Wednesday, December 10, 2008


  • 11:36 Why do I know my old library card number that I haven't used in almost a year, but I still have no clue about the new one? #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Friday, December 5, 2008


  • 13:17 Woman showing her companion how to unfold our courtesy wheelchair: "Push here and here... simultaneously together at the same time." #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Mrs. Butterworth, my parents' cat, died Monday evening. She was about 17, and happy and perky until she wasn't. I'll miss her.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Among the regular computer users is a young man who dresses the way kids dress around here. Baggy pants around the knees, heavy gold chains, do-rag under a slightly askew baseball hat. Not one you would expect to have a recording of "La Donna รจ Mobile" as his cell phone ringtone. It was so awesome I didn't have the heart to ask him to silence it.

Friday, November 21, 2008


  • 15:48 Somebody on the computers has a nose whistle. This day can't end soon enough. #
  • 16:16 "But [other branch] does it that way!" Then go to [other branch] and stop bothering me. #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


  • 09:35 Back spasms + ergonomically challenged chair = a long, bad day #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Saturday, November 8, 2008


To whoever left a week's worth of various newspapers strewn across one of the study tables: I am trying to set you on fire with my mind AS I WRITE THIS.

Friday, November 7, 2008


  • 16:22 This day is SO LONG. And I have to work tomorrow, too. :( #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Thursday, November 6, 2008


  • 12:50 WordPerfect still exists? #
  • 16:30 *dude is on a computer, music blasting* Me: Would you mind turning your music down, please? Dude: What? #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


  • 11:46 I voted! Did you? #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phone Number Lady report

Asked for the phone number to a certain library in a town one state over.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Phone Number Lady

This patron is pretty self-explanatory. She calls asking for phone numbers and addresses for various organizations (toll-free whenever possible).

This morning she has requested information for the following:

The Better Business Bureau (headquarters and local office)
The FBI and the name of its director
Two local Kroger stores

I don't know what she does with this information, but $DEITY help these people when she contacts them.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


  • 14:01 There are 10,000 middle-schoolers here, all working on the same project, and they're all due MONDAY!! #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


  • 17:34 Three out of four librarians agree: The Codex Seraphinianus is awesome! #
  • 14:13 Some kid, last night in the children's room: "Where are the kids' books?" #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Monday, September 29, 2008


  • 14:06 On until a few seconds ago: the House is voting on "a sweeping $700 bailout of the nation's financial system." #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


  • 13:20 Customer: "it's missing?" Me: "Yes." Customer: "Do you think it'll come back?" Me: *inner facepalm* #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Twitter and Saturday

I hope you like the Twitter updates. I always mostly forget what I was going to post by the time I get home. Or I get lazy and fall asleep.

I had a kind of cute interaction today with this kid today. He was maybe... I dunno, 12 or so? One of our children's assistants left for library school, and another had surgery this past week, so the children's department was unstaffed today. Anyway, this young man comes to the reference desk.

Boy: Do you have any Naruto books?
Me: *Checks catalog* Well... we don't have any here, but some of our other branches have them. I can have some brought over for you. Which one were you looking for?
Boy: Number 18!
Me: *gets his library card and starts placing hold*
Boy: I read 16 already.
Me: ... Have you read 17?
Boy: *thinks for a second, then grins* Um... No!
Me: We should get you that one, too, huh?
Boy: Yes!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


  • 14:51 I'll bet $500 that the Large Hadron Collider will not cause the end of the world tomorrow. Anyone wanna take me up on that? #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Friday, September 5, 2008


  • 12:18 Customer, to me, staring right at sign that says "Computer check-in at circulation desk": "I wanna use a computer." Me: *internal facepalm* #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Thursday, August 28, 2008


  • 19:33 Found: Mr. Right (a smartass parafeminist psycho-erotic thriller) by Carolyn Banks, in the 635s (horticulture) #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


  • 13:49 Found: Oxford American Dictionary shoved in amongst the 220s. #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Saturday, August 16, 2008


  • 16:50 Two things I learned today: A) a bit about the history of the church steeple at ChristInY' b) There is a ChristInY' #
Furtively communicated by LoudTwitter

