Thursday, March 29, 2012

Damn Mice...

To all of the novice PC users who come in to the public library to use the internet stations I can understand your frustration.
I do try my best to give you as much one on one time in between answering the phones and helping other patrons at the information desk.
I know how difficult it is to learn how to use a mouse properly.
Yes, there is a ridiculous amount of buttons on today's mouse, most of which are never utilized by the general public.
I can understand how confusing it is at first: the right and left buttons work independently from each other, and yes, double-clicking does seem odd at first and  it does take some practice.
And of course, one of those buttons happens to control the pointer speed.
I do apologize for them, because the settings seem to run from "Squirrel on Crack" to "Must Use a 3' x 3' Mousepad."
If it is any consolation, at least they are optical.
Back in the day, the mouse I learned with was awkwardly shaped like a brick and the pointer would skip wildly around on the screen when the track rollers got dirty, which was all the time.
So don't give up, once we get past the basics I'll explain why I didn't show any excitement when you came up to the desk to tell me that the internet told you, "Congratulations!  You have been chosen as today's lucky winner!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

These Patrons are the Best...

No, seriously, these patrons are the best.  I know I can be highly cynical and snarky but this is a break from that (for this post).

1 lb. of diabetes in a nicely wrapped box
Last Saturday on the desk, one of my regular patrons walked by to say hi and reached into her ginormous purse and pulled this out --- 1 lb. of Trader Joe's choclate.  When she handed it to me, she kept thanking me for helping her all those times and that this was just for me.

She's an elderly patron who is pretty adept at using computers and the internet but still has some troubles, which is where I come in.  I have been at this branch for almost 6 months and I helped her my first day there.  My supervisor made a comment about how I "stole" one of her patrons away from her since she used to ask her for help all the time.

"I don't like it unless it's brand new, brand new..." --- Rhymefest
Yesterday, a patron donated a handful of books.  While I was going through the ILS to see if we or another branch needed them, I came across these 4 titles, all of which are fairly new releases.  Between these four books there was a combined count of 990 holds.  This branch is much smaller than my previous one, but the amount of new books donated is astounding. 
Patrons at my older branch would complain and bitch about "What?? 200 holds?  Why are there so many holds!? I'll never get this book, what good is the library if I can't get the book I want, blah blah blah." 
At this branch, a patron will reply, "Oh wow, that's a lot of holds.  Don't bother placing the hold, I'll just buy the book and I'll donate it when I'm done."  And by-golly they do just that.  I have added so many "hot titles" to our collection, as well as other branches in the system, from these generous patrons.

Now, if only we could get some donations for The Hunger Games, that title alone has almost just as many holds as these four books!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Digitized Dividing = 1 ÷ 0

I'm pretty sure the stats would be higher if I wasn't such a tech-fiend.
The Digital Divide will always exist but there is also another side to the coin.  Besides those who are not fiscally able to gain access to the internet and new technology, there are those who are more than capable to purchase the latest tech toys but who remain tech-illiterate despite walking around with these devices in their possession.

You would hope that over time these individuals would end up learning how to use most of those features they spent all those hard-earned dollars on, but that does not always happen.  You know what is just as sad, people are proclaiming that there's an "App Gap," that's just pathetic.  "Oh, noez, little Timmy isn't able to play Angry Birds!  Now he's going to fail at life!"  Please, kids these days are so spoiled, the last thing they need is another Digital Distraction.

Last week, I had a patron who came up to the desk and ask, "Do you know how I can look at Twitter on my Kindle?"  Sounds like an easy enough problem: "There's an app for that."  So she fires up her Fire (like the wordplay, eh? eh??)  and we download the Twitter app.  I ask her if she has an account and she says, "I think I do."  So she proceeds to slowly enter in her username and password.  After several failures, I mention that she can always reset password.  Before she did, I made sure to ask if she has access/remembers her email credentials.  She says, "I think so," this is where I know that this supposed 5 minute interaction is going to end up being a little bit longer.  We reset her Twitter password and considering that it took awhile for her to maneuver on her Fire, it might be easier if she used on of the public internet stations.  Once we bring up Gmail she ends up pulling out her Blackberry and goes through her contact information to find her email account password.  You know how they say that the majority of people have their most-sensitive account passwords written down at there desk somewhere, well, she answered 'Yes' to that question during the survey.  Her email account was not linked to her Blackberry, in fact, none of her emails are linked to her phone, she just keeps all of her account information on it as contacts.

Not surprisingly, she has the wrong password listed on her phone so she gets frustrated and asks me, "Can't I go to Staples and they'll do all this for me?"  I'm a pretty patient person so it was more out of her own frustration.  I told her that we could make a new email and Twitter account and she agrees that this is the best solution.  So I go back to the Info Desk and let her do her thing.  She calls me back saying that she finished creating a new email account and needed help making a Twitter one.  So I go back and help her create a new Twitter account, even made up a password for her because she was so irritated at the thought of having to "create yet another password which [she] will forget."  Okay, account created, but wait there's more!---stupid confirmation process.  I let her know that she needs to go back to her email account and confirm her info.  Yeah, she forgot the password to her new email account which she had just created not 5 minutes before. 

Finally gets her usernames and passwords correct and we finally get her logged in to Twitter on her Fire.  Turns out her daughter is a pretty big and important public official or whatever, and she has a bunch of trolls and haters arguing with her on Twitter.  So after 45 minutes helping this patron, here comes mom to the Twitter fight rescue!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Damn this Anti-Cardigan Weather...

