shoe's blog

I know I griped about this before

But why is it that people think libraries get everything for free, just because we loan out books for free? (Well, I mean, I guess everyone except those people that like to remind you their taxes pay your salary... and oddly enough, most of them live out of town and we see nothing of their taxes). My librarian gripe for the day.

I wish it was just the kids that say, "We have to pay for printing?", but it isn't. I'd say it's split about fifty fifty. The silly thing is, we don't even get the photocopier/printer money. It's a service we have a third party maintain. Honestly, I like it that way. I sure as hell don't want to have to troubleshoot yet another printer, thank you.

Today is a late day for me. I hope it's a bit calmer than yesterday. Because of the holiday Monday, every one was out. It was a beautiful day, too. Hell, if I were a patron I would have dumped my books in the book drop and gone to the beach or something. But instead most chose to come inside and ask questions like, "Do you have any movies that feature hallotosis?"

One person called and asked if we were open. No, I just live here. Actually, interestingly enough, I did have a little kid ask if we had any beds at the library. I told her if we did, we'd never get the librarians to wake up and come to work. She looked at me like I had two heads.

I made the custodian haul away the two chairs at the out of commission internet terminals. After much grumbling, they went away. I figure that's two less chairs that people are going to be pulling up to the remaining three computers.

So our Gatekeeper software is getting a lot of use now. Certain people have no problems with it, and others have real problems with it. One lady, a regular, tried to take someone else's appointment (that person left before her reservation came due and the regular couldn't wait the three minutes till the reservation cleared itself to log on). I heard her muttering some unsavory things at the computer. Three minutes. Sheesh. Believe me, your Hotmail will be there three minutes from now.

This was the same lady who used to occasionally start real nice fights over the sign up sheet. Library Fact of Life #3: Some people will never be satisfied.

My supervisor laughed and wanted to know exactly what happened Friday that it damn near sent me over the edge. She also was gracious and said that it happens, and I shouldn't have to take it. It's such a nice change from retail, when no one supported you. I have to say, policy is law at the library except in extreme circumstances, and I'm talking extreme circumstances.

We have a cataloger who is fluent in Chinese. I think this is great. Sometimes I feel bad for her, though, because I feel like a lot gets dumped on her (by necessity, not just dumped on her because people are lazy). We have so many people in the library whose English skills are just not that great, so she gets called up to talk to them, usually to tell them things like, "There was part of a kit missing, you need to replace the kit." I know I try to handle those cases, but whereas I can sometimes fake Creole/French, I have a hard time faking Chinese. I do have to say though, the public certainly appreciates her. At least, I hope they do. Most seem to. I imagine it's a relief to get someone who speaks your language on the phone explaining you accidently returned the wrong video.

treading water

Today was a treading water day, unfortunately. I didn't really get anything done, but I did keep my head above. I have a very pushy vendor from a company that shall remain nameless who keeps calling to ask if I want their publications. We get some of their publications. I don't want the rest. But she won't take no for an answer. Two can play at that game. I keep putting her off.

They are publications that aren't really suitable for a public library, but she insists they are. She insists to me, to my supervisor, to the director. Talk about pressure -- I was trying to figure out whether I mistyped the proxy server IP address or whether SurfControl had pooped out on the server miles away. I didn't really care about making an appointment to meet with a rep that "had a very busy schedule." Guess what, he's not the only one.

Turns out, SurfControl somehow either got stopped or pooped out on the server and no one noticed till I came on looking to see if Google Images were blocked.

Turns out, when the filter is off, Google Images are gross. Turns out, when the filter in on, Google Images can still be pretty gross, depending on how colorful you are with your search terms.

I am back to my original thought that those boys were up to no good.

school vacation week

It's school vacation week this week, and perhaps that's why the kids were all so hopped up on Friday, although they're a little old to get that jovial over something like that at the library. I don't know, I guess when I was a kid it didn't dawn on me that the library was a place where I could go cause trouble.

The other day a gentleman came in that was having computer problems. From the sounds of it, he needed to do something that seemed closely akin to flashing the BIOS on his computer. At any rate, he wanted to use the library computer to download the executable files in question and save them on to disk. That's the two things we don't allow on the internet computers... the downloading of executables (we generally let documents blip past the radar) and the use of floppy disks.

My standard line with floppy disks is that I don't want any viruses that might be on our computers getting on your computer, but honestly, it works both ways there.

The bigger issue is that we've never really been able to keep a floppy disk drive functioning for an extended period of time. They're cheap, yes, and they're made cheap too. I have a lot that I've salvaged out of machines that died other horrible deaths, but I'd rather not be taking machines out of commission every two weeks because I need to screw in another floppy. Think that's bad? Some of our staff computers have no floppies at all. Or CD drives. It's a pain in the behind to get an operating system on those boxes, I'll tell you.

