Saturday, December 11, 2010

Land of the Painted Caves

The Good News: Land of the Painted Caves, the latest in the Jean Auel caveman books, will be published on March 29 of next year.
The Bad News: They all turn into vampires.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strange Things Come in Twos

I get summoned to people’s computers pretty often. Most of the time it’s to help print, or attach resumes to emails. Pretty basic stuff. Occasionally, children need help getting to games that they will find amusing. Twice today, though, I was summoned to the public intarwebs for a request I don’t think I’ve ever gotten. Both people, who were here hours apart and presumably did not know eachother, wanted to access documents on their computers at home. Neither had any special software installed on their computers at home that would allow one to remote to them.

"So how do I get my resume off my computer at home?" one guy asked, as though he were asking how to launch Microsoft Word or peel an orange. Even more disturbingly, he told me, as a means of locating his document more efficiently, that his resume was in the Recycle Bin.

It's easy to guess the punch line. In both cases, I was the idiot because I did not know how to perform this simple task.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hot New Audio Product Here at DeskSlave Central

I know that when people ask for “Books on Tape,” they typically mean “Books on CD” or, more generally, audiobooks. So I don’t get all bent out of shape when they say that. It did take me a second to work out one that I got today, though. The patron asked if we had “CDs on Tape.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sound of Music. And Pee Cups.

Lots of mishearing at the Ref Desk. A colleague was asked if our computers sounded like music. That made no sense, of course, so she asked the patron to repeat. Several times. Did our computers sound like music? Not really. They sound like asthmatic hamsters. It took a few more ever-more enunciated repeats until she understood the patron as asking “do the computers download music?”

Not to be outdone, I was shocked to be asked a while later by a different patron where the pee cups were. “I’m sorry?” I asked the young man from, I’m guessing, the Indian subcontinent.

“Pee cups. Where can I find the pee cups?”

I almost told him that the place giving him the drug test would probably have them and that we would not collect or circulate such things when it occurred to me that maybe he wanted to pick up a hold.

Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Presence of a Reference Black Belt

I was pretty pleased with myself. The guy on the phone had asked for the film "Home on the Prairie" with Walt Garrison, and it only took me a few minutes to figure out that he actually wanted "Prairie Home Companion," starring the offensively dull Garrison Keillor. But a colleague left me in the dust with a tour de force reference interaction. The guy she was on the phone with wanted a book called "Preacher, Priest, Man." With very little additional information, she figured out that he really was looking for a book called"Bonhoeffer : pastor, martyr, prophet, spy : a righteous gentile vs. the Third Reich." Please note that the none of the words she was given appear in the actual title. If I wore hats, I'd take mine off.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Try Not to Think of the Kid as Hyperactive and Crazy

I think of him as being on a High Fructose Corn Syrup-induced vision quest.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A New Place in the Library

We recently began collecting wii games. They are popular, as you might imagine. So popular, in fact, that the only shelf any of them have ever been on has been the holds shelf. As soon as they are checked in, they are off to the next patron.

Even so, people want to know where the games are. I dutifully walk them over to this theoretical place and show them where the games would be if any of them ever decline in popularity enough to not have any holds. It's a bummer of a task, since, even though I prepare people for the disappointment, they are invariably disappointed all out of proportion to what has just happened.

In any event, I thought of a name for this imaginary part of the library, the wii section: The Unicorn Stable.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Baltimore Libraries: What the Hell!

Man Faces Charges For Attacking Woman With Semen

I'm taking donations so we can airlift emergency supplies (Purell and Double-Strength Cootie Serum) to Baltimore.

Because God Likes a Nice Smirk

I can tell it's Monday morning, because the immaculately well-groomed young LDS missionary boys are in to check their email. They seem like nice enough guys. A lot nicer than I'd be if I was 18 and I had to sign up for a year of utter rejection (Actually, come to think of it, I did. It was called college, and went on for longer than a year, but that's a different story). They don't overtly prosteletize, so I like them and I'm glad they are here.

Not everyone feels that way. I have even had people complain that "there are Mormons on the computers!" Pointing out that there is no religious test for computer use or anything else in the library never does anything, either. This morning, I was looking up some "inspirational fiction"* for two women when three of the boys rolled in.
"Hi, Elders!" one of the women chirped, laughing.
The missionaries gave them noncommital helloes and continued on to the computers.
"Elders?" the other asked.
"That's what they call themselves," she whispered theatrically to her friend, "Isn't that ridiculous?"
"Why elders? They're just kids?"
"I know! Isn't it stupid?"
The last comment was directed toward me. I scrupulously ignored it and kept to the business at hand. As I placed holds on various volumes of Christian fiction, they traded nasty remarks about their fellow Christians, the Mormons. They detailed various suspect things about Mormon theology and practices, which, even if true, did not address the structural integrity of their own glass houses. (Don't get my wrong: the glass in my glass house isn't even double-paned.)

Before they left, one of them made the point of going over to one of the guys and bark-laughing, "Bye, ELDERS!" in a most non-library voice.

* That's the euphemism for Christian fiction these days. I guess Judaism as the foundation for fiction is just not inspiring, so go fuck yourself, Philip Roth. There is also Inspirational Romance fiction. Here's a pop quiz: which of the following two is a "regular" romance, full of premarital sex and occult goings on, and which one would leave you actually inspired:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall is in the air...

and people show up with their college syllabuses* and can’t believe we don’t have their textbooks.

I try to explain that we don’t buy textbooks as gently as I can. I try to point out that textbook purchases are, you know, the student's responsibility and that we try to provide the other things for writing their papers and doing their research. (Actually, we don't; we buy movies and CDs, but that's a different post). I try to explain that if we did get into the textbook market, wouldn't it stand to reason that we would have to buy a copy for everybody taking every course? And even if libraries did provide textbooks, wouldn't it also stand to reason that the college that took their tuition money should be the provider, not the cash-starved public library?

When I get to that part, I am reminded of back in the days of yore when I worked at a college library. There was a woman named Susan who had worked there for several decades and who brooked no nonsense from students. One day at the busy beginning of the term, a bored young hipster (Nirvana-era hipster: flannel, knit cap, creative facial hair, toxic level of self-regard) slid a syllabus across the counter to me. "Yeah," he said in response to my query about whether he needed help finding something, "I need these." A finger tapped the list of books on the page. I went through the whole litany. He simply could not accept, though, that he was not going to walk out with a stack of texts. At long last, he put a smirk on his face and asked me if he could talk to somebody "who actually knew something." (Owwie! Put me in my place!)

