Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Old News

The Da Vinci Code dropped off the NY Times best seller list after its June 18th appearance at number 12 (166 weeks on the list). The paperback edition remains at the top of the paperback list, of course, ruining an early theory that "everyone" has now read it, or seen the movie, and so got over it.
Should we make fun of what seem to be two sincere commenters on A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette: Conferences, Returning from? Or am I the one who has been wrong all this time: maybe it's not a sarcasm-laden postmodern spoofery of This Modern American Library Life??

Capital City weather: Humid. Sometimes in the falling form, sometimes not.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Estate Sale

I don't know how long the auction company will keep the Twin Oaks sale link live, here, but give it a try.

While running errands on Friday (a day off, with Saturday being a work day), I noted the Estate Sale sign on one of my mystery houses. The Monument Avenue house (most of the way to Glenside) been on my list of Hard to Know When Built for years. Was it a nicely proportioned 1920s - 40s Colonial Revival? Maybe 19th century because of the way it doesn't face Monument?

The estate sale blurb claims 18th century, and now that I have been inside, I could imagine the core of it being a circa 1800 central hall house. There was a central hall (with smallish squares of marble covering the floor; they seemed at once grubby and fine) with an oddly-proportioned staircase. Of the 3 rooms off the hall, the side two felt oldest, with their end chimneys and remnants of wood paneling.

Let me pause here and beg pardon for both timidity and a poor memory. I am too afraid of looking foolish or nosy to go into estate sales (which I love for the free tour of Richmond architecture as much as the possibility of cheap stuff) with a notepad to jot down what the woodwork looked like. I retain an impression of, Hunh, that woodwork looks old -- and that's about it. That said, I'll press on with my sketchy memories.

The right-hand room had a screened-in porch added on. There was something sadly cheery about a small chintz upholstered chair and footstool that clearly stayed on the porch. Cheery in concept; sad not only in the mildew spots from several seasons, but sad in the layer of dust and pollen from this spring. A brick in the chimney had an 18-teens date etched in it, so if the auctioneer's information is right, perhaps it was a hall-and-parlor house, with the right-hand room coming later. The left-hand room's addition was a kitchen. As one so often finds at estate sales, the last renovation to kitchens and baths occurred 20-30 years ago: I remember lots of brown and gold in the kitchen.

As also often happens at estate sales, the funky smell of sadness and lack of upkeep
permeated the house. Sometimes, the damp and musty smells indicate that they house was empty while the family hoped the owner might come back from the hospital or nursing home. But sometimes, clues suggest the owner stayed until the end, shooing friends and family away if they suggested repair to those enormous damp patches in the plaster in the living room -- or a cure for that potent cat pee smell.

There's not much to say about the library, in the newer first floor addition or the two upstairs bedrooms. I breathed deep the fresh air of the big back yard next, surveyed the many sets of outdoor tables and chairs, the vintage pool, the giant oaks and minimal plants, and moved to my right. "What's this? A an early 20th century washer? Something for sterilizing jars for canning?" - Ah, no, a kiln. "Perhaps I am about to be treated to a bunch of mugs and pots?" No! A table full of doll parts! The late owner was dollmaker Suzanne Gibson.

The cottage at the back of the property featured a downstairs kitchen with 50s metal cabinets, a large reproduction Federal style dining table, a copy in oil of a 1940s pin-up type poster; and an upstairs with finished dolls in their boxes, and boxes of wigs, feathers, clothes, and other bits and pieces. If not actually her workshop, a show room? On one end of a long table there was a large stack of story books featuring some of the dolls. Who knew? Well, apparently, not many people, or surely they would have been there to buy souvenirs?

I bought 2 cartoon glasses, and headed onward to Kroger.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Suggested Viewing

WCVE suggests we tune into "Save Our History" on Saturday, as it will feature some of the renovation to the Capitol.


Yeah, you see, that's actually exactly why we give you a card in the first place: so we don't have to look up the card number of each of the hundreds of patrons who walk in the doors of 9 locations across the county all day long. This isn't Ukrop's; I don't have some kind of manager's card I can magically wave over the scanner to grant everyone some magic discount. Your own library card is linked to useful information like your name, the number of minutes you get on library PCs each day, the titles of books in your laundry hamper and in the bed of your pick up truck right now; how much in back fines you owe us, and how much money you have on deposit so you can print things off the public PCs. It's a pretty darn useful thing! And I know it's a lot to ask you to carry when you already have all those credit cards, grocery store cards, gasoline station gizmos, memberships to warehouse stores, etc. . . . By the way, does Sam's Club even let you in the door if you forgot your card? You know, you can come into our place, soak up the too-strong A/C, get reference service (often, it's not this flippant!), use the bathroom, read any of our hundreds of magazines or thousands of books, use a meeting room, and even take a computer class without presenting that little piece of plastic. The only time you will need to present your card is to log onto a PC or to take some books out of the building.

Sure, I could look it up. I could look up people's card numbers all day and never sign anyone up for summer reading club (unofficial tagline: "Read Stuff, Win Fabulous Prizes!"), help them find books on How to Draw or how to "do a resume," or tell Mr. which is #3 in the Jan Karon series, 'cause he can't remember what the Mrs. told him to pick up.

