather desperate. When I asked how I could help her, she explained her 12-year old niece had called her in tears because of a school project. As a parent who has been through many school projects, I could immediately empathize. Then she went on to explain that her niece had to make some kind of model of a neon atom and had no clue where to begin, the school library had no resources, and the child's family did not have internet access at home. She didn't realize it, but she had definitely come to the right person! With a major in biology/education and a minor in chemistry, this was right up my ally!
I had some ideas of my own, but first we looked through the science books in our collection to see if any showed ideas for building molecular models and/or information about Neon's structure in particular. Lo and behold, I found a book specifically on the Noble gasses (the elemental group Neon belongs to) which showed a simple Bohr model of a Neon atom and gave some additional information on neon, and Noble gasses in general, then I found a second book which showed 2 or 3 different ways of constructing molecular models.
Next, I did an internet search for "how to build a molecular model" to show her several different ideas for putting one together, the most common being colored styrofoam balls to represent the protons and neutrons in the nucleus, and smaller balls on wires to represent the electron shells. There were also models using pompoms, beads, skewers, and cardboard rings. We discussed the methods and I told her all the supplies we had seen used could be found at Michael's Crafts in the floral and/or jewelry sections (possibly at Wal-Mart as well) and that I had even seen a molecular modeling craft kit there at Christmas time. Then I searched specifically for models of neon so she could get a better idea of what it would look like, and since the aunt did have internet access, I explained all she had to do was Google "how to build a molecular model of neon" if she needed to refresh her memory or print out pictures. She was very relieved and was glad to have information and a plan for her niece to work with!
I also got to issue a little boy his first library card, which is always a privilege, and helped him find some picture books with Frankenstein-type monsters. Then his mother explained he was going to have a baby sister soon, and asked for a book about being a big brother, and we found the perfect one. I think he was more excited about Frankenstein, though ;)
I did have to call the big guns in to help one patron. A mom came to the desk explaining that her 3rd grade daughter was auditioning for the local performing arts school, and had to prepare and deliver a monologue. However, she did not like any of the books specifically about monologues, and felt they were a little dull and predictable, and geared more for older kids. She wanted help selecting a picture book or middle-grade chapter book that she could use instead, something with a spunky character, and lots of expression. I have to confess I was at a bit of a loss on this one. I can recommend books to read for that age or reference, but knowing what would be good as performance art, I really didn't feel I could judge as the performing arts are not in my realm of expertise at all. So I had to ask the librarian to come out and field this one, and she was able to pull several good suggestions and the patron left very pleased, which is what's important.
And of course there was the usual cleaning and straightening, filling displays, pulling and processing holds and transfers, answering routine questions, and check-out assistance. I also had a chance during a slow spell to cut out some decorations and props I had printed and laminated to use with a new "Feelings/Emotions" storytime kit I'm developing for the "Storytime-To-Go" program I do the other 3 days of the week, and look up the ISBN numbers for books I'd like to order for the same program. All in all, a very productive day, with both a chance to use my science background, and to help with something totally out of my comfort zone.