Monday, October 31, 2011

Top 10 Halloween Costumes for Librarians

When I first started working in a library several years ago, I thought that Halloween would be a fun holiday at work with the idea that librarians would probably get dressed up in imaginative costumes. I'm not sure where this idea came from, but it was definitely wrong. My first library employee Halloween was awkward in that several staff members agreed to dress up with me and then, of course, I was the only one who showed up in costume. That year I dressed up as a 80's Cyndi Lauper style punk which my stick in the mud coworkers mistook for an eccentric prostitute and patrons most likely thought I was a bad teen completing community service hours. Needless to say, I now usually opt out of coming into work in costume, though over the years I will confess that I've mislead some newbie employees to believe that I would be dressing up with them.

But there are a few librarians who do get into the holiday spirit and decide to put aside their nebbish and lackluster attire for one day, and these people have inspired me to list The Top 10 Halloween Costumes for Librarians:

10. Naughty Librarian -- I'll get this one out of the way first. While I have been known to dress as a wayward librarian myself, I feel able to criticize this costume because I tend to dress in a 50's/pin-up fashion normally. Also, I find the "naughty librarian" store made costumes offensive:
That is an ugly ass skirt if I ever saw one and though we may not always be a fashionable bunch, I would like to think that none of us would wear a mini-skirt with bookends printed on it. The other costume is irritating because it is labeled "sexy librarian/secretary" -- we are not the same profession!

9. Non-Harry Potter Wizard –- This person will don some type of hat and often carry a magic wand, either store quality or something created at home out of aluminum foil. Sometimes they will wear a witch’s hat for the same purpose. Once a former coworker wore a blue bathrobe with construction paper planets taped to it.

8. Harry Potter Wizard/Character -- A true fan of the Harry Potter genre and will either create an outfit for a character from the book or dress up as a Hogwarts student wearing the house colors of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, usually accompanied by a long colored scarf. These people will normally go as Gryffindor or Slytherin because they are the most well known and because no one really cares about the other houses. Should you encounter a coworker in Hufflepuff attire you should administer a series of shame induced Indian burns.

7. Renaissance Person -– This includes wenches, royalty, pirates, occasionally Vikings, and sometimes other weird things (see photo), but outside of a renfest, the work costume is usually tame and an excuse for a staff member to get away with wearing a corset tightened to show the most decolletage, or a tiara, or carrying a sword.

6. Star Wars Character -- These costumes are either finely detailed replicas from the films or someone with brown earmuffs for hair and a light saber. Star Wars character is a popular choice for gen x male staffers.

5. Comic Book and/or Video Game Character -- Staff members who adorn themselves in this type of costume will win the nonexistent prize for the most responses of "Who are you again?" Like the Star Wars costume, comic book and video game character costumes involve attention to obscure details that only the wearer or role playing folks will recognize. Or because no one will know who they are the costumed person can phone it in and claim to be anyone granting them the ability to mock coworkers who clearly do not understand their brilliance.

4. Costume Requiring the Least Effort -- These staff members are not only phoning it in, but are not even interested in disguising this fact. "Costumes" of this variety consist of things such as cat/some other animal ears, hockey masks, or an outfit from the back of their closet that they have not worn in 20 years and thus, qualifies as a "costume." Included in this group are also t-shirts that have scary movie characters or skulls or anything that involves LED lights or moving parts. This is frequently the costume of choice for unimaginative library directors/branch managers.

3. Vampire -- This category has waxed and waned over the years both due to the popularity of the Twilight series. Since most library employees are not as attractive as young Hollywood vampires, this costume is more likely to resemble Bela Lugosi's Dracula. Cloaks and fake teeth are often worn, but the glaring paleness of most staff member's skin makes white face make-up unnecessary.

2. Zombie -- Taking the spot of Vampires, Zombies have now become the hot costume, especially since it involves the joy of shredding clothing you don't like and rubbing fake blood in it. The level of commitment is up to the wearer with some going all out with props, limping, and groaning, and others just in torn up clothes. Zombie Librarian was my costume choice last year.

1. Crazy Cat Lady -- Not to be confused with someone wearing cat ears, this costume is often worn by coworkers with lots of stuffed cats glued to an old sweater, or by coworkers who have never married and still wear pantyhose with sandals. Ok, yes, I realize that I am perpetuating another librarian stereotype, but people it wouldn't exist if it wasn't at least sometimes accurate. The genius of this costume is that for many it requires no effort at all!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

There's a New Sheriff in Town

So, I have a new manager at work.

When we found out that we were getting a new manager, it was much like last year when we found out we were getting a new manager: cleaner desks and workstations, more professional attire and less sweaters that looked like they came from the lost n' found bin, (sometimes forced) enthusiasm for job and teamwork (sometimes with high fives), and overall non-work related internet use drops with productivity going up 30%! We were a little like those small, nervous, and easily excited monkeys at the zoo, but at least we were positive.

But it was also a lot different from last year when we found out we were getting a new manager: we liked our (now old) current manager, lots of hissy whispering, and their future office was raided and cannibalized of everything from matching desk chairs to a non-sticky keyboard to ancient starlight mints found in the drawers. It looked a tad bit ugly...and then he arrived.

He seemed friendly enough. He seemed capable, had a long history of library work and management to confidently rely on. He brought cookies to our first reference staff meeting. And then slowly things changed, or rather these things had probably been present all along and I just hadn't been paying attention. Disguised as a normal person he was in fact a horrible boss.

List of offensives:
1. Shirks responsibility. When the phone rings he never reaches for it, he always takes the desk seat farther away from the public, he defers to someone else constantly because he is "too new," to find a book on the shelf, help someone with the copier, print out directions from Google maps, etc.
2. Eaves drops/reads over your shoulder. This is actually my biggest problem with him but since I am guilty of doing non-work related stuff part of the time (hello) I moved it down a notch. If I'm helping a patron over the phone, when I hang up, he's all "What did they want?" You want to know what they wanted? Well answer the damn phone next time. Because he wears sneakers he can sidle up to you quickly or suddenly appear over your shoulder. He must have great eyesight too because before I have time to minimize my want list on Amazon he scares the bejeezus out of me with, "Hey, I bought that same coffee maker!" He hovers and I don't like it.
3. Too personal/no boundaries. If you're in his line of sight and he feels like chatting up a storm he will engage in awkward conversations about his wife, his cat, where he buys his pants, what he was doing in 1969. Similarly, he wants us to reciprocate by oversharing with him. When I asked to use sick leave for my annual check up, he responded, "Could you be more specific?" Uh, no.
4. He can't take directions. I don't know if it's just me, but frequently I will tell him something and it will go in one ear and out the other. For example, yesterday our IT guy came by to work on a computer and told us not to use it while he was updating some software. My new manager comes out of his office and sits down at that computer station. I repeat IT guy's request, but instead he starts typing away, then announces to no one in particular, "Hmm, I can't login." I repeat IT guy's message a second time, but then he gets up and goes into his office. A few minutes later he comes back and says, "I called (IT guy) and he said not to use that computer right now, so nobody use it!"
5. He doesn't know how to do his job...and on top of that he's not even trying. As someone who gets paid I'm sure considerably more than I do, it is frustrating to see he can't do what I consider simple job required tasks. Combine that with his "What is it you do again?" attitude and I feel like replying, "Part of what I do involves fixing or redoing things you do." But alas, I kinda need to retain employment so that I may continue my meager existence.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I bet you didn't think I could cook, huh? Well, you're right...

