Disappearing Act

January 7, 2008

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate our web guys? Well, no, I haven’t, because I haven’t mentioned much recently. But hey, guess what? I hate our web guys!

Scenario: I’m about to add a new event to the dinosaur/thorn in my side content management system. I open up IE (because of course it only works in IE) and, lo and behold, the whole middle column of the front page, the place where all the information about new events lives, is blank. So blank that the navigation bar on the right has decided to take up residence in all the empty space.

What would you do?¬† 1.) Look for a cached version. 2.) Recreate the rest of the page from memory. 3.) Email the staff and ask if anyone else was working on the website this morning and if they happened to remember deleting some of it? 4.) Email the web guys and say, “Bwuh?” 5.) Get a reply from the web guys that says, “Are you sure, it looks fine now…”

The website is back because I put it back with my bare hands! Or, well, with an old saved version and a good visual memory. But I did not need that as yet unexplained heart attack in the first place, and I do not need the web guys to imply that possibly I might just have forgotten to refresh my browser. I am sorely tempted to reply to them with only, “OMG YOU GUYS SRSLY!!!”

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,
Me

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.

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.

The Long Haul

September 12, 2007

I’ve renamed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, “The Long Haul, Parts 1 and 2” because they are both marathon 10-hour work days, and because they tend to be uniquely weird and challenging days, which unfortunately occur back to back. The other oddity: Tuesday at one library, Wednesday library,Wednesday at the other, the upside of which being that if complete disaster occurs on Tuesday, at least I don’t have to go back to it until Saturday.

The Long Haul, Part 1: I would really appreciate it if the web experts would stop breaking the website. Every time they fix a bug, they temporarily disable some huge part of the site’s infrastructure, meaning that when I come into work, I am immediately greeted with a chorus of, “OMG THE SITE IS BROKEN!!!” I email the web guys, and they say, “Really? Weird!” And then, a few moments later email me back and say, “It’s fixed. I guess the bug fix we did messed some stuff up. Oops! But it’s all better now.” I want to buy them some Quality Assurance Staff for Christmas.

The Long Haul Part 2: I would appreciate it if the print reference collection and I could be friends. Right now, the collection has its secrets held close to its chest, and no amount of searching the catalog will reveal things I know actually exist, I’m just not calling them the right thing – it’s a combination of town records that aren’t easily cataloged, things being kept in certain places because they’ve always been kept in those places and you only learn this by asking someone else, and my lack of familiarity with print reference sources in general (all the indexes!) This will be one of my major, ongoing challenges – both to befriend the collection so it tells me about its inner life, and to find a balance between print sources and my instinctive turn to digital alternatives.

Policy issues: We’ve recently barred groups of middle-schooler/teenagers from using any of the study rooms on the second floor where the adult collection is housed. They can’t use the computers upstairs either – all such activity should be kept in the teen room. I have mixed feelings about this. Apparently the decision was based on some serious vandalism that occurred in one of the study rooms, and in that case, the decision makes sense. We can’t police the study corners and we can’t manage noise control in any consistent way, but I’ve found that I have more encounters with rude or otherwise offensive adult patrons than I do with groups of noisy middle-school boys (who want to know if my tattoo hurt when I got it done) and so I feel a pang when I have to herd them back downstairs while they’re protesting that they are really here to do their homework.