shoe's blog

No Internet for You!

At the subtle and not so subtle suggestions of the assistant director and some other librarians, I have decided to leave the computers down till Monday. Unhappy patrons. Yes. But here's the thing: Friday and Saturday we're half staffed. Friday I won't be in at all, since it's my day off. That leaves me exactly one hour to train the staff on how to use the software tomorrow, and then we're all thrown to the lions.

Better to do it Monday, when I come in. I'll get it up and running, then I'll be there till closing. I'll close, then be there Tuesday morning to show people how to open. And we'll be full staffed, so that we'll all be able to spare the extra five minutes to help a patron having a hard time adjusting.

The assistant director had a good point. I need to have a canned speech ready as to why we implemented this software when patrons complain. I am thinking something like this:

After reviewing our system, it didn't seem like a particularly fair or democratic way of distributing access to people. We require cards because we require cards to check out books, and in all reality, people, when they use the internet, are checking out expensive and sensitive pieces of equipment.

Or something like that.

I think the patrons are going to be bummed when they see what our, er, upgrade was. I heard them say something about hoping it's faster access. Whoops. Well, yeah, in a way.For some people.

There won't be any real sure way to ensure that people only get on in two half hour slots... I am going to have circ record the numbers, so that we can do a visual check, but I fully imagine with human error that things will slip by. But if the same three people show up seven or eight or nine times a day, circ will notice.

Ooooh, cool of cool... I found the part of the software today that controls the language. So I changed the stilty "Put a code here that you will remember" to "Enter your name or unique identifier". It's kind of a tricky thing to change, but didn't seem to fudge anything up. It certainly seems clearer to me.

I need to get in tomorrow to disable ctrl-alt-delete (much thanks to folks at TechReport.com forums). Fortres does it just dandy in Win98, but it doesn't stick for Win2K. And I fear that some crafty patron will discover that by going to Task Manager they can stop the client program from running. If I can't get the entire key combination to disable, then I'll just disable the change password (although you need an administrator password to actually change your password, I believe) and Task Manager. If the silly rabbits log out or shut down, they're only making it obvious they're doing stupid things they shouldn't.

I'm learning to think like a crafty patron. That scares me.

D Day

Today is the ending of phase two and the beginning of phase three of the new software installation/implementation. D (documentation) Day. This should be fun. Being a writer in a former life, I like making up sheets on how to use things. It also requires I make some signage, so that people know the exact longitude and latitude to go to to make their reservations. The sign up station is kind of tucked in the corner, which isn't terribly conducive to... well, viewing.

Logically I could move it to where the old word processor was, but then the vending machine would be in an odd place, and I would sort of like to replace the old word processor eventually.

So big signs are in order. I think a trip to the children's room should set me up with some supplies. Perhaps there are some in the supply closet, as well, but they've got fun stuff in the children's room. I wonder where we got the velcro for sticking signs on monitors from...

Any excuse to use velcro is a good excuse to use velcro.

My major experiment today is to see if yesterday's one time use numbers will work today, or if they have to be used the day they are generated. I wouldn't see why they would... But it's always good to check these things before you print out a gazillion of them.

I might also want to revise the rules that display on the screen a little bit. They aren't bad, they're pretty generic (no disks, no sound, no games, no instant messaging, as well as the warning you get exactly thirty minutes), but I don't know if there's anything specific that administration wants put in. I should probably take the rules off the internet policies and place them in there, although those pertained mostly to when we had unfiltered. I should be upfront about the filters, too, come to think of it.

I can't wait for the Mac version of this stuff. Woo hoo!

I do hope the demo period goes well. I think, once patrons adjust to and learn the new system, it will be helpful. I think in the short term it's going to be difficult, yes.

In the long term, though... Well, I hear that people are less likely to fight with machines, especially with the little counter counting down your minutes right at the top of your screen. It will be nice to see some people getting a turn that don't normally get a turn.

The assistant director came to me and said he was glad, actually, that this upgrading process took a few days, since it will get people in the mindset that the rules are changing. Perhaps he's right.

Why Time Access Software Rocks

At least, today. We haven't actually used it on the public yet. But you can do such cool things with it... Okay, fine, I admit it. I was logging all the computers in and then sending messages to them. Just because I could. Messages like, "You've been naughty. No computer for you."

I haven't tried a remote reboot. That should be interesting.

The functionality is really quite nice. It requires a little bit of responsibility on the part of the patron, which scares me. Like, the patron is going to have to remember what time they're due to use the computer, because they get about three minutes to sign in, before it goes to the next reservation. It keeps things moving, though, which is important.