Friday night, while other shoppers were raking toilet paper, gallons of milk, water, and oddly enough microwave popcorn into their shopping carts, I was wandering around with a very specific grocery list. Instead of Hurricane Irene freakout supplies I was loading up on strange cheeses I had never heard of and the makings of cornmeal pizza dough. Since most of my meals come from a box or can (or bottle, *gratuitous wink*), recently I've renewed my interest in cooking and I thought while I was home bound during the storm, I would recreate a recipe I found in a discarded cookbook earlier at work.

Now I can bake, or at least I used to do ok with baking. My track record over the last year has been spotty: made incredible batch of mini cupcakes for me and my family, try to make same cupcakes again for work event and accidentally put in 1/2 cup of baking soda instead of 1/2 teaspoon; great peanut butter cookies at home on a cold winter night, try to make same cookies to bring for Christmas and I accidentally put in 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk instead of 1 egg and 3 cups of milk. For every good thing I made, some cosmic intervention would make sure I followed it with something inedible. Self-diagnosed with recipe dyslexia, understandably, this put me off of cooking for awhile.

Because Irene made me cancel my original Saturday plans (thanks a lot, weather people, our area maybe needed a good umbrella, not sandbags) last night I decided to go forward with my plan to make the mini Fontina Cheese Pizzas, of course I had to ask the person at the deli counter what fontina cheese was and where I could find it. Here are the results, obviously the left is a fancy show off photograph from the cookbook.
Their mini pizzas look tasty and appetizing. My pizzas look like something you would ask the waiter to send back to the kitchen.

The problem? Not 100% certain, but most likely the fact that the recipe called for 3 egg yokes and I put in 3 whole eggs had something to do with it. Rather than tasting like a pizza, they tasted like cheesy scrambled eggs on top of dough, kinda like a quiche but without the pastry crust. The dough didn't come out right either, my oven runs a bit hot so the bottoms were burned while the top outer crust was barely bronzed and it tasted like a saltine to me for some reason. So my hurricane shut-in dinner was crackers with scrabbled eggs on top!

After last night's kitchen disaster, I was pleasantly surprised by my success at a different recipe this morning. Not in the same ballpark as baking, but it was so quick and easy and delicious -- my favorite combination. Link-hoping, I randomly came across a recipe on A Tale of Two Kitchens for Peach Almond Smoothie and since I coincidentally already had all of those ingredients at home, I gave it a try. Maybe since I'm trying to kick my coffee habit, I can start the day off with a smoothie instead. Of course, I'm not going to stop my 3pm candy fix.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Libraries, we do more than shelter the homeless...

If yesterday's dumb question was, "Is the library still open because of the earthquake?" today's would be anything related to required reading for school.

Bitchy Mom: How can the library not have any copies of Lord of the Flies? You're the library, that's what my tax money is for.

Irrationally Annoyed Teen: What am I supposed to do now? I was supposed to read The Miracle Worker by next you have the movie? Why not?!

Slouchy Teen Boy: Could you write a note to my teacher that you didn't have any books but I'm on the waitlist for Their Eyes Were Watching God?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Verbal communication between two or more humans/monkeys

The phone rings, I picke up to what appears to be a conversation already in progress.

Me: Hello?
Completely Stoned Woman: Uh, hi.
Me: How can I help you?
CSW:...I want to order a book on CD.
Me: Ok, what is the title? (she gives me the title and I locate it in the catalog) It's at a different branch, but I can have it sent here. Could I get your library card number?
Me: Um, hello? Ma'am?
CSW: Huh?
Me: Could I please get your library card number?
CSW: Oh, that...I don't know where that is right now.
Me: Well, I'm kinda going to need it to put it on hold for you.
CSW: Oh no, I don't know...(there is a sound of rustling, things being scattered and knocked over)'s here somewhere, I'll find it later...before I come to the library. Can't you just look me up by my name?
*It is our library's policy not to look up borrowers account information without a card number, however there are exceptions and since I already had another person on hold I wanted to be done with this transaction. I let her give me her name and then quizzed her on her address and birthday.*
Me: Alright, I put a request in and you should get a call in a day or so when it comes in.
CSW: How?
Me:...By phone? The library will call you when it's ready to pick up.
CSW: How do you know my phone number?
Me: We have it in the computer, it's part of your account information.'s probably my old number, I have a new cell phone let me give you another number...(I start typing in the phone number she's rattling off when I realize it's way too long to be a phone number).
Me: Um, ma'am? That phone number, is it local or long distance?
CSW:...That's not my phone number!
Me: What is it then?
CSW: It's the library card number, you said you wanted it.
Me: (She had a point, but a little too late) That number doesn't sound like one of our library card numbers. All of them start off with the same six digits. What library is that a card for?
CSW:...It's a library card.
Me: What does it look like?'s blue (She reads off the library card and it is for a different county).
Me: Ok, that's not part of this library system for 'X County.' If you can't find your library card by the time we call you, just bring in your ID and we can get you a new one.
CSW:...A new what?
Me: A new library card? To replace the one you can't find.
CSW:...And the library is going to call me?
Me: Yes.
CSW: But why?
Me:???To inform you that the audiobook you put on hold has come in...?!
CSW: Oh, ok then. Goodbye!

And she hangs up

It makes me feel a little better when I'm at McDonald's and I realize that I'm not the only person that has to deal with the bizarre public. On the mornings I swing by to grab coffee, there's always this crazy lady with messy hair talking to herself. She never orders anything, but sits at a booth with a Stouffer's frozen turkey and mashed potatoes dinner -- it's always the same thing, and obviously not frozen anymore. She used to come by the library, but hasn't been in for a long while. When she shouts something nonsensical in my direction as I'm scooping up creamers and Splenda, I feel relieved that I'm returning to the general sanity of the library.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Life and its obligations have kept me away (not to mention my laptop is rejecting Firefox lately and explorer does not want to play nice with gmail and blogger), but I've managed to scribble down things here and there on post-its or scrap paper that I can cobble into a post later.

Today I had no such need to dig through my notes as the library gods hand-delivered some weirdness into my inbox this morning:

A couple days ago I came to work to find an address book on our main desk. At night, after we close and the janitorial staff cleans up, they will place any items they find on the desk so that in the morning we can figure out what to do with it (usually it goes in the lost and found bin or the trash). This address book was slightly beat up, the outer snap closure was missing and it was being held together by a large rubber band. There was nothing inside that had the owner’s contact information, however there were two bills folded in the front that were addressed to the same person. Assuming this to be the owner of the address book, I looked them up in our system to see if they had a card. They had a card, but no phone number listed, just home address and email. So I sent an email:

To: Patron

Hello Patron X,
An address book that may belong to you was found at the library. If it is yours, please go to the front desk, describe it for them and they will retrieve it for you from lost and found.

Your Librarian.

A few hours later I got an email back:

Dear Librarian:
Thank you so much for finding my address book!!! I have been looking for it everywhere and thought it was gone! I will come by later and pick it up.

Patron X

I considered this to be the end of the transaction. I emptied my inbox of our correspondence, assumed they picked up their address book, and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Until today.

I was befuddled. Who?

The email address seemed strangely familiar. Could it be one of the volunteers I manage? I cut and pasted the email address into the search box function and clicked on the little spyglass.

Two emails were found, both in my trash folder – the exchange between me and the address book patron.

The hell?
Not only did I not know Patron X personally, I had never even met them, and had not been around whenever they came to get the address book. I would have no way of picking Patron X out of a police lineup.

