Wednesday, May 30, 2007

budget time ... time is money

so today i went to a little hell's library reunion where i met with my supervisor and some of the other librarians and we discussed the budget. turns out that last year they cut our budget by about $15,000. this year we have no idea what our budget will be, but we still met to talk about it.
but sadder than our budget is the sadness that i feel when i think about centralized ordering. you see, when you tell someone that you went to library school they immediately say, "library school? you can get a masters in that?" then they typically ask what one could possibly learn in library school. smart asses like myself would say that we learn how to shush people. others might say that you learn nothing. and some other others might say that you learn the basic foundations and principles behind organization and building a collection. all of the above are true. except the shushing. they don't really teach that. what the hell am i going on about?
oh yes! centralized ordering. so in library school they teach you the basic principles and ideas behind how to build a well-rounded collection in your library. and typically you get to read all sorts of professional journals and book reviews and then use things like discernment and judgement to decide which of these books belong in your library. it's fun. and it makes you feel smart.
but in large library systems like the one to which hell's library belongs, sometimes the higher-ups decide that it would be better if one person in a small cubicle in an office space far far away from the public made such judgements. they feel this saves time and money. one could argue by purchasing multiple copies of books that the librarian knows her patrons aren't interested in is a waste of money. but who would listen to little old me. no one besides you guys.
so instead of having us librarians do what we do so well, some random person in the above-mentioned cubicle gets to order all the books. so the librarian doesn't get to use her invaluable book-ordering skills, thus making her feel a bit useless. and the collection suffers as well because it is being remotely ordered by someone who barely sets foot in that specific library, never spoken to the patrons, etc.
so i ask you ...
if i can't order books
and i have no money for programs
and i spend my time babysitting crazies and homeless people
what am i?


say it enough times, and it loses all meaning. what? you don't even know what YALSA is?! the shame of it all. the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is a division of ALA (American Library Association) devoted to young adult services. just an aside: librarians love acronyms. anyhoo, i have been invited to serve on a yalsa committee. see, us librarians we also love committees. so this committee i will be serving on will choose a young adult librarian from all of the fabulous young adult librarians in the country to receive a grant to purchase lots 'o books. yay books! sounds fun. and it also sounds like a lot of prestige with only a modicum of work. yay modicum of work!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

librarians know how to party

i just wanted to post a pic from my fabulous pinata birthday party.

FOUR day weekend! Sweeeeeeet!

i hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend. i am happy to report that my holiday weekend is still going! this morning i decided to bike to the chinatown library where i was supposed to be farmed out to. but sadly when i got over the billyburg bridge i quickly found myself lost in chinatown with no idea where the library was. i even consulted a map, but it was no use. once i realized i was completely lost and was by this time late for work, i decided the best course of action would be to call in sick and ride back to brooklyn where i belong. so that's what i did. i have to say, i am getting very good at riding over the bridge.

so now, i have a fourth day off in a row! what am i doing with myself on this gorgeous day? i am visiting my neighborhood library. i am that lame. i've only been here once before and i realize now that even though it is a very small one-room library and most of the materials are in polish, it is still nicer than hell's library. which, leads me to the conclusion that all libraries are nicer than hell's library. but i digress. i only have 11 minutes left on my computer appointment. i wonder if you can access porn on these computers. hmmmmm.

Friday, May 25, 2007

my islander trump rockabilly loverman

he is back. did i mention he was of islander descent? it just makes the look even more complex. not only is it a comb-up pompadeur, but it even has a little twist down part in the front. so hot. i wish i had a camera but it would be totally inappropriate to take a picture of this man from my seat here at the reference desk. but let me tell you about his outfit. it is similar to an ensemble my grandfather would have put together (my grandfather being a man who would wear no less than three different styles of plaid at once) ... anyway, this guy has on gray pinstripe pants, a brown checkered suit jacket, a bright orange dress shirt, and a brown tie. it's very reeses pieces. hipsters, you could take a page out of this man's book. seriously, step it up cause you've got nothing on this guy.

i have a three day weekend! i have a three day weekend!

yes, that is right ... not only have i been enjoying my time away from hell's library, but now i even get to enjoy three days off in a row! it's a beautiful thing. i spent my morning at a workshop learning how to read picture books to children. turns out lyle lyle crocodile, althought totally awesome, is WAY too long to read aloud. but might i recommend "i stink" the story of a snappy little nyc garbage truck with a heart of gold. and it reminds me of a certain someone who recently admitted to me that his childhood fantasy job was to be a garbage man. he he he he.

