Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Updating the Ol' Blog for the New Year

Every so often, I get tempted to move this blog to one of Blogger's snazzy new templates. There are lots of widgets that make editing and moving all that sidebar stuff easy. We used it for the wedding blog, and I use it at work - it's nice. When think about doing it, I get to the part that reminds me that I can't transfer any of the stuff currently in the sidebar, and I give up the idea. I don't feel like doing all that.

What I can do is say farewell to retired blogs (bye-bye, Ref Grunt! Best wishes, Juice [who actually has a non-liberry blog, now]) and add a few new finds.

I've been laughing along with Miss Information for a while, but never had a quick link before. The Swiss Army Librarian is a newish discovery. The 12/14 week post finds him grappling with the ever-popular reply, "I can't show you how to do something illegal."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"What I Wasn't Taught in Library School"

Here's a good wish-we-had-learned blog.

I clicked over there because of the book repair story. Since I went to library school wanting to be an archivist or museum librarian, I took a proper Conservation class. I recall disagreeing with my classmate and pal who worked in a NoVa public library. She'd try to explain to the instructor that of course it makes sense for a public library to slap some everyday tape on books and magazines. And I thought, But no! Even your copy of Green Eggs and Ham deserves treatment with archival supplies: it will last longer and therefore save money! It took only a few weeks' real-life experience to see that, really, it makes no sense to spend that kind of time and money on a disposable collection. Make a repair that will suffice. We're not collecting for All Times, here. Let kids chew on that Dr. Seuss for a few years, then buy a fresh one. By the time the hinge tears on that Grisham, it's probably not circulating enough to bother with.

Now, back when I was in the museum bizz, that's when I learned about another poster's point: wear machine washables! Hmm, and then there's the plumbing one. Now, I haven't learned that trick, but working at summer camp afforded me lots of opportunities to clean up icky messes, including taking a plunger to the toilets at the dining hall.

If I often draw on skills from beyond library school, is there something I wish I had learned during that fun-filled year? Resume coaching? How to say "no" to resume help and school paper proof-reading?? I'll have to think on this one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The last several times I've scooted up the Boulevard, I've said to myself, I need to blog about how nicely that movie cinema in the old factory is looking. I like that they left on a wall sign and retained the industrial feel.

Just the other day, I noted a slightly cheesy sign announcing the location of one of the parking lots -- and an official Opening Soon banner! Here's a notice my Boss sent to me today.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Keeping Me Going

What's keeping me going for the last hour on a drab December afternoon on the ref desk? The kid with a Civil War project who said, by way of thanks, "You are a very good helper."

Cool mashup, here, helps you find a US mail drop box. I see a correlation between the niceness of the neighborhood and the placement of a box. (via

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good ol Ed Slipek has written a nice sketch of some of Capital City's early 20th century literary figures. It's a great refresher on -- or introduction to -- Cabell, Glasgow, and Freeman. Alas, I was unimpressed with how he got us there.

Looking for Cabell at VCU's bookstore? Come on, you can do better than that. If Southern Lit isn't being taught this semester, they won't have it. Or, if you must make the point that "these folks aren't Popular or Classics," okay, but don't give the impression that a reader can't get a hold of these works. WorldCat is offering 1330 copies (78 different editions) of Jurgen! Don't want to request a copy via inter-library loan, or renew your borrowing privileges at the City library or a handful of local academic collections? Why not read something by Cabell online, at Project Gutenberg?

I'd also encourage Slipek to broaden his horizons on contemporary local authors. Wolfe and Cornwell are all very well and good, but where's that favorite Richmond author of so many of my patrons, Nikki Turner?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nate and Emily

Cool Coworker drew my attention to this boingboing item on Emily the Strange. After finding a copy of Nate the Great Goes Under Cover "hiding" on the book-with-audio rack, I took it over to two high school seniors I know.

Does this picture remind you of anything?

- Yeah, isn't that, what's her name? Emily?

Got it in one.

