Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Public Art

If I read previously about the amazing digital art in the Mixing Chamber at Seattle Central Library, I forgot about it. It looks and sounds awesome. The flashing up on LCD screens of call numbers and titles of works just checked out makes "a real-time living picture of what the community is thinking." I'd like to think it's educational, that people would watch 917s and see that they were travel, and notice that 741.59ish are cartoons -- but I bet the Dewey numbers don't really speak to people. I wonder that it doesn't trip off the Privacy alarms of librarians. It sounds like it's "safe," that it's not near circulation desks: you can't see who's checking out Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul or other possibly embarrassing titles.

I read somewhere -- I'll try to find where and link to or quote it -- that it may be time for librarians to revisit how we feel about privacy. It may be that the shared spaces of Web 2.0 make (some) people less concerned about privacy, less prone to assume they have a right to expect privacy.

I didn't just do professional reading yesterday. I hooked people up with: the table feature in Word, books on remodelling, a copy of Eldest, a class on basic computer skills, another copy of Eldest, and online resources for a research project on green building. I taught a woman how to attach a document to an e-mail, a skill I have now taught so often that I know exactly where to look for the "attachment" button in all major e-mail programs.

Reading: Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon. This morning I stood with him on Manteo and looked over to Nags Head at the new Ramada Inn, and agreed when he said "I hope you're not going to put highrises here, too. ... Overwhelms everything out there -- no harmony between it and the land. Architecture without regard for place or history. They've been Jersey Shored, if you ask me." Twenty years on, and a few name changes later, and I don't know which I wonder at more: that the Atlantic has yet to reclaim it, or that it didn't collapse of it's own shoddy draftiness, sand-weighted shag carpets, and crappy towels.

Capital City weather: cold and clear

Friday, January 26, 2007

The New Yorker : online : content

For the Birds

I've been reading a lot about birds in the last two years. So much that I am starting to mix up what I read where. Extinction is a common theme. There was the book on the ivory-billed search, and something about North American parrots (where did I read that?), and now dodos in the January 22 New Yorker. Go here for some bizarre pictures made with model dodos.

I've read about "big listers" in To See Every Bird, and I think again in an article. CNB gave me a nice book of essays on birding that included one by a fellow who found his city's water treatment ponds to be great for birding. Somehow that image sticks more than the plain pieces on birding in Central Park.

And then Phiance got a subscription to National Geographic, so I read about hummingbirds the other day. All of this leads to me not really feeling up to reading Hope is the Thing with Feathers: a Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds. Oh, maybe that's where the parrots were. I started it, but I feel maxed out on birds, for the moment.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Five Things

Wowwee! Tagged by The Vampire Librarian for a meme. Five things that blog readers don't know about me:

1. In elementary school, it really annoyed me that the school librarians kept the Narnia books in alpha order by title, and I'd make a point of putting them in the Correct numerical order whenever I could.

2. I went to library school wanting to get back into the history museums and archives field.

3. It was my reference class (burdened though it was by a cumbersome name like Information Sources and Services) that make me see that public libraries would be cool, too.

4. Capital City is a minor league town, in so many ways. (This is not the part you don't know.) One of the things I like about that is that it gives a kinda average kid like me a chance to be if not a big fish in a small pond, certainly a medium-sized one. When I go to big events, I enjoy playing the How-many-people-will-I see-that-I-know Game.

5. I really, really wanted to name my blog Floor Pie, but someone took that name and has never posted. How long does it take Blogger to reclaim names, I wonder?

Okay, now the hard part. My friends who blog seldom pick up memes -- I bet they've been shredding my chain letters, too! No wonder I never got that five dollars.

Turning to people I don't actually know, it doesn't look like Librarian Girl has played yet. But after that, I'll follow the lead of Happyvillian and say, If you'd like to play, consider yourself tagged, and do comment to let us know.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Snow"* Day Bird List

song sparrow
white-troated sparrow
yellow-rumped warbler
carolina wren

*more of a "wintery mix"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Google Librarian Central: Talking At Librarians

Google Librarian Central: Talking At Librarians "eleven (count them - eleven) librarian weblogs"?! What, like that's a lot?? Tales from the Liberry, for one, has twice that in the sidebar, and each of those folks is bound to offer slightly different lists.
Well, shoot, I annoyed one patron in the first half-hour we were open. The day's first patron (outside of two or three self-sufficient frequent fliers) called to cancel out of two computer classes. "Thanks, we can offer those spots to someone on the waiting list."

