I have had no energy to spare for library narratives, though actual things have been happening beyond me fighting with web guys, getting lost in print reference, and trying to find good sports writing readers’ advisory sources.  I finished a monumental task that had been smoldering in a very threatening way but in the end turned out almost exactly the way we wanted, despite the above-mentioned web guys (which, ok, I admit, it’s not all their fault, but it is all the fault of the system they wrote, so.) I am working at just one (one!) library now, feeling grown-up and terrified about setting down roots in what’s obviously a career move. I read a book about the physics of baseball.

But let’s be real. Of course my first week as a full-time, honest-to-god professional librarian has been a lot like dealing with a town full of adults who got their yearly crazy shot  and turned into pre-schoolers with deep-seated behavioral problems.

Highlights of the week: Watching Panic! At the Disco concert videos on YouTube with the sound off while patron number one zillion does something totally nuts, like tries to steal a phone book.

Lowlights of the week: See highlights.

Still, I’m a full-time, honest-to-god professional librarian for the first week ever. That goes pretty far.


Dear web developers,

Do not blame your users for your mistakes. Just don’t. It’s tactless, and it makes ordinarily sweet-tempered libraries turn into furious raging monsters who toss coffee back like they’re professional drinkers and then worry that it is actually something they did wrong. Which is isn’t. And you know it.

Own up to your mistakes, mean web developer people, and please, invest some of the money we’re paying you in QA testing that isn’t on the live system, so that when you try to fix the issue you say is our fault, the whole staff doesn’t have to be flooded with blank test emails every half hour.

No love,

P.S. A web editor is supposed to save me the trouble of having to write out the html, not cause me to spend more time in the code than I do in the visual area. Just while you’re fixing things, you know. Take a look at that.

Facing Colorado

November 8, 2007

We have a clock in the library that receives a signal from somewhere in Colorado that allows it to keep perfect time. It did not, however, receive the signal it was supposed to receive when the Daylight Savings change-over occurred, and since we can’t manually adjust it, we took it down from the wall. This morning, the clock reset itself to 12:00 and stopped completely. This, apparently, is a good sign, since it mean that the clock is contacting Colorado asking for the correct signal. In the meantime, we are supposed to place the clock in a window facing Colorado until it tells the right time. We’re just guessing about which window actually faces Colorado.

In further weird technology woes, I helped the director move a computer onto a new carrel, and after we’d plugged everything back in, the monitor had no picture. We checked everything, and it’s not like I haven’t assembled enough computers in my day, but I have no idea what’s wrong.  We’ve called IT, who will probably send someone who will magically fix everything in under five seconds and then tell us the cord wasn’t in all the way or something. But the last time something went wacky with my office computer, I called IT and they insisted I was typing my password incorrectly when in fact the reason I couldn’t log on was actually that the network was reassigning my IP address.

So, I don’t know. I hope Colorado sends the clock a signal soon, because it looks like a sundial sitting in the atrium window.

I had this great reference question on Saturday: a patron called with the name of the book she wanted, but she only remembered the title in Spanish and that it was a novel about Saint Luke. Now, I don’t speak a word of Spanish, besides the counting I learned on Sesame Street. (For the record, I also know nothing about Saint Luke.) Browsing our catalog and then Amazon for novels about Saint Luke gave me nothing. Finally, I asked for the Spanish title (Medico de Cuerpos y Almas) and used that to get the author,  and then looked for the author in our catalog. We had three books, but none of them were about Saint Luke.  So I did a search for the author and Saint Luke on Amazon  – and there it was! Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell – of course, over the phone, this took 20 minutes – but what a great feeling when I found it! (And by found, I mean that we had to order the book through ILL.)


I also was had a real live Mac versus PC conversation with a patron, which turned out to be really, really interesting. She wanted to buy a new computer, and wanted my advice on which to buy. I did my best to give her resources about both options, but what was most interesting was  how emotional the patron was about her decision, which was only amplified by the larger, highly opinionated debate.

I also spent an awesome half-hour researching light box therapy reviews, and did lots of off-the-cuff reference, where I was essentially at a loss for where to look after I’d consulted health journals and our health database, and yet I was still coming up with more and more places to look. That always boosts my confidence, even if it’s half-casting about in the dark.

Finally, reference and baseball: A woman called to ask if we had a laminator. We do not, but I suggested she try Staples, and told her about how I had once had a picture from the newspaper laminated there. It turns out that was exactly what she needed to do. The best part: she wanted to laminate the Boston Herald cover about the Red Sox World Series win – so, yay!

Today I Have:

  • Helped a patron find out which harbor cruise organizations in the area also offered excursions up river, and discovered that one of them offers 12 hour fishing marathons.
  • Had a patron ask for help making a trench coat. I’m not sure he didn’t mean to ask for information on where to buy a trench coat, but he has a reputation of asking oddball questions. He wandered off before we could turn up anything.
  • Listened to someone get $4.90 back in dimes from the copy machine.
  • Played with the updates to the Minuteman OPAC.
  • Discovered that McGraw-Hill’s American Idiom’s Dictionary has a great keyword index. I knew there was a phrase about doing something wrong that had the word “nest” – turns out it’s “to stir up a hornet’s nest.” Which is apparently what I do every time I mention a Library 2.0 idea that regrettably  involves getting the permission of the webmaster.