I have realized that I am scared to death of teenagers. Perhaps its my genteel nature, my delicate primrose demeanor, or my flat out non-threatening nature.
When I see teenagers, I know how the gazelle feels. Just like in those nature specials, the gazelle can be having a snack of wheatgrass out on the plains, when along come a pack of vicious wolves, or hyaena. That is how I think of teenagers.
Like the hyaena, teenagers tend to travel in packs. They let out cackles that are both frightening and distracting. They are stronger in groups, as they hoot and holler and live through that group mentale. The gazelle on the other hand is svelte, much like me, and gentle. They tend to their young, and gingerly step through the fields where they live, eat, and play.
Putting them together is a bad idea. Much like putting me with a group of teenagers. Looking over my shoulder, and imagining that every hushed conversation they have among themselves is a plot to somehow overtake me. Steal my wallet, knock me down, tussle my hair, rip my button down collared shirts.
Lately, groups of teens have been coming to the library. This is good, afterall, they aren't out on the streets terrorizing pedestrians on their skateboards, and trying to rush through on-coming traffic. Instead, they turn to my territory: the library.
I'm sure most of them are well meaning, misguided, overly pierced people. Their tattoos and gamey scent only hide the true inner being they hope will shine through by entering the pearly gates of the literary world. Somehow, you can take the punk off the street, but you can't take the street out of the punk. In a well meaning way, they remove a book from the shelve - and make 10 more fall to the faux berber carpeting. They jam the photocopier while making copies of Anime monthly. They begin in gentle, soft voices but end up calling to their pack in loud, alpine worthy tones. The impression they may have hoped to leave with us never arrives. Instead, like a poorly made James Bond martini, they leave me both shaken and stirred.
I like the gazelle stay alert. I look for all their tell tale signs of attack...sudden movement, an unexpected calm, a sideways glance from their shifty pubescent eyes. Librarians must stay alert when they enter, like the Victorian Safari hunters of yesteryear. I must be ready at any moment to dash with my long legs into the staff canteen, hiding with the other innocents until the terror has passed.
Like the gazelle, I can slip back to my graceful composure while retaining my innate sense of impending danger, ready for the next group to enter the library.
I was a teenager once, and I don't think anyone was afraid of me. Perhaps I've been like a gazelle my whole life. I wonder what it is about them that is so startling? Perhaps it's that they are the next wave of librarians. Which of them will escape the pack? Or will it be the other gentle natured gazelle-like boys that contain the gen-x replacement series.
When I am old will I want them to help me? Will I trust them? At 65 will I look at those 50 year old librarians with the same fear? Will librarians even be the same in 40 years? Reference interviews being held like shouting matches across a library that I helped build? Will roaming in the stacks turn into tracking down people to assault with the ambitious "can I help you find something?". Who knows.
Luckily, being a gazelle can only happen in the public realm. An African proverb says "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. So whether you're the lion or gazelle, when the sun comes up, start running."
I don't run even when I'm being chased. Its too hard to light a cigarette when running.
Moral of this blog: Chain smoking gazelles should not work in public libraries. They are meant to create exhibition catalogues for Sotheby's or Christie's.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Yesterday, I had the distinct displeasure of listening to a patron yell at a co-worker. We'll call my coworker Minivan Mom. The patron wanted to know how to make copies, and was directed by another employee to MM, as she was "in charge" of that area because of rotation. A few minutes later I heard the patron shouting "WHAT? WHY is your copier set up like this? We are not in England, this is America...when I copy something I expect to lay it THIS way, not THAT way."
Having had the luxury of living in England for an extended period of time, as well as having lived the rest of my life in these here states, I started to think of "what is different" there, versus here. For your reading pleasure I have compiled them here. But first I will note, photo copiers are exactly the same.