I decided to give the Gatekeeper (reservation) software a try. I think initially it will be some work, and I'm going to have to make some placards explaining how to use it (including the exact coordinates of the reservation terminal, which doubles as our print terminal). But I think in the long term it will be less work than having circulation deal with it, especially since the Console doesn't do that great a job at telling you what computers are in use. It lists them as all available, all the time.

I have a few concerns, but we'll have to see how they play out with the public. My biggest is people being confused and missing their reservations. I mean, to me, it couldn't be much clearer. If a computer comes available, check the reservation terminal and see if your name is up. Not real hard. The software developers suggest using numbers, actually, not names, to be more unique. They suggest your phone number. I know there's going to be a bunch of jokesters that come in and all use "69" as their unique number. That's a problem.

People are going to use numbers they can't remember and not notice their reservation numbers, so their reservations will go up for grabs. But I guess we just have to let that happen once or twice. They'll learn. Inevitably, I think my learning curve is about in the middle and the public's has only just begun.

I am going to see if it allows the option of reserving with names tomorrow. That would be nice. But it's a little funny with the whole name thing. Like there aren't a hundred people that sign in as "Jim".

perverse pleasures

Certain talk show hosts think librarians live to give kids porn. No. Librarians live to take away internet access once in awhile. I got this bizarre sort of pleasure in watching people walk into the library, and look utterly lost when they saw the signs that the computers were out of order. Some actually then went and picked up books. Some just left. Boo.

The upgrade went really well, thanks to a kind soul at OCS who was very patient. I am pleased to announce that reading the manual was nothing like upgrading the server software. But it went smoothly.

Now comes configuring, testing, and working out bugs, and making training materials for staff and patrons. All in a day and a half. Ha! I'd like to thank the disgruntled patron who said, "I'd like to know why it takes three days to stick a disk in a drive..." If he only knew....

If he only knew what was coming. The software is a thing of beauty. I am not so sure about the self reservation software, which I decided to put on just to test and see how it flies. It looks straightforward to me, but I'm not the patron who hasn't read the manuals.

The self reservation will allow a lot more flexibility, and less time on the part of the circ staff, and hopefully, eventually, the librarians.

On our 2K terminals, the desktop resets on login. Beautiful. It makes you agree to the library rules before signing in. Beautiful. It reserves a certain computer specifically for you... so no one can cluster and there and jump on if you stop to tie your shoe or something. Beautiful. Most beautiful of all -- thirty minutes, folks. You get thirty minutes. As counted by our server.

I enabled the option to extend the time if no one is waiting. Hey, I'm not totally heartless.

The only real problem I can forsee is if a computer crashes. Most specifically, I'm worried about our Win98 machine, which sometimes gets senile and requires a reboot. I think the actual clock and timer is kept on the client machine, so the server has no record really of who was on or why the machine was shut down. That might take some finesse to handle that situation.

The senility of the Win98 machine is caused, not only by a whopping 32 MB of system RAM, but by people who click on a million things at once and wonder why things aren't instantaneous. I shouldn't talk, I've crashed that machine once or twice doing that.

On the plus side, the Win98 machine is printing. Yay!

I was so pumped with adrenaline from my successful install (how sad) that I couldn't sleep again last night.

the zero hour

Today I go in at one. After reading the not terribly descriptive (at least not descriptive enough to put my mind at ease) server documentation, I realized that a day and a half might not cut it to get this working. So I am going to ask that I have today to work on it as well. The way I figure is I can't really have been scheduled more than four hours on info and reference, and I should probably, at least on the reference time, be down and working on the server.

This involves a call at nine to ask them to "x" out the afternoon time slots on our soon to be defunct (oh god I hope) sign up sheet, so that I can get people off and get working.

I'd like to thank kctipton to bringing me back to my senses. After looking at the functionality of the software, and thinking about the big picture and how it's most consistent, I have decided the two seconds it takes to scan a card is just fine, staff and patron complaints be damned.

No, seriously, the reality of it is, we have a book budget, but no hardware budget. We take cards for the other internet terminals and the word processors.

Library card access lends some accountability.

The Time Access Console is a very limited program when it comes to the one time use numbers. We can't make reservations, for instance. All that the circ staff will be doing is looking at the screen to see what's available. So they'll be doing the reservations on paper, with the aid of the screen.

I am not allowing reservations further than the next half hour in advance. Why? Because people don't stick around and wait more than half an hour for their reservations. In the current set up, they sign their name down for an hour from the present time, get bored and leave, and then we're all confused about who gets that time slot.

