shoe's blog

ordering reference books

What with the software and telecom chaos I've been involved in, the poor reference books have been neglected. I ordered a bunch from Congressional Quarterly that look pretty good. Some of them I'm downright excited about, actually, and wonder why they weren't on standing order to begin with.

I also got a nice call from a persistent vendor yesterday, asking how I was doing. I told her I had a cold, my stomach hurt, the kids were being loud, we were allegedly having telecom problems, and I was worried about not having gotten to walk the dogs before I left home that morning. No, but I wanted to tell her that. See if she's so quick to call me. She was actually quite polite for a saleslady and didn't push anything. I told her honestly that we were interested in a particular title, in both getting back orders and standing orders on it, but just couldn't do it right then. She said she'd wait.

I am debating whether to stay home. I am feeling rather peaked, but it comes and goes. Everyone tells me I could probably kick this cold if I stayed home one day. I also know I'll be riddled with guilt.

Maybe I'll go in through crunch time (the afternoon) and head home. We'll see how this decongestant works.

I got my diploma. Wow. It's the size of a flipping postage stamp. Approximately the same size as my bachelor's degree. It did come in a snappy leather case though. I am just jealous because my husband has these big pretty degrees, and I have these little degrees. Of course, the Simmons one is quite pretty.

librarians anonymous

Some lady got miffed at me today because AOL wasn't working. I told her it might be an AOL/Mac issue. Or it could be an AOL server issue, for all I knew. It seemed to be working on our end. She could input. She could click. I guess she wanted me to pull her email messages out of my ear though, because she got very upset with that answer. I expected her to go to someone else and ask them, hoping maybe that they could pull the email messages out of their ears. But no.

I was also told our public library wasn't very public because we didn't allow internet without a card -- after we told her she could use the fifteen minute terminal. She said, "But you had rules you could enforce." And I'm thinking, I paid Simmons how much so that I could fight with kids about the fact they've spent the last four hours on the internet? I told her, nicely, that we had more important things to do than police the internet.

Boy, am I in a foul mood.

It's the fault of this cold. I have chipmunk lymph nodes. And it's the fault of two teenage girls and their pack of wild teenage followers. They seem to think that they can get away with anything. I sent them upstairs because they were hanging out in the lower level looking at sex books. Now, they're old enough, I could care less that they're looking at Puberty for Dummies and that sort of thing. I mean, hell, I suppose it's good for them. When there's a pack of six of them down there, talking so loudly I could hear them all the way upstairs over the very loud server noise, then we have a problem.

I worry more about their safety down there. It's secluded. It's not patroled that often. It worries me.

So they come upstairs and start hanging out in the periodicals. They're clanging the periodical racks, they're talking loudly. Once again, from across the library, I can hear them over the sound of the server. Seeing that information was tied up, I went over and told them to quiet down... twice. Then one of them flipped me the bird, according to another.

So I threw them all out. They didn't go. An older guybrarian, who is just the sweetest thing normally but quite scary when he's mad, went to back me up. They dispersed, but didn't leave. I went and rounded them up again and said, "No, seriously, you have to go." They made this bluffing noises about how tough they were (sort of like my snakes do when they don't want to be handled). Finally, between me and the now very scary guybrarian, the kids got the point and left. Funny, when the first two ringleaders left, the rest filed out quietly.

We've thrown them out three days in the last five.

We got into a discussion of the things they don't teach you in library school. Even an internship, I don't think, could give you this kind of experience. I love it. I love shushing people.

I'm proud of that. I am. I do love to shush people. Hi, LISNewsters, my name is shoe and I love to shush. I dress conservatively. I wear my hair up. I wear horn rimmed glasses. I've never smoked a cigarette and I've never worn high heels.

And an eight foot python lives in my living room. Eleven more significantly smaller ones live upstairs in our guest bedroom (not many guests here). Hey, you can't be all stereotype. Besides, snakes are so quiet.

low-key day, I hope

I'm hoping for a low key day today. I still am not feeling the greatest. The support staff was calling me Typhoid Mary yesterday. My husband is trying to make me go to the doctor. The fact of the matter is I am a lousy patient and won't see the doctor unless I'm on death's door.

