Librarian Ire

Monday, January 31, 2005

Just bring us any old library book.

Once again, a patron has returned a public library book here at a college library. They are darned lucky that if we send the book off to our central mail room, there are materials there that make their way to the public library system mail room. So eventually the book will make its way home. The last time someone did this they called us up about 4 days after the return and wanted to know why we hadn't discharged the book from his record!
"Uh, because its a public library book. We are not affiliated with them. You can't return their books to us."
"Well why didn't you tell me?!"
"First of all, because you put the book in the book return and we didn't know you were doing it. Second, we have no idea who you are!"
"Well, why didn't you hold onto the book until I came back for it?"
"Again, we didn't know who you were or if you were coming back."
"Well now the book is overdue and I'm not paying the fines."
"I'm afraid that's your problem with the public library."
"Can you call them for me?"
"No." I'm afraid I hope that they stick you with a motherload of fines.

What's worse? A collegue here said she has actually driven the books over to the public library in the past. I sure as hell didn't let her do that! In no way am I going to enable moronity! They should thank their bloody lucky stars we returned the damn book at all.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Listening and learning.

I am not sure all of this is strictly accurate, as I got it 3rd hand, but it's a funny story. Why do patrons have a strange inability to follow directions?

Here is a new patron to the library who's having trouble with getting requested books. Not so unusual. It happens. In this case it was what I like to call patron error. This woman insisted on adding extra characters to her log-in.
So even though several people had explained this to her multiple times she still didn't get it. Gee, I'm shocked.

While home on day she decided to try again. I guess hope springs eternal. She also had a habit of asking for books already checked out. Hmmmm, maybe another reason she couldn't get books.

Anyway the thing doesn't work. Big surprise there. And she can't remember the people who tried to help her before or get in touch with the main circulation desk (I don't even want to know how she forgot that!)
So she starts surfing the internet in search of someone who can help her and comes up the one of the Big Cheeses. Sort of the Vice President of the library. So she calls her up, and explains the situation.
So the next day the V-P heads on down to the circ desk to clear up the misunderstanding this poor confused patron has told her about. And then she gets the whole (real)story from the boss there.
I would kill to have heard that little exchange!
And it would have been nice had the woman paid attention the first time everything was explained to her. So that's the lesson of the day. LISTEN!

Friday, January 28, 2005

30 Day Parade!

Today is the 30 day parade! Hurray!! Hurray!!

30 days ago today all books came due that were checked out. For those lucky ALL since they did not return or renew the book they have now been billed for them!

A lovely parade of students of all shapes, sizes, and colors have now made their way to the library to return their books. The piercing and grunting sounds of their complaints about fines can be heard across the whole floor.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Contemplate the empty spaces

Once in a while when the library is quiet I like to go into the stacks and contemplate the empty spaces.
Now this sounds easier than it is. (it also sounds a little crazy I admit, but hey we're all librarians here)
We don't have a lot of empty space in our stacks. A circumstance that drives me a little crazy.
But we do have weeding and shifting projects that are ongoing. So we have some spaces, just not enough. (More I want more!)

My favorite place to contemplate are in the journals. I noticed over time that there were journals that not only no one had checked out, they weren't even being published anymore. So, I asked myself why we still needed them in the stacks taking up space when one of the things we were complaining about was space.
So I compiled a list. An extensive list. Several hundred journal titles. Some of which were at least 70 years old.
And now I get to view the end result. Empty space in the stacks where books once resided. Books that are much safer in another library.
It gives me great joy and satisfaction to contemplate the empty spaces and know that they will be put to good use in the near future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pug dog woman

She's back. Ruining my night.
Let's see. She wanted to check out a reserve. So we go through the whole song and dance. Do you have a call number? No well you have to look it up. No I don't know the call number from memory.
So when she gets it(wrong) but I am smart enough to discern(my new word)"To come to know or recognize mentally" what she really wants.
She hands me her ID. Wrong. I explain again, how she needs to scan it. She does that. Not telling me that she's a grad student this time. Amazing. She must have forgotten that part.
And right before I scan the barcode she takes the book away from me!
It's not even checked out to her. How rude to just grab the book right from someone's hands. She's missing a serious lesson on manners and sharing. I think I learned that in pre-school. And we usually hand it to you when we are finished with it. Another thing she forgot.
I did have brief and very satisfying vision of having her arrested for stealing a reserve book.
But I was nice and informed her that the book needed to be checked out first before she got her grubby paws all over it.
Now she's back hacking away and typing on the public workstations.
As I said ruining my night.