1. People drive on the opposite side of the road.
2. Underwear are called pants.
3. Pants are called trousers.
4. Extra letter "o's" get tucked in in unsuspecting places: i.e. colour, odour
5. Police officers do not carry guns.
6. Pharmacists are called chemists.
7. At the chemists, you have to ask for things like Pepto-Bismal, and Tums. They are kept behind the counter.
8. You can actually have an address without numbers: The Oaks, Bridals End, Berkshire.
9. The mail comes twice a day.
10. They have a Queen, and we have a President. We also have a president who doesn't like queens to get married.
11. Standard TV has 5 channels as of 1997.
12. The Brit's don't celebrate the 4th of July or Thanksgiving. (go figure).
I could go on for days, but you get the point. Mind you this man didn't look particularly English, and certainly didn't act or sound English. It was amusing because it was a nonsense thing to say. I've heard people say "What? This isn't a third world country" but never have I heard the person say "What? This isn't England" before.
It makes me wonder what this guy would have said if he was in London. "What? This isn't America!" I suppose he could have. In France, French dressing is called American Dressing. Camel cigarettes claim to be a "rich American blend" instead of a "rich Turkish blend". Perhaps he was just confused, which would explain a lot. Many confused people find their way into the library.
Some of them think we are a full service hotel, where they can bathe, and demand people around. Some people think that it is a school for the deaf, where shouting helps in the communication of certain points. Some people think that we are a picnic area, where they can peruse our stacks while eating goodies. And last, but not least, some people think the library is a play ground where there are no-holds barred.
Oh well. Here's to a better tomorrow.
moral of this blog: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unfortunately, if you only THINK you are in Rome, it does complicate things.
Friday, February 20, 2004
I have come to realize that the patrons are not going to stop giving off a bad odour. In an effort to combat this, I have come up with a simple solution:
As librarians, we have to smell twice as good.
I heard a story a while back, about a librarian at a branch that shall remain nameless. Rules in our system only allow us to ask patrons to leave if thier bodily odour is offending other patrons who complain to the powers that be. We on the other hand, have to sit contentedly and experience the ramifications of the unbathed.
This librarian waited until the patron had walked away, and then spritzed the air with Lysol. While we may be laughing to ourselves, she got in trouble. I will candidly admit that we do keep a can of air sanitizer handy at the desk, however we don't use it to mask the stench of the patrons.
So I come to you with this solution: fragrance for the librarian. I myself have recently fallen in love with a fragrance by Marc Jacobs. I has been described as "Contain[ing] notes of Italian Bergamot, Cumin, Cardamom, Ginger, Fig Leaves, Cedarwood, Patchouli, and Musk." This fragrance is really the Chanel No. 5 for men. Delicious. If a patron offends my olfactory, I merely have to hold my wrist near my "romanesqe" nose, and voila! I'm in heaven.
Some other fragrances I'd like to suggest:
Clinique, Happy for Men
Lui, by Armani
L'eau d'Issey, by Issey Miyake
Lacoste Pour Homme, by Lacoste
Portfolio, by Perry Ellis
Tommy, by Hilfiger
They let the patron know you do think of every last detail. I know I have wished french cuffs on all of you, but if that is too much to handle, surely you can sport fragrance. No cumbersome cufflinks, no "is this too daring"' tie bars. This is one place you can venture, and feel safe.
Remember when applying...think pulse points. Wrist, under the ear, but on the neck, and for good measure a dab under your chin above your adams-apple.
Ladies, please don't feel left out. I have suggestions for you too!
Of course, my #1 suggestion for the ladies: Chanel No. 5. It is NOT grandmotherly. It is reassuring, confident, and delicious to the nose.
A few others of note:
Pleasures for Women, by Estee Lauder
Romance for Women, by Ralph Lauren
Angel for Women, by Thierry Muglar
Jessica McClintock by Jessica McClintock
Nicole Miller, by Nicole Miller
All of these scents are of course 100% approved by me. I do not know if they are tested on animals or patrons. These scents are the same sort that we enjoy passing by people wearing when we are shopping for linens, or garden implements. Perhaps the fragrances that we might stop someone in the shop and ask "What are you wearing? Its wonderful!" (and yes, I do this).