It's the age old conundrum... do I risk making everyone at work sick, or do I go in and make a show of it? I usually opt to go in and make a show of it.

I was looking at the filtering software. I hope they let us decide the parameters for it. Pornography can go, IM can go, games can go. I feel like it gets way too intrusive when you start blocking certain emails though, which alledgedly this can. I guess I'd like to know more the nuts and bolts of how it works. Keywords, I would think. I know when I'm in one of my more, er, colorful moods I use a lot of words that would probably cause a filter to pop up. They're not necessarily pornographic emails though.

I guess I just don't like the limits on language. Would the filter block the infamous Rolling Stone piece where John Kerry uses the f-word?

But blocking the images (which we've had problems with in the past, and I really don't want on my watch, thank you) and blocking certain "recreational" activities I am all for. As to whether the computers should be just blocked to library databases -- which is possible -- well, maybe for the catalog terminals. I would never limit the internet terminals to just InfoTrac and the online papers and the catalog. There are too many people who use them legitimately for other things, even if it is just checking email.

I guess the possibility is there to also filter out attachments in emails. As much as I'd love to do this for the safety of the computers, I realize that sometimes, many times, you're spinning into the library for a quick look at the attachment your colleague sent you. It happens at least on a weekly basis at my library.

I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I just hope we get some say in the parameters we get to set up. I'd like our current set up, which doesn't block much, with some added features.

The systems librarian's wish list....

strange requests

A patron came in asking for a picture book of dead people. I didn't find any listings under the title he gave me. I had no idea what an appropriate subject heading for that would be. I tried doing a subject search-- death photographs? death pictures? That just got me (of course) movies. Then he asked me if I'd seen Faces of Death which I actually have seen bits of. Not my cup of tea.

I suggested books on war, thinking there were probably some pictures of dead people in there, but he wanted, er, one stop shopping. As one patron said to me once, "I want pictures, I don't need all them words!" (Honest to pete, she did.)

My little Horizon problem turned out to be a Horizon problem, not a telecom problem at all. No comment.

You should hear me. I sound like the frog princess. It was quite a feat answering the phones on information. I croaked out some renewal information, I held a book for some one, croak croak croak. This cold is really a bummer, although I feel better than I did Saturday, when sitting upright was a chore.

New fun filtering software for me! I don't want to change so much what it filters content-wise. Honestly, I like for people to have as free range as possible. But it has the ability to stop java based games (I managed to stop most Flash based things myself, har har) and IM stuff. If it could only filter out Google images of sneakers, I'd be the happiest woman alive. I don't know why it irks me so much, that these kids spend what seems like hours on the internet (though less now with the timed access software) staring at pictures of sneakers.

The timed access software is going great. I love this stuff. It doesn't help the congregating around the terminals too much (we have problems with kids gathering to look at --what else-- sneakers. Or scantily clad women) but it does help limit how long they congregate. And about fights about who gets on next. No number, no turn. No exceptions.

I really expected more complaints. I really, really did. My supervisor always tells me to knock on wood... It's only been a week. But most people are adjusting, and the regulars (who would be the ones to complain) have either buckled down, got cards, and learned to make the most of their hour, or gone elsewhere. Those were the squatters. Since then, we've had people get on that have actually been using the facilities the way they were designed... They do research, look for jobs, homes, schools, do general betterment stuff by using the computers, something they wouldn't have gotten the chance to, necessarily, two weeks ago.

It was that bad a situation two weeks ago. Honestly. It's that much better this week. I need to have my direct supervisor come out and behold it periodically. She's still unconvinced, but I think she'll come around. Everyone else is in love.

Here's hoping the love affair gets to continue.

G-string mail and underwire browser supporters

Doesn't a supported browser sort of sound like a type of undergarment? Kind of like "blog" makes me think of running noses.

So Google is aiming for a week or three to have gmail go live. I will forgive them if it doesn't happen. I am hoping I can hosey the name "shoe." If not, I'll settle for my old Yahoo-esque user name -- yeah, with a gig of storage! I went to the ol' gmail site to check it out, and it tells me...