My Wit Pool is Dry

So I'm trying to prepare for all the upcoming instruction classes I must teach and all I get is "Loki, where are the teaching schedules?" "Loki, where should I hang these signs?" "Loki, where should we move this furniture?" "Loki, do you want some oranges?" "Loki, could you show me how to change printers?" "Loki, did you train the new students to shelve?" "Hey Loki, how's it going?" "Loki, let me tell you about the latest serial ordering snafu." "Loki, why are you yelling at me?" "Loki, Loki! Put the knife down!"

Man. How can anyone believe after my day that the world does not revolve around me?!

And more importantly, when will I start referring to my 3rd person self as Loki? Its bad enough I get strange looks when I refer to my father, Satan.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pimping a Resource.

I know, you want to hear me bitch and moan, but I have to push this resource:

A database about homicides in early Chicago. Great fun for those interested in crime, history, midwestern life...

Some cool info in the database: Allegations of police corruption = Yes (Dirty bastards!), Occupational Skill = criminal-burglar (Ha!), Related to Prohibition = Yes (Sure, blame it on the liquor!).

I suggest you search by month and year alone if you're just trying it out.

Control Issues.

This is a management thing I know it, but since I work in a library... On top of all the boss' other problems she has serious control issues. Nobody with these issues is a fraction as 'nice' as she would have people believe. [Smile all you want, I'm not telling you what I did this weekend!]

Some of the lovely things that she does:

Forward me a message telling me to forward the message to another person. Why can't she forward it? I don't know. But that other person is on the same listserv that the forwarded message came out on, so she got it already. Wait, why am I forwarding it?

Comes up to any conversation I may be having with another librarian and listens. Doesn't matter what the conversation is or if she was invited. If its discussing anything library related and its not our 'department' she kindly informs us that our discussion is a matter for blank. Oh my gosh! Silly me for speaking about anything that does not fall into my little world. I don't know God personally, so I guess I should never discuss or think about him/her/it.

I notice that there are links on the website that are broken. I inform the person responsible and volunteer to fix them, as I am beefing up my Dreamweaver experience and I know what's broken. That head of department thanks me for my work in an email cc'ing the boss - so I'll get credit - and I get an email from the boss telling me that my undertaking was not something I should be 'wasting' my time on. Its a matter for the other department and I should notify them and let them handle it. Oh drat! Silly me AGAIN, for helping things run smoothly! I mean, if it is not my department and my job as specified in my detailed position description, why I should just ignore it.

Then there's the instruction class to be taught. If, while we are going over them, I say "I like to tell them about blah blah here". I am quickly informed, "No. Students don't care about that." or "We've done that in the past and it doesn't work." Huh. I thought I was teaching this class. Can't I add my little bits if they are correct and helpful and don't deflect from the script? Seeing as I tell at least 4 students that very thing everyday it seems to be knowledge in demand and I should give it a shot since it takes all of 20 seconds. Or how about when I offer a suggestion that we don't go into a resource in depth as it will take more than the 2 minutes provided for everyone to participate. Instead we demonstrate it for them and let them know about the classes we teach on just this thing so they can learn more. "Students won't go to those classes." Wait, what? You are the head of instruction aren't you? You are the one who is always scheduling these classes and telling everyone in campus meetings how much all the students love them and attend them? Surely you are not rankled that I have thought of something that you didn't? That can't possibly be the reason for your hypocrisy?

