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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).
[Note: this journal entry is occasioned in part by Ender's posting noted below, but also in part by Blake's daring to suggest that there actually is intelligent conservative opinion worth listening to.]
In a reply from Ender, Duke_of_URL (posting as an anonymous patron) in a thread on Christian publishing and culture, said he felt that Christians were more thievish than the rest of the population.
His generalization reminds me of the Duke U. philosophy professor (hmm, Duke_of_Url, Duke U., I wonder ...), who stated that stupid people were generally conservative, by way of explaining why there were so few conservatives in Duke's humanities departments:
"We try to hire the best, smartest people available," Brandon said of his philosophy hires. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.
"Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."
Now think about this for a moment: if LISNewzsters are drawn chiefly from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, then we come from the two smartest groups in the country!
In keeping with the Alaska theme of the last journal, I'm suggesting an informative book with many pictures for any of your patrons interested in the Alaska fishing industry. There might be more of those in your library than you might think. Each summer, thousands of college students and others come up to Alaska to work on boats, canneries (slime lines), and other desparately hard work that allows them to work in some of the wildest areas America has to offer.
Without further ado, here is some publisher provided information on the book "Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska":
Web page with photos: http://www.uaf.edu/seagrant/Pubs_Videos/pubs/SG-ED-41.html
Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska
Author: Terry Johnson
Editor: Kurt Byers
Pub. no.: SG-ED-41
No. pages: 200
Price: $25.00 US
Ocean Treasure is a full-color book about the Alaska fishing industry. Author Terry Johnson provides an engaging and authoritative overview of the seafood industry, combined with color photos and drawings of fish and invertebrates and the gear used to harvest them. Ocean Treasure tells how to recognize fishing boats and gear, what the fish look like, and how good they taste. Readers are treated to an account of the fascinating history of Alaska fishing, insight into mariculture, how the fisheries are managed, and the lifestyle involved in subsistence fishing. The book also offers a bibliography, a glossary, and a full index.
Visitors to Alaska whose curiosity is piqued by the fishing vessels and dock activity they see, as well as "armchair" Alaska tourists, will be
rewarded by the information-packed pages presented in the easy-to-read, friendly text of this book.
A resident of Homer, Alaska, author Terry Johnson is a marine advisory agent and journalist, and has sixteen years experience as commercial fisherman.
For those you still reading, I came across this book because it is a publication of Alaska's Sea Grant College, and thus is subject to the Alaska State Publications program, which I am responsible for. Ironically, Alaska's "sea grant" college is based at University of Alaska Fairbanks, which is in the central part of our great state and is hours from any part of Alaska's coast.
Well, I am going back to the Pullman series that starts with The Golden Compass. I started the Subtle Knife and put it down for awhile. I have developed a bad habit of starting novels and putting them down. I guess part of it is that I don't have blocks of time to read anymore.
I was talking to my husband about my job and how we were not allowed to walk at all during the day. My previous principal would let us walk during lunch. Of course, lunch was almost forty minutes so we could get a real walk in. This year, lunch has been cut back to thirty minutes. Grab your food and inhale. No walking. Since I am in the library, I don't have a planning period or any other breaks other than lunch. I have a couple of assistants so I guess I could leave for a minute or two. I might just do that to keep my sanity.
Went for a walk with my husband and son around the middle school track. Well, I walked with my son, and my husband ran. Never could get into that running stuff.
A couple of years ago, a friend and I got in a discussion about how to spell "Newbery", he was sure that there are two r's. I was certain there is only one. (Need I say which one of us was correct?)
Anyway, this got me thinking, so I did a web search on "Newberry Award". Hundreds upon hundreds. So every once in a while, I send a few simple e-mail informing webmaster or whoever is listed that Newbery is incorrectly spelled.
Most people don't bother replying - which is fine, especially since they do fix the typo. A few people send a note of thanks. One guy sent an abject apology - which made ME feel badly. One person called me a Nazi and told me to mind my own business.
This week-end I sent another 20 or so e-mails. Two web sites were particularly interesting one had Newbery spelled correctly sometimes and also spelled Newberry and Newbury. My favorite though was the one who used Newberry, Newbury AND NewBerry. HMMM.
Let me be quick to say, I'm fully cognizant that we all make typos (there are probably typos in this), but if I had them on a web page I had written, especially for the public, I would want somebody to let me know.
I've found typos on a number of library sites and even more frequently on .edu sites.
Maybe I am too picky . . .
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.
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.
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.
I've reworked all the cookie settings, so your best bet is to delete any LISNews cookies, and log back in. You should only have to login once now for all sections/areas/journals, whatever, they all use the same settings now, so I think I've fixed the long running cookie problems. If you have any troubles with being asked to login after you've already logged in, let me know.
Speaking of fresh baked, I'm hoping to have LISNews.org up and running on the new code today. I've got a 50/50 shot at gettin it running today I think.
You may have heard of Bjorn Lomberg, the Danish statistician and director of Denmark's national Environmental Assessment Institute. He wrote a highly controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist, in which he questioned much of the "scientific consensus" concerning global warming. He was accused by the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) of--you guessed it--scientific dishonesty (his book was deemed "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice").