The second person marched up to the desk and asked if I had coffee ready for him.

- Ummm, no.

I don't really know what you do here, but I need some information.

- Okay, I'll see if I can help.

Then he launched into the words "Federal Reserve Note" on his [our] money. What does the word "note" mean? Don't get distracted! Do you know the fed is a private business, not the government??

- Ummmm, no. I scanned http://www.federalreserve.gov/ while he asked if this is what we do -- find people answers. Well, we try to point people in the right direction on their research.

I signed him onto a public PC and pointed out what looked to me like the fed's definition of a Note.

No, no, "obligation" doesn't tell me anything! I've been looking online for a year! I called Richmond, I called Washington.

- Okay, let me help this other patron, then we'll see if I can find you a book. Sadly, as I gave the other man a visitor card, the first fellow slunk out.

Yeah, sadly, that's it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


New: birds on our feeder! Phiance reports sparrows, cardinals, and juncos (the latter on the ground).

New book: Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett. If you like Douglas Adams, give Pratchett a try.

News at 11: "See why these Girl Scouts are angry" -- or somethin' -- was the teaser. Fox 10:00 news gave us one leader and Senior Girl Scout sharing their reasons for protesting Kittamaqund's pending sale. I'd say there were about 100 of us on Hanover Green Drive protesting that decision as the board of directors met.

Oh -- channel 8 did a nice job: called it Kittamaqund (I think all girls and all their signs said "Kitty"), got a good blurb from a former Council president (dialog needed), included singing, and some good girl quotes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Over a week ago, I met "the Silver Fox" and Mo on the southside for a chat over second breakfast. On the way down Cary Street Road, I noted forsythia and daffodils starting to bloom. A day or two before, Phiance had asked if the mild winter would fool birds into nesting too soon. I said I thought that birds noted amount of daylight more than temperatures. It's plants, I told him after that breakfast date, that are most in danger of being fooled by the warm weather. I think they go by ground temperature. I know that these early bloomers are cold-hardy, but yesterday I noted my own daffodils with leaves up and setting flowers and now I am worried about losing them. My lenten roses have new leaves and buds, too, but I think they bloomed February - spring last year, so they could be okay in the cold snap due to start tonight.

New in our yard: we put up a bird feeder yesterday. We know we should be patient, but we keep peeking out the windows. So far this morning, I have noted one junco on the ground, way far away from the feeder.

The feeder was part of a day-off we-must-do-something-about-this-house frenzy that I instigated. We got a fourth set of plastic shelves for the basement, and so got all camping gear and stuff stored in cardboard boxes up off the floor. As well as shelves, I had a pegboard on my mind for a YEAR. Enough; let's just do it. You know what's odd? Hanging a pegboard meant a trip to a box store, a comedy of sticking the 4'x4' item in the trunk, and led to at least an hour and half of basement cleaning -- but actually smacking it up on the wall took about five minutes. There's a deep meaning there, somewhere, but this kink I got in my shoulder from dragging around basement junk is keeping me from thinking straight.

Read: Sibley's Birding Basics and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar. The latter, a newish book, appears on lists for YA librarians like "funny books" and "clean reads," and it is both. It's also well-written, if light. The titular freshman is bright and uses good vocab words, but he also defines them for his buddies (and readers) in an amiable way. I'm not really sure what kind of kids I'd "sell" it to -- he's too much of a nice kid to sell it to my tough boys, and my nice boys tend to prefer fantasy, SF, and graphic novels. I guess that leaves our nice girls.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Know You Love a Personality Quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader

Book Snob

Literate Good Citizen

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wired Dips into Teen Lit?

Come, on Wired: The Golden Compass as the next big thing? I could barely get through it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Everyone Behaves When the Boss Works

The branch manager worked the evening shift with me last night. At our branch, the Info Desk is a nice, big, curved counter, with a short end at the entrance to Children's, and a tall counter pointing into the rest of the library. Most evenings (we close at 9 p.m.), both librarians work side-by-side out at the desk, so it's a great chance for a Beginner (me) to learn from everyone else's style.