And finally (although you can see that it doesn't end, right?) this is my newest favorite. I am told I should not be afraid to give my opinion. Its important for me to speak so that others know how knowledgeable I am. Okay, when are they impressed with my knowledge - before or after you provide at great GREAT length how wrong I am or how you believe we should change the way something was done so I don't screw it up again? Did I not, 30 seconds before you said this, come to you with an opinion on how something should be changed? Did I not just hog a good portion of our meeting the previous day giving my opinion? Perhaps you couldn't hear anything with your big head.

Sigh. I'm working on installing a full bar in my desk.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Accentuate the positive

Well, I'm trying. Hmm. Let's see.
1. I am surrounded by books. Not literally of course. But working with books is interesting and fun. Especially if you like books. Which I do.
2. It is an atmosphere of learning. Education is good. That promotes growth.
3. My co-workers, for the most part are interesting and good humored. It is a fairly pleasant place to work.
4. I get to do a variety of tasks thereby making my day pass quickly.
5. Because of my schedule I don't have to deal with some of the more annoying workers or patrons.
6. Traffic is light when I come to work and leave from work. Always a plus.
7. My boss is encouraging about me learning new things and taking on responsibility. That bulks up the resume.
8. Snackies. Some of my co-workers enjoy baking. They bring in cookies, breads, brownies for us to share.
9. They pay me to go to school and improve myself.
10. There are social activities such as movies, receptions, and lectures that you can go to.
11. Unlimited internet use.

Not too bad. More than I thought. I will have to leave this list for a reminder on the bad days.

What I didn't learn in Lib. School.

I have uncovered the secret to success as a librarian! Surprisingly it has nothing to do with databases, classification, or instruction; you do not need a masters degree, a college degree, or a diploma of any variety.

The secret? A computer and knowledge of "How to...". That is:

How to turn it on.
How to log in.
How to print.
How to open Word.
How to save.
How to email.
How to put in a floppy.
How to plug in headphones.

There is no need to have books, serials, or archives. Today's undergraduate doesn't know how to use these. You only even need to get a single user license for databases because the students come to the reference desk to find that one scholarly article required for their papers. ("No, Time Magazine is not a scholarly publication") ONE article! I am horrified at the educational standards of my current place of employment. Notice, I did not say shocked, the shock has long ago disappeared, the horror has remained and added to my growing list of synonyms: dufus, ass, dumbass, moron, boob, nincompoop, meathead, pinhead, blockhead, bonehead, schmuck, twit, twerp, pisher, ignoramous, fool, dunce, dolt, dimwit, dorkus, dumbell, dumdum, dunce, and the even tactful, simpleton. Sigh.

"I'd love to show you how to print your email."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Damn incompents

Fairly busy here in the library despite the snow. What amazed me is that people were waiting outside the door for me to unlock it.
Don't these people have lives? Actually I think they just want to use the internet. Sheesh.
Snowdrifts to your knees, 15 degree weather, and high winds and you have to check your e-mail?
I could understand if this was paper time. But it's only the first month of the semester. What's due?

And to top it off, I am here alone. So that means I am chained to the desk for the next 7 hours. I doubt the student workers will come in. Lovely.
Good thing I brought a few books to read. I'll need them. I will go hungry though. DAMN IT!
And when I went through the opening procedures I noticed that the people who closed last night did a piss-poor job of it. Computer still on, half empty soda bottles left on floors, books scattered all over the reference room.
I knew hiring a first time library worker as a supervisor was a mistake. I don't care how smart, nice and eager she was to work here. The kid misses a lot of basic stuff. We need a Saturday checklist. And we should make her work a week day shift. I don't get that. She only works on Saturdays. She's never worked in a library before and she had one week of training last summer. So why is she in charge one day a week?
No one's schedule is that crowded that you can't fit a 3 hour shift in somewhere between Monday and Friday.
But the boss likes her, so she overlooks the mistakes and when the other students say this wasn't done or why is that like that, it's someone else's fault.
Gotta lay the groundwork carefully for this one.
And the only time you hear from her is when she can't work or she is mad at you for telling her how to do the job. Well, if you paid attention the first 6 times when we went over it we wouldn't have this problem, now would we?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Whiny spoiled brats