i just do not feel like doing anything else productive today. wasn't learning about picture books enough? let me tell you about my exciting 3-day weekend plans:

1. sleep
2. clean
3. nap
4. organize
5. nap
6. host a fabulous pinata party
7. sleep
8. go to the beach

ahhhhhh, can't wait.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

i pity the fool who comes into my library poorly dressed

ok, forget those stereotypes of old ladies with buns in their hair and glasses on a chain. today's librarians are fabulous and dare i say, fierce. so i believe that part of our role as public servants may also to help the fashionably-less-fortunate find their way. with that said i would like to tell you of some of the fashion faux pas that are going on right now ...

to my left there is a man with a sleeveless everlast tee, jeans and sneakers. not bad. BUT, he is wearing a LES hat. we are in the LES, we are so LES we are east of LES. you do not need to wear a hat proclaiming your dedication to our area. but this is not all. oh no. i am saving the best for last. this man is decked out in so much bling that i can only describe as bling of Mr. T proportions. serious bling. he's got chains. he got what appear to be medals. how he has earned these medals i have no idea.

then to my right there is a man with not so much a comb-over, but a comb-up. the majority of his head is shaved bald and then his remaining thinning hair is styled upwards into a pompadour. it's kind of like if donald trump went rockabilly.

i could help these people ... if only they'd let me.

i never even read bridget jones

but i saw the movies ... the second one really sucked. and why was renee zellweger's hair always so messed up? my hair is never messed up. NEVER. except for when i wake up in the morning and i look like a fraggle.

new found respect for life update

weight: down (thank you williamsburg bridge)
love life: improving
apartment: slightly less messy except for a collection of partially completed pinatas overtaking my living room floor
two weeks worth of mail: still unopened
job: ask me later
outlook: sunny skies

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

no more belly-achin'

ok, so i woke up kinda bummed this morning. but i rode my bike to work (which is way quicker than riding the subway even though it involves riding up a ridiculously steep bridge) and had someone slap some sense into me on my lunch break and now i realize that life may be good.

so now i just have to prepare for my class visit tomorrow, make some pinatas, unpack from florida, open two weeks worth of mail, lose some weight and buy a new wardrobe and i'll be all sorted.

dewey decimal mistress update

my trip to florida: awesome
my love life: crap
job front: questionable
my apartment: a mess
overall mood: eh? *shrug*

my days at hell's library may be few

can't say much about it just yet ... but things may be looking up for me. but i am a little sad. what will happed to my blog if i work somewhere normal? will you, my loyal following, stay with me?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

only me

you will not believe the stupid thing i did ... i am supposed to be flying to florida tomorrow morning for a wedding and i thought i was landing at 11 am, so that i have maximum beach time. but then as i am forwarding my intinerary to one of my friends, hoping to get a lift from the airport, i realize my flight arrives at 11 PM. PM! how could i make this mistake? and how could i not notice until the day before i am leaving?! so thankfully i was able to switch to an earlier flight, but not without sinking another $100 and change. but i ask you this dear blog readers, do other people do this? is everyone holding it together with threads? is it all just an illusion?

east of the lower east side: an urban oasis

this morning i took the L train then transfered to a bus which dropped me right outside the ELES library. took me about 45 minutes. not bad. one day i might actually ride my bike here, which would take about half the time but it would involve crossing a steep bridge and me possibly breaking a sweat. but anyway, it's nice here. it's quiet and peaceful and i just helped a mom find information on wildlife in australia using one of our DATABASES. can you say DATABASES?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

day two: east of the lower east side

when we found out that we were going to be released from hell's library for three weeks, we were given the option of chosing what branch we wanted to be sent to. so i chose this branch on the lower east side because i heard it was nice and i secretly thought i might want to transfer here if i liked it. people said, "oh no, don't go there. there are no trains." but i said it would be easy for me to get here. it's so close to the bridge. i could ride my bike here. i could be a fitter happier me. of course, when i woke up this morning i did not feel like riding my bike over the williamsburg bridge. so i stood outside my house for 15 mintutes, baking in the sun, waiting for a bus to take me to the J train (the J train? really, i always have problems getting to the J train) and then gave up and just walked. then when i finally got to the J and got to my stop i walked east for what seemed like days. seriously, i did not know there was a neighborhood east of LES but it turns out that there is. my god, so far east. this was a serious lapse in judgement. what was i thinking? ride my bike?
but when i did finally get here, it's a nice quiet little library. way better than hell's library, nicer than the sister city library, not quite as nice as heaven's library, but that one's a bitch to get to as well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

