Samantha's blog

Kerry rally update

Apparently, after getting my library cleaned up, Kerry felt motivated enough to pick out a VP candidate.

The rally at the museum/library grounds on July 4th went well. We had two torrential downpours during it, which was fun. I got to experience them fully in my role as spectator. Sometimes only working part time is a good thing, as you are less likely to get roped into helping out at these events. Still, I try to hide out from my co-workers so that I don't have to put in "off-the-clock" hours. I think they forget that I'm not salaried (and also not paid enough to want to help out).

I guess the big behind the scenes hubbub was that the Secret Service was threatening to eat the ice cream in the staff fridge. In other gossip, the CNN reporter sneaked in some beer to the press room, and Kerry changed clothes in our library (since he was also drenched in the rainstorm).

Now I guess it's back to our regularly scheduled work lives in our nice clean library...

Thank you, John Kerry!

I have a huge bug bite on my leg from ALA. Well, not from ALA but from some bug in Orlando. But I got my ALA renewal in the mail while I was gone so they will get their pound of flesh one way or the other.

Anyhow, I digress. I wanted to say thank you to John Kerry. He has decided to spend the fourth of July not only in my state, or my city, but in my library. One of them, at any rate. And so now my boss is FINALLY moving all the boxes of crap out of the library that I have been tripping over for almost a year.

I was going to take a picture of this disaster area I call a workplace the last weekend I worked but now it's all prettied up with no teetering towers of boxes and piles of books and papers. Yay!

Vote John Kerry--he'll get your workplace cleaned up! :-)

Best $2.32 I ever spent!

Because I am a hapless techno-nerd, I've been craving a gmail account since April. Today I finally broke down, went to eBay, and bid on an invite. I'd read that the people who had originally gotten around $60 for invites were unlikely to even break $10 anymore. I found one that was going for $1.99 and put in a max of $2.50--and got it for $2.32!

Oh, and the best part--one of the recommended secret questions for retrieving lost passwords is "What is your library card number?" Google knows the power of a library card!

I'm having a blast playing with my new toy! I wonder if this can somehow be considered work related? :-)

Back in the land of information

Well, I survived the wedding...barely. I had a 102 degree fever for the three days previous and couldn't eat a bite of the oh-so-expensive reception dinner. But it went very well otherwise and everyone said it was just lovely. And I'm getting all healthy now just in time to go to Disneyworld. Uh, I mean ALA. Yeah.

My first day back at reference was uneventful. The second day, however, has been nutty. So far, we've had to walk a student through eBay registration (I am still asking myself "why?" on that one), had a tape dispenser (one of ours) returned in the outside book drop--how did it leave?--and I've had the greatest reference question in quite some time. "How do I make a web site? I've got two minutes." Geez. I told him some sites to go to like geocities that would walk him through it. Then he asked how to try out for the basketball team! I guess it's good to have a wide range of interests...

Another week, another conference

I guess it's not as bad as all that, but I *was* at another conference this weekend, for the Iowa OCLC Users' Group. I somehow became the vice chair for the cataloging section back in October. It's fun to talk to other catalogers about how crazy everyone else is. Then I can go back to the reference job and say, "wow, those wacky catalogers, eh?" It's the best of both worlds.

The conference was pretty good, but I enjoyed the trip to Omaha afterward a bit more. I went to the Henry Doorly Zoo and saw some pygmy hippos along with a wide variety of other cute critters. I also got to spend part of the night before huddled in the hotel room bathroom because of tornadoes. Ah, the joys of living in the Midwest...when will those Hawaii jobs open up?

Now I'm off to get married (at this point I'm just looking forward to when it will all be over) and I'll have a week or two's reprieve before ALA....

Back in the saddle again...

I'm back at the old reference desk after a (sadly unpaid) week off between sessions. It's nice to be back.

A new building is under construction here, so we've got all sorts of noise and commotion mixed in with the usual first day back stuff. For some reason we are having a large number of students come in here and try to check out their textbooks for the term rather than buying them. It sounds great in theory, but we don't have a lot of textbooks and what we do have is on reserve so that all students may benefit from them. Today I've had a couple people try to sweet talk me into letting them check out the reserve materials for the term. I'm worried that they (the books, not the students) may be stolen by the end of the week. They (the students, not the books) are also raising a ruckus because we charge them for photocopying.

What's up with this? Part of going to college is buying your textbooks at outrageous prices, and being forced to copy tons of stuff seemingly at your professor's whim. It's like a rite of passage. Are our students here just overly cheap? Are we out of touch with mainstream community college practice? Should we just take pity on the poor broke dears?

1st conference presentation

I've been meaning to put up a little something about my first professional conference presentation, at Iowa ACRL's Spring Meeting last month, and this story reminded me about it.

At my museum job, I've been working with ContentDM to create an online library of letters from a soldier in the U.S. Civil War to his family. So I was asked to speak about the project on behalf of my boss, who couldn't make it (and, as he said, really has no clue about the process since he's never done it).

I contacted the coordinator of the panel (a couple of other recent digital projects had used ContentDM too, and they had reps presenting with me) and asked how formal the presentation would be. Did I need Powerpoint slides? Handouts? She assured me that it would be an informal Q&A where we panelists would briefly address our projects and open up the floor for discussion.

Boy, was I surprised to get to the room after the keynote and discover the other two panelists organizing handouts and getting their Powerpoint all fired up. Oops.

Well, there was no hope for a handout at that point, but there WAS live internet access so I jotted down a couple of relevant sites and quickly outlined a 10 minute presentation (thank YOU, 4 years of college debate team experience!). We only had 45 minutes altogether so if we each went 10 minutes that'd leave lots of time for questions. We agreed on an order--I would go last as my presentation dealt with the technical aspects of actually using ContentDM to create a online collection, while the other two talked about the administrative aspects of their individual projects.

Well, I'm sure you see where this is going. The first two presenters each took up twenty minutes, leaving me with five at the end to speed through my extemporaneous notes and take questions. GRR!

As a whole, I think I did great considering all the obstacles I faced. But I'm still grumpy about the lack of regard from my fellow panelists of the time, and the bad information I got about the panel. Also, this conference was the first place I ever actually heard anyone use the demeaning phrase "baby librarian" to describe a young colleague. Not the best introduction to conference presenting I could have had.

bad librarian--no cookie for me

It is nearing finals week here at the comm. college and I nearly snapped at a student today. I feel so bad!!

The thing is, the registrar's office has decided to automate everything and lay off some of their staff. So now, if students need to register/get a schedule/find out what books they need to buy/etc., they have to look it up online. And the front desk at the college sends them to the library's computers. Grr. Gee thanks, college administration!

So today, this woman comes in wanting to find out what books she needs to buy for her summer classes. We do have a bookstore on campus but first of all they don't carry all the books required for classes at the main campus (we are a satellite campus about 30 miles away from the main branch) and secondly they don't look anything up. They will help students if and only if they come in with a printout from the registrar's website with the books listed on it.

So this lady needs her booklist. And she has the nice flier from the front desk people telling her to look it up on a certain website in the library. Unfortunately, she has no computer skills. None. At all. But we try not to do things for the students on the assumption that they are there to learn and learning computer skills is part of that process. So I have to wait as she painstakingly types out the url (after having spent a few minutes on the finer points of double clicking on the browser icon to open it) and then when we get to the website we discover that she needs to know what department her course is in.

Her course is called Radiology but we can't find it in the print catalog to see if it is in Health or Nursing or some wacky category that I would have never thought of. Finally we think of the tactic of printing out her schedule from the website and seeing if we can track it down that way.

About ten minutes later, we've gone through that process and the student says that she thinks the bookstore can help her from here, probably because I was very grumpy. I hope she found what she needed. I feel really bad about being grumpy. I told her it wasn't her I was grumpy with, it was just that they were making us do what used to be their job.

It is so very frustrating. On top of all the other stuff we are doing here, we now have to act as registrars. The other day a student came in and claimed the front desk sent her to ask us what classes she should take. Argh!

I think I would be less angry about this if I had gotten a good night's sleep and wasn't all sneezy from allergies. But I still don't like how the college got rid of some jobs and just transferred the duties to us in the library and some websites. That ain't right!

Librarian stereotypes meme

This is going around on nexgenlib-l so I thought I'd put it up in my journal. I'd love to see what others have to say!

1. Owns a cat(s)? Yes, we have two cats we adopted from the shelter in January. Gabe has doubled in size since then but Lolli is still a tiny little thing who will lick you to death if you stand still long enough.

2. Drives small sensible, economical car? We (fiancee and I) just bought a 2001 Toyota Corolla in January (apparently a big month for us getting new things). I still have my 1992 Geo Prizm as well since it is the car that will not die, at least until someone runs into it. They both get about 30 mpg.

3. Wears comfortable, sensible shoes? Totally. I don't like shoes in general so I tend to wear sandals a lot. I can't even walk in heels (my secret shame).

4. Reads constantly? Yep. And I always owe fines to the public library.

5. Never goes out? Sadly yes. I am kind of a homebody. I'm working on it :-)

6. Sexually inexperienced? Uhh, next question :-)

7. Friends are all librarians? Nope. Most of the librarians around here are really competitive since jobs are so scarce.

8. Could care less about fashion? Yeah, that's pretty much me.

9. Leans to the left when it comes to politics? I like to think that I'm really centrist and that everyone else leans to the right. But I did vote for Nader in 2000 by proxy (I was a Nader Trader!) because Al Gore was too moderate.

10. Was a nerd in high school? Totally. I was on the debate team and in orchestra. I was a marching band groupie, that's how nerdy I was :-)

11. Wears hair in a bun? No, too short for that.

12. Is constantly covered in dust? Not constantly but occasionally, when I have to drag stuff out of storage to catalog.

13. Librarian by day/Bacardi by night? Let me answer this question with a story. I just read "Pledged" and was telling my fiancee that the girls in that book drank more in one night than I probably drank all year. Eric (fiancee) said, "they drink more in one night than you have ever drunk in your entire life!"

14. Do you wear glasses? Ever since 5th grade. I like the fact that glasses are sorta cool now and there are so many different types of frames available. I want to get some new frames but I think my prescription has lapsed (no health insurance for me!).

15. Are you female? Yep.

16. Abilities in the yarn arts? I can crochet a bit but I'm not very good at it.

You are a librarian!

You're a mystic interfacing assassin. You get spell-checked by pirate people using the internet for free with disturbing information requests. Be proud of what you are...You are a Librarian!

Here's a funny little site. Very confidence-boosting! Be sure to reload the page a few times.

10 Surprising Facts about Libraries

Got this in my email today...I think I've seen it before but decided to share just in case others haven't!

1. The United States has more public libraries than
McDonald's franchises.

2. U.S. libraries circulate more items every day than
FedEx ships packages (5.4 million vs. 5.3 million).

3. U.S. public library cardholders

outnumber Amazon customers by almost 5 to 1.

4. Americans go to libraries more than twice as often
as they go to the movies.

5. Americans spend more than three times as much on
salty snacks as they do on public libraries.

6. Libraries hold 16 billion books worldwide.

7. Libraries record more than 1.1

billion visits each year, compared to 204 million
sports tickets sold in a year.

8. Students visit school library media centers almost
1.5 billion times during the school year.

9. Americans spend seven times as much money on home
video games as they do on school library materials for
their children.

10. College and university librarians answer 97
million reference questions each year.

- Information provided by Summit County libraries

I'm a follower! 23-5

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions

Rapid Creek Woods...................H17
Iowa City phone book

Okay, with a real book:

You may want to see: Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information; Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens; Publication 555, Community Property.

_Your Federal Income Tax for individuals_, Publication 17 from the IRS. "For use in preparing 2003 returns"

Okay, we are short on real books at the reference desk today! :-)

Library of the FUTURE (da da DUM)

Today we are working on a project to identify what the library will be like five years from now. Here's the new stuff we want/need to do:

Online reference chat: to better serve our off campus users.