I think I am going to have people sign in for a computer. If it's available, knock yourself out. If it's not, we take their name, library card number, and time the computer will come available. Then, when their time comes available, they come back to circulation and get their one time use number.

My thinking is if they don't have the one time use number in hand until log in time, they won't be as likely to a) take someone else's time slot accidently (or not accidently) or b) circle around the poor person on the computer trying to see when they'll be done so they can hop on immediately.

The circ staff is going to have some resistance because it's more work for them. It is. But it's going to cut down the conflict and unhappy patrons, I think, when it comes down to it. And it's not significantly more work. I guess I have to spin this not so much that it's a reduction in work as much as gain in efficiency and fairness.

And circulation will be doing, well, circulation duties, and librarians can do searching and help patrons, not spend time playing internet cop.

mail order diploma

My diploma is ready. Yay. I can't get into to town to pick it up, and I'm not going to commencement, so I had to stick an additional ten bucks in an envelope to fork over to Simmons so that I can get it certified mailed to me. I guess I would understand more if it was an overdue fine.

The kicker about the mailman here is I know he's going to fold it up and shove it through our mail slot. I know it. Perhaps I should put a sign on the door saying leave it on the back porch. I would have liked to have it delivered to work, but I feel funny about asking about that sort of thing.

I hope that Simmons puts it in a stiffy mailer. And I hope it's big. My diploma from college is about the size of postage stamp, and meanwhile, my husband's got his big impressive JHU and GW diplomas on the wall. My postage stamp from the state college did come in a leather case, though.

I've decided that even though I want to ask for library cards to use the internet, at this juncture, there's really no good reason to. I could do it if I thought we were going to get the card module any time soon, but I'm not so sure. And I suppose if I'm going to ask for cards, I should ask for a good reason. My fear is also that the email and Linux terminal will get fights, because they're the only ones that aren't going to be card only. Perhaps it's best to do this in stages. If we decide on the card module, and get the RAM so our server can support it, then we will start to put out signs and explain to people what's going on, so they can be prepared.

I think psychologically it will help the staff, too. And god knows we all need psychological help. (Hee, of course I had to throw that in). I think there's going to be some resistance to having to learn a new bit of software, that the extra step of getting a library card might just push them over the edge.

What is scaring me is people seem to think this is self serving... Which even if I was going to deploy that module, we'd be over there explaining it all day. It's going to eliminate conflict, mostly, and eliminate the need for the reference/info person to be the one that has to get up every half hour and nicely remind people to get the hell off. It will eliminate people coming in with ten minutes left on the half hour and saying, "I was only here ten minutes!"

I expect some complaints to begin with from patrons who have a hard time limiting themselves. I will let you know if that really happens, though. I know I've had patrons from other libraries say that they liked their library's timer software, too. So go figure.

It erases cookies and history and cache, though. Dang! The systems librarian likes the timer software.

I am really nervous about this. This is the first big decision I've had to make, and it's a little unnerving. I hope it goes well.

R-ing TFM

So today and tomorrow and Monday morning I'm doing the ol' RTFM aspect of network software installation. The more I RTFM, though, the more questions are arising. Technically this is a upgrade, and I'm adding a module, but it sure sounds like I have to reinstall the whole server and client software. That just doesn't make sense though. It seems like creating tons of extra work for myself.

I am still playing with the card access system. The people on the nameless listserv are saying pretty much what I thought they would -- they're split down the middle. But from what I see, I have nothing to lose by asking to see a card and everything to gain. We will still have our terminals out that aren't card access, of course. No printing off them, unfortunately. Not until I can tweak them further.

I had a discussion with a supervisor about the direness of the hardware situation. In a home environment, the hardware could last indefinitely, until it was finally too obsolete to run anything. My husband's boss just gave up his 386 a few months ago. In the public environment though, hardware has the shelf life of milk left on a picnic table in July. Our new machines act wonky from time to time. It's no wonder. People log them out constantly, bang on them, shut them down improperly... I get testy when people (or anyone but me anyway) insults the machinery at the library. Considering what it faces day in day out, I think it's pretty remarkable we've still got some serial mice and P1 chips kicking around.

And I was never a Mac person, but am fast becoming one. For the love of pete, don't insult the Mac. OS X is a happy middle ground between Linux and Windows. Easy to navigate, somewhat easier to configure, and less than $130 for the OS.

I had a patron tell me that in the OS wars, Windows was the lesser of two evils. I wanted to remind him that there were, ahem, more than two operating systems out there.

