Third Rotation: Vermont Square Branch!

We apologize for the hiatus on the ILP blog. Both Jacquie and myself have been quite busy since we have started our third rotation assignments. Of course, this is a good thing, but I wanted to take a moment to update you about what we have been up to!

At the moment, Jacquie is assigned at the Will & Ariel Durant Branch in Hollywood, and I am located at the Vermont Square Branch in South Los Angeles. Our third rotation sites were chosen to give us a well-rounded perspective of library services in Los Angeles. Previously, we had only worked for an extended period of time in the Studio City Branch, which serves a mostly suburban population of avid library users. It was an incredible way to experience what a very busy, destination library is like, hone our readers’ advisory skills, participate in service pilot programs, and experiment with interesting next-level programming. However, in order to gain a fuller perspective of urban librarianship, our team opted to send us to two branches that serve a different population. I’ll let Jacquie tell you about her work at the Durant Branch, but I want to give you an idea of what I’ll be working on at the Vermont Square Branch.

Vermont Square is a small, neighborhood park located in a residential area of South LA. The Vermont Square Branch, which sits on the park land, is a Carnegie building and we just celebrated our 100th anniversary in August. The building is much beloved, so much so that when the library administration thought of tearing it down to build a bigger, more modern facility, the community fought to keep the original building. As such, it is small, but it is very well-used. As we are fond of saying, circulation does not tell the whole story; with only about a quarter of the circulation of Studio City Branch, we might appear to be a terribly sleepy branch. But that number does not illustrate the fact that we offer some of the only free wi-fi in the area, and certainly the most easily accessible free computer access. Additionally, we work in what has been identified as a service desert, so we spend a lot of time fielding reference questions and identifying resources and services nearby to assist our patrons with health issues, tutoring, literacy, financial planning, and educational needs. We also do a lot of programming, readers’ advisory, and outreach to the community. After school lets out, we are typically very busy, with every computer in use and our Student Zone (designated computers for school work with free printing) is always in use.

I have taken on a few special projects at Vermont Square that I am working on while I’m here. The first is computer classes. We don’t have a computer lab, or even a large number of computers to host classes, so I am mostly doing one on one computer help with patrons. This is a great way to really assist patrons in gaining new skills, and building on what they already know. My goal is to help these patrons learn the basic skills that they need to be comfortable with a computer, and internet searches, so that they can then use these skills to pursue their own interests.

Additionally, I am trying to assist our patrons with their GED preparation. Our GED prep books are checked out very frequently and we cannot keep up with the demand. Most of our patrons that I have asked are not aware of our GED resources online. Given the coming changes to the test in 2014, I am working on a program that will outline the resources that we have at LAPL and the ways that the test will change in the new year. I also plan to share this presentation with my colleagues and potentially take the show on the road, so to speak, by presenting at nearby branches as well. I also have an idea about having students at the nearby University of Southern California staff a weekly GED preparation drop-in time at the library, but we’ll see if I can make that happen!

Of course, both Jacquie and I are working on other projects in addition to our branch projects – it is a busy time for us! But the opportunity to experience such diverse parts of this library system and to participate in so many different experiences is invaluable!

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