Peace, love and pot

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A guy came into the library today in what at first looked like a snuggie with the hood up. As he walked away the full effect hit me. It was a one piece outfit (romper? leisure suit?) with a zipper up the front and made of pajama material. It had large rainbow colored marijuana leaves all over it. Yikes!- he just walked in again. It has a black background and green, red and yellow leaves, about the size of the palm of your hand. I have $10 that says I will see his name in the paper sometime in the next two months.

I work in a different library now, a smaller one. This was not an easy decision for me. I hate change, but the money was considerably different with not many different responsibilities. I am in charge of adult programming including the adult reading program this summer.  I was worried about learning to use a new cash register. Ha! It is a drawer with a compartmented wooden box inside for the change and a empty check box with a rock in it for the bills.

I am excited to be able to ride my bike to work come spring and I don’t work evenings any more. My kids can ride their bikes here to attend Lego Club and Coder Dojo. All in all it was a good move.

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I asked my boss if I could blog about work. She gave me her permission. 2,000 words later…

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I work in a library.

  • Unlike doctors and lawyers, librarians don’t mind talking about books when we are not behind the desk at work.
  • I am not a magician. I do not know your Wal-Mart employee password so you can get the W2 form your employer asked you to download from their site so you could pay for the printing costs, saving them $0.15 per employee while causing mayhem in libraries across the country.
  • I am not a free child care provider. We serve doctors, lawyers and stay-at-home moms as well as bums, drug pushers and child molesters at our library. This is in addition to the 20-30 middle schoolers that come to the library after school for two hours. Keep this cost in mind when you save yourself money in after-school child care. We sent a ten-year-old kid home with the cops once.
  • I am not a phone service provider. If you have a daily need to have multiple personal conversations on our portable phone in a far-away corner, expect me to give you the phone with a cord to use.
  • I am not your personal phone directory. When you give me the number you want me to dial, give the numbers to me clearly and in the order you want them dialed, not, “mughshevenfourshix uh, yeah sixthreetwo.”
  • I am not a MySpace expert. I do not know how to add the online porn queens you have found to your “Close Friends” list.
  • I don’t have the books you insist you turned in. We looked on the shelves here. I do know that we have had the orthodontist, the auto repair place that loaned you a car and the school call us about our library books. When I say, “we will look around here again, but you need to look around home too,” what I mean is “it is almost never us.” And we check the book drop twice a day. We also think very highly of you when you can apologize after you find the books behind your kid’s bookcase.
  • The container out front with a round hole and a plastic liner bag is a garbage can, not a book drop.
  • I am not a love life expert, but as I print off the photos you found on the date-local site, I can assure you that the ex-wife of our local national celebrity is not going to be interested in dating you until you change your hygiene habits and lose about 20 years, even if she is bat-shit crazy, as I have heard.
  • I am not a mind-reader. I do not keep track of which un-attended kids at the library are yours, so I will speak to the children first about their behavior rather than you.
  • I suggest you log out of Facebook if you don’t want the next guy who sits at the computer to update your status.
  • I cannot answer all reference questions. Not all of them have obtainable answers, for example when you call to ask if one of Lady Gaga’s back up dancers is Scandinavian. That information is not available in the amount of time I can dedicate to this call.
  • When you call to see if your daughter is in the library, and we don’t know her by name, I suggest you find a way of describing her that does not include, “She wears a D cup bra.” This particular young lady also has very long hair and wears glasses, but that is not what her mom thought of first. Poor kid.

This sounds like complaining, but my job is mostly fun. I like the variety of people I know in town, from kids to cops to homeless people to the classes who come in with a one-to-one ratio of teacher to kid on Wednesdays, and it is always exciting to see the name of a patron in the police blotter, or better yet on the front page of the paper for possession with intent to deliver, particularly when that person has been especially rude to us over some matter or another.

We have nicknames for our distinctive patrons, ranging from “the Call Girl” who uses our phone once a day and is always surprised that we are not excited to see her coming and have the phone at hand, dialing finger poised, to “Miss Pickles” who has is such a character that I recognized her in a post on an online class I am taking on customer service. I checked my classmate’s profile and discovered she works in the town down the road, so I suggested we had some patron overlap, and she agreed. More about Miss Pickles later.

The patrons are the best part of the job. Well, the no fine perks rank up there too.

