I am very pleased with my time at the MMM and my SAs. I finished filling out their mid-term evaluation forms last week and I quickly realized how great of a group I have. I had no negative feedback for them and lots of positive notes to end on. One thing I learned through this experience is to listen to your staff: their suggestions, problems, and successes. Managing the MMM has had its trials and errors, but it’s promising to know that it’s okay to try new ideas or programs if you have the support of your staff to help. I am really enthusiastic to see what the new year/semester will bring! I have a new SA to train because one of the SAs from this semester is studying abroad in Spain; I have no qualms or anxiety about bringing someone new in because everyone seems to really work well together and get along. Thanks for joining me on this journey!
There are two kinds of people: the ones who put their Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving and those who wait until after the fanfare of turkey day to fully embrace the holiday season. I am the latter; while I love the songs, lights, and movies surrounding the holiday season, I always feel like I am jumping the gun if I participate in any of those activities before Thanksgiving. Transitioning from pumpkins to pine trees is almost ceremonial in my eyes. So it should come as no surprise that I waited until everyone returned from break before jumping into all things merry & bright. What better way to embrace the holidays than planning some classic holiday movie nights? I contacted the Hoosier Den in November and established 4 movie nights with corresponding movies: December 1st–Elf, December 2nd–Home Alone, December 8th–Frosty & Rudolf, and December 9th–A Christmas Story. We had the first two movie nights this weekend and the turn out went really well! The attendance rates tripled compared to the Halloween movie event, which was an improvement. I think painting the vinyl banner with chalkboard paint and using it to advertise the movies has been extremely helpful. I plan on using it to display new arrivals and other events. I updated the sign with information for the movies next week and I hope it will draw in another crowd (perhaps students procrastinating with studying or finishing up final projects).
Tonight we had our final staff meeting and I kept it short, sweet, and to the point! With finals week approaching (and my own project deadlines looming in the distance), I figured we all could use a little break. I brought in some cookies and we talked about how well the Renter’s Reward program went, plans for next semester, and any titles we should think about adding to our collection. I was really pleased because one of my SAs mentioned that he was really pleased with the types of movies coming in, especially the film “Band Aid”; this is a HUGE compliment coming from someone who studies film, watches a lot of movies leisurely, and is well-versed in all things related to cinema. I have been trying to do research within all the film genres before each order to make sure that I am adding diverse titles to the collection. The value in having a wide breadth of materials can be very beneficial and I have noticed an increase in checkouts within the “New Arrivals” section. Overall, the meeting went really well and I hope that finals week goes well for everyone!
We had our second staff meeting of the semester tonight. All but one of the SAs (who wasn’t feeling well) were able to attend, which means the date and time planned fits well in all of their schedules. I also brought some chocolate cookies with chocolate chips and they all seemed appreciative of that.
I started the meeting by complimenting the work that all the SAs have been doing. The center has looked great, there haven’t been issues with scheduling or finding substitutes, and the ideas they generated during the last staff meeting have gone over well. One SA said that they thought moving the Renter’s Rewards to a more visible spot has improved the amount of sign-ups we have. Another SA, who worked at the MMM last year, commented that this month had the most Renter’s Reward participants that they have seen since they started working at the MMM. It felt good to listen to their feedback and trust that they have valuable insights that are worth considering or implementing.
Next, I talked about housekeeping things. I reminded the SAs about the use of musical stickers and foreign film stickers to help locate and shelve specialized items. I also attended a Community Council meeting, where I talked with other figureheads within Read about issues we have with visibility. I explained to my staff that the Community Council helped brainstorm ways to bring more attention to the MMM. The Center Manager offered a vinyl sign that she saved from a previous event and suggested painting it and use it for advertising. I thought this was a great idea because many residents are swarmed by a large number of flyers that are placed throughout the hall. I reminded the SAs to make sure their shift reports are complete and sent to all of the appropriate recipients.
Finally, we talked about programming and items to order. Since the Halloween movie night was a bit of a flop, Kyle and I decided to focus on Study Buddies events on alternating Tuesdays and wait until December to plan a Holiday Movie Night event. One SA suggested a two-for-one deal for Renter’s Rewards (two stickers for each checkout) to encourage patrons to check out items and sign up. I thought this was a great way to keep the SAs to ask each patron to sign up, as well as get items checked out. It will be interesting to see how this works out. The SAs shared a few titles that patrons had asked about that the MMM didn’t have, so I jotted those down as well. Overall the meeting was very productive and I am hoping our efforts are fruitful later this semester!
