Wednesday, June 27, 2007

mommy, where do white girls come from?

so i am a bit of a minor celebrity here in the hood. whenever i walk outside the men in the area are all too happy to greet me. last night as i was leaving i walked past a group of guys in their twenties and they began making small talk with me. "are you the new librarian," they asked ... "just getting out of work?" they asked. then one of them was riding his ten speed along side me, and asked "where you from? long island?" i told him that i am from brooklyn, which seemed to impress him and then he rode away. i could have told him that i was in fact raised on long island, but i do not want to play into the age old stereotype that all white girls come from long island.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the world of computers

i've been going through our extensive vhs collection, trying to get rid of as many vhs tapes as possible. we have SO many vhs tapes. it's ridiculous. anyway, i found one called "computers for kids" ... it's "an exciting adventure designed to help kids learn to use personal computers and the MS-DOS environment!" yay! according to the manufacturer, "learning something new can be fun for kids when the power of television and the VCR is used to present the story!" well, what will they think of next. this video was made in 1990. i'm sure nothing has changed in the exciting environment of personal computing.

just an interesting tidbit: my grandfather used to have this dictionary from the 1940s. this reference work was of course what we used when we played scrabble and someone challenged a word. you can imagine how effective it would be. anyway my brother and i used to look up modern words in it to see if they were in there. typically they were not. but the word "computer" was in there, along with the succint definition "one who computes."

who's your grandma?

there is this little kid who comes into my library every day. i think he is about 9. i don't know exactly what is wrong with him, but he can't really speak. well, he can speak but it can only say a word or two at a time and it kind of sounds like he's speaking with a mouthful of marbles. but he seems to be able to understand what i'm saying.
so i'm putting up this poster set of African American Achievers i got from the conference (i love schwag! i got this set of 12 posters with blurbs of different famous african americans), and this kid, lets call him T, comes over; he is enthralled by the african american posters. i think he was asking if he could take a poster home with him. but i'm not sure. so i suggested to him that he help me hang the posters up. so together we made loops of tape and put them on the back of the posters and i would direct him to where i wanted the poster to go. and as he was putting them up i try to summarize in a sentence who each person was. langston hughes: famous poet. marian anderson: opera singer. flo-jo: olympic runner. whether or not he comprehended any of this i do not know.
so then, i come across a picture of an elderly african american woman, with white-gray hair and wrinkles around her eyes. and when i hand him the picture he looks at it excitedly and says, "grandma! grandma!"
"that's not your grandma," i say. and then i look at the picture because i have no idea who it is, and say "that's mary mcleod bethune!" ( i still don't really know who she is. i'll have to read the poster later.)
"grandma!" he says again, and he had this big proud smile on his face like he knew he was making a good joke. it was pretty cute.

just a quick aside

some of you may be noticing that my blogs posts are not as frequent lately. sadly, this is because i am enjoying my time at work. not only that, i am actually busy working (here at work) and this cuts down on my blogging time. and my internet connection at home doesn't work right now. but i will maintain my blog, oh beloved blog readers. don't you worry. but i felt i should apologize. and, if anyone in the brooklyn area would be willing to try to figure out why my wireless router never works properly that would be very cool.

librarians know how to party

ok, so this is a long time coming ... but here is the picture of me and the most fabulous club kid turned author, james st. james. we bonded at the anti-prom. we really did. he hearts me. don't fear him just because he is an animated bald man with a bad case of redeye. he really is fabulous. at the anti-prom he read from his newest book, "freak show," and it was riveting. i am currently on the waitlist for it. you may also know his book "party monster" which was made into a movie with seth green and macaulay culkin. the book was better. as always. like i even have to tell you that. anyway, james st. james ... love him.