Get a link resolver: so we know where to find resources, either in print or online.

Install a wireless network: since students are demanding it.

Find new ways to serve off-campus and distance education students: since this is a growing segment of our campus.

Get a wired instructional classroom for BI: it'd be so great to have a classroom visit that didn't swamp our 8 OPACs, since we'd have a separate room for them to do their research.

Learn more about copyright, and implement what we learn: something we should already be doing, and will only increase in importance.

Create a system for Electronic Reserves: This would be so wonderful for everyone; students, faculty, and library staff.

Create and join consortia to increase our buying and negotiating power: again, something we already should be doing.

Does anyone else have ideas for the library of the future?

Off to the coal mines...

I had a funny email that had a list of reasons students wanted to work in libraries from their application forms but I lost it. Sorry. Maybe I will find it again, and if I do, I will post it.

I'm just counting the minutes until I have to teach a quick session on the joys of EBSCOhost to what will likely be a group of uninterested college students. I just love the blank looks on their little faces. Reminds me why I decided against teaching as a profession. Then we have a fire drill! This should be a fun night. :-)

Dream job...

Last year I applied for this job (didn't get it) and I would love to apply again this year but I would end up missing my wedding. I wouldn't mind so much but I think my fiancee would be a bit miffed. What better way to spend the summer than on a ship cruising to exotic locales?
So someone out there, get this job and send me lots of postcards, okay???

broke down!

I decided to go ahead and call in sick at my cataloging job this past week. I had spent a few days in Chicago for spring break (woo hoo!) going to museums and one of the little tykes on a school trip infected me with some foul virus. Combined with all the stress of driving around Chicago and not eating any vegetables all week, I succumbed to the first real illness I've had since March 2001. I'm doing lots better today, but I'm guessing my significant other will soon take this opportunity to get sick too and want me to wait on him like he waited on me. I "got" to make up the hours over the weekend so my paycheck shouldn't be too much less either. If anyone wants to hear about museums in Chicago, or the awesome cheesecake I had at the Cheesecake Factory, let me know! :-)

Ethics of illness

Like many people around here, I currently have a cold. And I am one of those annoying people who comes into work even if I'm nearly dead. This is primarily because I have no sick leave--if I don't come in, I can kiss that money goodbye. Then again, I know that I'm not going to be a good efficient worker if I'm sick, plus I am spreading germs to my coworkers and the students (who probably got me sick in the first case!).

So, what is the right thing to do? Stay home and miss out on that money, or come in and cause a epidemic? If only my mom were here to tell me to stay home, and make me soup...

Fake blogging

This has been a "blog-of-interest" among some people I 'know' over the past few days (all bloggers):


http://www.iudaybyday.blogspot.com/

I guess this kid had a class assignment to try to reach a certain number of hits, and he went about it by writing a lot of incendiary stuff, posing as a redneck frat boy. He came out today to say it was all for an assignment but he certainly had me fooled.
I am an active blog reader (not so much with the writing), and I guess this serves as a reminder that you don't really know 'who' you're reading, or who's reading you...
Cross-posted with Yahoo blogging article

Dumb question...

How do you "fan" people? I can see how to friend people but what is this "fan" thing??

Stupid faculty tricks

Our faculty photocopier is down *again* and has been down for almost a week, which means that the faculty come to the library to do their photocopying. I've noticed an alarming trend with these people--they come in through the door, stand in front of my desk, and shake a piece of paper at me.
Naturally this confused me. Why was this person shaking paper at me? Have they perhaps lost the power of speech, or forgotten what it is they are even doing on campus? So I ask them in my most polite, friendly voice, "Did you happen to need some copies of that? I'm not really sure what it means when someone shakes a piece of paper at me."
This seems to get most of the offenders to actually act like human beings, or maybe treat me like one...
Come on, photocopier repair guy! We need to get these dang faculty out of our hair!!!

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