"Certainly," I said and got Susan. It was almost fun to watch her read him the Riot Act about his responsibilities as a student which involved buying textbooks and not wasting library staff time with foolishness. Anyway, I miss having her around at such times to send people packing!

*I know--first declension masculine:



"Agricola davit syllabum puellae."

The foregoing was from the Misspent Youth Memory Archive. Instead of doing drugs and having sex like a normal teen, I studied Latin. Sheesh.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Sir, I'm very sorry about losing your keys in the park. Repeating the story to the guy at the desk will not materialize them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kiddo? Are you Kidding?

The patron was my age (old) or maybe even a little older (really old). He wanted a hold placed, which I dutifully did.
"OK," I said, handing back his card, "We'll call when it comes in."
He took back the card, but stood there for a minute. "So we're done?" he asked.
"Yep. The machine calls when we check the item in."
"Thanks, kiddo," he said, walking away.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I must have been feeling giddy

I had been at the desk all the live-long day. A very busy Saturday and I was ready to go home. The young hetero couple in their early twenties walked up to the desk.
"There's this book I want," said she.
"OK..." That was me.
"I don't know the author."
"That's OK," I enthused unenthusiastically, "I can use the title."
"Ummmm...I'm not sure of that, either."
"That's OK," I said, perking up, "I'll use my psychic librarian abilities."
I pressed a few fingers to each temple and closed my eyes in deep concentration. I looked up dramatically.
"Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins."
"Hah!" said the guy. "That's the book I told her she should read!"
She wasn't interested in that one, by the way. She gave me a few details and we got it worked out. See if you can guess. If this was Jeopardy, it'd be in the $100 question slot: Vampires. Teens. Nowheresville, Washington. They made a movie. Guessed it yet? Of course you did.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Please Shoot Me, But Wait Until February

I just learned that the IRS and our glorious state will not be sending tax forms to the library for the next tax orgy. It's unpleasant enough when you have a full rack of forms, since people see us as Satan's Front Desk or something, in league with the evil churls at the IRS. I get enough trouble trying to tell folks that I have no idea whether they should use the 1040 EZ or the 1040 A or anything else, and that this really isn't my job. So I can't wait until all of that happens on top of not having any forms or publications. I imagine that we will be printing out tons of forms. I imagine that people will be upset that we won't be printing out the 50-page booklets. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Kind of Date

Would you have tattooed on your neck? Me? No date of any kind anywhere. But that guy over there on the public Intro-Net computers had something happen big on 6-2-2000. What do you think it was? Birth of a child? Acceptance into Tattooing School? First day of sobriety? Wedding? Parole?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thank God Banned Books Week is Over

We can go back to ignoring Henry Miller now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ick Factor: Incalculable

It should have been a run of the mill question and answer. The older woman wanted to know about our computer classes and if they were suitable for a novice like her. I showed her the sheet with the classes on it, and began to steer her toward the absolute beginner class.

Then the pinky was deployed.

As I spoke, a real spelunking expedition was launched as she shoved her talon-nailed little finger deep into her ear and scraped away while I told her about the classes at the library. I tried not to stare in horrified fascination as she dug for treasure, reached to the bottom of the cereal box for the prize and generally diddled her cochlear nerve. I was hoping to be done before she was, but evidently I couldn’t talk fast enough. She extracted her drill bit of a finger as I gave her the times for our Intro to Microsoft Word class, and, while asking a few more questions, absently played with the gob of rust-colored goo she had extracted, eventually rolling it into a compact little sphere. As a sort of yucky coda to our conversation, she flicked it to the floor as she thanked me for my help and walked off, as oblivious to this whole thing as I wish I had been.

Dear reader, thanks for hanging in there with me: I'll buy this round of Purell shooters.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 News Wrap-Up

I know, it’s a little early, but I kinda doubt anything as important as these things will happen before the year is out.
Number 3 Most Important Story
Floods in Pakistan Kill 2,000. Unknown number of parking spaces destroyed.
Number 2 Most Important Story
Earthquake in Haiti kills as many as 230,000. Parking nearly impossible in Port-au-Prince.
Number 1 Most Important Story of 2010
On October 1, The woman at deskslave central, who was neither overweight or elderly, was upset. The parking lot was full. She had to park on the street beyond the parking lot. She had to walk ALL THE WAY to the library from there. All that way. A weary arm was extended, indicated the length of the journey. Odysseus, briefly roused from his eternal slumber, felt like an asshole for making such a big deal out of getting back to Ithaca and issued an apology. Sisyphus promised to stop whining. In China, the Communist Party renames "The Long March" to the more accurate and humble "The Short Jaunt."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What I'm Reading

I just started this really promising YA novel called To Kill a Mockingjay by Harper Collins. In it, this girl named Scout Everdeen has to take a train to Montgomery, AL, and, armed only with a chiffarobe, kill a bunch of other kids so her father can bust Tom Robinson, who was wrongly accused of something, out of prison. Oh, and she falls in love with this boy from her neighborhood named Boo Mellark. I’m just getting into it, but it’s off to a great start! I hope she kills lots of other children!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sad, But True

If you leave your unlocked bike in front of the library and use the IntarWebz for a few hours it just might get stolen.

Coming Up Next: salt is salty.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hippy Rules of Conduct

Says right there on Page 73:

"In lieu of bathing, Patchouli oil may be liberally applied."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ick Factor 10, Captain

"Here," said the young woman, handing me a dollar bill. I thought she wanted to pay for her prints or something. I took the bill.
"It was on the floor in the Women's Room," she said, her civic duty done.
I carefully placed the bill on the floor under the desk. After applying the Purell, I pondered what to do with the bill. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Today's Innovative Parenting Award Goes To...

(rips open envelope)
The young woman using the Internet who responded with great alacrity to the disturbance caused by her child’s cries by putting headphones on! Congratulations, young lady!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Today's Uncharitable Thought

I placed a hold for a particularly unloved patron. The book? How to Live to Be 100 by Sula Benet. It pained me to think that the damn book might work.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That guy with the face tattoos

The guy with the face tattoos using the Entreweb computer reminded me of a line by Dana Gould.

“You rarely see a guy with a lot of face tattoos hired in the planning department.”

