Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Refgrunt--now with bonus hour at the customer service desk!

Can I help you?
I need to return this, and to pay a fine, and to check something out, and you are holding a book for me somewhere.

I had one of the mini library cards on my key ring but then I lost my keys. Can I get a new one?
Not a new one with your old number. We can replace your entire card for one dollar. We don’t have the technology to do custom-numbered cards (not even CLOSE to the technology.)
Never mind then.

I charge a patron for a lost item. Somehow I mess this up so badly that the computer system produces an error message that our head of circulation, who has worked in the system for…a million years, has never seen before. Bonus weirdness: He comes in to report that he lost the item but is not actually prepared to pay the fine I assess as a result. So why did you report it today, guy?

Can you check these books in? Wait check them back out, no check them back in. Some of them.

A shy little girl with her mom approaches the desk to ask: “When are the dogs coming to the library?” We had a program last year where you could read to a therapy dog and it was a big hit. I don’t know the answer to this for sure because the summer brochure isn’t out yet but I say they are probably coming in the summer.

Guy who had been laboriously working on a job application at the world’s worst website has it crash on him. It’s logged him out and he has to navigate all the way back to his page—there is nothing I can do to help him but provide moral support.

Same guy thought he saved two versions of his resume but only one is showing up. Well, do you need them both, sir? No, but I don’t know if this is the newer one or not. I show him how to open the document in Microsoft Word to check and—thank goodness—it IS the right version.

Now that the job application’s resume is uploaded he wants to know, “So how do I send it to them?” Getting him to believe that the resume will be automatically sent when he submits his online application takes some work.

Teenager: “We left one of our personal books here [describes its irrelevant features in great detail].”
I can’t find it or any record of it in the back so I go out to clarify. Then he says it was his mom who talked to us, and all she told him was that it was at the “Plano” library. He just assumed that meant this branch, I guess because that’s where they “usually go.”

Doing stuff in Spanish—how to get a card, log in to the computer, I don’t know the word for “screen,” which is a problem. But I handle the whole transaction in Spanish competently and then notice that my boss (a Spanish-speaker) is standing right behind me and looks impressed. Yes!

We can’t get into this website (because we are typing the address into the search box of the library catalog).

A kid asks for “scary stories,” my least favorite reader’s advisory.

Can I check this movie out from this display? What about this book?

Now the second hardest RA: “funny books.”

A small kid is just tearing by and when I tell him to please walk in the library he stops in confusion. “Dinosaurs!” he says, “I’m looking for dinosaurs!” So I get him a big dinosaur encyclopedia and everyone is happy.

Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time? This guy is one of my favorite patrons because he is thrilled by everything about the library. I met him a little while ago when he wanted a list of the zip codes contained in nearby cities. I actually showed him how to release multiple print jobs last week. Once I asked him tonight if he wanted me to show him he remembered what to click and he was so excited, and said “Thank you so much for reminding me!” Then he went over to the Customer Service desk and asked them if they had found his coat which he left in the library. We had and he was extremely grateful.

Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time? (Different patron.)

Go over to kick out a guy who waits to start shutting his computer down and packing up until after the “library is closed” announcements, despite the deafening twenty-minute and five-minute warnings. Good night, and good luck!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend reference highlights

An extremely appreciative old lady who I help with printing. She only needs 30 cents' worth of printing but she has a twenty dollar bill. I tell her that she can go over to Customer Service and they will make change for her, because the machine takes only coins and one-dollar bills, although at least it makes change within those parameters. Then I overhear her saying to the poor girl at Customer Service, "Well, I'll need at least three dimes..."

A man with a great Texas accent needs books with example wedding vows. "They just called and said their pastor may not  be able to make it, so I'm going to have to step in!"

Reader's advisory: A 12 year old wants a historical fiction book (or character-based nonfiction) about the Cold War, from the Soviet side. Two results, two more than I was expecting.

A woman can't get the printer to make any copies. Because it's, you know, a printer.

And, the best of the day: Is your Geneaology department planning any trips to Utah soon?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Problem not solved

I was on the children's desk for most of the evening because the Thursday night Youth Services person was out sick. A pack of three kids was running wildly around the children's area. Two of them were the age where, if they fall down and skin their knees, they burst into earsplitting wails. I told each of them repeatedly to "please walk" in the library, reminded them that you "can't run" here, etc. etc. Eventually I asked one if her mom or dad was here with her. She indicated a woman who was helping two older kids with homework at a table in the kids' area. I went to get her to take responsibility for the kids that she had brought to the library (why you think you should take five kids anywhere without a supporting adult is a separate question). This was our conversation:

Me: Can you please ask your children to stop running?
Woman: I already have.

That does not conclude your responsibilities, lady!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Median vs. mean as a measure of collection age

Earlier this year Mary Kelly (of Awful Library Books) wrote a really interesting piece about statistical analysis of collections on her blog The Practical Librarian (the original article, "Another Baby Step in Collection Analysis," can be found here). I thought it was quite useful except that it covered the average age of collections without talking at all about median age. I wrote a comment to that effect and now she has written a follow-up collection analysis post that does discuss the use of median age. The actual important things about this post are that first, it is very useful, and second, it is a good, concise explanation of the difference between mean and median. The self-important thing is that the post mentions my name and this blog! Mary is a pretty big deal in the public library world so it's sort of like an aspiring writer giving a suggestion to Neil Gaiman and him saying he thinks it's a good idea. I am pretty excited.

I know the audience of this blog is mostly non-library, but in case you are interested in truly professional librarian blogs, along with The Practical Librarian I would also recommend you check out The Swiss Army Librarian by Brian Herzog.