Like the former junior high school bully sending me a friend request on Facebook, this involved the same level of confusion, but with a side order of creepy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It’s simple: Just don’t be a dumbass

Recently at work all employees were required to participate in a series of online “courses” (Basically PowerPoint) to learn about things like safety, sexual harassment, how to clean up toxic waste, etc. Even though we had all completed a different program on sexual harassment maybe six months before, this was mandatory. All employees were registered by human resources last June with a deadline of nearly a year to accomplish this task, which at the time sounded like no big deal. Sure, it was long (I think someone said if you sat down to take it uninterrupted then you could probably finish it in about 4 or 5 hours) and dull (the voiceover work was provided by what sounded like an updated Speak n’Spell), but I also had a lot of time to get it done.

Fast forward to May and I was on a short list from my branch manager reminding me that the deadline to complete theses courses were coming up and I, of course, had yet to even login to the site. Luckily, my direct supervisor was also on this list and was very understanding about giving me lots of off the desk time to finish this thing. However, I would get back to my desk, fire up the program, put in my earbuds so I could listen to the robot narrate and after about oh, let’s say fifteen minutes of this I was on the verge of sleeping or crying hysterically from boredom. The worst part was that with this thing you couldn’t skip to the end to answer the questions, you had to listen to each and every slide in the presentation, do the stupid practice questions before getting to the final test, where if you didn’t at least get 80% you failed and had to go back to the beginning of that section to do it all over again. Scoring tantamount to a “C” grade may not seem hard to achieve, but I’d like to see how well you would do on a test that only has five questions about various hardhats and the specific use of each one – totally relatable to library work. I ended up taking the test on bloodborne pathogens a mindly-numbingly almost twenty times – and did I mention that it mixes up the questions each time? So I could get everything right but the one I needed to score at least 80%, go back and then be presented with some old questions mixed with new and then I would be able to get even more wrong. It was painful.

But it was also very silly. As I and a couple of my coworkers were working on the courses in our cubicles, one would hear little giggles here and there and an occasional flat out laugh. This was for two reasons: 1)The scenarios presented were ridiculously idiotic and probably never take place in real life, and 2)The photos used in the presentation were clearly purchased or leased from a stock photo company who probably sold the group as “workplace photographs” as they rarely had anything to do with the narration or captions that would float by on the screen and when they did match it was over the top.

The best examples of this obviously came from the sexual harassment portion, where instead of providing a realistic, true to life scenarios we get this:

Tom and Judy share a workspace. In her free time Judy enjoys participating in female bodybuilding competitions and has won several titles. She is proud of her awards and has placed a photograph of herself posing in a bikini on the desk. Seeing the photograph makes Tom uncomfortable and he does not like being forced to see the photograph at the desk. Judy may not realize it, but she is sexually harassing Tom.

And NONE of the photographs presented during this voiceover match at all. The viewer of this presentation is oddly treated to photos of two women working at computers followed by a young man with rumpled hair and his shirt collar undone looking stressed followed by a photo of an older woman looking creepily staring straight at the camera to suggest she is watching me. There is also a disturbing quid pro quo situation where the voiceover describes a boss pressuring a female employee that he supervises to exchange sex for a raise. The photograph displayed during this shows an office setting with two employees, a black man and a white female, chatting in what appears to be a friendly, non-offensive way, over their shared cubicle wall. As if that wasn’t bad enough, photos were frequently recycled during presentations so that later in a section on interoffice dating we get the SAME photograph! Yes, I am being nit-picky, but all I could think of was that the boss and the woman suddenly seemed right – pressuring a coworker for sex is the best path to starting a relationship!

In my boredom, while listening to the voiceover, I took screen caps of some of the more “interesting” slides, minimized the program so that it would still play in the background while I brought up Paint to paste in these pictures, mashing them together in a collage of on the job no-nos. I took so many screen caps that I ended up forgetting where I saved some of them and accidently left out some of the really strange ones including one of two old men fighting in a boardroom and another of an Asian man tied to his ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron desk chair. But the important thing is that I am now aware of alarming fact that “hundreds of people in the U.S. are killed while doing their jobs” so I won’t try to do anything about those dangling exposed electrical wires in the staff workroom.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer reading, my most favorite reading time of the year...

Photo courtesy Awful Library Books

Yesterday was the official kickoff for our summer reading program and we were busier than a Columbian drug den. Here is a sampling of the questions I very helpfully redirected:

Elderly Couple: Can you tell us how to use our Nook?

Forgetful Teen Boy: I was reading this book and I didn't finish it, can you help me find it? It wasn't at this library, it was my school's library but I had to return it. I don't remember the title or the author, but it was about a boy with a dad and the cover was light green.

Older Mom Wearing Teen Daughter's Clothes: Where are your books on murder?

Middle-Aged Snooty Guy With a Purple Tie: Where might I find books on Pablo Picasso...the artist.

Teen Girl With Gum: Tell me what books my school wants me to read over the summer and then give them to me or put them on hold.

Lazy Mom: It says for the adult summer reading program I have to read 5 books and write reviews -- do they have to be adult books? Can't I just review the picture books I read to my toddler?

Man on Phone: I'm looking at the catalog on my computer and there's a DVD I want. What does it mean when the status says "unavailable"?

Woman on Phone: If the program is already full can I still register my child for it?

Frantic Woman: Has anyone turned in an iPhone?

Angry Lady With Braids: Can you tell that man to stop sneezing?

Old Lady With Hearing Problem:
My friend says all of her books and CDs come to her house and she never has to come to the library. How can I sign up for that?

Buff Dad With Woman's Voice:
Why are the magic books for adults not checked in?

Creepy Guy Who Has Been Warned For Looking at Porn: I want more time on internet station #4.

Little Girl With No Adult Supervision:
Show me the books!

We had over 2,000 people come through the library in eleven hours. Today has only been slightly quieter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High school is over, but Sweet Valley is forever...

This book review most likely belongs in my Very Bad Book Blog, but it was so over the top that I decided to share it here, where more might appreciate this sort of trash.

Spoiler Alert! LIKE this book was SO lame!
I read this but merely for nostalgic/guilty pleasure reasons, which is what I assume is the same reason anyone else would read it and ideally the audience Francine should’ve been writing for. I already admitted that I was not a big SVH fan, but I left out that in college my roommate and I would play the SVH board game with a level of determination and strategizing rarely seen outside of playing Risk (we were often completely tanked, which helped a lot). And I do have a small collection of SVH books that I’ve gathered from thrift shops and donations here at the library. They are full of the silliest teen “drama” and I could usually read one in about an hour or so.

It wasn’t like everyday I was walking around thinking, “I wonder what those perfect, amazing, blue eyed, silky, golden haired girls, aka the Wakefield twins, are up to? Did they get married? Who are their friends and enemies now? And is it possible that one of Margo’s relatives returned with a similar taste for Wakefield blood?” Alright, sometimes maybe I was, but I wasn’t the only one and fans took to the interweb to discuss. Francine must have heard about this and turned to a new legion of ghostwriters to help her craft a rather dull book with a storyline so predictable that even a temporarily blinded Ken Matthews could see coming. A half-baked mix of flashbacks, "unforgivable betrayals," two scoops of romantic confessions, a handful of bitchiness, and completely saturated with inconsistencies, then slathered across 291 pages and served in a hardback shell for $21.99.

