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Well, my .xinitrc theory was all off with Linux. I got pdf to work by copying my root opera6.ini and plugins.ini to my user account. Go figure. Flash doesn't work with or without a desktop, which is weird, because it should. I've installed from rpm, tarball, multiple sources, taken binaries from home where it all works just dandy.
I'm sort of at loss. I hope it all just starts working magically.
Sort of like how our ILS stopped working magically last night at eight, when the people who maintain it went home. Sigh. I could ping and do other seemingly useless things, but contact with the server was intermittent at best.
Yesterday we had about a dozen magazines seemingly walk off. Some nice person took them in the bathroom and took them out of their sleeves and walked out with them. We have no security on them, not that they couldn't just rip that out anyway.
We also had some young men that were seemingly fascinated by how the table lamps turn off and on. They're not regular users (and you could tell), because library etiquette was out the window. One librarian took to calling them the "little thieves" because they kept asking for pencils. Not golf pencils... pencils with erasers. Then one asked why he had to pay for copies at a library. Free office supplies @ your library!
Actually, we had an adult come in and say the same thing. Why do I have to pay for copies? I'm thinking of keeping books on the economy handy for just such occasions.
Trying valiantly to figure out just what I need to run on startup to get Opera recognizing Flash and other plugins. Frustrating as hell, excuse my French. I think I am going to have rethink. Man, I was so close. Sometimes I hate technology.
It would work beautifully as email only. Sigh. Oh, the frustration. It's gotta be opermotifwrapper-3 or lesstif or something.
You know, maybe if I logged in using Windowmaker, and then disabled everything there... No, I really like the elegance of
exec opera & ... whatever I need to add
It would help if I had any programming background other than XHTML.
I would go look up some information on my dead librarian today, but it's a late day, and the old building is quite frightening in the dark. And it's dark, I found, as I missed a stair or two the other night going in there.
I had a patron mention with sadness that she couldn't go into the closed stacks with me. The closed stacks are downright frightening... and about as off limits as patrons touching stuff in local history. Some of the materials look like they will crumble into thin air if you look at them cross eyed. Never mind the floor. The funky Aliens floor panels are replaced in some places by plywood boards. Fortunately, I've never needed a book on a plywood board floor section.
The books in those areas of flooring look like they've been there since the beginning of time, usually, so I don't even think they're in the system. God, I hope not.
In related news, school is back in this week, so it's back to kids congregating by the internet terminals, till I move them on, then they go to the videos, till the librarian there moves them on. Then they come back to me. Perhaps we should just throw them out, but I hate to because on occasion they really do use the materials. They aren't bad kids, really, always quite respectful. Just, boy, are there a lot of them, talking to each other.
Tomorrow I am guessing I will be on reference for a few hours. I wish I could bring my Linux box out to reference and play with it there, but it's not exactly as easy to do as cataloging in that respect. Not quite as portable.
The problem with the Linux box does appear to be my .xinitrc file. Some nice person confirmed that Mozilla, when set up without a desktop, does the same thing Opera does... basically, ignores every plugin except Java. This makes me think that Operamotifwrapper or Lesstif or something needs to be run in the background on .xinitrc as well. But I'm not 100% on this one.
Oh, how I would like to get the thing off my desk! Maybe I can set up the word processor tomorrow. Right now I have three computers on my desk. They all work, in varying degrees.
I would like to post a picture of my desk at some point. It's huge, and it's loaded with some Micron PC (which I believe is the company that brings you the best memory on earth, Crucial) that can't take a working LAN card, the Linux box, which is just persnickety, and my P3 IBM desktop real work computer, which looks like it came from, well, the turn of the century. Underneath my desk are a bunch of magazine boxes filled with parts!
Hard drives. Floppy drives. CD ROM drives. LAN cards. And every computer I go into, as a trophy, I rip out its old modem. I feel guilty throwing them out, even though they're probably all 14.4s or some silliness. I pulled out some cables (hey, you never know when you're going to need more cables) and some screws and some various and sundries from some boxes, and they're under there too.
Yesterday we got an offer for a donated computer. I'd earlier had a talk with the assistant director and we discussed no longer taking donation computers... because technically, well, they're old computers that people don't want any more. We've got snowbanks of them. I haven't seen so many 486s since... well, 1994.
The lady was nice, and I was gracious, but I prickled a little when she said, "Well, what do I do with it?" It became a little suspect then that perhaps she was just trying to skirt her way out of paying the $20 to have the DPW haul it away.
