Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Fairy's Tales

I would never actually complain about working in a public library. I enjoy sharing my escapades with my dear readers. This story is actually classically inspired, with a twist.

About three days ago, I was working behind the desk when S&CC asked me if I would help a little child at the computer. She was way too young to be using it, but her mother had better things to do, like chat online, then to monitor her child. So I went over to help her.

She had managed to shut the computer off, by pressing the reboot button. So I turned it back on. Then I knelt down to help "little child" pick a program. This is when I felt the wet.

The entire knee of my grey flannel trouser had soaked up what ever fluid was on the floor under "little child". I went back to the restroom off the canteen, and applied a wet paper towel to it. Then I dabbed at it with a dry one. At this moment, I was certain that the child had emptied her bladder right there on the floor-just so I would kneel into it.

This was the child's plan all along. To pee on me.

I was advised a while ago, the day I was hired actually, not to "dress too well" as you never know what the day will bring. I was thinking dust, or perhaps a little toner on my cuff. Certainly, I never guessed I would be the poster boy for Urinetown.

And in my vain effort to gain sympathy from the rest of my staff, I was reminded that "I work in the public domain now". You know, never once in Corporate America did anyone pee on the floor? Then again, no one ever spit on the floor, came in unbathed, talked loudly on mobile phones, or pushed a shopping cart around.

Well, the mail guy did have a cart...but that doesn't count.

Oh, the joys of the public library.

Moral of this blog: Whiz kids should wear diapers.


Information is everywhere in the library. Especially if you just want something as simple as a phone number, right? Yesterday, while doing my nosey rounds I noticed two girls standing in the computer area, next to the phone books. One of the girls was trying to find a phone number. I'll recount this for you:

Girl #1: Oh, this book is so big. I don't even know where to begin looking
Girl #2: Why are you looking a number up in the phone book?
Girl #1: I needed a number....
Girl #2 interupting: Girl, just call information and ask for it.

AND SHE DID. She whipped out her cell phone and called information, right there next to the phone book, right in the computer area. She got the number. But this raised several questions in my mind.

1. Why didn't she ask a librarian?
2. Why didn't she look it up on line? I know she can use the internet, she was chatting online a few minutes earlier.
3. Why didn't she look it up in the phone book?
4. Why don't we have a cell phone policy in our library?

It astounded me, to say the least. But maybe not too much because I just went into the staff canteen and laughed, before coming back out onto the floor, with a straight face. Well, as straight as my face gets. Why did she even come into the library? Did she want a quiet place to make a phone call?

Because I am a page, I can't step in and help the patrons. I'm sure it would have taken me less than 3 minutes to find the number she needed here. Or I could have flipped through the white pages to find it. Who knows. I hate seeing people waste perfectly good reference material. I should say I hate seeing people not know about perfectly good reference material.

Moral of this blog: Ma Bell is not a librarian.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Cultured Librarian

In an effort to keep my corporate glam and mystique, I find myself drawn to all the cultural events I can go to. Additionally, its fun because there is always a photographer at these events, and I like to know that the chances of me getting my visage tucked into the "arts" section of our daily paper or weekly reader are possible. Anyway, this was a really cool exhibit.

The evening started with tea from a really cool zen tea salon (pronounced Sa-lon, sounds as if the "lon" as if taken from Loni), and then the white wine came out from somewhere. After four glasses of wine, and tons of delicious little nibblies and canapes, it was time to have the guided tour of the installation.

The tour concluded with one of the most priceless moments in my brief history. The above pictured sculptures by Rachel Hecker ended the tour. One is called Sweet Mere. At any rate, an elderly women stepped into the exibit and began to pat the sculpture on the head-like she was killing ants. The curate almost had a coronary- and said "Ma'am! please step out of the exhibit! These are not meant to touch!"

The woman, who didn't stop touching it, said in simple terms "But it appeals to me." The curator assured her that it was very appealing, but she could not touch it. About a minute later, she stepped out of the exhibit, and left with her husband. I began to wonder what her behavior in the Louvre would have been like.

