Thursday, November 30, 2006

Harassment, Sexual

naughty  naughty!With the holidays upon us, this season of joy, light, and family - it was time for Sexual Harassment training.

Unlike my last job in the Almost Square State™, I now work in and amongst a network of county offices. This meant that my Sexual Harassment training would take place with police detectives, social workers, and forrest rangers. This was going to be interesting. And it was.

The first things that I learned from the dated video follow, in no particular order:

1) If you wear fashions of the 1980's, you will almost inevitably sexually harassed by short, leering men.

2) Most men who sexually harass women have moustaches.

3) Most women who sexually harass women are lesbians.

4) Sexual harassment only happens in poorly furnished offices, with bad lighting.

5) Out of town business men will always sexually harass secretaries who wear low cut blouses.

6) During a 3 hour Sexual Harassment training you get a 20 minute break, cookies and coffee included.

7) Construction workers, while they Sexually Harass lots of people, are apparently not harassed themselves. This job is particularly attractive to Sexual Harassers.

8) If you are alone with a co-worker in a cafeteria, ware house, room with no windows - but lots of fake potted plants, or parking garage you are likely to be sexually harassed.

9) You can not sexually harass inanimate objects, no matter how hard you try.

10) I need to pick up some coffee creamer, saltines, and sugar cubes.

Mind you, these are just a few of the notes I took during the session. Mind you, I might have improvised some of these notes based on what I wanted to hear.

I may have been slightly distracted by the uneven mini-blinds covering the huge windows. Or the odd number of Styrofoam coffee cups on the snack table, or the fact that the cookies were mixed, and not sorted by type.

Or that the paper napkins had pictures of flowers and happy birds on them, even though its not spring.

Overall, it was an enjoyable training. I will not sexually harass any of my coworkers. Not that I would have anyway - it's kinda tacky.

Moral of this blog: If you wouldn't say it to your Grandmother, you shouldn't say it at all.

Friday, November 24, 2006

VI, Thanksgiving

This is so moistAgain, Thanksgiving has arrived. My house is full of sleeping guests. Now that I am More Northern ™ the guests don't just show up on Thanksgiving, eat, and go home. They fly here - and sleep in my beautiful war era 5 bedroom home.

My Mother flew in, and we spent the evening before Thanksgiving making pies, talking, and generally taking too many coffee and cigarette breaks. Though both of us did look tremendous in aprons.

This year, with all the guests sound asleep, I was able to reflect on the fact that this was a great year to be thankful. No nonsense about it - it has been a rough road giving up everything familiar, buying a house in a far away state, starting a new job, trying to convince new people that I really do know what the hell I am talking about - but it all ended up working. And it is fun knowing that my Mother is already up and making coffee - one less thing to do.

Thanksgiving was perfect again this year, down to the vintage table clothes and candlesticks. I used brown and maroon orchids mixed with mums this year for quite a dramatic effect. I wanted this post to be funny, filled with amusing anecdotes - but finally - it was the Thanksgiving that even I couldn't have scripted to be more perfect.

And the wine was good too. All 20 something bottles of it.

Moral of this blog: Thanks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quiet, Unnatural

it is too quiet!Today was a relatively quiet day. Most of my coworkers were out of the office today, and I was left in the back with one, quiet librarian-who laughs at my jokes and makes me feel all pretty.

But it wasn't just the office that was quiet today. I was off desk, doing librarian things, when I decided I needed to go out and be with my adoring fans. I straightened my cardigan, and made sure my shirt wasn't untucked in the back.

Funny thing. My shirt always untucks itself in the back. I'm becoming hyper aware of the curve that is forming in my shoulders, and while I used to look forward to the day when I was a bent over old librarian, this is happening too soon for my taste. And I do have impeccable taste.

My office leads to a small room where we administer oaths for passports, and have our "we shouldn't say this on the floor" chats. It was quiet. Really really quiet. 5 users on the internet.

5 USERS ON THE INTERNET? Has there been some sort of virus leaked on the floor? Where my people at?

I knew we were installing it, but the public didn't. We, once again, use timing software.

I love timing software. 60 minutes after the adoring fan logs in, the computer logs him or her out. They get a heads up at 6 minutes to start saving there work. Only, I'm sure that or doesn't leave much to save.

This bit of technology keeps me from getting up every 5 or 7 minutes to answer the question "Is there a computer free?" to which I always reply - "Lets walk over here (5 feet implied) and look at the (public, highly visible implied) list that is (right here implied) on the podium!"

I say it each time with a big smile. The math, even to me, is quite simple. Look at the time the adoring fan signed up - and add one hour to it. But rather than troubling the customer with this complex mathematical feat, I do it for them.

"Looks like there are no computers free right now. Why don't you wait over here in one of these chairs, and wait for someone to get up."

Those days are gone, gentle reader. Each computer now has a screen that allows the customer to approach, and enter a bar code. The 60 minute time pops up, and off they go to a fantasy cyber world.

They can even sign up on the PACs for a certain time if they'd like. This system is deluxe.

Only it has no loopholes. No loopholes that even the cleverest native can figure out. Without a library card, there is no way to get on - unless we create a guest pass. Most of the people who swear they never had a library card - do.

They have huge heart stopping fines. We still give them their card number. They just can't check any more materials out - I think that is fair.

The technology seems to have scared all the customers away. Either that, or having used their one allotted hour, they have no reason to stay in the library. It makes me realize how much people were abusing this privilege before. There were only 5 users on the floor. Usually , the place is packed, with a line of people waiting to get on.

I asked "Is today a holiday?" My co-workers looked at me like I just pulled a dead rabbit out from behind my back. I thought, hey, it might be now that I'm More Northern ™. Who knows what they celebrate up here. Besides, it is the first day of killing animals season. I thought that might have had something to do with it.

Until I realized most of the users are teen aged girls. Hmmm.

So, my question is this: Has the technology scared them away? or has it temporarily stunned the users? Maybe we should give them more than one hour - maybe two. Is that too much? What does your library do?

I went to the water fountain and let it run for about 45 seconds. When I was little, my Mom told me this cleared the germs off. I don't know if it really does, but I like to believe that, and so I do it each time. I took a sip and walked back though the not so busy floor, through the passport room, and into my office.

The quiet seemed unnatural. Sort of like a forrest before a fire, or a horror film right before the main character gets horribly murdered to death.

And I realized, I like my libraries bustling. Noisy. Lots of kids. Old people talking loudly into cell phones like the are foreigners, Mothers hog calling for their children. But not today. I'd have to live without my guilty pleasure.

Moral of this blog: Let us pause for a moment of silence. Creepy.huh?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Workstudy, Hiring

And you've done this how many times?One of the perks of working at the University, outside of working for the University is hiring workstudy students. I get to hand pick everything in my space, including my new little helpers. Though the process is a bit mind numbing.

First, I have to concoct an ad to place on the student workstudy site. I'm thinking that tons of students are going to apply for this amazing job - so I clean out my in box to make room for the deluge of applications I plan to receive.

Then I have my secretary post the ad.

Then I wait. And wait. Finally. In one day, I receive 3 applications. I ripped open the envelopes eager to see who I'd be hiring to assist me in running the library.

A photoshop pro who studies art & design. Excellent.
An Environmental studies major who was a former class president & year book editor. Excellent.
An English major with great word processing skills. Highly organized. Super.

I'm going to interview all of them. I set up the interviews, and receive enthusiastic replies from all three.

THEN, after the deadline - an application is pushed under my office door one day. Bascially written in crayon. Filled with typos.

"What the hell", I think "I'll interview him too." Afterall, this could be his big break.

So the interviews show up, one after the other - perky, nervous about their first interview. I thought I might have a little fun and ask them a few tough questions, like "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" or "Can I see a writing sample?" or even the "Could you pee in this cup?" but decided it would be much better to just stick to the college issued questions for a workstudy interview.

The first gal, the environmental studies major, had sweaty hands. She was nervous and asked where she could put her coat down. She answered all the questions really well, kept good eye contact, and even sat toward the edge of her chair. Someone listened in her high school advisory class. The low cut blouse was nice, but a wasted detail.

The art & design major wanted to work closer to campus. His current job included a massive amount of manual labor. The boy looks like he needs a sandwhich, but I haven't got one to offer. Besides, I have to finish this interview. I only blocked them off in 30 minute increments.

#3 was taller than me, and very well spoken. She was professional, and kept her hands on her lap during the whole interview. In my imagination, she would talk with her hands and laugh unexpectedly - but she didn't.

I hired them all, and sent a letter to my secretary asking her to arrange the final details and get them each a set of keys to the library.

Then #4 showed up. Unannouced, while I was busily typing up their work schedules. I guessed right away it was him. His winter coat was zipped up under his chin, and he left it that way during the entire interview. One of my stock questions was "What is your greatest weakness?" To which most of the other students admitted to "staying up too late" or "losing focus during big assignments."