Speaking of which, I hope DPW gives sister government organizations a break when hauling away old equipment. As I said, we've got snowdrifts of it. Some nice person at one point or another dropped off an IBM Aptiva (circa 1995) and the instruction manuals. I wish people would drop off their driver disks, too. It does make making the printer work a little bit easier.
I stuck an uber stick of memory in the Dell at the circ desk, hoping that it would ward off the crashes. It seems to have. I found my new favorite thing, too: upgrading memory.
There's nothing like seeing:
System memory has changed
in your BIOS splash screen.
I have a dead librarian project. I have to look up some information on a past librarian at our library. She began her career in 1921. This should be interesting.
The girl who cheesed off the cataloger came in today. She asked for the same old book. It was due in today, but had not yet been returned. Alas, the second copy of the book was not yet out of processing.
I really hope the book is returned on time.
How hard is it to turn off your cell phone in a library? Personally, if my cell went off in a library, or theatre, or any place like that, I'd be mortified. I'd not take it out and start talking loudly. And then, when the reference librarian and then the reference librarian's supervisor came out to speak to me about it, I sure wouldn't be surly about the whole thing. Is library use a right or a privilege?
I personally think it's a privilege, but I think it falls victim to the "this message board can't ban me because of my right to freedom of speech!" way of thinking. It's similar to people that think they can behave any way they want in a retail establishment. Of course not. There are rules. We might be a public building, but you can't walk barefoot into City Hall without getting thrown out. You pay taxes, sure. But there are still rules.
I need to compile a book on vague questions. Like: Do you have any books on contemporary social issues? I have to say, the reference librarian before me put it nicely... "There are a lot of issues. Any one in particular?"
I still am new enough to get the deer in the headlights syndrome. I can't answer smoothly right away. I think, "Contemporary social issues? How contemporary? Jeez, I could use a drink right about now. Where did my other sock go? Maybe all our contemporary books have been taken out."
I will only go to local history in the morning, when the sun is out. Otherwise the old building is just too dark and scary. I did find some great information about Harriet Robinson, woman's suffrage champion of Malden, and her appendage of a husband, William. I don't mean appendage in a bad way, he's just certainly not mentioned everywhere like she is. I think he was pretty successful in his own right. I do hope the lady that requested the information springs the ten smackers or whatever we're going to charge for it (we haven't decided how much my time was worth). It was certainly fascinating. I found all this neat stuff, now I want to unite someone with it. Ah, the joys of being a librarian.
It was a long day and I trounced someone for saying the Mac was buggy. Sure it is. If you had people pounding on you for twelve hours a day you'd be buggy too. I said, "They take a lot of abuse. No, ma'am, you don't understand, a lot of abuse."
Linux would be perfect for my public access terminal, but for one thing: I can't get the Opera plugins to work when I'm in my Opera only mode. It troubles me. Flash doesn't trouble me too much, but pdf really bothers me. So it's off to LinuxQuestions.org to ask the smart Linux guys what they think is wrong.
Be nice to the cataloger, for she ultimately decides when you will see your book.
Today is customarily local history day. What with the vacation going on this week and the kind of cold, nasty, overcast weather, I don't know what the turn out will be. There was a gentleman last week who promised to come back this week. Nice guy, young, looking for a history on his house for whatever reason. Honestly, there's not much we can help him with there. I was hoping for a good ghost story or something out of it, but his house is like the many others here, and not documented.
I am figuring I won't be in local history alone, or I'll not be there at all and just be in reference.
I found a good way to at least semi lockdown Opera... I can get into menu_standard.ini and do some alterations there, and at least remove entirely the temptation if not the ability to make changes. Not the easiest thing to find, and I spent a little too long last night playing with it.
To save time today, I saved the preliminary experimental ini file I made last night to disk to use at work today when setting up the internet terminal. I'd like to have that baby fired up today or tomorrow.
It's a nice even keel on school vacation week. There isn't the influx of kids that we get on school days at 2:30. There's kind of a nice regular steady stream of them. A couple come in here and there looking for trouble, but seeing little, they leave.
I have noticed more people coming in here and there asking, "Do you have books?" Um. What do you say to that? I mean, what do say to that and not get slapped?
I got to tell a guy that today. He didn't want to wait. I do hope he realized we had more than one book. He rushed out before I could tell him.
