Thursday, April 12, 2018

Patrons today

Can we have a barbecue on the front sidewalk of the library?

Are you guys notaries?

I would like to borrow a laptop. Do they burn CDs?

Are these [things in an exhibit behind a glass case] for sale?

Do you have a book club for preschool kids?

How do I sign up to work here?

I want to take back a donation that I made two years ago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I've speculated before on whether the patrons have a nickname for me just like I have nicknames for some of our regulars. The custodian informs me that in fact they do. It's La Blanca ("The White Girl").

I'll take it. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Today I spent the morning taking flyers about our upcoming programs to various neighborhood institutions. In three hours, I: scheduled a program with someone I'd been trying to get in touch with for weeks, collected 3 advertisements for job openings to add to the library's Job Seekers Board, met a former library employee who is now a social worker at a local senior housing complex and who is going to be my new best work friend, and was given a free strawberry crepe.

Shoe leather--it continues to pay off.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Some thoughts

As regular readers have likely inferred, Mystery Library has been a bit of a struggle for me. That's almost entirely due to things other than the work itself, but I still have a lot of stressful days and as a result the blog has been kind of negative lately.

You see a lot of librarians writing on various forums about the frustrations of library work: how they are underpaid, lack professional respect, are asked to do an impossibly varied set of tasks from tech support to storytime, etc. I definitely don't want to say those things aren't true or that it isn't important to try to change them. However, I also want to say that, despite those things and despite the recent tone of the blog, I love being a librarian. I love coming in to work and only having a vague outline of what I am going to be asked to do that day. I love being part of the breakthrough that someone needs to get something important done, whether it's finding them a template to write their own lease agreement or getting a paper printed out that's due in two hours. I love eavesdropping on people telling each other about their favorite books and movies, and I even love eavesdropping on people telling each other about the stories that they hated. I love getting to tell people that a library card is free and that so are all our programs.

Above all, I love having a job where my natural dilettantism is an asset rather than a liability, where knowing who wrote The Dork Diaries off the top of your head and being good at un-jamming a printer are abilities of roughly equal value. I think a lot of what people in high school or college are afraid of about entering the working world is being reduced to just one aspect of all their interests and skills, being stuck only being about to think or talk about, say, accounting, for the rest of their lives, when they think of themselves as a multidimensional person who has so much more going on than that. I really appreciate that my job makes you squash yourself down a lot less than most other jobs do.

On that note, I gotta go. I'm trying to figure out how to work the logistics of a speed dating event that is open to people of all sexual orientations, and a deadline is looming.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Today's consulting firms

If I could save up the money to hire a software developer, I'm 100% confident that I could create a better product for computer management and patron printing than Envisionware, which currently dominates the public library market.*

After shelving in a little-used area, I'm also considering expanding my hypothetical weeding business to encompass all kinds of discarding. We will also take down all your posters advertising programs and services that no longer exist, recycle your cupboard full of outdated electronics, and toss out all the mysterious objects filling up the drawers at the service desk that each employee is afraid to trash since she worries it belongs to someone else. The more that I think about it, the more I would happily provide that service at cost.

*Also, I'm 95% confident that I could create a company that's better to work at, too. I did a Google search for "envisionware problems" to see if I could find a good illustration for this post, and the first hit is its Glassdoor page, showcasing its 1-star review average.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Exciting and cute

It's been a rough week at Mystery Library (you can see this is becoming a bit of a theme) so it was especially pleasing to be involved in this interaction this afternoon. A little girl and her mom were checking out their books with the teen librarian, and the little girl goes "We saw a hawk when we were walking here!" so Teen Librarian says "Oh wow! What was it doing?" Little girl: "it was, it was---actually, Mom, can you show her the video?" And that's how me and Teen Librarian both got to watch a dramatic video of a hawk eating a pigeon today.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Effective description

A polite teen reported that one of our computers had a virus by saying, "Excuse me, miss. That computer be trippin."

As practically a caricature of a white lady, I was flattered that he assumed I'd know what he meant. It's actually a really concise yet effective description.