You are using an unsupported browser

I am also using the best browser in the world, thank you. Sure, I haven't paid for Opera, but I am trying to make converts everywhere I go. What is it that people don't like about compliant browsers and tabbed browsing? It is so all about the tabbed browsing.

Besides, Google should love it... I'm already used to targeted ads from using my elcheapo unregistered copy of Opera.

Still feeling ill, but I have a meeting today I have to be at. I also want to see what little tricks are on the Horizon, if you know what I mean.

at the end of the day

When it comes down to it, I really do like my job.

Even if... even if I'm a little peeved at this whole ILS issue right now. I am interested to hear what happened and see if it's working Monday morning. My schedule got switched and I'm working Monday morning, which is just fine with me. I am most indubitably a morning person.

I like the challenge of dealing with the public. The times you have a kid say, "InfoTrack is cool!" makes up for all the people that get rather surly over ten cent fines. I like playing with computers. I like finding books for people.

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone. I like my job.

the ol' back and forth

As of late this afternoon, Horizon appears to be working, and fully functional, albeit slow. Interesting. I fear it's because the old systems guy fixed something I missed... though I would assume he would tell me if he did. (that's my insecurity talking) There was no reason to touch the print server today, as it, and all the terminals, were completely shut down.

The old systems guy did have an interesting point... that perhaps logging in through the reference computer to the server, and mixing workgroups, is causing a conflict. I don't think it is, as we've been having this conflict much longer than I've been using that function of the OCS software. Also, it's not terribly different from telnet-ing in, when you think about it. I'm essentially authenticating myself to a server, and then doing my thing.

But if there were going to be a conflict, it's probably not a bad place to look.

The fact that Horizon didn't work half the day, then worked the second half of the day, and the print server's been down for two days now, leads me to believe my poor little (louder than sin) print server is innocent.

I also think I'm running an unnecessary process on the print server, which could be slowing things down, though probably not enough to make a real difference.

I will keep my opinions on Horizon to myself.

ILS ills

Horizon was acting up yesterday. I was so in the mood for it too. I have the head cold from hell (my dad says I now sound like Stevie Nicks). Anyway, head cold aside, there's a lot of pointing going on as to what the problem is. I am willing to look at the possibility that it could be on our end, but with the behavior of the system in general, I don't think it is. Still, I will do the virus scans and I took down all the computers that were, er, superfluous.

What does that mean? You guessed it. No internet. It's hard to deal with the public demand as far as that goes. We're taking it down, this time, because it's important as a diagnostic tool. Maybe it's because I'm sick, or maybe it's because I'm just as confounded as (I know) they are in town (but won't admit), or maybe it's because I don't relish the idea of spending hundreds of dollars to have a network guy come, but I really don't want to hear the public complain they can't check their flipping hotmail. I have more sympathy for kids doing homework, of course.

I hope that the problem at least resolved itself. Slow, I can deal with. Half functioning, like yesterday... very irritating.

home early

I came home early, sick. I feel guilty. So guilty that I took a nap (I know, that doesn't sound guilty) and then I logged in and started doing work relating to our little telecom problem. I probably should have stayed at work to tough it out, but I felt so awful. I still feel awful. But I feel a little less awful that I got to lay down.

We are having a telecom problem. Well, allegedly. I don't believe it entirely. I still have my doubts whether a faulty hub can cause the same SQL error over and over consistently. I suppose stranger things have happened, but I'm not willing to sink tons of money into getting someone out to look at hardware until I'm damn sure. We don't have money to toss around like that.

I did find lots of nice grants in The Foundation Directory. I am going to look into them.

Even through my cold, there was a book today I could smell (it wasn't a scratch and sniff, either). I guess it was okay that it smelled good, kind of green tea/floral like. It also had some nice stains all over it that made me feel dirty. So it was marked as damaged.

More to follow, back to bed with me.

working with the public is hazardous to your health

This is my second cold in a month. While I was at Simmons, I got, I think two colds in two years. Bummer. Under normal circumstances, since I was up all night and feel very barfy, I probably would claim defeat and take a sick day. But our YA librarian is among the missing this week, which leaves us with a total of three librarians, myself included.

