Monthly Archives: January 2011

Things That Grind My Gears

A recent commenter suggested that I do a post on things that grind my gears.  I try not to complain too much but sometimes you just have to let it rip.  Yes, I know.  Those of you who know me are shaking your heads, saying, “He doesn’t complain TOO much?”  To that I say, it could be a LOT more complaining.  On to the topic.

10: Rudeness – You would think rudeness would be higher on my list.  However, working in New York accustoms one to the various, splendid ways people in this state find to push other’s buttons.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like rudeness, but you develop a thick skin in this line of work or you go nuts.

9: Circulation tricks – Many libraries like to use a little thing called in-house statistics to artificially inflate their numbers.  The fact that we have to do things like this just to prove our worth to bean-counters who wouldn’t know a reference book if it was stuffed with free money, really grinds the gears.

8: Clueless people – You know the type.  They come in, they look around, and they proceed to gum up the works.  For example, in most libraries, the librarian sits behind a great big desk, usually labelled “Information” or “Librarian” or something similar.  The librarian also tends to be wearing ID, and be well-dressed.  And yet, STILL, clueless boobs ask, on average of five times a day, “Do you work here?”

7: Proxy Googlers – “Hey, can you look something up for me?  No no type this in.  Now scroll down here … o…k bring it back up a notch.  Now click on this right here.”  Excuse me.  I have a masters in information science.  I THINK I know a LITTLE bit more about how to find things than you do.  Oh, and the next one of you who says, “Oh I don’t know how to use a computer,” when I helpfully suggest getting you an appointment on one of our terminals is getting a keyboard between the ears.

6: Taxpayers – Did you know I once had a 10-year-old get persnickety with me when I couldn’t find the book he wanted?  His exact words were: “My taxes pay for you!”  I probably would have been fired if I gave him the change from my pocket and told him it was his refund.

5: Obstacles – I’m standing here with a truck full of books, and yet you bulldoze right past me, stare at the shelf I was working on, and refuse to move for the next 15 minutes.  Five minutes later you complain that the book you wanted wasn’t where it always is.  Of course it isn’t.  I was still putting it away.   Boob.

4: Space Invaders – Seriously, I’d like a little more than 3 inches of space between your face and mine.  I did not invite you behind my desk and I do not appreciate feeling you breathing all over my hands while I’m trying to find what you’re looking for.

3: Busybodies – “You busy?”  Let’s see, I’ve got trucks full of books marked for various tasks, my hands are flying over the keyboard, and there were three people before you that I helped and five more behind you waiting for you to finish.

2: Top 10 lists – You’re getting 10-2.  Why?  Because why should things that make me happy, laugh, sad, or frost my preserves be limited to some arbitrary number?  Am I supposed to make shit up for your reading pleasure?

And those are my gear grinders.  How about you, dear readers?


Job Security for Librarians

During one of my numerous rants about how dopey people can be, I touched on the subject of how computer illiterate people can be, and how it never ceases to amaze me how many PC users don’t even know what a freaking escape key is.  The replies I hear sometimes include the sentence, “It’s job security!”  Let me be so kind as to explain why that really, REALLY frosts my preserves.

In my inaugural post, I made reference to the fact that inebriated monkeys are capable of providing basic computer tech support.  Things like, “Click here.  Now click there.  Now click on that link,” or, “You have to type in, not just ‘google’ in the address bar,” are not something that require much brain power.  Don’t get me wrong.  Most libraries have IT guys who are really good at their jobs and are professionals.  Yes, IT departments have their share of cranks, but really, who doesn’t these days?  I’m living proof.

No, showing people who really should know better the basics of using a freaking keyboard is not job security.  If my job ever boils down to, “He prints my stuff for me,” librarians will become extinct.  My job security lies in being, for lack of a better term, a librarian.

Librarians are wonderful things.  Many of them are the kind of people who will bend over backwards to find what you’re looking for.  Some of us take pleasure on hearing little children proclaim their amazement at the fact that they can read books for free (yes I’m an old softy, what of it?).  And there are those of us who can make search engines sing in ways that would make Verdi jealous.

Librarians are information powerhouses, community servants, erstwhile social workers (in the case of Mr. X), passionate teen advocates (such as the mind behind A Case For Books,, and researchers extraordinaire.

People need help finding things that are not accessible at first glance.  That’s my job.  Folks want to know what to read after putting down a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (try the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik).  That’s  my job.  Web users have trouble navigating through some truly mind-boggling layouts for web pages (seriously, if people can’t get info from your site in two clicks, you’re a blight upon the Internet).  That’s also my job!

Eventually such things will become routine as more and more people are connected.  But even then, librarians will still be needed.  Information is information, no matter how you code, encapsulate, and store it.  People will always need help finding it.  That is where my job security lies.

Now, may I help you connect to the world-hive-mind and find that virtual reality novel you were looking for?

Greetings from Public Library Land

First, a little bit about who I am and what this blog will be.  I am a public librarian working in a wonderful municipal library system in the great state of New York.  Second, if you didn’t detect the sarcasm in that last sentence, this blog is not for you.  The title of the blog should give you a hint of what my general mindset is these days.

This is the beginning of what I hope to be several posts about whatever my brain is ruminating on at the moment I turn my PC on.  You’ll see my brain spit words out on topics ranging from life in a public library to copyright issues to even that most verbotten of topics … politics!

A word of warning.  My writing tends to be caustic, since I do not hold back at all.  I was once told by a professor he was going to get himself vaccinated before reading my next paper because things were always decaying, diseased, filthy, or whatever combination of adjectives I could come up with to describe things gone bad and horribly wrong.

So, dear readers, in the near future, I will blog about job security for librarians and what it really means.  Here’s a hint: it does NOT mean being free technical support for a computer-illiterate public.  Trained monkeys can do that while inebriated.