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Meet Fritzie

We have a regular I'll call "Fritzie." She's a middle-aged lady taking classes from one of the local schools, and frequently calls the reference desk to have us explain something she's read. (So far she's gotten straight A's. Go Fritzie!) She's taking a computer class this term, and I got this call today:

Fritzie: What does this word mean, "datter"?
Me: *is totally confused* Um... Can you spell that for me?
Fritzie: D-A-T-A, datter!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Opening Lines's Great Opening Sentences from Science Fiction

Of course, now that I'm looking at this list, I can't think of any of my own favorites.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vintage funny

Before I was a librarian, I was a circulation clerk. I just remembered the following conversation with a patron:

Me: You have a fine on your card of $x.xx. Would you like to take care of that today?
Lady: Really? What was that for?
Me: Um... *checks* Stop Procrastinating Now.
Both: *look at each other*
Lady: *starts laughing*
Me: I'm glad you laughed first!

Mr. Subject report (overheard)

Pictures books about The Byrds, Metallica, The Doors, The Beach Boys, and/or The Beatles.

Update (also overheard): He just called for the book that the movie How to Make an American Quilt was based on. Hint: Same title.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mr. Subject report (firsthand)

Mr. Subject: Do you have any books about... um, Oregon?
Me: Sure, are you looking for the history of Oregon, or...?
Mr. Subject: I want a mystery.
Me: A mystery set in Oregon?
Mr. Subject: Yeah.

Solution: Multnomah County Library's list of novels set in Portland

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mr. Subject report (overheard)

"Do you have any books on furniture, like couches?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How do I

Lady: I need to look up some stuff on the computer.
*We both glance at the sign that says COMPUTER SIGN-IN AT CHECKOUT DESK*
Me: You can do that at the checkout desk.
Lady: How do I do that?
(Turn 180 degrees, put one foot in front of the other, and walk to the checkout desk!)
Me: Just show them your library card, and they'll give you a computer pass.
Lady: Cool! *walks to circ desk*

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Getting my attention

Do not hiss at me to get my attention. I do not speak Parseltongue.
Also, do not snap your fingers at me to get my attention. I am not a dog.

You may call me "miss," "ma'am," "librarian," "O Great Goddess of Information," or any other non-profanity. Just... please, if I'm going to make the effort to help you, I'd like you to make the effort to address me in a human language.

Meet Mr. Subject

I should have started writing about this guy earlier. Mr. Subject is a nice guy, but he's a little "off." Sometimes he seems really bright, sometimes... not so much. I'm not sure what's up with him.

Anyway, the reason I call him Mr. Subject is that he comes in with the most random requests. I should have started writing them down immediately, but... I didn't.

Here are some things that I remember Mr. Subject asking me for in the past:
Picture books with tall ships
Pictures of black labs
History of submarines
Fiction about submarines
Beer can collecting
Pictures of classic sports cars
Science fiction with a shipwreck, preferably with pirates

A couple of days ago, he asked for a mystery with sailboats. Later that day he called and asked for a book on tennis, but couldn't be more specific. He wanted "Players... or courts or something. I dunno." I suggested an encyclopedia of tennis, and he liked that idea.

Overheard: Today he asked Belle for a mystery set in the Caribbean, and one set in Hawaii.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Pop quiz, hotshots! (I love that movie.)

Due to space problems, children's program took place in the middle of the library this evening. Guess what the presenter handed out to all the kids as a prize for winning the grownup/kid competition!
a) Paperback books!
b) Craft materials to make sparkly paper butterflies!
c) Pretty high-quality bookmarks with this year's summer reading program theme!
d) Kazoos!

That's right, kids! If you guessed D, you win... I dunno, a kazoo. And a migraine.

In other news, I taught my second "Computers for N00bs" (not the actual title) class this evening. These n00bs were actually pretty good, fast learners. I was quite impressed that we got through the whole thing fifteen minutes ahead of time. (The class is an hour long, with an optional half-hour practice session.) Best of all, their evaluations of the class were actually comprehensible. Good job, n00bs! *hands out gold stars*

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Games Nerds Play

I had a little free time this evening, so I made a game.

Go to
Think of two dissimilar authors (say, Arthur C. Clarke and Jodi Picoult), and look one up.
See if you can connect your first author to your second author by clicking on the names of similar authors.

