Saturday, July 30, 2011

Something of an Achievement, Really

The guy was very nearly bald, just a fringy tonsure of wispy hair around the back and sides. Yet he had prodigious amounts of dandruff on his shoulders. A real loaves and fishes moment in the scalp flake department.

Monday, July 25, 2011

deskslave's Head Explodes, Cognitive Dissonance Edition

Nice dad, two nice kids of about 6 and 8. Very nice transaction, help the boy find books about dinosaurs. Sign the kids up for summer reading, get them all jazzed up about their prize book. Everything would have been fine, I think, except for one thing. The dad (nice guy, as I think I mentioned) has on a black T-shirt with "I Support Single Mothers" in metalic silver writing on it. So far so good. Below that is a drawing in the same ink of a stripper humping the pole. Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Night Fights

It was a regular donnybrook here at the library as mint gum took on the reigning champion alcohol to see who would win the Battle of the Breath. With such heavy hitters as scotch and vodka, it was nearly a foregone conclusion that plucky peppermint would fall. Final score: Alcohol-2, Gum-0.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For You Noobs, The Correct Way to Answer a Reference Question

The Slightly Goofy Guy Who Will Talk To You All Day If You Let Him: Wouldn't it be great if they remade the 60's TV show Adam-12 as a movie and if Kent McCord and Martin Milner* made cameo appearances?

deskslave: Yes.

*For you Young People, the actors who played the main characters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meaning is Lost in Just 15 Feet

We have only one phone at the Ref desk, and it's pretty busy. We say "no" when people ask to use it. We refer them to the pay phone (Yep--they still exist!) which typically gets the kind of facial reaction you'd expect if we suggested they lick the floor beneath the men's urinal. I always add that if they have absolutely no money whatsoever, they could ask politely at the Circulation desk. The nice people in circ have a nice little cordless phone that they might loan out under certain circumstances. And that's the rigmarole I went through with the woman at the desk. Our interaction didn't start well. She walked up and I gave her my boilerplate "Hi! Can I help you find something?"

"Yeah, I need the phone."

So blah blah blah pay phone blah blah MAYBE circ desk blah blah, etc.

She turned and walked over to the circ desk which is maybe 15 feet away. The nice circ clerk greeted the patron.

The patron jerked her thumb back at me. "He said I could use your phone."

Friday, July 15, 2011

The deskslave is Left Wondering, Stewing

The spry older woman wanted a somewhat obscure local history. As I searched, I began making excuses for why we probably wouldn't have it. But it was there! At our very library! I always give people the option of finding it for themselves with the call number or being lead to it by a skilled professional. Or at least me. You never know if the patron is going to be like me (my motto: turn on the lights and get out of my way) or if they need some assistance. She wanted to be shown.

The book had not been checked out in years, which always worries me. Who knows, the fact that it isn't actually there might account for it not getting checked out. But there it was and I presented it to her and began walking back to the desk.

After a few seconds, I heard her say, "Now what do I do?"

I walked with her to the circ desk area. I gave her the self-check vs. circ clerk spiel. Turns out she didn't have a card. So I launched into my getting-a-card spiel which emphasizes the simplicity and speed of the transaction.

"I don't want one."

"Oh. It's really easy..."

"I said I. Don't. Want. One."

I shrugged, a little put out. I told her that her that she had to read it inside the building. After a bit of back and forth about the nature of checking out books, she told me that her husband probably had a card and could probably come in and check out the book. She said this as though her husband was currently lost in Siberia and would have to walk. She told me to "hold it under..." and began to give me his name. I interrupted her.

I hate this one. I used to work at a library where we'd hold books for people without cards and they would invariably not come in. At the end of the day there'd be a stack of books, often highly desirable items needed for school assignments, sitting there unclaimed. And also invariably someone would come in days after we had reshelved theri book all upset that we didn't hold their item like we said we would. AND the fact that it's on pseudo-hold won't be reflected in the catalog also irks me and offends my orderly library librarian sensibilities. If somebody else came in looking for the item, they'd be told that it was on the shelf and it wouldn't be. So there. I outlined some of this to her, taking pains to use words like "fairness."

"So you won't reserve it for me?"

"Well, I'm really not supposed to," I waffled, getting ready to cave. I'm such a marshmallow.

"But it says right there," pointing to a nearby book cart, "that if I want to reserve a book, all I have to do is put it on that shelf!" She was getting mad.

I read the sign on the cart. "Ummm... that says 'reshelve,' not 'reserve.' You can put a book there to be reshelved."

As a postscript to this, I did cave and told her that I would hold it at the desk but only until close. I instructed her to tell her husband to come to the desk since it would not go to the holds shelf.

Hours later, I was annoyed by an older man scanning the holds shelf. He had evidently lost most of his hearing. I could tell this because his ring tone was unbelievably loud. I stood up to confront him about this, but the ringing stopped and I sat down.

The "You Have Voicemail" sound was not as loud, but still set my teeth on edge. It happened again. I pondered why it was that people with loud or otherwise annoying ring tones also have their phones ring 8 or 9 times before going over to message.