Our only Emily the Strange book doesn't have that picture featured on bb; and, it doesn't circ much. We're more about Spider-Man and InuYasha, here.
New at Our House!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Awesome Word!

I'm going to start using the word "loungerie" tonight! Etymology: this ad.

I have a swell vintage velvet item that might be a dressing gown, but also might be an opera coat. I often spoil myself and wear it as a robe, but sometimes I feel bad for treating such a pretty thing so casually. And I have a terry robe that's nice after showering, but it's too bulky for lounging. So I lounge in an MHC sweatshirt or an ancient chamios shirt over PJs. Since the latter is lavender, it kinda-sorta has the feel of the swingy little robe in that ad. I would love to find a little robe like that! At the least, I can start calling a chamios shirt-over-pajamas my loungerie.
Awesome Website

This site answers that perennial question, Should I bring an umbrella?
Awesome Criticism

There's some good conversation about an article in The Atlantic on YA fiction that includes the sentence, "I hate Y.A. novels; they bore me." Guys Lit Wire gives you a sense of the dismay, and there are some links to other blogs; the actual article is here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wasting Time

Because I have been wasting too much time staring at Facebook, I've fallen behind reading (and writing) blogs. Only today did I learn that I missed a fabulous international observance:

"Recognizing the increasing impact that television has on decision-making by alerting world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues. . . " the UN proclaims "21 November World Television Day, commemorating the date on which the first World Television Forum was held"!

Resolution in full on UN site, here. Tip o' the hat to Information Junk.

See Also:
Wired's Geek Dad on unconventional Christmas movies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good News, Everybody!

The always cool Newseum has a nice online exhibit of post-election front pages.

Via the always interesting LII.
RefGrunting is Fun

Library Stuff points to this good one, and this guy remains fun to read. I'm not sure why I like these kind of blogs; the camaraderie, maybe? The warm glow of an I'm-not-the-only-one feeling?

Let's see what we get this morning:

- study room

- visitor card

- computer trouble

- open janitor's closet for general services fellows who will change some lightbulbs for us

- visitor card printing; and he wants to chat about how nice it is to be back in Va., from California, for a visit

- needs library card number

- act as monitor for change-over of study room . . .

- boot a tiny kid out of the office chair she stole from a PC (now needed by a patron) and bring her a chair from a study table instead

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Library of Virginia has joined Flickr's Commons program: you are invited to tag historical images. LVa's pictures, here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Unseasonably Warm

I live in a row house. The neighbors immediately on either side of me are very nice: no one is too loud, each neightbor has been over to the Christmas party at least once, we chat, we grab each other's mail, etc. Once nice neighbor must have left her not-so-nice contractor with a key and gone out of town, however. Yesterday before 7 a.m., and this morning before 8, workmen were over there pounding. From the truck full of debris parked in the back alley parking lot, I'd say bathroom demolition is the project at hand.

Luckily, it was already 60 degrees and sunny, so we grabbed binoculars and headed to James River Park. The birding was so-so, but the leaves are gorgeous, and the drought allowed us easy access to the rocks. At first, we just enjoyed hopping on flat, low rocks and marveling at the potholes (for a good picture, click here and scroll down) and generally weird moon-scape of it all. Then P got more goal-oriented and we decided to see how far we could get across the river: well over half-way across it turned out! It felt strange but nice to sit on a warm, low rock in the middle of the James in November. The Carillon rose majestically out of yellow and orange trees, traffic whizzed along on the Nickel Bridge, and we sat and soaked up sun.

I'm hoping the rock-hopping kept my sore muscles limber. We did a little duckpin bowling last night, and all kinds of bowling use muscles I don't usually use!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Someone referred to one of these gender analysis programs in a blog recently -- I think it was a woman author writing about writing first person narrative for a male character. Here's one for blogs. It analyzed CCD correctly, and called DDA, a joint project for me and my Phusband "male" which makes sense 'cause I think I wrote only two entries to date.
What She Said (Blogging)

Yeah, that's about it - this blog is a place to park ideas and try new things. See Christina's LIS Rant.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday at the Lib

I show him where Shonen Jump is, and there is joy.

