Tuesday, July 27, 2010

im in ur library stealing ur _____.

Stealing books from the library is not headline making news. Seriously, are we not asking for it the way we populate the shelves with sex books that you can borrow for free?! Why check it out, just steal the damn thing, afterall isn't it yours anyway, Mr. Taxpayer?
This morning while I was reading some local news headlines, one caught my attention "Md. Man Sentenced for Stealing Library's Tarantula." Huh? I clicked on the link and read further, "A Maryland man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for stealing a spider from a public library." Ok, so it was the library's pet, which explains why a tarantula was at the library, other than it's creepy, though the article did not mention if the spider had received the boo-worthy name of "Dewey." The guy who stole it apparently got caught because he couldn't shut up about his amazing score -- way to go!
This odd bit of news made me curious if there were any similar stories nationally. Stolen books aren't news, but what other bizarre, attention getting things can be stolen from the library?
I decided to Google "stolen from the library." Here's some of what I found:
At the Ponce de Leon Boulevard Public Library in Florida, the emergency defibrillators were stolen from the cabinet at the library's entrance. I think the most interesting part of this article is that they blame the theft on the homeless without any real proof.
In Texas, a statue of a boy reading was stolen from the Allen Library. I feel at least lucky that my library does the "Paws to Read" program and lets kids read to dogs, where it looks like the poor children of North Texas are reduced to reading to statues. And now that statue is gone!
In Cincinnati the news story was a little different, the item in question was not stolen from the library, but brought to the library. Yes, at the Cincinnati Public Library, Police arrested a man accused of being naked at the library with a bag full of stolen cheese: "When officers searched his bag, they said they found a knife, a razor, two stolen DVDs and 4 pounds of stolen parmesan cheese."
I decided to stop my search there, because everyone knows anytime you read a story about someone getting naked and weird at the library you're only jinxing yourself.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It was like that when I got it

One of my favorite patron comments, aside from the obligatory "I know I returned that book because I keep all my library items (insert on a table, in a basket, on a shelf next to the door, etc.) and never take them anywhere else," would be "It was like that when I got it."
You can tell when someone is going to pull out this excuse, they usually have a bored expression on their face that translates to "I don't care," or "I can't hear you over the shouts of my 8 uncontrollable children," or "I could stab you and hide your body in a crawlspace that no one would find until it began to stink." Visually, these people look like they may also have a guest spot on People of Walmart, and they never smile. Yeah, I'm sure it was like that when you got it.
What I would really like to say in return is, "Take some adult responsibility and pay the $9.99 for the Tom and Jerry DVD that your toddler snapped in half." Instead, I have to go through the game where I explain that each item is checked upon return and that it could not have been like that when they got it, even though we both know what really happened.
According to these people, my branch circulates DVDs and music CDs that are not only broken in two, but books with large chew and tear marks, books with covers pre-ripped off, DVD cases that have bits of moldy food in them, Hooked on Phonics kits that are completely empty, magazines with entire sections cut out, and, in two separate cases, books that were returned still completely soaking wet (dripping is an understatement) that were all miraculously like that when the person checked it out.
Now, I realize that the library isn't perfect, and that sometimes an item is returned damaged and not caught, but then wouldn't the next borrower notify the library as soon as they noticed a problem to ensure that they aren't held responsible? Or at the very least, bring it to the circulation desk and talk to someone about it, instead of just putting it in the bookdrop like nothing happened?
What prompted this post was a recent incident when a patron who claimed a book that had been marked as returned damaged by her was like that when she got it. The item in question: Liar, liar! That book's been on fire!
The book was actually ashing on my desk and the binding was so damaged that the cover was falling off. You might ask what other detective skills I used to confirm that she was the guilty party? Well, the dust jacket had been suspiciously taped on and the book was practically brand new, only previously checked out twice. She ended up paying for the book (an outrageous, bank breaking $23), but let us know she wasn't happy about it. Lucky for her, I didn't care, though I was curious to know what had happened to this book, but I suppose it will just go as an unsolved library mystery.
I only wish I'd had the staff digital camera around the day that the teen returned a book that had been put in the microwave.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Make this work

X-Posted to Closed Stacks

I’ve been reading a lot of e-books on my Kindle lately, but I have some complaints.These complaints are chiefly that I do not own a Kindle and I’m not reading e-books but actual regular physical books that do not allow me to expertly assist the general public needing help with their e-readers. You don’t know how to download your college textbook onto your MacBook Pro? Guess what? I don’t either.

Last week a patron placed his iPad under my nose and asked me why it was having trouble connecting to the WiFi network. When I started to explain that I wasn’t sure why and if he could show me what he was doing, he interrupted me to shout, “What do you mean you don’t know? You’re the librarian!” I responded by acknowledging that I was the librarian, but also mentioned that this was the first iPad I’d seen in person and he was the first person I had met that owned one (aside from my coworker who claims he has one at home). I did not say this as a “Well, hello Mr. Fancy Pants” sort of dig, but to try to get the point across that librarians do not know all technical thingamabobs intuitively. I think if the public understood that if they can be patient and willing to learn with me, then I might possibly be able to find an answer their question.

In the past, staff would receive training opportunities to learn new databases and software as it was implemented in the library. Several years ago, we were scheduled to participate in Library 2.0 activities like playing with image generators or setting up an RSS feed reader. However, with the current economic climate of slash and burn library budgets, there’s no way we can ask for a staff Sony Reader to practice on. At the same time the public still expects that same level of expertise and in today’s world of Google-on-the-spot answers, they want it now.
Which leaves me to ask, where, or to whom does the responsibility to educate staff on current technology trends fall? Should staff run out and buy the newest item with all the bells and whistles in order to learn? Librarian stereotypes are notoriously split among being technophobes and gadget geeks, but the one thing we usually have in common is a limited budget – both in the workplace and at home.
So we have to come to an understanding. As of right now, what I can do for you is this: (metaphorically) hold your hand and offer reassurance while we navigate your shiny new doohickey together. It’s probably going to take a few minutes but if we figure it out then maybe next time you won’t need me to show you and I’ll know how to help the next person who asks that question. What I can’t do is glance at your Droid and instantaneously tell you why your gmail isn’t loading properly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kids say...

I was making pleasant library smalltalk with my coworker at the reference desk when he stopped talking and raised his eyebrows. This is code for "there is someone behind you." I turned around ready to assist another teen who is grief stricken that all copies of Dear John are currently out but was surprised by the small boy leaning on the counter and earnestly looking up at me. I was so surprised that my mouth hung open for a full 30 seconds. IT WAS EFFING GAVIN!!!!
Complete with the nasal robot voice, coke bottle glasses, ill fitting trucker's cap, the backpack, the weird trailing off of sentences, bizarro questions, and no parent or responsible guardian in sight! Never have I wanted a fancy camera phone so badly!
(If, for some strange reason you don't know who Gavin is, please educate yourself on him here).

What brought real life Gavin to the library? He wanted to know what number he was on the wait list for his Naruto books because he couldn't look at his account online, which he confessed was due to him opening an email on his grandma's computer that "(his) dad said (he) definitely should not have opened." Then he asked to make a guess on our candy jar guessing game for kids and informed me that there was a certain mathematical equation he knew of that would help him solve how many Jolly Ranchers were in the jar, but he couldn't tell me what it was because then I would use it for myself. Never have I wanted to kidnap someone so badly!

Later, a tiny little girl bounced up to the desk and asked me "Is this school?" I told her that it was not school, but the library. Then she asked to make a guess on the candy jar and guessed "5," when the actual number is somewhere closer to 170.