Librarian Ire

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Book Carts.

Today I am anti-book carts.

The problem is, I don't understand why something so simple - 4 pieces of wood or metal and 4 wheels - has to cause so much aggravation. If it's a metal cart then its too loud, the wheels rattle, the paint chips; if it's a wooden book truck the wood splits, the wheels don't turn, and its too heavy. Is it so much to ask that a cart is light weight, relatively silent, durable, and turns with ease? Currently I am subjected to the wooden book trucks. The genius that designed these made it so only one set of the wheels turn. You never know which set it is until you give the cart a push, then depending on what it runs into you can determine which end turns. Of course, now that you have found the end that turns you need to determine if your pushing or pulling the truck and thus if its better to be doing one or the other on the turning end or the other. I swear to god it takes me a good 5 minutes and running into 2 walls and a book stack before I can start pushing the darn thing. Then of course I have to deal with the swaying. Any moment it seems that the wood will just shoot apart and send books flying in every direction. When I arrived I just assumed that the trucks were antiques and the library was to cheap to purchase new ones. My hopes of frugality were dashed when 2 months ago 2 new book carts were ordered - Surprise! They are exactly the same as the others. Brilliant. I need me a Guiness.

Friday, December 24, 2004


I know it's off topic.
But I wanted to wish everyone out there in librarian ire land Merry Christmas!!
I hope you are enjoying and participating in our blog.
If you have stories and comments we want to hear them. In the mean time, enjoy your time away from idiot bosses, boring committees, insane patrons, and dense student workers.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I am cursed. Its this place, I know it.

'Its great to work the day before break, its all fun and games.' Yeah. Right.:

Start= Got bad paper cut on end of finger yesterday, just where finger nail starts. Finger has been throbbing and bleeding all night long.
Have to get up at 6 am today.
It is -10 outside, 60 inside. I'm glad I'm not paying $80/ month in electricity for nothing.
6:30 - I am dressed and clean, but now I must go out to start my car, no breakfast.
6:32 - Car won't start. Try again. And again. And again.
6:36 - Back inside to wait for bus. Guess there will be no latte for me today and I won't be able to do that grocery shopping after work, get that last gift...
6:44 - walk to bus stop. Stand in freezing ass cold waiting for it to come.
6:50 - bus arrives, only 3 minutes late. Good for him!
7:10 - Go and get really, really crappy coffee next door to work.
7:26 - Idiot boss is gone for long vacation but wasn't it nice of her to leave me a half dozen very annoying and stupid emails?
7:27 - Ignore the emails until after my morning libation (My dream libation - although a little nip of Baileys would hit the spot). See emails that the students for today have done some swapping and given themselves new work hours. How nice.
7:28 - 2 people are pulling on the doors! We don't open until 7:30! And what the heck are you doing up so early and at the library on Dec. 23?
7:29 - Go out, people try to get in. Not yet! I have to lock the outside book return.
7:31 - people are in, I am logging onto desk computers. I notice my pants seem really loose - oh, I've lost the button on my pants. Too many cookies??! No, its a broken button! The little interior has cracks and the threads worked through them to free the button. Damn cheap Dockers!
7:32-45 - Search high and low for a safety pin. None. Finally, used a binder clip. I'm so embarrassed. Glad I went with the long sweater today.
7:46 - Notice one of the desk computers isn't loading. Its just a blank screen. Of course every computer mole from here to Arkansas is on vacation.
8:00 - Still no breakfast, but I have a lovely aftertaste of cheap coffee.

Any day that starts like this goes downhill fast.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Feelings of inadequacy.

In a meeting the other day, one librarian here was reporting on space issues. Reason: he is on a committee examining collection storage needs. To puff up the university, and thus himself , he actually used "Our institution has more browsable materials than Harvard" as a statement glorifying this institution.

