Friday, July 31, 2015

James Peterson

A caller wanted to place James Patterson's new book Zoo on hold. When it told him that our computer system said it was right here on the shelf so it should be ready for him shortly, he said "Well I was there yesterday and it wasn't there. That's why I called to get a hold. Unless there is somewhere else it would be besides the other Peterson books."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A new patron

Tonight a young mom and her three-year-old son came to the library. They approached the desk. She greeted me and then looked down at her son, then said, "Say, 'excuse me, miss, where are the books about dinosaurs?'" He dutifully repeated (even with some eye contact!) "Excuse me, miss, where are the books about dinosaurs?"

I took them straight to the 560s, which I think of as just 'the 'dinosaur section' within kid's nonfiction. As we were walking over, his mom said to me,"I think he's never been in a library before, so I wanted him to learn what to do."

I've seen variations on this interaction probably thirty times now, but it never gets old.

Language barriers

I've been having a tough desk shift today. It started with a gnat landing on my lip! Gross! Talk about the 'jungle' of public service. The worst part was that I was talking to a patron when it happened so I couldn't even freak out as I normally would.

I'm on the desk by myself from 6 p.m. to close because the evenings are normally really quiet. Instead both phones are ringing simultaneously while I have someone standing in front of me.

I had to break it to a very nice woman that the reason she can't find season 3 of the TV show Web Therapy was that it never came out on DVD, so there's no way for her to even buy one, let alone borrow one from the library. It's only available to purchase as single-episode digital downloads from Amazon or iTunes. This after she had just finished telling me that she 'just didn't get technology.'

The worst, though, is the nice middle-aged man who I call BBC Farsi Man because "BBC Farsi" was one of the very first English phrases he learned. He's from Iran and speaks very little English. He is one of the most patient men ever born, and a quick learner. When he first started coming into the library, all he could say besides "BBC Farsi" was "Good" and "Thank you." You had to walk him through every step of logging onto a computer and searching Google for the BBC website in Farsi. Now he can get to it all by himself and even goes on youtube and watches videos about his hometown. Now when he comes in he says, "Hello my friend!" with a big smile on his face, and shakes my hand. Every single time, and he is in most days.

Today he came in ("Hello my friend!") and after about 20 minutes he was able to convey to me that he wants to Skype with his friend from home. I think what he was telling me was that his friend had had a baby and he would like to see the image of the baby on Skype, but I'm not totally sure. I think what he wanted to know was, if he got a phone, could he could use the library's wireless internet to use Skype on it to call his friend? This is not a complicated idea, but our common language consists of about 10 words, so it was extremely hard for him to communicate to me. He was so happy when he finally got it across, even though the answer was 'yes, but a phone costs a lot of money.' I really wish I could tell him how patient he is and how much I appreciate it, but so far I am limited to weirdly over-emphasized facial expressions. I checked Pronunciator, our library's language-learning database/program, to see if it could help me out, but Farsi isn't one of its included languages.

So, if any readers happen to know how to say "You are very patient" or even "thank you" in Farsi, please let me know!

On the bright side, I did observe a woman come in, look around, and say to herself, "Wow, this place is amazing!"

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Return of Tweety

Everyone who works in a library has a story about the strange things that people leave behind and end up in the lost and found. We record what we put in there, so we get an especially good record Last week I logged in a Tweety bird usb drive. Today I went to log in a lost bracelet...only to see that the entry above was "Tweety bird flash drive," entered by a coworker, the day before.

Gotta buy that patron one of those keychain flash drives.

If you want to see more things left in libraries, specifically in books, you can start with:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Good, bad

Some good, some bad today, as usual.

Good: A man came up to the desk all excited, and I asked "How can I help you?" He didn't really need any help. He'd just found out his student loan application had been approved and he was going to college! He was so excited he just had to tell someone.

Bad: A man came up to the desk with a bunch of loose sheets of paper. "Stapler?" I asked him. He nodded. When I held out the stapler, instead of taking the stapler, he held out his papers like he wanted me to staple them for him. Nope, that's definitely not a service we provide (unless you're disabled, anyway).

Good: We can't find a copy of the autobiography of the guy who started AA, but the patron says "That's okay, I've been coming here for years and this is the first time you've ever let me down!"

Bad: Another patron is frustrated that I can't tell him which tax form he filed last year (he needs to put that information on the FAFSA which, by the way, like many of our patrons he pronounces "fass-fuh"). I don't say this, but I can probably tell him what form he *should* have filed, but that's not the same thing.

Good: A woman with a ton of tattoos, bleached blond hair, and an angry look on her face is super-nice when I show her how to release her print job from the print release station.

Bad: A woman who looks like a sweet grandma is super-rude when I show her how to release her print job.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Do you have some little scissors..

...that I can borrow to trim my eyebrows?" is one of the questions I had to answer 'no' to today. Eew.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Meat packing plants

You know how they say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus? The guy who called for phone reference last night must be from Neptune, if not from a planet outside our solar system entirely, because he told my colleague, "You know how women love candy? Well, men love packing plants." He had called for information about one so he could "go there this weekend and get some steaks."

A new ally

We got a new security guard recently who is kind of eccentric. I wasn't 100% sure that I liked him at first but today he won me over completely.

Three patrons came in. You could see that two were blind, and the third lady had a walker. They wanted to know where they could plug in a laptop. Unfortunately, our build is 50 years old, so its electrical outlets are pretty limited. We've got study carrels with power strips taped to them, but all of our tables that accommodate more than two people are standing out in open space with no outlets. You can run a cord from a nearby wall outlet, but technically you aren't supposed to run cords across the floor. Security is in charge of enforcing this since it's a safety issue.

I got the patrons settled at a table and showed them where to plug their laptop into the wall. As I was leaving the security guard checked in with them and I could hear him introducing himself and asking them if they needed any help. He was doing all the things you are supposed to with someone who can't see--talking to them like they were regular people, but giving extra information that they couldn't infer by looking at him (his name, what his job was, etc.). After a few minutes he came up to the desk to check in and I apologized for setting them up so that they'd run a cord across the floor. He said, "Well, there wasn't really a choice. All our stations with good plugs are single-user. Besides, this is a special case so I thought we could make an exception. I just asked them to walk around the other side of the table where there was no cord, and they seem settled."

I guess we were just both relieved to see a dog in the library that was clearly an actual service dog, which is not always the case.