Almanac of Almanacs

January 28, 2008

I’ve spent the morning opening a considerable pile of mail from vendors who want to sell me expensive reference books. I don’t want your $800 Encyclopedia of Religious Movements! Nor do I want your $300 almanac of government information which you and I both know is provided for free online. What I want is for someone to publish some up-to-date readers’ advisory books about romance, horror, and mystery/thrillers. I’d totally spend $300 on those, even though I know they pretty much become outdated as soon as they’re in my hands. They’re still useful resources.

And then I won’t feel so bad about withdrawing the ones we have from 1990.


Today I have:

  • been told that the library is like a mother – the one you call for everything.  It was a very sweet compliment.
  • been tempted into passive-aggressively dealing with a nosy co-worker by looking up Yahoo Answers to the question, “How do I handle a nosy co-worker?” while she’s reading over my shoulder.
  • completed my very first display – a Jane Austen theme, with actual Austen novels, spinoffs, movies, and non-fiction. It was awesome fun.
  • tried to dissuade a six-year old from watching Too Fast, Too Furious: Tokyo Drift
  • set myself a challenge of starting to collect information on local book clubs and what they are reading, because I have gotten similar questions several times this week and still not had a good answer.

Patron Theft

January 7, 2008

We don’t work on commission here, but we do thrive on building relationships with our patrons, and patron-stealing isn’t cool. What’s patron-stealing? A colleague butting in on my conversation with a patron about choosing a book for her book group just a few minutes ago. What happens is this: my colleague acts is though she is the only one who knows anything about book groups – she knows more even than the patron, in fact – and jumps into the conversation, suggesting a book without hearing the patron’s requirements, and then she beckons the patron over to her side of the desk and deliberately pretends not to hear the phone ringing, so that I am forced to answer and be parted from my patron, despite the fact that we were mid-sentence.

Thankfully, this incident of patron-stealing didn’t stick because the patron did not find my colleague’s suggestions helpful, and she returned to me once my phone call (a quick request for a book) was complete. We ended up compiling a good list of leads for the patron’s book group, I showed her how to use NoveList, and then she recommended a book she had just finished. A perfectly excellent interaction, despite the attempted subterfuge. My rage was slightly diminished.

I know why it happened. This is just the way this woman rolls. She’s the Experienced Librarian, and I am the New Girl. She knows more, and instead of teaching me (a small blessing, honestly) she just takes over when she thinks she should.

I wouldn’t have minded a team effort – in fact, that’s one of things we do well at the reference desk, especially in terms of readers’ advisory since we all have wildly different reading interests. But there’s a big difference between cooperation and outright theft, and on top of the website playing Hide and Seek with me this morning, I was not in the mood to have my readers’ advisory cred questioned. I may be the new girl, but I give good RA.

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!!!”

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.