With the frequent inaccuracies and continuity problems it is obvious that former ghostwriters didn’t want to be in a ten-mile radius of this lard coated, flaming piece of caca. Francine gives credit to the assistants who helped her remember details of the very same series she created and yet, aside from the giant plot holes, all of the characters appear to suffer from personality disorders and amnesia (including a speech impediment for Jessica). This suggests that not only had these assistants not cracked the spine of a SVH in years, but that no one associated with this book had bothered to read the series.

That Sweet Valley Confidential is bad is an understatement and yet simultaneously it is not bad enough. Fans of the series loved it for the cheese (I did at least), not because it was an accurate portrayal of teen life in any decade. Over the years Sweet Valley went from being a teen drama, to a teen soap opera, and then something else that was possibly written as a dare or after an LSD hallucination. Originally I thought Sweet Valley Confidential could be updated, written as lighthearted chick-lit with a far-fetched murder mystery, not the as a faux shocking, recycled tripe that was published, and without the cheese it’s not even a fun guilty read.

The update is perhaps a little too updated with all the social media namedropping and pop culture references that will mean nothing a year from now. The Wakefield twins have grown up and aren’t clean teens anymore complete with f-bombs and disturbing discussion of Elizabeth’s weepy orgasms and taut nipples. *shudder* The girls wax poetic about how much the town they live in has changed since the 80’s (which is noted as being before the twins were old enough to care), with all its chain stores and a Starbucks on every corner changing the landscape. Nothing is said of Sweet Valley being more dangerous than Detroit, populated by more devious characters than a Mexican telenovela, and with a higher WTF?! per capita rate than any other made up town in young adult literature.

The completely obvious plot-line has the girls on the outs with each other again, but this time it’s personal! The twins have never been faced with a betrayal so outrageous in all of Francine’s sieve-like memory. Unless you count that time Jessica spiked Elizabeth’s drink (over the very important title of Jungle Prom Queen), leading to a car accident, the death of Jessica’s boyfriend, and Liz getting charged with manslaughter. Or those times Liz cheated on Todd. Or every single book when Jessica’s jealousy has her pulling some sort of underhanded scheme against her perfect sister.

However, the absolute worst part of the book and biggest insult to fans (other than Jessica’s sudden outbreak of valley girl brogue) is the relationship between Elizabeth and Bruce Patman. They are BFFs because Elizabeth has completely forgotten about that time he tried to date rape her. Elizabeth casually alludes to this incident as the time when Bruce kissed her “when she was passed out” and leaves out the overly friendly part about his twisting her arms to try to make her give in. While there is absolutely no chemistry between Elizabeth and Bruce during the entire book (except perhaps in his mind), when he finally confesses his feelings she decides she loves him too (heck, why not?!) because he’s such a super guy she doesn’t want him to be with anyone else. Yes, these are some pretty screwed up bitches, but then again, wouldn’t you be if you had gone through all of this:

The Evil Twin – Twins doppelganger and all around crazy girl, Margo, plans to kill Elizabeth and take over her life. Though Alice Wakefield mistakes Margo for one of her own daughters, the jig is up when Liz catches Margo dressed as her and also wielding a large knife. Jessica loses yet another boyfriend to sweet mistress death.

Beware the Wolfman -- Liz falls for a dark, handsome English stranger named Luke, who is naturally a psychotic werewolf. Jessica’s boyfriend dresses as a homeless man to watch over her.

A Kiss Before Dying
-- The feud between Palisades and SVH reaches a deadly conclusion when Jessica’s boyfriend Christian is killed, but as a bonus she wins the surfing contest.

To Catch a Thief –- As Au Pairs in France, Liz falls for a prince, Jessica falls for a jewel thief and the girls end up getting locked in the dungeon.

Tall, Dark, and Deadly
– Liz hates goth newbie Jonathan, but Jessica and Enid fall madly in love with him. A cat is the only witness to a murder committed by a vampire who is obviously…wait for it…Jonathan.

"R" for Revenge -- Elizabeth must eventually save Jessica and the cheerleading squad when they are kidnapped and held hostage by their new adviser.

The book ends with an American Graffiti-esque epilogue where readers get updated on a random assembly of characters. The important thing to know is that everyone is either dead or miserable. That and there’s going to be another spin-off, but maybe Francine will get it right this time.

On a scale of squeaky clean teen fun, Sweet Valley Confidential is neither squeaky clean, nor teen, nor fun really. It reads like a horrible made for TV movie, but a made for TV movie on a cable station so it has swearing and sexy parts. At the birthday party for grandma, Alice Wakefield shouts, “Bring out the f---ing cake!”
Not recommended for: nostalgic adults who don't want to think about Liz's nips.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ima bout to go ape poopy up in here

With each season we change the desktop pictures on our reference desk stations. This picture is the background for one of the ref desk computers nows:

Today I had to explain to a coworker (one who often likes to change the desktop photo to something weird (not weird cool either, weird like wha???)) that this photo of an adorable baby duck was the only thing keeping me from murdering everyone in the building. Then he walked away.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yeah, that just happened

Saturdays at the library are always a treasure. Here are some jewels from today:

An elderly woman called and wanted to put a specific book on hold. It was hard to hear her and she was definitely distracted. When I asked for her library card number she told me I had to hold on because she had to dig through her purse...which was difficult because she was driving. Yes, she was driving, talking on her cell phone, and going through her purse all at once. When she gave me her card number I saw that her birth date was from 1937. So she was 74, driving completely distracted, oh and did I mention it was pouring rain all day today and we had at least two tornado watch alerts?

I put a copy of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, on hold for a man, he asked me who the narrator was and asked, "It's not Mark Twain, is it?" Seriously? I laughed for a second until I realized he was serious and I had to turn it into a cough. Before walking away he said, "I don't know, sometimes the authors read their own books." Seriously.

Twenty minutes before closing a woman wanted me to help her find books for a research paper. Her topic was more suited for an academic library (why or why do college students not use their school libraries?!) but I actually found two books. She didn't have a library card so I gave her an application. When she handed it back I was a little disturbed by the bubbliness of her handwriting, almost as if a 14-year-old cheerleader had filled it out. She even dotted the two i's in her name with bubble hearts -- no lie! This might have been cute had she been a teenager or maybe even passable for someone in their 20's. She was 52.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Newsflash: Librarians have the power to change the internet because you want them to

Today has been a weird day for service requests. It all started this morning when an elderly lady pointed at me and said her computer wasn't "acting right." I followed her over to take a look - she was trying to fill out a job application online and a red text box had popped up saying she had attempted to login incorrectly too many times and was now locked out. In big read letters it said "Please see your administrator."

Me: Oh, looks like you will either have to email the company or go in person and have one of the employees there help you.
Old Lady Who Likes to Point: See? Make it work. *wild finger jabbing at the screen*
Me: Unfortunately, I do not have the power to go into this website and reset your password or change your login. You will have to contact X store.
OLWLP: *points at me* Isn't this you? Make it work.
Me: No, I am not the administrator for this website, I am unable to reset your login. You'll need to contact them.
OLWLP: It was working yesterday, make it work again. *more frantic pointing*
Me: *sigh*

Around lunchtime I was approached by a middle-aged woman, clutching a notebook to her chest. She announced that she was looking for a journal at the library and didn't know where to locate it. I asked her what journal it was.

