August 30, 2013

School Without Walls Law Camp visit

School Without Walls Law Camp studying 19th-century Monroe County maps in the Rare Book Room
Studying 19th-century maps in the Rare Book Room
On August 15th a team of staff members had the pleasure of providing a tour of the library to a group of students participating in the School Without Walls Law Camp. Exploring careers in law, they got to see first-hand the work it takes to run a large court law library - covering topics from book preservation to online databases, interlibrary loan, records and briefs, and the whole range of diverse job responsibilities here.

While discussing their areas of expertise, staff members were also happy to tell the students about their own career paths. A cataloger shared the memorable and instructive tale

of a work experience I had after earning a library degree but before landing my first professional library position. The keyboarding skills I learned in grade 10 (known then as typing) kept me housed, fed, clothed, and otherwise independent for 7 years. (Yes, it was 7 years between grad school completion and the start of my first position working as a librarian.) I was hired through a temp agency to do secretarial work in a yeast factory. Each new batch of yeast was tested on premises for quality by baking bread with it. Employees took fresh bread home, free of charge, on a regular basis. I gained a few pounds as a result. What a sensory delight – the smell of bread baking while I worked!
The kids seemed to really enjoy the hands-on learning opportunities in the Rare Book Room, the staff workroom, and elsewhere (moveable shelves!). Another librarian relates,
I told the students about the technology I manage here at the library: the public computer network, wireless network, staff computers, and public-use scanners. Interestingly, the students were much more interested in things one might consider 'low-tech.' For example, they were fascinated by our microfiche readers! They asked to see them in action, so I loaded up a piece of microfiche and showed them how it worked. As half the students looked on in wonder at the image projected on the fiche reader, the other half were holding pieces of fiche up to the light to see if they could read what was printed on them. It was then that I realized that they had probably never seen a piece of microfiche before. Heck, they probably never even knew it existed! The truth is, these students were likely born around 1997, and to them, things like computers, wireless networks and the Internet are just everyday things they’ve grown up with. Yet something as banal to me as microfiche is something completely new to them. Same goes for pocket parts. I answered several questions about how information was updated before the Internet Age, and they found the subject truly interesting. I was taken aback at what good questions they asked!

All in all, it was a great experience for me. I hope that it was interesting for them as well. I’m proud that I was able to introduce them to something completely new, even if it was something that seemed 'old hat' to me! I certainly look forward to the opportunity to do it again.
Thanks to everyone involved - staff, organizers, and especially the Law Camp students - for a lively afternoon.

If your group would like to schedule a tour of the library, please call the Reference Desk at 585-530-3251.

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