Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good parenting day at the library

Apparently yesterday was secretly Parenting Day in My Library's Home City, TX. I observed the following in a single afternoon:

-I helped a woman find 'age-appropriate' books for her four-year-old daughter. When I asked whether she was thinking of books for her daughter to read herself or for her to read to her daughter, she said both.

-I helped a man find books that would help his four-year-old daughter with phonics. Then he and the woman I helped before got into a long conversation about resources to help kids learn.

-Same woman asked for my help logging her daughter into a computer so she could play educational games. She had her daughter operate the mouse, etc. She said "I'm trying to teach her computer literacy; I think it's an important skill."

-A single mom came in wanting books about male puberty so that when her 11-year-old son starts having questions, she will be ready. Her son was in the library with her and she was also teaching him how to use the Dewey Decimal system.


(Lots of the patrons today are really crabby so it's nice to have this to think about instead.)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snakes on a bookcart (a refgrunt)

The old man who told me about dendrochronology comes back: He got confused trying to find the database I showed him when he tried it at home, but this time he is prepared: He uses a digital camera to take screenshots of the steps as I show him. Resourceful! Then he talks to me about his wife’s great grandfather for an eternity.

We have an educational program about snakes today, with real live snakes, so the next ten or so questions or so are all related to that: Where is the snake program? When does it start? Is this the desk where I get a ticket?

Healthy cookbooks (for a kid!).


Are you here for the snake program? You need a sticker. Times 100.

Get on the wireless without a library card? asks someone from all the way up north in my home state.

An older gentleman comes up as the snake program is starting and asks, what’s going on in there? He is very alarmed by the idea of live snakes on the library—oh no, that is very dangerous, my goodness, etc etc. But he doesn’t argue with me—he seems resigned to the fact that it is happening.

A family trying to use the copier turns in an abandoned original: photocopies of a driver’s license and social security card. I thank them and shred it.

The same family needs help to copy. The mom speaks only Spanish but instead of trying to talk to her in Spanish I let her son translate because he is so efficient and self-important.

Are you waiting to check out, ma’am? You don’t have to wait for this machine; there are more over there.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Not on shelf but I find it in the back.

More copier help.

Lady whose photocopy we shredded comes back, but fortunately she is mostly relieved rather than annoyed.

Is Midsomer Murders still on TV?

More copier questions.

You need a library card to get on a computer, but don’t worry, it’s free.

Where do you return books?

Help some new library users print.

What are your hours this weekend?

I can‘t get onto the computer!

Can you help me find this book? No, because it’s not at this library, but I can place a hold on it for you.

Printing assistance.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A good day at the library

1. Watched at least four books get selected from displays I created
2. Hugged by a patron, but it wasn't creepy
3. Number of pens in the 'homework supply' box: Net gain!

New word

Today I learned a new word from a patron (possibly the old man who called about spelling and definitions last week): dendrochronology. It is the study of tree rings and dating trees from said rings. We have an ebook about it, but when the old man went to read it, it was already checked out! Can you believe that!?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Favorite patron of the day

So it's only 11 a.m. and I spent the first hour and a half of the day helping with a computer class, but I can say with confidence that I have already had the day's best customer.

A very old man called the library and even though I was at children's I ended up catching his reference call. He wanted to confirm the definitions and spellings of:


He apparently had all this information saved on his computer (one of my many favorite old people things is old people who are only moderately computer-literate but use computers for everything) but lost it in a crash.

He was so excited I could help him and he kept saying "All you girls at the library are so smart, thank you so much for helping me, this is great, have a great day."

I spent all morning talking to people who had not grown up with computers, were just learning how to use them, and were absolutely floored by their potential and power.Working in a public library is a great place to be reminded of how awesome (in both senses of the word) it is to live in the modern first world.

Mostly boring refgrunt

Copy and Paste Guy (one of my favorites) wants help getting just an article he is reading online, not all the comments, into a Word document to print. I reiterate how to copy and paste but end up doing it for him after a valiant effort on his part, as usual. He just can’t seem to master the text-selecting part.

Do you need help finding your hold, ma’am? What’s your last name? Rodriguez. Okay, so look under R-O-D. Now what is your first name? No, Rodriguez, R-O-D-R.

A rowdy regular (a nice kid, just a lot more energy than discipline) runs by. He slows to a guilty walk as soon as he sees me looking at him but all I was going to do was compliment his new mohawk.