Romance - Thrillers by Sharon Sala.

Clifford books.

Beginning Readers.

Books in Spanish.

Study room dramas.

Five Cups of Tea? Um, how about Three Cups of Tea?

Aww, Gamblin' Man does have a wife. He's one of these fellows who looks well-kept and well-dressed enough to have a job, yet seems to have two hours free most days to come to the lib and play online poker. Sometimes, I imagine these fellows are hiding a gambling problem from the wife and kids. Other times, I imagine them as lonely-hearts with sterile little apartments up by the mall.

I put some Xmas books in the Friends book sale -- CVS was putting out holiday merchandise this morning, so I can, too!

Historical fiction. They aren't all in one place - anythin in particular? Luckily, he says Yes: chosing a random one can be tough.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ref Desk Random

I thought that saying "but I hardly ever use the library" was not her best strategy for getting me to make an exception for her.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Yesterday, two patrons I helped walked out of the lib with paperback books. First, an old gent asked for a book by Jared Diamond. Recalling that we have a few, in the stacks and on the paperback round, I checked the catalog.

- Is a paperback copy okay?

The stuff inside's all the same right? So why should it matter?

- Oh, yes sir; some people don't like paperback's because the print can be smaller. He's undaunted, we stroll over to the paperback rounds at the front of the building. We don't own that many non-fiction paperbacks, so it takes only a moment to spot the thick book.

Wow, that's a long one.

- Some folks have a lot to say I guess. (That's the best I can do? Oy.) A little more small talk follows, and he moves to the check-out desk.

Thanks for finding it so fast: I am bringing all my business to you!

- (Awww)

Later in the day, a 30-something wants to know where to find Eragon. He's had trouble finding it in the public catalog, because both the title and the author's name aren't easy to spell. I look it up on the staff side, thinking odds are I'll have to place a hold on it for him.

- Ah! We have one on the shelf in YA fiction. He seems perfectly capable, so I wave him over, tell him the author's name starts P-A-L, and it should be on the left, most of the way back. I help someone else, then go check on him, because we do have a copy in Spanish, and I'd hate for him to grab that one accidentally. He's staring down at what we'd call a "fully-cataloged paperback copy." It IS a paperback, but because it has been cataloged with more info than title and author, it's shelved with hardbacks. Oh, good, you found it.

It's not the cover I'm used to seeing. Is it the right book?

- Yeah, that's one of the extra copies we got when the movie came out -- it's the same book, just a different cover. At first, I think he's unconvinced, but he goes on to ask about more books like this for his SEVEN-year-old. Foolishly, I forgot to check the age first, and had been pitching the Uglies series, which is best for mature middle schoolers and older!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At the Ref Desk


Picture books

Books with vampires

Meeting room


How to sign onto computer (little kids; it takes time)

A book on building. Anything in particular? Fences. (We have more than one! Go know.)

Books like Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief or Alex Rider.  (Rats. Runemarks fits the bill for the former, but that was Area Library's copy that I just enjoyed reading - my branch doesn't own it. I found him an E. L. Young book that's supposed to be an Alex Rider read-alike.)

Library card number look up

Books of poetry -- Langston Hughes in particular (though I note he took a small stack)

Library card look up

Conversation about the videotapes in our book sale: No, they weren't library copies, they were donated. So they probably will work fine!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Here's an item from the Washington Post about conservative youth protesting Fairfax schools' rejection of their book donation. It reminds me of the old gent who went on and on yesterday about his brilliant (adult) granddaughter: the 5.something GPA in high school, the Red Cross babysitting and first aid cards, the good grades at a reputable college (though I forget which) -- and, did I remember that demonstration at Short Pump Mall a couple years back?

- Um, no?

Well, she and a bunch of other girls organized a protest against "all those naughty t-shirts those stores sell. You've seen them, right? It's just disgraceful...." etc. etc. "And, do you know, they stopped selling them."