Floppies seem to be the weakest link in computers, except for in the ubercomputer. The weakest link in the ubercomputer, which I am working on now, was the slave Maxtor 120 gig hard drive. Two days after install it went to hard drive heaven. That's another story.

People have come in wanting to burn CDs. Logically, I know this is where it's all going eventually (floppies suck anyway... one out of ten people comes in to find their floppy is defective or has a bad sector which contains the last file they need). I of course have no problem with data files being burned on to CD -- or, for that matter, anything legally obtained. But you see where I'm going with this with "legally obtained."

Also, burning software is so radically different from vendor to vendor. I personally like Nero for Windows, and I am quite fond of K3B for Linux. Given my choice between the two, I'd opt for K3B. I have also used Roxio. If you asked me to explain how to use any of those, though, I'd be hard pressed to do it without sitting down and burning the disk myself. I spend enough time explaining things I shouldn't really have to to people... Things like how you get capital letters on a keyboard. To a point, I don't mind explaining. That's part of the job. However, it does state in our internet policy that you should have at least a basic understanding of how to use a computer.

Still, I've never been able to kick off the ninety year old ladies that pick up the mouse and aim it at the computer like it's a remote (or a ray gun). I just don't have the heart.

Info and Reference... Systems Librarian Personality Test

Tuesday morning I know I will be on information. I don't know why, but I much prefer reference to information. I feel safer behind that desk. I feel like I answer more important questions behind that desk... questions other than, "Where is the bathroom?" and "Do you have a photocopier?" Granted, I get a lot of important questions on information too, but there's less, um, mundane questions on reference.

Reference's downside is it comes with internet monitoring, which, yea verily, has vastly improved with the timed access software. Vastly. Worlds of difference, actually. There have been no fights. When I had to shut the kids down on Friday, they took it without a peep. It's a little scary, actually. Had I physically gone over and shut off this one kid's machine I honestly think I would have gotten hurt, or at least verbally mauled. Doing it remotely, though... it's almost like the patron thinks that the computer has made some sort of judgement call on their behavior, not the librarian. And we all know computers never make mistakes. Bwahahahahaha! God, I crack myself up.

So Tuesday is my day, after info, to take down the two 98 boxes and somehow make the chairs that were in the area disappear. I want no encouragement to pull up an extra chair around the computers. It's bad enough that we have a table in reference and all the chairs are facing away from the table towards the computer screens.

Speaking of computer screens, I am thinking of getting privacy screens. I hope it can make some patrons feel a little more secure. It irks me to no end to see the person at Terminal 8 staring at what the person on 9 is doing.

It just occurred to me that I don't remember the password for the iMac at my desk running OS X. The poor thing got pushed aside when I was installing network software and then in the ensuing telecom rumble. Shoot. Unless I put a good hint in the system (an option I think I bypassed, figuring hints were for sissies) I am going to be doing some backdooring, methinks. I so need a book on OS X. Yes, our library has some. Yay. Last I checked (which granted, wasn't terribly recently) they were all checked out. Boo. If they're like our other computer books, they may or may not actually be returned. Then again, Mac people are a little different than PC people.

I get lots of Mac questions (on reference. Hardly ever on information). Most are basic, and I can answer them. They're questions like, "Where the hell is the A drive?" and "Where the hell is Internet Explorer?" ("Yes, there is more than one browser out there. Yes, there are better browsers out there," I say.) I would not classify myself as a Mac person, though I think I am becoming one. I would like to own a Mac, in the same way I like to run Linux.

Unfortunately, I need Windows. I mean I don't need Windows, but I don't want to wait for the Sims 2 to come out in a Mac version. Waiting for Windows is bad enough. That, and Sim City 4, is the only reason I really run Windows at home.

I don't classify myself as a Windows person. I like Linux. I am not a Linux guru, not even if you squint and cross your eyes and drink a lot of beer to try to see me as such. I can get around though. And I like what I see.

I could be an OS X person easily. It's the ease of Windows with the tinkering-ability of Linux. It's a beautiful thing.

Perhaps this should be the framework for a systems librarian personality test... I'm a reference/PC Linux/Mac OS X. What are you?

filtered internet is not like filtered water

Nobody objects to filtered water. It's cool, it's clean, it's got no dirty little microbes floating around in it. Filtered internet is clean, and has very few dirty little microbes (hey, no filter is 100%) but that's about where the similarities stop.