The weather isn't very nice. I'm hoping it keeps the kids away, but usually it drives them all in. Fridays aren't always so bad though. Kids seem to have other things to do on Friday.

Today is a break from computers day, if I can at all help it. I have some reference books I'd like to order. I should weed if I get the chance, although that's up in the air. I've done my computer related good deed for the week -- well, two of them. I got the software for the Horizon backup on line, and I got the Francomputer working. Oh yeah, and that whole timed access thing.

I like to name patrons. There's "Very Intense Man." Very Intense Man seems to be a nice enough guy but boy is he -- intense. Every statement is delivered a la William Shatner. Then there's "Racist Man." Haven't seen him in awhile. Not that I miss him or anything.

Then you start to know patrons by what they ask for. There's this one kid that comes in looking for criticisms of a certain author (well, there's lots of kids that do that, but one kid stands out). First he came in wanting a biography, which I found for him. Then he wanted criticism, which another librarian found for him (thank you, thank you Gale Group). Then we came full circle back to biographies. We aren't getting new biographies on this author every week, unfortunately. And it isn't someone like Mark Twain or F. Scott Fitzgerald, who would have several biographies.

I have been recommended a different type of lockdown software. This interests me, as I find Fortres lacking in certain features. I mean, Fortres is good, and it keeps people out of the major stuff... I would like to try something different though. The major problem being, there are a lot of things I would like to try that come first.

What I was recommended does block java based games and IM. That interests me. I wonder what else it blocks, though. Button up Fortres too tight, and it blocks all the OCS stuff. People get surly when you take away their ability to print.

Francomputer

Three LAN cards later, I gave up and shoved the IBM LAN card that was in the Linux box in the stupid Windows box. It worked beautifully, and I think I was the only one that was sorry to see the Linux terminal go. God knows the patrons weren't.

As soon as I got the LAN card working, I went online and discovered I didn't have the right drivers for the old piece of crud Nvidia card in the box. The piece of crud drivers that came with the piece of crud operating system (unless Bill Gates wants to give me a grant. I can be bought) made all the sites look like pieces of crud. Something about only 16 colors will do that. I was so intent on getting the piece of crud LAN card to work that the piece of crud graphics slipped by me.

After frenzied googling I found the correct piece of crud drivers. Finally the computer was suitable for public consumption. I managed to put the computer on the network, load Fortres, load the OCS software, and go on my merry way. It is currently out getting it's share of abuse.

So this one computer is now made up of several. It's had donated organs that have gone through several computers -- I believe the LAN card came originally out of an IBM that finally gave up the ghost in the children's room.

More praise for the timed access software. I do so wish we could get card integration, but I don't think it's going to be effective. Besides, it's sort of nice to visually see who's back there. Make the connection, and all that.

This is definitely going to be less wear and tear on the PCs. They're getting used about the same, but more seriously. As the assistant director so aptly said, "The toy factor is gone." And it's true, he's right. People buckle down and do what they have to do. They for the most part are respecting the one hour limit and aren't going back trying for a third half hour.

I think I am going to put the OS X machine sitting on the floor by my desk out as the email terminal, eventually. That way we'll have a computer with international fonts out as something that isn't carded. First I have to find a way to keep Safari from closing. Or educate the world on actually opening it.

doling out sweet internet justice

Yesterday I got to play with some of the finer bits of the OCS software. Luckily, the kids were acting up on the Win2k machines. I would have been out of luck on the Win 98 box.

One girl was just being a pain in the behind, deliberately defying me. I told her once that if she and the various boys that kept coming over to say hi (why wasn't I that popular as a kid -- never mind, don't answer that) didn't stop physically abusing each other in front of the computer, it would be shut off. Well, they didn't stop abusing each other, so I reset the screen. She freaked, but didn't seem to get the point. She frantically tried all her friends' (used) one time use numbers, to no avail. Since she got on (evidently) with someone else's library card, and they had left, and all her other friends either had no card or were saving it so they could use the computers properly, she was up the creek.