pretty in pink

yay! my new phone has finally arrived! now, let me tell you all something. i have been truly suffering with my old phone. for the past year the battery on my stupid LG phone kept dying and i have been too cheap to buy a new one. and i have been eagerly awaiting this day when i get to upgrade to a new phone. so in the meantime, i have just been struggling with this piece of shit phone, charging it several times a day, trying not to make too many calls, conserving battery power, etc etc. and sometimes it will die after only ONE call! but then sometimes the low battery message will come up but then it really just needs to rest for a few minutes (phones get tired, too!) and then it will have a few more power bars in the battery. but those days are over! i just got the e-mail saying my new phone has been delivered. lately, they have been delivering things to my boyfriend since i am not home during delivery hours. and by boyfriend i mean the elderly mexican man who owns the bodega across the street and flirts with me when i come in drunk late at night looking for chipwiches. oh bodega-man, we have a date tonight .... a date with destiny. you, me, and my pink razor.

day one: sister cities ... i mean sister libraries

day one: bat out of hell's library
so i am spending my first day away from hell's library and i am at a nearby branch only several blocks away. it's definitely nicer looking here, but not super nice or anything. it's no heaven's library. but it's an improvement. so far everyone has been polite. i'm in the children's room, so it's usually better. crazies typically like to stay in the adult area. we'll see what happens when i'm down there.
one of the employees asked me about the renovation going on at hell's library. then he said that he didn't feel that hell's library needed any work. "have you been there?" i asked as politely as possible. he said he had and that he felt that sister city library needed a new children's room more than we do.
i asked him whether or not he had noticed that the ceiling was falling down. literally. a year or so ago a large part of the ceiling fell in over the children's librarian's office and then instead of fixing it they just moved the office somewhere else. so there's bits of ceiling and weird scary dust all over the place. oh and there was some sort of flood they never cleaned up properly and now there may or may not be mold growing in the ceiling.
"huh," he says, "hadn't noticed that."
"oh," i add, "and the carpet there is held together by black duct tape." which it is, and it has this threadbare look where if one more person walks on it and drags their heels the whole thing might come up.
"hmmm," he says. then he looks around at their perfectly reasonable children's room that is not falling apart, is not littered with toxic dust, and is not being held together by tape. "maybe you do need a renovation."

Monday, May 14, 2007

just don't ask questions and keep your mouth shut

you may remember that i had a slight victory here when i got a team of IT wizards to come in and see if we can enter the 21st century and get our two "word processing" computers hooked up to the internet. so today i asked our fearless branch leader if there was any news about this and she said to me that blah blah blah the team was just here to "survey" and that they would report back to Mr. So-and-So at IT Wizard Headquarters and he would make the decision. so i think to myself, self ... maybe i should write an e-mail to this Mr. So-and-So and tell him a sob story about why the young adults in this branch need internet computers. but as the wheels in my head are turning, our fearless leader tells me that the district librarian said "just don't ask questions and keep your mouth shut and then you might get more stuff." nice. this is the way things are run in hell's library. don't have open communication with other offices of the library to voice the needs and/or concerns of your branch. don't ask questions. don't voice any opinions. just shut up and don't bother anyone because no one likes a complainer and just cross your fingers that you may get what you need. grrrrrr.

it's a beautiful day at hell's library ... won't you be mine

hi neighbor,
today we are packing it in at hell's library. didn't i tell you? we are undergoing a partial renovation so we will be closed for three weeks. so today we are packing up all our stuff and we are closed to the public! no public! yay! anyway, starting tomorrow they will be shipping us out to different libraries around our fair city. so we shall see what sorts of crazy adventures will ensue while i am bouncing around from branch to branch. some people are annoyed by the fact that we all have to go to different branches. but those people are stupid. because whatever branch you go to, it has to be better than hell's library. so really, it's like going on vacation. except you have to work. it's like a working vacation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

like an alternate universe

ok, so i just finished up my last hour on desk. i had four total. and it has just occured to me that the entire time i didn't encounter one crazy person, not one person who was pissed off or complaining about something, not one person who irritated me, and not one time did i get rude or snippy with someone. i forgot what it can be like when you're not in hell's library.

if this isn't hell's library, then it must be ...

heaven's library ... and in heaven's library no one reeks of rotted cheese and i can reign supreme because we are in chinatown and i tower over everyone like the librarian goddess i am.