Gould is a comedian who twitters a zinger nearly every day. More at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And How Did I Know it Was September 15th?

Because that's the day that people who got tax extensions had until the final reckoning was due. I had many inquiries today about tax forms. I had to disappoint them all, having recycled the lot months before. The late-filers seemed much more fatalistic than the people who clamor for forms in April.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do You Work Here? Part 4

It's never a good sign when you're sitting at the Deskslave Desk with the large Information sign in plain view, wearing a nametag that identifies you by name and informs even the most casual passerby as a member of the Library staff to have someone ask you if you work here.

It's also not a good sign when the questioner has gigantic cockeyed glasses and a fanny pack, but those are just personal prejudices.

After flinching and recoiling, I gave her my stock answer.* I was summoned over to a wall display of old photos of our area. I was informed that several of the pictures were not hung evenly, which struck me as odd, given the condition of her eyewear. She also claimed that one of the captions was incorrect. I quickly deployed my Rhodia No. 11 pad

and trusty Pilot G2 .07 gel pen

(which are, incidentally, the official little pad and retractable pen of the DeskSlave Multiverse)

I selected a fresh page, where I dutifully jotted down her comments. I can't imagine who I'd give them to, though. So back into my shirt pocket they go.

* Which is "yes," not "only when I have to."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dear Genealogist

I'm glad that you have traced your ancestry back to Alexander the Great, Carrie Nation and the guy who scalped Custer. But I don't want to hear about it. Here's our stuff for persuing your hobby, but leave me out of the rest. No, seriously, I'm tickled that you found great grandad's name on the 1880 census that showed his exact address in Missoula. But please don't tell me about it. I don't even care about my own family tree, so imagine what I think of yours. I look at it this way: a variety of (I'm assuming here) humans did the whole mate/spawn/die process (I myself have accomplished two of these lofty imperatives, BTW). One result was you. One result was me. THAT'S IT. At some point, I'm not going to be here and I don't particularly care if anybody ever digs up anything about me. It depresses me to think that someday somebody will bore some poor librarian someplace with details about my life.
"My great great grandfather was a librarian, too! He wrote this stupid thing nearly every day called a 'blog.' Do you have any information about what these blog things were? Were they a form of religion or something?"

Monday, September 6, 2010

That's Jumping th Gun a Wee Bit There, Dude

A guy just asked if we had "Walking Dead." Not the graphic novel series, either. He wanted the TV show. You know, the TV show that doesn't go on the air until next month.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Not that this is a book review blog

But you must read Jennifer Egan's new book A Visit from the Goon Squad. It is an extremely well-written novel that I read in about three sittings. Each of its dozen or so chapters could probably function as its own short story. Each is told from a different character's perspective and someone who is the main character in one chapter may well reappear as a minor character in another. This gives us the opportunity to see what is going on in the internal world of a character and then gives us a chance to see how that character is perceived in a way that I found very arresting. The author changes up the voice in each chapter, so one may be first person and the next third, or even, in one case--that I thought would be horrible but turned out to be very interesting--a character's Powerpoint presentation. The changes make for a read that is never dull and I found myself wishing for a novel that had each chapter's protagonist.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Those Crafty, Evil Hackers! What Will They Do Next?

The woman who rushed up to the desk was out of breath and a little panicky. "I think somebody is trying to hack my email account!"
I typically don't get too worried about this sort of thing since it's never a hacker and only very rarely a virus. But I don't want people to feel bad, so I take it seriously, at least on the outside. So I went over to her compyootor to see what was up.
"Look," she pointed. "Somebody named 'free2rhyme' is trying to hack into my email. I looked. She was trying to get her yahoo mail. This is what I saw:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010


"STEVEN! DO YOU LIKE PATRICIA CORNWELL!?" shouted the woman at the New Books to her spouse who was 20 feet away looking at movies.

Don't mind us. They were so loud, I practically couldn't hear the babies crying.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not that I Expect Gratitude or Anything...

One of my duties here at deskslave central is buying the Large Print books. It's an interesting challenge, especially since my budget is about eleven cents a year (cut from last year's two bits, I'm afraid). A patron was just in, complaining that she had ordered the two books that she dropped on the desk before me in Large Print, but we had sent her the "little print" versions. Fair enough, I thought, that's the sort of mistake we make, so let's get you the LP. Upon looking them up, I saw that we did not own them in LP, just LP. (For those of you not following this carefully, the first two "LPs" were for "Large Print," and the final one for "Little Print.") I told her this, wondering to myself who had placed the holds: us or her? I checked WorldCat and saw that, though some libraries owned them, they were both published within the last year, and thus would not be Interlibrary Loan-able. I had been ordering books right before she came to the desk and had my Evil Bookselling Empire page up in a different window, so I looked up the books she wanted. They were still in stock, even though they were not new books, which is almost a miracle since my car trunk probably has more stuff in it than the Evil Bookselling Empire's warehouse. Always--OK, occasionally--wanting to be helpful, I told her that I would order the two books (out of my scant budget) and put her name on the order so that when the books came in, the nice people in Technical Services would place a hold on them for her as soon as they created the records in the catalog. Like I said, I don't expect a lot of gratitude, but was unprepared for her angry outburst. She practically shouted, "Well how long is THAT going to take!?" Seriously, she was loud enough that the woman who plays Farmville all damn day on the same Intarwebz computer 15 feet away actually looked up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nice Except

Nice kids with the nice dad, good questions, I could really help them. Lovely interaction. The swastika tattoo on dad's hand (on the spot of the hand that would hit you if he gave you a karate chop, as it turns out) did, however, make me a little uneasy. Later I thought that any person he saluted in the Army or something would see the swastika. Not that it made it any better, mind you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, I Haven't Heard That One in a While

"Are you a volunteer?"
"No, I'm a librarian."
"You're a librarian?"
"You get paid to sit there?"
"Among other things."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Up to my old tricks, part 2,316

Yep, it was my fault. I deliberately created the website for that big company, made their help wanted section hard to find and then, just to make your day even worse, I made the type a hard-to-read gray color. I don't blame you for being mad at me.

(PS, good luck with that interview)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh Good, Entitlement Tuesday Lives Up to Its Name

We have a scanner at one of the public intarwebz stations. I wish we didn't, since none of us can use it particularly well, and nobody is particularly interested in learning. It's basically there if you want to use it, but we don't scan items for you and we can't show you much more beyond the absolute basics. Sort of like the photocopiers.