Back to School Lady: It's the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, from 2010, volume--
Me: *interrupting her* -I'm sorry ma'am, this is a public library and we only subscribe to a few journals and that definitely isn't one of them.
BSL: I'm willing to take microfiche if you don't have it in print.
Me: We don't have it period and this library does not have microfiche readers either.
BSL: Could you check?
Me: *does a check for her benefit* Nope, not even close.
BSL: *leaning in close to the desk and slightly in my personal space* Maybe I'm not making it clear. I can see the article abstract at home on the internet, but when I'm searching here at the library on my laptop the full article won't open. I still only get the abstract.
Me: *goes to journal's website* Yes, see they want you to buy a subscription to view this article and that's something we don't have.
BSL: B-b-but you're the library!
Me: Yes, but we're a public library with a limited budget and that is not one of the journals we subscribe to.
BSL: You should be able to get it to come up, this is the library! The library's internet should have it!

Here I restate the obvious, but offer her the possibility that we may be able to get the article for her through an interlibrary loan, but when I tell her she won't be getting it today she stomps off.

Then an elderly gentleman approaches the desk.
Old Man Who Knows How the Internet Works: I'm looking for a magazine, it was Newsweek...unless it was Time. Anyway, I was reading it last week while I was here and now it's gone and I need to get that article.
Me: Sure, do you recall what issue it was? Or who wrote the article? What the article was about?
OMWKHIW: *thinks and shakes his head* No, no. The only thing I remember was that it was last week. And it was about money.
Me: Last week's issue?
OMWKHIW: No, I was reading it last week...but it could've been two or three weeks ago...Anyway, there's a hand on the cover of the magazine. It's like pointing or giving thumbs up or something.

I spend the next ten minutes trying to search for his mystery magazine. Old Man Who Knows How the Internet Works seemed to have a problem staying seated, he kept jumping up and leaning over the counter trying to twist my screen so that he could view it. I kept saying, "Sir, the database I'm searching in has no pictures...sir, I can't see the results if you do that" to which he would reply, "Find the hand!" I even went to both magazines websites and amazingly enough Time did have a feature to search covers but none matched. I did a search for articles on money in Newsweek , which of course brought up a hundred things that were not it.

Me: I'm sorry sir, it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to locate that article right now. Maybe if you go home and think about it you'll recall which issue it was or who wrote it.
OMWKHIW: It was some foreigner. Or someone with a funny sounding name. *thoughtful chin stroking* Can you search Newsweek for articles about money?
Me: Sir, we just did that search and none of the articles matched the one you were looking for.
OMWKHIW: But I want this article today. *he twisted the monitor back around so he could see it, then taps the screen* You tell the computer to search for a picture of a hand and it will find it! I know how the internet works!

Oh, I had a picture of a hand for him alright, and it was flipping the bird. What more might the day have in store for me?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Overheard at the library tonight...

Little girl and mom are walking by the reference desk.

The little girl is clutching a book to her chest and trying to match her stride with her mother's. "Mom, do you like Magic Treehouse books?"

The mom pauses, as if seriously considering the question, "No, dear."

The little girl stops walking and puts her hand on her hip, "Well I do."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Suggested Courses for Addition to the Library School Curriculum

X-Posted to Closed Stacks
Sometimes when I log into Facebook (*stamps floor and averts eyes* yes, geez I have FB account even though I hate the damn thing) there are little ads over on the side and, on occasion, they mention libraries so I glance over at them. Usually I ignore these ads because they are weird cartoon dogs wiggling, or a strange woman dancing, or a creepy old man nodding his head at me and they cause me to have blood lust for the annoying soul who invented them, but hey if it mentions libraries it’s got to be relevant information, right?

What I like about this ad: 1) Librarians are hot, slightly spooky women with stark white hair like Storm from X-Men. 2) The web address suggests the option of achieving a Masters degree today?
What I don’t like about this ad: 1) The odd choice to capitalize Some words and Not Others. 2) I could earn upto $55K – so you hit the salary ceiling after that? And they’re using that to bait unsuspecting potential students, aka a bunch of hipsters who use FB and love librarian glasses, into possibly signing up at a non-accredited interweb school? 3) Uh, how about everything.
Ah yes, what side-swept bang and tight-fitted jean miss (or mister) generation slacker can resist the siren song of the librarian as a career? It just screams hip and cool or even perhaps that outdated moniker of “alternative.” If they only knew the overcrowded job markets, the student loans that total more than your first year’s salary, the shame of going to a fake internet school, or the shame of having a legit MLIS and working as a night-stocker at Wal-Mart.
This led me to thinking back to the mind-numbing boredom of cataloging, the dizzying lows of the history of public libraries, or the cruel and unusual punishment of learning Dialog. One of the main complaints those of us in the profession hear time and time again is how little library school prepares you for the actual job you end up getting. Not to beat this drum again, but this has been on my mind a lot lately, especially with some of our toilet troubles…
I thought to compliment The Librarienne’s recent post about dissuading librarian wannabees, I came up with a list of suggested courses for addition to the library school curriculum:
LIS707 – Organization of Information Materials by Cover– 3 credits
Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems are disregarded in this study that focuses on the concerns and techniques of organizing items by cover and the modern library users’ information-seeking behavior. Concentrates on the understanding and application of this in demand trend, including how to separate colors and the differences between scary and sexy vampires.
LIS710 – Introduction to Library Perverts– 3 credits
This course will explore the philosophical (if they just wanted to look at naked people then why couldn’t they just do it at home?) and physical (if they didn’t want to get caught then why did they take off their pants?) questions behind porn viewers, flashers, masturbators and other non-traditional library users. Major part of course includes simulation of these problems and critical evaluation of proposed solutions.
LIS738 – Mechanics of Photocopier Machine Repair– 3 credits
Being a librarian often requires specialized knowledge in electronics and machine maintenance. This course explains the theory of photocopier operation and will cover such topics as bin sorters with multiple staple positions and upper and lower heat roller sets. Students must demonstrate their ability to clear jams, change toner cartridges, replace worn parts, and maintain network connections in order to receive a passing grade.
LIS742a – Principles and Practices of Plumbing Obstructions– 2 credits
An examination of this common problem with a hands-on emphasis. Challenges relating to contemporary lavatory functions will be identified and analyzed by students, drawing from their own experiences, pertinent literature in the field, and field investigations. May substitute LIS742b – Popular Materials for Vomit Absorption.
LIS755 – Seminar in Conservative Patron Relations– 3 credits
A historical study from ancient times to the present of the evolution and social role of the fanatical patron in libraries, with concentration on 20th and 21st century conservative repression. Aspects of authoritarianism will be observed with film screenings of Norma RaeGood Night and Good LuckFootloose, and Silent Night, Deadly Night. Students are encouraged to create a final project that might include a lively protest or sit-in, a bonfire of controversial library materials such as the Harry Potter series, or an original research paper.
I didn’t even touch courses designed for relations with coworkers – that could be an entirely new post all together. LIS770 – Internship with Passive-Aggressive Note Leavers or LIS771 – Diversity in Libraries: Potential Shut-ins and You, anyone?

My library director says I need 50% less sass

My copier rant from the other day in addition to some *ahem* public toilet problems at work were the inspiration for my latest post on Closed Stacks, titled "Suggested Courses for Addition to the Library School Curriculum" -- go check out it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Update your bookmarks

Closed Stacks has changed location and can now be found at
And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What the?

A boy of about 11 or 12 approaches the reference desk and informs me that the copier* is out of paper. This surprises me because our pages are usually good about refilling the paper every morning.

Me: It says it's out of paper?
Boy: Yes.