something very strange is happening here

so, as i said ... i am here at bizarro library where everything is clean and neat and orderly and the patrons are polite and studious and non-insane. and i have noticed something. let me tell you of the something which i have noticed. patrons come up to me. they are curteous and ask me things like "where are the graphic novels?" and "i'm looking for a good book, do you have any recommendations?" these are things which i would consider to be appropriate questions for the library. and they use the library and it's materials in an appropriate fashion. and they are nice. and i am nice back. and the whole thing is, oh what's the word ... pleasant. it is a pleasant environment. they smile. i smile. it is nice. it is nice to be here. i am having a nice day.

but i shouldn't get used to this. monday i'll be back in hell's library.

okay, this is really weird

so i'm filling in at this other branch and i've noticed there are a few things missing here:
  1. there are no junkies here
  2. no one here is suffering from obvious mental illness...not even mildly
  3. no one seems to be homeless, a degenerate, and/or a criminal
  4. when people come up to me and ask me questions, they are legitimate library questions and they ask these legitimate library questions politely and concisely.
  5. items here are kept in an orderly manner and the general appearance of the branch is neat and clean. for instance, i bet no employees here have contracted any communicable diseases working here

curious....very curious.

you know your day is off to a bad start when ...

you show up ten minutes early to work, only to find out that you are at the wrong library. grrrrr.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

it's not fair that everything i do comes out bitchy

a woman comes up to me at the desk asking if we have jobs or volunteer positions available for teenagers.
"yes we do!" i say enthusiastically.
then she tells me her son is autistic. so now, i am picturing someone with high-functioning autism. someone like corky from life goes on. someone who could easily put away books in the children's room of the library and be happy as a clam. but then she tells me that she and her son live right around the block, which is perfect because they are still doing "travel training" and he is not yet up to travelling anywhere. well, this changes everything. i'm sorry, but i feel that if riding the subway is too stressful for you, you cannot work at this branch. so i tell her that this branch is "sort of rough" and that it might not be the best place for her son. she looks at my blankly as if i am speaking utter nonsense.
"what are you saying?" she asks.
am i not speaking clearly? "i mean," i elaborate "that some of the kids are kind of rough here? and if your son is sensitive it may not be the best place for him?"
again, blank stare. "i don't know what you mean." now she is starting to get defensive. "i just want him to work somewhere quiet and peaceful. he can't really handle loud noise."
ah, now she has said all i need. "this place is not quiet." i tell her about screaming babies and young teens acting like houligans, running amok in the children's room. then she asks why can't he just volunteer in the adult area then. surely, that is a quiet place.
"ma'am, this branch is not the quiet serene safehaven you are imaginging it to be. here in the adult area would be worse. it's very loud here and stressful. i don't know if your son can handle it." i choose not to mention people screaming at the top of their lungs and locking themselves in the bathroom, fights at the circulation desk over fines, crazies muttering to themselves, junkies passed out in the foyer, etc etc. i just reiterate that this is not the best place for her son. and in my heart i am looking out for him. i am picturing a nice young man with autism who can't stand crowds and loud noises and is sensitive and will immediately freak out if he spent more than five minutes in here. i want to protect him. i wish someone would protect me.
but this mom just doesn't get it and then she leaves in a huff as if i am being unreasonable, when in reality i am just saving her from heartache.

just an aside

sometimes i feel like i am surrounded by crazy people ... and i don't just mean the junkies and the drunks and the people getting into cat fights over their internet appointments. i mean everyone.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

saturday: the first hour

1. the librarian-in-charge (me!) is responsible for purchasing the morning newspapers. a degenerate "standing guard" over the newspaper stand told me the "newpaper guy" will be right back and i should wait there for him. i do not wait there.
2. no one made a daily schedule. the daily is a complicated grid of boxes telling us where we are supposed to be every hour of our work day. making sure every desk is covered, everyone gets a break, everyone gets lunch, no one is two places at the same time, etc etc, could be some sort of aptitude test within itself. i usually fail, but so far so good.
3. our "cluster" staff called out. what clustering is supposed to be: an employee from another library comes to fill in at your library when you are short staffed. what clustering is here at hell's library: no one wants to come here, but you can't refuse to cluster, so they call out the morning they are supposed to be here and then we are even more short staffed and there's nothing we can do about it because it's too late to get someone else.
only 6 hours and 45 minutes to go ...

