Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday shift

It's 55 degrees outside today in February and I am stuck inside on the Sunday shift. I'm struggling to be my normal sunny self with patrons.

Everyone is dressed up fancy since they've come from church, so that's nice at least.

Can you show us how to use the copier?

Do you have a Spanish-English dictionary? Thank you! What about CDs?

A man comes every day to read the day's newspaper, which we have to keep at the desk and hand out only if you give us something to hold for ransom because otherwise people steal it. Every day, when he returns the newspaper he jokingly says "Catch!" and pretends he is going to throw it to me instead of handing it back. Every day it is just as funny to him as it was the day before.

I don't have my library card. Can you look up my number?

A woman sets down a book and her library card silently on the desk and looks at me expectantly. Sorry, I can't check anything out at this desk. Not unless you want to set off our gate alarm, anyway, since I don't have a desensitizing pad.

A girl asks for several Blues Clues movies, and also Paranormal Activity 2. One of these things is not like the other...

A woman can't get on the computer because she's trying to use a friend's card number and the friend has too many fines. She can't use her own card because it also has too many fines. Of course this is our fault.

The woman whose statistics tutor I accidentally became wants to know: Can you help me figure out what a null hypothesis is?
Let's look in the index of your textbook, ma'am.

There's nowhere to plug your phone up at?

Do you have color paper that you can purchase? (People really think we are an office supply store. If you set up in the little shop for rent right next to us in the strip mall, you could make a killing.)

Do you have a scanner?

A man visiting from some southern state still hasn't figured out, after visiting three days in a row, which are the guest computers and which ones require a library card to use.

Show someone how to add page numbers to a Word document.

Polite kid: Excuse me, I was wondering where your comic books are.

Can I leave these bags here while I go to the restroom? (No.) Also, where is the restroom?

Mr. Timmons brings me candy *every day* now. I think I might have to tell him I'm on a diet. That's a total lie, but I know he doesn't have a lot of money and also most of the candy is pretty weird.

Do you have a pen? Never mind, I need a marker.

Can you help me? I accidentally clicked something and the menu went away on Microsoft Word.

Do you have Orange is the New Black, season 1?

Show two different people how to use what IT (presumably ironically) calls our "self service" print release station.

The 'closing in 15 minutes' announcement plays over the PA system. Thank goodness!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Half a conversation

A man's phone rang while he was at a library computer. He answered it saying "I'm at the library (pause) NEVER CALL ME AGAIN!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

West Side Continued

An old lady calls me "Honey," "Sweetie" and "Dear" all in one reference interaction. My colleague used to be a pastor and says that when she had that job she would correct people with "That's REVEREND Sweetie." I like her.

Our print release station says "Please enter your library card number OR first name" to release print jobs because we have two guest computers that allow you to log on with a name instead of a library card number. This morning I had to help three registered library users with their printing because they had entered their library card numbers at their PCs but entered their names at the print release station.

I smash at high speed into a patron. Yikes.

Everyone is trying to print W2s and tax forms. I hate this season (not as much as I hate Christmas, though, for the record!).

A man using the online catalog needs help with every single hold he places, but when we repeatedly offer to just place his holds for him, he refuses. I have to admire his perseverance, at least.

A man holds out a copy of "Independence Day: Resurgence" saying, "I need to know if this is number one or number two." I look it up and reply, "This is a sequel to the 1996 movie." Him: "So it's number two?"

A cutesy couple is talking baby talk at each other in the DVD section. I start to hate them but then the man comes up and asks to be on the waiting list for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." When his wife approaches he goes "Don't look! I'm getting a surprise for you!" They are redeemed.

A man approaches the desk, tells me he'd like to sign up for a gmail account, and waits expectantly.

Can I pay for you to copy this for me in color?

Mr. Timmons tells me a dirty joke (aA, bummer. We were having such a good streak!) and also wants to know on his grandson's behalf if the book Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties has come for them yet. It's not out until August of this year. Huh.

And I remove a copy of "American Rifleman" magazine that someone has 'donated' by putting it out on our magazine shelves.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Friday on the West Side

These are just the highlights. things move too fast here generally to include every time I help someone with the printer.

A patron recommended the movie Hardball to me: "Did you know that's based on a true story? I think they did it in Chicago. You know, the Bronx." As a former resident of the South Side, I had trouble letting that one go.

A woman who couldn't get into her account because she was using the wrong password concluded: "I thought I was doing something wrong, but I guess it was the pipes. It needed to be pushed through the pipes."

"Did Kevin Hart and Ice Cube do any other movies together besides Ride Along?"

A mysterious "volunteer" hands my coworker a typewritten slip of paper with a panda sticker on it and a mint. The paper says: "To: Library staff. Enrich someone's life today with a warm word of praise. Both of you will be better for it. From: Robert (Volunteer)." His name and 'title' are typed onto the page with the rest of the message--only "Library staff" is handwritten.

I spend two minutes convincing a man who says he wants to borrow a scanner that I need to hold his ID or a set of keys for him to have it. Finally he agrees and hands me his keys, so I hand him the scanner. Then he says "This won't help me. I need to fax."