I walk over to the copier with him and there is nothing indicating that the copier is out of paper, but there is apparently a paper jam. I try to open the drawer to take a look but it is oddly stuck.

Boy: What are you doing?
Me: I want to check on the paper and see if anything is jammed.
Boy: That's not where the paper goes.
Me: Huh?
Boy: That's not where the paper goes. It goes in here (he wildly points at the exit tray).
Me: No, that's where it will come out.
Boy: No, that's where it goes in.

Though I'm totally wtf I decide to let it drop in favor of getting into a ridiculous argument with a child about the mechanical workings of a photocopying machine. Instead, I sit on the floor, pulling on the drawer flap trying to force it open but it won't budge. Because the copier will also pull paper from drawer number two, I decide to give that one a try. It slides right reveal that it is filled with Pokémon cards.

Me: ???
Boy: Oh, those are mine (he reaches forward and starts collecting them).
Me: Why are they in the paper drawer?
Boy: I wanted to make copies of them.
Me: To make copies of them you put them on the GLASS (I stand up and open the copier lid to demonstrate proper copier use).
Boy: Oh.
Me: Did you fill the other paper drawer with cards?
Boy: Yes.
Me: *sigh*

About ten minutes later we have removed at least all of the Pokémon cards I could find and the copier seems clear of jams and in good working order. I walk back over to the reference desk and fill my coworker in on what I've been doing. After sharing my little story she says, "Don't turn around, but he's opening the paper drawers again."

*Public copiers are like kryptonite to a public librarian. During my two years of graduate study, we never once went over the intricacies of a xerography machine, much less one given to erratic behavior. However, it has become clear that one does in fact need the MLIS in order to do such tasks as refilling paper, removing stapled copies from the jammed autocopier, changing the toner cartridge, putting my delicate little fingers between metal objects that warn of third degree burns, and performing rudimentary repairs -- because this is what I spend at least 15% of my day doing in this master's degree required job. Whenever the copier really dies (or some asshat puts too many Canadian coins and paperclips in the money slot), I am full of glee as I place the "Out of Order" sign on that baby.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Crazy delicious

One thing I admire about some of the blogs I follow is their seemingly effortless ability to combine a wide range of topics from fashion to decorating to pictures of their cat sleeping in odd places to recipes. While I'm not that great of a cook, (I'm sadly more of a follow the directions on the box type) I do like looking at pictures of food and imagining that I might someday follow that recipe of "Open Faced Apple Pie." So I thought I might share a "recipe" of my own to mix it up a bit, one that came about shortly after I moved in and had not a lot of groceries:

serves one (unless you make a whole bunch, but that's your biz)

2 whole wheat Harris Teeter brand Eggo Waffles (they don't have to be Harris Teeter, but I find the store brand to be much cheaper and I use whole wheat because I think it sounds healthier than the regular waffles).
1 tbsp peanut butter (I like Healthy Choice's smooth peanut butter, because it tastes good and I like that it is using the word healthy again).

- Place the 2 waffles on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 425F for 7 minutes then manually flip the waffles over for another 7 minutes (I don't own a toaster, so I usually do this step right out of the shower, then have time to put my clothes on before it's time to take them out).
- Spread the peanut butter on the waffles, then stack the waffles one on top of the other to make a waffle sandwich. Because the waffles are hot, it will make the peanut butter a bit melty, but it's good.
- Serve immediately and store waffle sandwich in your stomach.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do your own homework

Teen girl of about 16 or 17 approaches the reference desk.
Lazy Teen Girl: I've got a report to do, I need some information on Shakespeare.
Me: Did you do a search in the card catalog yet?
LTG: No.
Me: What type of information are you looking for?
LTG: (shifts weight and looks at the ceiling) Ohhh, like what made him important. My teacher said the report is on why Shakespeare was such a big influence and why he was...important. Can you tell me where the books would be about like other authors explaining why he was important?
Me: You mean like literary criticism or a historical perspective?
LTG: Yeah that.
Me: (searches) There's one book and its description sounds like it would fit your topic, the only problem is that it's located in another library. I can put in a request for you, but with Monday's holiday it's probably not going to get here until Tuesday or Wednesday. When is your report due?
LTG: (appears to be thinking) Sometime at the end of next week.
Me: You want me to put it on hold for you?
LTG: No. Are there any books filled with essays on why Shakespeare is important at this library?

I write down some call numbers for literary criticism and explain to her that our databases are also useful for her project and send her on her way. A few minutes later she returns, this time with who I assume is her mother.

Lazy Teen Girl's Mom: My daughter has a report due on Tuesday and needs some information right now. Where are the books that have examples of old student reports on Shakespeare? Or magazine reports on him too.

One painfully drawn out reference transaction later, where neither side is really satisfied, my coworker leans her chair into me and whispers, "It's a good thing her mom will be going with her to college."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Gatsby, the video game

Ok, so since discovering this last night I'm a little obsessed:

The Great Gatsby by Nintendo!

I really don't care if it's a hoax or not (and c'mon folks, it obviously is), but what fun and creativity! I love the lengths that someone went to in order create this 80's nostalgic literary game -- it's awesome! As someone who received (and, ok I admit it, actually asked for (yes, I was that nerdy)) Nintendo's sucky The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a xmas gift in '89 (pictured right), which had the amazing ability to be simultaneously difficult, confusing, and boring -- I kinda wish The Great Gatsby Nintendo version had been around instead. It certainly is much more interesting with better graphics and gameplay than probably at least a quarter of Nintendo's real games, even if it only takes five minutes to beat. This goes to show that classic literature can work in video game format and I'm betting with all the hubbub surrounding it right now, Nintendo only wishes that they really had secretly invented and never released this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Who are Pultizer winning authors, Alex?"

A mom (I'm assuming she's a mom (someone's mom), she had mom jeans and that hideous Kate Gosselin style haircut) in her mid to late 40's approached the reference desk looking for a new book to read.

Suburban Mom: Where are the best sellers? I want something on the best seller list.
Me: Anything on the current best seller list is going to be checked out but I can put you on a wait list.
SM: Yeah, reserve me something then.
Me: Who do you like to read? What types of books to you enjoy? Fiction, non-fiction, romance, thriller…?
SM: Oh, I'll take anything.
Me: Ok...
SM: As long as it's good.
Me: Ok...
SM: And it's not depressing.
Me: Alright, so you want something on the current best seller list that's good and not depressing?
SM: Yes. Oh, and it should be about women or girl stuff, you know.

Side note -- just as a librarian has not read every book in the library, we are not mind readers either. Readers' advisory can be a great way to connect a reader with a book, but the more information we have to work with makes our job easier and the possibility of getting a book you actually want to read is higher.

Me: (looks up some stuff, reads her off titles that she rejects one by one)
SM: (face suddenly lights up) You know who's supposed to be a really good author?
Me: Who?
SM: Lauren Conrad.
Me: Lauren Conrad? (surprisingly repeated without a hint of sarcasm)
SM: Yeah, you know, from "The Hills." I heard she's a pretty good writer, why don't you request me her latest book.
Me: Ok...
SM: You know who else recently wrote a book? That Nicole Richie. I hear she's pretty good too, why don't you get me her book too.
Me: Alright.
SM: And that Paris Hilton, what about her? Does she have a new book out?
Me: (searches) I don't think so, I believe her last book was Confessions of an Heiress, which came out about five years ago.
SM: Get that for me too, I can't remember if I read it or not. Isn't it great when a celebrity can actually put two words together and write something worth reading?
Me: (desperately fights urge to cough "ghost writer" or "crap"). Yeah, it's...something.
SM: But I'll never read that book by that Snooki. That girl is not so smart and she's hardly a role model. She doesn't deserve to be on the best seller's list.
Me: ???

