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?

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