Bonus: Your RA skills get a little boost just from seeing the names and connections.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random weirdness

Today was a weird day for people, for some reason.

A lady came over to the desk to thank me for helping her with her paper. I didn't remember her, but I remembered the subject, and how hard I had to look to find something for her. She said she got a 96 percent on her paper! Go me!

We, like every other library on earth, have a limited number of Internet computers, which means that sometimes people have to wait. What kills me -- KILLS me -- are the people who stand around staring longingly at the computers while surrounded by thousands of books on every subject. Grab one and sit down!

So I saw a lady doing this, standing and staring, for quite a while. I assumed that she had signed in and was waiting for a computer to open up. So I worked and sort of watched her for a while, wondering if she was going to go read something or just stand there, and I notice an open computer. Then I see a kid go up to the circ desk and get a pass. He sits at an empty station and starts typing away. The lady sees him, too... THEN goes to the desk to ask for a pass. Why not just ask in the first place?

A kid about 11 years old asks me for books on how to speak Russian. I looked some up, but alas, they were all checked out. He didn't want to place a hold. However, he asked me if there were any books on how to speak Canadian!

I explained that Canadians speak English, but a lot of them also speak French. Did he want a book about French? He did! We did have books on learning French. We found three for him to take home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturdays can be scary

The children's librarian is not always here on Saturdays, so whoever's on the reference desk has to pull double duty. Usually the children's library assistant can help.

At this particular time of day, the children's library assistant was at lunch. I -- an adult reference librarian -- was asked to do some readers' advisory work for a fourth-grader. Kid and her mother were looking for historical fiction for a school book report. Mom indicated that the kid was interested in books on pioneers during the westward expansion.

Note to self: Try not to look terrified when asked for reading recommendations for children.

I did some subject searching, found pretty much squat, and told the lady I'd do some research and come find her. I found Historical Fiction for Children, which is great. I didn't actually use anything on the list (as we didn't have the ones I picked out), but it helped me jog my brain. So did browsing the children's shelves with Mom. While Kiddo amused herself in a different part of the library. (By the way, what is UP with that? It's the kid's assignment, not Mom's. Argh. This happens all the time.)

Further note to self: Try not to look surprised when I find good stuff.

We found a few things, and Mom took them to let her kid pick from them.

Note to everyone else: The American Girl and Dear America series are full of win.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Print out everything, you say?

A very nice older lady came to the desk looking for information on kidneys and disease. She said she had a friend who had something wrong with his kidneys, but it had not yet been diagnosed. She was a little afraid it might be kidney cancer, and asked about that specifically. I found a reference book with info about diseases of the endocrine system that she copied a few pages out of, then she asked me to pull up some things on the Internet ("I don't know how to use a computer.")

She just wanted some basic info on how the kidneys worked, since she wasn't sure exactly what they did. I did a Google search for "kidneys" and showed her the Wikipedia article, explaining that the site was decent for basic information, but you do have to read with a critical mind. I told her that it was eight pages long and would be 80 cents to print out.

Back to the search results. I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to know.
"I want anything you can find."
"Well," I said, indicating the Google search results. "There's a lot -- a LOT of information here. Would you like to look through it?"
"How much? Like... twenty pages? Thirty?"
"About nine million."

I sat her down and explained that the best results were usually on the first page or two of results. We found a good site for her to look at, I showed her how to get around it, and she was happy and thanked me profusely for my help.
*phone rings*
SL: Joytown Public Library, this is Stray.
Lady: Is this the library?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Crossing boundaries

Miss F. is a sweet little old lady who does a lot of work with the daily Friends booksale. She's approximately 147 years old, always wearing a skirt and jacket, very friendly and active. But she is an old southern lady, this liberal yank is still adjusting to southern culture, and never did like to talk politics at work. Or sex or religion, for that matter. The three things you don't talk about in polite company.

Miss F. came over to my desk the other day.
Miss F: (regarding the Indiana/NC primaries) What did you think of the election results?
SL: (panicking slightly) I think they turned out all right. What about you?
Miss F: I like it! I think Obama would be a good president.
SL: (resisting the urge to hug her) Me too! I like him!

I should have known. Miss F. rules.


