Secrets and Lies the IT Department Tells You

The world of Information Technology can be a strange place to work.  We deal with pieces of equipment and services that most people have never heard of and will never see.  This lends an air of mystery to what we do and how we do it.  Let’s pull back the curtain and shed some light on what IT does and how we do it.  I promise – there’s no alchemy or divination involved!

Secret 1:  We don’t know everything.
While we are all awesome in our own way, not all IT people know how to do every technological task.  It’s simply not possible for someone to maintain the required level of expertise in all the areas that we deal with.  We hone the skills we do have as much as we possibly can.

BCPL’s IT department is responsible for administering all of the equipment, software and services that you interact with each time you visit the library and we have worked to develop expertise in those areas.  If you call to ask a question, we take care of the phone used to answer you.  If you renewed your books through our website, we take care of the hardware and software that makes that possible.  If a staff person used a computer to help you or if you came in and used one yourself, we installed it and will maintain it until it is replaced.

Secret 2:  Most of the time, you probably won’t even know we are here.
Part of the air of mystery that surrounds IT work comes from the fact that, when things are at their best, you don’t notice the work that we’ve done or are doing.  Hopefully, we can swoop in, do what we need to do and get out without incident.  We work very hard to minimize downtime and make things as seamless as possible.  For the moments that this doesn’t quite happen, we provide tech support.

Secret 3:  We work really hard to try to make you happy.
The bulk of our time is spent installing patches, performing routine maintenance, testing software, doing research, and planning projects.  Before we install a new piece of software, for example, there are a host of questions we consider:  Who would use this?  Is it reliable?  What about maintenance?  How much does it cost?  How can we secure it?  Does it work with our other software?  Is it hard to use?  We really, really want you to be pleased.

Lie 1:  To us, it’s just stuff.
Geeks everywhere get emotionally attached to their work because we spend so much time and effort doing it.  It may just seem like ‘stuff’ to the rest of the world but to an IT person that ‘stuff’ is often a project they’ve stressed over for what may have been months.  Some projects have been in the works for years.  Even after a new software or service is up and running, we still have to take care of it and maintain it so we never really let it go.

Lie 2:  We don’t like people.
It is true that IT people work with things more than with other colleagues.  It is also true that everyone in BCPL’s IT department works out of the basement.  It is NOT true that we don’t like people.  We work at the library because we want to be part of a great organization that is useful to the community.  We want to be helpful and hope that you like the programs and services we support.

Lie 3:  We like to say ‘No’.
I hate saying no.  I dislike, loathe, abhor, detest and despise saying no.  IT is constantly balancing the finite resources we have (e.g. time or money) with the imaginative variety of requests we get on a daily basis.  We want you to be happy (see Secret 2) but we can’t do everything all the time.  Our goal is to serve the largest number of people in the best way possible with the resources we have.

Do you have a question about why we do what we do?  Would you like to know what gear or software we use on a regular basis?  Do you have a great idea for a new service you’d like us to roll out?  Let us know.  We might just apply our dark arts to your idea and fulfill your request.

–Michelle

Michelle Foster has been the IT manager at BCPL since the Earth cooled.  When she isn’t fixing computers, she likes to knit, restore turn of the last century machines and write.  In her wildest dreams, she lives on a small farm with a herd of pygmy goats and is a bestselling novelist.

Dinosaurs, Dogs and Dump Trucks: Non-fictio​n for Little Ones

You probably already know that Boone County Public Library has a treasure trove of picture books for your little ones to enjoy, books by Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems and many others designed toDump Trucks Pebble capture the hearts and imagination of Boone County’s littlest users. But BCPL also has many non-fiction titles for our littlest users, books bursting with information about the world around them, from the squiggliest bugs to the stars above and everything in between.

Children from preschool to early elementary age are “insatiable learning machines.” (2) They are inherently curious about the world around them. (1) They want to know!  Introduce them to non-fiction – it feeds this fire.  And as every parent of a youngster knows, one question leads to more questions!