I imagine the thrill of being on the New York Times Best Seller is deflated for any author who’s achieved the title and is on the same list as any of these reality TV stars.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A thrifty day

About a year or so ago I found out about this neat shop that specializes in selling vintage/retro-y type stuff that's located about an hour away. On Friday, after talking with my coworker and his interest in acquiring an old telephone and my knowledge of a shop in an antique mall that sold refurbished phones, I decided I would make Saturday all about living vintage.

I started my trip early in the day, getting on the road before considering giving the shop located an hour away a call to see if they were indeed open as the website indicated. It was a good thing that I did call ahead because the recording that answered the phone informed me of their hours and they were not open yesterday. Feeling slightly disappointed and not wanting to derail my day's plans completely, I settled on visiting some of the antique and thrift stores in a nearby town.

The first stop was the Court of Antique Shoppes, outside of town. I have only visited this string of shops, which are located in an old motel with the all the room walls knocked down, a few times in the past -- usually because I forget it's out there. But on those few occasions I managed to come out with something awesome, like a 1950's prom dress I purchased as a junior in high school, or a metal "Pigs in Space" lunchbox my sophomore year in college. Unfortunately, I think the internet and places like ebay have made these types of shops harder to find and raised the price of items to ridiculous heights. Apparently now anything old is a collectible. There was an oil painting of a girl and her dog, but even with its sale price of $275 I chose to leave empty handed.

For my next stop I went into the downtown area. There used to be this outdoor, wooden, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse looking shopping area that was so cool when it opened in the 1980's, but now it's pretty much offices with a restaurant and a deli on the first floor. There are parking signs that line the lot that clearly say that the lot is for that shopping center only, however, in the past four years I have parked there numerous times without incident so I parked my car in the mostly empty lot and started walking toward the Black Shutter Antique Center.

This building, which once was part of a store as well as a very wealthy family's home, is a series of rooms on three different floors complete with twisty stairways and full of old stuff. This was my third trip to this center, but I'd yet to purchase anything because their prices are usually high. I saw a rhinestone poodle broach I was interested in, but not for $45. On the third floor in the last room that is devoted all to vintage clothes, I was about to give up (so many ugly 80's prom dresses priced in $60's?!?) when I found an adorable little box purse -- the type I've been searching for. At $30 it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but a teen girl who had been trailing me was obviously waiting for me to put it down, so I ended up getting it. Score!

Next I walked down the street toward another antique shop that I'd also discovered in high school. I had rarely found anything there to buy, but it was inside an old lunchtime diner and they had a shop kitty, so it was at least cool to dig around in there for awhile. I waited at the crosswalk and turned around to see another antique shop (yeah, it's like the antique district) that I'd passed many times before but never went inside since usually it had in the windows boring old furniture or things like candlesticks or those giant metal stars people hang on the outside of their barns in the country. I crossed the street and rounded the corner to be disappointed -- the little antique shop with the kitty was no more! I put my face against the window and peeked inside at the complete emptiness that remained, mourning the shop's disappearance.

Not yet ready to head home and call it quits, I skipped back across the street and decided to venture into the boring candlestick antique shop. For the most part it was boring, but in the basement I came across a paint by number desert painting that I considered buying, before wandering into a narrow hallway lined with clearance items. There was a clothing rack I quickly thumbed through, as most of it was sequined old lady gear, when I suddenly saw this dress. I pulled it out and examined it -- silk, dotted with black polka-dots and trimmed with this black ribbon. It was too cute and as I checked, and double checked the price tag, it was marked down to $9!

I wanted it, but I wasn't 100% sure it would fit me, so I looked around for a dressing area and when I couldn't locate one I went back upstairs and approached one of the ladies at the register. The first lady was opposed to letting me try it on. "Isn't there a bathroom I could slip into for a moment?" I asked.
"Nope," she answered, and then I started to imagine these old ladies holding going to the bathroom all day, or being forced to pee in tupperware containers. The other lady at the counter was nicer, "There's a storage area downstairs, you can try it on in there if you don't mind it being full of old stuff."
"I love old stuff," I proclaimed and followed her back downstairs, past the area I thought was the storage room, and into another long hallway with a door at one end and a conveyor belt covered in cobwebs running from the floor to the ceiling.

It smelled musty and the dangling naked bulb cast eerie shadows on the walls. I quickly stripped and was stepping into the dress when I lost my balance and tipped around to come face to face with a large taxidermy fox I had somehow missed upon entering. I nearly let out a little yelp, but managed to swallow it, hopping farther away. I then raced through dressing, eyeing the creepy fox the whole time. I knew I had passed a mirror going in, so I stepped out to find it, running into the nice lady on the way who said it fit me so well that I had to buy it (good selling strategy!) and after taking a look in the mirror I agreed. Plus it was only $9! Back in the storage area, I did a record clothes change before tipping my imaginary hat to the fox on my way out.
So I was pretty happy walking down the street back to the parking lot where I'd left my car, when I could see in the distance a yellow something on my car window. It was a parking violation notice! I looked around for someone official, or even someone watching me, but I was alone. There was no fine on it, so I assumed it was not a ticket, but there was a box checked off for "recommended towing" so I'm glad I got there when I did. I won't make the mistake of parking there again in the future, but those jerks glued the notice to my window so part of me wants to do it out of spite.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 1040 instructions arrive and it's like Christmas morning

Holy effballs! Today we got our delivery of twelve boxes of 1040 instructions that the public has been requesting. Everyday. At least once an hour. Even though I made two signs about their delayed delivery and had to explain to at least three patrons that 1040 A instruction booklet was not the same just because they wanted it to be.

Let the tax form shit storm begin!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When you Google you become a terrorist

It's movie award season and lately there's been a lot of buzz about Black Swan, (an arty film about ballet and masturbating while your mom is in your bedroom) which has made Winona Ryder suddenly relevant again because she has a minor (really minor) part in it.

And what does she do with this reclaimed fame? She acts kooky. (see photo of Winona inexplicably wearing a wedding dress to Sunday's SAG awards and giving the camera some crazy eye) “I don’t use the Internet,” Ryder revealed in last month's Elle magazine. "I have my e-mail on my BlackBerry, and that’s about it. I’ve never read a blog, ever." She then followed up this tidbit about herself with the reason why on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." It's because Winona thinks she will stumble into joining a terrorist group just like how one innocently wanders into a porn cyclone.

"The Googling was very terrifying to me," Ryder said, "Because I have this fear that I'm going to be trying to find out what movie is playing at what theater, and then I'm suddenly going to be a member Al Qaeda...We're a button away from joining Al Qaeda...You have to be careful."

This is totally true because I once accidentally joined the Symbionese Liberation Army while trying to snipe bid on some Garbage Pail Kids cards on eBay. While today's teen generation has embraced technology and the interweb with all of the wonderful and terrible things it can do, I am often interested by some Gen-Xers reaction to distance themselves from things like Facebook or Kindles -- though it is usually not out of fear. I occasionally feel like I am part of a gap generation, as those younger and older than me race to shed all personal and private information about themselves online, while somedays I feel like I could unplug and and walk away from it forever.