Thankfully, I was able to muffle my snicker at such a naive comment. Yes, inadequate man, you may have everything you own available to browse, but what are those materials? Are they actually being browsed? Used? Are they not still half of what is held total by Harvard? But let's be real here, what are your circulation stats for this magnificent collection? I've seen them. Breaking it down - every student here has checked out 4 books last year. Now, is this really what you want to brag about?

ILL musings

What possesses someone to even think about sending in an Interlibrary Loan request 3 days before Christmas? Do you really think that anyone is going to look at it until the New Year?
I have several loans on my desk right now. Those will be stuck in shipping limbo until January. And the borrowing requests won't even get OPENED until after the semester starts.
I mean really.
And while I am on the subject of ILL, what's with the practise of hiring people to work there who are illiterate? Is this some sympathy deal or is it just plain old stupidity?
There are 2 libraries(major university libraries) that hire only idiots. My personal theory is they can't work anywhere else in the library so they send them to ILL thinking they will do the least amount of damage there. WRONG! They just annoy everyone else on the planet.
One thing that really gets me is wrong addresses. Every university in Utah has no concept of correct postal codes and addresses. If the postmark is Utah I can be 99% sure that it isn't a book for me. It will be for the main library or for a science library or even microfilm. But not from our collection. They send our stuff to other libraries and others libraries materials to us.
And we even send mailing labels with all our materials. Pre-printed and everything. All you have to do is use it. It's one of the self sticking too so there is no thinking involved. But that's too hard. My favorite Utah story is when they actually sent the right book back to us. Except they had the wrong address. Wrong zip code, wrong postal abbreviation, and wrong street number. The package looked like it had gone through a war. I was(and still am) amazed that the book made it back to us.
When I pointed out(quite nicely) our correct address all I got for my troubles was a snotty reply. Hey, it's not my fault you are stupid. I was trying to help you cut down on all those overdue and lost ILL fines you must pay.
But if you don't want my help it's fine. Just don't expect to get any sympathy when you lose one of my books. Just a bill.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wow. You learn something new...

every day. For instance, had you ever considered that if you have a book missing the CDROM or disk that you should give it to the cataloger to change the record and/or try to order a new one? Why, I am ALL amazement... Having only worked in circulation for 10 years, however would I have come up with such a pearl of wisdom? Thank you Binding lady from the basement for educating me.

I'm having an episode.

You know, one of those psychotic ones. The day started out ok - as well as it can when you have to be to work before the sun rises - but then, then the BOTBOAL struck. The BOTBOAL (or Boil on the Butt of all Librarians if you will) is that most retched of bosses. Incompetent, dense, annoying, and of course creepy. This is a woman who has a deep need to feel important. She must create a 'group' for everything, and every group must of course have weekly meetings. What happens when half of a group is absent, there is nothing scheduled to discuss, and the other half of the group wants to cancel? Well, the BOTBOAL makes things up and assigns them to people of course. Two hours before the scheduled meeting we will get an email with a detailed listing of things certain people are reporting on. Now, do you think those people know to what the BOTBOAL is referring when she assigns these? Do the people have the time to figure it out? What are these people to do? In my case I avoid her for the next few hours. Going to her to ask "What the heck are you talking about?" can only lead to insanity. You'll have to have a 'talk' to 'discuss' the thing. The 'thing' will lead to more 'things' and all of it will be incomprehensible and wholly outside of your duties or relevance to your occupation and institution.

I need to get my BOTBOAL lanced.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Snow Days