I should know better, but I took pity on somebody who was not only innocent of scanners, but of computers in general. His was a simple request: take these two pages and get them on his flash drive. It should be a snap since the scanner has a button marked "PDF" on it. If you smack that button, the scanner will convert whatever is on the glass into a pdf. Just to be sure, I asked if he wanted a pdf of his pages. He did not know what a pdf was, so I went ahead and placed page one on the glass and pdfified it with the aforesaid button. I saved the result on the drive. Page two was next. I try not to read what people write, since it is so often some icky legal matter I'd rather not know about. I was very pleased with myself. He, less so.
"Why's it in two pages?"
"Because I don't know how to make two page pdf documents."
"I need it all in one, like this," he said, showing me the two sheets of paper I had just scanned. I didn't really think about the fact that the two pieces of paper were, in fact, two pieces of paper and not one.
"Well, would you like me to scan the text and put it in a Word document so it'd all be in the same document? I know how to do that."
"I just want it all together."
I repeated the scanning process, only this time did not smack the PDF button. The scanner OCRed the text right out and I pasted it into Word. I saved it on the guy's flash drive, told him what the name was and showed him where it was. Judging from his behavior, I guessed he wouldn't thank me. I'm usually bad at predicting the future, but this time I was right.
A short while later, he stomped over to the reference desk. He really did stomp, I heard him before I saw him. But see him I did. He was hard to miss, actually. His shirt was a weird yellow plaid* and he wore a bright orange ball cap with "Jesus is My Boss" on it.**
"You screwed it up."
"You screwed up my essay," he said testily, motioning me over to his computer. Against my better judgement, I went over again. He was unhappy that the text I scanned did not match his original. I tried to tell him that I didn't promise it would, only that he would have the text of his papers on the same doc, but his cell phone went off. He waved me off.
Some time later, he came back, but before he could start in on me, I told him that the scanner was self-serve and that he was welcome to try rescanning. He began to whine-bully that he did not know how to use the scanner. I rummaged around in the desk until I found the opaquely written scanner manual and offered to loan it to him.
It took little time for the stomping to grow too faint to hear.

* It brought to mind a phrase Bill Bryson used to describe a particularly ugly carpet pattern. It was the kind of pattern you usually only see when you've been rubbing your eyes too hard.
** I want to call his boss and report the employee's lack of basic customer service skills, maybe get him canned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fascinating study...just saw this in ERIC

Title: Self-Soothing Behaviors of the Very Young in Situations Where Adult Caregivers are Too Effing Busy to Pay Any Attention to Them Whatsoever, What With the Intarwebs and the Facebook and What-Have-You

Author: slave, desk j.

Pub Date: 11 - 7 - 2010

Source: Journal of Child Development in Libraries

Peer Reviewed: Yes

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of physical and emotional neglect on self-soothing behaviors of infants and toddlers in a busy suburban library. Particular attention was paid to those to whom no one was paying any particular attention. Subjects ranged in age from eight (8) months to three (3) years. Longitudinal study models are considered.

Method: Participants were 49 children (39 males, 10 females; mean age 1y 6mo, SD 10mo). Investigator observed behavior from behind a cloud of self-righteous dudgeon.

Interpretation: Ignoring children does not tend to lead to quiet happy children.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Observation I Made

If a patron walks up to the desk sniffing their fingers, the average deskslave will not enjoy the interaction.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reference Question of the Day

I love the ones I can actually answer, too.
Him: “Do you work here?”
Me: “Only when I have to.”

OK, I actually said, “Ummm…yes.”

I was sitting at a desk that had a large sign above it, identifying the person at it as a reference librarian, too. Not sure why this happens, but it happens every week or so. It's odd, since when I am in stores, everybody thinks I’m the manager or something. I have walked little old ladies over to the toothpaste and families to the frozen food at my local supermarket. I always tick off a mark on the stats sheet when I get back to the library, figuring that it fits the definition of reference. So why is it that, even when I’m at the desk with my goofball picture ID* affixed to my oxford button down shirt that I would not wear at home because it’s too dressy, would people ask that?

*Actually, the picture ID is great, since I sometimes forget what I looked like on the first day of my job. "Hang on a sec, who is this optimistic-looking fellow without much gray hair? Oh, wait, that was me. Back then."

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Few Copier Questions for You

If you walked up to a copier and wanted to make a copy, would you lift the cover?

If you lifted the cover, would you put the paper in the dead center of the glass? Lower right corner?

If there was a large green button on the copier that says START on it, and you wanted the copier to START, would you push it?

Would you be surprised to discover that copies cost money?

Would you get angry about any of this?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

You are the Champion, My Friend

Phrases like “Perfect Storm” came to mind as the man, who probably wanted to ask a question at some point in the future, walked up to the desk. He could not ask his question yet, though, since he was on his cell phone. So he parked himself directly in front of me and continued his conversation. He was kind of loud. I’ll give people a minute before I lower the Shush-Axe, hoping that they will miraculously become a different person, specifically one who has a jot of manners. I started counting off Mississippis to myself, deciding that he would get twelve. Right around 5 Mississippi, he put his bag on the desk and began rummaging around. He came up with a grocery store croissant, one of those giant, greasy numbers that would probably make any French person angry or possibly violent. He took a large bite and continued speaking loudly as he chewed.

I know times have changed, what with the ubiquity of cell phones and the disappearance of the "library voice," but this was a little too much. I interrupted his important conversation and gave him the bum’s rush. A fairly polite bum’s rush, but a definite bum’s rush. Offended, he told the person on the other end to wait a sec, that the guy in the library was freaking out on him, gathered his things and stalked off.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nice Librarians Don't...Oh, Never Mind

The tag line is "She's a librarian with a really long shelf life." But I thought that shelf lives had to do with perishable items at the grocery stores and not...forget it. I didn't say anything.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Think I've Heard of that Guy

Phone caller: I need to see if you have a book.
Me: OK, what’s the book?
Phone caller: The book is Kill the Mockingbird. The author is Hefferly.

For the record, I did not correct her, just grabbed the book off the shelf and stuck it on the holds shelf.