I haven't worked an evening with the Boss in a while, and the incidence of Freaky People has been high this few weeks, so I was glad for the chance to observe her strategies. Only, nothing particularly zany happened! No challenges to needing a card to use a study room, no complaints about the noise, no possessed computers. I might have shushed a pair of women chatting on and on by the printer, but at that same time, the Boss and I were making final choices on some books to order, so that didn't seem fair.

Mr. You Have a Name did come in just before the Boss came out to the desk. He needed the classifieds -- one of only three or four very popular resources we keep behind our desk, and the only one for which we will ask to hold onto your library card. He wanted to make a scene about how I was going to "ask him for his first born" [Yeah, um, No thanks.], but he could see someone else was waiting, so he kept it short. He spent a lot of time over the classifieds and gave them back to the Boss with no drama that I know of. He seemed to corner a mom and her two boys to talk their ears off, but, no, she seemed to know him because she asked him a follow up question! And I was set to leap to her aid so she could excuse herself gracefully. A Circ Staffer (dignified, experienced, unflappable) later reported that Mr. Name studied our DVDs for a while and then struck up conversation with her about why it was all "boring literary stuff" -- an odd contrast to the earlier mayhem observation.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yesterday's Bird List

double-crested cormorant
canada goose
red-tailed hawk
bald eagle
mourning dove
belted kingfisher
red-headed woodpecker
red-bellied woodpecker
yellow-bellied sapsucker
blue jay
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
white-breasted nuthatch
carolina wren
eastern bluebird
white-throated sparrow
house finch

We were at Rockwood Park (Chesterfield County) on a nearly-70-degree-and-sunny morning. Walking by the lake and glimpsing the picnic shelters reminded me of Girl Scout hikes and cookouts, the parties Dad would through for his patients and staff, and picnics with friends' families.

Phiance is asking about the picnics Dad would host: I recall games of volleyball and horseshoes. I remember lots of salt-free potato salad and chips and brownies for the dialysis patients. I remember going to a specialty store of some sort to pick up some pre-made hamburgers from a company called Murry's Steaks. One year, there were way to many left over and we at them at home for ages. For a while, Murry's became a watch-word for hamburger.

After birding, I had to return Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, so we walked over to Belmont, and then swung into Carytown, where, on a lark, we bought a wedding ring. Since Schwarzschild has been having a huge "reorganization sale," the stock was a bit thin, and we had to go to Short Pump for the other one.

Friday, January 05, 2007

At the Public Library

S came into the workroom from shelving yesterday with two items in her hand: the Sport Illustrated "swimsuit issue" and the cover of a book on writing grant proposals. Both had been stashed in the 900s, to cover the crime of stealing the text of the latter, I guess. (It goes without saying, that if you want the one, you need the other. . . .)

Question for Discussion
Which is more rude to others: hiding a back issue of a magazine -- so no one else can check it out -- or pinching dated (I think the copyright was 1999) information on begging for money?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sibley's Birding Basics
Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

The Tick
The Venture Brothers
The Simpsons,
Season 4

(Yeah, Santa's elves cranked out a sled-full of DVDs for us!)

Not Writing About. . .
How for the last 2 or 3 weeks, about half of the patrons in my library at any time seem to be new to us and new to the idea of a modern public library. There are computers, yet I cannot sit at two at once playing a game with myself? There are study rooms, but I'd rather be loud at a study table then spend time signing up for one. I have to have a library card "just" to use the computer? I can't use my cell phone? And, charmingly, upon receipt of our new edition of Connections in her newspaper, "I had no idea so much good stuff was going on here."

Another fine Xmas party: friends, food, Dan's wildly popular eggnog recipe, aluminum tree.

Good birdwatching on the River: winter wren, hybrid mallard-black duck, ruby-crowned kinglet.

Global warming and a mild winter in Virginia.

Blogger Beta, and wondering how these tags are going to work (Must. Use. Controlled Vocabulary!).

Word games
Some pirate game