The guy evidently couldn't find his hold and enlisted a circ clerk to help him. I did not put it together that he was the husband of the card refusenik. I only went over when he started to yell at the clerk. I got it sorted out, though the old guy was VERY angry about it since his wife was assured that we would hold the book for him. So we were punished for trying to be nice. The last word was from the circ clerk who condescendingly informed me, after the guy left that we only place holds for people with cards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oh, the Humanity! Part Six Thousand or so

I was summoned to the self-serve Introwebs computers by a grumpy woman who was approximately as old as me. I'm at a curious divide. I did not grow up using computers and they didn't even enter the workplace until I was well into my twenties. There are people my age who never really learned to type, let alone use a computer. So when I see somebody my age at a computer, I give it about a fifty percent chance they will not know something from this:

There was an annoying popup on her screen. Hammering the various buttons on the popup did not make it go away. I know this because she demonstrated this fact by hammering on the buttons for my benefit. I noticed that the popup was in front of Farmville, but appeared to have nothing to do with it. I suggested that she try another computer.

"I already tried that!"

I offered to restart the computer.

"I already did that!" she said, admitting to a violation of the terms of service that she agreed to when she signed in.

"Well, that's about all I can do." I imagined that there was some Flash or other upgrade that needed to take place, but the IT department would have my head on a stick if I messed with a computer like that.

"Then HOW am I supposed to get my work done?" she demanded to know, gesturing toward the monitor, which, I think I may have mentioned, Farmville was on. I'm quite certain that she was only going to be on Farmville for a minute and then get right into her investments and writing her novel.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All In A Day's Work

The phone rang, as it all-to-often does.

"What is Desperate Housewives Dana?" the patron said. (I always want to say "fine thanks, and you?" when somebody dispenses with all social niceties like that)

I honestly didn't know what he was talking about. So I asked him if it had something to do with the Desperate Housewives television program.

"It says, 'Desperate Housewives Dana.'"

It took a further second of silence before the little 30-watt Reference light bulb went off. "Is this for a crossword puzzle?"

"Uh--yeah." A little singsongy so his "yeah" had something of an implied "you dumbass" to it.

So a little wholesome and satisfying Google magic got him his answer. For the record: Delany, an actress who has the dubious distinction of having been in several movies with Rosie O'Donnell.

It occurred to me afterward that doing the crossword puzzle for other people used to be pretty high on the list of duties at the reference desk and now no longer is. Did people get smarter? Did crosswords get easier? Did people stop doing crosswords? Does everybody use the Goog now? Probably that last one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

dan de quill

A patron in his middle years asked for Dan De Quill. Nothing. Try a variety of spellings (DeQuill, De Quill, De Quille), but the result was always the same. I tell him this, and start my ILL spiel.

"I find that hard to believe, he's the foremost Western writer in America." He left, his muted disgust evident.

For the record: Dan DeQuille lived in the 19th century, dying in 1898. He published one book in his lifetime and appeared to have been famous for his journalism. WorldCat tells me that the libraries in these parts that shelve him are all academic in nature.

So I guess I find it hard to believe that he found it hard to believe that we didn't have any De Quille. I also find it hard to believe how often our collection inspires disbelief in the public.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Google Plus -- Easily the Greatest Thing Since Google Wave

Hello, deskslave fans. Do you want to be the last kid on your block to get an invite to the next big thing we're all supposed to want to do with all that free time we have? I thought so, and I'm here to help. Send an email to the part of the blog name that appears before the ".blogspot" at gmail dot com and I'll send them out as long as it lets me. I promise not to spam you or try to convert you to my strange cult or sell you anything.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Better Booklist, I expect. Definitely Better than USA Today

I put a hold on a few interesting books today for you a woman in her twenties. One was The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross of the New Yorker. It's an interesting and in-depth look at 20th Century music (of the Schoenberg variety, not the Bieber variety). Or so I'm told. Like modern classical music, I gave up on this book after short but brave attempt.

I remarked on the book, asking her if she liked modern music. She wasn't sure what I was talking about. I mentioned Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and the like. Nothing.

She told me that she cleaned hotel rooms for a living and built her reading list around what she found in the rooms that she tidied. She didn't always like what she discovered that way, but in general it was a good way to find new authors.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Must Calibrate Face, Emotions

I should have known better. I was placing holds for a woman about my age (viz. old). In the middle of the transaction about gardening books, she asked, "did you hear what happened in New York?"

My first thought was: OMG! Terrorism? What?

My look of dismay spoke to her. She nodded her head, and gravely said, "Gay marriage."

I immediately brightened. "Oh yeah, that. Great!"

Her look was the sort of look that she might have given me if I had not only just married my male fiancee before her, but consummated the act right there on the Ref desk.

I mean, I try not to wear my political or moral opinions on my sleeve. I think that everybody should be able to use the library without feeling singled out because of their opinions or appearance (up to a point, I must add). But the public should be careful about assuming things about us, too. Just because I am a geezer with a square haircut and conservative clothes, she probably shouldn't have automatically thought that I'd agree on that or any score.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Holiday Schedule Changes

Because of the Independence Day holiday, Entitlement Tuesday will be cancelled next week. The library will be closed on Monday. When we reopen on Tuesday, we will have a special Anger Over Closure Celebration where patrons who are unhappy about not being able to get DVDs and use the Internet for a whole day on Monday will be able to enjoy a ten full hours of berating and lashing out at staff members.