Anyone else psyched about the 2.6 kernel coming out in the form of SuSE 9.1? I've wanted to compile and play with 2.6 since it came out several months ago, but I'm too scairt of screwing up the ubercomputer. I'm still too newb to compile my own kernel. So yes, all you cool Linux people I totally want to be one day will say, "Jeez, chick, 2.6's been around for ages..." I know. I just wanted it in the Linux flavor of my choice. I heard SuSE 9 Pro didn't run real well if you used the experimental 2.6 sent with it.

I saw road atlases in the supermarket today and felt compelled to pick them up and look at them. I think, with the roads around Boston changing almost daily thanks to the Big Dig, it might be time to just trash and buy all new ones. I hate people coming in for directions and heading directly to MapQuest. MapQuest stinks!

tearing down the Berlin Wall @ your library

Today I withdrew some atlases from the collection. Goodbye, thirty year old atlases. Goodbye, East and West Germany. Goodbye, Soviet Union. If I held on to them a few years longer I could have just pencilled in the word "historical" on them. No one would have known the difference.

There are a few I am sorry to see go. The Atlas of Africa, for instance. It's a good thing to have, and I'm having a hell of a time finding a replacement, but a forty year old map of a rapidly changing continent isn't terribly useful.

I need to order more atlases. I have a few trickling in, but I feel like we have gaps in coverage.

An argument for timed access software (discovery of link thanks to Librarian in Black): this little article from CNN that tells of a kid that went batty when dad turned off the game. This is what I fear some of our patrons will do when you tell them their time is up.

I downloaded the documentation for the timed access software, and now have to really buckle down and think hard about some things. My direct supervisor said she didn't want the librarians managing it, which was my first instinct. I mean, logically I would have it at reference. Now that I see the interface, I think perhaps it wouldn't hurt to have it at circulation. The only trick is printing off the one time use numbers. There are no printers at the circ desk. So I have to see what I can do to print them off easily. I am thinking perhaps trying to network the nice printer in the professional's office to the console. Either that, or I can physically haul a printer out and hook it up on a given day of any week. Or I could install the console on another terminal as well, and print from there. I think.

I'm also grappling with the library card issue. Technically, with this software, there's no reason to have them present their library card, except that we make them present their library cards for the one hour terminals and the word processing terminals. I say we should be consistent one way or the other. I like the idea of presenting cards, but the staff is split about fifty fifty on the issue. There would still be cardless access, it just wouldn't be whiz bang cool cardless access. Unless you're a geek like me that thinks Linux is da bomb.

Da bomb. I can't believe I just said that. That's the kind of day it's been.

I've been scheduled lightly on reference and information this coming week so I can devote some time to getting this puppy up and running (and getting some training manuals under way.) I am going to be one busy librarian this week. The very nice people at OCS swear up and down installation is easy. I do have to say they've been more than helpful in answering my questions as we go into the demo period. Let's see how the config goes. The network is basically all together now, at least. I just have to plug the circ computer into it. And get memory into the circ computer. That might be a Monday night thing.

I am worried about our feeble little once unfiltered terminal that can't seem to get up the gumption to recognize more than 32 MB of RAM. I don't know if it can take the network programs. We once had the printer software set up on it, so I guess it can handle that. But today it was complaining to me about lack of memory.

Today the woman at circ's daughter came in and asked how writers just know all "that stuff." I told her that's because there are good librarians behind them.

when I talk tech, people's eyes glaze over

At least, in person, at work. I think I explain things better, or at least I am clearer, in print. I can think about what I'm going to say. Public speaking at any level is not my strong point. I can do it, just not my strong point.

I was talking in a staff meeting yesterday and just got the feeling that I was sounding like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon... "Wonk wonk wonk wonk wonk wooonk." I could pick out the two people who actually knew what the hell I was saying.

I have a very specific list of things I want to get done today. Since today is Friday, we're conveniently half staffed (sigh). I want to pull some of our old atlases, since the new ones have started coming in. I want to download the documentation for the timed access software. I have to wait till Monday to actually download the exes, being that they're updating this weekend.

I think the best plan for signing people up for the computer is the simplest. A list with name, computer number, library card, and time they signed up for. Very similar to what we have now, yes. Except they have to go through the added step of going to information, and they have a strict half hour limit. This will help information (and reference, when reference is there) keep an eye on who's over there. It will also discourage people who just pop on for two minutes. They can use the email or Linux terminal.

