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?”