A legitimate excuse for taking the day off. No one wonders if you are truly sick or if you did have a doctors appointment.
Your boss doesn't want you splatted all over the road and your insurance company would rather you stayed in. Even the boss stays home on snow days.
It's a nature sanctioned mental health day. It's great. No annoying co-workers, no crazed patrons, no snotty underlings, no worries except to wonder if the hot chocolate will run out.
Now you wonder, why waste your precious time off so close to Christmas, Nike? There's not much to do at work.
Well, I have learned that there are busy work projects that happen a few days before breaks. Since school is out it's a good time to shelve and search for missing books(which I never find. Maybe that's why they're missing!) Not to mention organizing records from past years. And looking in the non-standard collections.
These things get you out from the Circ desk, but don't make the day go any faster. And you are away from your e-mail for long periods of time. Thereby missing important stuff like happy hours, pizza parties, and Christmas goodies given to the library. Our library has a policy of when we get treats we place them in the staff room for all to enjoy. Some are better than others. My favorite this year was the bucket of Lindor truffles. And everyone else liked it too!
So if you are home you have your own treats, and get to watch old movies and re-runs of the good television shows. And you don't have to go out in 0 degree weather.
To bad we don't have a summer version of snow days. Maybe heat wave days? Hmmm.

Friday, December 17, 2004

oh my god.

I am so flabbergasted I don't even know where to begin.

There is an electrician here putting in wires, outlets, cables, etc. He has his big chest of tools here, and he's bent over the wall drilling. This girl wanders over, bends over his tool chest and starts rummaging in there! My mouth has dropped open, I am frozen with shock. She finally pulls out a large pair of very sharp cable cutters - "Can I help you?!" I ask. (There was more than a little emphasis in that question, I tell you.)
As nonchalant as can be, she says:
"Can I use these?"
Pause, clip clip, as she squeezes the cutters. "Do you have something I can use to cut?"
"Like scissors? We have some on that table right there with all the other office supplies."

She then walks over to the table, takes the scissors and cuts her finger nails.

Where the he-diddle-li are my cookies!

ILL gets cookies. Chocolates. muffin baskets.

Computer people get cookies. pretzels.

I want to know where the hell are the cookies for circulation??! Who gets all the complaints when the computers break or do not work properly? Who has to run around and fix them or find someone to fix them? Who has to shelve all those returned ILL books? Who has to route them around campus, find them when they're lost? Who brings the books up from the mail room or delivers them there?

circulation!! Damn it.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Reserve issues

Let's hear it for reserves. BOOOO!
Well, not really. I don't hate them. I am more indifferent to reserve lists.
Except when the professors hand them in after classes start. THEN I hate them.

Today someone came to the desk with a book that had been recalled for a reserve list and wanted to know who has recalled it. She said if it was for next semester she would be really aggravated.
I'm sure the person who needed it thought that you hanging on to it for 2 weeks out of spite probably was a little pissed too.

A lot of students have a hard time giving up recalled books. Especially for reserve lists. I have 1 week before the semester starts to actually do all the reserve lists. Guess what guys, I don't care how aggravated you get.
I'd rather you yell at me, than the professors.
Especially since when the semester does start I get both the professors and the students who want to know why this book or that cd isn't on reserve yet.

My favorite is when professors 'forget' to give us the list and hand it to the students first. Then the first chance the students get they ask for all the books on the syllabus and then hang on to them for as long as possible. Usually about three weeks into the semester they appear on our shelves.

I like checking the hold shelf and pulling off the recalled reserve books and cancelling the student holds. It makes me happy. And no one can complain because it is for a larger audience. They knew this was going on reserve so it's not like it was unexpected.
They do complain though. Amazing. They have this idea that all my books are there for their personal use and abuse. HA! Silly students.

Fine Issue from HELL!

At the end of Nov. We had a student return a 3 day reserve item. It was 2 1/2 months overdue. The only reason he was returning it was because of his approaching graduation and the hold placed on his account due to the replacement fees for the item he was billed. He proceeded to berate the nicest, most polite student worker I've ever come across for over 5 minutes. He then stormed out only to return within moments to yell some more.

Well, yesterday I got a call from him. He was complaining that the fine appeal form he submitted for this item was denied and he wanted to know why. [Because he was rude and he knowingly and grossly abused the system.] His defense? He can download the reserve item free on the internet why should we charge him overdue fees for any price higher than the base medium cost (in this case a CDROM). He insisted on speaking quickly and constantly not letting me get a word in to answer any of his questions. I started with the most basic of complaint questions:
Did you know the item was 3 day reserve? Was there some reason you were unable to return the item (ie hospital)? Did you phone us to let us know you were unable to return the item before its due date?