I would have linked each one for you, but I am supposed to be studying for my research methodology class right now. Marc Jacobs inspired me so much, I had share right away. I think this is what they mean by "librarians publishing results".
Chanel once said "A women who doesn't wear perfume has no future", I'd agree the same holds true for men who wear no cologne.
Moral of this blog: Haute Coco and fragrance are a wonderful way to start the day.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Not in here!
Something really got my goat yesterday. We received an email from Kentucky librarian telling us about a patron who was very disgruntled. Apparently while Mommy Dearest's son was taking language classes, she decided to sleep in the library. She was woken up, 3 times, and she was not happy about this.
She proceded to tell us there was no signage in the library that said she couldn't sleep in the library. It was explained to her that no one is allowed to sleep in the library. She then in an elitest way looked around the library and said "Do I look like one of these homeless or poor people?" As if having a checking account was a ticket to sleeping in a library. This inflamed Kentucky librarian, and in the retelling of this, angered me.
There are no signs in the library that say you can't ride a horse in the library. No one has tested this yet. There is also no sign saying "do not feed the bears", but no one has brought in bears to feed, yet. There is also no sign saying please do not take off your clothes and provide the patrons with a little burlesque entertainment. No one has come close to doing this, although it wouldn't surprise me if it happened.
The library is not a hotel. If she needed to sleep while the Golden Boy was taking Japanese instruction, she should have went home to rest. Her argument was this "No other library has EVER woken me up"...so just because no other branch has enforced the library-wide policy of no sleeping (read vagrancy) she is fine to do it. I'd like to use that argument if I'm ever pulled over for speeding (which I haven't been). "Well officer, I speed all the time, and no one has EVER pulled me over!" Not getting reprimanded doesn't equal propriety.
So I've asked that the next time she comes in, that I'm allowed to wake Sleeping Beauty from her slumber. I'll get out the library policy, and photo copy it for her, so she knows its not allowed. I wonder what she'll have to say for herself then. The point is, just because you don't know the rules, doesn't mean you can break them. And moreover, don't make light of the behavior of the indigent. What goes around comes around. If she thinks she is above people, then she shoudn't emulate the behavior she doesn't admire. She argued that we should have known she wasn't a "poor person" by the clothes she was wearing. If I've learned one thing from working in a library, its that you can not judge a book by its cover. Her stylish Lane Bryant jacket may have been a dumpster find.
To review the following activities are not allowed in libraries, despite the lack of signage:
1. No Sleeping
2. No Stealing
3. No having sex
4. No feeding your children (unless its breast feeding)
5. No riding circus ponies, or any other breed of animal
6. No cock fights
7. No bonfires
8. No gospel choir practice, or other forms of group singing, or solo activities
9. No drag racing
10. No drag queen pagents
11. No OB-GYN exams, or other medical exams
12. No yodeling contests, or other forms of alpine activities
13. No repainting the library, or other forms of interior decoration unless sanctioned by the board
14. No making vagina collages
15. No money laundering, or other sorts of laundering ie. clothes & bodies in the bathrooms
16. No drug deals, swap meets, or auctions
17. No sled riding, or vehicular usage in the library
18. No animal testing for cosmetic or pharmasutical reasons
19. No beating your kids, spouses, other patrons, or staff
and 20. No feeding the elephants
Moral of this blog: If you don't know what the library rules are, ask. Don't find out the hard way.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
The purpose of a library is to circulate items over and over again. This morning I witnessed this ideology being put to the ultimate test.
While enjoying my morning caramel macchiato, and chatting on the phone with my Mom, I noticed a set of legs sticking out of the dumpster behind my house.
Egged on by my Mom to find out more, I went out my back porch to get a closer look at what I was seeing.
There was a 30-something woman in this 20 degree weather, without a coat on, diving into the dumpster. When I say diving, I literally mean she could have been pearl fishing, minus the snorkel. She was retrieving an amazing amount of stuff from within the garbage. From a future librarian's perspective she seemed quite prepared.