We had a patron bugging us for the better part of this week about overdue fines on his account.
I checked his history, and saw when the fines had accrued. I sent him a firm but polite e-mail(I really don't like that policy) telling him that the fines were generated at this time because you had books out beyond the due date and did not or could not renew them. And because notices were sent, we don't forgive overdue fees, just because you whine.
Not to mention I saw that he had a pattern. Overdue books, fines, transfer the fines to his school account, then one week later we would get a note saying I didn't know about this. I can't pay this. I returned this book on time.
Ok. Once even twice I'd go with. I wouldn't like it, but it can happen. Four times in a freaking row!!!!!
Start taking responsiblity. Oh wait I forgot he's a whiny spoiled brat.
After he got my e-mail he sent one back saying I never got an e-mail. Something was wrong with the system. I won't pay for these fines. So I told on him.
Ok, I forwarded the e-mail to the boss with a note what was happening. SHE called systems and found out the little brat was lying. So there!!

And here's another kind of brat. Professor hands in a long reserve list. I get all but 2 books. Of course those are checked out. So I ask for them back. In the meantime people from the class want the books. I had 3 requests for them in 2 days. Must have been assigned reading. I tell them the books are still out. Hopefully they will be in soon. The new due date comes and goes no books. So now you are paying wildly outrageous overdue fees. 5 days later(yesterday) the guy comes in right before closing (another whole day according to the computer) to turn in the books. He ended up with $40.00 in overdue fees for 2 books. For a 'poor' grad student he sure has money to blow.

And the third brat. Let's call her Velma. (Not her name.) She's a female Nathan in some ways. A hard worker when she chooses to work. She is polite, pleasant and charming. Most of the time. She makes a good impression on authority figures.
But if you know her tricks she often makes others do her work. Over the summer the shelvers complained Velma would look for books for a little while and then say I can't find these and give them the work to do. Which of course were right where they were supposed to be.
Last night I gave her three things to do. She made a start at the first one. I went to dinner.(should have starved) when I came back she was happily typing away on her e-mail. Three shelves of books were right where they were an hour before.
I asked her how close she was to finishing. She sort of grinned and said a while. Ok, kiddies when I ask you to do something I expect it to be done within a reasonable time frame. I told her she needs to work first and not talk to her friends and do e-mail. I don't mind if you study while you are here. But e-mail to the exclusion of else is not going to get you a good recommendation when you graduate.
And she is high handed. She will tell other students what to do. (not your job, kiddie) And even try to order the staff around. (Oh yeah good idea) Part of the whole brat mentality. She is a classic spoiled rich girl. Never worked a day in her life. Mommy and Daddy still support her. The only person I ever met with a part-time job who goes overseas three times a year.

BUZZ! Try again.

I love it when they pull this stuff.

A patron phones the circ desk. She begins by delivering a diatribe concerning her inability to reach a live person when she phones the circ phone number. "Oh really?" I reply. In my best real-person voice. "I'll look into that. Is there something I can do for you?"She needs to renew her day loan reserve book. Sorry. No. No renewals, for those items, it must be returned.


I give the short answer. I give the long answer. There is no room for doubt, there are no exceptions.

"Ok. Then, if you can renew it for me until Tuesday I'll be able to bring it back first thing."

"If you bring it back Tuesday there will be a $20 fine."

"But I renewed it!"

"No, you did NOT renew it. There are no renewals. There are no exceptions. The computer will no allow it."

"Ok." Click.

2 hours later; the phone rings; Two of us make a dash to get it, I win.

"Hello. I need to renew my reserve book until Tuesday."

"Oh hello again. As I told you when you phoned 2 hours ago you can not renew those items."

"Eep!" Click. Dial Tone.

Now the phone is going into my office until Tuesday. Try to do an end run around me??! ha ha ha ha ha NEVER!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

That's not what I trained you!

Things overheard from my student workers:

To a patron moaning about their fines. You should ask my supervisor, she can forgive your fine.

Where did the money go??