Last night I was thinking, spurned on by the shenanigans of the herd of boys staring at something fascinating and always minimized on Google Images. I couldn't quite get a look at it (nor was I sure I wanted to) but I'm fairly sure it was something, er, they weren't supposed to be looking at. That is, it wasn't pictures of shoes or Nelly, their other favorite viewing materials.

So here's my question, LISNewsterz, any one know if SurfControl blocks based on text found in img tags and in links? Such as will a Google Images page that has the links "www.nastyporn.com" and the image "porn.jpg" get blocked? I am being a bad, lazy librarian and not doing a search before asking you... I honestly just haven't had the time or inclination with the Horizon problems to look on about how SurfControl physically works. Their site is a glossy marketing brochure anyway. Time to break out Google (since I have no access to any of the software myself, sigh).

I am going to test my theory that it doesn't block Google Images on Tuesday (Patriot's Day, long weekend for me!)

Of course, I don't want to block all of Google Images, because it's a great search tool. So I guess I'll have to block searches that should consistently come up with some nasty results.

Of course, you're a real stinkin' loser if you're looking up porn on Google Images. Holy crud. Buy a stinkin' magazine.

I hate limiting like this, but there are too many little kids coming through reference that can see this crap. Our library has no real walls separating YA, for instance, from the rest of the library. Makes for some noise and some insecurity. I don't think a fifteen year old would go running home to mama saying he/she saw porn on a library computer, but I don't exactly want that same kid thinking because he/she saw it it's an acceptable practice, you know?

I am taking the Win98 machines, too. They crash too often, and we've had an increased demand for word processing, which the better of the two 98 machines will become. The other is going to be retired (it's got a serial mouse).

I am not a waitress

I am not a taxi cab. Whistling at me and yelling, "Over here!" to get my attention impresses no one and makes you wait longer. Then you get spoken to. Then you get your internet taken away, when you continue to be, as my brother in law would say, an a**monkey.

Why, why, why do all these problems center around the damned computers? They keep me employed, and they keep me pissed off. At least, pissed off today.

These kids were totally out of hand. Once again, it comes down to I don't know where to draw the line. I guess, from now on, if I see them all congregating around a computer, I'll move them. I don't like to unless I'm the one calling the shots in reference for the given time period, but it's totally out of hand. The little creeps managed to get their hands on a bunch of one time use numbers. I don't know how. They must have borrowed or stolen some library cards.

So they were there, and they were fooling around, and they were being idiots in general. They weren't quieting down. They were looking over each others shoulders. But more than anything, they were being disrespectful. Not that being loud in a library is respect, of course, but they were even ruder than they normally are.

I told them three times to stop gathering and finally shut one of them off remotely. One kid managed to turn on and get into a Win98 machine (with the great security feature that you can just "Cancel" out of the login screen. Sheesh) and surf the internet unrestricted. I shut him down, and for good measure took the computer and ripped the LAN connection out. It'll be noticeable to have to plug it back in, and the kiddies caught doing that will be forcibly ejected.

I finally think I see I have to follow my instinct when it comes to this. My instinct is this, at this juncture: We need more control. I mean, more control. The timed access software helps, no doubt about it. But now they're getting smart and finding ways to be obnoxious even if just for a half hour. Until I can come up with a plan of attack that will work and increase access, access is going to shrink. I am taking away our Win98 machines, which are spotty at best anyway. One will be transformed into a word processor (like magic!) and the other will be retired, because it's ready to give up the ghost anyway.

That will leave three internet terminals with card access. They will run Win2K, which affords me more remote control over the machine. So when they're gathered around, I can give them the warning and then turn them off.

Ah, if I could only have two more 2K machines. Crikey.

I sent around a staff email, where I have to say I sound a little frazzled. I was. I still am.

Deep cleansing breaths.

spring cleaning

Yesterday staff development time was spent cleaning our desks. Mine for one needed it, but I discovered I was getting more things from other people's desks put on my workspace. Some things were relevant. Some things were just empty mouse boxes and CDs that run on Win3.1.

I threw out the keyboard under my desk with the "Do" button on it. Now if I put a keyboard out on the floor (aside from the fact it looked really rather nasty from sitting in the basement) with a "Do" button on it, how would patrons react?

I know how they react to the dummy move of someone to put the "power" button on the keyboard. Actually, I've never actually pressed this button, so I don't know as it works. I think they might actually press the button on the tower and then say "Oh, I accidently hit the keyboard's power button."

Other things I threw out in spring cleaning: some Spiderman CD ROMs. I had about five of them. They came from the old systems guy. Actually, I think they came from a cereal box.