In related news, a colleague swears the following is true:

A young woman walked up to the desk and asked to speak to Lisa. She was assured that no Lisas worked at the reference desk. It turned out that she had found Shanghai Girls in the catalog and the call number for it was "See, Lisa."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oh, Those Patrons--Always Teaching, Always Helpful

The town I work for is not that big, but the deep chasms and lack of info flow between departments would make you think that it's a giant city. In the Soviet Union. Case in point: each summer in the big city park, there is a free concert series. Very nice, bring a picnic dinner, lounge around and listen to music while the kids run around and yell on the nearby play structure. Summer is pretty much shot, and we have received no information from Parks about the series and calls to them go right to voicemail.
Today I was asked for a concert schedule. Even though I was confident that no flyers or calendars or posters or anything else helpful had been dropped off today, I went through the kabuki dance of taking the older couple over to the bulletin board and the free literature dumping ground area and looking.
After that, I went back to the desk to check the Parks department website to see if they have updated their website since Christmas. Not a chance. I called...right to voicemail. I then went to the city's main site to see if they had anything. Nope. After typing away for a moment, the man stepped forward and said with a scowl and a knowing air, "Here's what you do: go to google and type in townname* and concert. It should come right up." It really did make my day.

* The town has a namesake in at least seven other states, and most of them are much larger, so it was an even sillier suggestion than it sounds.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This Just In

Exhaustive (to me anyway) research has revealed: peanuts are net ineffective as breath mints. Stay tuned for the results of some involuntary reasearch about Corn Nuts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm Totally Freaking Out

Today, a patron was looking for one of the many 9/11 conspiracy books we have. The catalog said it was on the shelf, but it WASN'T THERE. I looked. I checked in neighboring shelves. I looked in places it might have been shelved if shelver had transposed a few numbers because they were so hung over.

No dice.

I'm quite certain it was a coincidence that the one book that would really blow the lid of this inside job is missing. Complete coincidence. That nobody would have removed it in order to keep the truth from us. Just a little "error." A very convenient little mistake, if you ask me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Real Head Exploder

Here was the question on the phone: “What’s the phone number for Facebook?”

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thanks So Much for Donating that Errand

"Do you accept these?"
Proferred several plastic shopping bags of CDs. As a rule, they don't make it into the collection becasue they've been played into the dirt already, but the Friends of The Library can probably sell them. So, gratefully accepted.

After she leaves, I can't resist. I pull open the first bag. A standard 90s mix, Miseducation of Lauren Hill, Macy Grey. Those should fetch a few bucks each at the next sale, so score. Or GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL, as you soccer fans bray tiresomely (sorry, still recovering from people's temporary interest in the World Cup).

Out of curiosity, I opened Lauren Hill to see how gently it had been treated. The case was empty. I looked in Macy. Empty. Babyface? Empty. Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind? Well, the insert was in perfect condition, but the disc was gone. I began opening them one after another. Empty empty empty. I gave up after about 8 in one bag and 5 in the other, since the results were the same. So now we don't even have something for the upcoming sale. How could it be? She didn't leave her name, of course, so I can't ask her if maybe she has a separate collection of just the discs someplace that she forgot about.

Great, just what the world needs, more landfill. I don't want to just toss them in the dumpster, though. So should I take out the paper sleeves first and at least recycle those? Does anybody want a stack of scuffy jewel cases? Probably the second they get carted away by the trash guys, the patron will be back with a big oops and all the discs.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rubyfruit Jungle

Most readers know Rita Mae Brown as the writer of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries. So I forgive the selector who assigned the paperback reissue of her 1973 saphic bildungsroman The Rubyfruit Jungle to our Mysteries section, next to Puss'n Cahoots and The Purrfect Murder. I considered leaving it there so granny could broaden her horizons some day. Or maybe get her trifocals melted. But I moved it regular fiction instead.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Might Be a Little Hard to Believe

But if you tell me a few plot points about a book (like it's about a kid with psychic powers who gets kidnapped, or it's about dragons that can only fly at night), and it doesn't ring a bell and you persist on dredging up irrelevant bit after irrelevant bit (like one of the characters was named Ken or was it Carl? or the girl's friend limped) the larding on of such details isn't going to help.

But you know what would help? Brushing your teeth. Flossing. No, it won't get your book found, but it will keep a certain deskslave from calculating the number of minutes until the day is over.

No, Not THAT Kind of Hummer

The lady browsing over at the new books who has been humming tunelessly for the last 10 minutes. Would throwing a stapler be mean?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Welcome to the Beaver Trap

The trap was sprung cleverly. "Is there a Jesse James Museum in Saint Jo, Missouri?" the older woman asked. I thought it was one of those ready reference questions that is the bread and butter of deskslavedom, so I pounced. As I typed away, tracking it down,* the iron jaws of the trap snapped and I was a goner. She knew there was. She just wanted to talk. You see, her great grandmother lived RIGHT BEHIND the Jesse James house at the time he was shot by the coward Robert Ford. I know! Can you believe it? The bullet practically hit her! I learned this and many other fascinating things in the following eternity, including Mr. James' many acts of kindness and benefactions to the portions of the populace who weren't bankers or customers of banks or soldiers on the Federal payroll. She told me of the wizened widow who let Jesse, whom she thought was a simple traveler and not a wanted desperado, water his horse at her farm. In this story, he was alone and not with the other members of his gang-- you know: the ones who had a penchant for shooting bystanders during the course of their robberies. She gave me a great deal of extraneous detail about this widow and her farm, and the clean-cut young man who needed to care for his steed. I guess this adds to the truthiness of the fable. The young man listens to the widow's sad tale of not having enough money to make her payment on the farm, and how far behind she is and that the bank is going to take it all from her. The young man is moved and pulls a fat wad of cash out of the saddlebag. He gives it to the widow (of course she was a widow). And it's not just one or two payments, maybe enough to get current with the man. It's enough money, in fact, to pay off the entire note. As tradition dictates, the horrible bank man was coming to foreclose on her that very day. The young man told her several times to make sure she got a receipt that said Paid in Full on it. He rides off. The bank guy, whom I imagine looks like a cross between Snidely Whiplash and the moneybags guy in Monopoly, comes and demands payment or else the poor widow (husband killed in the Civil War) will be disposessed. She pulls out the aforesaid fat wad, hands it to Snidely and demands her receipt that says Paid in Full. Well, sir, wouldn't you know it, but as the nasty bank dude rides back to town (in a buggy pulled by a fine team of horses) he is stopped by a well-dressed young man who robs him.