A gentleman got a little testy out our policy that you need a library card to use "a stupid word processor." Believe me, spend eight hours installing and configuring Linux on a machine that's been virusized -- that can no longer take a current Windows operating system -- calling any piece of machinery stupid with me is not going to fly. The library has no money for hardware, and had to fight for their systems person. We have to watch who uses it and how.
Not that this guy looked like he was going to break anything. But when they get defensive over a library card, it's a little scary.
Linux is beautiful. Sort of. I spent most of the day trying to get a browser to run by itself at login and look decent on the screen. I gave up on the Mozilla kiosk, which for some reason wouldn't let me use the keyboard to input anything. So we've resorted to Opera with my tweaking so that certain preferences can't be changed and bookmarks can't be saved. Now if I can figure out why it's not auto-logging in, we'll be golden.
Konqueror, KDE's kind of silly Fisher Price looking browser, looked even sillier without a desktop around it. So I opted for Opera.
Time to play with some source code! Well, just with the toolbars. I sort of know what I'm doing, honest.
I spent a lot of time in the closed stacks today. I think I was feverish, and it was cooool in there. It was also dark and quiet. I discovered up in the 940s the floor looks a little weak, and I was hesistant to step in certain areas. The whole place is rather dizzying anyway.
Now, there's some cold medicine with my name on it.
Oh, how I hope I have a good long stretch before I am on reference tomorrow, for two reasons.
I am battling a cold that is quite nasty. I've been sick (low grade) for about a week, and it bloomed beautifully on Saturday. Normally I would not want to go to work to make all my co-workers sick, but we were so short staffed, and I am still probationary and can't take sick time. I've had yesterday and today to recuperate, and I guess I do feel a little better, but limited time in public with my runny runny nose would be a good thing.
I found that Mozilla can run in kiosk mode. This is truly a thing of beauty, if I can manage to set it up correctly in Linux. If this works, I'll zorch the hard drive on the public internet unfiltered terminal and have two running Linux. If this works, I'll set up Mozilla in kiosk mode on all the iMacs that run OS X.
As you may well know, Opera is my browser poison of choice and I'd gladly use their kiosk mode (since they have excellent instructions that assume no knowledge of Linux and are quite good for someone with spotty knowledge like mine) if I didn't have to pay for it. I wouldn't mind paying for Opera, except that the budget's been near depleted. Free is good.
Thing is, to download and set up a kiosk will take several hours, since I don't know exactly what I'm doing. So I'm hoping I get my traditional 2-5 reference slot tomorrow.
I ordered new mice from City Hall. We need them desperately now, as one of our public access mice died on the floor the other day. I tried cleaning it to no avail. I happened to have a spare at my desk which I threw out on the floor. The spare was a donation from the staff. This is now the second cheap-o mouse we went through in less than three weeks.
Some people have no sense of personal space. At first I thought maybe it was a cultural thing, but it seems to transcend all cultures, races, classes, you name it. Sometimes people inflict their "lack of personal space sense" on me, but mostly I see them doing it to each other. It actually bothers me more when they do it to each other, for some reason. I want to yell, "Spread out!"
I am the librarian. I am not babe.
Some little puke... I mean, nice young man... pulled the fire alarm yesterday... halfway. So the fire alarm went off, but the fire department wasn't called. Me, on the information desk, not knowing what to do, got up and yelled, "Everyone, fire alarm, you have to get out." Then my supervisor came over and said, "No, actually, they don't." So I had to make the announcement, "Everyone, false alarm, sit back down." Hey, I guess the firemen get very upset if the building's not evacuated by the time they arrive (and they're next door, so that doesn't leave me much time). And I sure as heck didn't want to be responsible for someone being burned to a crisp.
People get very upset over seeming little things. Okay, getting an overdue notice for a book you returned three weeks ago is disconcerting, and I could see that lady getting upset (we did find her book and she went home happy). Getting upset and calling us unprofessional because we can't change your twenty is a bit much. We're a library, not a bank. The bank's three doors down (literally).
Come to think of it, would any stores change your twenty if you weren't purchasing something there?
Grandma will come to the library and photocopy pages out of Contemporary Black Biographies (nice series) for you, but boy, are you in trouble when she gets home. This is, honest to pete, the last time grandma comes to the library without you!
Some little boys will only get library cards if they can take out Captain Underpants.