I threw out one of those desktop things... you know, with the faux leather sides and the green construction paper in the middle to make you feel like you're working at a real desk. No frickin' idea when that dated to. I've only been there about four months. The paper was faded from a dark velvety green down to sort of a sick lima bean green. We don't get much sun in that area of the building. It probably was an antique.

I've found some great, although expensive, reference books. I still have trouble spending money. I am a cheap person at heart. I love to look at the new books and think how useful they would be. Then I see the price and think... Jeez, would they really be that useful?

The fact of the matter is, they would. I asked for some consultation on a few titles, and the consensus was, on all them, just order them. I need to get over this cheapskate feeling.

I also need to get my diploma framed. Shouldn't cost much. I basically need a microscope film slide. No, it's a little bigger than that, but sheesh. My husband has the glacial degrees, and mine are these peanut things. I am also bummed that it just says MS on it. I guess I'm not cool enough to officially have the MLS, or the way cool MLIS. Simmons didn't even bother to put that it was an MS from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I do approve of the font they used though.

Got a survey from Simmons as well concerning job placement. I was more than happy to fill out, since I actually have a job. I think it would have been too depressing otherwise.

we have not had tax forms since last week, dammit

It was fun today. I saw patrons I'd never seen before. "Where are your tax forms?" Mine personally are in the grubby little hands of the IRS. The library's are distributed throughout the area by people who picked them up in a timely fashion.

It's also interesting to note how many patrons filed on time, but are actually filling them out for other people. I guess they had so much fun doing their own they wanted to do a last minute library tour to do someone else's.

One guy said, "You're kidding me!" when I told him we were out. And I said, "Yeah, HA! Good one, huh!"

No, I didn't, but I sort of wanted to. What do they think, we're hoarding the damned things?

Today I saw a girl with some cajones take paper out of our print station and shove it into her word processor printer so she wouldn't have to pay. You can bet I nabbed her on that. The only thing that tipped me off was the horrible noise the print station made upon being wrenched open. I wonder if the owner of the printer would like to invest in a lock for the tray. I suppose I'd have to light a fire under him to get him to do it, but maybe if he sees it as losing money he'll have a better response time.

I told her nicely that those papers would cost $.25 each. I should have told her not to whoop it out of the print station, too, but I was still a little shocked (I am still called the naive one around there) by the whole ballsiness of the situation. I wouldn't go manhandling a library's hardware. Sheesh. Well, I mean, I do, but I work there now.

I told her to bring me the money at the reference desk. She bypassed the reference desk and went to circulation, presumably to pick up her card and leave. I ran over and nabbed her for the fifty cents.

Librarian vigilantes.

More Horizon fun! The internet was down when I came in. Then it came back, and then Horizon got sort of blinky-poo on us. We were getting some downright medieval error messages and it was freezing. We set up PC Reliance, but do you think I can configure the damn thing to upload to the server? At any rate, it saves our records, and I will figure it out before things are due in three weeks, so I guess it's all good. Anything to save the circ staff having to write things out.

Tomorrow's the Friday before a long weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice, so if I'm not feeling too lazy I'll be working in the water garden. If I am feeling lazy, I'll be checking email and planning on setting up the Internet terminal 1 somewhere I can keep an eye on it.

If I could find a way to set up the word processor so that it didn't run timed access software, and just ran the printer software... now that would be a breakthrough. I think a different workgroup would do it, honestly. But I'm not entirely sure of that.

it's the principle!

But it's the principle!

Funny, whenever someone says that, especially in the library setting, you know it's not about the principle at all, it's about not wanting to cough up the money for the overdue. In this case, the amount was less than a dollar.

I was then told that we have the most difficult library to work with and the patron might just go elsewhere next time. Maybe I should warn the next town over she's coming.

I got up close and personal with a HP Laserjet yesterday. I ripped the thing apart, convinced there was no paper jam. Once I had the memory and EIO card out (no reason to take it out, just thought I'd try everything) I spotted the elusive paper jam. Curses!

I have the prospect of wireless, at least for patrons, put before me. It's going to cost us for access though, and I really don't think, that for now, it's money wisely spent. Honestly. Because of the number of laptops I see come through, and because of the policy we have about not plugging things in to our outlets, it just doesn't seem cost effective. It's a nice whizbang thing, sure. But for the twenty people that may use it a month, is it really worth it. I'm trying to figure that out.

The way I see it, is that that's a thousand or more bucks a year we can spend on books, or software, or much needed hardware upgrades (for hardwired staff). Stuff that will probably benefit more people (or more people that really need it) than wireless really will.

I am thinking of moving our internet terminal 1 Mac down to the reference area. It might cut down on people using it without a card. People have been essentially hiding back there, using it, and I get constant not so gentle reminders from a certain city employee (who should really not care) that the Mac software should come out soon. Believe me, I wish more than anyone there was a Mac version of this stuff out quicker. Boy howdy.