She had several brown paper bags with handles waiting to hold her treasures. In the mean while, she was learning something about all the neighbors, and their obviously disposable incomes. She retrieved a mini-TV set, a kitchen phone, several yards of what appeared to be cable, an old window screen, a soiled, but well upholstered dining room chair, and a stereo speaker. The stereo speaker was acting as her step stool- despite the fact that she had found a chair during another one of her dives. Resourceful, and pro-active. Good librarian skills, eh?
Do you suppose, dear reader, that she is setting up a museum to commemorate her excursion down my alley? OR is she looking to furnish an apartment in a 'rustic' way? At any rate, I was relieved to tell my mother that we shred all of our bills before we put them in the trash. I felt kind of bad that last night I had changed the cat litter, and thrown away a chicken carcass. I suppose this made her adventure even more rewarding, having to work so hard to retrieve the items.
At any rate, I hope that she was enjoying herself this morning in this crisp weather, sans her jacket. She seemed to be having a good time. I've actually seen people looking quite similar at the Marshall Fields Whites sale on State Street in Chicago. They always seem pleased walking away with their bags of goodies. I only hope she perhaps found a bottle of perfume in her adventures in excavation. She's going to smell mighty ripe.
Which reminds me of one of our latest patrons. She comes to the library with tons of receipts, and she smells like she might have been "shopping" too. She lays all the receipts out on the desk to dry, and then sits there while they do. I have no idea what she is doing, but she really does seem to have an agenda. Perhaps that is drying on the desk too, but I can't get close enough in fear of being over taken by her putrid smell. Maybe she has that chicken carcass I threw out tied to the inside of her jacket. At least that would explain the smell.
My best wishes to both of them in their endevours.
Moral of this blog: Retrieving items from the bowels of an archive can smell like you actually retrieved them from the bowels of an archive.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Valentines Day. Ahhh. For so many people, this is a day of let down, self-pity, 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's, and a copy of Steel Magnolias. That is sad. I for one lived through many single Valentine Day's (I can't say the same about the evenings) but I survived long enough to share todays Valentine's Day plans with you, my devoted reader.
Tonight I am going to see Dame Edna perform. Yes, the biggest and possibly scariest of all drag queens. My Grandmother asked me "WHO?" and all I could tell her was to imagine Bea Arthur and the Queen Mother being squashed together to form one person. I'm still not sure she understood me, but she got the point.
While I'm waiting, I have put a roaster chicken in the oven, complete with celery and onion stuffing. Fresh steamed greenbeans, roasted red baby potatoes, and for dessert, creme brule. If there are any vegetarians out there, well, be glad you're not sleeping with me. Or, maybe you shouldn't be glad you're not sleeping with me, but glad you're not eating chicken at my house. Much better. At anyrate, I'm sure my boyfriend is glad you're not sleeping with me. I'm probably glad too. However, Adrien Brody, if you are reading this, I can be single for one night.
We will be having an Italian chianti that I picked up at Cost Plus World Market today, and dining in my colonial india styled dining room, on vintage deco china (that I picked up at auction for a song!)
I will be wearing a pink gingham button down, with a pink tie and grey pinstripe trousers. Gingham and pinstripes should be left to the experts, please do not attempt this at home kids.
So, there you have it. Valentines day in a can. Mist it about your place if you are feeling lonely.
Moral of this blog: Single people can enjoy V-D too.
Friday, February 13, 2004
I have come to the conclusion that hot sass mouthed librarians might want to reconsider the field of cataloguing. I have come up with a brand new term for talkative people working in this field: chataloguers.
No matter how hard I try, I can not be quiet. I have lots of questions, and of all the positions you could have in a library, cataloguing seems to need a talkative kind of person. Job descriptions always mention "stong independent work skills", and "the quiet nature of the work". Thats nuts. You have to ask each other questions. Plus, I don't think it will hurt to have a hotsy totsy cataloguer in the back. No pun intended.