Since all I got was more yelling about the item being free I hit him with the facts. The software is not free to the library. A staff member spends time negotiating a license to duplicate and distribute the software, he then makes the copies, delivers it to another staff person, library staff then catalog and process the item. Then we have the time that the item was unavailable for anyone else and the time and expense of acquiring another copy of the item.

Logic escaped this guy, so I hit him with the question that might finally bring some resolution: If it was free on the internet, why didn't he get it from there?

Gee... I'm taking the dead silence for confirmation from him that the software was not in fact free.

What a dufus.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Holidays, the Library - good times or bad?

What's the verdict with working in the library during the holidays?

I'm thinking the good can just as easily turn bad and vice versa. In the academic arena holidays = finals, burnt out and flaky students, and lax-a-daisy staff. Student staff are over sleeping, forgetting about shifts, or subbing like crazy. I spend half my day trying to keep up with just who is supposed to be working the next day. Then there is a quarter of the day where I am trying to hunt down that student who is supposed to be working to find out why the heck they didn't show up. The last quarter is spent with the full time staff working to reschedule meetings and reference shifts because they want to leave early, go shopping, get sick, or just forgot. The good in all of this is that, as you see, my day is completely filled up. There is no room for extra 'projects' (please see 'Quick, pass me the stupid stick' for explanation of where extra projects gets me), meetings are cancelled, certain undesirable staff members may be absent for part or whole days. The closer we get to Christmas the increased frequency of such things, so that usually one accounts for them. We put out a sign up sheet for students to work the week before and after xmas. Usually you get a whole day with those 1-2 workers who really like the extra money. These are almost always the good ones - responsible, eager, good natured, polite. Full-timers just outright cancel all meetings for 3 weeks as they come and go with vacation days. You get 75-90% of the staff who takes at least one full week off - and its usually 2!

My personal conclusion? The holidays are all good. Its a time when no one actually expects you to accomplish much, co-workers are gone, students are gone, its quiet. This is the best time to 'work'. Bring on the absences. Truly, its summer and the holidays that make working in the library so grand.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pass the Stupid Stick this way

What amazes me is that most people who patronize the libraries have little if any common sense. I mean libraries and their use are fairly straightforward. As much as I enjoy my job, it isn't brain surgery.

I have an example that came up recently. There is a patron who has repeatedly asked us to page books for her from our library. It is not our policy to do this because we have open stacks so you can do it yourself. We have sent numerous e-mails during the semester telling her not to do this. Which haven't worked. Over the weekend she call slipped more than 20 books from our library alone.
And she call slipped items from every library on campus. We had a 4 box delivery, 2 boxes of which were all her books. The guys who make the deliveries were not happy today. I mean come on. If you want books from every library on campus why don't you go to them instead of making us do all your work. Not to mention hogging two shelves in the hold area. What was everyone else going to do?
She actually asked if the pile of books(which took 10 minutes to check out) was excessive.
HUH?! You ask for 48 books (actually more. Closer to 60 if you count the ones from our library that we wouldn't get) andyou want to know if it's excessive?! She spent an entire day in the library on the computer asking for all these books. Probably in the stacks sitting next to them.

And the reason she asked for all these books was that she is teaching a class at another college. She wanted to put our books on reserve at this place. When she was told that was not possible she actually asked me how she could get the books she needed for reserve if we didn't provide them. I couldn't believe that! I had to explain to her that she needed to contact the place where she was teaching and find out their reserve policy. Then she wanted to know if she could copy parts of books to put on reserve. Well, yeah, but only a certain amount and only with permission. The copyright law is pretty specific. Not to mention the authors find out you could get sued into the afterlife. But she was stunned that we wouldn't let her put our books at another library.
We don't have an obligation to supplement another libraries collections. That should be obvious.
Pass me the stupid stick.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Quick! Pass Me the Stupid Stick.