Here's a scalding hot topic for libraries - money. There are infinite articles written about it. There are miserly higher-ups who can tell you the exact cost for every little thing (For instance, did you know that it cost about $2.50 for each loose page that must be tipped in?) - but refuse to put a price on the big things? [Forget the whole electronic serials issue, b/c that is highway robbery agreed.]

I would like to know how much it costs to have those weekly meetings. Now, let's say its the reference staff meeting. There are 15 librarians attending. The meeting takes minimum 1 hour 15 minutes. Now, if you went from my measly salary and did the basic hours/wk x wks/year=Y, salary/y=X and roughly X=$17. Ok, so that's 15 librarians at $17/hr = $255. So, the library flushed about $300 (b/c its longer than 1 hour!) down the drain for a group of people to be subjected to the idiocy of the tweedle-dees. (Those would be the people in charge who are making us do the meeting). $300 x 4 wks/month=$1200 x 12 months= $14400! Now, at my last meeting we heard a lot of ramblings about nothing, and one of the tweedle-dees gave us a lovely database demo that was completely incoherent and random. Luckily we all use the database on a daily basis, so we knew all the things about it she apparently did not. [Wait, why did we have the demo? Uh-huh.]

Ok. Now, I have 4 other useless meetings every week JUST like this one, and I have the least amount of meetings of anyone. $14400 x 4= $57600. WOAH! We could get Elsevier titles for that! I wonder what it would take to reorganize and have useful, cost effective meetings... hmm. think-think. SNAP! NO tweedle-dees!! Meeting cost cut by a quarter at least and then there's salary savings!

I'm a genius. Where are my props?

I am ON to something!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Imbecilic paper abusers

Today I was happily in the stacks looking for books. And then my happiness was dashed. I saw the victims of an imbecilic paper abuser. Some cruel, vicious, and over educated idiot had abused several books.

First were the left-overs. These are pieces of paper left in books. They range from tiny scraps of paper marking a place to post-it notes(AUGH!) to folded magazine articles left in a poor defenceless book.
The post-it notes, or stickies, are bad for books as the glue leaves an attractive residue for bugs and dirt. And the large pieces of folded paper damage the binding by cracking the spine. And the acid in the paper gets soaked up and speeds the deterioration of the book. All of this is bad. But fixable. But we still don't want it to happen!
The people who leave paper clips, toothpicks and other debris in books should be confined to a special level of Hell. The damage done here is harder to fix. Almost impossible to clean rust off paper.

Second are the writers. People who don't have the sense or decency to leave paper in books. They decide that they need to supplement the authors' thoughts with their superior(not!) knowledge of the subject by adding comments and highlighting passages and underlining in pen. This is even worse. It's plain and simple vandalism.
Do it to your own books. Leave ours alone. That's why they have bookstores. So you can buy books to use.

Third are the dog-earers. These people have no idea what a bookmark is for. And since everything in the book is relevant to whatever they are studying they dog ear pages willy-nilly. And when it's REALLY important they feel a deep need to fold down half the page.
The only time you need to dog ear a page is when you are performing an MIT paper test. If I knew who was doing this I'd cut off their hands!
There are circumstances when we should incorporate the Code Of Hammarabi into library policies.

And of course when one of these victims of abuse needs to be replaced or rebound it is then the abusers return to complain about not being able to check it out because it isn't available. Well, of course not. You have shortened it's life and deprived others of years of enjoyment.
We have to start cracking down on all types of abuse. And make the abusers pay!

High Noon at the Overdue Corral

The entryway was deserted when the combatants came into view. Wind could be heard whistling through overcrowded stacks. Salt littered the carpet. Patrons sat huddled over textbooks at table and carrels. A lonely, crumpled book receipt rolled past the circulation desk.

The Patron sidled up to the desk, her black Jansport backpack bulged, the straps stretched out all the way. Her baby-blue Columbia jacket buttoned up to her nose. The gopher head knit cap did nothing to soften the sneer upon her face.

The Librarian showed no fear as she stepped up to the counter. She planted her feet firmly in her birkenstocks and matched the sneer with her fiercest scowl.

