Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Library...

The other day I heard about the Library Day in the Life project and wanted to participate. I'm just doing it for today, but if you haven't already gotten the gist of my library life, for better or worse this is pretty much it:

9:00 am: - Get to Library
· Check email, which includes deleting about 15 system messages from the night before about how the power was off/on at the neighboring branches due to the thunderstorm last night.
· Get the “cash drawer” (a half rusted metal box with about $5 in quarters in it) out of the locker and place it behind the reference desk.
· Check daily desk schedule to see where I’m at what time.
· Take a cart of children’s books out of shelve.

10:00-11:00 – Library opens
· Greet the incoming sea of patrons who float by the reference desk and go directly to the public internet stations. It’s never too early to update one’s status on Facebook or search for young attractive females living in the area on Myspace.
· Make several internet station visitor passes.
· Take a couple phone calls about tomorrow’s children’s program that is already maxed out in attendance.
· Request a few titles of books we don’t hold at this branch for patrons.
· Get asked where our DVD collection is located at least twice.

· Back to my own desk to follow up some phone calls about unsolicted donated books (usually by self published authors or religious nuts) when I get paged for back up by the branch manager (it’s just the two of us this morning).
· Out on the floor I see that copy machine is yet again jammed and the branch manager is already involved with another patron so it’s my job to try to fix it.
· After nearly 20 minutes of pulling out crumpled sheets of paper, opening various copier drawers, trying not to burn myself or get ink all over my hands I achieve success! The copier is working again! The teen who was in the process of using it before it broke returns to photocopying pages in People featuring Twilight star Robert Pattinson.

· Hey, it’s time to go back out on the reference desk already! There are several moms in posession of cranky toddlers who need to go home for lunch/nap time. Library is filled with periodic wailing over the next half hour.
· Book the meeting room for a local HOA.
· Make a couple more internet station passes.
· Put a copy of the all checked out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on hold for a little girl who is disappointed we don’t have it currently in, but informs me that the movie is the “best thing (she’s) ever seen,” which is good news for me since I’ve yet to go see it.
· Show a patron to our consumer reports holdings.
· Shelve some of our “new” titles that are in the bookshelves across from the reference desk.

· Use my break off the reference desk to go back to my own cube to work on individual projects and eat lunch (tuna fish sandwich).
· Finish making unsolicted materials phone calls to their donars.
· Check email and respond as needed.
· Branch manager has sent me a message about her idea for a new book display for August. I make a few notes to myself and start searching the catalog for possible corresponding titles.

· Back out to the reference desk, one of our regulars (yes, this one’s crazy) wants me to call the city branch to make sure that their internet stations are working “just in case” she wants to go over there because we now have a bit of a queue. She was at the other branch last night and very upset that she could not use the internet when they lost their power. I explain to her that we receive notification emails whenever there’s a problem with service and that none have gone out today. This is not good enough for her and she impatiently taps her fingernails on the desk as I call the downtown branch, wait on hold for about two minutes, and ask a colleague if they have power and if the internet stations are up and working. He responds with a slightly confused “yes” (with a hint of “duh”), and I relay the info to the patron. She says thanks and goes back to waiting in line for our internet stations.
· Make a couple more internet passes and direct patrons to our DVDs.
· Stop giant toddler from climbing shelves in children’s section. He is unattended and when I find mom (browsing the DVDs) and explain our policy to her she laughs and thinks the whole situation is funny.
· Put a whole list of Jodi Picoult books on hold for patron.
· Give patron on the phone directions to our branch.
· Print out directions to the nearby academic library for a student.
· Teen boy asks for books on “car parts” but has a hard time articulating what parts he’s interested in. After interviewing him for a few minutes I’m still not sure what he’s looking for except he’s not repairing a car nor is he interested in how a car works. I decide to take him over to our automotive section to see if looking at any of the titles help and immediately he sees what he was looking for. He wanted books on hot rods.
· One of my coworkers appears to relieve me and it’s time to go home!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Librarians: impressions and behind closed doors

I think anyone involved in the profession today is quite tired of the old stereotype: the bun, the ugly shoes, the oatmeal colored cardigan. But then again, how many librarians actually look like that (oh, I know a few and quite worse) and what are we doing about it?
Last year I couldn’t help but get annoyed every time some media person labeled Sarah Palin physically as having the “sexy librarian” look, especially since she was someone that I thought epitomized all things not librarian (like somewhat educated
or against censorship). But maybe I was more irritated that the description was referring to the uptight librarian stereotype of someone who is thought to be mild, bookish, and sexy only because they appear so completely the opposite (repressed). And how unfair is it that someone not even part of our profession was incorrectly identified as not only being one of us, but also being the “sexy” one?
What made me start thinking about this was this article about the ALA conference last week (yes, I know it has been mentioned a lot, but sometimes I’m a little late on these things (and no, I was not there!)). I found myself both shocked and amused – a Twitter account to post wanted sexual encounters during a professional conference was created by a bunch of librarians?!? I’ll admit, I was guilty at first of imagining a stomach-churning clumsy orgy of hobbit looking people: a mass of pasty cankles, coke-bottle glasses, and unfortunate facial hair on both genders. However, at the same time I am “inspired by the perceived lack of cultural acceptance for a librarian’s sex life” and agree with the poster who commented, “I am an adult. I am a librarian. I enjoy good sex…What’s the problem?”

And to add one more question to this already loaded post, is all this coming to light more sexually liberating for librarians or TMI?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm freaking out man!

We have a few recognizable patrons who are special (read: crazy) and one of our regulars approached the reference desk this evening very upset.
"The computer is covered with blood!" she said.
"What?" I said, already imagining all the horrible ways that this scenario could end.
"There's blood all over the keyboard," she says then starts to walk toward the internet stations so I follow her.
This is an elderly lady with long gray hair, dressed in a pink tracksuit, who might've gone by the name "Starshine" 40 years ago.
We get to the computer she is talking about and I don't see anything. I lean in to inspect the keyboard and look at the other stations for comparison for some reason.
"It's covered in blood," she says again.
I don't have an answer for this because the blood is purely the result of a flashback or something. There is nothing there. Other patrons are looking over and I imagine I sound alot like Butthead with "Uhhhh" as my only response for awhile. I walk to an adjacent terminal and pat the back of the chair, "Why don't you use computer 11 instead?"
She shakes her head. Computer 10 is like her soul mate. "I don't think it's very hygienic to have keyboards covered in blood," she says quietly.
"You want me to get you a paper towel?" I offer.
She considers it then says yes. This makes her happy after she wipes it down and she gets back on computer 10.