  • Last month a 30-year-old guy came in to replace his card. It had some very old fines on it, so I printed off the list of books that had been returned late. Two were on menopause and the other was a romance novel. I forgave the fines, but gave him the print-out so he could black-mail his mother with it.
  • Last week a teen showed me two card tricks, which was fun but not as fun as the day the special needs kid pulled his library card out of my ear! (I say special needs-he is nice and friendly but I doubt he will be able to live on his own-he thinks he is Elvis or the Hulk or a cop…)
  • Then there is the Goth cowboy I call High Chaparral and my co-worker calls Jingles. He wears spurs and a bandolier to go with his filed eye-teeth and the black eye make up he wears on his cheeks and eyes to make himself look more cadaverous than is strictly necessary. He hasn’t been in for a while, *knocks on wood*
  • I love asking a kid getting a library card if he brought his driver’s license for proof of address. Some will look at their parents in confusion and some will look at me and bust out laughing.
  • A guy came in once and insisted he had a card. I asked his last name. “Poinzadiem” he said. I typed it in three different ways and asked him for clarification. He insisted it was pronounced “Poinzadiem.” And he berated me because if I was Native, I would understand his name. I finally looked him up by his first name. I was spelling “Points At Him” wrong.
  • Then there is Miss Pickles, the lady of seven names. I shall call her here Victoria Cindellia Jane Hobbes Witherspoon Johnson Marquette. VCJHWJM has had her identity stolen by several entities and insists on using public access computers to register her complaints to the highest levels of the government. She also thinks I told her I know how to help her register a patent. I most assuredly did not.
  • One time a lady came in and wanted a list of her recent reads. I told her we didn’t keep track- that once she had checked the books in they go off her record. (This should come as a relief to those of you worried about the NSA asking for records of patron checkouts). I said, “I am really bad with faces, but I never forget a book. What was it about?” She said, “It started with a “P” and it was about horses.” I suggested it might be “The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.” It was. I hadn’t read it, but I had noticed the title.
  • A tourist came through town on his bike and he wanted to camp out. I suggested the fancy new site on the way south of town. He said he was looking for something more rustic than that, so I suggested the zoo. Yes, you can camp right outside the zoo and wake up to the lions roaring. He didn’t believe me, but I bet he biked over there just in case I wasn’t lying, and if he did, I bet he stayed.
  • I was setting up a display for Native American Heritage Month last year, and I really needed something for the display cases (we have lots of books on the topic but no artifacts) so I cornered one of the matriarchs that come in and she went out to her car where she had a trunk load of beaded jewelry she had made as well as a star quilt and a number of other items I used for our display.
  • When I first started, in 2010 a family of kids, an older sister and three younger boys hung out at the library from after school until closing time (3 ½ hours). I usually gave them extra computer time because they were always there and they were well-behaved. This was in Dec, Jan, Feb…and that spring I read that their mother had died of cancer. They didn’t have a home to really go to, and probably no heat. They still come in sometimes. They live with a grandma.

Some things make me sad.

  • I don’t understand why Nebraska makes (makes) people applying for state assistance FAX their information (we charge $1 a page) to Lincoln rather than scanning and emailing for free, or even mailing for $0.48. No, they want it FAXed. I can’t imagine they have paper files on people.
  • When people can spend three hours on Facebook while their kids run around the library, and they don’t even let their kids get on the kid computers. They manage to keep the behavior to just under the threshold of asking them to leave, although I know when I ask someone to leave, I will have my boss’s full support.
  • It makes me sad when the boss weeds books and they go to recycling, (we do sell some on the annual sale, but we can’t keep them all-nor would there be a market for most of them) however, it is great when someone shows up looking for books on child labor laws and we don’t have much but what we have is brand new and current.
  • When people come in with neck-gash tattoos. A tattoo may limit your job opportunities, but a neck gash tattoo shows a real lack of judgment.
  • I wish I spoke Spanish. We don’t have a large immigrant population, but there are a handful of people who bring a kid along to translate, and some who just muddle through.
  • When young guys come in who appear to be plenty smart, but don’t bathe, and this isn’t a homeless issue. It is a hygiene issue.
  • When someone checks out an awesome book (like “Evil Obsession” by Yost) and I just know it won’t be coming back.
  • When people lie about already having a card. We can look you up by your first name, or your birthday if we think you might have a couple hundred dollars in lost items.

We do the best we can to make things easy for people. If someone has books out when they check out I make sure they know about them, and renew them if necessary. We don’t charge fines to homeschoolers and teachers. If they check out a lot of books I will write that number at the top of the slip so they can count first to see if they have them all ready to bring back.

If we don’t have it we can find it on interlibrary loan for you, or look online at the neighboring libraries.

Finally, something weird I learned the other day.

American Sign Language is different from German or even English Sign Language. (That was a huge missed opportunity. Imagine if all the deaf people –and those who knew sign language-could communicate!)

I have only worked here three and a half years. You can’t imagine the stories the lady who has been here 25 years can tell.

A few random things

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My boss has been weeding the non-fiction section of the library. It needed it desperately. So my co-worker and I have been removing books from the library system. The boss lady started with the 000s, which is the unknown information section, like computers and the abominable snowman. That kind of stuff, then she hit the 100s which is philosophy and the “woo woo” stuff, like horoscopes and Sylvia Browne books. People like to steal her books, and I can see why. I was going to link you to her site but she charges $80 for an 18-month subscription, and I thought if you were that interested in her you would already have your own subscription, and if you weren’t then Wikipedia would do.

All along I have snagged a book here and there because, well, I have a thing about books. I picked up one called “My Angry Son.” The title pretty much says it all, except it has a happy ending. I found a couple on ethics, one on some lady who had ESP in 1801 and after just thumbing through it I am having second thoughts. I also found one called “The Way We Never Were” which purportedly debunks all kinds of nostalgia.