Two ethernet cards later, I got Linux networked on to our LAN. This means little with our LAN set up, except that we do now have internet access with Linux. Now I have to configure everything so that it's pretty seamless for the public to use. Number one, no one gets to tool around in the terminal. I mean, some yutz is going to press F2 or F12 or whatever it is in SuSE that opens the terminal eventually and then we'll have to deal with staff and patron having a conniption. But I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I think I could in theory block off the console on the desktop, but I don't know if it would block off the function keys as well. Any ideas? Also, if any one knows any scripts that will reset the desktop in KDE for Linux on reboot, that would just make my day.
The banner ad that pops up in Opera (okay, yes, I haven't paid for Opera) when I visit this page is one for "Reference Desk Software". Our reference desk software: a Chinese word processor, Norton, Word, various and sundry Delltouch programmable key applications (what they do is beyond me), IE, Horizon (and the obligatory Sybase and Java applications that run with it). So what's cluttering the desktop? About twelve million documents. I am guilty of this too. I have a picture of Chris Farley (ahem) that I had to save there and print for a young lady (this young lady paid a whole fifty cents for pictures of Chris Farley and Martha Stewart -- not together). I was mildly curious as to what she was going to do with them.
More and more, I am liking the idea of putting the Linux box out as the unfiltered terminal. More and more, I am liking the idea of filtering the terminal, spinning it around, and making it a special, if-you-have-your-card-only access terminal. People like that terminal because they get privacy (I have to admit, it does bug me when people wander around the internet area looking at other people's screens) and because they can get naughty pictures. There's really not much our filter blocks. Further study is of course needed. But I suppose setting a home directory up read only and setting Opera or Mozilla up execute/read only would solve my problems.
I still might flip the terminal around so that patrons can't look at anything too unsavory. Just to make it easier to monitor that nothing too terribly inappropriate is going on.
People also like that terminal because it is card only, so there are less likely to be arguments over who signed up for it. Card=good.
Oh my god, when did I get old?
It's school vacation week. And it's Valentine's Day. I am wondering how busy it's going to be today and the coming week. I am on the info desk (yes, I am info beyoch) from the late morning to mid-afternoon. It's actually not so bad, when you break it down. I thought I would mind being on the desk, but so long as it's steady but not too busy, it's really not bad. Not many patrons asking questions, and things drag. Too many patrons asking questions, and things get out of hand.
Coupled with this, though, is my cold from hell. I have had it for a week now. My head's a bit foggy and my nose is running. Had I the sick time, and if we weren't half staff, it would be a sick day, I think, just out of respect to my coworkers' health.
Most of our librarians are officially using OpenOffice.org instead of MS Office. There are a few people whose machines I have yet to install it on. The assistant director is pleased with its functionality. It's a good program. I use it at home myself.
If I can get a LAN card working in the machine I installed Linux on (heh heh, I pulled some memory out of the fried chip machine under my desk and now Linux just flies) the assistant director wants me to put it out on the floor as a PAC and see what people think.
The machine with the fried chip under my desk is now a mere shell of its former self. Literally. I destroyed it. I took out the hard drive, the CD ROM drive (which required breaking the face plate off the case... nice one, IBM), the memory, the LAN card, the video card (never know when the onboard on another machine is going to poop out) and the A drive out. Interesting note: our IBM machines use Fujitsu hard drives. Perhaps that's just as well. I've heard evil things about IBM hard drives.
I would have taken the power supply too, but it's only 150 watts. I'm not quite sure how it powered the whole shebang, honestly.
So I suppose I didn't destroy the machine. It's functionality is just moving on to a different plane. Believe me, we'll use all that stuff.
Helpmetype lady came into the library yesterday, asking me to proofread. I told her I wouldn't. She at least is starting to learn how to type, though she seems to get quite frightened when the screen saver kicks in. She says, "Where did my letter go?" Helpmetype is nice enough, and is willing to wait for me to help other people first (I hate to say it, but helping people word process is not a priority, unless it's a question like, "The computer caught fire, what do I do?"). There's just too much other stuff going on.
I'm much more tolerant of hand holding when it's not busy. And when people haven't signed something saying that they know how to use the equipment when they really don't.
The Mac I'm putting OS X on has a big sign on it that says, "Temporarily out of order." I hate that sign, for one thing. For several reasons. One, I hate that it's out of order when I'm really doing an upgrade. Not the sign's fault per se, I just hate that the machine is out of commission. Two, I hate that sign because people still think that means they can turn the machine on and use it.
