Friday, March 30, 2007

I was NOT imagining that the PO box on Cary, by the Kroger, was dressed as R2D2! See also, the USPS to vote for Star Wars stamps!
Better Late. . .

Okay, I am going to catch up on the 21st Century Librarian 23 Things -- the ones I haven't tried before. So here's a LibraryThing from me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Then We Came to the Clever Title References

Our OPAC has a "May We Suggest" feature: staff write quick blurbs for books, which then are buried deep in the "catalog record" tab. For Then We Came to the End, I wrote, "With breath-taking skill, Ferris captures late-1990s work-a-day life in a big company: its humorous quirks and its personal intensities. If you like watching 'The Office,' give it a try!" -- which is better than I remember writing, and certainly stronger than my first blog thoughts.

Yesterday, I read the New Yorker's blurb, and today the New York Times' review of Ferris's book. (R at work thought the Times was a bit snooty about it.) I've also started to poke around online: this site is cool for bringing together info on authors. This little obsession is about two things. I'm wondering about reviewing: can I or can't I? Do I just need practice? Or do I not have the right education and experience to note, "Still, Ferris's novel is not the satire you might expect. From 'The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit' to 'Dilbert' the defualt position for American stories about advertsing . . . has been derision." (Times) The second thing I want neatly answered is, How does one know when a book -- oh. That's just cool hunting. The buzz goes back months, in things I do not read. I first read about Then in our book vendor's catalog, and frankly, the cover design was nearly as influential as the description. Still, my Lib was one of the first three or so in the system to have it, so there.

Capital City weather: 70s and 80s for several days, sunny

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday Walks

The great blue herons nesting on the island across from the Pipeline Overlook (it's part of the Canal Walk, I guess) are worth seeing -- and act quick before those trees finish leafing out! Though you can see the birds from the parking lot, we walked the pipeline, and found the River to be quite high. The only place we could scramble off the pipeline was at the beachy point at the beginning: the rocks we've enjoyed sitting on in the summer were under rushing water. The Teen spotted a lot of fish pointed upstream, though not making that much headway. Feeding? Spawning? I know almost nothing about fish.

After leaving Teen in suburbia (and a quick bite at Liberty Valance), we explored the trails of the James River Park at the 42nd Street entrance. Chickadees, titmice, wrens, and grackles were in fine voice, chasing and flirting. We heard more woodpeckers than we spotted. We hopped the rocks to 42nd Island and found many of low-to-the ground wildflowers: purple violets, a ton white things I didn't remember well enough to ID at home, the cool yellow trout lily, and daisy fleabane (or something like it). There's a ton of greenbriar on the island, making me think that it's not nice over there in the summer -- or they've got a great volunteer team or staff to hack it back.

The James River Park system really is awesome. Trails and those stair sets on the south side are well maintained, and most people mountain bike or dog walk or jog with respect for other people's quieter activities. Belle Isle is the only part that seems trash-filled. Some of the picnic areas and little sitting arenas are a little forlorn, as is that swell little education building on Belle Isle. I see that the City advertises various programs, so it may be that they get used occasionally.

Pipeline bird list:
mourning dove
mocking bird
northern cardnial
great blue herons (nesting)
canada goose
double crested cormorant
turkey vulture
ring-billed gulls
great black backed gull
tree swallow
red-winged blackbird

42nd St. bird list:
tufted titmouse
brown creeper
northern cardnial
canada goose
misc. gulls
double crested cormorant
mourning dove
yellow-bellied sapsucker (male and female on birch tree)
red-winged blackbird
carolina wren
yellow-rumped warbler
white-throated sparrow
song sparrow

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Professional Reading

Two points of interest in an article in American Libraries (March 07) on blogging:

1. Don't let those "afraid of what will happen" -- spammers, criticism, etc. -- slow down the process of creating an institutional blog (p. 44).

