Monday, September 26, 2005

Well Dressed Volunteers

read to a kid Volunteers. The word paints pictures of ample bossomed woman helping at the fire department next door. Blue haired Grandmothers baking pies for a cause, housewives knitting sweaters for the homeless. However, the reality is that volunteers, as helpful as they want to be, are sometimes scarier than all get out.

Today well sitting at my well appointed desk, an experience, that I will extrapolate happened today. 2 unscheduled individuals showed up wanting to offer, shall I say proffer, their services unto the hallowed halls of public wisdom.

A word to the wise, potential volunteers. Be presentable. Don't make me glad that I lock my man purse in my desk for just such occasions. Don't lend the impression that you are going to ask where the bathroom is so you can wipe the schmutz off your shirt. Without further ado: my list of musts for potential volunteers.

Some of this, arguably, is advice given to people going into job interviews. But realize, just because we aren't going to pay you doesn't mean that we will just hand out coveted volunteer positions like Halloween candy.

1. Bathe. Trust me, its a charmer in any interview.
2. Schedule an appointment. Don't surprise the library with your generosity.
3. Don't wear a light blue velour jogging suit with your thong showing over your hips.
4. Wear "job interview" apparel: translation: a shirt and tie.
5. Don't wave a form infront of my face and say "Can you sign this? I need to show my probation officer that I got a volunteer job". I don't give volunteer jobs, and please, start by telling me your name.
6. Don't say "Oh , I'll do ANYTHING". It means you have no idea what we do.
7. Bring a pen. It helps with the illusion that you at least came prepared.
8. Don't bring your kids.
9. Don't lean over my desk, I'm not a bar tender.
10. Don't you dare sigh exhaustedly when I tell you that you need to contact another department. I was going to call them. Now I'll leave a voice message.

Plus, be prepared for a back ground check, this is a public institution. If you aren't supposed to be around children, MAYBE, just maybe, this isn't the right place for you.

I do advocate that one always maintain appearances. I also advocate for washing your hands before you leave the bathroom. So please kids, do us a favor, and prepare yourself. We've done our part by being there, now you do yours.

I realize this blog doesn't apply to librarians, we would never think of being anything less than fastidious. But it does help keep the flame of attention burning - and the senses keen. Reminders are friendly. Think of this as very friendly.

moral of this blog: Volunteering is an art. Become an artist.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Well Dressed Housewife

1940's house wifes are hot One of the things that perhaps defines me better than anything else is my absolute refusal to live in 2005. I came across this picture today, and I am very tempted to have it blown up and framed in my own gracious townhouse. The epitome of perfection...the 1940 housewife.

I have always worked very hard at being perfect. If I found myself at a loss in a conversation, the topic I knew little about became a full out research project for me. Never again would that topic elude me. I would sit and practice my handwriting over and over again, until it looked EXACTLY like it should. Those 1940's-1950's instructional readers found on the living room bookcase could have been filled with my very own handwriting.

Once, I was invited to accompany a friend to a ball. I wore dress trousers and a white shirt, with a black tie. Upon my arrival, I noticed that it was no ordinary ball, but a fancy dress ball. I was completely, and totally underdressed. So ended my days of "slight" formal wear. I filled my wardrobe with sports coats, dress jackets, and a vintage tuxedo a la Cary Grant within 1 year of that occasion. I've yet to add the white dinner jacket, but it is nearing the top of my list, a purchase lingers, waiting to be made.

My home, much like my handwriting, is a carefully planned study. My Great Aunt Alice moved into an apartment during The War. She, apparently agoraphobic, decided it best to live in her gorgeous pre-War building. Taking the gated lift up to the fourth floor, I discovered what was to become my version of paradise. Her furniture, and decor perfectly captured the era, down to her thick pressed glass juice glasses, decorated with two cherries; the pitcher matched. Deco inspired persian knot rugs, mixed with an inherited Edwardian desk and hall clock. She had groceries ordered in, and when ill, a nurse came to her home. She loved to have people over, she just didn't like to go out.

This apartment maintained (or some say retained) its charm. At Christmas she would set up her silver aluminum tree, decorated sparingly with green and blue blown glass ornaments. The sturdy, well built furniture never sagged, the cushions on the sofa maintained their original plush, Burgundy welts. The glasses weren't chipped. Her white embroidered apron was always ironed. Her dresses were floral, her neck always covered with a strand of single pearls. As her hair thinned, she began to tuck the white bob behind her ears. I don't remember it being any other way, but pictures reveal her to have been a bomb shell with horn rimmed glasses.

Then she died in the early 90's, a visiting nurse found her in the hall of her apartment. Very sad indeed.

My last visit to Alice's apartment was important. I must memorize the cut and color of everything from the drapes, to the curve of the matching, weathered leather club chairs. She kept very little in the way of knick-knacks, but did have some gorgeous McCoy pottery in the most beautiful shades of sea green, and milky light blue. I think I was about 15, but knew that I had to remember it.

Today, my sitting room and dining room have that same War Era look. Once I've put an Artie Shaw, or Benny Goodman record on the mahogany deco record player, I can almost feel my self pulled back to her apartment. My Grandma Loretta has even told me "I feel like I've stepped back in time". Of course, I've had to make a few concessions to modern technology. My television rests upon a deco radio/record player cabinet, and the interior has been converted to hold my VCR and DVD player. My record player plugs in, and isn't cranked. My lampshades have the same cut as Alice's, but sit atop reproduction lamps. My coffee and end tables are white washed mahogany (during the war you made do with what you had), as well as one of the low standing bookcases. The knot carpet on the floor is a family piece. One bookcase is filled with first edition Beverly Nichols publications, a definite nod to the period.