Taste the (partial) Rainbow...
I was looking forward for some paid snow days this winter but was left completely disappointed.  Now, spring seems to be in full effect and it is too warm to wear any sweaters at work. 

This means that I now have to iron all of my shirts.  Yes, I am that much of a lazy but I've completely embraced the whole librarian sweater style.  I guess I don't really have to, but I couldn't be that "constantly wrinkled shirt guy."

Today, the circ manager broke out all of the table top fans from storage and plugged them all in... ALL.  There were a couple at the circ desk, one at the info desk, and a handful in the backroom.   

How do I put this delicately... First off, no offense to any of the older library staff out there I love you all.  But a lot of my coworkers, current branch and past, are at a certain age/stage in life where their body temperatures tend to get warmer than usual, much warmer and I really feel for them.  Branch thermostat control is all handled remotely by admin, supposedly to help save some money.  I know for a fact that when branches had control of their own thermostats, most branches could be described as "chilly" during the non-winter months and I didn't mind it because you can always layer up.  There's only so much you can take off before it gets awkward... let's just hope it doesn't get to that point of awkwardness this summer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Overthrow Overdrive.

For some reason I have always hated Overdrive.  Probably due to its general clunkiness, awful layout and search algorithm.  Seriously, a blindfolded monkey could throw a dart with more accuracy than a search for anything on Overdrive.  Well, now we know why they have never bothered to update the searching or the downloading process: Ebook Publishers want Library borrowing to be difficult.

One thing libraries and librarians just don't seem to understand or refuse to grasp is the idea that Overdrive is  a FOR PROFIT company.  They will do whatever helps their bottom line, not what helps librarians or patrons.  It is as simple as that.  So enough with the whining, "Why doesn't Overdrive look out for my poor little library? /  Why don't they have our back?"  They never did and never will.  What makes the whole situation worse is that they have a freaking strangle hold on the e-book distribution.  When has a monopoly ever been a good thing?

During my MLIS journey, one was bound to hear, "consortium this, consortium that."  So it is quite obvious that libraries already know how beneficial it is to "run in packs."  How come libraries aren't using their numbers to stop getting screwed over with this ebook business?  Let's cut out the middle-man because let's face it, publishers only care about money as well which is why we're in this mess.  On a related note, you would think the publishing industry would learn a lesson or two from their music and movie industry counterparts when it comes to piracy.  How can ebooks be more expensive or equivalent to producing physical books?  With this ridiculous pricing, you can expect more to seek out "cheaper methods."  One would hope that the one organization that ties all libraries together would do something about it, but apparently the only thing ALA can do is talk publishers away.  Yeah, 3M wants to join the ebook distribution party but do you really think that they will be any better than Overdrive? 

Why doesn't ALA form a committee (yes, another) for ebooks and publisher relations, no wait, hear me out, this committee will actually do something.  ALA has connections to universities.  Universities have the knowledge and resources to create a platform for e-material distribution.  ALA also has connections to publishers.  Do you see how this can play out?  The way I see it, if the MIT Media Lab created a basketball hoop that measures force for the recent NBA Slam Dunk Contest, how hard could it be to find a program that could knock out some 1's and 0's to make this happen?  It is a lot better than bending over and over for Overdrive and pirate-paranoid publishers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Don't Always Buy Books for Myself...

But when I do, it's usually something stupid/silly that I enjoy.

Over the weekend while getting drunk with a bunch of librarian-friends, one of them told me that earlier in the day, she "bought a book that would make me jealous."  My response was, "The Archer book?"  At first she was surprised, then she realized that her shock was unfounded.  I'm not always one of the first to catch a great TV series from it's beginning (Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development) with the exception of Community, Modern Family, and Archer.

I haven't read a book that made me laugh so much since Bossypants.  Then again, I'm pretty sure that The Art of Racing in the Rain and Unbroken weren't meant to be funny or I have completely let down all of my past English teachers by completely misinterpreting "the author's hidden message."

My friend also looked for an audio-version but alas, you can't have it all.  I just had to read it in the characters' voices.  If anyone out there can get an audio-version produced, I will forever be grateful.  It would be a guaranteed cash-cow. I mean, have you listened to Samuel L. Jackson's reading of "Go the F*ck to Sleep"???  He put that book in the DDDDAAAANNNGGGGEEEERRR ZZZZZOOOOONNNNEEEEE...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Movies Based on a Book... Why the 'Hunger Games' movie will suck...

I have to say it, the Hunger Games movie will be a huge let-down.  It's bound to be that way.  Honestly, the book was a decent read, 3.5 out of 5.  Not sure why everyone and their mother thinks it's 5 out of 5.  I think it's the hype and the hive-mind at work.  And the trilogy only goes downhill from there: Catching Fire, and Mockingjay were just plain boring to me.

1. 8 out of 10 times, movies based on books are never as good as the actual book, which leads to reason #2
2. The book wasn't all that to begin with so yeeaaaa...
3. Hollywood ruins everything it touches, need I say more?
4. Have you seen the trailers?  Hate to say it, but I'm not feeling Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss; loved her in "Winter's Bone" though.
5. Hive-mind Hype: much like Harry Potter, the people who "love" the books, will not be able to admit that the movie is lackluster.  As someone who has never read a Harry Potter book, the movies were entertaining but nowhere near my all time greatest movies.

So yes, while I already am fairly certain that the movie will be "meh," I will still be watching it opening weekend with a bunch of YA librarians from my last branch.  Don't believe the hype...