Friday, June 22, 2007

train antics

i don't think i told you but i am spending the weekend at the ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference in washington dc. and because hell's library doesn't believe in professional development, i had to pay the $200 registration fee myself. usually your library would pay for this type of thing. and, at my new job, they will pay for this in the future. but i digress. have i mentioned that my mom is a librarian? well, she is. so we decided to room together (more accurately, i convinced her that she wanted to go to the conference so that i could stay in the posh hotel room that her library would provide for her. and the hotel really is lovely. i am wearing one of their 100% cotton bathrobes)
so we met this morning for our amtrack journey to dc. we sat across from a very nice woman who works for jstor. can you believe that my mom didn't know what jstor is? i'm sure you all know. so after quizzing our neighbor on her life story (she was trying to do work, poor thing, but i think she found us amusing), mom and i needed another activity. so we decided to entertain ourselves with one of our old-time favorite passtimes: making paper fortune tellers. just in case you are wondering, another one of our favorite passtimes is simultaneous solitare games. we each start a game of solitare at the same time and whoever wins first wins. anyway, here are some of the clever fortunes i put in my fortune teller:
  • you will get lots of free schwag from vendors (see also schwag definition 3)
  • you will be stuck in the front row of a boring presentation but will be too embarrassed to get up and leave
  • you will learn something useful at this conference
  • you wind up at a reception without alcohol
  • you will not learn anything useful but you'll get lots of free stuff
  • you will win a vendor raffle
  • you will be invited to a great reception with lots of booze and yummy snacks
  • an obnoxious person will run over your foot with their wheeled suitcase

how many dead rabbits does it take to know you're knocked up?

i don't know how we got on this topic, but my mother told me that "back in the day" they used to kill rabbits in order to tell whether or not a woman was pregnant. no joke. i guess that's better than drowning a woman to find out whether or not she's a witch. ahhh science!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

day three

1. they do not have granola bars here. i asked two different people in the grocery store and they looked at me like i was insane. of course, they were terribly helpful despite the fact that they did not know what i could possibly mean by "granola bar." they really wanted to help me. i guess it doesn't hurt to be the only blonde woman in a three mile radius. exotic.

2. a literacy coordinator came in today and we arranged for me to come into one of the local schools next week and talk to the third graders about the library and summer reading and all that jazz.

3. i was helping a man in his thirties attach his resume to an email. it was a little sad because i just wanted to correct his resume for him but really that isn't my job. anyway, i tried to see if his resume was saved in the 'my attachments' section of his email account. and what should i find there? lo and behold there was a picture of a breast. not a naked woman. just a close up of a boob. c'mon people, get it together.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

things i have been doing

i have been printing up pictures of sponge bob for kids to color
i have been signing up kids for the summer reading club
i have been chatting with kids who are here in the library

things i have not been doing

i have not been babysitting homeless people
i have not been helping crazy people get to their internet appointments
i have not had to grind my teeth through explaining basic internet and/or computer functions
i have not, as far as i know, been exposed to any communicable diseases
i have not gotten "library hands" (a condition in which your hands physically feel dirty)

how do i put this gently ...

my new library is in ... well ... how to put this ... in the ghetto. but the building is lovely. this is a really insensitive comment to make, but what the hell ... there's nowhere good to eat here. i mean nowhere. there is nothing here. i brought my lunch today, but i don't know how long i can keep that up. that would mean preparing food myself, in my home. and not only that it means grocery shopping on a regular basis. this seems like trouble.

fake it till you make it: pretending to be a children's librarian until you actually are a children's librarian

i helped a little deaf girl with no verbal skills play a computer game. then i printed her up a coloring page to take home with her. she had braids with colorful plastic beads in them. i always wanted those when i was a kid.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

my first day on the job

i'm here in my new digs and it's pretty nice ... cute little new building, clean, orderly. it's like a library in here! we aren't open to the pulic until later in the afternoon, but i've been walking around looking at the collection. it's nice here. it's a little far from my house, but oh well. i could always try to transfer somewhere closer. but i think this will be way better than hell's library. and i have my own section. with a desk!

i must ask though, why do the city libraries have the most archaic catalogs for staff use? they get these nice shiny catalogs for the public but then we're stuck using a catalog from the early 80s. the first computerized catalog ... green screen and dot commands. what gives? i've heard though that this branch will be closing next month for a technological upgrade, which will include RFID (yay RFID, i love RFID!!) so maybe this will only be a temporary step back into the prior century. what's RFID, you ask?

