Tag Archives: bizarre

Welcome to Crazytown

I was thinking on Wednesday that nothing weird had happened for a few days. ‘How will I update my blog?’ I thought, despairing. Fortunately, the fine patrons of our lovely public library never fail me, and this week they DELIVERED.

A young man came in to the library to pick up his holds, he had eight CDs. He didn’t recognize one of them, and we confirmed on his account that it was supposed to be another album (CCR’s “Green River”. Good choice!) I thought maybe the slips had been swapped, but when I checked the wrong CD in, it turned out it was still checked out to someone else, despite being on our shelf! I told the guy he could come back another day when he came to pick up the rest of his holds (he had several more being shipped), and hopefully I could find it in the meantime. I looked for it on the carts in the work area, no go. Finally, I went to the shelf, and found it right where it was supposed to be, if it wasn’t supposed to be trapped for our patron. I discovered that the culprit of this comedy of errors was a coworker who retired that same day, so I guess we will let it slide. đŸ™‚

Speaking of retiring, we had a really nice party for GY on Wednesday, who has retired after 22 years of service at the Alachua County Library Headquarters Branch. She got a sweet plaque, a lovely plant, and a nice card signed by all of us in Circulation. Her family came to the party, and some other friends who had retired already or moved to another branch. She was really happy, and when asked what she planned to do on Thursday, she said SLEEP, then READ. Good luck and enjoy retirement, GY!

Also on Wednesday, my dad came to visit! He was in town for a meeting (he works for DCF in Jacksonville) and stopped by the library afterward. He wandered around for a bit before I was able to see him, then I took him downstairs to our work area, since I had phone duty and couldn’t leave. His comment about coming to the our work space was “I’ve never been inside the guts of a library before!” I told him it was pretty much like every other office! (Of course I didn’t show him the secret room where we conduct our black library magic rituals. He’s not an initiate.) We got to chat for a bit while I trapped holds and he told me he’s going on a trip to Brooklyn in a few weeks to talk about setting up a partnership between their library and social services department like we have here in Gainesville. Apparently some of our Library Partnership Branch staff is going to be there too, and the branch be used as a model! Our Partnership branch is award-winning, and combines the services of a library with the Partnership for Strong Families, which helps families sign up for food stamps and WIC, claim unemployment weeks, and other services for those in need. He could not stop singing the praises of our library, which always makes me feel good. Libraries are awesome!

Weird, but Funny: On Friday, we got a DVD in at the desk, and when AC and I looked at the back, we discovered that someone had added notes to it. One said “How is a person to read the back of the box if stupid people cover it up?” Another, smaller note above it said “Like this” with an arrow pointing to our barcode, which was covering up part of the DVD description. Not only were these notes taped on, but they were taped to the INSIDE of the plastic covering. As I said to AC, people are never as industrious as when they are being passive-aggressive!

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Moment of Cute: On Thursday, a big “I SPY” book was checked in through the book drop. I opened it to check for condition, and I saw that someone had carefully written in a shaky print in the “This Book Belongs To” bookplate the words “All people in Gainesville”! I thought it was adorable so I didn’t erase it. Even I have room for adorableness in my black little librarian heart! Look how cute:

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I also had an interview on Friday for a Library Specialist position in the Adult Services department! It pays a little more and means that I would be working at the reference desk and doing programs instead of in Circulation. I should find out in a couple weeks if I got the job! Fingers crossed!

 

Keep bookaneering!

 

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Bizarre Tales from the Library

Here we are, as promised, and I got another bizarre tale yesterday that will round this set of stories out to three, which is the best number, of course.

Story One:

This one is from my supervisor. He said he received a phone call from a woman saying that she’d checked out a book for her elderly mother. While reading the book, her mother unfortunately passed away. She had been enjoying the book so much, though, that her family decided to send the book with her into the afterlife, put the book in the casket, and buried her with it. Is your jaw on the floor yet? Mine was, too! My supervisor told me that the woman said, “I guess I owe you something for the book, huh?” Really? At least she offered to pay for it. I was so baffled that I was struck speechless (which is a feat!) Have they never heard of the saying “You can’t take it with you?” Do they adhere to the Ancient Egyptian belief that what goes in your tomb goes with you to the spirit world? Is she going to read the book to God? Utterly bizarre.