2. One blogger calls for us to "deal with old-school library practices" in blogs, such as readers' advisory (p. 44).

Point 2 sounds like something I could do.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Polishing Services

The Well-Dressed Librarian makes me wish I hadn't swapped nights with Children's Librarian: I could be at work cleaning and weeding this morning! Thursday mornings are my usual time at the Lib while it's closed to the public. Oh, the weeding and cleaning and shouting across the building we get done on Thursdays! (Yeah, like I'd clean or weed at home. You're funny.)
Extending Services

Tool lending libraries and other special services, here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Sheree, Displaced Southern Extraordinaire. (That last part's true: her drive from childhood home to MHC was longer than mine, and she's gone back to the northland.)

Black Elk Speaks.

The last three New Yorkers.

Monday, March 19, 2007

About Town

At Target: People's inane personal conversations, mostly directed at cell phones, bombarded me at every turn. ("She said I looked really great, and I told her, I'd given up drinking soda for Lent, and then she said, even after Lent, I should. . . .")

In Cartytown: Goodwill has opened a boutique store in the old Lorraine Hardware building. On the one hand, Hot dog! A thrift store in walking distance from home! On the other, a skirt appropriate to wear for work would cost 20 bucks, not the usual 6. P bought a book on Virginia architecture that we don't have already.

Reading: John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. Rather sweeter than Looking for Alaska.

Listening: Nanci Griffith, Ruby's Torch.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Overnight Tuesday, the weeping willows at my library leafed out. In the last day or so, daffodils in my backyard starting blooming, just in time for the 24 hours or so or cold rain we're in the midst of, now.

The birding listserv I'm on is a buzz with spring activities: herons nesting on the river, ospreys returning, a thrush spotted. (Oh, look at that: I can get it as RSS feed instead. I wonder if I would like that?)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Check it out: I also learned how to hook our camera to the PC and get picture off it.

Click here. Hope to find the same white-ish cubicle-wall clips he has 'cause the bright pinky-orange one I found in our supply cabinet isn't working for me. It's a good YA project, right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Still Not Getting It (Twitter)

But trying to, by reading and then playing with it. Younger Co-worker, who hadn't heard of it, helped. I don't think either of us get why people need to be that connected.
Professional Reading

An Esteemed Colleague at the Area Library drew the fine site Dispatches from a Public Librarian to my attention. This Dispatch offers a concise tracking of computer problems that public librarians frequently fix. I believe I have handled cases similar to all but one of those in my two years and two weeks on the job. Last night I had:

Problem: The computer won't let me log on.
Solution: Librarian stands behind patron; she slowly, carefully, pointedly types in card number and PIN. System logs her on.

Problem: It's locked up.
Solution: Keep clicking the X on the pop-up box until it goes away, then continue work.

Problem: Tech Guy e-mails at about 8:10 p.m.: Oh, maybe the system that logs off all public PCs at 8:55 p.m. [glorious system!] didn't change to new Daylight Saving Time after all. Y'all should watch for that.
Solution: Don't let them smell our fear. Do closing announcement at 8:45 as usual, gently suggesting that PCs may not log off automatically, yet still we expect them to get their own durn fannies out of the chairs at 8:55. Then, sic Children's Librarian on them. Library empty at 8:58.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ahead of the Curve, Being

What he said. Being clueful is a good professional skill.

Friday, March 09, 2007



After reading about Bored@Butler and its kin sites in the 3/5/07 NYer ("The New Bathroom Wall"), I looked forward to seeing what's on the minds of America's best and brightest. Clearly, I hadn't given full attention to the meaning of the title: Ivy League students spend a lot of time using "gay" as a put-down and making ugly sexual remarks. Yawn. I suggest you give it a miss.
Found at Library

Scrap of paper by PC:

Eternal tears of sorrow

B. Impatient

Sticky note:

Love & Hate in Jamestown

Year of Wonders

lip shiny stuff
hair straightener

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Speaking of Race

This item in Slate about race addresses the intent of those who collect racial information, and also recent discussions of who "gets" to claim a racial identity like "African-American." It reminded me of a post to a listserv to which I wanted to reply, but didn't, because I didn't want to stir up trouble. The poster offered us a list of "African-Americans" as main characters in fantasy and science fiction works.