One of the challenges of working in the MMM in the Read Residence facility is location; it is confusing and difficult to navigate in the basement as it is, let alone when you are actually trying to find a specific location. I have gotten lost a handful of times while trying to find the computer, lab, a water fountain, and the restrooms. This issue was discussed during the first Community Council meeting within Read. The meeting was composed of a variety of folks who accomplish many duties around Read, including: the Residence Manager, the head of maintenance, the head of food services, the president of residential government (I’m not sure if that is his official title), the main chef within the eatery, and a representative from the Global Living Learning Community (LLC). I expressed how difficult visibility and access are to get to the MMM. The head of maintenance, Mike, mentioned that the halls in the basement used to have a color coded line along the wall, which indicated the part of the basement you are currently located in. Unfortunately, the interior designers decided to go for a more “polished” look and the lines were removed. Peter, from the Global LLC, suggested a permanent directory to display the various services located within Read. I thought this was a great idea, but procuring the funds and getting the sign put up can take quite a bit of time, especially when dealing with the bureaucracy of administrative budgets. Dee, the main manager, suggested using a sign that she had tucked away from a “Stop, Drop, & Roll” event, by jazzing it up with chalkboard paint. The sign could be displayed on the railings right by the main entrance, which would be more eye-catching than the typical paper flyer. I think this will be a fruitful project for me to work on and I am planning on adding the materials needed to update the sign in my next material order. I am really grateful to be included in this forum and that others within Read are willing to help the MMM.
I thought I finally found my groove with the MMM–the staff is communicative and proactive for covering shifts or making suggestions, Kyle has been bringing tours down, and feedback has been positive. However, it can’t be rainbows and sunshine all the time. Kyle and I planned on having two Halloween Movie night events on the Friday and Saturday before Halloween. We picked out the films, planned to start the movies at 9 p.m., and created and displayed flyers near the Hoosier Den. The Hoosier Den is a space within Read where there’s a projection screen and lots of seating, which is a great asset to both the residents as well as the MMM; we lack the space to host events, so partnering with them makes a lot of sense. All seemed to be going well and I was excited to see what kind of turnout we would get. Earlier on Friday, Kyle and I both attended a Community Council meeting. We briefly talked afterwards and I asked if he had everything set up with Hoosier Den. Nope. He thought I had set up the events with Hoosier Den. Also a nope. Luckily the Read Manager checked out the schedule and said there wasn’t anything planned at the Hoosier Den. I contacted the Hoosier Den and they were nice enough to accommodate both movie nights and sent me a form to fill out for future events. We ended up having a few people stop by and watch Hocus Pocus and Halloween. However, a greater lesson was learned on my end: assume nothing, plan everything, and communicate clearly with all parties.
There are about 14 residential libraries/MMMs located on the Indiana University campus, which means I have 13 other friends who are managing, planning, and developing their own libraries. As I mentioned before, the training for becoming a Center Supervisor was very thorough; I learned a lot of information, but I also formed many friendships with other Center Supervisors. We had our first staff meeting with my manager, Shawn Wilson; the office manager, Tina Walsh; the student CS manager, Colleen Good; and the rest of the CSs. Although I have classes with a couple of CSs, I haven’t seen the majority of the group since orientation/training. Like any seasoned manager, Shawn provided a nice array of snacks and we jumped right into the agenda. We discussed how each Center has been since opening day. Each SA has a limit of 4 substitutions per semester and one CS mentioned how she was having issues with one SA in particular burning through their sub requests within the first month. We also discussed some standards placed by Residential Programs and Services about what kind of displays and passive programs are permitted. There was a mixed reaction, but Shawn assured us that all would be well and that he would keep us posted with any updates. The cataloguer who is in charge of adding new materials in all of our libraries joined the meeting and it was really nice to meet her and hear her experiences! Staff meetings have the potential to be dry or uninteresting, but I feel lucky to be surrounded by such bright and cooperative peers. Everyone is so great at providing suggestions or tips and as a new manager, I am really grateful for that!
The first staff meeting with the student assistants went really well! I had a full agenda of topics to discuss and everyone was engaged and full of ideas (the extra sugar from bringing cookies seemed to help).
One of the challenges that comes with working in the Read MMM is our location within the basement. It is nearly impossible to find your way around and people often accidentally stumble upon us while trying to retrieve laundry or grab a snack from the vending machine. One way to strengthen presence within the building is through social media. The staff and I discussed switching from using a Snapchat account to Instagram. We brainstormed some daily hashtags and one SA even suggested doing a movie battle to engage patrons to vote and interact with the account. One SA mentioned how they gave snack sized candy to patrons if they followed us on social media; I thought this was a great idea to reel people in and have them subscribe to our updates on platforms they already check regularly. It will be interesting to see how that influences check out rates or awareness.