She wandered around for a good three minutes saying, "But I had time left." She didn't seem to realize that it wasn't a computer glitch, it was the Great and Terrible Oz that took away the computer.

Then it occurred to me internet justice isn't so cool unless they know that you took away their access for certain unforgiveable transactions. There are these boys that all gather around the computers. I don't mind so much if they are gathering, read real quick, and move on their merry ways. But yesterday they were camping out and that wasn't cool. When I told them to sit down, they said, "We're reading!"

So I did a little psychology experiment. I sent them a message. I said, "One to a computer please, or you will be shut down." They laughed, agreed that was pretty cool and -- wonder of wonders -- sat their baggy jeaned butts down. I think they realized that, at that point, I could shut their machines down if I wanted.

Now if I could only get them to read something that isn't on a computer screen.

I am trying to install a LAN card in a Win98 machine. Damned if I can get any of the LAN cards to work. There is even alledgedly a driver that comes with Win98 for one of the cards I put in. But it will not see the network. I've tried three cards, and two different drivers for one of them. I think it's time to retreat and concentrate on reference today. But I know me. I am as dogged when it comes to computer problems as some people are with computer games. So I know I'll go in and tackle the LAN card issue again.

I got this reference catalog from Congressional Quarterly. I am fascinated by it. The books look great, and some of them might even prove useful. Fun book orders!

I wonder what's become of that copy of The Innocents? I think someone took it out. It hasn't followed me anywhere for the past week. Perhaps its hold on me has broken. Now the DSM-IV TR seems to be following me around. Is there an entry for librarian in there?

I saw one of my scholarship books being used yesterday. Joy! There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing someone walking around with a book you ordered in tow.

finding that line and crossing it -- @ your library

First off, Jessamyn West, who always has good stuff at librarian.net has her nice take on a talk at CiL. I agree with her wholeheartedly. Our patrons neither seem to be clamoring for wireless, nor do they seem to care about rss feeds, and yes, it is all I can do to keep up with our public access terminals as is. Sometimes I feel like reference gets neglected. Sometimes I feel local history gets neglected. Sometimes I feel like it's all about treading water. Sometimes I feel like it's all about the computers. Computers are important, and necessary to offer, but they aren't the heart of the library.

For instance: yesterday I was talking to OCS about our machines. They wanted to know why we had such a mix of computers and OSes. Funny, for a company that deals with public libraries. I don't especially think we're unique in that we just can't afford the latest greatest most whiz-bang OSes (not that I'm recommending XP for much of anything. I am quite happy with Win2k for the Windows route.) I explained to the nice tech a little bit about what libraries face. He was amazed.

As are a lot of patrons, I find.

The other day, I once again had a moment where I saw a couple of young patrons crossing what I would say was my line in the sand... The kicker: they were dealing with another librarian, and whereas I would have kicked them out for their transgressions, which I would have called downright racist and abusive, she tolerated it a bit longer. She did (with two of us as back up) kick them out eventually.

It really bothered me to hear them make fun of her, right in front of her. I wanted to get up and throw them out, but I also sort of felt like it was her prerogative as well, as she was dealing with them expressly. So what do you do? Do you throw out a patron in the middle of transaction with another librarian? I suppose I should have.

Still trying to find my library legs. Certainly if they weren't working directly with her, and were doing it behind her back and she weren't so involved, I would have had them out so quick.

I'm eager to see how day three of the timed access trial goes. I haven't received a call this morning, so I'm assuming they printed the one time numbers out all right. The real test will be Saturday, when I'm not there all day.

singing the praises

Yea, verily, let me sing the praises of timed access software.

This stuff rocks. The staff loves it so far (granted, it's only been two days) and the patron response has been largely favorable... with less people objecting to getting booted off than objecting to needing a library card. A few people have complained about our hour limit per day, even if no one is waiting. The fact of the matter is, someone was waiting at the time this patron complained. Go figure.

