Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't believe everything that you read, but dammit, listen to what I say

So I guess earlier this week The New York Times The Moment blog Tweeted that Morrissey was dead and while I missed that "X is dead!" go around, all I can think is "What, really?! We're playing this again?" I know that the interwebs didn't start this type of rumor (I'm flashing back to 8th grade when our head cheerleader broke down hysterically crying in Algebra I because she heard Mark-Paul Gosselaar of Zack Morris fame had died in a motorcycle accident), but cripes, when the real newspapers go down the tubes will all actual fact checking go with them?

Yesterday I was at work when a man approached the desk looking for Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie, which I looked up in the computer and found that all four of our copies were checked out. I explained this to the man, letting him know that Albom's new book has probably renewed interest in his earlier works, but that I would be happy to put it on hold with him.
"Can you just tell me where the book is? Like what number?" he asked.
"The call number? Yeah, it would be under 921 Schwartz if it was checked in--"
The man held up his hand, as he was done listening to me. "I'll just take my chances and have a look for myself to see if any happen to be on the shelf," he said and walked away.
Ok...I mean, I'll be damned if I ever let a computer tell me what to do, but four copies checked out means four copies checked out. It's just simple math folks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I am not Google!

I like getting interesting reference questions, it's half of the reason why I chose this profession and it can be fun and interesting to learn along with a patron the answer to their question. That being said, I feel like I need to create myself a badge that says "I am not Google!" for all the people who approach me with their questions and are annoyed that I have to look the answer up and don't know it off the top of my head.
Want to become a licensed home daycare provider? You need to find out if your car was recalled? Not sure which microwave to buy? There was a documentary on some channel last night and you want to know who was the narrator?
Yes, I can help you with these questions, but it is just not instantaneous! I wonder if we are creating a super impatient breed of people for the future.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The guilty consciences of some people

The negative library related news story from the other day is now followed up by this story about some anonymous person returning their high school library books after being overdue for more than 50 years. I have found that these stories turn up occasionally (similar to stories involving the post office where mail shows up after several decades or letter carriers are discovered to be hording mail), but the two things I found interesting about this story were: 1)the books were returned with a money order for $1000 -- the accompanying letter said it was to cover fines of 2 cents per day for each book, which would total about $745. The letter said the extra money was added in case the rates had changed. According to the present librarian, they no longer charge fees for overdue books, so I wonder if the guilty conscience book borrower regrets adding on all that cash.
And 2)The end of the article says "the overdue books will be returned to the shelves." I know that they are Audubon Society books, but are they still relevant? Has the library not obtained any new Audubon Society books in the last 50 years that aren't more up to date? I suppose it wouldn't have been as interesting to the public to say that they books were to be weeded and put in the community book sale.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

*gasp* Theft in the library?! Shocking!

The Post had an article about how 12 naughty patrons in Maryland are being indicted for stealing nearly $90,000 worth of books from the county libraries. The group of library users were checking out the maximum of 75 items for that county, most of them textbooks, never returning the items, then reselling the textbooks and sometimes CDs and DVDs online.
Two things shocked me about this story and neither of them had to do with theft in the library. The first thing that shocked me was that the people were actually being indicted and held responsible for their stolen book fines. Many times I have looked up a patron's account to give them their internet password to discover that they have at least $100 in fees for lost library items. Once, there was this girl who was a student and begged us to let her go over the regular interlibrary loan limit for her research paper and never returned any of the books, ruined our relationship with several lending libraries, and to this day still has an outstanding $843.99 in lost items on her card. What does my library system do when you don't return a book? We send you a letter. Are you scared yet?! I have heard of library systems that actually turn their nonpaying patrons over to collection agencies to try and recoup some of the costs, so obviously I'm pretty impressed that Maryland's state's attorney is going balls to the wall over this.
The second thing that shocked me was that these book recycling morons actually checked the items out to their own account, leaving a noticeable paper trail as to who had the missing book last instead of just stealing the stupid books in the first place since that's what they planned to do anyway. Sure, we have those electronic security gates at the entrance of our library, but we stopped putting the tattle-tape in the books eons ago. In fact, our security gates are just for show because they kept breaking and were so expensive to fix that they were left broken as a visual deterrent. You want to steal a book? No one's going to stop you. Hell, that's the reason why we can't keep any of the sex instruction books on the shelves. But then again I work for a library system that doesn't have loan limits or late fees, so maybe that's why our patrons take advantage of us.

However, we don't carry textbooks either -- I mean, come on, that's just asking for it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Punk ass book jockeys

A long time fan of Amy Poehler, I was very amused when this week's episode of Parks and Recreation centered around a turf war between the parks and rec department and the "diabolical”, “ruthless”, "worst group of people ever assembled in history" who are “extremely well-read which makes them very dangerous” -- the library!
Probably what made this even more entertaining was that my group of friends centered around the tv kept howling with laughter and checking my reaction every time librarians or the library were mentioned especially as, according to Poehler's character Leslie Knope, we're "like a biker gang, but instead of shot guns and crystal meth they use political savvy, and shushing" who "work at the worst place in the world."
You can become a fan of the show and watch all the librarian stereotype smashing fun here on Hulu: