Monthly Archives: February 2011

Grouchy? Who? Me? Nah …

So I recently got a shoutout from my colleague at A Case For Books. The somewhat fair accusation that I’m occasionally grouchy was leveled at me. Ok, guilty as charged, but hey, sometimes I have good reason to be grouchy. Hang onto your modems, ladies and gentlelibrarians.

I have the privilege of working in what’s called a “diverse” community. What this usually means is the library community consists of a mix of pampered, wealthy folks who drop in at the library because it’s a thing to do, and those who are genuinely in need of our services. You’d be surprised just how many communities fit this mold in New York State, even in the supposedly more homogenous upstate. After a while, you start to get a sense of which patrons are pampered and which are needy.

Now over the winter we’ve had, there’s been so much freaking snow that only now are dead deer being revealed on the roadside, buried up to their chests in a combination of leftover ice and road gravel. It stands to reason there’s gonna be some ice left over on sidewalks and streets where plows and intrepid shovelers could not reach.

Among those intrepid shovelers is a wonderful crew of people known as custodians. I’ve had custodians share recipes with me, give me lifts when I needed one in an emergency, set rooms up for programs, stop flooding in the basements, and fix busted toilets. You name it. Seriously, I love these guys. However, that love is not widespread. Last week one of the more pampered princesses came in and demanded to know why some of the sidewalk outside still had ice, and why she had to walk around it.

My response was simple: “He might not be responsible for that part of the sidewalk. You might have to call sanitation or the highway department for that.”

“Huh, another one who gets my tax money for doing nothing!” Then she stormed out. That’s an exact quote, folks. I was biting my tongue hard enough to leave marks. What I wanted to say would have gotten me a nice, shiny pink slip and unemployment benefits.

This is what I wanted to say: “Now listen to me, you addle-pated, dimwitted, slack-jawed, spoiled MORON! There probably isn’t enough money in the WORLD to make you want to do HIS job, cleaning up YOUR crap from OUR public restrooms, picking up YOUR garbage from OUR floors, and probably scraping YOUR gum from under OUR tables. Here’s your damn dollar back and don’t show your face in here again.”

Come to think of it, this is the kind of thing I want to say to everyone who bitches and moans about how much teachers, custodians, garbagemen, and ad infinitum get paid or how much money is wasted on the oh-so-lavish benefit of $20 grand a year in retirement (IF we’re lucky). Let’s see you try to teach a classroom full of kids who either don’t want to learn, come from broken homes, or have no parents at home because THEY’RE WORKING TO PROVIDE YOUR PAMPERED ASS with the service you say you waste money on.

Better idea. Rush into a burning building wearing a hundred pounds of fire-fighting equipment and force your way through burning doors, walls, and smoke, all to save someone like YOU. Then you get to complain about all those “slackers” who are lounging around on disability.

Oh oh oh, here’s another one. YOU try spending two whole freaking days out on the streets in a plow and sand truck with no meal breaks, busting your hump to plow the streets of ungrateful twits like YOU. Seriously, the stuff I read in the papers about the New York City Sanitation guys dozing off in their trucks after being out there for hours and hours and hours? Yeah, I’d doze off too. Hell I would probably have stopped at a Dunkin Donuts just to stretch stiff limbs like those working stiffs. Let’s see you make it a couple of hours, princess.

If I sound grouchy, well, nothing aggravates me more than hearing complaints from people I’m trying to help about how public servants “waste” their tax dollars. Excuse me, this public servant is trying to get you that latest bestseller you “absolutely must have” but you’re too cheap to buy on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble even though you came rolling up in a shiny Benz.

I will be the first to admit that yes, there are some public servants that really could use a good kick in the ass. Captain Bringdown from Case For Books comes to mind. Go to that blog and look up that tag. We all have a Captain Bringdown somewhere, but that doesn’t mean most of us aren’t trying our damndest to provide you with a critical service.

Seriously, there’s people who need help with resumes, filing taxes, doing homework, or just getting away from bad situations at home. Have a little perspective, lady.

Yes I’ve been following that mess in Wisconsin. Why do you ask?


A Long Weekend

So another week has come and gone and I get a nice 4-day weekend with the family. Going to beg out as much as one can with small children in the house, catch up on viewing The Cape, some reading, the usual drill.

Every once in a while I plan to use this blog to review books I’ve read recently. Here’s a mini-review to get you started. My colleague over at Acaseforbooks recommended the Northlander series of graphic novels about the Viking era, written by Brian Wood and illustrated by different artists each volume.

These books are truly brutal in terms of storytelling and artistic execution.  The first, Sven the Returned, is a graphic exploration of one man’s return from self-exile in Constantinople to reclaim his family fortune.  Superstition, sex, politics, and brutal cunning are the order if the day here.

Pick it up from your bookseller or better yet from your local library.  Word of warning: my colleague wasn’t kidding when she said this book is for mature audiences. Don’t let the kids get ahold of this one.

Oh, and the book gets some details right, historically speaking. The Vikings did not wear horned helmets, and they were just as liable to use a trusty sword as they were an axe.

The Ol’ Gears Are Grinding …

A couple weeks ago I did a post on things that grind my gears.  Truth is, those are really minor annoyances.  The true grinding comes when I encounter things that go against the grain of librarianship.

This is going to sound very high-minded, but I truly believe that, as a librarian, I am not only a facilitator of information dissemination (say that five times fast), I am a protector of said information.  To me, all information is to be saved, from oddities like the Voynich Manuscript to the fact that rats can survive without water longer than camels, and that Sherlock Holmes never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” My job is to make sure you can access whatever information you need, regardless of whether some fool deems it objectionable.

I never imagined that said fool would be in my own workplace. I never imagined that a fellow librarian would ever take a photographically illustrated copy of Kama Sutra and send it back because they didn’t want to have to hear complaints about it from patrons.

Let me make something very clear.  I do not give one microscopic flying rat’s ass what you do or don’t find objectionable.  If I were to toss everything I found objectionable, 99% of the urban fiction collection would be gone tomorrow.  But I don’t do it.  I’m supposed to defend such material against objections from morally self-righteous twits who have nothing better to do than police everyone’s private reading material.

To say that I was stunned by my colleague’s behavior is … well I found it unfathomable that this person was given the trust of safeguarding the information the public has a right to see.  Yes, sex manuals fall under that category, even ones written by such infamous persons as Dr. Z. After all, they can be used for therapy, humor, or just to spice a staid marriage up.

To sum it up: information access good. Intellectual sloth bad. If one is unwilling to defend the collection against all comers, one should not be given charge of it.

Blogs and Authorship

So, dear readers, in addition to being a full-time public librarian and part-time crank, I am a wannabe author.  Thanks to a terrific Christmas gift, I have the means to actually write in my spare time without using public pcs or library owned desktops.

I’ve been devoting this spare time to writing a novel.  Those of you familiar with my past efforts will remember that I never made it past chapter 5.  I’m hoping to actually break this trend and power all the way through.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post.  Should I wait until I’ve got the entire thing written down and then submit the manuscript to an agent and publisher in the time-honored fashion?  Or should I try to get with the times and serialize it online?

It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around since I started this latest effort.  The advantage is that any money I get from reader donations and page views would be all mine, minus server fees.  The disadvantages are:

1. Having to pay server fees to host the thing.

2. A much smaller readership than could be reached through the traditional publication methods.

3. Serializing means writing to meet a deadline, which in turn means rushed writing, lack of revision, and no editorial polish.

So what do you think?

And for those of you wondering why this post is not library related, refer to the very first posting on this blog.