My mind fogged over as I saw the punchline slowly making its way toward me. Wouldn't the old lady get suspicious about somebody who resembles the guy on all the wanted posters--you know, the one who has a big bounty on his head--having a ton of cash on him? Wouldn't the law have come by to ask the widow a few questions after she suddenly has a lot of money after not having any and the money gets stolen by a guy who fits the description of the guy they're hunting for? Her mouth moved and moved, and I thought of the beaver in the trap. True, I was not suffering any actual physical pain, but the impulse to gnaw off something so that I could escape was very strong.

*On the grounds of the Patee House Museum at 1202 Penn Street, Saint Joseph, MO 64503.
Summer hours: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm
Sun: 1pm-5pm
$3.00 for adults, $2.00 for senior citizens, and $1.50 for students. Kids 5 and under are admitted for free

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cringe-making turn of phrase in the New York Times

I was reading the review of Gary Shteyngart's new novel Super Sad True Love Story in today's NYT. (The title reminded me of The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian and other run-on sentence titles of late.) In it, Michiko Kakutani wrote the following:

This novel avoids the pretensions and grandiosity of Mr. Shteyngart’s last book, “Absurdistan,” even as it demonstrates a new emotional bandwidth and ratifies his emergence as one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers.

It was good news, in that Absurdistan, which was pretty likeable, was kind of a mess. But what really struck me was the phrase "emotional bandwidth." It's kind of clever-sounding, but really doesn't mean a thing, or at least means something other than what the author wanted it to mean. I think she means that Mr. Sheyngart's work has achieved an emotional depth not reached in his earlier work. With the phrase "emotional bandwidth," though, she is suggesting that Mr. Shteyngart can now receive his emotions quicker. Perhaps she should have said that Mr. Shteyngart had undergone an emotional processor upgrade. "With his new quad-core Xeon processor, Shteyngart can now deal with a greater number of emotions and process them faster. He also has a larger amount of L3 Liminal cache, cranking up his dissection of complex social interactions by at least a factor of 40." Or something. Way better, if you ask me.

Or how about Shteyngart's new hot-swappable 10 TB RAID level 6 emotion drive? It's striped, mirrored and multiply redundant. No degradation of his emotions there, no matter how many times they're accessed or transferred.

Emotional bio-RAM? Shteyngart has that in spades! His new Double Data Rate synchronous dynamic random access emotional memory can hold thousands of iterations of love and hate simultaneously!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Something I Learned Today

This one lady bought this pair of earrings. They were very beautiful and she could not wait to get them home and accessorize with them. But the strangest thing happened: they did not go with ANYTHING in her wardrobe. Nothing. No matter how simple or fancy, this would-be dynamite piece of jewelry failed. Then an even stranger thing happened. She bought this bracelet. This very one currently be-bangling her wrist. And you know what? Now, with the bracelet, the earrings WORK WITH EVERYTHING. I know! Amazing, right?

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Invisible Demons are Watching, Listening

As you are all well aware, there are invisible demons lurking everywhere. They listen to our conversations and even our private thoughts. They are, of course, listening for expressions of hope or confidence. When they hear such expressions, they spring into action and crank up the adversity generator. You are not permitted to mention to your neighbor your hope for nice weather tomorrow so that your 9-year-old's birthday picnic in the park will be fun and pleasant, since the demons will see to it that a rougue storm cloud will hover over the park and send a minature and very localized monsoon down just as the candles are lit. Here at deskslave central, observations like "boy, it sure is quiet here today" are frowned upon, since that will provoke the demons to send a busload of needy people to the reference desk at the same moment.

I know better, then, than to think about a patron I will call Albert. Albert likes the TV shows from his youth. Star Trek, Green Hornet, Batman, etc. Albert loves him his music, too. Billy Joel, Sir Elton and the G himself, Kenny. Albert also likes to talk on the phone to librarians. Every day. Many, man times a day. He likes to check on his many holds. He likes to update us on when he thinks he might come in to pick up those many holds. He likes to ask us when his many items will be due. He's probably very lonely, but so am I and I don't call you, do I?

This morning, I had just had the thought that Albert hadn't called in a while and you know what happened. Seriously, the neurons in my brain had not even cooled off after transmitting the thought from point a to point b and the demons were on it like a hawk hitting a field mouse. Phone rings, it's Albert demanding to know when his copy of Elton John's Live in Australia will arrive. Lesson learned, demons.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Can't Tell You How Disappointed I am in You

You really need to get up off your butt and get busy. Time's a-wastin', as my Danish grandmother never said. You think you're busy, you say you have work to do. I understand. To give you a little incentive to get on track and start writing our instant bestseller (working title: S.E.A.L.ed With a Kiss), I worked on a potential cover design. Once we agree on a title, I'll put the swoopy gold type in.

The ball is in your court. Don't let me down.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ridiculously Nerdy of Me, But

I saw this recent cover of Boy's Life as I walked through the juve area yesterday. It's very dorky of me, but I noticed something offputting about the two ships in the background. They are probably part of the fleet that's bombarding Fort McHenry off to the right. They both have a lot of sail up, so they are probably in motion and about to crash. I'd probably be interested in that, too, if I was old Francis Scott Key up there in the rigging. That and the fact that the wind, according to the sails, is coming from more than one direction.

Like I said, ridiculously nerdy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Here's Our Million Dollar Idea

Let's face it: we all want to be famous authors. "Some day," we all imagine in our heart of hearts, "I will be here at the library, shelving the books that I wrote." For most of us the foregoing is but a pipe dream. But you and me? We're different. We're smarter and more talented than that. And we understand our market. We know what sells, because we order it for our libraries. We take it out of the boxes, catalog the heck out of it, put the protective cover on it, carefully affix too many stickers and labels to it, check it in, shelve it and then check it out again. We have seen paranormal romances appear nearly out of nowhere to capture a big chunk of the fiction market.

And we want ours.

You may have been thinking to yourself, "sure, I'd like to write my own paranormal fiction book, but all the good angles have been taken!" You're not far from wrong. Vampires were an easy sell. Shape shifters were a shoo in. The rest are a bit dodgier. Werewolves? Are you joking? But even those are taken. You have racked your brain, you've consulted the reference material in the 398.2s, but it appears that all the good ones are lone gone. Pixies? Too little (or in the case of Black Francis, way too big). Leprechauns? The less we think about those boozy little cretins getting it on, the better. But I have a great one.