I neither admitted nor denied knowing which t-shirts he and his family found "dirty." I allowed that he sure must be proud of the kid and looked desperately to make eye contact with someone else.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Does observing Banned Books Week put you on pins and needles? Uncomfortable about starting those difficult conversations: "Well, sir, at the public library we believe people can read whatever they like, even if it's the political opposite of what you believe"? Then turn to Dewey's Bland Books Week!

Speaking of observances, it's also Mental Illness Awareness Week this week. You might mark it like the commenter on this blog (anon. who posted at 1:31 pm) by affirming your good works with the mentally ill.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A commencement address (Kenyon College, 2005) by David Foster Wallace ran in the Wall Street Journal recently. His point, I think: a decent education should help you think about what's really important and save you from the annoyances and angers living in the 21st century heaps on us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Visiting the Lib Today:

Fanny Pack Man
Conspiracy Theory Guy #1
Gertie Girl
That Lady Who Colors in Her Bible
Beginning Antiques Dealer (wait - that makes her BAD, and that doesn't suit her!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Something in the way she said, "but I don't know how to work a copy machine" makes me think she's not at Duke, despite what her sweatshirt proclaims.

Monday, September 22, 2008

To Panic or Not to Panic?

I learned the thrilling news about a sixth Hitchhikers' book this morning from Leigh on Facebook and did a quick search.

Here's the story from the Guardian, the BBC, and the L.A. Times!

Predictably, not everyone is thrilled. Via not martha, who agrees with the sentiment, here's a plan to just ignore it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birding in Richmond and Essex Counties

double-crested cormorant
great-blue heron
canada goose
black vulture
sharp-shinned hawk
red-shouldered hawk
bald eagle
rock dove
mourning dove
belted kingfisher
downy woodpecker
hairy woodpecker
pileated woodpecer
eastern phoebe
red-eyed vireo
blue jay
american crow
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
carolina wren
eastern bluebird
brown thrasher
european starling
norhern parula warbler (I think)
yellow-rumped warbler
black-and-white warbler
common yellowthroat
northern cardinal
chipping sparrow
house finch

Inspired by the lists posted to the local Audubon Club listserv -- lists beginning to swell with fall migrants -- we hatched a plan to go birdwatching with the folks today. And sure enough, at a favorite spot of theirs we got a couple of trees-full of warblers. But the only ones we could agree on were the "easy" ones, above. Along with the one I (and no one else) feel certain was a northern parula, there was an all-over yellow one (2 or 3 of those on Peterson's notorious "confusing fall warblers" page) and "something orange."

(Copyright rules may be doing their job: I can't find, quickly, that page scanned online, but I can tell you that there's a Flickr pool called confusing fall warblers, that the edition of Peterson's field guide scanned by Google Books lacks that plate, that the online Britannica's entry on Peterson is kinda dull, and that the Roger Tory Peterson Institute has a site brimming with information, including this on collecting early editions of the field guide.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


This one spotted on Phil's car, at work.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The NYTimes officially declares that we have too many Web 2.0 opportunities:
Unlike a few years ago, he said, to get someone to use a Web service now you have to get them to replace something else in their life.
(Link to article.)

Well, I am relieved. I thought it was just me. Also: am I the only one annoyed by the lack of interoperability? Why can't Facebook go grab my entries from LibraryThing or Flickr? (Can they and I just haven't figured it out??)

(via Bibliodiva's Facebook...)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Um. I think I just helped a guy with a booger in his mustache.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


National Fish and Wildlife Service publication on bird migration. Cool stuff! 

Oh - look at that tag popping up. I forgot to say that we put the bird feeder up over Labor Day weekend. The squirrels found it first, then the mourning doves and sparrows.

Also migrating: monarch butterflies. Not The Monarch.
(via lii

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Seen Around Town

This mantis was on the rail of the bridge at James River Park's 42nd Street entrance last Sunday.

We spotted this green mantis sunning itself on a rock in the James near Belle Isle today.