Imagine the curator there "Madame!Ne lèche pas s'il vous plaît la Venus de Milo!!". "But it appeals to me!"

Turns out that this woman is one of the big donors to this museum. Hilarous. Ahh, the rewards of an evening on the town. Guess money doesn't mean class.

Moral of this blog: While art may be touching, do not touch the art.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Was gay?

In my pursuit to forever titulate my readers, I came across this today.

At first as I was reading, I thought "gay librarian!" and kept reading, and ended with "oh dear."

Read for yourselves if you have leisure time. I would strongly encourage you to use a different approach to creating a family friendly library.

Yet another reason to go corporate.

Moral of this blog: Not gay not schmay.


A few weeks ago I wrote about the crazy man who got upset when he couldn't find the USA Today paper. I have another story about him.

Yesterday, I came to work at 10 am, which is opening at our branch. I began by putting away some AV, and then moved to the rough sort to get the books in order before shelving. This is when I noticed USA Today man.

Our staff door is a swinging door, the kind that could potentially cause major injuries if you are not watching for someone to enter or exit the door. There is a small rectangular pane of glass so that you can see into the back office, to make sure no one is coming when you go back, or leave.

USA Today man decided he needed to see what was going on back there. It started innocently enough, he pretended to come over and look up a word in the OED that is nearest that point, and then he did it. He pressed his face up against the glass to get a good look at what is back there. And stood there for about 20 seconds. I've never even seen a child do this, so to see a fully grown man do it was even more bizarre. Somehow witnessing a child do something takes the edge off of seeing an adult do some cases. Looking though the door would have been one of those things I chalked off to adult curiosity, but knowing this man's history just made it creepy. Sort of like seeing a UPS man running up and down the street peering into windows, peeping Tom style.

I don't know what he expected to garner by looking through the window. Perhaps he thought it would look like C.I.A. headquarters, or maybe he thought we kept all the "good stuff" back there. Drawn to this, I decided to brave the potential of being whacked in the face to look in and see what he saw a few minutes later.

You see two staff terminals, the sticker bin, a few boxes of books to be processed, and a recycling bin. Its not exciting, much to my own dismay. If I was bored, than I can only imagine what this man must have felt. But is it me, or is it eerie that a patron would do such a thing? I'll remind you of his appearance:

Ted Kasinski style hair
A full beard
Baggy sweat pants
a dirty t-shirt
scuffed tennis sneakers
shifty eyes and dirty fingernails

You get the picture. Perhaps he thinks we keep all the USA Today's back there, and bring them out when he leaves, who knows.

The point of all this? Do patrons think that the "staff only" areas are more deluxe than the ones we give them access to? Do they really want to go into the staff canteen with the broken coffee maker and dirty refrigerator? Do they want to see the table covered in old birthday party treats, and half eaten bags of chips? Or do they just want to see the list of staff birthdays posted on the wall? Hmmm. Maybe they really do want to see that, to remind themselves we are just as human as they are. We do seem to take on a supernatural persona to the patrons. Just a few days ago I showed a woman where books on yoga were shelved. She thanked me as if I had walked her to the "x" on a pirate's treasure map.

At least I have some of the staff referring to the break room as the "canteen". Small strides.

Moral of this blog: The grass is not greener on the otherside of the door. It's just as boring.

Monday, March 22, 2004

High Strung

Mid-terms are here again. Finally my world as a library grad student has ganged up on me...much to my dismay. In a frank conversation with my advisor I told her that I was worried that perhaps cataloguing wasn't going to be my cup of tea, and that maybe I should just become a reference librarian (no offense reference department! its not a second best to cataloguing...) She informed me that I was one of the most nervous people she'd ever met, and that I needed to relax.

She went on to tell me that reference is even more stressful, and that the public doesn't need to see a stressed librarian. Besides, she reminded me, if I already knew how to catalogue, would I be in her class? Good point...but I hate not being the best.

