Friday, October 30, 2009

I was a bad nerd

I just finished my latest read, American Nerd: The Story of My People, which I pretty much enjoyed, but was surprised to learn from the book's definition that I was not a nerd. Imagine my astonishment to the bombshell that I was not in fact a nerd (intellectually and socially awkward in ways that strike people as machinelike or someone forced into nerd-dom by social exclusion, according to the book) but instead I was just a "socially awkward intellectual." Those jocks were really operating under a misconception about my social status in high school when they barked and threw trash at me!
The people who I considered nerds as a teen usually fit the stereotype completely: glasses, braces, acne, an unfortunate sense of personal style (or a complete lack thereof) and a strong desire to do extra science projects involving robots. I never considered myself a nerd because I had been a mediocre student and was a bit of a social butterfly at my previous school. Starting over someplace new made me shy, but I was definitely not a nerd. However, all it took was a newly acquired pair of glasses and an unsuccessful attempt at "cool" late 80's/early 90's mall hair to earn me my new moniker to the socially elite crowd: nerd!
Perhaps the worst part was that the actual nerds didn't accept me into their crowd either. While I enjoyed logging several hours on the old Nintendo, I had no interest in D&D, fantasy card games, or debating Star Trek episodes. A couple times I was invited to anime marathons at various friend's homes I found myself bored out of my mind or fighting to stay awake. I was a bad nerd.
Not fitting in anywhere, I kind of tried to keep my own course of steering clear of the extreme high school social stereotypes and just doing my own thing, like starting a slightly subversive zine, dying my hair weird colors, and joining the National Honor Society (it took being labeled a nerd to actually make me a good student). If I labeled myself anything back then, it was geek, which I felt was at least cooler than a nerd. To me a geek was someone who could just geek-out and obsess about music or books and still get laid, while a nerd was doomed to wedgies and self-love.
I thought there had been a difference, but then again maybe I was operating under a misconception too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A cranky library day

Today I was verbally abused by some woman who couldn't get on her precious internet because she was trying to use her old inactive library card. After explaining this several times to her, she finally heard me and agreed to fill out a new card application. Her email address was Yeah, nice. She was at the internet computer station for the next five hours.

Later, a teen working on a science project wanted to know if we had any books on "water policy and like what happens to run off water when it gets into vegetable gardens or like water and animal waste management." Since we didn't have any books on this subject, I showed her how to use the databases to find some articles on her topic. At one point I turned around to see if she understood what I was showing her and she wasn't even paying attention, just texting away on her cell phone. When I asked her to watch what I was doing so she could continue the search on her own she said, "Couldn't you just find the articles for me and then email me them?"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The taxpayers will be pleased

With public libraries across the country facing massive budget cuts which are resulting in cuts in staff, reduction in service hours and materials , and and libraries closing, it is refreshing to see that my own library system, which is also undergoing a budget shortage, is purchasing several copies of the New Kids on the Block Christmas album Merry, Merry Christmas. Yup, that’s right, the one that came out in 1989 and contains the holiday classic “Funky, Funky Xmas” and what sounds like a groin punched Jordan Knight signing falsetto on “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire).” This is not offensive to me just because the budget shortfall, but also because I have in the past suggested for purchase several books, CDs, and DVDs that I was informed would not be purchased because the library’s policy was to only buy newly published materials.
Oh well, I guess someone in purchasing might be drunk with power or sniffing the book glue again.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't care how, I want it now

Earlier in the week, a patron approached the reference desk and asked about getting Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I assured the lady that the children's book was very popular at the moment but I would be happy to put her on hold for a copy.
Lady: Oh I don't want the book, I'm looking for the movie.
Me (confused): The movie?
Lady: Yes, the 3-D cartoon movie.
Me: The movie that out in the theaters right now? Oh we won't have a copy of that for awhile, at least not until it comes out on dvd.
Lady: Could you check?
Me: Well, I know we don't own-
Lady (annoyed): Just look it up, ok? How will you know if you don't even look?
Me (double checking): Yup, I'm afraid we don't own it yet, but if you check back in a couple of months-
Lady: Put me on hold for it.
Me: I'm afraid I can't put a hold on an item unless there is a record for the item. Maybe as it gets closer to the dvd release date-
Lady (giant unnecessary eye-roll): Listen, I don't want an explanation, I want you to just put me on hold for it.
Me: Ma'am, I'd be happy to put you on hold for it, but I'm trying to tell you-
Lady: Sweetie, either you can put it on hold for me or you can get your manager.

Since the branch manager was currently in a meeting and I did not want to pull her out for such ridiculousness, I decided that the only way to end her childish behavior was to get caught in playing her game. With a few nonsense keystrokes I nodded at the lady and told her that I put her on hold for the brand new movie we did not own. She walked away satisfied in the transaction, despite the fact that she never handed me her card. I know I'll probably regret it at a later date when she discovers I deceived her, but luckily crazy has a way of outing itself so I'm hoping whoever she complains to will be on my side.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Ok, so I have a totally embarrassing confession to make: since July I've been working with my brother on our own classic literature retelling with monsters. And if that wasn't awkward enough, I've been beaten to the humiliating punch with nearly the same concept!
A little while back my brother and I started discussing how all the classics with zombies were going to be lame (as a side note, I'm trying to get through Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters right now (shudder)) and we came up with Little Werewolf Women. I read the original in late elementary school and thought I had better brush up on it, but also I thought I should really engross myself in all things werewolf so I've been researching and rewriting things for three months now. Then just yesterday evening my brother breaks the news that some equally bored but much faster person named Porter Grand has already sold the idea to Del Ray books as Little Women and Werewolves. *howls*
I can at least say that the plots were different and ours was much more interesting sounding with us making the little women themselves the werewolves, trying to cope with the Civil War era life in addition to a deep desire to eat their neighbors. I was even going to have Beth killed by a silver bullet!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Banned books and library hypocrisy

I felt guilty for not making a post about celebrating "Banned Books Week" last week, but I thought that there were probably enough librarians, teachers, and others already talking about it, and I was lazy. Actually, as I was changing out our library's "read a banned book" display this morning I felt a bit silly because few of the books actually moved off of the display. I don't think this was because our patrons were offended or in favor of censorship, but rather it isn't such a big deal since I believe the majority of the books in the display have been on local high schools' reading lists for quite awhile.
I made the display because all the branches were encouraged to do so, but at the same time I'm making the display for 1984 and Catcher in the Rye, a few feet away is our graphic novel section which is largely classified as adult material, although most of the series are geared toward teenagers and are labeled as young adult in other library systems. While working in a fairly metropolitan, liberal area, I am often caught off guard when I come across titles like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or Ready or Not? A Girl's Guide to Making Her Own Decisions About Dating, Love, and Sex, or another teen resource book about teen dating violence that are all cataloged as adult materials. One could argue that at least they are technically available at the library, but their circulation numbers are lower (and practically nonexistent for the non-fiction materials) when compared to neighboring systems that rightly classify them as YA. Since I was encouraged to make the banned books display, I wonder what my system would have done if I had instead made a display of titles that were being subjected to a form of internal censorship.
But then again I'd rather just keep my job and not get any annoying emails.