There is also the paranormal romance trend of guys who are paranormal creatures also having spiffy jobs. Like the one I pointed out months ago about the vampire bull rider. It seems that all the easy categories of job, like cowboy or English duke or Highland princeling have been used. Nobody wants a shape shifting insurance adjuster or a werewolf poultry inspector. But I have a good one of those, too.

I think you and I should start writing the book immediately before somebody else beats us to it. OK, our dreamy guy? He's a Navy S.E.A.L., BUT (and this is the million dollar part), he's also a selkie.

We're practically rich already. We make the perfect team. I'm really good at writing semi-funny, somewhat incomprehensible gibberish that goes on for about 150 words and then peters out completely, and you're good at everything else that isn't that. Let me know soon. I have started the agent query letter already.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not that we're 411

I really don’t mind looking up numbers for people over the phone. It happens at least once a day. It’s usually an older person who calls, and people are typically polite about it. It’s a semi-reference question, so it‘s good for the stats. I do mind, though, when I talk to people like the woman who called earlier.
She wanted the number of a computer store in our town. Only she had the business name wrong. And the wrong town. That all took a while, but I got it sorted out and started to give her the number. She stopped me.
“Can’t you just connect me?”
“Our phones don’t do that.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Nope.” I explained that we were not really directory assistance, so we didn’t have the same fancy gear.
Deep sigh, like I’d told her that we had no electricity for her dialysis machine, which she had dragged to the library by herself at night through the snow, a pack of hungry, possibly rabid wolves snapping at her heals the whole time.
“Hang on,” she carped, as though she was reluctantly doing me a favor. The phone was deposited on something hard while she went off, presumably, to find something to write with. Or maybe I was just being punished.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Chances

After unscientifically observing patron behavior for about five days, I have concluded that:

The chances of a patron saying "Book on Tape" and meaning "Book on CD": 100% (5 out of 5)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


found next to a recycling bin

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where are the What?

It can be a bit confusing for people coming in to use the public Intarwebz computers for the first time. I'm used to the same questions that I do manage to answer in a way that I hope does not betray the fact that I have answered them a million times. But today I was asked where the Macs were. It took me a second. "The what?"
Raised eyebrows, tilted head, slightly singsong special-needs speed speech. "The Macs?"
But, reader, I was kind. I did not go with "probably at the fancy private college you went to," but rather with, "Uhhhh...these are all Windows."
The head tilted to a new axis and the eyebrows, still raised, were reconfigured. "You. Don't. Have. Macs."
Again, reader, I was good. I refrained from "That's right. And we don't have a margarita machine, either." I went with "That's right, we don't."
"Why. Don't. You. Have. Macs."
"I don't do the IT budget, but I imagine it has to do with cost and the ability to support them."
"But they're so much better."
"Maybe so, but..." I didn't want to argue. Or rather, I did want to argue, but knew it'd be pointless. I fished around in the desk looking for the business card of somebody up the chain who dealt with computers or the public. I found one that was close enough and tried to give it to the woman, but she had decided to leave in disgust instead.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Fourth of Fun

Friday afternoon, probably a long weekend for lots of people (not me, boo hoo). Lots of people leaving town. Lots of dashing up to the desk with hurried demands. Not many DVDs worth seeing left. Most audiobooks worth listening on that long car trip long gone. Trying not to get swept up in other people's panic over poor planning. My inner sadist relishes offering to place holds on items.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A New Game You Can Play at Your Library

I call it "Match the Two-Year-Old." Here's how you play. First, find some two year old wandering the stacks, randomly pulling stuff off the shelves. Then, scrutinize the two-year-old and, in a manner that won't make anybody think you're trying to make off with the little toddler, find the parent who should have, by law and by all standards of decency, been looking after the child. Points are awarded randomly based on how many guesses it takes. No points at all if the parent finds you first. Please: no racial profiling! Ready? Begin!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I wish I'd thought of this

Not my quote, but it's funny and I like it and says everything about two things I really don't care about.

"Twilight's like soccer. They run around for 2 hours, nobody scores, and its billion fans insist you just don't understand."

What? No More Cookery?

Did you hear the big news? (You probably have. I'm always the last to find out anything.) LC has chucked the Cookery subject heading into the dustbin of history, there to molder with such subject headings from yesteryear as "The Yellow Peril" and "The Jewish Question." Cookery was not as offensive as those, of course, but still it was useless. My favorite adjectival heading in Cookery was the one for Indian food. You want an Indian cookbook? No problem, just search under "Cookery, Indic" and it'll pop right up. (You're welcome.) It combined the sublime uselessness of "cookery" with the willful obscurantism of "Indic" to ensure that nobody could find anything. So, goodbye cookery!

And now on to another one I hate. It's not as big a deal as cookery, but it is ridiculous. You know what a longshoreman is, don't you? Of course you do. LC doesn't. Or at least pretends it doesn't, preferring to use the antique "stevedores." Stevedore? Really? The only time I think I ever saw the word in print outside of the big ugly red LC books was in the Kafka story of the same name. So all you important people at OCLC who read this blog, change it, will ya?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Thought it Was Called a ShamWow

“Needa ShamWoo!” bellowed the morbidly obese woman in the motorized chair.
I had my eye on her already. She had used salty language on the guy who tried to open the door for her. She wanted to smack the automatic door button instead. She had demanded that he let the door go so that she could do so.
It took five total bellowings before I realized that she needed a chair moved.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The return of the 'slave. I hope.

Hi Folks,

About 2 months ago, or soon before my last post or two, I was in a car wreck. It was pretty dramatic--I was stopped at the end of a line of cars, minding my own business, thinking the lofty thoughts you have come to expect from me, when a young woman decided that the time was perfect to both drive fast and not pay attention. It's a bad combo, if you think about it. She plowed into me doing about 40. The impact launched my poor, trusty, elderly Subaru into the car in front of me. That car, in turn, passed along the love to the car in front of it. Four cars were destroyed, and the driver in front of me and I got play a game called Who is Going to Get to the Hospital First in Their Ambulance? She got sirens and I didn't, so I silvered in that event. I did, however, get to see the inside of an ambulance (kind of a let down, if you must know) and I had the opportunity to ask the chatty EMT a few questions about the nature of his work. All things considered, though, I was pretty lucky. The Venerable Subaru was completely destroyed, whereas I walked away* with only broken glasses, a few cuts and burns from the airbag, and a concussion.**

Recovery has been disappointingly slow. The head trauma has affected my vision, which has made reading difficult. Even in this post-literate world, that has been a bit of a problem. I also had actual memory loss (very freaky), so even the Dewey Decimal System, that anchor and lamp, deserted me for a time. I actually had to use the catalog to find where the sewing books were, squinting pathetically at the screen the whole time. As you might imagine, this has made very little seem particularly funny or slaveworthy of late. I must be getting better though: just today, after a particularly galling interaction, I found myself thinking that I might be able to convert the misery a patron inflicted on me into something amusing for the blog. We'll see. So thanks for continuing to check in and hopefully there will be more here soon.