He surprised me by telling me that he was usually not on time, but was thinking about buying an alarm clock. I can't make this stuff up people. As if that weren't a good enough confession, he admitted that he knew nothing about libraries, but was eager to get a job. Well, honestly, I didn't know how to respond, so I nodded, and pretended to make a note on his application that I had fixed to a clipboard infront of me.

He actually looked at his watch at least 3 times during the 15 minute interview. I decided to ask him "If I gave you a call number, would you be able to retrieve the book from the library next door?" He said he probably couldn't - but would look for something that I might like if he found nothing.

That is nice of him, I have to admit. I shook his hand that had been shoved into the front pocket of his jacket during the entire interview. He said he hoped to hear from me soon, and I assured him he would.

I sent him a note the next morning telling him that several other applicants had applied, and that he was no longer being considered for the position.

I actually wrote it when he left, and put a time delay on the message so he'd get it at breakfast time the next day.

I do have a heart.

When hiring, think of a few things:

Would I want to be trapped in a room with this person, if some how the door got locked from the outside?
Is this person going to go through my purse when I'm not in the room?
Was the eye contact good? This can be tricky if the interviewee has a wandering eye.
Is their class load too much for this job?
Will this person hurt me if I have to fire them?
Did I laugh during the interview? At them? or with them? or silently inside?
Did they come with questions? Or did I have to do all the asking?
Did they ever say, at any point, LIBERRY? or was it a consistant library?
How neat was the application? Was it typed? Typos?
Could I leave this person in charge if I had to go away to a conference? Or at least would they follow loose directions left behind in a notebook?
How quickly did they respond to the ad? Did it sound desperate?
Will this job allow them to quit working in a diner? or laundrymat?
Did they have on clean shoes?

Of course, this is not stuff they teach you in Library School™. These are all things I was forced to think before the interview, during the interview, and after when I was assessing the interviewees.

And of course, these aren't things they'd teach you in HR school either. Probably because they are illegal.

At anyrate, it was fun hiring new work study students to work in my newly created University Art History library. I look forward to working on projects with each of them. For now, I can sit back and enjoy the show.

Moral of this blog: Libraries rock.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Advice, Motherly

Refreshingly UglySometimes, a boy is just at a loss. There comes a time when one must admit defeat, and call ones mother. A recent phone call recounted for your pleasure.

WDL: "So how do you do it?"
Mom: "Well, I just take it off slowly, a little at a time."
WDL: "Do you ever have problems?"
Mom: "Well, you just have to keep it wet."
WDL: "How wet? Really wet? Or just kind of wet?"
Mom: "Well, do you want it to come off easily? Or do you want to work on it all night?"
WDL: "I'd work on it all night if I had to, but my fingers are getting sore - I must be doing it wrong."
Mom: "Have you tried rubbing it with fabric softner?"
WDL: "Lady, at this point, I've tried everything. I'm ready to hire a professional, and watch him do it 'til I figure it out."
Mom: "That's a waste of money. Listen to me, I've been stripping for longer than you've been alive. Keep it wet, and you'll have it taken care of in a few hours."
WDL: "I'm ready to give up."
Mom: "Well, maybe you should run a knife over it a few times. I've done that - it seems to help..."
WDL: "HEY! It is working! I have to put the phone down, I think this is going to be a big piece - YEAH! It's HUGE!!"

Moral of this blog: I hate removing wallpaper.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Greetings, Hallowe'en

Well Dressed Librarian's 1940's Halloween GreetingHappy Hallowe'en gentle readers. I am sure that all of you are terribly excited about going to work today and finding out which of your co-workers has decided to step away from the dress code, and into something more costume-y. I for one shy away from this type of office behavior.

Admittedly, I tend to shy away from a lot of office behaviors. For instance: holiday sweaters. They aren't necessarily bad things that I'm shying away from, just things that make me feel terribly uncomfortable, self conscious, and anything less than perfectly attired.

I'm sure most people think that I am dressing up out of my Great Uncle Luke's closet every day anyway.

In honor of Halloween, I've decided to wear a 2 piece black pinstripe suit with a pumpkin-spice color shirt, finished with a black silk tie, and a silver, onyx and diamond tie bar.

Tonight, I have to work late - which means I'll miss all the trick or treaters that come knocking on my door in this bone chilling weather that we are having up here. Though the WDL is always prepared. I have a large, red German ceramic bowl filled with candy - for my "spouse" (how PC) to give away to all the little ones. If they come - which I'm sure they will now that I am living in St. Mary Mead.

And dear G-d, if one person throws an egg at my house, I will personally hunt them down and scare them to death by not raising my voice while I berate them.

Last, I think Hallowe'en should be left to the children...much like the tooth fairy, Santa, and the Bermuda Triangle. As adults, we have lots of things to look forward to, like our mortgage, dentist visits, and raking our lawns.

Be on the look out today. You will be working with witches, devils, Star Trek characters, and maybe even a dried up mummy or two. Though, some may deal with this everyday anyway.

Oh the joys of the holiday season. And there is so much more to come.

Moral of this blog: I hated when I got bags of pennies, and popcorn in plastic bags when I was a kid.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cheques, Pay

You can have fun at work and get paid for it.

Today, one of the most rewarding moments of my career occurred.

We were working on a librarian project, and a co-worker said "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this!"

To which I replied "THAT'S THE POINT!" And for the afternoon, I felt content. More than content. I was on the same page as everyone in my office. It was so rewarding. This is what our jobs are about people. Wake up!

If you don't like what you are doing, ITS TIME TO GO.

If it's not fun anymore, ITS TIME TO GO.

If you are only in it for the pay cheque, ITS TIME TO GO.

You may wonder, what in the world were we doing? Some of the team members didn't know what avatars were. SOOO we learned, and each designed one, with the intent that we may use them with a reference-chat interface. It really was fun - and this is what our jobs are about. Discovery through exploration!

Moral of this blog: Be passionate, or be somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sedaris, Amy

I Like YouI would be seriously remiss in not suggesting that you buy this book for every hostess in your life.

This book is amusing and funny, and filled with lot of recipes that can be used for parties. It is also lavishly illustrated with photographs and sketches.

Ms. Sedaris admits that she included many pictures, so even the illiterates can enjoy it.

Sections on Entertaining blue-hairs (in large print), entertaining children (give a wrapped cabbage to a two year old, they have no idea what you gave them anyway), a section on what to cook for & how to treat people who are grieving (suggestions include never saying "It was bound to happen sooner or later"), and how to and how not to introduce people at a party (This is Tammy. She can't have children.)

The dust jacket is actually a center fold poster of Amy herself, all covered in sprinkles.

Moral of this blog: I highly recommend this book. Not intended for young audiences.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Technology, Fear of

I'm sooo scared!Technophobia. Astonishingly, this is not just a syndrome faced by millions of Amish (are there millions of Amish?) It exists right in our own back yard.

Stephen Abram calls people born into technology "natives" - I sit on the fringe of that. I dial my cell phone with both thumbs - I cradle it in my fingers, while dialing with thumbs. Apparently, this is characteristic of the natives, while non-natives poke at the numbers with one finger. I say I sit on the fringe because I didn't use e-mail until 1996 - and even then not regularly until 1998. Gen Y, and the millenials have never known anything else. Technology doesn't scare me, because I can't experience life to the level I desire without it.

Some people seem to be plenty happy with electricity. It turns on the typewriters, the lights come up - and it is not as flammable as those old gas fixtures. While I exaggerate for effect, this is the feeling I am left with sometimes.

This is not a PSA for "TECHNOLOGY IS FUN!", because sometimes it isn't. I have no desire to learn Access, I've already learned Excel...and I need to polish up my Photoshop skills, however my job is dependent on that. Did you read that last part? My job is dependent on that. And while it doesn't make it fun, it does mean that I can pay my mortgage at the end of each month.

I've been told that it is hard to learn technology that you are not familiar with. I've received written replies on printed out e-mails, and received the same in inter-office envelopes. Guess what? YOU CAN REPLY VIA E-MAIL, JUST BY PRESSING REPLY!! And it's quicker. And saves paper. And my time. Valuable time I can spend learning Photoshop and Access.

So, do you make do and let your coworkers carry the line? OR do you ask questions? Continuing education courses? Read a book (oh the horror!)

It is our job as librarians to stay at least 2 steps infront of our savviest user. We set the bar for information giving. Library Assistants learn from the librarians how to give service. We teach computer literacy classes. How can we do this effectively if we ourselves are not staying ahead of the game?

The fact that technology changes so rapidly is scary. There is not a single question about that. You learn a program, and its already time to begin learning the .1 of that software. You figure out how to use a e-book reader, and they are defunct. New search commands, new databases, different wild cards, blood thirsty robots - OK, there are none of those, but I just wanted to see if you were still reading. It can be a challenge.

My point is this: when the teacher stops learning, how can they teach? Instruction is a big part of our job.

If you take a back seat to this, and let the rest of the team lead the charge, you are not doing yourself a favor, you are hurting yourself and holding back the team. After all, the cliche adage about the chain being as strong as its weakest link is totally true.