I am debating about the presentation of the library card. I like the idea. I want a number if something gets damaged and the next person reports it, you know? Not saying that things are intentionally damaged on a regular basis, but these things are time consuming and expensive to fix. That, and there will be a way to check if little kids using the computers really do have mom and dad's permission. Right now they can jump right on with no check (at least, downstairs), and that bothers me.

So today I make signs saying we'll have downtime next week (the staff is overjoyed... the internet is a point of disgruntledness among us) and that the system will be going card only. I've got to talk to the assistant director about this, though.

I like public librarianship. It certainly is a challenge. I worked retail for many years through college, and I think that was great preparation. I knew there was a silver lining in all those years of retail.

I had an English teacher in high school, who I adored, who reminds me of a certain administrator in our library. Same mannerisms, same sense of humor and justice. I feel quite at home.

it's after me

There was a patron that came up to me yesterday, a regular... Not particularly a problem patron, but one of a group of kids who does have the tendency to be a problem from time to time... not because they aren't generally well behaved, but because they cluster. What did she have in her arms but a copy of the aforementioned The Innocents. The book is chasing me. She of course didn't take it out, because the book is only staying in the library to show up in weird places and otherwise freak me out.

I think I have worked out a solution to the timed access dilemma. I think that librarians and circ staff should share the duties. Circ staff will register, and librarians can do any administrative tasks that come up on the console. That leaves information free to do information, and circulation free from having to learn the software. This will also lend credence to the card only restriction.

Personally, I think it's silly the computers aren't card only. I might have a hard time convincing some people on the staff otherwise, though. I mean, true, you aren't physically taking the computer out of the building (well, some people have tried, before my time there, I guess), but there's a lot you can mess up on a computer. And arguably, it's just as if not more expensive and involved to fix it than a book.

I do wish we had the finesse of the Horizon integration with the demo software we're trying. It takes 256 MB RAM to run the software and another 256 MB for every 250,000 users. How many card holders in the consortium? God, I'd say at least a million. RAM is essentially cheap, but tack that on to the $1000 for the integration, and that's still scraping by on bare minimum.

I was told by Boston that their system runs appreciably well but is still slower than they'd like on their server. Considering that the computer on my desk right now has the same specs as the server at our library... Well, you get the picture. I could run an internet cafe out of my backroom.

time's up!

Felt much better to go to work today...

I have a lot of thinking to do about the timed access. Turns out, because of our alliance with the consortium, we'd need a crudload of memory to actually handle the Horizon integration. So that's just not going to fly. We have a decent server, but I don't think I could shove the three gigs or so or memory the public would require to make it run to their standards. Instantaneous! We want things instantaneous! I shouldn't poke fun -- so do I. So do I.

So we are doing timed access, because I think it will help. Staff is going to have to come to the realization, like I have, like the assistant director has, that this is not ever going to be a hands-off proposition. It isn't with the sign up sheet, because people can't police themselves, and it isn't going to be with the one time sign up sheets. I think, however, the public will foresee the timed access as being more fair... justice doled out by machine, not by a human. No one will get just ten more minutes.

This doesn't stop the problem of sign up. I am playing with the idea that perhaps it's better to not give out a one time use number more than a half hour in advance. This way, we won't have people saying that they were next in line when they really weren't. Or perhaps we should have a sign up sheet behind the reference desk. You can make a reservation, but we get to hold the number till you pick it up. I need to look at the logistics, and it might go through several changes.

Hey, that's the price you pay for internet access.

I just fear that the staff has this idea that it will be perfectly seamless. That it will be self-contained and hands off. If anything, it's going to be more labor intensive, but more fair. There should be less sticky altercations -- no more fist fights and name calling and computer hogging. But it's obvious to me now that more than just software is involved... it's going to take some strategic planning and perhaps an overhaul of internet policy to some degree.

I need to make them, in some way, card access only as well. This way we can see that someone has used the computer more than their hour allotted time a day. This should be on a sign up sheet.

Today I had a guy come in and tell me all about cookies and temp files, in a tone that said, "Stooooooopid woman". I've understood the cookie/temp file concept since 1995. In fact, last time this guy complained the computers were down I was actually cleaning out the cookies and temp files and doing computer maintenance. I shut him off, rather rudely, I fear. I have enough self esteem issues that I didn't need to be talked to like I was two inches tall.

He says, "There are programs that will erase your temp files!" I wish people knew the budgets constraints @ your library. Honest to pete. Gotta love Linux. Why didn't libraries anchor on to the open source thing a looong time ago?

Books trying to tell us something

We have this book -- a visually gorgeous folio called The Innocents about (what else?) people incarcerated who turned out to be innocent. Granted, I haven't really looked at this book except for the covers and a few pages here and there. So I know nothing, really, of this book's "message."