The beauty of OS X is the beauty of Linux and Unix. No user name, no password, you don't go anywhere. It's interesting to see people try to guess at the user name and password.
I helped some really lovely young ladies get books on helper dogs. I loved these kids. They were well behaved, they listened when I explained to them about the catalog -- they were just nice kids. I'd like to hug their parents.
As sort of an extra cirricular activity, I put Linux on a box that Windows wouldn't install on (for whatever reason). It was the minimum that could run SuSE 9 with X Windows.
Despite zorching Windows off the hard drive, it still couldn't quite handle the whole SuSE package... Well, not true, it could handle it, it just is painful to behold. Slow as molasses and disk space is nearly nil. Perhaps I'll try something other than KDE to get around in on it. KDE runs slow on my P4 512 MB system.
The idea of using the library box for parts is becoming more appealing. It's got a zip drive and CDROM, and memory is always good. If anything will take it.
I helped some really rambunctious young people find some information on Harriet Ann Jacobs for Black History Month. I actually "shushed" them -- another one for the baby book, my first "shush". I was mortified.
I noticed that after I was off reference, they left out some books on Harriet Tubman, as well. They were just hitting all the Harriets I guess.
I am pleased to note that Melrose Public Library that interviewed but didn't hire me (that's okay, really, because I like where I am... It's just fun to hold a grudge) has had their accreditation retained. Their budget wasn't enough to keep accreditation, so they applied for a waiver that the MBLC granted. I'm glad. It's a nice library, really. If you're feeling charitable, buy them a book on their Amazon Wishlist.
Things are tough all over.
I am learning to like ordering books. I still feel guilty spending money. It's the cheapo in me. I found a series from Gale -- biographies of scientists -- which would be wonderful based on the assignments our kids get, but it's $2000. Seeing as we just spent about that on another series, I'd feel remiss in asking for it right away.
So it's the Concise Dictionary of Biography section for me...
I finally said to one of the kids that congregates around the computer area... "It's a library, it's a building full of books. Read."
He laughed. I think he realized the truth in what I was saying. He's not a bad kid, he's not necessarily a troublemaker. He just clogs up the reference area by standing over his friend's shoulder, looking at god knows what on the internet. Honestly, if he were sitting and pretending to look at a book while occasionally glancing at his buddy's screen, I wouldn't mind too much. But when you have like eight kids standing around a screen it makes it hard to pass.
I also pulled down a donation computer to see what it could do. It's actually a pretty good computer. I'd like to either a) get the LAN card working and give it to the children's room staff or b) set it up as a word processor terminal, because even a halfway usable donation beats what we've got. It still ain't great. I'd really like to set up a word processor in the young adult room, so that the kids can do their homework some place a little more age appropriate and comfortable for them, but there's that problem of room. And of finding another printer.
I don't know how long this computer will actually last... It is older, and the fans are pretty feeble on it, so I'm thinking it's probably going to just burn out eventually. But even a few months is buying us more time.
Yesterday I got a request for "a book." No more information. Could you narrow that down a little? We have a few of those.
I've never seen a teenager get so excited that we had a copy of The Fountainhead.
Most of today will be spent in Local History and reference. I miss my desk sometimes. I probably wouldn't if there weren't so much to do at it.
One of these days, if I ever find time (maybe today's the day) I'm going to check out The Professor and the Madman... by Simon Winchester. It was recommended by Simmons' beloved Allen Smith (hi Allen!) and I meant to read it, but life has this tendency to get in the way.
I got the following error message the other day:
Continuing to use Windows may cause your system to become unstable.
Either someone at Microsoft has an evil sense of humor, or they really need to proofread their error messages.
At any rate, I read it and thought, "No duh." Windows never installed on that machine by the way. A good Linux candidate.
I never made it to the basement with the ghost last night. I ended up getting tied up in Mac land. It was a seemingly simple task... Made difficult by having to chase people off the computers I was working on.
Today I am internet cop-I mean reference librarian today from 2-5. I like reference, when I'm doing reference work. I don't like being internet cop. I don't like telling people to be courteous when they should know. Yesterday one of the librarians said, "Ah, it's two o'clock, they descend on reference like flies to bad meat."
Believe me, they're not all looking for reference books.
Today I am ordering OS X Panther, before the budget is frozen for the rest of the year. That scares me. I am going to run up with my wish list real quick like. I am only ordering two copies, to see how well it networks and works in the adult section.