I realized this in my cataloguing class. There are about 6 of us that are extremely eager to enter our profession. We ask a lot of questions, and have even been called "too eager". I think that is hilarious. This raises another point: are eager librarian grad students even nerdier than the average library student?
When I think of cataloguers, I think of dimly lit back room offices, filled with AARC2 directories, and LOC supplements, scattered coffee cups, and lots of post it notes stuck everywhere. My ideal office looks a little like this: . Lovely things with lots of dark wood and just enough leather. I want a wide desk, with a big book case, perhaps a grandfather clock stuck in a corner just to help me keep track of the time. I also think that that I'll need to have a coffee service to take my coffee in.
That way if someone happens to drop in on me during the middle of a Tamara de Lempicka cataloguing job, I'll be able to take a minute away from life, and sip some nice strong black french coffee. Sotheby's can handle an office mate like me, so can Phillips . But can a public library handle me? I don't know if I can handle them.
But the age of the talkative, fashionable cataloguer is here. We maybe out of sight, but we won't be out of mind. We'll be the talk of the staff canteen (please don't call it the break room, it makes my skin crawl), and patrons will come in asking over us. The era has arrived when patrons will walk up to the desk and say, "You know, I might never have found this book if it weren't for the excellent cataloguing job!" And we can sit back and enjoy ourselves watching well appointed patrons walk though our collections, finding everything as if they had GPS in their Louis Vuitton pocketbook (again, please don't call them purses, it makes my skin crawl).
Cataloguers, its time to polish our loafers, make sure that dimple in our tie is perfect, adjust our french cuffs, and uncap our Watermans. We've got some posh cataloguing to do. I may become the Letitia Baldrige of cataloguing, but I don't care. Someone has to do it, and it might as well be me.
Moral of this blog: MARC also stand for Marvelously Appointed & Refined Cataloguer.
Friday, February 06, 2004
Memories..Light the corners of my mind
My 10 year high school reunion. Lets give a little background for your reading enjoyment.
I was in the top 15 of my class, Senior Class President, President of Future Teachers/Future Nurses of America, 1st seat Clarinet, and flat out NERDY. I was popular, I was on the track team. I was the "geek chic" friend of all the trendy people. I was voted best dressed, and most creative, as well as having the "cutest dimples".
I had "fag" scratched in, painted on, and taped to my locker so many times, that all I had to do was stick my head in the high school office and say "It happened again" and Mrs. K would send the maintainance crew to repair my locker. I was beaten up. Pushed down the stairs, and kicked while laying fetal by two bullies.
I spent alot of time in the library. In my senior profile my "mostly likely to be found..." was in a library. One of my nicknames was Library Boy.
Now I'm showing up 10 years later a gay librarian. Kind of makes me feel like my classmates knew something I didn't. I'm nervous as well because I went to school in Western New Yorks country side. The reunion is at a hotel, but I'm still half scared, despite my good fortune and experiences out of high school. I still have a gut feeling that I could be beat up by someone that used to kick me around in high school.
I am the only person in my class that went to Oxford University. I'm the only person in my class that has lived in Europe. I'm the only person in my graduating class of 72 that is out loud and proud. I've been talking to one of my dearest friends from highschool while planning this event. Its scheduled for July.
I've really changed. I've gained 70lbs of muscle. I've got a nice little body now. I've embraced Judaism, which I always kept quiet about in school, I have a partner of 6 years and talk about it openly. I'll have my MLIS in one year. Have I changed too much to go back?
On the other hand, I can't help but feel that I have to give my former classmates the benefit of the doubt. I am assuming they are going to judge me. Which just means I've judged them. My friend that I've been planning this with is a super gal, always has been...but she is one of my comfort zone people. I know that she doesn't know about the Gay lifestyle, but she just doesn't care. Like my Grandmother (G-d rest her soul) always said "Good people are good people", and she is really of that mindset.