However, this book, or the patrons, or the library spirits, are trying to convey something. This book is supernaturally everywhere, everyone on the staff turns. I placed it on the new folios rack in a prominent position, hoping someone would take it out, to free us for a few weeks. No dice. Instead, this book wills itself to be picked up and carried around by patrons, then seeming dropped beside the PACs, dropped on the reading room tables, dropped by the videos (or, most often) dropped on the floor, right in front of the folios. What gives?

I thought it was just me, so I mentioned it to one librarian and two support staff, who noticed the same thing about it.

I am taking today, when I am away from work and feeling bored, to plan the timed access demo introduction. I am thinking that the wheels won't be in place until next week, which is probably just as well. I don't know how long I'll have things down while I configure them, but having them down over a Friday/Saturday period might be troublesome. I also think, to simplify things, and to keep an eye on how things are running, information is the best place to keep the management software. Reference would be really ideal, but inconvenient mornings and evenings, when no one is at the reference desk. This might take some study of patron records. Not in a Patriot Act what-have-you-been-viewing sort of way, relax, but in a when-is-this-computer-most-active sort of way. The problem is (catch 22) our very unscientific sign up sheet. Just because there is no name on the sign up sheet doesn't mean the machine isn't being used. Naturally the computers are most active when someone is on reference, typically from 2 to 6 in the afternoon.

This may be a staff meeting survey sort of thing. I am usually at reference, and less frequently at information. It might be more of a pain in the butt to have to sign up people on the computer all day at information than it is to just do it off hours and have to physically get up to go to reference to do it. It might confuse the bejeebies out of patrons, too.

I am going to try to put Panther on a dying Mac. I think something merely may have gotten corrupted on it, and now it's getting very upset when you do too much with it. I meant to put Panther on it anyhoo so I guess now is as good a time as any. I put my newly zorched and reinstalled Windows unfiltered-now-filtered terminal out for people to, er, have their way with. At least I finally got the antivirus to activate. Sheesh. What a production.

Snow is headed our way. The sky's got the rich gray-yellow pallor of impending snowfall. Up to twelve inches, they say. I wonder if I will have work tomorrow, either. I am sort of hoping I do, because I do get so bored. Then I'm sort of hoping I don't, because my husband has tomorrow off. (What a racket!)

Feeling guilty about missing work, but at least feeling as though it was justified... I feel pretty miserable, and can't imagine holding down the information fort feeling this way.

I hate taking sick days

I hate taking sick days, but I think today I am forced to. What I thought was a brewing migraine seems to have yielded to a virus. At least, I have a fever. I went to work yesterday feeling crappy, and felt like I didn't really do my job properly. I hate that feeling too. Perhaps a day in bed will put things right. I just feel so guilty.

I previously worked a job (not in a library) where they would put you on a major guilt trip if you missed a day. I was in the hospital at one point, and they asked if I'd at least be in on Monday. Gee, guys, thanks for your concern. Anyway, now I have a hangover from that job, and I feel horribly guilty for missing a day, even though most people realize, that, er, that people do get sick.

I got the go ahead to employ a demo of the timed access software. The vendors, who shall remain nameless, are picking up the heat as far as saying, "Use mine instead!" Honestly, though, I think for our patrons and staff, less bells and whistles and less we have to adjust to is better.

I do have a copy of A Beautiful Mind (the DVD) on my desk that belongs to another library. Long story. I do hope it can wait another day before I call them to let them know the AWOL disk was returned by an embarrassed patron. Haven't we all returned boxes and left the DVD in the player before? I know I have.

For the record, no temporary library cards. Ever. I understood that, and I'm fairly sure you understand that. But man, do people ever want those temporary library cards. There must be a temporary library card black market.

rewarding the wicked

A disturbing trend: people have been erasing other people's names on our real high tech internet sign up sheet. While I want to commend these people on their ingenuity (and their perceptiveness of at least being able to look at, then figure out our high tech sign up sheet) I feel that this is morally... well, it's between stealing candy from a baby and kicking a dog.

What concerns me more is how I handle it if I am just coming on to the reference desk. Sure, I can see a name has been erased and another has been put in. Sure. But how do I know if your name was there previously? Plenty of people erase their own names when they leave. Besides, if you were really sneaky, you could see someone else's name was erased and say yours was.

So I have to go by what's on the sign up sheet at the present time, if I haven't been there to see who was waiting. That's just not fair. The eraser then gets positive reinforcement, for, as Beavis would say, being a dillweed.