Only temporary glitch was that we lost printing capabilities for awhile. I was dumbfounded as to why it worked last week and not this week. Last night, mid-dream, it occurred to me -- Fortres. I buttoned up Fortres extra tight, and it wasn't allowing the server to throw up the print spooler. Best cold sweat I ever woke up in, I decided, when my printing worked this morning.

The custodians hate me. People keep leaving their one time use numbers everywhere. Tables, floors, inside books. Everywhere but the trash can. Certainly the library cards would lend more finesse to the whole operation, and people do seem to want to enter them.

The learning curve is pretty reasonable. If a computer's free it's downright easy. Most people are on and off so routinely the reservation software isn't used terribly frequently, but it's good it's there as word gets out. I forsee there might be some troubles as the reservations are more frequently used.

Even got some "regulars" to sign up for library cards. Heh heh, my evil plan is working.

I tried to install the OCS software on a Win95 machine, but the version of Fortres on there wasn't real happy with it. Some Fortres .dll was causing a stack error. I honestly wasn't thrilled enough with the box to actually try to fix it. I am going to try to install 98 on another donation box and get on with my life.

Today we discovered, with our noses, that a mouse must have died somewhere in the professional offices, where my desk is located. The assistant director came in to find us all crawling on the floor looking behind our file cabinets to see if we could find the offending rodent corpse. No such luck. I even looked through my big box of computer parts. I keep snakes myself at home, and have a freezer full of frozen rodents as (snake) food, but I wasn't real intent on finding some dessicated little corpse next to my LAN cards, thank you. We never found the little guy. My guess is he's in the ceiling.

my birthday wish

Today is my birthday. I have my crappy schedule today, which is the 1-9 shift. Also, the YA librarian is on her honeymoon (congratulations to her) so I probably will be on the desk more than I would be. I am sort of hoping that as a birthday present I at least wasn't scheduled in the Young Adult Room. That would suck. That rates right up there with the Children's Room.

Reference all afternoon would suit me dandy. Especially since that will make it easier for me to explain the new software to patrons. And field their complaints (happy birthday to me!) Maybe, if I'm lucky, there will be some appreciative statements too. But I'm not expecting them till later on. And even then, I'm not really expecting them.

Here's to more time for real reference questions, not, "Waaaah, he won't get off the computer!"

I also have to make some calls today regarding Horizon. There are a few little bugs we have questions about. It'd be nice to have the administrator's manual... Not so much so I can make administrative changes (because I can't), but so I know what changes are possible. But I have a feeling the administrators don't even have manuals.

technology shuffle

Sometimes I wonder where my brain is. It just dawned on me, when I was thinking about the direness of only having two word processors, that the old internet terminals are upstairs. Nothing wrong with them, per se, just kind of old and they were replaced with the newly nicely Friends of the Library donated computers.

So that got me thinking...

...if one's at least running Win98, which I'm fairly sure they both are, (albeit a little slowly), I can just move the Linux machine (waaaaaah) off the floor, put the old internet terminal 8 downstairs, and make it card access and print capable again.

Our fifteen minute email terminal is a stand up terminal. It's located by our catalogs. Its location does tend to deter most people from standing there all day. Not all of them. But a good percentage. I could transform one of the catalogs in the same location into another fifteen minute email terminal.

It would add an extra half hour terminal to the mix, and keep people from lingering more than their fifteen minutes just checking their email incessantly.

I should talk. I am one of those people that always has to check email.

Putting this in motion should be fairly easy. Just tweak the restriction off one of the catalogs (we have five and they're never all in use), and physically remove the Linux box (it shall return, somehow, some way.)

Then I'll just tweak the old internet terminal 8 at my desk, and stick 'er out on the floor.

The public will be pleased... no more internet down time. Well, till next Tuesday, my scheduled maintenance day.

Rachel Singer Gordon has an article over at the Library Journal site about using the technology we live. (For some reason I've got Jethro Tull's Living in the Past running through my head thinking of our 486 donations.) Generally a good short little piece, but I take exception to the section on IM.

I hate Instant Messaging, from many standpoints. It's insecure. That's the big thing. It's also not really key to the information gathering process, which is really what we want our computers at our library to be used for (I understand that that is not a priority at every institution, and that's fine.)