This giant caterpillar (about 3 or 4 inches long), and 2 others like it, seemed to be trapped in a rising pool next to some of the structures from the old industries on the Belle Isle. I coaxed it and another one up a stick and put each on a drier spot. When we passed back by, the apparently dead one and this one were gone; I spotted the second that I rescued deep in the leaves on the log where I'd put it. Was floating in the water a feeding strategy, not a sad result of a formerly dry area flooding? (If it doesn't creep you out, click on the picture to make it bigger and you'll see pill bugs and centipedes and other insects that were creeping and swimming about.)

We were glad for the insect life because the birding was a bit dull. Except for the white-eyed vireo.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Breaking News: Summer is Not Yet Over

Having helped 3 people, in under an hour, find titles off their summer reading lists, co-worker and I decide not to take down the Summer Reading List displays quite yet.

One young man was accompanied by an annoyed-looking mom; the other two kids were solo.

Faded flag, scoreboard only partially operable.

Stupid, Stupid T-D

I sure hope the paper edition of the Capital City Right-Wing Rag has better coverage than this online gloss of yesterday's game. I remembered home runs by Perry and Timmons and that the last out was a pop fly; I don't need to read that. I did not make a mental note of the former RBraves honored at the beginning of the game, nor did I try too hard to get a picture of the -- dignitaries? former players? holding the Goodbye banner at the end. That's what photojournalists do: I don't need to point my little camera at the backstop net. Listing the former players and dignitaries is what some journalist should have been doing. Instead we get a random listing of quotations, posing as an article (though I admit that's a strong opening sentence). And I'm not even mentioning that the slideshow link isn't working.

I should have scored the game so I could write down the former players and other details. There were a couple of tough-to-score plays, though, like when the Tides' secondbaseman held onto the ball in some staring contest with the Braves' runner, while the Brave who had tagged third decided to keep running and score. So that made me glad I did not have a scorecard in hand! Given that the Tides lead our division (standings here) and we finished at the bottom of it, I wondered if Tidewater (er, Norfolk) would throw the game. . . .

I remember Ralph Garr and Javy Lopez from the pre-game line up, but that's it. I will admit crossing my fingers that Chipper Jones would be there; though I am not surpised that he wasn't. I guess he had to work. Luckily, it looks like the International League (or, MLB if I understand the byline) sent someone competent to write this nice piece.

It was a great day for a ballgame, sunny and clear, and we got a win. The US flag is too faded to fly for another season, and my folks reported that the Braves (the RMA? who makes the call about the electric bill?) had given up using the extra screens on the scoreboard -- the ones with the line up. I feel certain we will secure a A or AA team to play in a renovated Diamond, but I can't see us ever again cheering players on their last stop before become big-league players. And that frustration at being demoted, as much as the ending of 43* seasons, made me teary.

Beautiful day for a game.

One out to go.

One in a series of "maybe this will be the last RBraves pitch" shots. I gave up after taking about 5. This pitch may well be the walk. . . . The last out was a pop fly: a white dot in the brown mitt of a white-uniformed man against that plain green wall, in the late afternoon sun of Septemeber.

*43 vs. 42 years: unlike a person born in 1966, the RBraves get to count 1966 as year/season one

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sundown on the Richmond Braves

A forty-two year Atlanta-Richmond relationship ended with today's game (a 9-3 win over the Tides) at the Diamond. The big Braves are taking their Triple-A team south. We can't even claim to be a minor league town anymore.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

21st Century Lost Weekends

Are lost to TV on DVD, says Liz at the Park Bench. I'll give her an amen. This summer, Get Smart kept me from reading my evenings away, and now, thanks to a shiny new Netflix membership, we've embarked on Madmen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This week brought a touch of rain to Capital City, so at last I can see my rain chain in action! Yay!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crikey! I just woke up to the fact I have not updated this since long before Shakespeare wast a boy... You would not believe how terribly tardy the Victorian internet can be. Truly!.