I'd love to be able to move the word processor back where the Internet terminal was, but it's not hooked up to the print station. So I'm left with the big bulky printer problem. Perhaps I should experiment with that today.

I did finally get some extra memory into the iMacs in children's and YA. Now I just have the circ desk.

23-5, and other random thoughts

    My 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.

Also, a number is assumed to be positive unless it is preceded by the minus sign (-).

It's from the Visual Quickstart Guide to PHP and MySQL. All I can say is computer programming gives me math anxiety.

In other news, Microsoft has announced more security flaws. Whoops. And a nice patron asked me why we don't use XP. Mainly because I hate that whole activation thing. And the Fisher Price interface. And it's no more or less secure than any other OS Microsoft puts out. And I hate that I might want XP to do something, but XP thinks it really knows what I want so it does something else entirely. Man that irks me.

So this means at some point I have to run around making critical updates to all our machines, because god knows no one else will do it. The circ desk keeps complaining about the weekly antivirus updates... and I've told them repeatedly, let it run in the background. There's always someone that just closes out and then we never get updated. Sigh.

If I had time I'd do each machine myself, but I feel some responsibility has to fall to the user. I know Windows Updates are always ignored. (Well, hell, there's a new one every other day). I wish Horizon could run on Linux.

Damn I like Linux.

I wonder if we'd gotten any Gates machines if I would have had a choice of OSes. I would like everything to run Win2k. If you're running Windows, I personally think it's the best iteration. As stable as XP without all the annoyingness of XP.

Longhorn will probably wipe your nose for you.

floppy surgery and angel versus devil patrons

I found myself yesterday taking time off info to extract a floppy disk from a drive (boo hoo, god I hate being on info. Reference is fine, info I am still uncomfortable with, I guess).

After using various forms of tweezers, I found a pair that was stiff enough to let me pull out the little bugger of a disk.

Yesterday I also had a gem of a patron, and I'm not being sarcastic. God, what a nice lady. She came in looking for tax forms for her mother. Her mother, unfortunately, is in failing health. She was from far out of state, and because we don't offer temporary library cards, we couldn't get her on the internet to print out the appropriate form. So I told her I'd print it for her and just charge her for the paper. She was so appreciative. Then I learned she came to this library with her first child, and knew all about the history of the building. Her mom is from the area, but is so ill she was taking her out of state to live closer.

After several printer difficulties, I got the stupid forms to print. She offered me more than we were asking for the papers because I had such a hard time with the printers. I told her it was fine, I was just glad we got her the forms.

What a nice lady. Jeez. I wish we had more patrons like that.

To contrast, I had the lady who was very mad I couldn't give her her library card number over the phone with just her name and address. I told her anyone could get that out of the phone book. Then she offered her social security number. I said we didn't keep those on file (we don't-- although I know some libraries do. It's amazing how many people are willing to just give that information out to perfect strangers). Then she offered her driver's license number. She said she knew we keep that on file (which we don't. Why would we? What do I care if you have a ticket?) I explained we just used that to verify address information.

All because she didn't want to look for her library card. Sheesh.

She says, "So nobody there will tell me my card number?" (By george, I think she's got it!) I said, "No. We can't for security reasons." And then I hear *click*.

For awhile there we didn't even renew books over the phone. Now we have an automated service do it. We still don't personally do it.

Today is local history day. I don't know if I'll be over there. They like to put me in reference from 2-4 as of late. Not that I particularly mind. Local history is quiet, but I feel less comfortable over there and don't like to be there alone. Reference is more on the pulse of things, but I think that's probably better for me right now anyway.

Trial by fire maybe, but I need to get used to being more assertive with patrons. I'm too damn polite.

swearing at the help

Library Rule #12: Swearing at the systems person (or the people she supervises) will not get the server up faster.

In this case it wasn't even a server I had control over... it was the one at network headquarters. It was down for "routine maintenance" which I could have told you was probably going to take longer than the allotted hour.

A lady who comes in on a regular basis to stare at pictures of executives was particularly upset. I think she should really just print a few of the pictures out and take them home. My grandma had a wall full of pictures of Elvis and Tom Jones. Maybe she has a wall of pictures of the CEOs of Kmart and Domino's.

What happened, I finally realized (duh, stupid me) was that the proxy server that had our filter software on it went down. So everything that was filtered was down, which is basically everything but staff machines. Then the server came back up -- and we had internet again. Yay say the patrons (boo say the staff). Then, in my tinkering with a computer I'm setting up, I realized the filter wasn't working at all. Whitehouse.com. I'm there. Christina Aguilera's boobies. There they are, in all their glory (or through the glory of Photoshop). That is decidedly not good.