I so want timed access software.

Another disturbing trend: people are telling me our computers suck. Of course they do. The poor things are abused for twelve hours a day. (This was incidentally, uttered by the same aforementioned patron whose frequently uttered cry of "I don't know what I pressed!" is known by the whole staff.) If a machine had feelings, these would be crying out from the ground, folks. Don't mean to get all biblical (but that line is just so poetic). Until the money tree sprouts in the garden though, libraries in general (not just this library, or even libraries in this state) are out of luck.

So they do their best. Go easy on them.

Disturbing trend trois: Library cards are being stolen and bizarre books are being checked out on them! And naturally, are never returned. I've heard this complaint three times in as many days. Odd. As some LISNews stories have reported, if I were going to steal a library card and then steal library materials, I'd steal resaleable stuff. Like DVDs. Not histories of doilies. (Not to insult anyone who's seriously into doilies).

random acts of shut down

What does the public do to computers? Honest to pete... I know that people have the tendency to want to really finish what they start and log out of the computer after they finish using the browser (and some staff members are having a hard time grasping if I disable log out, then no one can log out, public or staff). Logging out I don't mind. People have taken to shutting it off entirely. Either that, or it's crashing and no one is telling me.

Then the OS X iMac sat there, like a giant colorful paperweight, yesterday, while I tried to turn it on after one particular patron rolled through. This patron frequently says, "I don't know what I pressed." After trying to turn off and on several times, I started to get nervous. Nothing. No signs of life. What the hell was pressed this time?

Evidently the computer got moved, and the power cord came loose in the back. Thank you. Thank you. I didn't want to replace another iMac.

Someone suggested some donations I just might take. She didn't know the specs off hand, but they're running Windows 2000. That's a good sign anyway. I told her to call me back with the specs.

migraine time!

I get migraines, and I think there's been a doozy brewing all week. I can sort of tell when they're coming. I start getting nauseous, then losing feeling in my arms and legs intermittently, then I start seeing stuff out of the corner of my eyes. Today there was something black flitting around in my field of vision. We on occasion get bats in the library, but this wasn't a bat.

I can only pray it comes tomorrow, when I don't have to work. I feel mighty guilty if I have to take sick time only two and a half months into the job.

It was busy today. In a way I liked it. It made it go fast.

    Things that don't go fast in our library:

  • Horizon between noon and five
  • The internet between that same time
  • Windows boot up
  • The book on Quattro from our 005s.
    • Things that do go fast:

  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Patrons out the door when we shut off the computers
  • Staff out the door at six
  • That is one thing I am continually amazed by. I worked retail in college, and we were virtually held prisoner by customers that came in 5:59 when we closed at six and proceeded to window shop for an hour. The managers would never kick people out. At the library, you get a fifteen minute warning and a five minute warning, and then things start shutting down.

    Libraries are a beautiful thing.

    Today I noticed that the assistant director has "librarian" handwriting. It's that lovely flowing script I guess they used to teach (from what I've heard.) I do wish they still taught it. I officially have what's known as chicken scratch.

    Saturdays are a double edged sword.

    In a way, I like working Saturdays. It's busy, but it's a spread out busy, not a "the library is full of bored kids from 2-5:30" busy. However, you run into the same problem you run into on Fridays in that when the children's room closes at five, you get a wave of bored children coming downstairs.

    This will get me death threats I'm sure: I'm not a big fan of kids. I mean, some kids are fine, but I choose not to have them myself. I'm not overly fond of the neighbor's kids. I don't like to go to restaurants have a cranky six year old screaming in my ear (a cranky one year old I have a higher tolerance level of. I can understand that. It's age appropriate.)

    But my distaste for children isn't particularly why I don't want them downstairs. They bang on keyboards, sure, and sometimes, when they get real bored, they whip all the paperbacks off the shelves. That's annoying. That ticks me off.

    But I worry about my responsibility to them. I can't babysit them. I mean, technically the poor children's librarians shouldn't be doing that either (though I know they are). But at least they were hired to specifically deal with the children. I was hired for all ages, but primarily above twelve. Usually, from five to six, I am helping people over twelve. I can't be watching a five year old left by mom and dad. Or by their "very mature and responsible" eight year old brother (happens-- a lot.)

    I wish the library were a safer place, at least, as safe as parents seem to think it is. I wish that I could throw these children out when they're really misbehaving (as they sometimes do), without guilt that I now have a six year old wandering the streets. But I can't in good conscience do that. I'm not a big fan of children -- but I care enough not to put them in harm's way.