Without hesitation the patron drew her weapon: "The computer says I have a book overdue but I returned it right after I checked it out."

The librarian wasted no time drawing her own: "Ok. When do you believe you returned the item?"

"I returned it right after I checked it out. There was a girl at the desk who had all these piles of books she was messing with. I put the book down on one of those piles when she was helping someone else." The Patron fires!

The bullet is easily dodged by the Librarian who makes a quick and thorough search of the stacks and returns fire: "The book can not be located here in the library. Until it is located it must remain on your account. Are you sure that you returned this book, and not one with a similar title?"

Hit! The Patron staggers back from the blow. She has no more ammunition. Admitting defeat, the Patron stomps out of the library with a toss of her hair and a "Uh!" under her breath.

The Librarian has little time to savor her victory, for she knows there will be others. She must remain ever vigilant, one hand on her barcode reader at all times.

Mad Cow Disease Runs Rampant in Libraries

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad-cow disease, has been found in abundance at university libraries across the country. The infected were identified through a series of cognitive exercises developed by international BSE expert, Loki. "Developing valid and absolute diagnostic tools for this most hideous of diseases has been an all consuming undertaking for the last 10 years."

"Experience is essential in diagnosis." Loki says. "Many librarians new to the profession often mistake their initial BSE diagnosis as a mood swing or hormonal imbalance. Peers have even shown support for these misconceptions." While a mistaken diagnosis can not be ruled out, Loki informs us, a librarian's initial reactions are often a good indicator of BSE.

Loki first encountered BSE as a graduate student in a subject library. Her boss was prone to late arrivals, early departures, and long lunches. Mistakes were universally blamed on the students and any and all movements of discontent were squashed with talks about 'attitude'. "Anytime one is brought to task regarding their 'attitude' I guarantee you that BSE is involved." Loki says. Advanced BSE will manifest itself in employee terminations while more minor cases will involve ignorance of all previous disciplinary measures.

"There are a number of easy questions that if answered truthfully can lead to an accurate BSE diagnosis. For instance, does the person in question lack all forms of logic? Are they unfamiliar with the most basic of procedures in the department they head? Does polyester dominate their wardrobe? Do they blink? Do they repeatedly try to engage you in personal conversation even though you have been known to run away from them and to establish elaborate protocols in order to avoid them?" These are but a few of the many indicators of BSE infection. The entire series of exercises will be published in the upcoming library handbook Abandon all Hope, Logic has Left Us by Librarian Ire Press.

Loki first stumbled upon the key to successful BSE diagnosis in 2001 when having a conversation with 2 library co-workers. Loki questioned the possible carrier about their family history. What followed was a statement that irrefutably identified the person as BSE infected: "Many people think that I'm the way I am because my parents are first cousins. That's not true. It's genetics that made me this way."

This remarkable breakthrough proved to be the key to deciphering years of research. Those concerned with rendering an accurate diagnosis of BSE within their library staff should not be dissuaded by peers who may deny a case of BSE as over-reacting. Loki informs L.I., "If you feel strongly enough, and the evidence supports your claim, do not be afraid to proclaim someone is a mad cow!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I have questions

These might be updated periodically.
Why, do all the whiny students blame me for not having the 'right' books on reserve?
Why do the downtown ILL people send me the request for a book that is clearly in another library?
Why do fools fall in love? (hehehehe)
Why does the director insist on giving me strange language items to search for? Things in Welsh, Tahitan, Finnish, Hawaiian and my personal favorite, Turkish. I do not know these languages. There has to be someone who does!
Questions 2
Why is it that when you are calling to find out if something is open and the phone is answered you ask Is the library open?
Why do you expect ME to do your school work for you? I already have a degree.

Suggested or (-tive?) Studies

A couple of library studies I'd like to see:

What are the demographics for female librarians who keep their last name?

4 out of 7 married women in my library have chosen to keep their last name. Is this majority related to the tightness of their undies? Hmm...

What percentage of males working full time in your library have fingernails longer than yours?