So I got to boot all the people off the internet. Most were graceful enough about it. I was afraid they were going to beat me, honestly. For liability reasons, no one in the library really wanted our terminals running unfiltered.

Unfortunately, some gem of a lady managed to call in the half hour window we were up. We told her we were up. We went down. Then she came and said, "I can't believe you people can't even get an f-- computer to work and I have to come out in the f-- rain and you couldn't even f-- call me." Or something to that effect.

Library Systems Rule #2: It's a server. Don't let the name fool you. It serves no man.

What systems needs is a magic eight ball anyway, that will predict when the server will be back.

A billion eighth graders came in today, to all work on the same project. We don't have as many books on the subject as there were kids.

We hooked them up as best we could, and I set one up on microfilm. Amazing how the kids of today are so excited by microfilm.

don't walk by the information desk!

Never walk by the information desk, unless you're actually assigned to work information, because you will get stuck there. It happened to me yesterday. I was trying to get some systems stuff done, and one of the circ staff saw me going into the desk to get the keys, and suddenly she was sending people over and the line was out the door. I appreciate that the info librarian was busy, and I appreciate that you need to get people service relatively quickly. But man, it's hard to get your other stuff done.

I had Mr. Anti-Mac come in yesterday, and for some reason, he signed up to use the Mac. I was checking the wall outlets, and he said, "Yup, it's a wall outlet." Damn, that man has a comment for everything.

I couldn't get the patron whose situation I snafu'ed on the phone, so I wrote a letter to be done with it. I figured the faster this is resolved the better.

A patron pointed out a problem with the (cough) iPac. I'll email the iPac person when I get in this morning.

I was a little curious as to what I'd find in the old building, as I was crawling around on the floor and looking at wires. I was expecting at least a few dessicated little mousie corpses. Nothing too odd, though. Although it is amazing how people will see you crawling around on the floor with a clipboard and notebook and ask, "Do you work here?" Ah, I guess I could be with the phone company or something. Somehow it just seems closely akin to when I worked retail, and we had wear dorky vests, and people would come up and say, "Do you work here?" Our typical reaction when they left was, "No, I just like to wear this dorky vest."

Conclusion: Nice thing about library jobs: No dorky vests.

fixing my mistakes and tying up loose ends

Fixing that little snafu I made that got another librarian a patron-tangle and taking care of some local history requests is what I do today. I also have to go about and name the computers. I have to name the computers something, um, clean, not what I'd really like to name some of them.

This means I have to find all the connections in the building... yeah, easier said than done. They aren't in logical places. We have one computer, for instance, that looks to be hooked up to the network, that's actually in the basement. Damned if I know where the actual wall jack is. Probably not in the basement. I'm probably going to play follow the wire.

I know when the guys come early from the network we're going to be followed around by the custodian. One particular custodian. I am dreading that part of it. It's going to be confusing enough. (The telecom guy has no idea what he's in for.)

Strangely not looking forward to going to work today. Think it's a product of really only feeling like I got one day off this weekend.

what the...?

Yesterday was insane. Everything I was told about in training that could go wrong did. I had a gentleman come in that returned his books but they were all marked lost. Of course, we found them on the shelves. He was, at least, nice about it.

Then I found a little snafu of my own devise... Unfortunately another librarian got involved I guess on Friday and she got an earful. I apologized profusely in an email to her. And now I have to apologize for the confusion to a patron who has a tendency to be difficult from time to time.

I will never ever help anyone with the photocopier again. The photocopier is maintained by an outside party... we have nothing to do with it, which is just fine with me. The other thing about the photocopier is that it has no guidelines on it. So you never are really sure where to put the paper. I tell people this, and then I do my best. Usually the copies come out okay. Well, this lady wanted to copy all the pages of all her books, all at once, to minimize cost. I told her it wasn't going to work that way. Selective hearing. She tried it, and of course, some pages got cut off. Then she wanted to know why she had to pay for it. It's fifteen damned cents, lady. Sheesh.

Librarian Vindication: A young man came in with his dad looking for information on a certain inventor. The little boy neglected to mention the inventor's name, even when I asked him point blank. I knew the inventor, but I wanted to make sure the kid knew. I suggested the inventor's name. Dad said that wasn't the inventor, that guy invented something very similar but not the item in question(semantics! dad must be a lawyer). Ten minutes later: the little boy says, "The inventor is X." Same guy I mentioned earlier. Dad blushes. Names withheld to protect the innocent. And not so innocent.