However, the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation completely rejected the DCSD report, saying that it lacked documentation and was "completely void of argumentation" for their charges of scientific dishonesty. In rejecting the report, the Ministry left it up to the DCSD to decide whether or not to reopen the case, or to dismiss the charges.
After a two-year investigation, the Committee on Scientific Dishonesty has dismissed the charges.
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.
On the political front: I threw a fit of journal-entry proportions this morning because a friend and I went to the ghetto Safeway and discovered limes cost 50 cents apiece there.
Iâ€™m convinced the pricing of the limes has more to do with the fact that most folks who shop the ghetto Safeway do not own cars -- or enjoy a straight shot on mass transit to the competition -- because you can get limes five for a dollar elsewhere if you have a car; I purchased about 50 limes a week ago for 20 cents apiece.
(And, yes, I'm aware that someone has to labor for less than nothing and no hope for the occasional trip to the salon to get me limes at that price; jump to the wrap at the end if that's your shtick.)
My argument is that the pricing has nothing to do with fluctuations in the wholesale lime market, that we could have hit another Safeway served by the same warehouse and found limes five for a dollar.
The friend disagreed and is (begin emphasis) still (end emphasis) actively disagreeing. (Continuous action in the present, he.)
He says â€œthey would get busted if they did that.â€? He says every Safeway served by the same warehouse has limes for 50 cents apiece right now.
Hello? Who is going to bust Safeway for pricing limes based on what X captive market is willing to pay?
The larger argument: Fordist urban planning is a barrier to folks getting the lime-pricing they deserve. (I caved and bought a few of the 50-cent limes. They were underperformers.)
If we had great mass transit and sensible urban planning, not only would uniform pricing of limes result from everyone having equal access to all retailers, but Walmart would not be No. 1 in all significant retail categories -- folks would not necessarily patronize a retailer based on the asphalt-availability index alone.
My two neighbors, both under 30, do not have cars, and they report -- this while drinking wine on the balcony beginning at 10 or so on a Friday morning -- that it would not matter to them if they could get 50 rolls of toilet paper for 50 cents or 20 limes for $1, they would not patronize Walmart or its subsidiaries.
The one 23-year-old and said voting with your consumer dollar is equally as important as voting in elections.
If you think the larger argument is that you'd have to stop buying much of anything if you really wanted to stay clean karma-wise, this is the wrap: Yes, in a perfect world you'd have to pay the lime workers a livable wage and pass the non-savings onto me. But that goes against the Walmart worldview and would require a sustainable economy -- on and on.
Perhaps someone is tempted to imagine (or even assert) that I suggested the story about the EU's attempts to protect children while they use the Internet to make an argument for filtering along these lines:
Perhaps there is no such Someone, but if there is, that someone would of course be wrong.
For one thing, the EU does not rank high on my list of folks I would trust to make decisions on what my child should and shouldn't see on the Internet, or elsewhere. For another, I regard Internet filtering as problematic because it puts the state in loco parentis, and as I've said elsewhere, I don't want the state there. (Note that I'm not asserting that this is a decisive argument against filtering, but it's one that all parents who believe themselves responsible for their children's education should consider very thoroughly.)
I suggested this story firstly because I know that LISNews readers are interested in questions of filtering and censorship. Secondly, the list of people who think they are entitled to decide what others should read and see is by no means limited to religious extremists and malodorous drippy-nosed perverts (as some define them). In fact, I hope to post several more stories EU and UN attempts to regulate Internet content and use. LISNnewsters will, I think, find them of interest.
Serves me right. I am nice. Even though the guy didn't watch his class last time; when he buzzes up, I say sure. The gym was being used for Senior cap and gown pictures, and he needed somewhere to take his kids. For a second time, he sat in the large conference room (now the police officer's office) with his feet propped up. I will say no next time ...
It is a GORGEOUS day outside. I am taking a personal day next Friday and am hoping it looks like this one. Thank goodness the daycare center my son is in takes the infants outside.
I purchased Core Collection for Young Adults. Then, I spent a few days going through the sixty some odd page Word document deleting titles we had or I didn't want. Now, I am going through Titlewave typing everything in. These are, obviously, wish lists that I will draw from depending on the kind of budget I get.
It is amazing that even though we are staying late to make up work time, I am not really getting any work done. The time is slated for SACS, and since I am the head of a committee, I really need to work on SACS. Well, with phone calls and not being able to talk to people (because they were busy), I didn't get a durn thing done. Maybe next Thursday. :P
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.
[Gibson's] only on-screen performance was of his arm and hand hammering the nail through Christâ€™s hand. In one small dramatic act, Gibson exposed Abraham Foxmanâ€™s and the Anti-Defamation Leagueâ€™s efforts to defame the biblical account of Christâ€™s death as anti-Semitic.
Gibson was saying, loud and clear, that he helped crucify his Lord and Savior.
So did I. I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court.