Okay, one of the custodians is really ticking me off. Sometimes he has good suggestions, and sometimes he should really just let me do my job. I understand he wanted to get out of there last night, but when I didn't make the "We're closing" announcement at 8:45 (I made it at 8:48, he told the circ staff loudly) I got a little ripped. I wanted to get out of there too, but I sort of had an administrative task on my desk that needed just three minutes of my undivided attention.
He also questions whenever someone is at the print station. Some poor guy had twelve documents to print, so he took a seat to print them. No problem. And the custodian in question comes over and starts saying, "Is he supposed to be there? That's not a terminal." Um, yeah, I know. There is nothing anyone can get to that they shouldn't on that computer. He's got to relax. Pick his battles. You can usually tell who the trouble makers are (they come in groups of two or more.)
In his favor, he is good about moving people along. I just wish he didn't come tell me about it every time he does.
Someday I want to say to someone: Respect my authority control! Just to say I did.
I would like to get some inventorying done tonight. Most of the computers are in the basement, where the ghost lives. He also lives in the closed stacks. I have yet to see this ghost, but there are people who swear he's there. I don't know who he was, supposedly. It's a great creepy old building for a ghost though. If I were a ghost, I'd want to haunt there.
The closed stacks are scary in and of themselves. They've got Alien flooring. It's sort of this translucent glass, so you can see the lights glowing up from the floor below. It's actually quite dizzying.
So whether there is a ghost or not, the old building is scary, or at least, intimidating, at night. Heck, sometimes it's scary during the day.
Still trying to work an angle to see if I can't get at least some sort of timed access software in before next fiscal year (although by the time I work out the costs, next fiscal year will be here. It is the middle of February already, after all.) I'd like to apply for some technology grants, and I'd like a number that's at least somewhat accurate of how many people use our internet daily. It's impossible on a sign up sheet. You should see our sign up sheet. Holy moses.
The City IT Guy wrote to me yesterday. I don't know what's lamer... that he was writing on a Sunday or I was checking email on a Sunday. He wants a wish list from me. I want all new computers. I so know that's not coming. I think he meant as far as keyboards and mice, and perhaps monitors go. I suppose it can't hurt to ask though, eh?
It's become clear that if we set up for wireless, it's going to be necessary to update our PCs building wide. Most employees can stay wired. But it would be nice to perhaps spread some PCs out (with timed access software to keep fights to a minimum of course) upstairs. It would cause less stagnation down in reference, where we're trying to get to the reference books.
I'm not even pondering wireless for use of laptops. It might bring more people to the library, but so would a coffee shop a la Barnes and Noble. But it sure would make configuring internet terminals in a building not really well designed for computers much, much easier.
The good news is, the printer station is in fact compatible with Macs, despite what the gentleman at the copier place said. The bad news: it's going to confuse the bejeebies out of our patrons. I mean, I'm a little confused, because my Mac knowledge is limited, and for some reason the print spooler prints to the monitor, not the printer. Go figure.
What the patrons will have to do is choose the printer in the Chooser. That scares me. There must be a way I can make an alias to the printer to find my way around that. I don't want people fooling around in the chooser, thank you very much. I think an upgrade to Panther may help this. If I recall correctly, the chooser is gone in OS X, and there's a printer only type tool. Not a "do you want to connect to the server here?" tool. The last thing I want is anyone connecting to (or disconnecting) the server, with the exception of staff. Some staff.
The assistant director wouldn't have it any other way. I can't blame him. Actually, I really appreciate that.
The bad news part deux: I'm not sure the staff is going to like hooking the Macs up much to the printer. It's not complicated once you know, but it is a pain the butt.
I have also been approached with the idea of turning some of our catalogs into ten minute email stations. I am thinking on it. It's not like people use the email station for email. It's not like our catalogs are all always being used. Sure, some people do use the email terminals for email. But most of them use it as a way to surf the net. If I could find a way to limit it, man, that would make my day. Short of making it hotmail only or Yahoo! only, though, it's difficult. Then, I could make one hotmail only, the other Yahoo! only and get on with my life.
The fact of the matter is, I often feel like we're running an internet cafe without the coffee and the charge. In a way that's as it should be, and in a way it bothers me.
Things I never thought I'd say (some redundancies here, some new. Skim as you see fit):
Honestly, I never thought I'd want to work in a library with a filter. The first library job I applied for had no filters, and I thought that was way cool. Now I'm wondering how they manage to keep complaints to a minimum and their computers running smoothly. Granted, our unfiltered terminal is a lousy P1 running Win98. It runs smoothly when it's off.