We're getting a new switch for the telecom room, to fix what looks to be a real bang-up patch job that was done years ago. We have a switch in the telecom room that was put there by the network, and we have two hubs running off it to cover the number of connections that can't run off the switch. To the best of my knowledge. Of course, I was so flustered yesterday I sounded like a real dork talking to the telecom manager. To the point he asked me, "Are there any cables coming out of the switch and are the lights on?" Yes, sir, I am familiar with what a functioning switch should look like.

It looks like it was never installed correctly to begin with. The telecom guy says we should be able to monitor individual computer packet activity down to the individual computer, so if a LAN card goes wacked, we should be able to pinpoint exactly where. I think he's a little hazy myself.

When it comes down to it, the cable for the switch to the print server is plugged into that switch, and that seems to be where the problem is.At least, it's blinking like there are collisions. I have my doubts whether the print network should be plugged into that switch at all. I haven't been down there to study much (perhaps that's a Monday task). The more I think about it, the more I think, perhaps, we are having a problem with the set up of print server. I'm going to have to take a looksee. I tampered little with the telecom room myself, not wanting to step on anyone's toes. Perhaps I should have done some stomping. It's just such a mess down there. Honestly, I'm a little afraid to pull anything out of the switch (or router, or hub).

Perhaps the internet will go down on Tuesday. Tuesday seems to be my day to get things done.At least, computer wise. I will play with the print server cables some.

An oldie but goodie

My boss at my last job found this (not a library job, by the way) and I thought it was hysterical. Interview with the Search Engine is an actual interview of Jeeves of Ask Jeeves fame.

I am hoping for a quiet day today (don't I always say that?) Being the Saturday before Easter and a lovely day out, I dare say it might happen.

Then again, I could be totally wrong and the Extremely Loud Family, Mr. Smarmy, and Very Intense Man could all come in at once.

Thursday I had a twenty something girl come in and say, "Times have sure changed..." Why? Because we charge 25 cents for a print out. I thought that was rather funny. Number one, because she seemed to think we were getting rich off the print out fees (which are all just a courtesy and we don't see a red cent of it. Just as fine with me, like I want to maintain the damn coin op machine). Number two, I am older than she is and I remember always having to pay for photocopies. Actually, I remember our town library being a one room building with no photocopier (or bathroom, for that matter).

Our standard line is that the photocopier is a service that we provide, but don't maintain. I don't think people get that. They nod and are like, "Right, so can you fix the copier?"

extracirricular activities

Things I do on my day off:

Feed the snakes. Little do people know, snakes are quite possibly the perfect pet. Feed em once a week (less in winter). They poop once a week. They do that whole really cool shedding thing. And no need to shush them.

Sleep. Pretty self-explanatory. I like naps. With all the nooks and crannies @ my library and how I was feeling this week, it was kind of tempting to crawl into the work room and take a nap. Well, it was kind of tempting till the exterminator found a dead mouse there on Monday.

Somehow the dead mice I feed my snakes are very different than the dead mice I find in the 974s.

Read."Wow, you work in a library? It must be nice to read all day!" Right. I think in the last four months I've read one book. And today my reading is work related. It's a Cisco Press book on networking. Strangely enough, it seems to be well-written and quite readable for a technical manual, at least, thus far.

For the record, the book is not from our library. We generally don't like to spend too much on computer books, because they tend to, er, walk off after one or two circulations. I like to spend a lot on computer books, because I use them and like to only get one or two titles of a particular aspect of computing. My favorite title ever: Web Design in a Nutshell. Has come in infinitely handy. My second favorite: Inside Dreamweaver MX.

And other things I'm going to procrastinate and put off till Sunday. I have to update a website I maintain too. Shoot. I have to be in my Windows boot to do it, and currently I'm in Linux. Ah, I'll do it Sunday.

identity theft @ your library

Did the ALA forsee how much fun you could have with the whole "@ your library" thing?

Today we had to wrangle with a man about signing up for a library card. He let it slip that the address on his license was not his current address. We would not issue him a card for this reason. We told him to run down the street to the RMV, get a new card, and we'd set him right up. Or that we'd take a bill of some sort. Some sort of mail that wasn't junk mail. He didn't want to bring in bills, because he was afraid he'd lose them.

Okay, fine, just go to the RMV, we say. He agrees.

Then he picks out some stuff and puts it on my desk and says, "I'll give you this to hold on to if you'll let me check out this stuff." It was a credit card. He proceeded to tell me what the limit was on it. Not a good way to pick up chicks. Or librarians. Or librarian chicks. I told him no, of course. I wanted to say more but I was a little confused by the whole thing.

I imagine the card was stolen. Why else would someone offer their card for that sort of thing? I told him the materials would stay here, and he could come back later with proper identification. So far as I knew, he never came back.