I am so busy with setting fire to people wearing Crocs, homeschooling five children, just generally being a nuisance to my husband, my day seems to be a litany of stuff and giggles from 8am to 11pm at which point I fall asleep on the couch. I am not complaining though. life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

I hope that one day I will write something that makes sense soon. Seriously! I mean it!.

(Brought to you by Lazy Blogger's Post Generator.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


A library school classmate posted an enticing article from Adbusters, "Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization." At first, I felt horrified and embarrassed that I'd given myself the label "Hipster Dufus Librarian," which to me means something like "21st Century Librarian" or "not the dullest kid in my library school graduating class" or "hey, I started blogging before I went to library school." But the article describes hipsters this way
Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.
According to the author, they wear glasses they don't need, clothes from American Apparel, and favor fixed-gear bicycles. Additionally, it's "[l]ess a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group." Yikes! That's not me.

Then I read this quotation from a former magazine editor:
I’ve always found that word [“hipster”] is used with such disdain, like it’s always used by chubby bloggers who aren’t getting laid anymore and are bored, and they’re just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable,” he says.
Disdainful chubby blogger? Well, that might be me. Maybe I mean "hipster" with some kind of double irony, by claiming to be something I find distasteful? By adding "dufus" do I admit that I will never be one of those cool partying people? But, wait -- I don't want to party! I hate crowds and loud music and cigarette smoke.


Well, until I can think of a catchier handle, I think I am going to let it stand.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Random Ref

Yesterday I handled my first request for the dubious Obama Nation. Patron thought that being 8th on a waiting list with 8 copies in the system and more ordered was unacceptable. Obviously he's not a regular patron as many, many will not bat an eye about being 27th for a Stephenie Meyer (or a new Harry Potter, back in the day) or a James Patterson.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Running Start

At about 2 minutes to opening, the phone rang. Since H had just announced she'd unlock the door, I grabbed it. Ah, Horoscope Man! I didn't recognize his voice, and at first thought he wanted to come read back issues of the paper. When he launched into a long explanation of why he couldn't come in -- naming the car part that needed replacement so I'd know he was for real -- I knew who it was. I'm not much of a reader of the paper, so it took forever to find the horoscopes. When I finally got him off hold, the phone, naturally rang in two more calls! After I picked H.M. up again, I got to read five horoscopes; I only had to re-read one.

Then Golf Guy wanted to say Hi, and I guy angled to borrow some headphones, and then a lady wanted Ginter Park Branch in the city, not us. (I got to test the Delicious bookmarks I'd just created on that last one. I'm not sure that using those is any faster than going to the link I have on the blog for My Lib.) Normally, Firdays are way slower than this!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The serious Richmond bloggers (see this list) must be all a-flutter: Trani will leave VCU next July. News-hound Coworker read it to me at about 9:02 this morning, and "wow" is still my only response.

Friday Morning: okay, don't see that list: RVA blogs has been the usual naval gazing for the last 24 hours. (I also see a startling large number of blogs devoted to reviewing restaurants.) Start with John Sarvay, and look at the comments on the RTD story (link above).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ref Nite

We had a pretty normal evening at my lib last night: students needing books off summer reading lists, older folks needing computer help, someone asking about booking a meeting room, a woman wanting a book by the spiritualist who's on Oprah, etc. Nothing memorable. Well, except for this one lady.

Early in the evening, a woman returned our call about moving her from the waiting list for a computer class to the "IN" list. She called to think out loud at me: "Well, I joined this dance group. . . . It's Word I? Hmmm, I do need that. But I like the dance group. Which is better for me to do? Word. Tomorrow? For one hour? Oh, two. I'm probably not going to be in the recital. I do like it. I guess there are others on the waiting list? It's so hard to get into your classes." In the end, she chose us. Well, we'll see if she actually shows.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I read the article boingboinged here, at breakfast. The gist: too many copyrights and patents restrict Progress.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Media Has Displaced Culture

So I want to share an item Matt pointed out to me, and highlight the bit that will make you click over to it and read it -- but it's too hard to pick out the best bit! There's this

But on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed. That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone.