Story Two:

A woman came in to see if she had any holds to pick up. She didn’t have anything ready, but when I took a closer look I saw that one of her items had been on hold since April of 2009. Yes, that is 2009. My coworker AC and I started an investigation to find the book in question. We discovered that the book was checked out to an internal account that we haven’t even used at the library in over a year. The book has been checked out for THREE YEARS. So where is it? I went to the shelf, to see if it could have been put back without getting checked in and just hadn’t been checked out in all that time. No luck. We talked to JW, the supervisor, and she said that all the books still checked out to that account need to be marked “Missing/Lost” and withdrawn, since when we switched to Polaris the account was searched and what’s left could not be found. (She said it was originally over 300, and is now down to about 60. So that’s good!) We sent an email to Tech Services to see if another copy can be purchased for this poor woman who’s been waiting to read this book for over three years. I hope she still wants it!

Story Three:

Starting with the switch to Polaris, we decided to make our security measures a little stronger. We now require either a library card or photo ID in order to check-out or pick up holds. Doesn’t seem too stringent, right? There are some complainers however, including Mr. P, (whom I don’t actually know at all) who came to pick up some holds yesterday. He started grumbling when I asked for his ID, and I joked, “Well, you know how we like to follow the rules at the library!” He said “Oh I know” and informed me that he believes the Nazi-socialist movement must have been started by librarians because we need to check on people even if they’ve been coming to the library for ten years and then muttered something about Big Brother and keeping tabs on people as he wandered off with his books. Yes, you are correct, the library is a place where we keep tabs on all our citizens and we have a giant database dedicated to our Nazi-socialist movement. You figured it out. What?

Bonus Mini-saga:

The main staircase in the lobby that leads up to our adult and teen area is currently being tiled, which means it’s been closed off all week and patrons need to use the elevators to get to the third floor. This combined with the rearranging of the collections has caused a panic amongst our patrons, who are, to say the least, resistant to change. We’ve received looks of confusion, despair, rage, and everything in between. We’ve been asked if the whole upstairs is closed. We’ve been asked how to get up to the next floor. We’ve had angry accusations that the elevators aren’t working, when they were actually just pushing the wrong button. (The children’s area is the first floor, making the lobby floor two, and the adult/reference/teen area floor three. Most people push ‘2’ and don’t go anywhere.) One man today became agitated and began shouting. A few patrons have chosen not to use the elevators and walked back out the front door. And the worst part? When I got to work on Tuesday at 12:30pm, the stairs were blocked off with hand-written signs that said “PLEASE USE ELEVATOR’S”. I almost cried. That kind of grammar abuse is just unacceptable at the library! But then I sat down, opened Word, and made new signs to replace them. One of the guys who was doing the tile said they were great and wanted extra for when they close off the children’s stairs. We’re hoping they’ll be done with it by next week, so we can all return to our normal lives without the sounds of people cutting tile interrupting our nice, peaceful library (haha).

Double Bonus! Moments of Cute:

A woman came in to pick up her hold, and she was VERY excited about it. I went to fetch it, and noticed it was a children’s book, called Superheroes: The Adventures of Max and Pinky. She said that it’s for her son, and they’ve read the first two in the Max and Pinky series and he can’t wait to read this one too! Her plan was to put it under his pillow and surprise him with it at bedtime. Adorable!

Another lady came in yesterday to pick up her hold, and it was a BIG BOOK called The LEGO Ideas Book: Unlock Your Imagination. She said her five-year-old grandson had been anxiously waiting for it. She said she’d never seen anyone so enthusiastic about something. I hope he builds something awesome!

My super cool friend DR came in today! She told me that she’s enjoying school (her mom home-schools her and she’s in eighth grade) and they come to the library on Fridays because she has fencing beforehand. I asked if she stabbed anyone today and she said she fights with sabers, so it’s more like beheading. I high-fived her. She is a totally great kid and I’m so glad she likes reading so much (she got another armful of books today)!

It took a long time to get this post together because I was working on it during my breaks today, but it’s done! I hope you enjoy it, and keep bookaneering!

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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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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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