Radio Frequency IDentification! it's great. it's like magic. you place a pile of books on a pad and they're magically checked in (or checked out). and there's a wand you can sweep over the shelves and it will beep if any books are out of order (disclaimer: wand may not actually work in reality) yay technology!

Monday, June 18, 2007

surprise ... i'm a children's librarian

so, in an odd turn of events it turns out that my new position is as a children's librarian. while i was a bit taken aback by this at first (i forgot that when i interviewed i was so anxious to get out of hell's library i said i could do YA, children's, ANYTHING), i am coming to realize this might be good ... here's a list of good things

1. my branch was built in 1999, meaning it is fairly new and probably not disgusting
2. as a children's librarian i will most likely have my own room which i will be in charge of
3. usually the crazies don't stray up to the children's room, so if there are crazies they most likely will not enter my private library oasis
4. i get the feeling that this branch may be small, so i may convince whoever is in charge that i should do both children's and YA
5. after 6 months i can transfer to a branch A. closer to my house and/or B. to a YA position

i'd say, so far so good. i'm a little nervous about my first day at the branch tomorrow, but i think it will be fine.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

an old man vows to never be curteous again. according to neighbrhood librarian he was not polite to begin with.

i just want to tell you that a little old man threw a crumpled ball of paper at me when i told him that there was no way for me to give him an extra nine minutes on the internet computer, even though he lost nine minutes due to the computer freezing and needing to be re-booted. it's not my fault. there is just no way to award someone an extra nine minutes. i did all i could. but when i explained that i simply did not have the power to do something like that, he yelled that from this moment on he will NEVER be polite or helpful to anyone anywhere ever again. because of me. and my unhelpfulness. then he crumpled up his computer appointment receipt and threw it at me. oh the poetic justice.

hell's library: we hate dogs and peanuts

these people are insane!

ok, now that i've gotten that out of my system. a man comes into the library walking a medium sized dog on a leash. (what's with the dog theme today?) i look over at the circulation clerk and we roll our eyes at each other. i approach the man and politely say "excuse me sir, i'm sorry, but there are no animals allowed in the library." easy enough, right? of course not. the man turns to me, and immediately i know i am entering into a fight.

so crazy ass patron looks at me and says "you stand here and listen while i tell you this." whoa. dude, you have already pushed me too far. gloves are off now. "i have been coming to the library for years and the library has always welcomed dogs."

i cheerfully explain that it is against library policy to have animals of any kind in the library unless they are service animals. you know, like a guide dog or something.

then he goes on and on about how some librarian a million years ago said he could bring his dog here and i couldn't possibly know what i'm talking about.

so i tell him that i will gladly show him the brochure of the library's rules and policies in which it clearly states that no animals are allowed. so i do that. helpfully circling the rule in bright blue pen so he can't miss it. aren't i helpful?

but he keeps going. it is just so unfair that his dog is not allowed in the building. so i state the many reasons why it is a bad idea to have a dog in the library: it's unsanitary, a dog could bite a person, many people are allergic to dogs, etc. can you believe i even have to say these things to a grown man?

somehow, i have touched on a hot button issue because as soon as i say "allergic" he gets all rowdy accusing me of "being one of those people who would ban peanuts from schools just because one kid is allergic." now, if there is one thing i hate it is a person who does not understand the gravity of nut allergies. so i explain to him that as a person who goes into anaphylactic shock when i eat a nut (although i am actually only allergic to walnuts) i completely understand why peanuts are banned from schools. he looks at me as though i am wholly evil and unamerican for saying this. like i'm banning apple pie as opposed to trying to save children from peanut-induced death.

he storms off in a huff, tethering his dog outside. but then he comes back to fight some more with me. and i stand firm that it is totally appropriate to ban animals from a library, explaining that most buildings do not allow animals in them. then he asks, outraged, "what's next?! are you going to ban dogs from the sidewalk?!" yes. i have that power. i will ban dogs from the sidewalk. and then i will ban people who walk too slow. for his finale, he states, "it's not the rule itself, but the fact that you enjoy enforcing it so much." what do you want me to do asshole, shed a single tear over the injustice of it all? just take your dog outside.