On that date, media displaced culture. As commenters on The American Scene blog have pointed out, the means of transmission replaced the content of culture as the center of historical excitement and as the marker of social status.

Now the global thought-leader is defined less by what culture he enjoys than by the smartphone, social bookmarking site, social network and e-mail provider he uses to store and transmit it. (In this era, MySpace is the new leisure suit and an AOL e-mail address is a scarlet letter of techno-shame.)

And it concludes, "Remember, cultural epochs come and go, but one-upsmanship is forever. " Click here for the full NY Times op-ed piece.

Dead Malls

Via Mitch, a story on new ubanists and dead malls here, and the interesting website, here.

The first dead mall I knew was in Chickopee, Mass., near school. I remember it as dimly lit and decorated in 70s earth tones. That's where the K-Mart-ish store (Bradlees? Caldor? I forget) was. And not much else. Well, the first Gap I ever knew, and an Izod discount or outlet store. I remember buying a number of things at both for just $10, as there is (was?) no sales tax on clothes. If the sign said Wool Sweaters $10, that was it. Of, course the Wal-Mart effect means that 20 years later, sweater still aren't much more than that, but at the time it seemed like a great deal.

Locally, Azalea Mall got flattened years ago, though the sign still stands. Someone entered Fairfield Commons (ne Eastgate) on the Dead Malls site, but in order to proclaim it has some potential and life signs.

Cloverleaf's entry on that site hasn't been updated -- there was the business with a church wanting it, and I think it also appeared in some new urbanist-like dream, but maybe would be razed before housing and shopping would emerge. I have lots of memories of Cloverleaf, the Nice Mall of my childhood: Girl Scout uniforms from Penny's, going into LaVogue's village street with Mom, buying enless "belt strips" and buckles at the Papagallo section of Thalheimer's to give as gifts to girl friends. The Girl Scout council even held some of those every-one-set-up-a-booth kind of events there.

Then there's my neighborhood Little Mall That Could, wonderful Willow Lawn. A recent renovation made out-parcel shops healthier than ever, with Panera customers taking up most of one end of the parking lot. It lacks a real department store, and CVS just fled across Willow Lawn Drive, but there's a lot of useful stuff there. If I could just get a nice pair of pantyhose there, I wouldn't go farther afield.

OK - low battery, and I gotta go to work. I'll post this, though it may get revised.

Friday, August 08, 2008

On a Walk

I just found the bit of paper on which I wrote down a few of the things I noted on Tuesday morning's walk to Ellwood Thompson and back (about 2 miles round trip). I saw:

0 yard signs for McCain
4 yard signs for Obama
3 RPL "Library Star" yard signs

and, melted into the asphalt at various points:
1 nail
1 quarter
2 bottle caps

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Reference Interview

"Where are the DVDs?" 10 y.o. boy, holding a copy of a Harry Potter book, asks.

- DVDs for people your age?

"Um, just DVDs."

- Are you looking for something in particular?

"Just my mom."

- [OH!] Okay then, ones for kids are over here....

"There she is!"

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Capital City . . . on the Grow!

Sometimes, I drag myself to the Downtown Y. I go infrequently enough that changes in the city-scape to the east take me by surprise. VCU's latest building project is the renovation of the old city auditorium. It's been gutted, making that block seem strangely open. (Ha. I glanced around VCU's homepage to see if they had a What We Are Building Now page, and found instead a profile of Richmond's hipster bookman, Ward.)

The art museum's addition gained walls in the first part of the year, but I've noted little exterior change since then.

The yellow-brick tire business on Broad at Lombardy is now apartments, over a dollar store. On Saturday morning, I spotted two cleaning crews tackling VCU properties on Broad, and numerous cars and pick ups full of college-kid belongings -- including that tire store. And the dollar store was packin 'em in.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Something I Noticed

I use LibraryThing to help me remember YA books I've read. As I added Stoner & Spaz, I noted that a modest 139 other users have it. I skimmed down the rest of the screen and saw that ReShonda Tate Billingsley's With Friends Like These appears in only 11 other LT libraries.* At my lib, Stoner has circ'ed 11 times (since 11/02); across three copies of With Friends (one owned since May 07), we've had 17 check-outs.