Rather than be scared, or hesitant - dive in. We learn from our mistakes. Best of all, no one can be injured when learning keyboard shortcuts, or editing images. Unless you are practicing on the roof ledge of your library, and it is very very windy. And if you haven't got the money for continuing education, use the MS Wizard. Or the Idiots or Dummies guides.

Challenge yourself. Learn something new, or at the very least, keep up with the Jones'.

Moral of this blog: No killer robots were harmed during the composition of this blog.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Shadows, Me and my

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men?Ahhh, the burgeoning librarian. Still in school, with aspirations to achieve the lofty heights of librarianship. I have been fortunate over the last five weeks to have been shadowed no less than 4 times.

Apparently, it is "that time of year" when the Professors give out their assignments, and one of them is to shadow a Real Librarian™. For four hours at a time, the Real Librarian™ educates, elucidates, and shows off the glamorous world of reference. Some have been afraid, others fascinated by what this job entails. Be forewarned, oh dear Shadow, this is not for the faint of heart.

Most all of the shadows seemed to know what being a librarian meant to them. One was still forming that opinion.

I seemed to gravitate towards the shadows that really lived up to their name: they stuck behind me when I went to the shelves, stood over my shoulder while going to e-reference databases, and took notes and recorded my "results" to the customer. The customers seemed to feel their energy as well, coming up to the desk and asking them for help... good. Half the battle - presence as a librarian, or information giver. I hesitate to say "look the part", because there is no look to being a librarian - although I do encourage regimented hygiene, well pressed clothing, and a subtle yet pleasing perfume or cologne.

One gal pretty much hid in a corner, seemed horrified that we had to deal with the public, took notes from a far, and seemed panicked that she would have to use reference material - in any form.

Oddly, during these shadows we didn't need to fill out an assessment for their professors. I'm glad for that. A four hour shadow doesn't really seem to mean anything unless you really dig in and get your hands dirty.

Some pointers to shadows:

  • Bring a notebook & pencil: and use them. They are not decorations.
  • Make eye contact with the librarian(s) you are dealing with.
  • Ask questions! This is your chance!
  • Dress the part. PLEASE don't show up in sweatpants and sneakers. On the same token, this is not a night club. Please do not show up looking like a hooker. Unless you are one, and are making a career transition. But plan to take the night off from your "day job".
  • Bathe. Do something with your hair.
  • Confused? Say so.
  • We have to work. This is not 4 hours of play time for the librarian you are shadowing. We can't sit and shoot the breeze.
  • Note what services the library offers. Take free literature from the shelves. This may inspire you to write a paper, or be fodder for a paper you don't know you have to write yet.
  • Be on time.
  • Give yourself enough time before you come to try out the catalog, the databases, and walk around the building. Once you are shadowing the librarian - you are literally a shadow. You'll have to follow that person around. I don't leave my assigned floor when I am working.
  • Do not call and say I would like to shadow someone today, say around 6 pm? Ask when you can come in.
  • DO NOT BRING YOUR KIDS. This is like work. Only you are not getting paid.
  • DO NOT BRING YOUR BOY(GIRL)FRIEND OR HUSBAND/WIFE and have them sit at a table watching you the whole time. This is called spousal abuse. And it's just weird.
  • DO NOT ASK FOR A BREAK. You are only there for 4 hours. Feel free to excuse yourself to the powder for a few minutes if need be. I don't want to have to search for you. You are my shadow. This is not a game of hide and seek.
  • Take good notes. You only get to do this once - plus you can ask questions to supplement what you are writing down. No notes = you don't think I do anything.
  • PLEASE don't act surprised when we get up and leave the reference desk. We do that. A lot. (if your librarian doesn't get up at all, you've had a bad person to shadow - I stand by that)
  • PLEASE don't act surprised that your librarian is a male. Not all of us are women.
  • Share a little about what you'd like to do. Perhaps we can tailor the evening towards that - or show you things you might like to know.
  • If you have special needs, let us know before you show up. Like a seeing eye dog, a translator, or a crate so you can see over the reference desk. No one likes surprises. OK, some people do. I don't and this is my blog.
  • Don't come on to the librarian you are shadowing. That is not professional, and it is weird. Don't come on to the customers either. or cleaning people.
  • Don't keep saying "I love books, your job must be sooooo fun", because we do more than work with books.
  • Don't compare us to a "better library". You should have called them for your shadow.
  • Send a thank-you note the next day. I haven't received one yet. tsk tsk.
  • Put your coat and purse and keys and cellphone in a locker, or on one of the librarian's desks in the back. Please don't carry them around with you. No one is going to steal your things.
  • Don't ask if you can make a couple of quick phone calls, or check your e-mail 5 or 6 times. Or glance at your beeper every few minutes. We will think you are a drug dealer.
  • Don't show up drunk or under the influence of drugs. That is just good form.
  • No one wants to see pictures of your kids. Put them away.
  • Please don't ask for legal or medical advice.
  • Don't ask if you can "burn a cd real quick".
  • Use librarian etiquette. If a customer smells, don't scrunch your nose up, or say "what is that smell?" while fanning your nose in an animated fashion with your hand. Do like the rest of us, and wait til they walk away, and go in the back and complain to various coworkers.
  • Don't say things like "now what?" or "what's next" when we have two calm minutes. It won't be that way for long.
  • Allergic to anything? Make sure you have on your med-alert bracelet. Nobody wants to plunge an EpiPen® into your thigh only to find out you have an intolerance for epinephrine.
  • Are you making "the change"? Shave and wear good foundation for the duration of your shadow. Don't become the "5 o'clock shadow" shadow. Plus, that would be weird.
  • Do you have halitosis? Bring some Altoids and use them.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Shadowing can be fun for everyone involved, if it's done right.

Moral of this blog: Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men.... The Shadow knows! (ok, so none of mine did... but whatever)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Apples, Picking

Apple Picking Librarians are hotSome of you might wonder what a librarian who has become More Northern™ does on the weekend.

I found myself apple picking. Found isn't quite the right word. Prepared is a better word. You see gentle reader, the Well Dressed Librarian tries to live a genteel life. Please don't confuse that with a gentile life. At any rate, being More Northern™ does give one the opportunity to enjoy nature in cultured ways: picking apples, riding horses, and sipping warm, slightly alcoholic beverages in front of a fireplace.

One of the first things to note when apple picking is what to wear. A Well Dressed Librarian does not wear a winter jacket and big wooly mittens. Layer yourself. In the reference photo I've provided you with, you can observe a black wool flat cap, 2 button tweed jacket, scarf, and vest. What you can't see is the cardigan under that, and the argyle sweater with tartan plaid tie under that.

Dark, fitted jeans with thermals. Classic black and tan Steve Madden sneakers, and of course, black leather gloves. The sunglasses keep you from being recognized by adoring fans.

As you can see here, I had removed a glove to inspect a Northern Spy apple. Always a librarian, looking for the smallest details. You can also note here that I look slightly annoyed that a cold breeze had blown on my ears.

Alas, the Well Dressed Librarian has large ears. A fault I hope others find endearing. Perhaps they have adapted themselves from listening so much. I may never know.

Also note, that a stray twig had landed on the shoulder of my grey tweed jacket. Obviously, I worked very hard to pick the apples that I picked.

After a long day of worrying that I'd worn the wrong thing apple picking - thinking perhaps I should have been a bit more wooly than tweedy - I attended a cocktail party moments after I arrived back. I wore my apple picking clothes to the cocktail party.

Toute la Rage!!

Moral of this blog: An apple a day does not keep the librarian away

Monday, October 09, 2006

Leg, Showing some

Not quite like this though
The naughty librarian? Where in the world did this image come from? The library is probably the last thing people would put in their list of "sexy things." If people even have lists like that. Which I kind of hope they don't. Library's just don't sell themselves - no one is showing any leg.

One of the things I do now, probably much to the delight of Stephen Abram, is PR for my library. Libraries all across the country are completely undersold.

I am fortunate that I live in a community with about 658 small newspapers (note exageration for effect). There are several TV stations, and about twice as many local radio stations. All untapped resources.

How many public libraries (excluding the big, sexy top 10 HAPLR report libraries) indulge in PR? Do you think putting a sign up at your local beauty parlor catches your target market? Perhaps it actually does. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not a librarian in that town.

Don't cry because you haven't got a budget. As long as you have a computer with Microsoft Office Suite, and a telephone, you are your own PR firm.

Finding out who your local contacts are is actually pretty easy. What news stations do YOU watch? What local papers do you read? What radio station do you listen to on the way to work? (Tech librarians who listen to satellite radio need not answer.) The yellow pages is also a valuable resource. Then pick up the phone and call them.

Two of my TV stations actually have a "community page" on the internet that you can add events to. One hot links you to the community calendar persons e-mail address. Just point and click. The information goes right out there!

The newspaper is more tricky. Lots of people write for the paper. Do you have a local events reporter? Or local interest reporter? Add them to your address book. They will publish things for you, and so far, its all been free for me.

Posters, bookmarks, and other promotional items can be created and made to look quite professional in Microsoft Publisher. Just use a consistent look, and similar language. POOF! Instant flavor associated with your own local public library.