2 out of 3 males have fingernails longer than the majority of the female staff workers. Hmm. Cross-reference with argyle... Astonishing corollary.

Day 1 New Semester

I got a streaked (you know, where people with blacky-brown hair put lines of blond in their hair like its natural?) bimbette who came to the desk all "Like, what's wrong with the printer?" I march my little self over - "Let's see, you selected print for your document? Is this it in the print que? Ok, then you need to put in your print card... no, that is your ID. Your ID does not do printing. Since when? Why, since always. Your ID cannot do any printing or copying anywhere on campus. Yes, it does cost money to print. I know $0.14 is a lot of money for 2 pages." She rolled her eyes at me. I hate it when the halfwits roll their eyes at me. I mean can they see themselves? People who look like they do should not be rolling their eyes at ME.

Not too bad day... My olfactory senses were not overpowered by any bad-breathed, no bathing, international students today. Though, I did have to endure a run-in with Hep-Hep woman, my very own Prof. Umbridge was in the house. Why does she not blink??!!

Office Manager Prerequisites

Wanted: Library Office Manager

Qualifications: clothing, likeable personality.

Preferred Qualifications: Family drama - especially regarding children, old or small, ill parents, old clunker car, health issues, inability to understand the workings of technology, fascination with the postal system, and housing problems including but not limited to roofs caving in and basement flooding.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Best intentions

I was going to blog about the rest and haven that is the library on a Sunday. Especially on a Sunday in the beginning of the semester.

Haven is a place of safety, a port or harbor, a place offering favorable conditions or opportunities. Haven is also today's word.
I was wrong about the haven. At least for today. Ah well as long as this doesn't count on my road to hell.

And why can't I blog about the peace and serenity that Sunday provides?
The answer is that there were 5 ILL packages on the return shelf. 5 large packages. Two stacks of reserve books, a pile of mail, 1 stack of returned books that needed my attention(and only my attention) and the crowning glory. A three page e-mail from a TA about a lost reserve list. According to the e-mail the professor sent in the list in December. Which I doubt(call me cynical). Yet another late reserve list to do, books to recall, and books to find. Oh goodie.
And because people are STILL returning books from last semester we have a nice little tower of books in the middle of our floor.
So I have been a busy little bee. Only now can I do the regularly scheduled ILL, circulation updating, and e-mails.
Very hectic. Maybe next Sunday I will have a peaceful(dare I say boring?) Sunday. I have forgotten what those are like. It's been months.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Student worker woes.

How hard should it be to hire a student to work in the library? I mean, you need a warm body to sit at the desk, smile at people, scan barcodes, and give the occasional direction of 'on the 4th floor'. Hundreds of applications - really. Experience not necessary. Of any sort. Just consciousness, sanity, and you hope for common sense.

So why is it, when you are in the interview and you are asking questions and you say: "This position is 10-15 hours/week and requires working at night and on the weekends. Will you be able to work these shifts?" The responses are always: "Oh sure!" "No problem, I'm a night person." "I'm up that late anyway." Then you make the call, offer them the job and on the first day they come in and go "Is there anyway I could not work at night and on the weekends?"

DUDE! I told you! "Damn it! You're fired, get the hell out of my library!"

every. single. time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

New semester

It's a new semester so that means more work. Mostly reserves and training. Students want a job so I get to train. That's the bulk of my week.
The neophytes I have been training for the last few days are pretty good. Neophyte is the word of the day. "A new convert or beginner."
Very apt. We try to convert them to the ways of the library. How to treat books and use the resources to get the most out of them.
At the moment, however, they are happy and content. They are enjoying themselves. They have no concept of what awaits them in the secrets of the library. But they will.
Call slips, ILL paging, shelving, holds, recalls, reserves, charging and discharging items and my favorite, directional questions. Like where are the stacks? And when they know all that we hit them with library policies. How many books you can check out for reserves, (2 at one time) cell phones,(NOT IN THE LIBRARY!), food, (IF I CATCH YOU YOU'RE DEAD!!) and checking things out without an id, (yeah right).
Last night we had a prime training situation for my night student. A second semester grad student came in wanting a book off reserve. He had never been in the library before. He was actually proud of that fact. I told him that wasn't something to brag about. I mean how'd you graduate from college, Sparky if you didn't use a library? He had no idea how to use the reserves, where the copiers were, or where the stacks were. Those are usually the ones who think working in the library is paid study time. Which it isn't here. We make you work for your money. We try not to hire those people, but I digress.
The student knew just what to do. She showed him the reserve page and told him how it worked and explained the system. I was quite proud of her. Pretty good for someone who was working her first night shift. And what's even better the student actually understood it all. Sometimes they are clueless. No matter who explains it and how they never get it.
I worry about higher education in those moments.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Defining a Nathan.