I threw some memory in the iMacs today. I am going to throw some in the catalog terminals, the ones that are slot loading, not tray loading (they take SODIMMs, I believe), so that I can see if that improves their performance at all. I think it's more that the proxy is messing up the speed of the whole thing. Although maybe it's just the (cough) iPac. The (cough) iPac is clunky as heck. It's all the pretty pictures it loads.

Today I helped a young man find Pride and Prejudice. Fortunately, we had more luck finding that than Wuthering Heights awhile back. I predict there will be a run on copies of Pride and Prejudice this weekend.

the internet is broken

This is my favorite saying when people come up to me at the info desk... "The internet is broken." I want to say, "Holy crud, you broke the whole internet? You must really be an idiot!" But I don't. If they're a little more crafty, they say, "The computer is broken!" and then I come a little more hurriedly. Then I find that they really wanted to know how to get to this site, or that site, and can't seem to figure out where the address bar is. Or what the mouse does. Pet peeve alert! We're not supposed to help people with the computers. Being on one means that you know how to use it. But man, when they call you over with panicked cries of your one functioning machine being broken, then they have you captive. And they know it. The silly rabbits.

My favorite sign I've made at the library is: The Internet Is Down. Very few get why I think that's so funny. Of course, with the alleged telecom problems we're having, maybe I am taking down the entire internet. Naaaaaah, just Horizon.

I've seen an insurgence of laptops lately. One gentlemen had the nerve to find the one free jack in the building and plug in for free internet. We told him that was a no no. My line is that we have power surges in the building (which we have, though not recently) and that if he loves his laptop, he will run off battery power. If he wants the internet, he will sign up for our terminals or go to the cafe down the street. No wireless @our library. There will be no wireless @ our library for a long time. Sorry folks. Neat new whizbang technology, and definitely has it's uses. But I'm not sure that this is the time for it.

It's a lovely day here in Eastern Massachusetts. I'm hoping most people (read: kids) choose to spend it out doing stuff, rather than throwing stuff at each other @ your library. Not that I haven't seen adults throw stuff at each other.

mind-rotting television @ your library

That is how the kids use the internet at our library -- as mind-rotting television. There is little interactivity, unless you count them smacking each other in front of the screen. Some kids are good and use it for homework, which is great (although not at the exclusion of books) and some use it for email, which is fine. But we have an inordinant amount of kids that come in and look at shoes. If I could get a filter that blocks footlocker.com and Nike.com, that would rock.

The librarians have tried to figure out the shoe phenomenon... These kids get surly over shoes. I had a kid tell me that the iMac was "broken" because it didn't have Flash on it, and he couldn't see the movie at www.reallyexpensiveshoes.com.

The internet, at its best, is a tool. It gets us information. It allows us to voice our concerns almost instantly all over the world. That's great. At its worst, though, it's a television set with a 123-key Windows XP compatible PS/2 remote.

I am concerned about the new iteration of SurfControl we are putting up. Honestly, aside from occasional glances at the screen when troubleshooting a site for someone, I don't want to think about what patrons are viewing too much. But I guess I have to. SurfControl's website, anyway, seems to be geared toward businesses. I don't give a flying crud how long my patrons spend on what site (unless it's a library related site, but that's what our web hoster is for). All I care about is that they're viewing nothing that could get us in trouble, or is explicitly against our rules (chat, games). Aye, there's the rub... how I wish those boys were looking at InfoTrac, not Google Images of sneakers. But there's not much I can do aside from try to steer them in the right direction.

I like what the assistant director was saying yesterday (what I could hear through my insane coughing fit). The library is for books, it is for information. Computers are part of that, yes. But the internet is no longer for that, at least, not for some people. It's for advertisements that are better than scratch and sniff because there are buttons to click and stimuli to be had.

Granted, looking through some of our issues of Glamour, that's about the same thing.

I know some network libraries are thinking of really limiting things on at least some computers. I just don't know how I feel about that. I want people to be able to have fun at the library. Going to your favorite band's website is fun. Going to a message board is fun. I just don't want you doing anything illegal, detrimental to the health of the other patrons or my preciousssss machines, or being there all day. Dammit, I want to have my cake and eat it too! Somehow, I think limiting the internet to all sites ending in .edu, .org, or our online databases is just a drag.

I wonder how things went today at the library. I stayed home, as I took some cold medicine that made me feel like I drank something fizzy and alcoholic, without the umbrella. My cold is starting to feel better, although I still have mega-lymph nodes.

Some skunk appears to be using my email addresses (both of them) to send spammage. So I killed one, and I'm ready to kill the other if need be.

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