Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Term for You

Films that bomb at the box office but generate gigantic holds lists. After the early reviews are negative, people don't want to waste their time and money on the film at the  theater. But when it's free they really want to see what the fuss is about. I think they really hope that the movie stinks. Also known as the Lone Ranger Effect.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back in Cubeland

I’m constantly complaining about patrons so you might get the idea that I have no problem with my coworkers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why just today, I was back at my sumptuously appointed office (aforementioned cube with view of loading dock), working like the diligent fellow that I am. A coworker across the way said something to me, but I was so engrossed in what I was doing, I didn’t catch it. But she had to be talking to me, since everybody else in our little hive area was on the floor, providing bang-up customer service.
“Sorry,” I said, lest I give offense, “I didn’t catch that.”
“What?” the coworker inquired.
“I didn’t catch what you said to me. Could you say it again?”
“I was talking to myself,” she informed me and went back to what she was doing.
Hours later, I was back in the cube and the only other person back there did the same thing. She said something which I couldn’t understand and when I asked her what it was about, she said she’d been talking to herself.

There are many things we could surmise from this, the chief two being:

1)      Lots of lunatics go into library work;
2)      Plenty of them would rather talk to nobody than talk to me.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Love Books, Especially the Ones That Cost More Than $4.99

A colleague who is a children's librarian told me about something I'd never heard of which is evidently very common. Kids come in to pick up their prize book for summer reading. The kid shows the book they've selected to the mom for approval. The mom looks at the back to see the price. The mom rejects the book because it's not expensive enough. The kid has to select a book that passes some mom-approved value threshold.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From the "We Just Can’t Win" Archive of Failure, Summer Reading for Adults Edition

Year after year, grown adults would belly up to the desk and ask why there was no summer reading program for adults, since there was a summer reading program for kids. I usually managed to say something politic about the point of summer reading being the creation of lifelong readers, etc, even though I thought the idea of adult summer reading was a little silly and wanted to say so. It reminds me of a situation that comes up occasionally where an adult in one area of the library will be making a lot of noise (hollering into their phone, for example) at the same time that a small child is fussing or crying in another area. I’ll go and tell the adult to quiet down a bit and they will want to know why we aren’t telling “them” (thumb jerk at the toddler who is crying) to be quiet. They don’t seem to appreciate that, in this world anyway, we treat kids differently than we treat adults. If we treated them the way we treat toddlers, I’d like to tell them, they could only show up to the library when Mommy took them and they’d have to stay with her. I half expect such people to show up at my house on October 31st demanding to know why I’m not giving adults candy when I just gave “them” (thumb jerk at a little hobo or ghost or whatever kids are dressing up as this year) Kit Kats.

But, buckling under pressure as we always do, we started an adult summer reading thing some years back. We justified it to ourselves by saying that it is a way to funnel people into the library-sponsored book groups the same way that children’s summer reading is a way to get kids excited about reading. (Book group membership stayed pretty low, btw.) It did not take long for the adults to complain that there were no prizes for the adult summer reading program. After all, we give prizes to “them” (thumb jerk at the child who just selected Diary of a Wimpy Kid as their prize book).

So we started giving out prizes. The prize budget came from that special brand of parsimony that all library programs run on, so the prizes were conspicuously not awesome. So the complaints started up immediately about the crappy prizes.

For the last few years, though, more money  and prize solicitation effort have been expended, so now the prizes arepretty awesome. Awesome enough that I kind of wish that library employees and their families could enter the drawings. Now we have drawings all summer long for super cool stuff.

Today a patron complained he hadn’t won anything.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Good one, library nerd

I was at my desk in my veal-fattening pen cubicle. I don't mean to brag, but I get a window which means that I have a commanding view of the loading dock. When the UPS truck is backing up to the bay, it always looks like he's headed straight for me, temporarily giving me the illusion that something exciting might occur that day. I also get to watch people smoke, which is becoming something of a rarity as more people find better hobbies than emphysema acquisition.