Word documents, PDF's and Publisher files can all be mailed to newspapers and monthly paper offices. I've only found two so far that prefer fax. Sending e-mail is quick and easy, and your organization saves money on postage. That adds up after a year!

Radio stations are the most fun. You can hear your local announcer read your news release on the way to work. Make sure to use the library's name a few times, incase they don't catch the web address, or phone number.

PR is a great way to get more people to show up for programs and events. More people means more door count, perhaps more circulation.

We all know those kind of numbers look amazing when trying to justify more spending in the coming years - especially in this age of cut backs.

Try some PR at your library. Start small, but think big.

Moral of this blog: Just talking about the library isn't going to get you anywhere.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sorts, Out of

a hog?That's me. The pig on the right. I've never actually said that. I saw this photo and my mind flooded. It makes me laugh, and that, my dears, is the most important part.

Now that I am More Northern™ I kinda sorta noticed I'm not quite like all the others. And this makes me sad. I'm not saying that I'd like to be surrounded by an entire cast of gay,jewish, male librarians.

OK, maybe just one.

Here's the real deal. If you are a GenX librarian, in your first big boy job- you really need to read Rachel Singer Gordon's The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide.

As a new librarian, I want to prove that I can play ball with the other librarians. To who? The other librarians who may have forgotten they were new librarians once too. Yeah. Those are the ones that I want to like me. Reaallly like me. I feel like the new kid in school. Only I didn't wear cuff links when I was a kid. Honestly, I didn't. Loafers, yes. Khaki's, yes. Cuff links, no.

I feel like apologizing for not being part of the organization for 30 years. But I haven't been, and I can't. I've worked in libraries for half my life. That has to count for something. But nope.

Sometimes I wonder if they cry in the car on their way home listening to NPR. And not because the news is sooo sad. I don't need to wonder, because I know they don't. I wonder how people would react if I spoke to them like they speak to me. Maybe they don't even think it is mean. It is. Both of my cats agree with me.

While I want to prove myself, I also listen. Listen, listen, listen. I talk when I have something to say, no doubts there, but mostly I listen. It makes me sad when I hear what I hear. But I continue to listen. And it is most amazing what people will say to new people.

I work diligently. My work is going to have to prove me.

Rachel suggests this is a common malady among new librarians: Wanting to prove yourself while appreciating the history of the organization you work for. Finding your voice. Making changes that are meaningful.

Rachel, I gotta admit, that is a tall order. I read the book twice. I read sections of the book 4 and 5 times. I was hoping that there was some secret access code that I would just have to enter somewhere, and the holy grail of library understanding would be there. But your advice is good, your sentiments are genuine. I am holding on to them for dear life.

So for now, I'm the pig on the right. I'm in the same room, but I'm not one of the gang.

Moral of this blog: Someday, I'll be a beautiful heifer, just like the others.

Bonus Moral: Look what being More Northern™ and rural has done! I make farm analogies!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Humor, Finding

Poor Old DearLife can be trying. Work can really get to you if you let it. I'm not really sure which is more sad - thinking those things, or actually putting them down in print.

So tonight, in Academia Land, while filing and sorting images, I unearthed (no pun intended) some cave paintings. While going through one of my nearly antique, yet trust Multiplex cases, I laughed outloud.

The slide rack to file it under was labeled: "Paleolithic Painting, by Puente Viesgo." It read like all the others "French Painting, by Degas, or American Sculpture by Oldenburg."

Why in the world is this funny? you ask. Or maybe you figured I'd cracked, and thought "That is not funny at all." But it is.

Puente Viesgo is a place. There are caves there, and there are lots and lots of old wall paintings of various and sundry animals.

This brings up the long debated library question: *cue Carly Simon music* Who does it better? Librarians or paraprofessionals? I can't do all the work. I can't be everywhere at once, and yet, it appears to be the curse of this profession: No delegation, No body does it better, I'm not sharing information because it makes me secretly valuable. Mine mine mine.

I waste a lot of time undoing things that were done incorrectly. Retyping letters, making new catalog entries, refiling, and leaving notes asking people to be a bit more careful. Now understand, in Academia Land, my paraprofessionals are students. In Public Library land, well, lets just say its a whole other ball of wax.

I can forgive students. Quite easily. My help may not have anything to do with Art History, or Art, or even know how to spell it. Often the students are from other departments working their way through undergrad. In public library land, well, lets just say its a whole other ball of wax.

The paraprofessional help is often put off by this nomenclature. Who can blame them? It breaks down to "along side, or near professionals" in English. I'm not sure I'd want to be a paralibrarian. I was a paraprofessional for several years before I got my MLIS at a very GenX age. At anyrate, these are the folks that I work with each day.

Today weeding came up. Can a paraprofessional do it? SURE! Should they order the collection too? Err, no. Librarians are viewed as leaders in Public Libraries. That power is often given to them by management or administration, or "higher powers"...and no, I don't mean G-d. Do we belittle ourselves and our worth by delegating to paraprofessionals? Or does the skill of delegation make this OK?

I get nervous in an age where Librarians are being replaced with LA's. Cheaper by the hour, easier to replace, and they never wave around their MLIS saying "but I have a Masters Degree." Which, sadly, is the feeling I've gotten from LA's about librarians.

My question is this: Where is the balance? There are plenty of LA's that I've known, worked with, or heard about who were amazingly competent, versatile, and library savvy. I've also worked with Librarians who are jaded, sloppy, and peevish.

I think the balance is in hiring strong people who work to support one another. A good LA and a good Librarian are hard things to argue about. The opposite: yeah. No one wants to work with them.

I'm still torn about how much responsibility can be given to a paraprofessional because I still worry that I could be replaced.

But then I remember the cave paintings by Puente Viesgo, and I feel much better.

Moral of this blog: its all in the details....or meta-data.....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stephen Abram's Cats

Meow!I am often asked questions. Stephen Abram just asked about Library Cats competeing with Google Dogs. Here are my thoughts:

1. Instruction. Libraries provide information literacy – even modified bib.- instruction for users. Libraries provide the instructions for users to ask better questions AND which resources to choose.
2. Person to person (or over the phone, or via e-mail) customer service.
3. Access. Virtual branches are springing up everywhere, providing 24/.7 live reference, and providing features to users who utilize this service: electronic databases, digital books, podcasts, and blogs.
4. Providing a community space.
5. Acting as a “digital liaison”, helping to bridge the digital divide by providing access to electronically sourced information.
6. Libraries “pre-organize” information. i.e. pathfinders, web pages that contain the useful resources online, and in print.
7. Access to hard materials – i.e. microfilm, back issues of newspapers, and older reference materials kept in our local history/ready reference collections.
8. Libraries are “Google Local” in person.
9. Materials selection & development – while thinking global, we still act local… providing a well rounded collection that integrates both digital and hard copy resources that appeal to a broad base, but anticipate the needs of “locals.”
*not in order of priority

1. Marketing & PR. Resources for this endeavor are often overlooked. It’s almost the equivalent of erasing the “X” on the treasure map. I hate it when people say the library is a “hidden treasure”…the information has been here all along!!! TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT! This sadly, is a typical not-for-profit ailment. Press releases, magazine/journal articles are important to keep the library in the community’s mindset.
2. Merchandising: “show a little leg” – Face it, Google is NOT our only competitor. Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Borders, - anyone who provides wireless internet access & showcases works containing information. People will go some where else to get it – and they are willing to pay for it. WE GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE!!! Getting customers to come in: what do we have to offer besides books? This ties to Marketing & PR
3. TALK THEIR TALK: Like the OPAC’s, there are USER sides and STAFF sides. Libraries need to learn to speak “USER”. Any sense of elitism will drive the users away. Save shop talk for the back office & conferences.
4. Identifying users & services provided to them: Our demographics change often.. often enough for the government to survey the whole US every ten years. Are we providing services that we THINK the public wants, or actually providing them with what they REALLY want. Moreover, do you realize that students entering college this year have never seen a television station conclude the broadcast day with the national anthem, and were born during the first year of the Bush Sr’s presidency? Who are our users? What do they need? We need to tailor the library to cater to their needs! For example… by issuing 20 passports a week, for one year, the revenue is greater than my annual salary. By identifying our users, and identifying a need both parties benefit. What other user groups do we cater to? Genealogists, Gardeners, Child care professionals, teachers, and the list goes on. What have we done to make them come in?
5. Shelving turn around time/order of shelves: Its great to have the material, but once it is returned, how long does it take the customer to see it on a shelf again? Even if it is shelved, is it in the right place? Maintaining the collection at hand is as important as growing the collection. If they can’t find it, they will go some place else. Books out of place are as good as lost.
6. Signage – too much! It is the equivalent of pop ups. The public can only handle so much information at once. That is why it is key to have a centrally located information area, and all other brochures, etc. put into a nice neat place. Lots of directional signs doesn’t reduce our work load, it increases it, taking away valuable information sharing time.