    Which I think, sometimes, is more than some parents do.

    Okay... comment away. I know librarians as babysitters is not a new phenomenon and in many ways I am preaching to the choir. And I know that my not too fond of children stance ticks many off... Go easy on me. I'm fragile.

    love in the stacks

    I love our closed stacks.

    I wasn't so sure about them at first. I mean, it's scary back there. The floor is glass and very sci-fi. This scary glow comes up when the lights are on on the floor below. The lights are just exposed bulbs. Some floor panels on the sides are pieces of plywood that look like they might not hold some of the kids that come in for story time, never mind me.

    Plus the ghost. Alledgedly there is a ghost in the closed stacks. I don't know where I stand on the paranormal issue, but I guess if I were a dead bibliophile, that's probably where I'd hang out. And it certainly makes you want to believe, being in there at night.

    But the books are beautiful. I love old books (this is where we keep things that don't circulate, can't circulate, or are otherwise not really needed in the main library), even though I understand that most of them have really minimal value, relatively speaking. I found a book on Dorothea Dix from the late 1800s. It wasn't anything special, but it was just neat.

    Actually, know what I like? I like the really neat librarian handwriting that goes on the bookplate. And the cataloging information. The script is just gorgeous.

    Library geek journal entry. We will return to our regularly scheduled systems/reference/duties as assigned posting tomorrow.

    Lazarus, come forth

    Or, today's version, IBM 300GL, come forth. Today, just for the hell of it, I switched video cards. One from the work room computer (which was dead) into my dead computer. Lo and behold, then they both booted and worked fine. I can not pretend to understand. I made no pretenses that I really understood what exactly went on. I fully expect both of them to stop working if I look at them cross eyed or insult their mothers. But for now, we are once again running with computers where they really need to be. Happily ever after. Amen.

    Perhaps it was my computer's three hour visit to the basement computer morgue that scared the bejeebies out of it and got it working again.

    Amazing how people will fight over overdue fines. This is over an amount of money I'm sure they don't even notice they're spending at Dunkin Donuts in the morning. But that pays our messengers. It's not like we're salting it away to close the library to go to Tahiti.

    If you ask me, libraries without messengers are really bummers. I wish I could have been a messenger as a kid. I find shelving books relaxing. I tend to drop books a lot though. Clumsy me.

    I spotted two teenagers in the lower stacks reading. They were being good, but I asked them to go up to young adult. It's kind of dark and skeevy in the lower stacks, and I didn't want them down there alone. I don't like to be down there alone.

    Caught a kid last night beating on one of my keyboards playing online games, which is prohibited. I am mighty protective of keyboards and mice. They're like pet hamsters, with their short life spans and their funny odor. Okay, well, at least with their short lifespans.

    Computer hospital

    IBM computers suck. Am I allowed to say that? More specifically, the IBM computers we got suck. Mine is officially gone to computer heaven (or hell, I'm not sure). Last night I got the word from one of our support staff that, yes, the one in the workroom also seems to have gone. Special collections survived (it wasn't on at the time of the power outtage), as did two librarian's computers (which, now that I think about it, were also not on at the time of the outtage.) I guess I should be thankful for small things, like that those two particular librarians came in late that day.

    It all comes down to no money. Not only no hardware money, but no money. Time for a bake sale. To patch the problem, I get the extra cataloging computer in tech services, and either special collections or the workroom goes without.

    My desk right now is the computer ER. I have one computer open that doesn't need to be (I just haven't had time to play with the old clamshell case to get the damn thing to shut nicely) and of course my old computer, which is dead. I guess I scavenge for transplantation parts and take it to the computer morgue (the basement) at some point this week. Eventually I will get my desk back.

    I was weeding computer books, and I discovered one book on KERMIT that had a 5 1/4" floppy in it. Yes, I withdrew it.

    I went down the lower level, where we keep the 005s, and I discovered two young people having a very intense conversation. I guess they were down there because they didn't want anyone to hear, because as soon as they heard me coming with the cart they shut up and went upstairs.

    Our one book on the history of the ballpoint pen has been withdrawn. Too bad, it would have come in handy for a school project someone was working on yesterday. Why they're teaching useful things like ball point pen history and not, like, how to use a library, I don't know.

    I was told by a nice young lady that the weather encyclopedia I got for the library to help with the massive amount of meterological requests we get was "too much reading." Sigh.

    It's actually quite a nice set... It's from the Gale Group, and is therefore at a USA Today reading level. Perhaps a little higher, just due to the general nature of it. Nice set though. She didn't like it, but I was quite pleased with it.

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