So, should I go back and see? Or should I just plan this event, and give my best wishes for success? I'm so torn, and I am NOT an indecisive person.
MORAL OF THIS BLOG: Memories may be beautiful and yet, what is too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. Thanks Babs.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Out of the Woodwork
We are absolutley positivly not allowed to discuss patrons at work anymore. Like I've said, what else are we supposed to talk about? You run out of "weekend" things to chat about, when all any of us do is work at the library.
SO, my fake twin, AKA the Other Handsome Guy, and Crossbones Cardigan have had to devise quick ways to exchange stories with one another. So far so good, but its literally a game of James Bond. We have to pass each other and tell a 30 second story. If its a really good story, we have to make several passes with one another.
But this policy really got to me on Wednesday. I'm not kidding. Crazy, insane, space cadet people were coming out of the woodwork. Maybe a bus dropped them off, but they came in at perfect intervals. One crazy after the other.
First one: a middle aged man, not groomed, dirty tshirt, a bit o' belly showing, and sighing heavily at the internet terminals. At first I just figured no one had responded to his match.com profile. Then he got up and told Plaid Button Down his woeful story. Apparently, someone broke into his place, and stole, yes, his library card. Luckily NOTHING else was stolen. At all. He was grateful for that. But not so luckily, the thief checked out 100's of dollars worth of DVD's and CD's.
Second one: a 16 or 17 year old obese girl wearing a tiara. She was playing Carmen SanDiego on the kids computers. The sign says no one over 12. She was there the entire time I was working. Middle age man came over to watch Carmen. I didn't realize how captivating a kids game could be.
Big white beard man was there, but he's a regular. He asks me everyday how many books I've shelved so far. I've started making up numbers for him.
Super religious lady without a job. She's been coming in everyday to read a bible, the bible for dummies, and a bunch of Suze Orman books. But the special part is, she asks if "we've reviewed her application" everyday. If we hire her, at least Religious Readers Advisory is in the bag.
Ironically, Vagina collage hasn't been around in a while. I wonder if he got his moving business up and going. Hmm. Anyway, thank G-d for the other two co-workers who like me rebel and share all the tittle with me. OHG and CC make work fun.
If we can't share these stories, I will continue to publish them. I have to dish the tittle tattle on the patrons. Its too good to pass up!
MORAL OF THIS BLOG: Circus freak patrons are special, and deserve literary acknowledgement.
Today was a superfun.com day thanks to these guys . 3 hours of Australian accents teaching me how to define my professional goals.
I got a little concerned when they had to do a "time lapse" in the video, to illustrate the fact that this takes hours to fill out. The nice lady in the video looked a little like an evil Connie Chung, and the man getting reviewed looked...well, lets say he looked like they didn't have much money in the casting budget.
So for fun, lets do a little evaluation of me, in my current job.
5-8 key areas of responsibility
1)shelving books on the top shelf
2)shelving books on the middle shelves
3)shelving books on the lower shelf
4)putting books on carts
5)taking books off carts
6)making sure all the spines of the books are even and neat
7)making sure all the books are in the right order
8)anything else anyone in the library, including the patrons, asks me to do
Then the 13 hour process of taking each one of those 8 key areas of responsibility ("not too many, not too few"), and talk about my goals.
That's the part I'm going to "time lapse".
Now an exhausted looking woman with feathered hair and an '80s shoulder padded jacket will shake my hand. (it did happen in the video, should I expect less?)
Did I mention I got lost on the way there? The thing about Ohio, its ALL express ways. You want to go to the grocery store, take the express way. Go to the gas station? Take the express way. Go to Library Training? Take the express way. A deep and heartfelt thanks goes to my dear Skull & Crossbones Cardigan for giving me directions before I left, and emergency directions while on the road. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite people. Needless to say, I got there. Almost late.
Good thing about being late: EVERYONE looks at you when you walk in. Eyecandy that early in the morning is a good way to start the day, that's what I say.
Moral of this blog: Down Under training videos are well worth a dramatic entrance into a room full of strangers.