Monthly Archives: August 2012

Patron Interactions

I am “on desk” for most of my day at the library. The LA’s (library assistants) are the ones who run the check-out and returns/reserve pick-up desks. This means that I talk to pretty much all the patrons at one point or another during their visit to our beautiful library. Here are a few short stories of my patron interactions for the last week or so.

Story One:

A very nice young couple comes into the library every few days to check out DVDs. I’ve spoken with the woman a few times since it is her card that they use, but the man is usually silent. They both have lots of tattoos, and she is petite, while he is very tall and has blond dreads and facial hair. The other day when they came in, I mentioned my opinion about one of the films they were returning, and he responded, and we spoke for a few minutes. I was surprised to learn that he has quite a severe stutter! No wonder he rarely talks! I never expected a tall, “tatted-up” guy with dreads to have a speech impediment, which just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover! (groan)

Story Two:

A teenage girl came to the desk with a stack of about 12 YA books. I gave her an impressed look, and she gave me a sheepish grin, saying “I like to read a lot. Like, a lot.” “Me, too,” I replied with a smile. I told her that when I was younger, when I got in trouble, I wouldn’t be sent to my room or denied TV time, but my parents would take my books away from me. A look of horror crept over her face and she cried “That’s…that’s just wrong!” I agreed that it was cruel and unusual. (Thanks, mom and dad!)

Story Three:

I frequently amuse myself by balancing books and other materials on my head and walking around the lobby area. I have very good posture and it makes people smile, so I don’t see anything wrong with it. A little girl came in with her father and saw me with a stack of DVDs on my head as I walked through the otherwise empty lobby to put them on the rack. I heard a “Daddy, look!” and I turned around and smiled at her. Her dad said something like “Pretty cool, huh?” I bent down and told the little girl conspiratorially that I was practicing to be a princess. She giggled and the two of them went downstairs. My coworker LL rolled her eyes at me and I informed her that I AM a princess, but it’s a very small country so she’s probably never heard of it. She laughed and we went back to work. (I am a pirate princess!)

Story Four:

An older gentleman dropped some books off at the returns desk. I thought he looked familiar, and so I checked his name as I started checking in his material. Sure enough, it was an old professor of mine from my undergrad days! I had Dr. R for an audiology class one summer, and it was one of the best classes I ever had. He had a great sense of humor and was a really great teacher. As it happened, I was on the check-out desk when he came up, and I asked him if he remembered me. He said he did and asked what I had been up to. I told him I had graduated and was working full time at the library and was hoping to start grad school in the spring. I asked how he’d been and he told me he had retired and was spending a lot of time in South Florida with his grandchildren, and was working on writing a book! When I asked what it was about he said it involves Jewish music during the Diaspora. He said he’s been spending a lot of time in the UF library (which has an excellent Judaica collection) and not as much in the public library, though he was checking out about eight mystery novels so I guess he has some time to relax and read a good book!


I’ve got a couple more stories but I think I’ll save them for another post. They are both kind of in the bizarre tag and this post is running a bit long so I’ll put them together and post again soon!

Keep bookaneering!



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Rain, Rain, Feel Free To Hang Out Awhile

So we’ve been canoeing around town the last couple of days here in Gainesville. The rain has been coming in fits and starts of torrential downpour and we’ve been under a Flash Flood Warning since yesterday. The worst part was when I was trying to run errands yesterday and got a flat tire. The rain fortunately stopped while the nice AAA tech was putting on the donut, but it started up again almost immediately afterward and I had to wait for almost two hours at the tire place to get the patch put on. We are expecting more rain for the rest of the week, and there is a tropical depression in the Caribbean right now that will probably bring more rain by week’s end. The best part is that it’s been under 80 degrees all day and it’s been GLORIOUS. The air smells like fall and I’m really enjoying the cooler weather. Normally it would be about 115 and drier than a desert this time of year so I will appreciate the cool and damp while I’ve got it.

Meanwhile, I did a search for The Bookaneer on Google just to see what I’d find. I knew that I wasn’t the only Bookaneer out there, as there is at least one store and another blog by the same name. Much to my surprise, there is also a sketch from a Sesame Street episode, where a Bookaneer Captain (played by Tina Fey) leads some Muppets (including a salty dog, haha), along with Elmo, on a search for the treasure found in books amid the shelves of the Sesame Street Library! A pirate after my own heart!