Can I borrow your pin? (Of course this is Texas and he is saying pen but sometimes I still mishear it since I am a recent immigrant.)

Excuse me, I looked up this book in the catalog and it says it is in the ‘story collection.’ Where is that? I explain and ask her if I can walk her over to it, but she says “No, I’m an old librarian.”

Cute little boy: What is my PIN number? I explain that it is the ‘last four numbers in your telephone number’ and a moment later hear him carefully repeating that to his mom or dad over at the computers.

Caller wants an audiobook from the Babylon Rising series.

Show a new library user how to print. He balks for a moment at ten cents a page but decides to go for it—he needs his company to reimburse him for his phone bill. Spend a moment commiserating about the difficulty of getting large entities to reimburse you for anything.

Help the same guy send his first email ever (?). Pretty much my favorite thing!

Five seconds away from calling the Story Collection lady  to let her know we have her bag when I discover that she is still in the library, despite saying ‘I’m going to just set this here for a moment while I go grab that book’ half an hour ago.

Son of coworker conscientiously returns a wiimote.

It’s three weeks [for book checkout], right?

A guy with an unlit cigarette sticking out of the side of his mouth sees me looking at him and says “Hi, howarya?”

I want to return this book. Okay, do you see the window…aaaaand she walks away.

Captains and Kings (TV series).

The Pearl by John Steinbeck—put on hold at another branch but it never came. Fortunately, it’s here!

Friday, December 14, 2012

All I want for Christmas

For the boys who play their online shooter games with the volume turned up waaaay too high: A pair of giant, ear-covering headphones each. 

For Mr. Take My Card, who we always have to wake up at closing time: A tent and a battery-powered space heater, so he doesn't have to relocate further away than the front lawn at night.

For Fedex guy, who we think is running a business out of the library and is always asking for shipping supplies: A stack of flat rate USPS boxes.

For the families who wander to different parts of the library and then shout across the building at each other: walkie-talkies. No, even better, tin cans attached to each other with string! That would give them a maximum radius.

For the Teen Librarian's Number One Fan: A framed photo of her and said librarian, for her to cherish forever.

For each high school kid who wants an immensely well-known book right now, because she is supposed to have read it by tomorrow, and she can't believe she'll have to wait two days for it to come over from another branch: A ten dollar gift certificate to Half Price Books, printed with a detailed map on it.

For whoever is stealing all the best DVDs as soon as they come in: A Netflix subscription.

For Construction Vest Man: His own bottle of whiteout. (Still haven't figured out what exactly he is using it for, but he asks for it every day.)

For the guy who is always thrilled when we copy and paste for him: Anything he wants, because he is great!

And, for Do You Have... Boy, a free pass to somewhere where he can look at or borrow as many books as he wants, even if he is never even going to read them. Oh wait, that place is called the library.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Alternate job descriptions

Today at the Community College Library I was given the exciting job of replenishing all the supplies at the 'courtesy stations' throughout the library--this means staples, paper clips, hand sanitizer, etc. So I now appear to be (chose from the options below):
A. The world's lamest Santa Claus
B. The creepy student the librarians all never hope to have to speak to
C. Overpaid

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Found by the children's computers

A 1 1/2 inch long plastic tarantula, rainbow-colored. I left it be.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about Dr. Seuss

Today one of our regulars asked how many books Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) had written. This turned out to be a surprisingly difficult question. I spent 30-45 minutes taking a leisurely look around various websites and databases and concluded that he wrote 44 books for children and in  the neighborhood of 55 total. I also came across an interesting and heart-warming fact: When asked what he considered his greatest work, Geisel said that it was "not a book or an illustration, but the Lion Wading Pool at Wild Animal Park in San Diego, which he donated in 1973."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Twilight's international appeal

I looked up Robert Pattinson in our catalog today and discovered that all the records that mention him are for English titles, with one exception. The exception is a biography in Chinese, and is romanized in the catalog as Luobote Padingsen.

Your Walgreens Personal Identification Number

A lady walks up to the desk and says, "I forgot my PIN and I can't get on the computer."
I say, "No problem, I can look it up for you. Can I see your card?"
She hands me a card and I am reaching to scan it when I realize--it is a Walgreens card, not a library card.


This morning I showed a man with a long list of print jobs how to release more than one at a time. He thanked me with the normal amount of enthusiasm, but then later I saw him pump both of his fists in the air in triumph when the machine told him that all the print jobs had been released. Put your hands in the air!