Maybe I should be a cataloguer. Then at least I can shut my office door and cry. I'm just flustered because I want to be good at cataloguing, but I'm letting my A type personality get in the way. Let AARC2 do the work for me, and MARC, and LCSH. It's hard giving up control to inanimate objects.

On the flip side of all of this, I will graduate in one year. I have 18 more credits to take, basically 9 more a semester ...9 in the fall, 9 in the spring. Then *poof* I'm a librarian. I do tend to keep that focus, which is good. Lately, I can't seem to focus on anything. I'm going to cry if I don't figure out how to use Pivot tables in Excel soon.

And another positive note, my blog has had almost 10,000 hits since going live last fall. I'm kind of impressed that people like to see what is going on in my world. Speaking of which, my tape is all submitted to the Today show, along with my essay. I doubt anything will come of it, but I am glad I sent it in. I haven't seen any of the other clips, have you? I'd love to know what other people submitted.

I am going to work on my"research for decision making" class homework now. This may be one of the most time consuming projects I've ever worked on. Its a statistical analysis of ALL city, county, and non-profit libraries in the state of TEXAS. Couldn't I have gotten a state like, Rhode Island, or North Dakota?

As Evita said, "Don't cry for me"...well, Madonna said that, and while not as effectively delivered from a laptop generated blog as it is from a balcony...its true. I'll bounce back. After all, I have to be a librarian!

Moral of this blog: As long as I'm part of the string family, I want to be a Stradivarius.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Maybe I'm Next

I don't ordinarily write about non-library business in my life. But this is too fun. I wrote several weeks ago about wanting to be the next Corporate Domestic Goddess, and it seems my dream could come true. The Today show is having a contest, and I dear readers, am going to enter. This contest will allow me to show off my prowress in the kitchen, the garden, and in the home. I'm usually out of the house by 8am, but today, my schedule was a bit off...and when I turned the Today Show on, there was the offer. Had I been on my normal schedule, I'd have been dropping my boyfriend off at Grad. school, and then starting my normal routine of coffee and phone calls to Mom and Grandma. I'm taking this as a sign. Call me crazy, but I actually think this will be a lot of fun.

Now I'll be able to share my cufflink and dinner party dreams with the staff of the Today show. Perhaps that recipe for Grandma's stuffing, and my uncanny ability to force bulbs will actually pay for itself.

Moral of this blog: Embrace Today , you don't know what tomorrow holds.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

You're Catch-22!
by Joseph Heller
Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

A love greater than reading

While almost nothing surprises me, I have noticed that in the spring people start getting frisky in the library. Not so much that they are pulling fraternity-initiation style pranks of humping in the stacks, but almost.

I've seen couples walk in holding hands, pregnant women pushing baby strollers filled with last lust's fruit, and even some tacky-yet-appropriate to the patron heart earrings.

But Saturday when closing the library, I found evidence of the greatest love of all. When closing the men's bathroom, someone had obviously been so excited to be at the library, they had to leave proof. All over the bathroom stall. I know that historically, men suffer from "bad aim", but this was a rather blatant display of this theory. We don't have a cleaning person every Saturday, and so I just turned off the bathroom lights, in hopes that like a bad dream, when the lights came back on Monday morning it would be gone.

Instead, Monday I was greeted with more love in the library. A youngish guy, maybe 19 or 20 was sitting at one of the computer terminals, and I was busy earning my keep by pushing in chairs and replacing golf pencils to their rightful places. When I walked past him, I noticed that he had a DVD in a clear container. Being clear allowed me to see that it was no ordinary DVD, but the classic version of Black Booty. I would have hot linked that title, but I hope that people read this at work instead of doing actual work...and albiet my readers are not all librarians, I like to imagine that I have legions of librarian fans reading this, and bringing up porn on your desktop would be a definate violation of library policy.

