Monday, December 29, 2008

Sick Librarian Humor, I Gots It

I was working on the afternoon 'Holds-List' when I scanned one book and it was being transferred to a neighboring branch.

It was for a "Lee, Sara" and the book was 'Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes.'

Am I the only one who finds it funny that a Sara Lee is reading Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes?

I need a new job...

I Despise Romance Novels...

I despise romance novels. You know the ones where the cover art has some shirtless Fabio looking flamer holding some half dressed floozy in his arms, preferably over some cliff looking over the ocean, both of their hair is windswept, and its usually depicted during a sunset. Yes, those horrible books. But my hatred is not just reserved for those outlandish titles alone, Nicholas Sparks I'm looking your way---Damn you and your Notebook. I blame these so-called "romance" novels for the high failure rate of marriages/relationships in this country.

Its not that I don't believe in love or romance but I think these books put an extraordinary extraterrestrial-high level of standards that girls expect their boyfriends/spouses to live up to. I really don't think that these books preach the morals and virtues of what love really is anyways.
Case in point, have you ever read any of the titles of these books? They've
become quite the topic of discussion at work whenever we come across them. Its like MadLibs for trashy books: "The [insert adjective] woman finds true love with a [insert foreign ethnicity] millionaire and move away to [insert exotic location]."
Really, these types of books are cookie cutter stories. They're all the same, once you've read
A Scandalous Mistress I really don't see the need to read His Lady Mistress. Take one lonely, loveless woman, one rich bastard, and an exotic locale and there you go.

Females always hope for the day to find some foreign bazilliionaire who will sweep them off their feet and take them to some far away mansion. Honestly, do you really think the chances of that are worth holding out for? Don't you think that said rich guy would want to find a rich lady instead of someone looking to marry for just the money? If that did happen, all you would be is another one of his "bought possession
s," which could ultimately be replaced with the snap of his fingers and his man servant has his next wife to be flying in on his G-5. If anything these books espouse the complete opposite of what love is. Is it really romantic if some guy were to make you his "mistress?" I suppose just as long as the guy was rich everything would work out. Before I turn this into something sentimental and lose my sarcastic edge: love is about understanding, accepting and working together through the ups and downs on each others flaws and insecurities. Love is not dependent on money alone --- Do you think someone who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry would sweep a high school dropout off their feet and turn out to live happily ever after?

On a few occasions I've encountered husbands who are checking these books, either in or out, for their wives and when I look at the covers and look at their faces, there is a look of sad resignation, like a part of their soul died with each romance novel their wife read. One guy commented to me, "There are all these books around (waves his arm toward the vast expanse of paper bound knowledge) and my wife chooses to read these. I asked her if she wanted me to pick up a mystery book for her, 'no,' she said she'll stick with these [looks with great disdain at the handful of romance books]." He sighed heavily and headed towards the exit with this new delivery of literary trash for his wife to read. He walked away with his head hung low and his shoulders slumped, and I knew he just died inside.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Librarians Against Renewal Driving

One of my coworkers was working the in house telephones one day when he got a call from a patron asking to renew their books. It was obvious they were calling from their cell phone---in their car---while driving. I have no idea what possessed this person to think that they really should be renewing their books while maneuvering a one ton, explosive gasoline driven metal projectile of possible carnage. Well, this patron was so engrossed in reading off their library card number that they did not notice that they were driving through a red light and they got into an accident. I wouldn't be surprised if this super-genius had a key card and they were trying to read off the numbers from the ignition. The last thing people should be worrying about while driving is renewing their books. Please don't ever call me while I am working the phone lines when you are driving or I will hang up on you without hesitation. Oh, don't worry, their overdues got renewed.
- a message from LARD, Librarians Against Renewal Driving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It Pays to be Nice to Those Working the Circulation Desk

Librarians (Librarian Aides) can make or break your day, period.
The power that I wield with my circulation desk position is absolutely scary.

Last Saturday, a woman comes up to the desk with 5 books and tells me that they are, "very late." She had a very downtrodden gait, and her disposition was outright gloomy. I take the books and scan them in, it gives me the dreaded, "Warning -- These items are assumed missing or lost," which usually means the highest late fee per item. Her total fines came out to $50. I turned the computer screen her way so she could see for herself since she was quite shocked when I told her how much it came out to be. And without hesitation she pulled out that "VISA" embossed rectangular piece of plastic that most are trying not to use nowadays and held it out for me to swipe. It was then after reading her body language the whole time: the sincere regret that they were overdue and owning up to the late fees; that I told her to wait a second and let me take a look at something. I looked at her past bills and there wasn't anything on it. So I told her that since she hasn't had any problems returning books in the past that I was going to waive half of it. Her face lit up like it she won the Megamillions lottery. She asked me incredulously, "Really?" I just replied with a nod and a smile. Instead of having to deal with those horrid three letters, APR, she gave me cash, thanked me profusely, and left with a spring in her step and a bright smile on her face. Sure the County is in a horrible budget crunch right now and is looking everywhere to cut corners, but I don't care.

