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.