My dining room houses my period china, and I meticulously wax my mahogany dining room table with the same lavender wax that my Great Aunt used. I've even kept a tea set out, and used one of my Great Grandmother's hand embroidered buffet runners to keep the eye delighted.

My collection of old cookbooks (encouraging me to use my War rations properly - as any good housewife would do)keep the cuisine 1940 contemporary, and fill my house with the most delicious smells. Some have been updated by me, spontaneously, to avoid full out coronary complications. Besides, butter was a commodity - as were eggs, and spices.

When I come home from work, and slip on my own pressed white apron, perhaps it is 1946. A little bit of music from the sitting room, news of another real war on the radio, and a bit of repressed reality can go a long way. A period look is difficult to achieve, but one I have aspired to, and accomplished. Practice makes perfect.

Next year, a Victory garden. I have also been eyeing a buffet and hutch that would serve perfectly to store my home grown canned preserves. One never knows.

Accordingly, the well dressed librarian must keep a closet full of vintage sweaters, french cuffs, deco cufflinks, and several sturdy pairs of polished Oxfords. Paper for proper correspondence, brown paper envelopes, and a well used Waterman fountain pen aid in rounding out the persona that accompanies the look.

Gentle readers can learn lots from the 1940's housewife. They looked perfect, created perfect surroundings, and strove to make the most from the least. Let this be our moral of this blog.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Whitetrash Librarians

I need my dolls...Now I know that judging people is wrong, but , I've never really been one to conform to convential thought.

I read this today, LOCAL LIBRARIAN ARRESTED, AGAIN and thought, hmm, I should read this.

Turns out she's not only good at the Dewey Decimal System, but smuggling drugs!

I recently asked the question "Does an MLIS come with mental disease?" Do I need to flip over my diploma, and its actually a large, written out perscription for an anti-psychotic? I think I'll go down stairs and check.

Moral of this blog: Public librarians should not smuggle drugs.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Well Dressed Conference

hot librarians in one room! Ahhh, the arrival of fall. Fall means lots of picking, farmers market, dried flowers, cutting herbs, and annual conferences. One must love conferences. Note I don't say one should, or one could, but one must. Yes, when else can you be surrounded by colleagues? Oh yes, at work. So, the logical thing to do is to find a convention center, and put lots of librarians from all over into one happy place. Bliss. According to the statistics I have gathered from my blog-o-meter, people come here looking for things like "librarians with each other" and "librarians in charge" and "undressed librarians", and spare that last one, that's what conferences are really all about. Sharing.

But what to share? Librarians know so much. Reference skills, management techniques, even children's literature. I propose a few other, practical seminar "break out sessions".

-"How to pretend to listen"
-"Why you shouldn't wear holiday sweaters during the holidays"
-"Working with a hangover" (you know librarians can be kinda boozy...go to a holiday party)
-"Foods you should prepare at home, and not in the employee canteen"
-"Not all male librarians are gay" (that ought to draw an interesting crowd)
-"Living up to stereotypes for fun"
-"How to clean up vomit, and other fluids"
-"How to teach and encourage elderly staff to use "the e-mail"
-"Crafts NOT to make during Summer Reading Club" (this includes all crafts that include glitter, baby oil, or kerosene)
-"Sue them back, or Administration's guide to problem patrons"
-"Dying behind the reference desk- A frank discussion about retirement"
-"Embracing micro-management"
-"Weeding 101" *reserved for librarians who have been employed since Dewey died.
-"The sling-back: practical solutions for reaching and bending"
-"How do I end this reference session?"
-"Ending sexual harassment in the work place: the Lone Librarian"
-"How to answer awkward questions" (good for children's librarians who get questions like "Where did my doggie go?" or "Why doesn't daddy work?")
-"Pets in the library"
-"Breathing through your mouth during a reference interview" (You know, sometimes the smell is just too bad)
-"Internet filters and how they work" OR "Why isn't viewable at your terminal"

There are so many things they don't think of. I should really get on board with these ideas - the kids would go crazy for them. I for one am very eager to learn, aren't all librarians?

Moral of this blog: Get a free tote bag, then load up at the vendor displays.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I want to be a hooker

not a real hooker, pervert But first, an amusing anecdote. When I was a child, I watched a police drama, and armed with a slightly new vocabulary word, asked my Mother "What is a hooker?". My Mother told me that "Hookers are women who sell their bodies". "What generous people" I thought. I imagined women ready to hack off and sell an arm to a person in need, perhaps a kidney, or a clavicle. Obviously, my naivety was in full swing back then.

And now, in late 2005, I find myself wanting to be a hooker. I was shopping the other day, and a woman reading a magazine caught my eye. I tried not to make it obvious, but there I was thinking about it. Right there on the shelf, next to the magazine she had picked up was a copy of "Rug Hooking". Primitive Rug Hooking to be exact. Designs that would grace the hardwood floors of my turn of the century townhouse. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when I was finally back at my Glam Library. Little did I know, we had an entire section on Rug Hooking, and further, a generous collection of books on Primitive Rugs . Just the idea of working with wool makes me all tingly, or maybe that's my allergies acting up.

Somehow, the art of making rugs just seems appropriate. I'm already practically perfect in every way (eat your heart out Mary Poppins). I already make beeswax candles, and hand milled soap. I can bake, and sew (my summer hot flash of Dorothy Draper-style pillows got a little out of hand). At any, while I may not be the next Martha Stewart, I have got this domestic librarian thing down to a science.

Now if I could only design my own line of interior paint, I'd be all set, but I suppose I do need something to look forward to, outside of Celebrity Librarianship.

Moral of this blog: This hooker wants it all over the floor.