Man with some printed papers: "Is there a way to make these into a PDF?"
Me: "Sure. We can do that two ways. either we can scan the pages you have there with our scanner and save them as a PDF or we can go on the computer and see if we can save the files directly."
After thinking that over for about a full minute, he replies: "I think I'm just going to go to Kinko's."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Another service we don't provide

A man couldn't find his library card to give to me so he could check out his items. He had a wallet full of tons of cards. After rifling through them for a minute or so, he said to me/the empty air, "Alexa, find my library card!"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How are my numbers?

One stereotype about librarians that bothers me is that they can't do math. I was a statistics minor in college and that has been really valuable in my day-to-day work as a librarian. Here's an example of how knowing about statistics helps me:

I had the bright idea today that I would compare how my later purchases for the collection did compared to my early ones in order to see if I had learned anything from my earlier work. I thought I would compare the average number of checkouts per month for the batch of titles I ordered from March through June with the batch of titles I ordered from July through December.

Here's what I found for the average checkout per month for each area of nonfiction, by Dewey number:
000s (computers): 0.44 checkouts/month
100s (self-help, philosophy, psychology): 0.69 checkouts/month
700s (crafts, art, music, film, sports, home): 0.57 checkouts/month

I wanted to go back and check these numbers against the same metric for my earlier picks, but when I tried that I realized I had a big problem: We keep our items on a special "New Items" shelf right near the front of the library for the first three months after we've acquired them. This spot is way more visible than the rest of nonfiction so it's common for items to circulate significantly more heavily in the first three months compared to any random three months later in their 'lifetime' in the library collection. With the two batches I wanted to compare, the books I made a list of in June have been in New shelving for 3 months and in regular shelving from anywhere from about 3-6 months. The later batch that I made a list of today has been in New shelving for up to 3 months and in regular shelving from anywhere from no time at all to about 3 months. So of course the averages for the latter will be higher--they are still in their high-checkout honeymoon period where they are being shown off on the New shelves. When I checked my older batch of 000s and got an average of 0.14 checkouts a month, got confirmation of the problems that the existence of the 'New' shelving was creating for the analysis (and got discouraged by those very low numbers!).

However, finding those numbers wasn't a waste of time, even though I was unable to compare them to my earlier selections as I had hoped. I was happy to see that the three numbers were fairly close to each other--in all three of my subject areas, the 'typical' item goes out about once every two months. I'd say that a typical checkout period at our library is a little over two weeks (the loan period is longer, but what I'm thinking about is how long a book is actually absent from the library when it is checked out), so that means the titles I have ordered are spending about 3/4 of their time on our shelves and 1/4 of their time out with patrons. Intuitively, I feel like something between 1/2 and 2/3 of the time is how much I would like them to spend on the shelf (I didn't realize I had an intuition about that, I guess I learned something about myself today), and this is not too much over that. I also use "less than 1 or 2 checkouts per year" as a baseline for whether to consider discarding something, and the titles that I ordered are comfortably above that margin so far.

Overall, I give myself 4 out of 5 for this attempt.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

West Side Loves to Copy

I told you I talk to the Greek gods, right?

I need to make a copy, but I've never used a copier before.

Can you show me how to make a copy?

Do you have, like, a guest...[stares at me for a few seconds without speaking] know, like the other library had computers that you can use without a card?

These are two loaves of raisin bread from the bakery down the street. They are a gift for the staff if you want them.

I need to print this email. How do I do that?

How do I make a copy?

Do you have tax forms yet?

Where are your exercise movies?

Call from a friend who was also sent to another branch! We have a patron over here who wants to come pick up Rob Roy by Scott. Can you make sure it's really there?

Where are the audiobooks?

My print job isn't showing up.

I need you to do your computer catalog thing. Do you have the movie Postcards From the Edge?

The copier says not to use the top feeder. Does that mean that I have to do all of these on the glass?

The unemployment office won't accept these text messages as documentation. They say I have to have proof on paper. Can you help me print them?

[One of our mobile device printing options is down. I put in a helpdesk ticket.]

I need Michigan tax forms.

Can you help me get to the hospital jobs website?

Phone call: They said you can help me find a math tutor for college mathematics. Can I come in on Saturday?

I need a friend...I need to copy this and put it into this document. Can you help me?

Can you help me with the printer?

How do I print just one page of this?

Do you have these two religious commentaries for my college class?

This computer locked me out.

How do I save something to my flash drive?

Is The Lost House back in yet?

Do you make copies here?

Do you fax here?

[Stand at the printer/fax/copier area for 15 minutes, just managing traffic.]

How do I make this full size?

Can I check my books out here?

I don't need help, I'm just waiting for the copier.

Smiled at by a lady who A) looks like a blonde version of the adorable Felicia Day and B) doesn't ask me for any information about copying or printing! If I weren't already married I would probably have asked her to marry me.

Any chance you could help me make a copy of this poster?

Do you have the TV show Degrassi? No, the old one.

[Show someone the self-check, which I love.]

One of the pages: This little girl is looking for her mom.
Little girl: There she is!
Mom: I'm so sorry!

Can you teach us how to check these movies out on the machines?