Awful Library Books and, of course, Love the Liberry remain my favorite blogs for library humor.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Best requests

Today I only located about six books. Two of them were Flatland and The Wealth of Nations. Do the patrons think it's my birthday or something?

Bonus: Flatland is 530.11 ABB, not FIC ABB.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Children's librarians work a lot harder than I do

Today I was on the children's desk all by myself all day because the youth services person who is normally here is getting married. I gained a new respect for what she does. This was my day:

As the designated Spanish speaker on days when the native speakers aren’t working, register a lady who ‘needs to speak to someone in Spanish’ for a computer class. Her English is really, really good and she keeps speaking to me in English after I speak to her in Spanish.

A couple of people are really confused about how the AARP tax help that the library hosts works.

“Can you look up a book for me? You can do it faster than I can. I have to go now. The author is J-O-H-M-A-N-N.”
“Yes. Oh wait, I’m not finding it here because I can’t read my own notes. It’s at another branch.”
“Well I’m not seeing anything by this author at all—did I spell it incorrectly?”
“Take out the N.”
“Oh, okay, would you like me to put one of these titles on hold for you.”
“No, I have to go.”

My eternal favorite question in the children’s area: “Do you have any books about dinosaurs?” Plus a bonus: I get him to take a book about Megalodon too!

A couple with a little toddler walks by. Dad to little girl: “Look at all these books! Isn’t this more books than you’ve ever seen in your entire life!” and to mom: “She’s just like….aaaah!”

One of those homeschooling families with like a million children comes through like a tornado, leaving huge piles of abandoned and all the toys from the play area scattered across the floor. You’re not teaching your children to pick up after themselves in homeschool, people?

The Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton.

How do I sign up for a library card?

“Excuse me, where are the Bluebonnets, and the new books?”
The Bluebonnets are literally right behind me, over my shoulder, and she spots those. But it is really hard to get her to articulate which new books she wants. Eventually she says kids’ chapter books. Then when I first show them to her she says “No!”

It’s really hard to describe where the tax help is relative to the children’s desk.

Help a very nice man figure out where to mail his tax return.

Lots of people want to know if the bookmarks from our bookmark contest are free (they are).

Earlier books in a Meg Cabot series than the one she has, and also Maximum Ride books (this a YA series by James Patterson and requests for it used to confuse the heck out of me before I learned what it was).

Princess books. Satisfied by Princess Tiana and the Royal Ball.

Refill displays. Prediction that Animal Grossology will be the first book of the day to circulate off the New Junior Nonfiction display comes true.

Books from the I Spy series.

Phineas and Ferb books and also Wild Kratts—there are no books but we do have a DVD of the show. One of the Phineas and Ferb books has a loose page and, after checking that no one from Circulation is looking, I tape it back in with regular Scotch tape because someone else is waiting to ask a question and I don’t want to go to the back and fix it properly.

Because of Winn Dixie (in) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (out).

Do you have books about gods?

Judy Moody series and, from a different patron, Junie B. Jones series. I’m glad get asked this because I need the practice distinguishing them—I’ve been known to mix them up in the past.

Bad Kitty series from a small boy with a major stutter. Luckily we are able to communicate.

Place a hold for a popular kids DVD—can’t remember what series it was.

Books on gymnastics.

Monster High.

The most impossible readers’ advisory ever, and the children’s person is out this weekend. After seeing about 20 choices, she selects the graphic novel series Guinea Pig: Pet-Shop Private Eye.

Pick up a stack of books abandoned next to one of the computers. There are five of them and four are the exact same title. Why!?

“How many movies can I have checked out?” I love getting this question because at our library you can have up to 50 things checked out at a time, and the format doesn’t matter. People are expecting they can have three movies or five movies or maybe ten movies, and then you say they can have fifty and they get really excited.

The newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid (it’s The Third Wheel).

“Where are those fairy books?” i.e. the ones written by “Daisy Meadows.”

Stories about cats. Luckily, I now know to recommend the Bad Kitty series.

Little girl: I need a library card.
Dad: You already have a library card!

Pinkalicious books. I don’t know if I object more to the gender-stereotype-reinforcing content or to the fact that I can never spell “pinkalicious” correctly on the first try.

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. It’s checked out but another book set in the same universe is in—good enough!

The same little girl that told me she needed a library card runs past the desk and I say “Please walk in the library!” Her mom, who is following behind her, whispers “Sorry. I told her to run!”

“Do you have any books of Shaun the Sheep?” No, we don’t. Dang.

Dinosaur books again.

Pandora the Curious, Confectionately Yours, and Bake Sale.

Dragon Tales DVDs. This kid and his dad are well-known regulars because he is autistic and because his dad is eternally tolerant. The dad gets the kid to repeat the request after him and he seems to be doing well but then he darts around and presses the power button on my computer, shutting it off. Then he stands next to me, staring at it intently. “He has to make sure it is really shutting down,” his dad says with resignation.

While the computer is down: Field Trip Mysteries.

Are there art lessons for kids in the library?

Villain School: Are there more of these, and what order is the series in?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Every Dog's Legal Guide

I've noticed this in an unsystematic way for awhile, but I was collecting some abandoned books in the relevant section today and I noticed exactly how many there were.

There is a great company called Nolo that publishes legal guides for the average person. I don't mind talking about a particular business here because my experience with Nolo guides suggests that they are 100% great and I fully endorse them.

That's not the point of this post, though. The point is the covers of the Nolo series. As you can imagine, there's not a lot of great eye-catching illustration options for Forming a Partnership: A complete legal guide.  At least not if you stick to relevant images. So instead they went with this:

and this:

And even this:
Front Cover

What I want to know is, whos is this dog? Is he Nolo or what? And why isn't he the same as this dog?