Have you ever been asked to do a report by an idiot? Oh, I mean your boss? How about by a boss who is not only lacking intellectually, but is completely without foundation in the department she supervises and the workings of those in her profession?

So, I was told that I was to write a report on this hodge-podge of statistics that this idiot, I mean boss, requested of the data people. This was it. No direction on what I was to say, how a was to say it, what I was to focus on, who the audience was, if she had requested the right sort of information etc. I admit, I forgot who I was dealing with and I processed the information in the manner that I was trained to - being an intellectual with a lot of higher education and a firm background in my field. First time I gave a summation the boss, I mean idiot, came back with an excruciating amount of dumbass questions: "What is this data?" "Why did you request these statistics?" "What do these terms mean?" etc. Ok, she requested the data and she didn't understand the numbers she got back, the categories, what they meant? This lady is supposed to be in charge of circulation and she couldn't even deduce what common circulation/library terms and categories meant (like item_id, location_code, status, filled requests). So, I got my rude awakening "You forgot Loki that you work for an idiot. Put her in her place and try to understand her primitive grunt-speak." So, she tells me she wants me to do up this data I've reported to her into a formal written report. Ok, she poo-poo'd all the data I gave and the analysis I made, but I'm supposed to report on it now? Oh no, Loki won't fall for that again. So I go into her office and I confront her with my list of 100 stupid clarification questions starting with "How long is this report supposed to be?" to "What is the Audience for the report?"

So I did the report as per specifications. How can you underestimate someone when you already estimate them in the negative? I did a decent report, grammatically and structurally sound, put in jazzy facts, lots of definitions of the terms I used. She goes over the report and criticizes EVERY element. "This sentence should be at the end. I don't like this word - could you use another one? These terms you used, no one knows what they mean but you and me." So essentially I was to entirely remake a report to how she liked it - which is clumsy, doesn't make sense to me or the reader. She wants me to use words and descriptions I've never heard of, she gave me a long lecture on the audience for the report - which is completely opposite to the audience I asked her about in the first place. This is not my report - I don't understand what I'm reporting. She spent so much time come up with criticism for this report she should have just done the damn thing herself! Why make me do something that will require me going back to her again and again so that I have every little preposition in the just the right place?

Stupid Stick. Bam, Bam, Bam.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


There are a few co-workers in my library who are, well, unfit for work. One example is a woman who works in the cataloging department. She's more teenager than adult. She still has a teeny bopper high school attitude. She keeps action figures and stuffed animals in her cubicle. (She's in her 30's.) She wears skimpy clothes such as tank tops (not a good choice for her body type) Another characteristic is she shouts. She gets all excited and goes on and on at top volume. Yeah, you want that at a staff meeting.

And the main ire raising point is she is less than precise when she has to deal with other people on staff. I asked her to bring two books to the circulation desk. It took two e-mails and three days for her to reply to me. She told me she didn't have them and would have to to look for them. It might have been a good idea to do it two days earlier. When I actually asked for them.
I wasn't asking just to annoy her(although that was a bonus.) When I asked which book she had to look for she couldn't tell me. Just said one and the other. Catalogers are supposed to be detail-oriented. That's the whole point of the job.

Another co-worker is different. She spent some time off on medical leave. I suspect she spent time in the wacko ward of the nearest hospital.
Also a cataloger. Hmm. I am seeing a pattern. Although she does do the job faster and better than the other woman. She is detail-oriented. Almost obsessively so. She reminds me a little of Kramer from Seinfeld. All that twitching and rambling. It's not as funny up close.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Germs. A Case for Ire?