Sure, but only if we remember libraries NOT JUST BUILDINGS. If one can’t get past that, we won’t be able to compete for 10 minutes. Google isn’t a building or a person, and yet we worry about it taking away our customers.

This library cat can not be the lazy, sunning, content cat; we must constantly note details and our environment. Can the library compete with Google? Compete is the wrong word. Google employs librarians just like libraries’ across the country do. We need to work with our customers to teach them what Google is for, and what it is not for.

We need to be proactive in providing information, not reactive. People use Google from home, we need to make sure they can get to us from there too. Virtual branches are springing up everywhere. Organization on the web pages, clear paths & links to easy to understand links, and ready chat reference to provide that element that users need.

Google is a tool in my toolbox. I do use it to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit. I use Google to find images quickly when blogging. But it’s not the only tool in my toolbox. We just need to make sure the customers have more than one tool as well.

Moral of this blog: More meow, less bark.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Housekeeping, Good

The Perfect HousewifeTime does fly. Now that I am more Northern than ever before, I had no idea what the library community was like here. So, what is a librarian to do? Jump in neck deep and take two jobs.

I am working half time as an academic librarian, and full time as a public librarian. How different the two are. It is a thrilling prospect to see both of these worlds through one set of eyes. Oddly, I enjoy the gentle art of librarianship over the facility I am working in. People say "So, which do you like best?" and I always reply "I like being a librarian."

My job description at the public library made me believe I was to be working with children. I was wrong, I did not ask for clarification when they said outreach. I wrongly believed I would reach out to shut in communities. Instead, outreach is the term they use for P.R. Yes ladies and gentlereaders, I provide a path for external publicity of the library, and I also function as an Adult Services Reference Librarian. Crazy fun. I hope the public adores me here. I worry about fitting in - but I think people always worry about fitting in. I'm younger than most of my colleagues, and I'm not a native. I have decided out loud that I can not worry about these things until they prove to be real points of fact... if indeed they ever do. I want them to like me, really like me. (to be read as if Sally Fields was saying it.)

The second job is half time, an Art History slide librarian. I have a nice little refrigerated room on the second floor - and a fab collection of images to maintain and circulate. I serve the faculty more than the student body. I am excited to create the first catalog of these materials! Again, age plays a card. Most people think I'm a student, and ask what I study. My first staff meeting was fun - I was introduced as the new department librarian. At least those 21 people know that I'm not going to be in any of their classes!

And all the while, I am a new home owner. I have slavishly worked on this historic home - making it 1940 perfect. To hide the technology in the living room, we splurged on a flat screen television that is nicely hidden behind the doors of the built in mahogany bookcase that surrounds the fireplace. Now one is forced to look at the oriental rugs, and the art on the walls.

Our first point of business was to remove a closet from the dining room, that was not original to the space. The room was painted curb marker yellow, and had a dated looking ceiling fan. All of that is gone now, and replaced with a cafe au lait color on the walls, and an updated gas light chandelier. We finished the room with a sage and milk coffee colored Persian rug. It looks divine. Now, finally, I need to find a period buffet to finish the room.

With all this work, I want to make sure my home is the perfect nest. When I come home, I want to be surrounded with comfort, sensible yet sturdy furniture, and the sound of Benny Goodman mixed with slight hissing that can only be emitted from a record player.

Best of all, I have a lipstick red kitchen with bright white cabinets. I can finally use all my vintage cherry embroidered dish towels that I've been collecting for just such an occasion... the occasion being buying the perfect house.

And making friends with neighbors who have lent me books and photographs. Its nice to know that my home was actually the south wing of a large Greek Revival styled all girls school in the mid 1800's. My house was moved to its current location in the 20's, and given all the charm of that period. The facade was changed as well. This house has had a good life, I hope that it likes what I'm doing now.

I'm off to water the lavender hedge that I planted my first week here. I'm going to savor this time with my house, because it seems I won't be getting to spend much time inside it at all!

Moral of this blog: Double librarianship is all worth it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Signals, smoke

Dearest Loyal fans, I am still alive and kicking in the world of librarianship.

I have settled into my new home, unpacked, landscaped my front yard, and today started my new job.

I have not forsaken my blog, only found that there were not enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to do.

I have also realized a few things: hairdressers for old people make a killing. I'm not kidding. I was recently talking to a new dear friend at a wedding, and she mentioned that "Granny got her hair done next door" to the restaraunt we were waiting for our food to arrive (ps it took an hour and half). He starts at 5 am, and does four heads an hour until 9 pm. At $25 a head, 6 days a week, that is not a bad living setting a bunch of blue hairs up for a week of beauty.

I have also realized that people think that you can not see them when they are driving. People pick their noses, eat, scold children, weave recklessly in and out of lanes, and run red lights all the time. Astounding that I never noticed this before.

I have also realized that I hate lifting furniture. Especially large pieces of furniture, like china cabinets.

I have also realized that I can survive with only 7 sets of china - I sold two at a garage sale before I moved. One woman told me she thought our garage sale was like a "porch boutique". Isn't that quaint?

I have also realized that I hate all employees of the DMV. They were mean to me, and I am a very sweet, personable, and slightly charitable person. I like kittens. And they were mean to me. I would digress, but I think that everyone hates everyone who works at the DMV. OK, the counter people, not the behind the scene folks.

That wasn't really less offensive was it? OK, I stick to my original statement. I hate them all.

I am eager to dive into my new job. Adult services Librarian, and my off desk duty? Public Relations. Oh yeah. How excellent is that?

Moral of this blog: New beginnings can be scarey and exciting at the same time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Goodbyes, Saying

ciao bellasNext Wednesday is my final day at my deluxe library. I am kind of at a loss. How does one say "good bye" properly to people that have made such a huge difference in my life? A job that allows me to be a celebrity librarian when ever I want, a gorgeous office painted in my choice of Ionic Green, a boss that has allowed me so many opportunities to grow, develop and learn, amazing co-workers, an enviable para-professional staff, a facility management crew that takes care of all of our 20+ locations - this is going to be harder than waving good bye to Mother when I moved to Chicago some 8 years ago.

I tend to wax romantic. I didn't think I'd survive the move from Chicago, saying good bye to all my dear dear friends and corporate co-workers was one of the toughest things I'd ever done. I promised my best friend Lucy no tears. Why did we hug for 4 minutes and bawl on the sidewalk outside our favorite cafe?

Because as much as I won't admit it, I am not stone. I am not the solid professional in my personal life. I am rather delicate, and despite my massive efforts to separate my professional life from my personal life, my professional life IS my personal life. Rather a sad confession I'm afraid. My work is who I am, and I put blood (papercuts), sweat (lifting boxes) and tears (hearing a child say "when I grow up, I either want to be a super hero or a librarian") into everything I do.

I like to think I've raised the bar in my profession. I call myself a mover and shaker, I just have to wait for Library Journal to catch up with me.

Blah blah blah.

Then I moved to the Almost Square State. I got my Masters in Information & Library Science, and took a job with the most amazing public library in the United States. My gorgeous marble pillared, brass inlaid, stained glassed ceilinged Carnegie library. At least 10 friendly "good morning Matthew!'s" before I've even gotten to my office.

Coffee and morning review with the most well dressed, eloquently spoken, funny, aesthetic, cultured, passionate, friendly boss in Library World. Warm conversation about her amazingly talented sons, accomplishments in our library system, and of course, a bit of tittle tattle. This is the lady I want to be when I grow up, minus the being a lady part.

Then my phone starts ringing. Crazy customers. But that's the whole point, isn't it? I wouldn't have a job without them. I like asking the question "What can I do to make your day better?" Knowing they are satisfied when they return the handset to its cradle is so rewarding.

Answering reference questions internally and externally. Meeting new librarians, staff, and crew. A finance team to write home to Mother about. The fix it crew and cleaning ladies.

I'll even miss the robin that I've been watching grow up in the park behind the library for the past 3 months.

I am going to miss you library. The books will be where ever I am. So will the computers. So will the brick walls and windows with enviable views. But my people, how I will miss you. You've made me into quite a man. Quite a librarian. You've justified my passion. I'll miss that the most.

Now quick on my feet, and ready with response I start my new job. A children's librarian.

You didn't see that one coming did you? I am so excited to start shaping the next generation of library users - you have no idea. Best I'll be focusing on outreach - if they can't come in, how do we get to them?

I am thrilled to be working with this new library. The facility is important to the community that uses it, and so are the contents. I am excited to work with a group of professionals that really share my passion.

I've been forewarned that some are not "quite as passionate" as I am - well, either were the ones that I started working with three years ago right here in the Almost Square State. Guess what? They are now.

Moral of this blog: Adieu, Adieu, to you and you and you....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sightings, Celebrity

don't tell me that!! So in preparation for my big move, I decided to have a lavish yard sale, one woman said it was more like a "porch boutique", which delighted me to no end.

Did I mention it was 96 degrees? I was getting kind of schvitzy.

At anyrate, as the day went on, I thought I had made it without being discovered by one of the many customers who use the library that I work for.

She of course was just looking at my lovely things, when she noticed me. She looked at me again, and then again.