One of the children's librarians walked by pushing a cart groaning with Easy Reader sorts of books that looked to be in pretty bad shape. She told me that her arms and back all sore from weeding The Strawberry Patch. "Oh," I say, "is that it there?" I point to the books she has on the cart.

She looks utterly bemused. "What?"

"The books. Are they Strawberry Patch?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Silly me. I hear the word "weed" and automatically assume that people are talking about the removal of outdated and worn library material. I thought that Strawberry Patch was some kids' series I'd never heard of. She actually has a strawberry patch behind her house and had spent part of the weekend attempting to free it of actual weeds.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Ummm…" is the new “Excuse me.”

Always out of the loop, I was not notified when this change was declared. There was a time when people came up to you and addressed you, saying something like “excuse me,” or “hey, dummy.” You know, something that acknowledged your existence. Increasingly, people of a variety of ages, but definitely on the younger end of the scale—twenties and below—stand nearby and say ummmmmmm, sometimes several times, until they are acknowledged. They even do this when I am talking to another patron. I try to ignore them until they actually say a word or two, preferably in English, but I'm not that picky truth be told. 

This goes along with an earlier change. When someone performs a service for you (let‘s say answers a reference question as a completely random example) you no longer have to say “Thank you.“ It is now sufficient to say, “OK” and walk away.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Love My Job

Found at a computer. I love this for so many reasons. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. It could be my favorite possession.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Found in a Book, Soothsaying Edition

YOUR FUTURE WIFE will be an actress, a queen of the footlights and leading lady. You will have to stand around the stage door with many an armful of American beauty roses and buy many a bottle and cold bird after the performances to win this particular little lady. However, you will eventually wear her resistance down and she will agree to put on a matrimonial act with you for life. You will have one little ham actor. 
(Near as I can tell it says, "Ivan had his fortune told and is on other side")

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Actual Reference Question

Young Woman: Do you guys like have have like any origami books or like whatever?

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Closers

Some years back now, I read The Closers by hard-boiled mystery writer Michael Connelly. In it, the main character, Detective Harry Bosch, joins the LA Police Department's Open Unsolved Unit where they take up cold cases and try to, you know, close them. It got me to thinking: those of us who close at the library aren't all that different from The Closers. OK, there are some superficial differences, like we're just dweebs in a library and not cops with guns or skills or street smarts; they risk their lives and we just want to kick people out of a public building and go home already; they use their inductive reasoning (or maybe it's their deductive reasoning--I can never remember which is which) and we use the catalog. OK, there are absolutely no similarities whatsoever, but tonight I sure wished I at least had Harry Bosch's gun.

We had finally chased out all the last-minute video selectors, the diehard Internet enthusiasts and the inveterate bathroom campers and were about to head into the back to grab our things, set the alarm and flee out the back door. As we walked past, some guy was pounding on the front doors and hopping from foot to foot like a three-year-old child who needs to wee wee real bad. He was using a ring to really give the glass a good rap and waving the other hand high over his head in a way that suggested that he just might be drowning.

I don't mean to brag, but I'm quite adept at ignoring people like that. I might give them a little smile and wave as though I thought they were just being friendly as I pass by and I was responding in kind, but that's it. With the hopping, I was certain he was just after the restroom and there are plenty of gas stations in our zip code. One of my kind-hearted coworkers, however, went over to the door and tried to hear him out as he shouted into the glass. He didn't look frantic enough to look like an emergency case, so I was a little disappointed with her. It would have been different if she was new, but she's worked at deskslave central longer than I have (before it even had the catchy name "deskslave central," if you can believe it), so she should have known better. I couldn't hear what he was banging on about, so the dialog as it reached me sounded something like:

Coworker. What?
Mr. Wee Wee. Mrrrflwzznp!
Coworker. I'm sorry, we're closed!
Mr. Wee Wee. Graffenhable! Sibnatchilar!!
Coworker. But the machines are all off! We wouldn't be able to check you out!
Mr. Wee Wee. Carflid hammalacka!
Coworker. It should still be there tomorrow when we open!
Mr. Wee Wee. Scriggles lamanchritobs! Flapdaddle tromesculant!
Coworker. I can write down your name to make sure they don't. What's your name?
Mr. Wee Wee. Cataphract!
Coworker. I need the last name, too!
Mr. Wee Wee.  Dribblongen kistnatalosh! Torfold rimpnamber!
Coworker. Then I can't help you, I'm sorry!
Mr. Wee Wee. Jammiklon mimflrrgindoo?
Coworker. I can't let you do that!
Mr. Wee Wee (making dismissive gesture and walking away). Spimwab!

"What did he want?" I asked her.
"He wanted to pick up somebody else's hold. He didn't know the title, and he only knew the person's first name. He wanted to come in and scan the shelves to see if he could figure it out."
"Bet he didn't have a library card, either," another coworker speculated.

Peach's Law of Patron Gratitude

Utilizing the latest developments in mood ring technology, Peach demonstrates his/her patented color-coded autonomic nervous system senso-matic readings!

I'm sure there has to be some grant money out there to help us with our reserch!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Anonymous' Corollary to deskslave's Law of Computer Assistance

Brilliant. Thanks, Anonymous! Is that really your name?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rachel Caine

Urban romance/fantasy author Rachel Caine is a pseudonym. I was at the always-helpful Fantastic Fiction trying to figure out the order of a series by her and discovered that her name is actually Roxanne Longstreet. If you ask me, Roxanne Longstreet sounds like the made up name.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Closing Ritual

There are a lot of rituals at closing time. One is walking around and telling people that we're closed. Sure they've heard the announcements at the half-hour before close mark and the fifteen minutes before close mark. Sure they saw the lights dim and heard the closing announcement. But it's impolite to not to pretend that they somehow managed to miss all the clues we provide. So we go around and tell the person on the laptop typing away that--wouldn't you know it--we're actually closed. They pretend to be surprised and then they pack up. Then we can tell the people browsing the videos that--as fate would have it--we are closed and that the machines to check them out are about to be turned off. And they get to act surprised and then bring their armload to the desk.

After I've rousted all them, I walk past a certain very nice woman and don't say anything to her as I walk toward the restrooms. There I guard the restroom doors. It really steams me when people who hang around after we're closed and don't leave until someone tells them to THEN want to spend some quality time in the bathroom. I draw the line there.

When the last people are gone, I can go back to the far corner where there is the very nice woman I mentioned earlier. She has terrible OCD. Or something. I leaver her alone until the last minute because she has to put everything in her bag, sling it over her shoulder, take it off her shoulder, rummage around in it, check her pockets, zip up the bag and then start the process again. Eventually that part is OK and she can push in her chair, then pull it out and look under the table a half dozen or eight times. Glowering or saying something won't do anything. I believe that she honestly wants to leave, but she just has to check off the boxes (again and again) before she goes.

If I were Raymond Carver, aside from being dead I would write a poignant story where the two rituals are woven together to give you a sense of something. Probably something bleak with just a touch of hope. Me, I just try to be patient with her.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Well, That's a New One, Weekday Edition

I got a call from a semi-nice woman looking for a book. After searching the catalog for a minute, I saw that we owned it and that it was in the building. Offering to go get it, I asked her to have her barcode number ready when I got back so I could place it on hold it for her and put it over on the holds shelf.

When I got back, I asked for the number. "That's OK," she told me, "I'll be right there."

I started to give her my "No Desk Holds" speech* but she interrupted me by walking up to the desk with her phone in one hand, holding out the other.

* When you tell people that you'll hold their book at the desk, they never seem to come in for it. If you tell them that you'll only hold it until close, they come in the next day. It's a law of nature.