Working in a library, one is bombarded with germs. All those students who stopped bathing for finals, use their cuffs to wipe their nose, and think nothing of unnecessary touching. Eventually, even the most cautious germ-a-phobe librarian will fall victim to the germ. Now, the question is to be angry or not? I mean, sure you feel like crap BUT you get time off. You get to sleep late and hang around in your jammies all day watching cheesy eighties movies on cable. (Sixteen Candles is awesome!) Also, when you are legitimately sick (as opposed to those mental health days...) you can stretch out your convalescence. Say you have a bad cold. The first day you're in bed pretty much the whole time - coughing, sneezing, aching - the whole Niquil bit. But really, by the second day you're able to function - you can take a shower, get dressed, make some food not found in a can. By the third day you feel fully functional just not 100%, but seeing as you were really sick before you feel justified taking this day off as well. After all, you do not want to relapse. For a minor cold you can swing 3 sick days! Three days off of work - that is a good thing any way you look at it. So really, you have no need to be angry at the germs. I have convinced myself that germs are a good thing. Embrace the germ. (But don't embrace the student - their are laws against that.)

Oh, yes, and if at all possible I recommend getting sick on a Tuesday, that way it doesn't interfere with your weekends.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Dark day.

End of the semester, first thing Monday morning, skipped breakfast, and I'm out of tylenol. Already I've had 4 students come in looking for books they requested that haven't arrived yet. People! Read the notices - spying the library masthead does not mean something is here for you!

There is no way things can go my way. My only hope is to keep the lights off in the office and the door shut.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Here's a topic to mull upon. My word of the day is mull. "To consider at length." Also to grind throughly.
Why do people who are so totally inferior to the rest of the human race(and some animal and plant species) act so superior?
I have noticed this lately. And it worries me. A good example happened today.
There is a patron here who tried to work for the library. She lasted 2 days. She wanted to get paid to study not to work. She now spends her time in the library trying to chat up the student workers. She doesn't have much luck as she looks like a human pug dog. Square squat body and a smashed in face. She's a great prospect for that show The Swan.
She isn't too bright either. So here we are with an ugly, dumb rude white woman with a sense of entitlement.
Today she crowded the patron I was helping because he wasn't moving fast enough for her. Then started a conversation with her "friend" while I waited to help her. When she felt I had suffered enough she told me how to check out the book to her. As a student not an employee. No kidding, dumbass. Then she snatches the book out of my hands when I was trying to put the due date slip in. It's not that she's unfamiliar with the process. She likes to make other people uncomfortable. Which is actually the very epitome of inferiority. She thinks she is superior to everyone. Which she isn't. She's not even superior to my aloe plant.
So my problem is what do we do about these people? We can't kill them(at least not when there are witnesses.) They don't believe there is a problem with them so we can't advise counseling(not that it would help) And they won't go back to the rock they crawled out from under. I am at a loss.

Not the brightest bulb in the socket.

A patron came to the circulation desk with a fine issue. I overheard him telling the student that he had received a lost fee on a reserve book which he had returned within the appropriate time frame. So, the student trekked to the reserve shelf and sure enough there the book was. So, the student back dates the book and tells that patron the fees will be removed by the supervisor. Patron says "ok" and turns around to leave. He gets about 4 feet from the desk, stops and turns around and says "You know, this was the same thing that happened with the other fine on my account."

Real smooth there Slurpy. Here's a tip: try to be somewhat convincing when making up tall tales. First, the other fine was from over a month ago. Second, it was checked in only a few hours after it was due. Third, it was discharged in the middle of the day and wasn't checked out again for weeks - showing it had been checked in upon return. Not to mention the "Oh yeah..." doesn't lend itself to validity. This guy deserved a note in his record for idiocy.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Stupid Library Slogans

Some editing here as I come across some slogans...

How's this for a library slogan:

Yours, for the Using. (Hmm... I don't know what it is, but I don't want to use it. Who knows where its been.)

Grow Little Minds (Umm... aren't they coming to the library to enlarge their little minds?)

Get Carded (Ok then, but they better have Hard Cider or I'll be very ornery.)