And then she raised a crooked old finger and pointed it at me while exclaiming "YOU...."

Mind you I did have on sunglasses. Not a perfect disguise, but a start.

She came over and began confessing her latest surgical procedure to me. EVERY DETAIL, down to the fact that they had "cut her from about here (insert generalized hand motions) down to my vagi"....*NEEDLE PULLING OFF RECORD* I put my hand up and said:

"OH MY G-D!" Then I said "that must have been awful for everyone involved." It was now that I was.

Mind you this was at a YARD SALE. There were other people there. But at least I now know the following:

She can't bathe until the stitches are out. In the meanwhile she takes sponge baths.
She has 14 stitches.
She no longer has ovaries.
She is 63, and doesn't really need ovaries. She's done having babies.

Luckily for me, I had seen Strangers with Candy at its Grand Opening in the Almost Square State. Took the edge off just a little bit.

At any rate, do all librarians play the role of confession listener from the customers? Is it just the endearing faces of the most public librarians that get this? Or can the general public sense our passion for the them and the profession? Maybe we'll never know.

In the mean time, I know that I really thought this woman was going to pull her shirt up to show me the scar. I'm still recovering from that.

Moral of this blog: I don't even know what confession is. We don't have it at schul!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Weeding Librarians

Edie is upsetIn case any of you have not had the good fortune to watch Grey Gardens, I will quickly recap the documentary for you.

Fabulous, gorgeous socialite & model little Edie moves in with her equally illustrious socialite mother, Big Edie. Big Edie is a first cousin of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onasis. They live in a tremendously large 28 room mansion in East Hampton, Long Island.

Then they become crazy cat lady recluses, who feed raccoons entire bags of wonder bread, order in groceries, and fill their home with garbage, which leads them to live in only 3 rooms of the whole house.

A documentary was made in the mid 70's, after the house was going to be condemned, but Jackie BKO jumped in to rescue them. The house became habitable, but barely.

What does this have to do with librarianship? Further what does it have to do with Well Dressedlibrariaship?

Faded Glamour. nope. Good guess though.

It has to do with living in a bubble, not realizing everything around you has changed, except for you.

When I stepped off the MLIS luxury Liner, diploma in one hand, suitcase in the other - into the new world of libraries, I barely spoke the language. I was fortunate to fall into a position that fostered and guided me, so that my native appearance was more than a facade. I could talk the talk, and walk the walk - all while keeping my bow tie and straw boater straight.

But that was the pretty, back room, administrative side of libraries. My previous experience in a corporate library was the equivalent of staying in a 5 star hotel, only with more cocktails served at your desk.

Then I wandered out into the public space. I sat reference, I answered phone questions, I e-mailed replies. It was beautiful. Finally, the things I'd been practicing and writing about were really happening. A bonafide librarian.

But as things go, I am new on the playing field. There are still some things I don't know, like, how much child support you should pay your ex-wife /sister-in-law, or where exactly you should apply the numbing analgesic on your invariably privately located wound. Outside of that I'm doing great.

So why is it that people are shocked that I'm a librarian? What exactly are librarians supposed to be? Or look like? Or behave like?

Will my ardor and passion fade to the fashionably crazy mind set of Little Edie? Will I think I am tremendous even when I am not? Will someone let me know when I am past my prime?

Reading articles, especially the article written by the cranky old Charles Robinson, makes me wonder if when librarians get ready for pasture, they are unaware of this. If you are still wearing butterfly collar shirts under polyester jackets that you actually bought in the late 60's, maybe its time to retire. If however, you've purchased them from a resale shop because they are chic, there is a difference.

I know I am over 50 years out of style, which is pretty good considering I am not even 30 (yet). I digress.

These archaic, out of pace, "how do I e-mail this?", what's a PDF? Librarians are really just detritus in the library community. At the same time, these librarians are scaring away the public with old school rhetoric - they are giving a bad name to up and coming librarians who can make a difference, but aren't given the chance.

The public begins to think we are all alike. I take enough calls everyday to know that one bad experience on the part of the patron effects the entire location they were at. "Jane was rude to me", becomes "The librarians there were awful"...

And don't be condescending. We are in a helping job. No matter what you are thinking, you can not say it to the patron.

The sad thing is, this won't reach the librarians who need to get out. We do extra work to cover for them.

And because our field is sooo non-traditional, a new librarian, just out of grad school could be 60 years old. It isn't age that defines the bad librarian. Its when they were last trained, or attended a training, and were made to incorporate that new work ethic into their daily lives.

The Edies didn't know they had descended into disgrace and squalor. No idea at all. Not even after they watched the documentary. They thought they were film stars.

Librarians, unlike the collection, can not be weeded. We will have to live with the few who still lament the demise of the card catalog, or those who liked it better when the library closed on weekends, or those who walk uphill to work both ways, in the snow.

Moral of this blog: How do we live with them? Just like they live with technology. Pretend it isn't there.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Costumes, Revolutionary

Ordinarily I don't put things up like this, but I really enjoyed this.

moral of this blog: I think this is the best costume of the day.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vans, Moving

Stay out of my boxLife got busy, real busy.

Life has been packed full of big boy choices since last I wrote. I knew these choices were coming down the pike, but I chose to pretend, and live in my imaginary, Agatha Christie, post WWII world. I have been reading like never before, smoking more cigarettes than usual, and lately, started collecting boxes.

My partner of 8 years accepted a professorship at an out of state college. So, we are moving out of state. I will be giving up my celebrity librarian job, and looking for the next. I haven't noticed "sunglasses required" or "Cary Grant impersonaters preferred", but I'm sure this new state will have something on reserve for me.

I've realized over and over again that I love my profession, and this has proven it. I know because I am actually trying to find something to replace the void that is impending. I have administrative experience, with no management background - odd. I know how to take care & feed a manager, but not how to be one, according to my CV. I'll get past that, I'm sure. Someone will take a chance on me, and it will pay off.

We are going out of state to look for a new house soon. I will be packing this week, as my boyfriend is teaching dance in the Northern Perfectly rectangular state for a several weeks. I am left here to pack boxes of books, and dishes, and all the other what not that I don't need to survive. Which, according to my calculations means I won't pack too much, because I need (not want)comfort items around me, I am a true nester. Less things make me nervous.

Which isn't helping my stomach condition much at all. I only wish I wasn't so delicate and fragile.

Things at work have never been better, I've been actively sitting reference desk at many locations, making many question what my exact job description is. No one believes "celebrity consultant librarian". I don't know why.

I have not abandoned you my dear readers. Don't cry for me librarians (PS that can be sung to the catchy Evita refrain). I have plenty to recount in my down days, which hopefully will be few.

Moral of this blog: I'm off to watch the new Miss Marple. Carry on, fantasy life.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Librarian Defined

can you spell librarian?Half hilarious, half awful.


a librarian is a weird usually older(middle aged) lonely woman. they have weird quirks and often don't know how to interact with children and normal people. they become librarians because they don't fit into the real world. they are ugly and wear hideous clothes. you can often find that they are obese or chubby. they usually live alone in a lonely little apartment in the suburbs with seven cats and don't answer the door to little trick or treaters or girl scouts. they will yell at you for the stupidest shit. they think theyre making the world better by being librarians but everyone really hates them because theyre mean and EVIL!

I.E.That bitch librarian just yelled at me for whispering.

Check it out:


moral of this blog: time to re-define.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Retirement, When to investigate

cranky pants!I love Andy Rooney because he is old, and cranky, and his eyebrows look kind of like caterpillars. He says things that are totally inappropriate, but are funny because cranky old people with caterpillar eyebrows pretty much can say anything they want and no one says anything.

Enough of that.

Editor Charles W. Robinson in the latest, hot off the press Library Administrator's Digest says something that really got my goat, and you've got to say something pretty awful to get my goat, or any other animal that I would allow people to touch. (Except Adrien Brody - to whom I am willingly a petting zoo).

But if your 10-year-old wants to be a librarian, you might suggest a career in health care. Or banking.

The rest of the article articulates his fear of what technology will bring to the bricks and mortar buildings we call libraries.

News Flash! Libraries change, and so do we, Oldschool McCrankenstien.

Even though I pretend we live in the 1940's, and I live on a depression era budget - I cringe at people who try to stymie the field of library science. Especially people with an Editorial position to a major LIS publication. The whole concept of "role models" and "mentors" was based on the "younger looking up to the older" thing. Gen X replacing the Boomers and WW2 generation and all that good stuff. I'm supposed to be inspired by someone like this?

He goes onto suggest that our professions may go the way of "seafaring". It is my opinion that perhaps it is HIS mindset that has gone the way of seafaring. I am unanimous in that sentiment.

Maybe he is supposed to be funny like Andy Rooney. Anyone laughing?


Yeah. That's what I thought.

Moral of this blog: Technology hasn't put us out of work, it has just made our lives better.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Side, Grass is always Greener on the other

Muchas GrassyassI have the poshest library job in town. There is no question about it. I love my tastefully decorated office, my view over a huge Victorian Gothic building, the sun pouring in through my graciously oversized windows. I love the vintage library images framed on my walls, and the carefully chosen WWII-era type-writer ads hanging on my bulletin board. I think I even love that my desk, bookcase, and credenza match. OK, no thinking, I do.