Probably for the benefit of those who don't know, a definition of a Nathan should be provided. (Nathan was referenced in the previous post concerning morons.)

Nathan (n ae th e n)
Male student worker in a library at an institute of higher learning who is hired based upon a good resume and first impression and who demonstrates, within the first day of work, that they are severely incompetent, unable to communicate, behave in most unusual ways, and overall drive their supervising librarians to homicide. They may or may not be characterized by abnormal facial and body hair, the wearing of women's clothing, and extreme disorientation regarding where they are, where they have been, and where they should be. Once hired, a Nathan is impossible to be rid of until he chooses to leave.

resembling or suggestive of a Nathan.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Speaking of morons

I know we weren't really on the topic of morons, but it dovetails nicely with my previous topic. Incidentally dovetail is the word of the day. "To connect or combine precisely and harmoniously."
You see, we hire students for a lot of the work. Shelving, copy cataloging, archival organization, opening mail, and manning the circulation desk. Things that we could hire a full-time person to do, but why bother when students will do it for cheaper? But that old adage, you get what you pay for, comes to mind.
There is one student who used to work for the circ staff. He works in tech services now. Which is fine with me. This guy(let's call him Nathan) doesn't really fit in at the library. He is stolid, overly serious, pompous, with no sense of humor. The kind of person who likes to lecture. Never mind that half the time he has no clue! He is very disappointed in the university. It is not living up to his expectations. And he doesn't like living here either. Actually he hates it. He doesn't like the prices, the road conditions, the weather, the people, and anything else you mention. (Then why did you move here, moron!) And he isn't shy about voicing these opinions to anyone who will stand still.
He was pulling the outdated magazines this afternoon, so he had a pile. I said to him "So, Nathan, going to do a little reading?" The circ student cracked a smile at that. Nathan looked at me and said, "I am going to do my job."
REALLY? I never would have guessed that! I had no clue what you were doing with last year's magazines. Thanks for letting me know that! Although that was the only time today I saw him working. He spent more time at the circ desk talking with the other student workers then working. I have to have a word with him, if this continues. Not that it would penetrate his thick moronic skull.


It always amazes me that people who supposedly are the nation's best and brightest do not know the alphabet and cannot count to 20.
I mean, how did you people get into college if you flunked kindgarten?!
I was in the stacks looking for books to send out on ILL (see ILL musings 12/22/04 for my thoughts on that) when I noticed books in the wrong sequence. In what alphabet does N come before E? And why does volume 10 have to come before volume 6? And why did you put the book back upside down so that no one else can see what it is?
Is this some secret shelving ritual that we as professional librarians are not privy to? Are you trying to start your own call number system and this is the Beta test on our books? Or are you just morons?
I know you know how to speak English. In some cases they speak several languages. Shelving is not a hard job. In fact it is pretty mindless.
Maybe that's the problem. They are so far advanced they have forgotten the basics. They don't know how to do mindless anymore.
Hire all stupid people for things like this. Wait, no we tried that once too. They really couldn't read at all. Everything was messed up for years.
I like shelving. It can be relaxing. No one bothers you when you buried in books. I just don't like it when something so easy is screwed up so badly.
A co-worker of mine commented that we should just have everything in the stacks. No special locations, no multi call number systems. It would make his life easier. And he doesn't shelve.
So it's not just me.