Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Games Nerds Play

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

Go to http://www.literature-map.com/
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!