Maybe it's ok. After all, Prince did say "The Internet's completely over," earlier this year.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Patrons attempt to set redundant question record

So yesterday we got saddled with a little bit of snow. Actually, it was about 6"-10" of snow which is considered blizzard worthy by most locals, but the problem was that for whatever reason no one was prepared for it even though all the weathermen were saying "heavy snowfall expected to start around 3pm." Our library remained open even when the staff to patron ratio doubled and the federal government announced it's early closing. Yup, that's right, my little library is considered more essential than the federal government. We were then scheduled to close at 5:30, which meant nothing to me because that's when I got off and I didn't want to use my vacation hours to go home early. That was until one of my coworkers who had left at 3pm called to say in the hour she had been on the road she had just approached a major highway that was maybe five minutes away. I left immediately.
Through the power of my Magic Phone I am able to document my surroundings while navigating through the mighty thunder snow storm.

My new place is roughly about five minutes away but it took me 45 minutes to get home yesterday. I feel very fortunate though because my mom who works maybe 25 minutes away from her home the next town over was on the road for six hours and my brother's girlfriend who lives in the same apartment building as me and works for the federal government didn't get home until after midnight. These are reasons why I was very annoyed this morning to wake up and discover I was expected to be at work...on time. However, once I got out of my neighborhood that was still not plowed, I could see that most of the roads were fairly clear for driving and I made it into work about half an hour before opening.

Last week when we experienced a dusting, we kept a tally sheet by the phone at the reference desk to mark off how many times patrons called to see if we were open. This is a ridiculous time wasting question because when a patron calls the library, one of the first things they are greeted with on the recording is a message that informs them if we are opened or closed. When we are closed we record a new greeting for that day that says, "Thank you for calling suburban library. Today is (insert date), due to (inclimate weather, a power outage, bear attack, etc.) the library is closed." The rest of the year the message says, "Thank you for calling suburban library. THE LIBRARY IS NOW OPEN." So anyone who is calling to see if we are open has just sat through the recording that told them that exact information.

"Hi, I was wondering if you were open today?"

Yes we are open. Do I sound like a robot or a recording? Do you think I live here and answer the phone when the library is closed for kicks? Doesn't the fact that another human being is picking up clue you in to the fact that the library is open?!

"I'm checking to see if you're open? And is the internet working?"

We are open and the snow has not effected the interweb so you can drive your SUV or slosh over in your boots in order to troll on Facebook or play that mafia game.

"Are you open? Do you think you will be closing anytime in the next hour or so?"

We're open and would if I could close the library at noon for no good reason other than it snowed yesterday, but I can't so I shant.

So far our tally is up to 27. We were taking bets this morning and I now wish I would have wagered higher.

Monday, January 17, 2011

We'll show you! Library takes its toys and goes home

(Read this entire entry with a fake British accent as I wrote it thinking with one. Or if you are British, proceed as normal.)

In merry England when Parliament made some major budget cuts to its libraries, (including closing some of them) the Stony Stratford council found out about the possible closure in December and sent letters to 6,000 townspeople, telling them that while the threat of closure was only a threat, it was time to prove how crucial the library was to the community. Then they took their battle to Facebook!

The library in Stony Stratford successful convinced its patrons to empty their library’s shelves, checking out approximately “16,000 volumes,” to show what a void the closure would leave in the community. The maximum amount of books one person could take out was 15. And ahead of their deadline of closing time today, all the books were gone.
According to the Guardian, the last few books lent out were self-help books and practical mechanics books. But they were checked out, and now the library staff are dusting the shelves.

Self help books would probably be the last of ours to go too. An interesting idea, but oy, I would not want to be there on the day all those books come back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kids of the future: high tech virtuosos, or just know-it-all @ssholes who won’t write handwritten thank you notes to grandma?

X-Posted to Closed Stacks
Recently The Huffington Postcame out with a list of items that will become historic by 2020 titled, You’re Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade, which prompted a similar story on Money Talks News titled 30 Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never KnowWhile the Huffington Post entry limited it’s literary genocide to bookstores, while the second story did one better by lumping in there books in general as well as magazines and newspapers. Of course this is what got my attention for me to read the article, though we all know that this is old news and I won’t bore you with another article dedicated to print vs. electronic media, but I did think some of the other items that made the list were interesting and threw in a couple of my own. If you do archival work you may soon find yourself preserving some of these in the near future:

  1. Watches – Even now unless you’re pimping a rolex you can easily check out the time by glancing at your iphone and a survey by Beloit College of its class of 2014 found, “Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.”
  2. The Heartfelt Mixtape – Future teen generations will never understand the importance of finding the perfect Sonic Youth song to follow something classic by Morrissey plus a bunch of obscure junk no one else has ever heard of, then decorating the cassette or cd case and shoving it through the vents of their crush’s locker.
  3. Handwritten Letters – When was the last time you went to the mailbox and found an actual letter? Thank you notes, party invitations, letters written on fun stationary with little arrows in the corner in case you didn’t know to flip the page over – all gone! How about letters in general? Now I feel like some rambling jerk if I send a friend an actual friendly email instead of simply Tweeting, “Your new baby rocks!” or updating my Facebook with pictures of my trip to France instead of telling people about it, or texting, “Howru? Im gr8! Tmb xoxo!”
  4. Staplers – If paper is getting used less and less, work places are choosing computer file folders over giant file cabinets, and students can just email their teachers their homework, the stapler will disappear.
  5. Checks – I still have a checkbook, but I rarely use it and feel like the biggest nerd when I do as it seems like this is a form of currency now reserved for little old ladies with change purses (and the fact that mine are Care Bear checks only adds to the embarrassment). A credit card will be all you need by 2020.
  6. Plagiarizing – Students of the next decade will never know the pure joy of copying a huge block of text word for word out of their parent’s outdated encyclopedia for their history project because learning institutions have access to programs that do all sorts of crazy full text searching or detecting unnatural sentence structures.
  7. Naughty Adult Stores – Thanks to the internet, one no longer has to turn to nudie magazine or x-rated videos and blow-up sex dolls and other toys can be ordered with a double click and discretely sent to your doorstep.
  8. Pub Quiz – Did the Nazis really invent Fanta? Was there a Betsy Ross Pez dispenser? Kids born today will never have to buy a round due to losing out on some trivia bet because they will be able to look up the information immediately on whatever iPad or magic phone equivalent they have (they will also have no clue what Fanta or Pez is and probably won’t care).

Monday, January 10, 2011

A new year, a new look

The end of 2010 brought the close of a tumultuous year. In my old journal, I would always try to reflect back on highlights and then summarize my favorite reads of the year. This time it was difficult as a lot of things I thought about actually took place in 2009 and 2010 felt more like a blur. Perhaps this is because I felt my world was slipping away and I experienced the end of an eight year relationship with the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. In general, I am usually a very private person, but the dissolution of my life as I knew it has made it difficult to focus on the activities I enjoy, like writing, or painting, or even updating the blog. Since moving out and getting my own place at the beginning of November, I have often felt like my waking life is a bizarre dream.

So, with the start of the new year I'm hoping to turn over a new leaf and return my attention to the things in life that make me happy. Part of this includes revamping the blog and bringing together my other interests that I think compliment my job -- such as library inspired fashion and design, kitschy stuff that I collect, the vintage and pin-up lifestyle, and more books, books, books! Obviously, there will still be industry chat as well as patron rants, but I don't want to feel like I'm in a rut or closed off as to what I can and can't talk about.

I hope that these changes do not put off any of my regular followers, but I think that this step will help make this blog more personal and more me.