attention all bachelors: if you marry me i can make you a millionaire

mr. bank robbing priest casanova man says that if he had a wife like me he would already be a millionaire. i must look terribly confused because then he elaborates, "you'd keep me on track and make sure i'm always achieving stuff." well, even though he is insane that is kind of sweet. then he tells me that if i have a dog he would be happy to paint my dog's portrait for a very reasonable price. just the price of the canvas! he loves painting doggy portraits that much! sadly, i do not have a dog but if anybody out there is looking for someone to paint a portrait of their pooch i've got your man.

bat out of hell

today's my last day at hell's library. i wonder what kind of chaos will ensue.

Friday, June 15, 2007

when crazies help crazies

there is a phenomenon which happens often at the public library: crazies helping crazies. you see, you'll have one crazy that you're trying to deal with. then, another crazy will come up and need help too. now, instead of waiting their turn, one crazy will take it up themselves to "jump in" and help the other crazy. i mean, c'mon. this mentally ill person hangs out at the library everyday. he or she knows the ins and outs of the system. no reason why he or she can't make themselves useful. this situation is quite dangerous because once the crazies start interacting with each other chaos is imminent.

so mr. bank robbing priest casanova man comes in (do you like how these nicknames are getting longer and longer?) and when he is not in need of help he kind of likes to just hover around the desk and chat with me whenever i'm free. lovely. so while i am looking up photoshop classes for him a second crazy walks up muttering to herself about using the computer and needing the internet. i ignore her mutterings. mutterings do not count as actual communication with me. but mr. bank robbing priest casanova man decides that he will explain to her how the computer system works. so he starts explaining it to her, but she isn't paying attention at all because he is not behind the desk. i'm behind the desk. then i interupt him and tell him that when it is her turn i will help this woman. by this point the woman looks thoroughly confused.
after i help the woman the ever-lovely EJ comes in. what a day. and he needs help looking for CPR videos. so in addition to auditioning for jeopardy, studying for the GED, and finding a talent show to compete in, he is now also learning CPR. well, i will rest easy at night knowing that i am in good hands if i go into cardiac arrest. urgh. so i explain to him where the video is but he says he can't find it because his eyes are bad and the "lady over there is mean." i do not know which lady he is referring to. anyway, out comes mr. bank robbing priest casanova, offering to walk EJ to the video section and show him where the video is. and you know what, dear blog readers? i let him because the less i deal with EJ the better. but do you see how working at hell's library so closely resembles working in an asylum? one more day to go.

the art of negotiating

so i've been waiting impatiently for my new job to tell me just how much money they can offer me and the HR woman finally got back to me today. i start on monday. you can imagine that i have been slightly stressed. but get this! ...

several weeks ago they offer my salary A, which is pretty much the exact same salary i get at hell's library for being a Senior Librarian I. i tell them that i would really like salary C, thinking that they will negotiate with me and land somewhere around the vicinity of B (look at this complex math i am using! A after that i can get a raise again. so i am now starting off with more money than the inflated amount i asked for! sweet!

summer occult club ... ooops! i mean summer reading club

people are stupid. that's all i can say

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

greetings beldar

ok, this may rival comb-up rockabilly donald trump ... there is a woman standing in front of me, her hair is slicked as if it might be combed back into a bun. but instead of being slicked back, it's slicked striaght upwards. and instead of creating a circular bun, the hair is carefully crafter into a sleek cone of hair atop her hair. it is really something to behold.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

it's all relative

a woman comes in today asking for a particular book. she knows the title but not the auther. so i look it up for her ... there are several different books with that title. and as i run off the list of different authors, i say one and mid-sentence i realize i am saying my own name. (just a coincidence, as i have not published a book ... yet) anyway, she says that's the book and i tell her that i have the same name as the author. isn't that funny? except that i spell my name with two Ls and not one. so she says, "really? both names?"
"yeah, both."
"you must be related then!" she says excitedly but without any hint that she is making a joke.