This month she hit the 200s. Religion. I snagged a couple of Greek and Roman Gods books for my daughter who is enamored of Percy Jackson. Friday I went home with a book about members of a religion (more like splinter groups) who had revelations to kill people, like their sister-in-law and her baby, or revelations to kidnap girls to make them wives and such. It has been pretty interesting, although not overly balanced. Today I snagged one due to the blurb in the jacket. Let me quote it for you…”The evidence he has uncovered…is so shocking, so chilling, and so credible that it needs no hyperbole.” That line alone made my top ten list of great book recommendations! The book is about exorcism. I may not even read it. I might just read the blurb again and again. The top two book names from today were, in no specific order, “Fire in the Soul” and “Improving your Serve,” the second about being a servant of Christ. Very clever, I thought.

The gal who is also removing books with me went home with a pile of Catholic books and Pope and Mother Theresa books. I went home with books about killing others in the name of your god, and an exorcism book. (I also snagged Firefox 7, the one with the snake handling) In my defense there was not one single little book about John or Charles Wesley. Not one.

Then I get home to find my baby sitter gave me two weeks notice and the guy I asked to rototill my garden came over without his rototiller because he wanted to make sure I still wanted it done. And I burned my tongue on Chinese tonight. So to sum it up, I have a prospective replacement baby sitter scheduled to come over on Thursday, the garden is tilled and I am going to go soak my tongue in some white wine.

 

I will finish with these quotes from a Writer’s Digest magazine, which reminds me, I need to renew my subscription.

Says Charles Bukowski, “That’s the problem with drinking…if something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

And you can’t have a quote about drinking unless you include Hunter S. Thompson, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they always worked for me.”

 

New Clothes, sort of

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Ordinarybutloud@xanga was bragging about her new Thomas Jefferson T-Shirt. Well, my dad went to WDC last month and brought me the same thing in white. Same size too. Seems like mine is a little big, but not a lot big. It says, “I cannot live without books.” In my job on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays we can wear casual clothes like jeans and a T-shirt. They prefer we wear non-potentially-offensive (non-political or advertising type) shirts. I have a jersey-type shirt that says, “Vonnegut” across the shoulders and has the number “5” on it. Most of the patrons don’t get it, but the boss lets me wear it. Now I can wear my TJ shirt too along with my neon green Summer Reading Program shirt which Mom says makes me look like I escaped from the work release program at the local prison. My favorite WDC shirt is one my step daughter bought me with Rosie the Riveter doing the bicep pump thing with “We can do it” across the bottom. I wear that to work too as well as my freebie blood donor shirts. 

One of my co-workers took pity on me and gave me hand-me-down clothes. This is good. I don’t like shopping for clothes. I am too picky. But this gal has about the same taste in clothes that I have and she gave me a bag full, including a nice brown and pink and red striped shirt that goes with the new Rockies I bought this summer. I bought them for $16 which is beyond incredible for a pair of Rockies. And since they are brown I can wear them to work any day. I am reluctant to buy used clothes. I don’t know why, I just don’t like pre-enjoyed clothes, but I will take these because I didn’t have to shop for them, and they look like my kind of clothes.

This past week I was in my old town, the one I left a year ago. I had a minute so I visited the library, and they recognized me! And not because I had a “wanted” picture in the break room about my outstanding fines- they just remembered me.

Moving the library

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I asked and we have over 100,000 books in the library. I think she meant adult library. Today I helped with the non-fiction. We aren’t taking much, and I got stuck with the 700s, which is art and crafts and music and such. Not a good choice for me- I didn’t take much. We weeded out some books on computer programming in Pascal, and how to play PacMan. I wanted to ditch the macrame books but I was out voted.

Then we moved to biographies. That was fun! I started at Yeager and another gal started at Alcott, we met in the middle and kept going. I was surprised to see that she chose only about 6 books from those I had gone through first. I had seriously debated keeping each of them. 

Now, I have issues with doing things from A-Z. Not a good thing for a librarian. I like to do things from Z-A, tests, reading the newspaper, making up my monthly calender. I just do. I generally start at the top of a crossword puzzle, but anything else I can do backwards I do (except I am not one to peek at the last page of a book).  We were sorting out some books that had been jumbled on the new shelves. I started at the end and moved books around until I was happy with the order. Then my co-worker noticed that there was a huge gap in numbers. I had sorted the books from highest number to lowest. No wonder my kids are all left-handed! I think backwards. She thought it was hilarious, which is good, because tempers are getting a bit rough.

Our patrons are hardy enough to walk past the “We are closed” signs blocking the sidewalk, the asbestos abatement tubes, the posse of prisoners and the construction crew into the maze of boxes and inquire about the fax they had sent last week, or read the paper (until we kicked him out) or return books or express their amazement that they can’t check out a book. We figure our daily patron count is pretty good considering we are not open! These are the literate people. Speaking of literacy, one of the prisoners picks up the Wall Street Journal or Forbes Magazine every time he gets a chance. I would have pegged him for Sports Illustrated.  Goes to show you.