And so like in the Vagina Collage situation, there was nothing I could do. He wasn't showing it to anyone, even though it was clearly evident to anyone who walked by. I did tell my favorite librarian about it. She is my favorite because her sense of humor is out of this world, and because she too graduated from the college I am about to graduate from. She discretely walked past him to verify that I did indeed see a copy of Black Booty- and also to collaborate the description I had given. It was a black gal with her back arched, and for some reason she had forgotten to put on a brassiere - and also lending proof to the fact that where ever she was photographed, it was very cold.

I'm not quite sure if its the tulips pushing through the ground, or the robin's swollen with eggs that gets the patrons going like this. Certainly, I dealt with nothing like this during the cold winter months. Perhaps the slight warm up has served to titilate the patrons in some way. Perhaps it was something I missed in seventh grade health class when I had to stay home because of the sniffles. At any rate, with calendar spring just weeks away, I am wondering what I am in for. Will there come a time when we have to get out the fire hose and separate to amorous patrons? Will we have to add vending machines in the bathrooms that distribute truck stop variety "safety precautions"? The mind simply reels with ideas.

At any rate, I've just given myself over to assuming this is the tip of the iceberg. Up until this point, the only affection I witnessed in the library seemed more like a mother holding her child by one arm while spanking him. I've no doubt that it was for the boy's own good, now that I've been able to throw it into perspective. Thank you patrons.

Moral of this blog: I will never help a patron find books on Pearl Necklaces.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Green Acres

I just received an e-mail from a dear friend that stated "dear farmer boy, please send fresh milk". After I read this, I realized that she thinks I live on a farm, now that I no longer live in the embrace of the fashionable (although mostly plus sized) city of Chicago.

Since living here in this bucolic state, I have noticed that I have been called "the big city page", people enquire how I live here. I'd like to clarify for those of you who have never lived outside of a major metropolitan area.

I do not live on a farm.

Yes, it is true that I can no longer stop and get Thai food, drop off my dry cleaning, stop in several clever boutiques, and then have a cocktail (or three) at a trendy cafe. Its also true that I have to drive to the grocery store now, and can no longer make the jaunt with my handy personal shopping cart - and then walk home with carrot greens, and a baguette sticking out of the top of the brown paper bag. Its also true that the nearest department store is 20 minutes away by car, and that there is no Marshall Fields here. I can no longer take a 3 hour lunch, sip alcoholic beverages at my desk, and take thirty cigarette breaks while at work.

You can take the boy out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the boy. I still knot my Burberry scarf around my neck, and wear knock off Gucci sunglasses when I go to the grocery store. I still get Thai food and drop off my dry cleaning, only know it takes 25 minutes to make the round trip adventure. I no longer belong to a gardening society, but I still garden (much to my neighbors amazement) in a crisply ironed white shirt, and well pressed trousers. I have kept much of what is considered "urban" behavior, despite the fact I no longer live in an "urban" area. I do live in the largest city in this state. I'm doing the best I can. I feel like Zsa Zsa must have felt when she moved to Green Acres. When given lemons, make a Lemon Martini. That's what I say.

Its funny. When living in the city, we prided ourselves on going to out door markets, shopping for fresh vegetables and flowers at the farmers market, and hosting out door dinner parties. We could pretend we were the genteel folk of the countryside.

Now when living in the "country side", we pride ourselves on going to the theatre, reading the home delivered NY Times, and making an extra ordinary effort to find big label clothing at the local Mall.

What gives? I'm not going to lie. The most ideal surroundings for me would be big city, with a big garden in the back yard. I want to have neighbors so close, I can hear them argue. I miss the buzz of traffic outside my window. I like being intra-national and inter-national.

My favorite author, Beverley Nichols has a book called "Green Grows the City". That is what I want. A posh sophisticated life, with all the niceties of visiting Grandma in the country. 10 minutes from the Opera, 20 minutes from the nearest University, an hour from my summer home.

Do librarian's even have summer homes? I'm sure the ones at Sotheby's do. Oh well. I had better get my order in to Smith and Hawken for my Wellies. Yes, I even accessorize in the garden.

Moral of this blog: I too get allergic smelling hay. But if hay was the latest fragrance at Marshall Fields, I wouldn't.