how to answer the phone without actually having a conversation with someone

we have been closed for three weeks and you can imagine how well our hellish patrons are behaving now that we have re-opened. for instance, this morning a charming elderly woman left a message on the answering machine where she just shouted over and over again in an obnoxiously jappy voice (i hate to insult my own people, but there you go) "ARE YOU OPEN? ARE YOU OPEN? ARE YOU OPEN?" now i am sure that you, my beloved and non-mentally-retarded blog readers, understand that an answering machine is a one-way communication device. a person leaves a message, then at a later time another person hears said message. it is not a device in which to shout questions in hopes that if you are loud enough the answering machine will miraculously answer your question. that is not the type of answering the machine does. maybe this is a case of improper naming.
as you could imagine, after hearing this message i was not too excited to be answering our many many morning phone calls hearing the same thing over and over and over again: "are you open? are you open? my books are late. it's not my fault. no i could not return them to one of the other 80 something branches in the city. i will only go to hell's library." blah blah blah.
so i devised a clever scheme. this is what happens when you put someone of high intelligence (me) in a place where they don't let you do anything smart (hell's library) ... they devise clever schemes to amuse themselves. so my clever scheme was to pretend to be a recording when i answered the phone. i would say in a very monotone voice: hello, you have reached Hell's Library. starting today, we will be resuming normal business hours. we will be open today from 10 am to 6 pm. if you need further assistance please press "1" now."
this worked fairly well. i'd say about half the people just hung up. but alot of the people who pressed "1" (or maybe they pressed a different number as all the numbers sound the same to me) still asked if we were open and if we were open what time we were open until. obviously, they were unable to decipher my cryptic message. but i stand by this clever scheme and i encourage all to use it if there is a suitable need. you will thank me later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

i was going to write something terribly clever

but i've completely forgotten what it was. i hope it comes back to me. it was so damned clever.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

hell's liberry - now in 5 new fruit flavors

there is a woman who works here who says li-berry. have i mentioned this before. stop me if you think that you've heard this one before. she is a li-berry-an here. you would think that working here and seeing things which say libRary on them, you might be able to pronounce it properly. where has that R gone to? well, i'll tell you. this woman is often heard telling patrons about our friction and non-friction sections. please, do not confuse these sections with the fiction (made-up stories) and non-fiction (factual information) books. the friction section could only describe a grouping of books which have some sort of tread on them, while the non-friction books remain quite slippery. look out for those, they are most likely easy to drop. hopefully they don't include large reference tomes.
sometimes i like to image the li-berry as a magical place housed in a strawberry top where librarians frolic freely, each one having their own signature fruit scent. i plan on being peachy. or maybe i could be some kind of peach raspberry swirl, that way i can match my hair color.

ykn: you never know @ your library

ahhhh, summer reading club with your intriguing themes. you never do know what will happen at the library. for instance, yesterday was summer reading kickoff day. our branch is closed. i haven't gotten any of the summer reading books. we haven't received any of the "incentives" aka cheap prizes, or any of our reading logs. all i have is a box with about a hundred copies of our summer reading club book list ... in spanish. lecturara recomendada! as far as i know the two teens that read in this branch are asian, but maybe we will have a mad rush of spanish speaking teens. you never know!

return of the prodigal librarian

so today i came back to hell's library for the first time in three weeks. we're not actually open yet, but we have no less than 500 bins of books to check in and put away before we officially re-open on monday. and who, dear blog readers, was waiting for me at the door at 9 am all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? shelf-ass. yes, shelf-ass was sitting outside the door of the library, her gigantic ass overflowing atop the milk crate she was perched on, her homeless cart by side. luckily i spotted her from a good distance away so i was able to take in a huge breath and then run past her into the library. i'm telling you: eau de rotted government cheese factory.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

hitting double digits

i'm sure i don't have to tell you have fabulous this blog is. you know. you love it. but only 9 of you subscribe. so please, take the 5 seconds it takes to become a subscriber. when i check the stats each day it will make me happy. you want me to be happy, right?