(As a note, that link leads to the Muppets Wiki, where I lost at least an hour and a half of time link-chasing through all the different entries. Click at your own risk!)

I’m so glad to know that I’m on the same page as Sesame Street which is a show that was incredibly influential in my wee pirate days (along with Reading Rainbow and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). Keep pirating along, Bookaneers! Books hold the greatest treasures of all!

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That Awkward Moment…

I was talking with my coworker (whom we shall call LB) and swapping silly patron tales. She’s been doing this a LOT longer than I have and has some really great stories! I was telling her about my blog and she gave me a story to share.

In the first few weeks of her employment as an LA (self-professed to be about a zillion years ago), she was answering the phones when she got a call from a patron who asked her quite seriously, “What books do you have?” LB very politely told the caller that they had many different kinds of books, could they be more specific? I told her that I would have said “All of them.”

We have lots of delightful patrons at the library (both in the sarcastic sense and in the genuine sense) but I feel closest to the ones that I bond with over books, music, or other topics. There is a young girl (we’ll call her DR) who comes in on a weekly basis with her mother and brother. The first time I saw her, I complimented her on her book choices. The next week she was back, and she very shyly asked if I was there every Friday. “Tuesday through Saturday!” I replied cheerfully. She said that she remembered my necklace. I asked her about the books she was checking out, since they were mostly about art. DR told me that she was taking the art class they were offering at the library. Now whenever she comes in, we wave at each other and talk about books and art together. She’s only 13 or so, and she reminds me a lot of myself at her age: shy, unsure of herself, but with a hidden awesomeness that is just waiting to burst through. As I told LB, I was really awkward in middle school, and in high school. Then I laughed and added that I guess I am still pretty awkward!

Last for the day, the ever popular Moment of Cute: I had a little girl, probably around age 8, and her mother come up to the check-out desk with a basket filled to the brim with books. They were all Juvenile fiction, and I asked the girl in an impressed voice if all those books were for her? She nodded vigorously, but didn’t say a word. I said, “Wow! You’re going to read all these books?” Another vigorous nod. Her mother added, “probably in a couple of weeks, too.” “You must really like reading!” I said, with a smile at her mother. Yet another fierce nod, lips still sealed. “Me too,” I replied, a big grin on my face. She smiled back. I wanted to tell her to read all should could, to devour everything she can find, that it would give her knowledge and knowledge is power and the more she reads the more powerful she becomes. I didn’t though, because I think that might be a little intense for an 8-year-old,  much less her parent, and the result might be a little TOO awkward! (I really hope she keeps that love of reading for life)
Stay tuned for more bookaneering!

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We’ve Got Jokes

Yesterday, we had an LA meeting (where we discussed the Canada Problem, as everyone else now calls it, thanks to me), that included a tour of the third floor. The third floor at the Headquarters Library is Adult Services and the Teen Area, and they’ve been doing a massive revamp of the layout, as well as putting down new carpet and painting everywhere. It looks really great, though things are still a little out of order and confusing. Fortunately (unfortunately) it is no longer my job to keep the stacks organized, so I don’t have to deal with that headache (though I do kind of miss it). We’ve switched the Fiction and Non-fiction collections, bringing the more popular fiction collection to the front of the floor, while less-popular non-fiction is being relegated to the back stacks. In order to make this happen, we hired a moving company that only deals in the shifting of library collections, so our poor pages don’t have to break their backs trying to move everything around. They seem to be doing a fair job, and at least they are fast (though according to our tour guide they are not precisely very accurate).

After our meeting I was playfully (falsely) accused of flirting with the movers (scandal!), and I cracked the joke that I could use a bad library pick-up line such as “Hey baby, I hope you’re in a circulating collection because I’d like to CHECK you out!” I was promptly told that I was fired. I responded with “Hey baby, what’s your call number?” Groans ensued from everyone. Personally, I think a corny library pick-up line would probably work on me. Anyone got any to share?

Speaking of jokes, I was talking with my dad on the phone the other night and he came up with several great (awful) pirate-related library jokes! For example: What does a pirate librarian put on their Jolly Roger? A skull and cross-references!

I’ll post again soon!

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As a Pirate…

As a pirate, I need the ocean to survive. Unfortunately, I live in North Central Florida, and the beach is at least a couple of hours away in every direction. (I know, still pretty lucky) I’ve been craving the beach recently so I took my day off today and decided to make a beach day of it! I packed up my picnic basket, sunscreen and towel and took off for St. Augustine, a place known for its pirate heritage.