Beyond enjoyment, there are many reasons for you to share non-fiction with your little ones:

  • Different kids have different interests and studies show children do not overwhelmingly prefer stories over non-fiction. (1)   Your child may select non-fiction when given a choice.
  •  If your child is interested in a topic (and much non-fiction is high interest), they are more likely to stick with the title and, as a result have better comprehension and writing performances. (2,4)
  • Non-fiction can also help children struggling to read. (1) If your child is excited about a book, it can motivate him to work through it, all the while growing reading ability and self-confidence.  He may even begin to read beginning readers and chapter books better, too!
  • Studies show boys have a preference for non-fiction and it may help them find something they want to read. (5, 6)
  • Non-fiction helps your child build vocabulary because it contains more varied and technical words. (5) And comprehension is gained by building background knowledge. (8)   This, in turn, can help your child with later schooling and reading.

Here are some tips to help you choose, and use, non-fiction for your preschool or early elementary aged child:

  • Select topics they are curious about that are relevant to their lives and experiences (5,6)
  • Or choose something entirely new.  Maybe it will lead to new interests!
  • Find a book for your child with an inviting cover that includes crisp, colorful photographs or illustrations.   Non-fiction looks MUCH better now than when you were a kid!
  • Letter size and type should be large and simple and the spacing and placement of words should make passages easy to read (7)

Of course, encouraging your youngster to read these titles is good, but don’t forget there are benefits to reading non-fiction aloud to your child, including sharing the knowledge within the titles.  For instance, if you read “A Butterfly is Quiet” by Dianna Aston Long to your child, forever after you and your child will both know about chrysalis’ and may even be able to point them out on a nature hike.

If you do read non-fiction out loud to your little one, here are some steps you may want to follow:

  • Skim through the book quickly before reading.  There may be some pronunciation you want to practice.  Watch out for those dinosaur names!
  • Talk about what you know about the book’s topic before you read.  See what you learn!
  • Be enthusiastic – let your child know you are enjoying the moment, too.
  • Highlight new words and encourage participation.  Many titles for this age are repetitive, in a good way.
  • Paraphrase if needed or re-read fun passages.
  • Talk about what you have learned after reading (1,10,Amazing-Giant-Dinosaurs6)

You can also pair a picture book with non-fiction.  For instance, after reading, ”Amazing Giant Dinosaurs” by Greenwood you could read “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” by Mo Willems or “How do dinosaurs say I’m mad?” by Jane Yolen.

Sharing non-fiction with your preschooler or early elementary aged child can benefit them in many ways – larger vocabulary, enhanced reading comprehension, ready for later schooling – but most importantly, it is fun.  So grab a stack of non-fiction today and dig in!

–Cindy

Cindy Yeager has worked for BCPL for 15 years. For 8 of those years she thoroughly enjoyed being “Miss Cindy,” providing storytimes and programs for kids of all ages at the Florence Branch.  For the past 7 years, she has been having a blast as the Youth Services Collection Development Librarian, choosing books and AV for the kids and teens of Boone County to enjoy.

1 – Duke, N. K. (2003, March). Reading to Learn from the Very Beginning: Information Books in Early Childhood. Young Children 58(2), 14-20.

2 – Lempke, Susan Dove. (2009, October). Early Literacy and Series Nonfiction.  Booklist Online.

3  Caswell, L.,J., & Duke, N.K. (1998). Non-narrative as a catalyst for literacy development. Language Arts, 75, 108–117.

4 – Jimenez and Duke (2011, October). The Reading Teacher, 65(2), 150–158

5 – Pentimonti, J. M., T. A. Zucker, L. M. Justice, and J. N. Kaderavek (2010, May). Informational Text Use in Preschool Read-Alouds.  The Reading Teacher, 63(8), 656-665.

6- Grawemeyer, B.  Early Childhood Building Blocks: Beyond the Story Book: Using Informational Books with Young Children.

7- Stephens, K. (2008, March). A Quick Guide to Selecting Great Informational Books for Young Children.  The Reading Teacher, 61(6), 488-490.

8 -Wixson, K.  Reading Informational Texts in the Early Grades.  Research into Practice. Pearson, Scott, Foresman.

9 – Korbey, H. (2013, July).  How to get kids hooked on nonfiction books this summer.  Mind/Shift.

10 – Yopp, R. H. and H. K. Yopp (2012, April). Young Children’s Limited and Narrow Exposure to Informational Text. The Reading Teacher, 65 (7), 480-490.