Thursday, May 3, 2007

people may actually be listening to my ideas ... crazy, i know

so we have this ongoing problem where older kids are hanging out in the children's room because they want to use the children's computers instead of hanging out in the regular section of the library with the psycho crack addled adults. fair enough, who can blame them? but they cause trouble up there in the children's room and everyone is like, "ahhh, get these teenagers out of here!" so i said that if we had an area for teens with computers then they wouldn't have this problem.
oh no no! they said. can't be done! too expensive!
so then i mentioned that we have two computers that aren't hooked up to the internet (one of which has had an 'out of order' sign hung from it for the history of time). why you would have two computers without internet access in this day and age is beyond me. so i suggested taking these two computers and hooking them up to the internet and making them teen-only in the afternoons when the kids are out of school.
oh no no! the saidy said. can't be done! too expensive! hook up computers to the internet?! that's crazy talk.
so when they told me the wiring was the part that was too expensive i suggested hooking them up wirelessly. that's cheap. could be done for about $100. but no, that couldn't be done because no other library has only two computers hooked up wirelessly. and we are not allowed to do anything different or come up with any new ideas, even if they make perfect sense and are totally logical and reasonable. so then i suggested making the whole library wireless.
oh no no! they said. can't be done! too expensive! just because fifty-some odd other branches in the system are wireless doesn't mean you get to be wireless too!
so, it seemed like our heroine would not be able to get internet computers for the poor underserved teens of our fair city. internet? what do you think this is? the twenty-first century? but then, my beloved blog readers, i found out today that a team of technogeeks from the IT department will be coming to do a "wireless survey" tomorrow in hopes of connecting at least one computer to the internet.
1 point: me

behaviors that do NOT make me loathe the patrons

1. when little girls ask me to find them books about fairies. "not stories about fairies. but, you know, information about fairies. like, what they like to eat and stuff."

okay, that is a short list. but isn't it nice to see i'm not totally hardened and heartless?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

a list of behaviors which will make me loathe a patron immediately ... part 1

1. shouting at me from across the room
this is a library (although you might mistake it for a mental institution) can we try to maintain the semblance of quiet studiousness?

2. not being able to identify what your library card number is
you have a library card. there is ONE number on it. it's the ONLY number there. just to be clear, your library card number is not your phone number; it is not your SSN#; it is not the number on your reciept next to the title of the book you have checked out. it is simply the number which is physically located on your library card.

3. inability to understand our reserve system
a patron is looking for their reserved items. i tell them they are organized by the last four digits of their library card number. "what number is that?" they ask (see above). then they look at the shelves in complete confusion. "where is my book?" they shout.
"ok," i tell them. "you're standing in front of the reserves. look at the number printed in large print on the outside of each book. now, do you have to count up or down from that number to find your number? they're in order. number order. by the last four digits of your library card."

4. refusal to click the clock
a patron approaches the computer to make an internet appointment. pre-emptively i shout, "you have to click on the clock icon where is says 'reserve a pc' to reserve a computer."
the patron does not even reach for the mouse. they want to use the shiny glowing scanner.
"no, don't scan your card," i say. "you have to click on the clock first."
the card goes closer and closer to the shiny red laser beam.
"no!" i shout. "don't scan your card! click the clock! click the clock!"
the patron scans their card, "why didn't it work?! this thing doesn't work!"
sigh. "you need to click the clock first."

yes, i liken you to scrap paper

so drunk asshole man from last week comes into the library again, but this time i am prepared. he is no match for me. he approaches the desk and asks if i can give him some paper to write on. i tell him we have scrap paper he can use, and i point to the shelf behind him where there is a large wooden tray that has the words "scrap paper," in big bold print.
"are you saying i'm only worthy of scrap?" he asks.
"yes," i say, "and the scrap paper is right behind you."
"hey little lady," he begins, "i didn't think you would start off being so rude."
"well," i tell him, "i remember you from last week. the scrap paper is on the shelf behind you."
so he plays all innocent, like he doesn't remember me threatening to have the police escort him out of the building last thursday. "why, what could i have done?
"i'm not going to get into this discussion," i say and extend my arm straight out. "the scrap paper is on the shelf behind you."
so he goes on a bumbling search for the scrap paper, passing the shelf which is the only thing behind him. he stumbles into the computer area, bumping into patrons and asking them if they know where the scrap paper is.
at this point i shout, "sir, it's on the shelf. right here. the shelf. right here. where i am pointing." it could not be more obvious.
then surrounding patrons begin pointing to the clearly-marked scrap paper bin which sits atop the only shelf in the vacinity. "right there," they exclaim and point, "on the shelf!"
finally he locates the shelf, "oh, scrap paper!" he says, reading the large sign, "i see."
then he sits down at a table, muttering to himself, forcing a nice elderly man to evacuate his seat next to him.
"i just like to talk to the pretty little girl," he says, as the elderly man finds a new place to sit on the other side of the library.
and then my replacement showed up and i got to leave for lunch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

why i hate my new office: part deux

because i am accused of being unsocial, when in fact my only crime is not being fluent in spanish. blame the public school system.