I also suggested encouraging patrons to sign up for Renter’s Rewards; for each item that a patron checks out they add a sticker to a little cut-out with their name on it, which is then pinned to the bulletin board. When a patron gets 5 stickers, they get a full-size candy bar. This month, the little cut-outs are IU’s Trident and we have had a few patrons sign up so far. Our marketing SA and local Read RA, Kyle, has been giving tours of the MMM and letting visitors know about the free candy opportunities could help draw people in.
Next, we discussed ordering and changes to materials. We have had requests for video games and board games to staff as well as the suggestion box. One SA volunteered to generate a list of popular PlayStation 4 games that could be helpful to add to the collection. Another SA has a strong interest in foreign films and suggested that we organize the foreign film collection by country of origin. While I liked the idea, I thought the implementation might be tricky as far as shelf-reading and re-shelving would go. I asked if she would mind creating a list of foreign films by their countries of origin and offered to brainstorm how to incorporate this piece of information into the collection. I am also getting stickers with music notes to add to the musical collection and foreign film stickers to add to the corresponding films; my hope with these stickers is to make shelving these materials easier (currently SAs have to look at a list and then put items where they belong).
Finally, we discussed how the current schedule is working out. Everyone enjoys the consistency of having a set block schedule that changes every other week. Planning the monthly staff meeting on Sunday works great for everyone’s schedules, so I will keep that consistent going forward. Based on the feedback, I will try to keep a standard schedule as much as possible. Of course, life happens and schedules change as the semester goes on, but adjustments can be made to the standard.
Overall, I thought the staff meeting went really well and I heard a lot of suggestions and positive feedback from the student assistants. It is really encouraging that a couple of them have volunteered on side projects that will help make the MMM even better and I’m excited to see what these changes look like!
This week I had a meeting with Shawn, my supervisor, and a Read Residence Assistant named Kyle. In this meeting, Shawn introduced Kyle as a new Student Assistant. However, his role is very different than the Student Assistants I am in charge of. Instead of completing the usual Student Assistant tasks (discharging items, shelf-reading, checking out items to patrons, etc.) Kyle would be promoting the MMM to the residents of Read. Kyle is enthusiastic, friendly, and well-connected in the Read community and I was eager to hear how he could help.
Shawn suggested that Kyle give tours of the MMM to residents. This would help physically bring people into the space, as well as raise awareness of our existence in the basement. I thought this suggestion would be really beneficial for all–it would encourage patrons to visit and use this wonderful service that is free, which would increase check-out and patron count statistics, and finally it would help build relations and community between Kyle and a variety of residents.
We also discussed how the MMM could host programs in conjunction with other RAs or organizations within Read. The libraries within Residential Programs and Services have access to movie licenses, which allow people to host movie nights with newer titles (often times before the movie is released on DVD). Kyle suggested working with another RA who has been brainstorming a Study Buddies group that would meet every other week to work on homework. Shawn said that the MMM could offer snacks or even some small study supplies and introducing the event with help from the MMM would allow yet another opportunity to promote the materials and services that we offer.
Kyle and I are planning on meeting at least every other week, if not every week to plan, advertise, and implement programs for the residents of Read. I am eager to see how this inside connection will foster symbiotic relationship for all of the stakeholders involved.
Opening day was a success! I was really lucky as a CS because I had seven returning staff members. I conducted one interview before I trained my staff and after meeting with the returning staff, it became very clear that seven was the magic number. Since all of the SAs were returners, the staff training was mostly a refresher about policies and procedures and a brainstorming session about programming and preference for scheduling. It was great meeting face-to-face with the SAs and they all seemed very bright, eager, and full of ideas! Since many of them had worked at the MMM before, they had valuable information to someone who had not worked in the MMM before (me). I spent the week before opening getting ready the center ready. I created a display, “Find Your Niche at Read” which showcased various DVDs accompanied by a little tag with the name of the genre that the film belonged to. The residential libraries have a check-out promotion where renters can get a full-sized candy bar when they check out 5 items; I created a “Renter’s Rewards” bulletin board for renters to write their name on an IU trident and add stickers, which denote each time an item is checked out, to. I also dusted the space, organized the cabinets, and became familiar with the materials in the collection. I adorned a few of the utility poles in the middle of the MMM with cream and crimson streamers to add a welcoming flair to the space. We had a few patrons trickle in and check out the space. One issue with the MMM is visibility. The MMM is located in the basement of the Read Residence Hall and it is a labyrinth down there. One goal is to create a solid presence of the MMM within Read so residents can find us!