A patron emailed us this morning to let us know that he did not need to renew a book he had checked out. Um, thanks?

Monday, May 5, 2008


Godel, Escher, Bach was on the "free books" bookshelf when I came in this morning. Mine!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's due WHEN?

Right at 9:00 -- when we open -- Lady called to find out if we could find her a picture of David Livingstone's tomb and print it out for her. I did a quick Google Image Search and found one, and asked if she had internet access. She claimed that because she was a senior citizen, she didn't know how to use a computer (I should address this in a future rant). I told her that she could come in and we could show her how to do it. She said she'd be in around 11.

Then she asked me if we had any books on him that might have his picture in them. If I could do this for her, it would save her some time because...


Nothing like waiting until the last minute! I told her I would look, and we'd see her at 11. Thank goodness we had one kids' book at our branch with a photo of Livingstone. There is also a small, rather grainy-looking painting of him in Encyclopedia Britannica. And, of course, on the Internet. I almost wanted to inform her that all the books on Livingstone were at other branches. Seriously, people.

Yesterday some library science student wanted me to answer his homework questions for him. Research questions. Over the phone! HELLO. This is going to be your JOB one day. I pointed him to some databases the library subscribes to. I should have gotten his full name so I could remember it if I ever have to hire somebody. I'd hire somebody else.

And the day BEFORE yesterday. A high-school-aged girl came in needing to do a paper on art in the renaissance period. When I took her to peruse the section where we have art books, she hummed to herself while looking at a completely different part of the shelves. I realized that she didn't seem to care much about what she got, so I handed her a couple of circulating art encyclopedias that had some general info in them. She took them without even glancing at them. I said, good luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


An attempt has been made on my life. Our administrative assistant just delivered to me a leaking canister of screen-cleaning wipes. I coughed for five minutes, but I am now fine. Please do not alert the media.

The library is not a safe place to work!

In other news, it's National Library Week. Don't forget to shower your favorite librarian with love, affection, and expensive gifts!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tax Help

We have volunteers come in a couple of days a week between January and, well, now, to help people file their taxes.

Guy: When will the tax people be here?
Me: *glances at the clock* Well, um, they're done today, but they'll be here for the last time tomorrow from four to seven.
Guy: In the evening?


Sweet On Geeks is now totally free! Go, network!

In other news, Muffin has been coveting the new Star Wars RPG book every time we've been in a bookstore since we started dating. Yesterday I bought it for him. I was tired of him ogling something other than me.

Internet fun

Lady comes to the desk:
"I'd like to borrow the Internet."

Different lady, a few days later:
"I'd like an Internet, please."

The sign next to my head that says, "Computer sign-up at the front desk" (in other words, not my desk) does not help.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things people want to check out

Me, apparently.

I was working the reference desk the other night and these two young men with beautiful Jamaican accents came to my desk to ask about library cards. As I talked, the one pointed to his own nose (in reference to my nostril stud) and said, "Cute."

That made me smile. I thanked him.

Later, after I was done explaining about library cards, the same guy said, "You're pretty. I like you."
Flustered, I said, "Thanks... so does my boyfriend."
He thanked me and wished me a good night, and I did likewise. Then he left through the entrance door.

What I should have said: "Thanks, but reference sources are non-circulating."

Internet fun

Lady comes in and wants help looking at a particular brand of purse online. Choice snippets of the hand-holding session:

Click in the address bar.
I don't have an address. (Wait, what?)

Click with the left mouse button.
What? I don't understand.

And on and on for about fifteen minutes. I show her how the mouse cursor turns into a little hand when it's on a link ("something you can click on"). I show her how the purses are grouped under these little descriptions on the Web site (Click on "girly" to go to that line, click on "signature" to go to that line, etc.). She doesn't get it. ("I want to see all of them!") Unfortunately, hand-holding is not my job. I don't mind helping you get started, but I have to be available for other people to ask questions.

Would you be interested in signing up for our beginning computer class?

Later, a (different) lady comes to my desk and says, "I'd like to borrow the Internet."