click on the flaming heart----------------------------------------------- >

living vicariously through the teen library

so there is this teen library. it is awesome. it is enclosed in soundproof glass and there's always music playing and they have a big screen tv and videogames and a million computers and no less than 50 different magazine subscriptions and lots of graphic novels, etc etc, it rules. and it is strictly for teens. so i was there last night with a bunch of other YA librarians to chaperone the anti-prom (lots of kids all goth-ed out. hosted by James St. James author of Party Monster and Freak Show. he's so fabulous! i got a cuddly prom pic with him! will post later.) anyway, this was a great program. and while it was nice to be at a great program for teens, as i am supposedly a teen librarian, there is something about the teen library which makes me mad.

there is a philosophy here that although you work at a branch, really the entire library system is your Library and the collection of the entire system is your Collection. this is great and i'm all for teamwork and comraderie, but at the end of the day i'm still at hell's library. so when i see branches with better collections and more funding and more resources it just adds to my frustration. the teen library doesn't have to beg the higher-ups for internet connections. the teen library gets more than $5 to spend on a program (they had buffalo wings! and punch!) . and while i can feel some proudness that i belong to an organization which at least has such a place, it doesn't help me in my day-to-day existence. i want to acheive things. i want to have accomplishments. i am a smart person. i can do so much. let me do something, anything! i don't want to just live through the accomplishments of some branch 30 blocks away from me.

what is my problem?

yet again, i have failed to properly set my alarm. this time i remembered to make sure my phone wasn't on vibrate, but somehow forget to actually click 'set.' how i managed to look this fabulous with only 20 minutes of prep time is amazing. i am, however, completely starving.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

101 posts later

wheels are in motion, calls have been made, salaries are being negotiated, resignation letters have been recieved. woo hoo! goodbye hell's library. i will miss you. no i won't. that's a lie.

Monday, June 4, 2007

my one hundredth post

i am using this monumental post to tell you that my italian style hot chocolate tastes like drinking a freshly baked brownie. mmmmmmm.

it's a good day

it's a good day when it's raining outside but you're in a chocolate shop with free wifi. if only i hadn't sworn to myself that i would start a diet yesterday. grrrrr, ordering a salad in a chocolate shop. disgraceful. but i will order a special $5 hot chocolate because as we all know, liquified chocolate is just like drinking water. except full of chocolatey goodness.

movin' on up

i did it. i sent in my letter.

Friday, June 1, 2007

the big "O"

that's right ... today we are going to have a little discussion about something in the biz we call: organization. why, what did you think i was going to say? c'mon, get your mind out of the gutter.
i have a degree in organizing. granted, i do not use these skills in my own home or in my personal life in general but i have the ability to organize if i so chose. i think that's part of the deal. you can only use these powers inside of a library. anyway, today i am working in yet another new branch (nomadic librarian that i am) and when i was getting the tour i kept hearing this one phrase over and over again. what was the phrase you ask? "this section isn't really in any order." now, i will accept that sometimes, like with a media collection so small it's not worth the time to organize it. or with picture books and paperbacks where you might just have the section in quasi-alphabetical order. meaning that all the authors whose last name start with "A" are together, then all the "B" names, but no order within each letter category. fine. sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. but to have quasi-order be the highest level of organization your library achieves? that's a little sad. c'mon, have a little self-respect. we can do better than this. so my tour guide explained to me that one of their pages* recently graduated and blah blah blah they can't keep their books in order. but i didn't buy this excuse. this lack of organization was all-encompasing and did not seem to be a new development.
so i ask you: if we don't select and purchase books, and we can't keep items in strict order ... what are we?

*page: a paid position in a library, typically filled by a local teenager, whose sole responsibility is to put away books in their proper place as well as to keep the shelves in order

tips for getting to work on time

if using your cell phone as an alarm clock, make sure that your cell phone is not set on vibrate. otherwise, you may find yourself waking up only fifteen minutes before you need to leave your apartment and you will spend your hurried morning cursing your blasted cell phone which had been quietly vibrating on your nightstand for the past 45 minutes. not that this happened to me, of course. i would never do such a thing.