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.