Monday, March 31, 2008

Overheard in the library

Overheard in a library with a "No cell phones" rule:

*cell phone rings loudly*

Patron at computer: Hello? Hello?... The library. THE LIBRARY... The Internet. THE INTERNET... HANG ON. (Exit patron, through the entrance door.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The dating librarian

After some half-assed searching on the internet, I've found a man to hang out with, whom I'll call Muffin (because he's English, or half, anyway). I hate the term "boyfriend" as we are both way past being "boy" and "girl."

What makes my love life relevant to this blog is that men love librarians. LOVE them. When I was just dipping my toe into the online dating scene, I met a young man and dated him casually until I moved to my current location. He told me at one point -- when I was feeling a little old and used up -- that the idea of a divorced librarian is "kinda hot, actually." And actually, it is.

Which made me rather wary of men who are just in this thing for the idea of the librarian. They know it's always the quiet ones. I actually had quite a bit of response to my profiles on the couple of free dating sites I joined. Some of these guys I talk to on AIM, and I met one or two of them. Then I met Muffin, who just absolutely blows me away. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it's OK to be smart! It's OK to enjoy gaming and Star Wars and J.R.R. Tolkien. It's OK to enjoy reading random articles on Wikipedia. Hell, it's even desirable. Librarians are brilliant, educated people who always find something to talk about. We're well rounded, into the latest technology, and aren't afraid of trying new ways of doing things. (Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself, who knows?)

Since Muffin and I happened to meet during our two-week free trials on Sweet on Geeks, I feel obligated to plug it here. It's a dating site for nerds, geeks, and nerd- and geek-lovers.

Things the Library Is Not

Excuse me. You. Yes, you. The library is not:

1. An office supply store
2. A daycare
3. A psychiatric hospital
4. A skating rink
5. A personal computer tutor (But would you like to sign up for the Computing for Beginners class?)
6. A resume service

Also, the restroom is just about 20 feet that way, under the BIG FRICKIN' SIGN that says RESTROOMS.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Listen, please

*Phone rings*
Me: Blah Blah Library, this is Stray.
Voice: Hi, Belle, I just wanted to let you know that noon will be fine for the meeting.
Me: *confused* I'm sorry, what?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interaction of the random interval

Patron needs help with the computers. She doesn't remember what the Internet desk told her the password was. I tell her, "'Rose,' all caps."
Patron types r-o-s-e-a-l-l-c-a-p-s. No dice, of course.
"No, sorry," I said, trying to clarify. "The password is the word 'Rose'... in all caps."
Patron begins typing t-h-e-w-o-r-d-r- before I stop her.
"I'm sorry, let's try this again. "The password is the word ROSE in all capital letters."
"OHHHHHH!" Patron finally types R-O-S-E, successfully making it through the Windows login.

The Beginning

This blog is about my experiences -- both professional and personal -- as a librarian. I'll include anecdotes about my job, interesting articles I find, personal observations, and whatever else relates even tangentially to librarianship. This is all true, though names and other possibly identifying details will be changed.

I was recently uprooted from a three-year marriage and my native Midwest to come to this beautiful area in the south with just a few pieces of furniture, a car, and a cat. I didn't know anyone here except for the people who interviewed me, so I am enjoying a fresh start. I'll add to the Cast of Characters as I identify the "regulars" in my life. Here are some people I associate with most. They are grouped by association, in alphabetical order for your convenience:

Cast of Characters

Personal life
Mom and Dad: A nerd and a geek, respectively, 600 miles away, "up North"
Moo: My cat, a fat striped calico
Mrs. Butterworth: Mom and Dad's orange cat
Muffin: My significant partner in crime (First appearance: The dating librarian)
SL: Me, the Stray Librarian (First appearance: This post, genius.)

Belle: The other reference librarian
Bosslady: The branch manager
King Nerd: (meant affectionately) Mama H's manager, who has many interests
Mama H: My boss, a very sweet lady

The patrons
Miss F.: Sweet old lady who keeps the book sale running on a daily basis. (First appearance: Crossing boundaries)
Mr. Subject: Requests books on random subjects at least once a week, usually more. (First appearance: Meet Mr. Subject)
Fritzie: Takes classes from a local school and frequently calls or visits the reference desk for help with her assignments. Local lady (with a local accent) in her 50s, extremely friendly, with a voice that carries. (First appearance: Meet Fritzie)