It never ceases to amaze me that those who are always willing to pay their fines are the ones with the large amounts. The ones with a couple of dollars or even 75 cents are the ones that make the biggest fuss over it. I am more than willing to forgive part and sometimes all of someone's fines who occasionally returns a book late only if they are honest and take responsibility up front. I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. Be nice to the people working the Circulation Desk, it could really save you some money in the end.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

This post will be a little digression from the “Library.” Last week I was fortunate enough to attend an advanced screening of “Slumdog Millionaire” which was followed by a Q&A by the director, Danny Boyle. Danny Boyle directed “28 Days” and “Trainspotting,” the latter I honestly couldn’t watch after 20 minutes. I never heard of the movie before and from reading the descriptions online I wasn’t sure what to expect. The movie is based on a book, Q&A: A Novel by Vikas Swarup, an Indian Diplomat and this happens to be his first book. So I guess the movie being based on a book does have something in common with the library. The synopsis sounded pretty weak to be a full length movie to me: a boy from the slum is close to winning the millionaire prize on India’s version of, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” It has already won an award from the Toronto International Film Festival. It has a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes.com. So needless to say, I did have high expectations going into the theater.

All of my expectations were greatly exceeded. This is a top notch movie! Sure, it may not have any well-known actors or actresses but everyone has to start somewhere and this is one huge jumpstart. The movie is wonderfully directed. This is an original movie and there has never been anything like this before. The way it explains how the main character knows the answers on the game show is superb. I could literally run out of positive adjectives to describe this film. I have recommended this movie to everyone who will listen and I do the same to you. It is going to be released in the U.S. November 12th. The Q&A was also a unique aspect to the sneak preview. Not only was I able to hear firsthand what it was the director was thinking about the movie but I also was able to get his autograph.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thar's Gold in Them Books

Apparently there's money to be found in books, literally. Over the years, I have heard stories about how people have returned books with valuable items in them. I have always crossed my fingers while doing the morning book drop that I would find a crisp $100 bill stuck between pages 156 and 157 of the latest James Patterson novel. Albeit any form of paper money would have been a nice surprise to find but these millionaire patrons never seem to return their books while I am working the desk. Where are these patrons that use money as book marks? I know they exist somewhere out there.

At one of the county branches a father was hoping to reward his son for completing a book, which was required for his school's summer reading, by placing a $5 bill at the very last page of the book. Needless to say, necessary school reading was not enough motivation for the kid to finish the book and it was returned to their local library. When the dad asked how the book ended and the son said he never finished it and returned the book, the dad called the library and they found the book on the shelves with the $5 still there.

At another branch a volunteer was working the book drop when they came across a hollowed out book. It was one of those "safe" books, where you can stash your ever depreciating cash or your diamonds from would-be hopefully, illiterate thieves. The book was filled with old antique jewelry. The library staff ended up finding the rightful owner.

All I want to know is, when can I come across something good? The most memorable thing I have ever found was also the most disturbing. I was checking in your typical romance novel, you know the ones with the cover of shirtless six-pack Steve holding some long haired damsel in some far flung foreign country, when what happens to fall out on to the circulation desk ---- a condom. Thank goodness it was unused and still wrapped but still, a condom, really? I guess a lady patron did not get the "jumpstart" she was expecting from reading the book. Don't even get me started on 'Romance Novels' either, that's the topic for an entirely different entry. Anyways, I was considering putting a note on her account saying that she left something personal in a book she returned and that the item would be held for her.

I did find a credit card in one, actually it was for Ann Taylor stores. I was able to track down the patron who was relieved that it didn't fall into the hands of someone else. Granted, I'm sure if some ne'er do well teen had found it they would have been at the nearest 7-Eleven trying to score some free slurpees.

From what I have observed, patrons use just about anything as bookmarks. Nothing is worse than working in the middle of winter when you check in a newly dropped off book and out falls a plane ticket stub to some warm tropical country along with some grains of sand. Plane ticket stubs are the second most common impromptu bookmarks after check out receipts. The second most disgusting would be use band-aids followed by emery boards.

All I can ask is that if you borrow books, make sure you don't use anything of value or related to personal hygiene as a bookmark. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Books are not Umbrellas

I hate it when I’m at work and there’s a downpour outside. It’s not because I wish I was outside jumping in puddles. It is due to the fact that some patrons like to use their library books as impromptu umbrellas and then drop them off at the ‘Returns Desk’ sopping wet and sticking together.

During one of our meetings, one of the numerous managers said that we cannot charge the patrons for the damage when it is raining. I honestly do not see why we can’t. If it was a sunny, dry day and a patron returns a book sopping wet, we are supposed to charge their account for the water damage. When it’s raining we are supposed to do nothing more than sigh and say, “oh these patrons.”