Now I want to throw a filter up on that baby. It's going to tick a lot of people off. But we don't put Hustler on the shelves for a reason, and I really think the computer should fly the same way.
I never, ever, ever thought I would hear myself say that.
Same thing with limiting time on the internet. It really ticks me off to see that Patron X has signed in eight times in course of eight hours for the internet. What do they do while they're waiting when we finally kick them off to give someone else a turn? They sit there in front of the reference desk and stare into space. For the love of crackers, people, this is a building full of books.
My husband Paul pointed out to me last night that what used to be about access for me has become about limiting access. Yes and no. Limiting access to a resource is opening it up to people who might not normally get to use it. It's no different than our policy to not renew books that have a waiting list. Enough harping, because I know I've harped on this before.
Today is my day off, but Paul is off table top war gaming (is this a geek house or what... he's off pushing fantasy army men across a board in a hobby store, and I'm a librarian at my computer using Linux) so I am going to be bored in about a half an hour. I figure when that time comes, I'm going to look for technology grants. I would like to bring some new computers into the library, honestly. Maybe be able to throw out that P1 chip box.
I've started taking inventory of all the dead boxes in the basement. I've removed memory from some, tried to get the CD ROM drives out of some others, but the way they're attached is making that a might bit difficult on some. Some are so old if I'm lucky they're quad speed. Basically my rule of thumb is: if it takes a serial mouse, it gets thrown out. We have no replacement serial mice. Is it really worth finding and buying an adapter? If I go into RadioShack or CompUSA looking for one, are they going to laugh when I leave?
That means most of the stuff in the basement goes. It's all 486s and dot matrix printers that were donations, hence, probably didn't work in the first place. Perhaps I'll spend some time down there and pull one of those quad speed CD ROMs. Just to say I did.
The city now has an IT guy! He's going to help if we decide to go wireless. Not if, it's a matter of when. But right now, there are bigger fish to fry.
Library Rule #1:Never try to pull a fast one on the librarian who's been sitting at the desk for the last three hours. She's seen more than you think.
Library Rule #2: (Actually, this is more of an anywhere type of rule) If you're applying for a job, it doesn't win you points to say "I'm too lazy to attach my resume" to someone who is potentially going to be your boss. If you do it at the library while applying for the job of "librarian", that just makes the librarians laugh.
Library Rule #3:What is in the catalog doesn't depend on which librarian you ask.
These three rules were broken today. Poor, poor misled public.
At three o'clock, a couple of kids who probably shouldn't use the downstairs internet signed up to use it at four thirty. Fine. I didn't expect it would be real busy with the sleet we were having outside. I sat at reference from two to four thirty, when I was called away to cover info. As I came to info, the kids in question came into the reference area. Because they were physically wee tykes, the two young men monopolizing internet terminal eight ignored them when they said it was their turn.
I know these two young men, and their friends. One signs in, and the others gather round and stare at pictures of the first's girlfriend or sneakers or god knows what else online. Then, about twenty minutes later, they switch seats. Why?
So when the librarian asks, "How long have you been here?" they can say, "Ten minutes."
It didn't fly today. I knew that kid put his name on the sheet, and I knew he didn't erase the older guy's name. I knew they were taking advantage of the wee pup. So I kicked their butts off the computer.
Because it was so dead today I was letting them hang out together at the computer. I also allowed this because the freakin custodian wasn't around to make snide comments about the way I run the reference section. Yes, I understand in your day the library was silent. Today, however, it isn't. For the love of Pete, become a librarian if you want to change the library.
(I don't want to sound like a snob, really, but it gets old when he tells me, for the fifth time in a half hour, that he doesn't think a certain person should still be on the computer... Yes, complaint noted. Now go do something else.)
At info, somebody actually applied for a job and told me that they were too lazy to finish typing their resume. One thing I really like about this job, is that laziness doesn't fly here. People are always doing something. Even if you're at reference and there are no fist fights over the computers or reference questions, you're picking out books or cataloging or doing something. The woman in question applied for the job of "librarian." I was just imagining the look on my supervisor's face when I showed her that one. She is very very adamant, as they are at my library, about the distinction between librarian, administration, and support staff.
I told the person in question not to get their hopes up, but I'd pass it along. Of course, I totally forgot to pass it along. At least I honestly forgot... It wasn't that I was too lazy or anything. I've been a little preoccupied with ordering books.