On the one hand: great list! I felt sheepish lately offering up white wizards or the Pevensie kids to the Teens of Color in the local 7th grade who had a fantasy-S/F assignment.

On the other: "African-American"?! The list included Wizard of Earthsea, and while I do know that Ged is described as brown-skinned and dark-haired, it's not because he or his folks came from Africa or America. He came from Gont. It's a made-up place, kids!

Now, Walter Mosley's 47 is on the list, too, and that makes sense. My review-reading understanding of it is that it's about time travel and an African slave in America.

I wish more people felt comfortable with "people of color," because it feels applicable more often. (Though I gather I am meant to be offended as a color-less person.)

New Hot Thing, Maybe? The Secret

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Smithers, I Owe You a Coke

Step-daughter-to-be once asked why I take my laundry to the drop-off place on Robison, not the one on Cary St. I dunno, because who wants to fight with Carytown traffic? This morning when I dropped off my laundry, there was a traffic showdown of folks trying to park and dash into that new Starbucks, in the old Fan Market. But now I can't think of switching, because we've noted that the laundry at the end of Carytown has closed. Phiance and I walked by it the other night and took bets on whether it would be a Starbucks -- or something even more unbearably trendy? Turns out, it'll be a Ben & Jerry's.

Capital City weather: smells like snow
Reading: Style

Monday, March 05, 2007

Birding, Lite

We were in the country yesterday for a family dinner-and-birthday cake routine. With a walk in the woods and keeping an eye on the bird feeder outside the kitchen window we saw:

hairy woodpecker
red-bellied woodpecker
white-breasted nuthatch
house finch

On the Rappahannock, from the end of Prince St., we saw (without binocs; with lots of wind) cormorants, some terns or gulls bobbing on the river, and an osprey, freshly arrived I imagine.

At our feeder this weekend, we're still seeing juncos and one waxwing, so they're not yet ready to migrate. (Oh, wait: waxwings don't migrate in Virginia according to Cornell Birding. Maybe they just don't flock in the summer?)

Reading: Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris. If you like The Office, try it.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Short Stories

All of the Information Desk staff, except for the branch manager, were gathered at said desk the other day. Some of us were sorting out an event for August, and some of us were helping patrons. An odd thing is that the number doing each task at any given moment was in flux for the entire 20 or so minutes. I stopped mid-sentence when I heard a cell phone ring. - Ha! That's "Singin' in the Rain"! I pretended to dance a bit. No one was much impressed: by the Name that Tune or the fake-y dancing.

Late in the day on Friday, I helped a trio coming out of the children's area who appeared to be grandmother-mom-kid. "Do we check out books here?" Because the Info Desk spans Children's and Adult, it looks like maybe they should.

I said what I usually do: "I can help you with the self-check (pointing a la flight attendant), or you can go over there to the circulation desk." They moved towards the self-check, so I followed and quickly coached the granny through checking out the two books -- stacked up.

"How can that be?" asked the mom.

"It's these little chips," I said, simplifying a bit. She said something along the lines of Whattaya know.

As we parted ways, I heard grandmother say in a hushed tone, "The libraries downhome don't have one of those!"

Capital City weather: windy, 60s, sunny
In the garden: one daffodil bloomed about 10 days ago; some are set to bloom weeks from now. The lenten roses are setting new leaves and blooms: that cold snap really beat them back.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Not Yet a Closed Case

1. The "customer" who has been taking the signs that say "Stand Up Use Only" off that one PC has been sticking them to the underside of the table on which the PC sits with a wad of gum (Bubble Yum, perhaps?). I am thrilled to discover this! They aren't being accidentally knocked down by the cleaning lady! To the man seated there yesterday, I said "I'm sorry, someone keeps taking my sign. This computer is for stand up use only." Can I add to that, "Please let me get to the underside of the stand and retrieve it?" Can I sniff the breath of every patron standing there for signs of sweet bubble gum??

2. When a patron's complaint that the Sports section of USA Today "is always missing" proved to be quite true, we started tagging (RFID chips on items not checked off set off an alarm) that section. No one has walked near the door with one since we started. We continue to pursue all leads.

Capital City weather: sunny, mid 60s