Of course, as we all know, the film was excessively, grossly violent:
Liberal critics of the movie were aghast at the violence portrayed in it. Well, we finally find a movie that is too violent for these critics. Not Kill Bill, which liberals celebrated as a hip and edgy film, but The Passion. Violence is too much for them if it is in service to a religious message they simply cannot stand. [emphasis mine]
If someone like Rob Reiner made this criticism, it would at least have integrity. As I understand it, Reiner has for some time been critical of the film industry for its gratuitous use of violence and sex. But, to the extent it came from folks who loved Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, it is hypocrisy.
I hope I get to see it in a theater. Truth is, I don't get around much anymore.
 I have to confess a soft spot for Reiner, since he gave us Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride.
John Whitehead has a new article up at Razormouth. In it, he worries about the too-uncritical embrace of politics by Christians. The whole article is worth reading, especially for Christians. I offer two representative quotes:
The religious fervor of the gladiator salute â€œHail, Caesar!â€? finds its counterpart in todayâ€™s political scene. Candidates in modern election campaigns present themselves as heroes whose election will mark the advent of a new society. More and more, even in the United States, they claim that the state will provide all the answers to our woes. (Consider the present administrationâ€™s assertion that the government can now heal our marriages, cure our health problems and take care of us from cradle to grave, as well as save us from terrorists.)
As Professor Alan Johnson once wrote: â€œA Christianity tied too closely to the civil authorities soon finds itself being used as a tool to sanction the particular policies and acts of a government which uses the church to win citizen approval.â€? In other words, believers must avoid becoming merged with the state or politics, or else they risk becoming partners in the governmentâ€™s ultimate goals.
Fang-Face, if you are reading this, would you please contact Whitehead somehow and let him know what an authoritarian religious extremist and drippy-nosed malodorous pervert he is. I'm so incensed, I can't bring myself to do it.
He concludes his article with the acquiescence of the German church to the Nazi regime prior to the Second World War. While I find his comparison of Nazi Germany to our present situation rather over-the-top, not to say krankhaft (pardon the pun), as long as he is bringing it up it is an example we should bear in mind. Fortunately, our constitution is a good deal stronger than that of the Weimar Republic, and our economic woes ain't got nothin' on the Germany of the 20's and 30's. Still, we dare not cease our vigilance, whether or not we support the Patriot Act.
I could use a change of pace from the heavy topics I've been writing about and so can you.
Check out the Aurora Web Cam. This camera was set up by a private individual in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The camera is live at night (at least until May, when there's too much light) so you can tune and see whether there are northern lights playing. The builder of this site has also put together some terrific videos that are ALMOST as good as actually sitting out under the stars. Of course, if you live south of Seattle, this may be the only taste of the northern lights you get.
Even on the 'net, the aurora is worth watching. The dance of the lights is mesmerizing! Definitely best with a broadband connection, but 56K isn't totally disappointing.
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.
Priceless things from this current vacation period:1. Not getting attacked by colleagues on their own initiative and without provocation from me for being a Christian 2. Seemingly every librarian at the Fairview Park Regional library outside Cleveland's west side saying hello and apparently recognizing that I must be a librarian-in-training or something3. Finding the pleasure and humor of books by Will Manley4. Getting to spend time with my family
Thanks for all the kind feedback I got last week. I can't begin to tell you how nice that was.
I've noticed a couple "why is this on LISNews" comments for the first time lately. For years the LISNews about page said:
"You are stuck with what we find interesting on any given day, if that happens to interest you, then today is your lucky day." And I always wanted the rest to say: "If not, then tough shit, you're not paying for it."
I can't remember exactly why I took that line out. I guess it just never felt quite right being there, but I still think it sums up nicely what we do here. For the most part LISNews works like this:
Someone has an interest in becoming an author at LISNews.
They contact me, I give them super secret and exciting author powers.
They find a link, story, site, or something they find interesting.
They login, and post it to LISNews.
I've always worked hard at keeping LISNews as open as possible, without going completely metafilter, because I believe that having more people involved with the site makes it more useful/interesting/informative/exciting/etcâ€¦ Lately, the number of authors, coupled with my time off, has meant there's been a noticeable change in what gets posted. I've posted the majority of the stories over the past 4 years, which means, by default, I controlled much of what was seen around here. That's not really something I ever wanted, you know I've been begging for more authors since day one. I've been begging for more participation in general since day one. I'm trying to avoid the echo chamber, and I think we do a pretty decent job most of the time.
So, to answer your question, that is on LISNews because someone thought it was interesting. It's there because we want it there, because you might learn something, and because we decide what to post. Your feedback is always welcome, but we do this because it's fun, and because we find it interesting. We don't need to worry about ratings, or readership, or offending people.
I'll need another week or so to get the new server finished up, and all the domains moved over. LISNews is going to go last this time, because LISNews is going to be such a huge pain to move I don't even want to think about it until I have to. Keep your eyes on LISNews.org. That's where I'll be testing the new code before I dump all our old data in. You can expect some serious down time and general messiness at LISNews for a while as I make the transition.