Do you patrons want another good tidbit of information when it comes to damaged books? If you ever happen to damage a book while it is in your possession, walk it into the library, go straight to the returns desk and hand it to someone and tell them that how sorry you are that the item got damaged during your checkout and ask them how much it would cost to fix it and mention that you’re willing to pay it right then and there. If the person working at the desk is like me, I would most likely be humbled by your remorsefulness and not inflict the cost of the book and processing fee on you. If you are completely selfish and uncaring at least put up a good front and act like you’re willing to pay for it, any gestures like pulling out your wallet out of your back-pocket or your checkbook from your purse will do. It can be such a hassle to pull a book from the book drop that is hanging by a thread and go through all the procedures to mark the book as damaged and charge the patron’s account and leave a note. Then when you try to check out you encounter a big fine amount and temporary memory loss kicks in and you don’t remember the book being damaged- “Maybe it was from the book drop with all the other books crushing it?”

Why go through all this unnecessary hassle? Yes, that black hole called the “Book-Drop” does end somewhere. When you drop late books they don’t magically travel back in time and not incur late fees and damaged books don’t come out like they came right off the printing press. Honesty pays off tenfold in life and the library is no exception. So if you want to hedge the risk of being charged with the price of a new book, tell the person working the circulation desk that you’re sorry and that you’re willing to pay for the damage book.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Possibly the Most Difficult Decision of the Day

Whenever I encounter “Library-virgins” it’s when they come to the circulation desk for the first time to register for a new card. This is a very simple procedure. The patron fills out a form asking for the most basic of information: first and last name, phone number, address, e-mail address, and their birth date, which is optional. After they fill this out they take it to me at the circulation desk where I enter it into the library computer system. I always start by asking if the prospective patron might have ever had a card with the specific library system before. You would think most would be able to remember if they’ve ever walked into a library to obtain a card but there are some very forgetful people out there and they aren’t necessarily long in the tooth. There are also a few patrons who try to get two or three cards each for a number of reasons.

I have come across a few patrons who try to get a new card because their other card has accumulated a hefty amount in fines. I’ve had someone with about $10 in fines try to obtain a new card in order to avoid paying it. Others try to get another card to spend more time on the library’s internet stations. I don’t know why they just don’t use their family members’ cards instead of trying to pull one on me. I find it very insulting and it makes you look bad when you stand there and lie to me about not ever having a library card, it’s such a trivial thing.

If the patron has never had a card I then ask them which library card they would like to get, there are only two choices: a wallet sized card or a keychain card. I know it’s not just me, but I really do feel like this is an easy decision to be able to make on the spot within at most 10 seconds. But this has really not been the case in my experience. First the patrons look at the cards as I hold one in each hand for them to see their options, their eyes narrow as if they are trying to do long division in their head. It’s as if I have been transported into the Matrix and I am Morpheus asking Neo to choose between the Red and Blue pill.

I really wouldn’t mind patrons taking the extra 30 seconds to decide which fate to choose, heck, I would even hum the Final Jeopardy tune, but at one of the library systems I work for, the software program won’t let me enter any of the patron’s information in until I scan the barcode of their new card. Chances are the patrons will lose whichever card they get or they forget it at home and end up having to use their driver’s license to check out books. I for one am partial to the wallet sized card. The keychain card tends to break off and patrons end up complaining to me about having to pay the $2 or $1, depends on which library system I’m working at, replacement card fee. Trust me; the monetary amount of services the library has to offer definitely exceeds any replacement card fee paid.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Edition

Here's a little background about myself: I am a male in my mid 20's. I am a 6th year college senior, better late than never as the old adage goes. I am also a part time librarian, 'Library Assistant,' if you're into formalities.

I have been in the library system for two years. I have worked at 6 different branches all together. Three are smaller community libraries and three are much bigger regional libraries. I have currently been working for two different library systems for over six months, one is for the county and the other is for a city. Although one might think that a library is a library is a library, there are many small nuances that separate each branch not to mention between different systems and it is fun to observe the various distinctions.

I had a friend ask me why I worked at the library two of them. I don't read as much as I would like to and I never was one to frequent the library, unless I was cramming for a final, but I genuinely like working there. All of my coworkers have been friendly and easy to work with. The environment, for the most part, is quiet and safe. Like most other jobs, every day brings different challenges which I look forward to. The pay is surprisingly good for the amount of work required.

My favorite part is interacting with the patrons, yes, even the difficult ones. I am a business major and it is a great opportunity to see customer service in action. I also like to brag, if you can call it that, about having two "government jobs."I encounter so many different people and events at work and I have made numerous observations and I hope to share those experiences with anybody willing to read about them. I don't care if no one reads this at all actually.

I like to write about the trivial and it is also a fun way to vent or write down the quirky things that happen at the libraries.So if you're reading this, enjoy.