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!