A patron came in looking for a specific book. She asked the cataloger, who was manning info. I guess she didn't like the answer that the cataloger gave, because she came and asked me. Well, I am happy to report, that in the fifty feet between information and reference, the book in question wasn't returned, nor was it out of processing. So she got the same answer from me. Then she acted like we were incompetent.
I had told her she was two weeks too early... that was about the time it would be out on the floor. The cataloger said she'd put it on reserve and rush it through cataloging, and she could have it in a week. Of course, that won't do when you're assignment's due Monday.
My reference books have started to arrive!
Well, no, the assistant director shrugged when I gave him my atlas order. And he filled it. The citizens of Malden will now rest assured that the Soviet Union and East and West Germany no longer exist. I'm not touching the Middle East or Africa with a stick. My geography isn't that good, and it changes daily anyway.
I scared the hell out of a patron. She brought me a call number and said, "Do you have this book?" And I said, without batting an eye, "Someone checked it out last night." I know because I looked all over creation for it. It wasn't readily apparent on the shelf (that is, I didn't write down the title and the call number was partially obscured, blush) so I went into the dark and scary closed stacks, where I still didn't find it, and then it turned it up right where it should have been the first time.
It's Black History month. Try to find a book dealing with a prominent (or in the case of my remembered call number, not so prominent) African-American this month @ our library. It's near impossible.
The thing that is bugging me is parents are coming in for their kids, and finding books that are less than age appropriate for their kids. I know this is not a new phenomenon. But this being my first outing in a library, public or otherwise, it still bugs me.
I did get to give mom and son a little tutorial about how risky the web can be for information. That made my day. I felt all official then.
I gave up my proofreading job three years ago. There was a lady that wanted me to proofread today. Right. She also wanted me to show her how to use a mouse, open a file, and how to get capital letters to appear on the computer screen. This was after she assured our paraprofessionals at the circ desk that she could use a word processor.
I guess, since this is the second day in a row it has happened, I have to draw my line in the sand. I'll help with little questions, like, I pressed this button and my formatting disappeared, how do I get it back? But when they start asking how to type, they probably shouldn't be on the computer. I have stuff I have to do. It doesn't involve proofreading your letters, lady.
There was another patron who had the decency to call and ask if we'd type papers. I told her no. At least she asked, and didn't demand. And she didn't show up expecting us to do it.
Tomorrow's supposed to be bad weather. I wonder how busy it will be. I work the information desk early, and the reference desk late. I am reference beyoch lately.
I am becoming one with server.
I got OS 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 working with our Windows 2003 server. I wonder if our print software really does work with it. I have my doubts.
Next fiscal year we're planning on the time access software. It's a little too pricey to give a go now, unfortunately. Or maybe that is fortunate. It'll give us some time to get patrons accustomed to the idea.
My next plan is to get one of the old computers working, and make two more filtered internet terminals. I might just have to format c: (boy have I been doing that a lot lately) on the existing one (it's so old it has a serial mouse) just to get all the porn and crap that might possibly be on it off. Honestly, I'm sure there are viruses on there that our no longer supported virus software can't possibly catch.
I won't make my OS X mistake again though... I'll make sure our version of Fortres is compatible with 98 before I touch it.
I will also turn the terminal around, so that the screen is visible from inside the library. And it will be monitored for dirty things, which do in fact slip through our filter.
Less work specific: Yesterday a lady came in and stated, "You guys get new technology all the time, do you have any older computers you're selling?" I didn't laugh too much. But I smiled and thought, "Yeah, that's why half our computers are running Windows 98." I told her money was tight.
Bill and Melinda Gates money, over here, over here!
We do need internet education. I mean, we have internet education classes @our library (sorry, couldn't resist). People love them, and there is a waiting list. People still come in every day and need help locating the address bar in a browser. The assistant director, I feel, is right... You can only help so much. I'm not there to teach basic computer skills, I'm there to teach information skills. That being, if someone needs help with Google, fine. Or better yet, InfoTrac. But if someone can't close a window, well...
The same lady that told me we get new technology all the time needed help typing quotation marks. I didn't go to library school to be a typing teacher. Is it unreasonable to require some sort of familiarity with the technology (granted, typing isn't really the technology here)? You're not going to break a book by not knowing how to read the words. You can however mess up a computer.
How do you police that though? And how do you say no? I think it's in the nature of the librarian to be helpful when it comes to someone trying to learn something.