I hate it for the peripheral reasons too. It's a time suck, most definitely (like the internet is one big time suck). But IM sucks faster. I also hate that it encourages kids to use shorthand. Nothing irks me like... "C u @ 8" or "L8r, k?"

I hate it for personal reasons. I hate it personally. When I am typing at the computer, I don't want you popping up messages saying, "IM me, hav sumthing 2 tell u." If it were something important, like, "I'm getting married" or "Mom is sick. Call her." or "My shirt is on fire" that's cool... but it never is. It's stupid stuff, like, "What are you doing now?" I'm so tempted to say, "Blocking up the phone line, trying to avoid your fricking talking to me."

So IM will not come to our library any time soon. Behind the times maybe, but we're not here to be a social club. When InfoTrak starts IM'ing stories from the Wall Street Journal-- okay, then I'll claim defeat.

oh my god... a thank you!

We had a woman, upon hearing that we put in the time access software, actually thank us for finally taking action. A lot of the older patrons, or more timid patrons, are too shy/polite/intimidated by the "regulars" to come claim their time slots on the computer, and for whatever reason don't bother the librarians to do so. As much as I hate playing internet cop, I hate even worse to think that someone doesn't get their turn. Which is why that software is now in place.

I dreamt about it. I dreamt about some old guy with an eye patch coming in (not that we have any patrons that I know of who match this description) and complaining because "That sort of software records every move you make." We tried to tell him that it didn't, and he left in a huff.

I tried to warn as many people as I could that they would need library cards to use the internet. Some people have actually even gone to sign up for one. I'm going to let circ know once again that if anyone puts up a stink about needing a card, to get me personally. Not that I'm a huge fan of conflict myself (in fact, I usually avoid it all costs) but the circ staff puts up with enough crap with people making big deals over their whopping ten cent fines and such.

My line is going to be it's for the preservation of the system, and to fairly and equitably distribute access to the patrons. I might put it in simpler terms for those who don't speak English fluently (we have a lot of people who speak foreign languages (very cool!), and a few who just kind of nod, and I've never heard speak).

The software does open up a lot of possibilities. For instance, we will be able to see, in no uncertain terms, how many people are using the resources, and for how long. We can somewhat limit to an hour a day, so our results will be more accurate than they were previously. It won't be as cool as if we were using library cards to actually log in, but honestly, I think a nine digit one time use number is going to be easier for patrons to type in than the huge barcode on the back of their card.

As long as the regular internet hogs don't find out where I live...

I foresee a few complaints and a lot of explaining this week. It should decrease with time. I managed to make my instructions on how to sign in at the reservation station fairly short and sweet.

Girls Gone Wild

The crowning event last night was the crank phone call I got on the info desk. The circ desk picked it up, and promptly put it down again.

"Ms. S--, there appear to be some kids calling for you on one..." my trusty sidekick said sweetly from the circ desk.

I picked up the phone and was met by giggles. Obviously, these kids were amateurs. I was an amateur. My cousin, however, could pull off any crank phone call with a straight face.

"I'm calling to see if my movie is in. It's a porno."

So, the little creeps weren't terribly creative, either.

I decided to play along. I probably shouldn't have. "What's the title?"

There was a mortified pause. Then more giggles and a triumphant, "GIRLS GONE WILD!"

Reality: I told them to have a nice evening and hung up.

Fantasy: I could have handled this several ways. Scenario One goes like this:

Me: Girls Gone Wild? That's not really the porno genre. If you're looking for a true porno, I suggest something like Amateurs #127 or, if you're into classics Debbie Does Dallas. I see though, since you're really into library type settings and are obviously good patrons, and library supporters, that you might like something a little more themed, like Midnight Librarians.

Them: Um. [Click].

Scenario Two:

Me:Sorry, I can't seem to find Girls Gone Wild. Perhaps the title is slightly different than what you're remembering? Is it perhaps a series title? Let me search OCLC for the MARC record... No, nothing. Do you know the author? I could scan the 245 field for you? Oh, here it is... Mantra Film's Girls Gone Wild. For the record, there's several titles under this series name. Is there a particular one you're looking for? No? Do you have internet access at home? You can check the catalog from there for a suitable title... To make your search easier, the Library of Congress subject heading for this is Women -- Feral.