My job allows me to endlessly compile facts and figures, share them with other major libraries, and to travel about our system going to meetings. Now that most of you hate me, I'll go on.

But I long for the reference desk. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with internal reference questions, and just want the odd quote to research, or help someone figure out how much the blue book value is for their 1973 Chevy (I made that up, I have no idea if Chevy even made cars in 1973).

And because Lola gets what Lola wants, I find myself sitting behind a reference desk every now and again. Really. It's tremendous. I love it. And then they show up.

The unwashed masses.

They know when I am going to sit desk, despite the fact that I don't. They see my boyish grin, the proper dimples in my tie and cheeks. Like an arrow to a bullseye, they are my next customer.

Perhaps this explains why I usually go through one bottle of cologne a month. I apply to the wrists a little heavier than anywhere else.

"Why?", I'm sure you're asking. I am about to reveal a trick of the trade.

When you are at the desk, you can put one wrist near your face. The pleasant aroma of Happy for Men overtakes my olfactory, and I can look back up, unfathomed by the probable scents of urine, cigarette smoke, and fried food.

When walking the customer to the stacks (NEVER POINT), again you can scratch your nose with the back side of your knuckles... and again be taken away by the pleasant reminder of your own immaculate hygiene.

And also unlike my safe confines, I am often surrounded by fans waiting for answers. I have jokingly said I would ask them to que at the payphone, and call me, as my phone reference skills are impeccable.

Now that I have come off sounding like a complete and utterly pompous librarian, I wish to assure you it is not true. I like getting to see little kids smile. I make faces at them when their mother's aren't looking; I like making them laugh.

I like watching the creased brow of a little old woman grow even more furrowed when she smiles to thank me.

It is my time to people watch and remember why I wanted to and became a librarian. It is the people, the people, the people. We'd kinda sorta be outta work without them. True.

OK, everyone would be out of work if their were no people, but bear with me as I wax romantic.

But as I sit reference desk, suddenly I long for the solitude of my hand picked shade of khaki office. I want to walk across the freshly carpeted office, to our newly installed coffee bar (formerly known as the supply closet)and pour myself a cuppa. I want to reply to customer complaints from the comfort of my ergonomically correct chair. The grass looks so much greener....

And low and behold, the cycle starts again. Such is the life of an Administrative darling.

Moral of this blog:How can I help you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Responses, Giving canned

Hot sweaty Ball jars So you work in a library. Each day 100's of librarians go to work, wondering what the day will hold for them. No one can ever be sure of what they will end up doing, or if they will want to do it. In my position, I am faced with multiple issues - ones that have ended up on my plate because a) no one else will deal with them b)they are awful situations or c)fairly delicate issues that need to be handled with all the finesse and care they know I provide to each problem I am given.

Somehow, probably because I've said I enjoy dealing with it to many times outloud, I am given the geriatric crowd to deal with. It seems that old people have an amazing amount of time and energy when it comes to writing letters to the library.

I admit, I love it when a letter shows up at home in my cute little brass mailbox attached to my understated townhouse from a dear old Great relative. Somehow, the ones that show up for me to deal with aren't so sweet, even given their provenance.

Who knew that a)bathrooms b)books with provocative photos c)sidewalks could inspire such excitement. I know my own Grandmother can talk about her health for hours, or about the price of recycling in New York - but I had no idea that other elderly people would take an equal amount of joy in the mundane.

Canned food products were all the rage during the war. For several good reasons. They lasted, and didn't spoil. They traveled well. Finally, canned products are easy to store. Where is this man going with all this? You wonder. Some more than others.

Additionally, housewives and gardeners across the country have perfected the art of Ball Jar canning. It's practical, leaves little waste, and provides a deep sense of satisfaction.

Canned replies are just as good. In the past I wrote a light hearted letter of complaint, that offered multiple choices - as people only complain about a few things. This sentiment was not far from the truth - canned answers a.k.a. form letters are really the way to go!

This idea allows the writer to be consistent in replies, fair, and stay on track with library policy.

This also allows me from overkill. So often, I find myself thinking about what I'd like to write, when really all I need to do is dip into the vast wealth that already exists on my G drive - ready to fill in and print.

We are sorry (we = staff, cleaning crew, librarians, directors, etc) about ....then just fill in the blank. Additional blanks are left for citing policy, procedure, and/or plans to reflect on a serious concern. Imagine my surprise when a serious concern shows up. Its like a breath of fresh air.

I have strayed from using canned responses when it comes to thanking people. Somehow, it shows up in the text of the letter that you didn't really write every word. People saying nice things deserve original responses - or at least I think so.
I usually let a "person in charge" sign the letter, whereas I sign all the letters that deal with patron customer complaints.

A few weeks ago, an item was called into question by a patron who believed it mislead the public. I informed him, during our conversation, that he would need to submit a form letter to me, that would allow him to provide me with copious details. I even offered to print it off and mail it to him. He actually mailed it back.

I guess the part of that boring situation above that frustrated me was this: one of the questions asks if they have read any other reviews of the item. His answer "NO". How can you complain about something that has been reviewed, and with much applause? At least lie and say you did. I'll know you are telling a fib, but will give you points for saying "YES".

I also keep an electronic file of all the responses I send. Its terrible, but sometimes all you need to do is change the name, and you have one hell of a presto bango response!

When putting the response into the envelope, I do encourage librarians to use a damp sponge, and not lick the envelope. a)it tastes gross b)you could paper cut your lip/tongue and c)you do not want to provide the customer with any traces of your physical being. G-d knows what they could do with it once they have it in their hands. Think outside the box.

See, its gross, right?

I also have my signature scanned into a .jpg. I can insert that into the document rather than sign it. It's blue, so it looks terrific once I've printed it on our deluxe printer (that can also collate, staple, duplex, and give a manicure).

Moral of this blog: Can it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Neckwear, Librarians and

stylish, n'est pas? I have said it once, and I'll say it again. Neckwear is essential.

I prefer neckwear that doesn't necessarily match 100%. For example, today I wore a mint green gingham shirt with a lavender necktie. Gorgeous.

So, lets review the things people say when I begin talking about ties in the workplace:

"But I work with children"
"My library is casual"
"People will be scared off by me..."
"I can't tie a tie"
"I don't wear ties"

Poor things. If excuses were horses, beggars would ride.

So you work with children. Wear a bow tie, or an ascot. Kids can't grab them and get their sticky, dirty hands all over your precious strand of silk. (and it would be silk, no polyester or rayon.)

Are you sure your library is casual and not you? Check that one out. Studies show that people approach library staff who look like they are in charge. Are you visible? Everyone wears a name tag. Stand out.

Not being able to tie a tie is next to the worst excuse, besides I don't wear ties. We are in the information gathering profession. Figure it out. I bet even the poorest funded library in the United States has a book about making knots in ties.

And last, "Mr. I don't wear ties". Not even I have the strength to deal with you. You are a manly man. Don't forget, you work in a library with lots and lots of women. You are not necessarily in the manliest of fields - (no offense guys, but its true)a neck tie just adds to the air that you are cultured enough to get up, dress (bathe) and come to work to serve the masses of adoring fans. Perhaps you are the cataloger who worries his tie will get stuck in the binding machinery. Perhaps you are the technology librarian who never leaves his office, and it doesn't matter. People still walk past your office. If you have time to put on underwear, you have time to put on a tie.

Yes, I have just made all the people who wear nothing underneath exempt. Sue me. Its my column.

Ladies, shall I let you off easy today? I'll just remind you that nothing says timeless elegance like a strand of pearls carelessly knotted. And yes, they can be faux pearls. Chanel encouraged women to mix the real stuff with paste jewelry too. I'm just carrying on in her fine tradition.

Wear something big, dramatic. No one can see little tiny earrings or tiny gold chains.

I am not advising you to look like a ghetto fabulous rapper either, use discretion.

Scarves are wonderful accessories because you can knot them around your neck, drape them carelessly over a shoulder, or be worn stylishly around the waist. If you have to tie two scarves together to accomplish any of this, buy a larger scarf.

Remember boys, a good knot has a dimple in the middle. Note the illustration.

Moral of this blog: Be knotty at work.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Patrons, Dealing with Elderly

Listen hear, deary Not surprisingly, I am an ardent Agatha Christie fan. One of her most beloved characters is Miss Jane Marple.

Miss Marple contends that people are of a type...meaning nothing can happen without reminding Miss Marple of some similar situation in her village of St. Mary Mead. People are archetypical.

I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment. I seem to meet the same people over and over again. Which in reality, makes them much easier to deal with.