* OK, I didn't exactly walk away, but that sounds a whole lot better than "I stumbled dumbly into oncoming traffic."

** Note to you extreme sports enthusiasts: Even if you are rough and tough like Your Humble Deskslave, under no circumstances should you pick a fight with an airbag. They are mean. And speedy. They come at you so fast, even the lightning-fast, Ninja reflexes of a reference librarian are not quick enough to avoid or deflect their powerful attack. Final score: Airbag 1, Deskslave a big old goose egg.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dear Sir

If you are going to go through all the trouble to wear a frilly, semi-exposed bra and 4" high heels, please shave. Thank you.

The Dog Ate My Homework

That will have to do for my excuse for no posts in so long.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Introducing Another Nonexistent Service We Don't Offer, Apparently an Ongoing Series

He tossed his library card onto the desk before me as though it was an AmEx Black Card. He was not looking at me, but rather off to the side. Perhaps into the future, sizing up his conquests, considering mergers and acquisitions peons such I can only dream of. “I need the fax,” I was informed.
“Uh…we don’t have one.”
Finally, he graced me with his gaze. But it was a withering gaze. He squinted like Clint Eastwood did in the Westerns all those years ago. “You don’t have one,” he repeated. His voice affectless. I think it was meant to convey sarcasm. Or maybe he is on the autistic spectrum. Who knows.
I’m not sure where people got the idea that we're Office Depot. I get asked for the fax every week or so. More often than people asking to buy stamps or the very books on the shelves. It makes sense, I guess, to have a fax available. I think the IT department would object for some reason since they seem to object to installing any new equipment that consumes electricity. But being a good information professional, I cheerfully handed my new friend the "Where to Send a Fax" handout. It details locations, phone numbers and even prices charged by nearby businesses that would love to fax your document. I updated it recently myself. In any event, to me it was a tick mark on the tally sheet of reference interactions. To him, it was something else entirely

Friday, April 16, 2010

Santa Hats

In the week or so leading up to Xmas, you generally see a few people coming in wearing a Santa hat. If the person is under the age of eleven or so, it's meant to be fun and funny. If it's on a teen, it's an ironic statement designed to point out the utter vapidity of the whole charade of Christmas but can I still please have a new iPod. Leading up to the blessed day last year, I saw several on men more or less my age, which is to say super old. And that, I think, says, "Hey, aren't I kooky and fun?" It says, "Watch out, world, the party is headed your way!" It also says, "I'm going to say something really inappropriate and icky and quite possibly sexual to the nice young woman behind the counter at the Circ desk." But that's before Christmas. In the weeks following Christmas, I've seen three different men who are past the age of ironic sartorial statements and well into need-to-trim-the-hair-blossoming-out-of-the-ears age wearing them. I'm pretty sure that's just a diagnosable, cry-for-help sort of thing. One guy was just in, his sad Santy hat on even though it was pretty warm out. The had WAS FILTHY. Like he'd let his dog sleep on it. Since Clinton was president. It made me sad, and that usually only happens when parents are being mean to their kids.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You Have to at Least TRY a Little

I know I'm no genius and I know that teenagers think I'm a complete tool who can be outfoxed with little effort. And they are probably right. But I do require the minimal effort. A young man who was holding, among other things, his library card came to the desk from the computer area. He had probably used up his time on the computer for the day.
“Uh, I forgot my library card. Can I get a guest pass?”
“Isn’t that your card in your hand?”
“Ummm…” walks away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Introducing Another Imaginary Service We Don't Provide

If people walk up and speak with authority, I am inclined to believe that what they say has some weight, and that maybe I’m wrong. Just stride up to the desk and announce something crazy, like “yeah, I’m here to have my aura read,” and I will wonder if that’s something we’ve started doing and I must didn’t get the email.

So that’s what happened when the guy his finger out at me. A DVD rested ring-like near the tip of the finger. He told me that he needed it polished. I know as well as the next reference librarian that we don’t do that just as we don’t rebind books for people’s private collections, but his certainty made me less sure and I faltered.
“Ummm…I don’t think we do that…” I said in a voice that carried 50 jillion percent less authority than I would have liked.
“I was told,” he declaimed, his certainty undiminished, “that you could bring your DVDs in and they’d polish them for you if there were skips on it.”
“Were you told which library?”
“The library!” he said. Like we’re a giant, monolithic entity that spans worlds, like the Borg or the liberal media. He couldn’t believe that we didn’t do this, though eventually he did leave.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Library Workers Day

Apparently it's a real thing--you can see it here:

They have a nifty logo too:

I think the exploding keyboard represents how much we hate public Internet computers. The sillhouettes are symbolic of the fact that we are merely faceless drones, humbly serving our masters. I hope they revamp the logo next year to have the exploding keyboard destroying the book. Not that I think that books will be replaced by computers any time soon, I just think it would be neat. And have the library workers look more like ninjas.

As you might imagine, we're still cleaning up after the festivities here at deskslave central. It wasn't very hard, actually since the festivities consisted of handing out buttons with the above logo to employees before we opened. I hope the buttons didn't cost too much, because they were very cheap. I refuse to wear any kind of button aside from the official library ID that has my name and handsome picture on it so that people can see that it's actually me, and not somebody who just looks like me with a different name. I really hate being a button billboard. Many years before library school I worked at Kinkos and we were covered with buttons advertising this and that. I kind of hoped that with an actual professional career I would not be a walking advertisement any more. So I stand up to the Man.

An informal poll at the end of the day of my coworkers revealed that those who wore the buttons got absolutely no comments or reactions or questions from any patrons.

How about you? Did you celebrate this holy day in any particular way?