Them:[All I hear on the line is the dripping of drool (and possibly snoring) and then... click.]

Catalogers: Please forgive any mangling I did of your profession in my fantasy scenario. I still maintain I have the utmost respect for catalogers and all you do, since I am so confused by anything other than the 245 field. So what would the LC subject heading for Girls Gone Wild be?

Success

Well, I am pleased to note that the TA software unveiling to the staff was a success. The assistant director was pleased with the functionality of it, as was the old systems guy. So were the rest, but I think those two got more of what went into actually putting it in.

Most agreed it was less confusing than they thought it would be (I think it's less confusing than the print software), but I think they wished there was a way around going to circulation then going to sign in on the Gatekeeper software. Of course, the Reservation software only comes in if there's a wait. There will be waits, but not big long waits anymore, I don't think.

Why? Because I managed to get the card access idea to fly. Circ staff didn't protest too much, and whereas a few librarians were concerned about the extra step in signing in, I think patrons will eventually figure it out. With any luck I will have an hour or two on Saturday to make signs and get the instructions and documentation done.

I've got the basics down, though, enough to run the system, and I'll be there the first two days to do the trickiest parts -- open and close.

For some reason the "power down" sequence occasionally causes a "restart." My husband had a suggestion that maybe I've got the pull down menu on the client set the wrong way. I figure that's a reasonable assumption. I had left them on restart, I believe.

My disabling of ctrl-alt-delete went beautifully, and there should be no way to exit out of the timer software now.

I made the offer that if anyone has a real problem with the fact we're asking for cards now or the fact they're getting timed, would they please be directed to me. I don't want the circ staff to have to put up with the abuse that I know will be inevitable from a few people.

I did put out one sign introducing the new system, explaining how it would work and why we were doing it. I'm sure no one will read it. One of our custodians has a great saying, "People come to the library not to read."

Yesterday on info I had a girl try to convince me to let her take out reference materials. I know this girl's track record. Even if I could, I so wouldn't.

I have had more people ask me

I have had more people ask me in the last week where I got my IT training. I tell them "O'Reilly Books." Not only do they have cute animals on the covers, they're really quite good. I like the Windows XP Annoyances cover the best. Surinam toads just rock. Somehow fitting for Windows XP, too.

Simmons helped. They had some good courses in certain computer concepts. But like anything, you get out of it what you put into it, and even still further study was necessary.

I had a guy offer to "help me get the network back up" yesterday. He must have been really desperate for internet access, or really out of the loop if he thought I was going to let him anywhere near the server. It's amazing how many of our patrons that come in to use the internet for hours used to work in software development. I can think of about six offhand. The day I have someone come in and say they worked on ARPANET... Well, then I'll at least believe they had some classes somewhere. Even if it was only a computer history course.

Of course, the truth of the matter is the network is perfectly fine. Which I was honest and told him. Upgrading and installing software shouldn't equate with "problem". Well, yeah, we're upgrading to fix a problem, but it's not of the technical variety.

Everything has gone quite smoothly. My big thing being that I don't want to just give an hour of training, leave my documentation, and then leave the rest of the staff tomorrow to puzzle out how you do certain things. That, and there are a few little things I'd like to experiment with. I'd actually like to get in early and change the ctrl-alt-delete functions on the computers before I give my training. That way I can really demonstrate how it should work.

I hope that people appreciate the thought that went into this... Not the public, they won't appreciate it all, no delusion there, but the staff. I know circ is going to complain about having to write out and look at the lists of library cards and patron names when they give out their one time use numbers. But hey.

It just makes more sense to do this all at circulation. And accountability with library cards is everything. I can't believe I almost lost sight of that through this whole thing.

I wrote an email thanking my tech support guy. He was quite helpful, and I figured he could put it in his "good boy" file next time he's up for a raise. Hey, I worked in corporate long enough to know. That, and it's certainly nice to get a thank you once in a while.

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