As I drove into Orangedale, I realized the sky ahead looked pretty ominous. Was my beach day to be ruined by inclement weather? I mentally made alternate plans to wander the old city if a storm was indeed the case. I got to the beach with no rain, but considerable cloud coverage.

I parked a little before 2pm at the pier to find that the beach was in the process of being “renourished”, which meant a huge pipe crossed the sand, which stretched considerably farther than the last time I’d been there. The clouds continued to cover the sun and the beach, which didn’t have many people on it, was almost eerily quiet. The sounds of the waves and the sea birds were all that could be heard. It was perfection.

I fell asleep on the beach for almost an hour. At that point I was grateful for the clouds, or I would have been a lobster when I woke up! The temperature had dropped to the low seventies and the tide was coming in, though I was still safe. More families had shown up while I was dozing and were playing in the now-nearby water. Two little boys to my right splashed in the surf while their father took pictures. To my right an older man swept his wife up into his arms and threatened to toss her in the water before kissing her and setting her on her feet in the sand, both laughing. Surfers dotted the water all around, catching what small waves popped up. Though it was only 3:45, it felt much later. I ate my picnic lunch and read a library book I’d brought with me (a silly paranormal romance, the best kind of beach read!) for another hour before I felt I was ready to go home. By then the tide was quite high and licking at the ridge below my feet.

I stopped by my sister’s and my Mom’s houses for a few hours after, since they live in Jacksonville, which is nearby. We had a late dinner and got caught up before I headed back home to Gainesville. It was a perfect day for a pirate, and I feel rejuvenated and at peace with the universe. It’s funny how a little thing like a cloudy day at the beach can put the world in perspective. I can’t wait to go back to the library tomorrow!


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The Canada Problem

My fellow LAs (Library Assistants) and I have been working on a problem in our system. We switched cataloging systems from Sirsi (Workflows) to Polaris in June, and some of the addresses in our database somehow got a bit off.

You see, when one enters “32601” for the zip code in an address in our system, it pops up a choice: Gainesville, FL, or Dublin, Ontario. The postal code for Dublin is 99999. “Well, that’s silly,” one might say. “Why would there be a choice for Ontario? That’s in Canada, thousands of miles from sunny Florida!” Yes, it is silly, and we’re not quite sure why. But, suffice to say, we have been working around it. However, we recently had a rash of returned mail that, you guessed it, had the postal code of 99999 on the envelopes. Normally, returned mail is not a problem, but in this case, sending mail to another country is a bit more expensive, and is winding up costing us about $3 per returned envelope. So we took a look at the system, and found over 700 instances of a 99999 postal code in place of the right one.

“No problem,” one might say, “just change the zip code to the right one, right?” Easier said than done, my hypothetical friend! We have a dozen branches in Alachua County, and that doesn’t include all the out-of-county addresses we have as well. Since the city is defaulting to Dublin, we can’t look it up that way either. Fortunately, many of the entries just had a blank second address in addition to the regular mailing address, so we just deleted those, and moved on. Some of them have recognizable street names in Gainesville, and could be guessed from there. Some of them have to be extrapolated from the city where the patron registered. Some have unfamiliar street names and can’t be pulled at all. And the rest are accounts with no address, or a PO Box, or are technical internal accounts that don’t have addresses on them. We’ve brought it down to about 352, so half of what the original number was. Which, for starting on Wednesday and doing it a little at a time in between tasks, is really not that bad.

So that’s the Canada Problem. A bizarre tale in the daily workings of the public library!


Bonus! Here is today’s Moment of Cute: A tiny little girl, probably no more than two, came into the library today wearing a very cute pink dress. I was also wearing a pink dress and pointed out that we matched! She was very excited and did a little twirl. It was ADORABLE. Moments like this are why I love my job!


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Yo ho ho!

Hello, and welcome to! I am the Bookaneer, and the idea behind this blog is to share my adventures as a Library Assistant in my local public library. The name comes from my superhero alter-ego Marina (doesn’t everyone have a superhero alter-ego?), who is a pirate who sails the seven seas looking for books, because knowledge, of course, is the true treasure.

Today is Book Lover’s Day! As a known Book Lover, I thought it would be incredibly appropriate to start a blog about libraries on such a nice holiday. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do, and I can’t wait to start sharing all of the delightful stories I collect every day. Won’t you join me?

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