Like Miss Marple, I grew up in a small town. I was observant enough (yes, I've always carried a little black Moleskine - though admittedly, I didn't start using a fountain pen until I was 11)to jot down what I was thinking when in different situations. It helps to be a keen observer of human behavior. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by lots and lots of old people. From these adventures in observation, I learned a terrific number of things. Without digressing into how generous I am, I will share with you a few of these personalities:

The Spinster Aunt: Quit clothes shopping when her husband died. Recounting the past is important, things were better then. Doesn't care for small children. Smells reminiscent of mothballs and rosewater. Sensible shoes, and never ever puts her purse down.

To deal with: Enjoys follow up letters recounting the visit. Enjoys sounds of agreement when in conversation. Use phrases like "Really, its no problem..", or "Let me take care of that for you". Fairly easy to deal with.

The Gardener Grandmother: Enjoys clothes with pockets, and smocks/aprons. Knows everyone's business because she is always in her yard - another keen observer of human behavior. Cusses politely in mixed company, drinks from cups in saucers, not from mugs. A bit earthy, might put left over lady fingers in her purse when no one is looking. Smells of lilacs, and sunblock. Sensible shoes, her purse probably has everything from tissue to a car jack in it.

To deal with: Listen, don't talk. Don't flatter her, she knows what she looks like. Game to share garden cuttings, and mention the neighbors business in passing. Use phrases like "Nice weather we're having" and "So I noticed the _______'s got a new car?...." Knows what she wants, and will ask for it when she wants it. My favorite to deal with.

The Drunk Uncle: Rosey cheeked, and happy. Prone to crying if you are too nice. Often, ready for a nap. Enjoys pants that are pulled up to high, and has a preference for plaids. Usually wears glasses, and keeps the case in a top pocket. Orthopedic shoes, black dress socks visible due to pants lack of length. Smells of bourbon, Jack, or canned beer.

To deal with: Smile a lot. Point out a comfortable chair and get him the daily paper. Find books with more pictures than words, he's come to get away from it for a while. Make sure he knows where the bathroom is. Can be tough to deal with, depending on how much he drank for breakfast.

Grandpa Politics: Clean shaven, perhaps a pencil moustache. Ironed dress shirt, and wing tip shoes. Probably carries a handkerchief in his pocket. Clearly remembers the last "good" President, and will share it. Odd familiarity with local government. Starts sentences with "I remember when..." and "They would have never....". Does not reveal political party affiliation. Smells like Bryll cream and aftershave.

To Deal With: Acknowledge him by name, and nod when he walks into the room. Firm handshake may follow. Don't mention international politics unless you have at least 20 more minutes to spend with him. Eye contact is important. Will tell you what he wants, no need to ask. Challenging to deal with, but rewarding.

Dear Old Auntie : A propensity for flowered dresses, may have a wandering eye. Blue hair, or grey. Must wear glasses to read, often misplaces them. May forget what she is talking about mid sentence. Cat hair on her lapels. Smells like dusting polish and BenGay. She probably hasn't ironed anything she has on, and her hair is out of place. May wear old costume jewelry. Too much lace. Smiles at odd times, or giggles for no real reason. Wears scuffed open toed heels, with stockings. Purse is surgically attached to the crook of her arm.

To deal with: This is the one I deal with first, to get it over with. Coaxing with suggestive phrases such as "...and then...." and "you don't say?" Will have forgotten where she set her glasses down at least 2 times before she leaves. Smile like you are looking at a child.

I'm only 30 Great Aunt: Dresses much too suggestively for her age, make up is evident, because its filling in the cracks on her face. Found "her look" several husbands ago, and kept it. Hairstyle from highschool graduation photo is still well kept and colored. Smells like strong perfume. Shoes look painful to wear, but very expensive. Avoid eye contact, do not smile when addressing her. Will want to talk at length, may strategically say extremely personal things in "passing".

To deal with: Keep talking, and feign getting back to what you were doing. Do not entertain her by giving her the attention she is desperately seeking. She doesn't mind, she's just on her way to flirt with the next person in the room who makes eye contact with her. One of my least favorites to deal with.

Gay Uncle: Immaculate, smells of expensive department store cologne. Crosses his legs, and pinky's up when having tea or coffee. Not a talker, an observer. Mentions wonderful vacations, and has the tan to prove it. Likes nieces and nephews, and always has a peppermint for them. Never puts the host to any trouble, and always brings flowers. Expect a thank you card 2 days later, signed in a neat hand. Black patent leather shoes, black leather belt. Probably a navy sports coat. May have a "friend" who is equally eloquent, who shows up for holiday dinners and important family events.

To deal with: Take notes. He's the one I wanted to be. Delightful to deal with. Knows when a conversation is supposed to end, no awkward pauses. Nice archetype.

Mind you, these are just a few of the "old people" observations. There are so many more. If you can deal with them, you can deal with anyone like them. We do really meet the same people over and over again, its sort of a relief at times. On occasion, I'm put to the challenge of dealing with a type I've never dealt with before, but how exciting.

A new archetype is born.

Moral of this blog: Play it again Sam.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Librarian, Busy as a

Look Ma, no plugI have realized during my sabbatical that I have learned so much since graduating with my library degree last May.

Because I have been away for so long, and many of you have been left to read my archives for months, I feel I owe new readers a recap of what it means to live life properly as a Well Dressed Librarian. Of course there are requirements. I have standards, I am not a common street librarian, and I'd rather my readers not be either.

"Wait" you say, "you are about to give away trade secrets?"

To which I reply "I've been doing it for years, why should today be any different?"

1.) A proper librarian never uses the public rest room. I'd also advise against using ANY bathroom while at work, but not all librarians have steel plated bladders. If you must use the rest room at work, you must only use it to powder your proverbial nose. All other activities are strictly prohibited.

2.) You must shatter stereotypes. No bun heads need apply. You must embrace technology like a lover, find communication with strangers oddly titillating, and have a will to provide information, much like a hooker treats her johns.

3.) You should be able to identify several brands of whiskey from the mere wisp of breath that emits from your patrons. While much of it will not be Jamesons, it could help you a)keep your distance b)understand the level of inebriation you are dealing with c)remind you to have a cocktail party.

4.) Being able to tie a Windsor not, and a bow tie are not things they teach you in Library School TM, yet you should be expected to perform such acts each morning before you leave your well appointed, and decidedly retro-styled a)town house b)condo c)house d)apartment.

5.) If you smoke, you should never smell like an ashtray. This may require keeping altoids in your manpurse, and a small bottle of cologne. This cologne will not have been purchased in a drug store. Of course many people frown on smokers, and you will be required to find an obscure place to enjoy one, maybe three cigarettes on your lunch. Do not associate with the public (read adoring fans) during these periods.

6.) Patrons should be referred to as fans. To achieve Well Dressed Librarian status you must be under the impression that you are a celebrity - which indeed you are - but many do not recognize this. This of course, should only be done while mingling with other librarians, and not directly with the adoring public. This term may also become particularly useful while writing memoirs.

7.)Using, and not abusing, charm. One mustn't rest on their laurels, but as Mama Rose says "ya either got it, or you've had it."

8) Attend conferences regularly. While not quite the same as "making an appearance", it does keep you in touch with the field at large, while making you a more polished person.

9.) Speaking of polish, you should own a shoe shine kit. Nobody likes to see dull boring old boring shoes. A bit of shine makes the world go round. If you insist on suede, you are not exempt. Brush it.

10.) No one believes attractive people are librarians. We must suffer through this. It makes us stronger. It is also amusing to mention in conversations that we have that indeed we are librarians. The looks on their faces makes it all worth while.

11.) No one believes that librarians need a Masters Degree. Why? Because they clearly are not librarians. Have they ever had a reference interview? We are amazingly adept at rooting out the wants and needs of the public.

12.) Holiday & Pet themed apparel are strictly forbidden. A tastefully framed photo of your pet on your desk is fine.

13.) Librarians are often the token librarian among friends. Oddly, unlike monkeys, we do not live or play in groups of others like us. Some do, but then again, some monkeys live alone. We are expected to win at games like Trivial pursuit, and generally be the first to send news stories as forwards to our friends. Much like a respected elder of a tribe, we are approached with requests for phone numbers, odd facts, and waivers of library fees.

14.) They do not teach you in library school that homeless people love the library. Being that we spend most of our days and nights in such facilities, we need to learn to play nicely with them. Affectionate pet names are not encouraged.

Having noted the above, you have a good idea of what you have gotten yourself into. This is not a blog for the faint of heart, or librarians who are not extroverted.

Now on to the answer to the question that is on the tip of each of your tongues - I needed a break.

I took up typing letters to various Great Aunts, indulged myself by shopping for deco aqua colored McCoy vases, and generally took a look at my life. I thought that blogging somehow detracted from my professional life, and made me less illustrious in the eyes of coworkers. I have since decided that was all bunk, and I should lay the path for more genteel up and comers.

I can not live letting people think we librarians sit and write book reviews, tell people where tax forms are, and sit behind a desk all day. Why further the myth? A field where a bulk of the most respected are verging on retirement requires the next wave to take hold of the reigns, and shy of screaming "TALLY HO!" and getting on with things, we must make a mark.

I must make a mark.

So with this, I am back.

Moral of this blog: How becoming of me.