But right now, actually, the server that stores all that information has gone bye-bye (as we say in the biz), so it's too bad that you didn't actually bring your library card to the library.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006

From The New Yorker (6/5/06 issue)

We Don't Want to Hear About it Department

From the Napa (Calif.) Napa Valley Register

You see, Google wants, needs, us to trust it because it has great plans. It wants us to feel free to load all the information we want into Google Base to create the largest suppository of information on the planet.

Please discuss.

My Fellow Virginians

Please vote in the Democratic Primary tomorrow.

Capital City Weather: rainy, 60s (brrr)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Friday at Work

I reviewed some donated books. Your nice hardback fiction, if it's more than 3 or 4 years old, is probably going straight to the booksale. Don't deceive yourself on that account. Some exceptions arise, such as Cornwell or Grisham: if our copy has been worn to shreds and the donated one is "tight" (as book repairers and used book dealers say) and clean, we're glad to get the [nearly*-]free copy.

*Staff time and materials to cover and label it.

I read a nice library boosterism article.

After a false start thinking that Flickr would suit his needs, I helped a patron set up a blog so he could post pictures for "this small group I'm in." (His sample picture was a car -- don't get all excited.) I hope it really is what he needed for that project. He's a pretty regular customer, so I guess I will find out.

It may not be the best professional practice to recommend "name brands" like that, but it seemed expedient. He came in while Children's Librarian had her lunch, which, naturally was the second-busiest time of day. While I helped him, I also hunted down a Jan Karon book, some Easy Readers, and declared "Missing" out How to Square Dance video.

Capital City weather: sunny and going up to 80 or so

Friday, June 09, 2006

Good News?

Brand identity and loyalty trumps underage binge drinking, accordning to this. I guess that's good news? (Thanks, Bill, for drawing my attention to it.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No Longer the Baby

When the folks who had glimpsed the nearly-completed area library all used the words “green and purple” to describe it, I wondered if the place pays homage to the Ridge Theater, c. 1989. Now that I have seen it, too, “purple and green” is indeed the overall impression. Like at the Ridge, and as was so popular c. 1990, accent walls in the new library are awash in strong colors in the purple, teal, and blue families. I think the rose walls were only in offices. Different carpets help define different spaces; they are in grays, greens, and purples, with wacky insets in the teens’ and children’s areas.

All, or nearly all, shelving now having been placed, New T also gives the impression of an academic library. Stairs lead down to where most of the adult collection will be, and my view to the right from them was of countless empty shelves, all the way to the wall at the far end of the huge space, lined up and waiting. So many those linear feet, combined with a glassed-in “quiet study” room, do seem like one floor of a college library.

The outside, luckily, is red brick, not purple or green. It’s dullish post-modernism in style, looking like a cousin to County public schools built in the last several years. Its massing is such that it does give the good, solid, proud feel that an important public building ought, even if its occasional playful round windows suggest a lighter mood.

Other features of note include a coffee bar, crazy – er, colorful – room for story time, mostly-enclosed teen area, several group study rooms, and a view of a charming drainage pond complete with the rats of modern suburbia, Canada geese.

I went to a meeting at New T with apprehensions like, Will I need a hardhat? and, What if I need a bathroom? Silly me. At this point, dozens of people are at work on the floors and wall. Of course there were lots of bathrooms ready for use (with tp, if not paper towels). A whole group of men bustled about with keys and plans, pointing at things. Others sat on the carpeted floor, wiring each of hundreds of outlets for the computers and copiers and whatnot. Like NP, the sunken floor outlets have clever little trap doors to protect them, so someone has to go around cutting up scraps of carpet and affixing them to the doors, so it all blends in very nicely. Study tables, computer desks, and most easy chairs have yet to arrive, so it is also clear what these next months are for: more assembly and decoration, plus hooking up and testing computer systems for nearly 200 PCs and laptops. Oh yes, and the books. New ones will be shipped in from a warehouse and the current collection has to be carried around the corner – and then it will be Grand Opening time. I’ll keep you posted, but an opening party should happen in early October.

I returned to sweet little NP knowing we’re no longer the spoiled baby, the showplace, the place meetings of regional library directors will be held. We’ll just have to work to be the most rockin’ Branch -- as opposed to “Area” -- Library.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Grocery Shopping

Whatever zany song was on the Muzak when I walked into Carytown Ukrop's flew out of my mind when I turned the corner towards the dairy section and saw a vision in pink, white, and pea green polk-dotted hose. Who knew Pam Reynolds did her own shopping? (If you don't know her, click here and ctrl-F her name.)

Also at the 'krops: beautiful white and pale blue hydrangeas, as big as a toddler's head. Around the corner from me, my neighbors have some good ones that have begun to bloom. Picture two row houses, the only ones facing the sidestreet on that side, with an alley on each one's "far" wall. Each house has a bush at that end, and there's one in the middle, between the two front doors. The far left bush is a strong blue, the middle one blue and purple, and the right one very purple, an interesting exercise in what might be different in the soil from one end of the double house to the other,