I guess it's partly audience and partly the fact that Koertge is a more established writer. Based on the crowd Billingsley drew to one of our libraries lately, she should be appearing on LibraryThing -- and elsewhere! -- in the years to come.

*I went back to add "LT" ; WorldCat shows it in 323 other library collections.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ain't Technology Grand

The Effing Librarian glibly juxtaposes some of the recent media tidbits on libraries:

"USAWeekend magazine's ParentSmart section says that parents should learn to use Facebook to communicate with their children, but the USAToday Technology section reports that Congress wants to ban a child's access to Facebook and other social networking sites within public libraries."

Read the rest of his entry, here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Reference

Wright's Black Boy

why don't we have a single J. Picoult book in? (Um: because she's popular?)


It's quiet enough for a while that I preview teen book reviews, then post them online.


printer troubles

a book for her child psych class

how to get to Kangaroo Jacs

(I sense more printer trouble walking my way....)
(And did I mention the caller earlier this week? No? Here's how that went:
Phone rings, I answer - My Lib information desk
Her: Yeah, I need a book on mice.
Me: Let's see as -["pets" is the word that was going to be next]
Her: You know, like how to tell if I have them in my house, and how to get rid of them.
Me: Ah. Let's see what I can find. ["Pests -- control" is a subject heading and one of our big libs has a book on household pests.] There's something at another library that might help; I can send it over here.
Her: You don't have anything on mice in that library?!
Me: Well, I'd bet there'd be something in one of our general household books. Let me call you back.
And sure enough, a Hints from Heloise book and Household Hints for Dummies (yes, really) look useful so I called her back and put them on hold for her. I am always a little surprised by how many people begin with "do you have a book on" as if we have one book on every subject.)

Twilight links
Interesting conversation about re-reading

Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett
Stoner & Spaz, Ronald Koertge

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Peaks of Otter Lodge

Resting on the way up

Atop Sharp Top
Kids These Days

A NextGen explains that she and peers aren't race-blind.
"Race is a socially created concept, and since its inception it has been a socially fed nuisance, to say the least. It sprang to life and run amok,"
Saaret E. Yoseph writes at The Root. She fusses at her elders for making them (well, everyone) check little boxes to indicate race. Yoseph notes, "There are more interracial couples, more biracial children and an expansion of the definitions of ethnicity, but all of that has done little to help us understand each other better." Read more, here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer Reading Drags On

After reading (and logging online) ten titles, little kids get to pick a free book from a collection of shiny paperbacks. Each kid -- or his or her parent -- takes the choice as seriously as making a supreme court decision. They hover underfoot for an age, oblivious to gentle cues to just take something and move along!

Today I fielded the first, "but don't the teens get something??" Yeah, a chance to win an MP3 player. (They hadn't been impressed, after all, with rub-on tattoos or the oh-so-passe gel bracelets of years gone by.)

I've reprinted the stack of Take One reading lists only once -- for the middle school grades.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I thought I'd post a picture from the Peaks of Otter and boast about climbing Sharp Top, but all the good pictures must be on Phil's camera. So, here's, um, our new grill:

and here's the place we had lunch in the city of Bedford.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Consider Myself to Be a Serious Person

Ha. I was just confessing to FW, though not in such erudite language, that I had about these same feelings about the social networking that the kids are so into these days:

But Facebook's ick factor in the executive suite might have as much to do with its shiny, happy world of "friendship" as with security. "There's almost an inverse relationship between seriousness and how much you participate in social networking," says ReputationDefender's Fertik, laughing. That basically nails it: Facebook is simply unserious—particularly given how it prompts hard-driving business executives to regress into adolescent vernacular. "Poking" people, requesting "friends," writing on someone’s "wall": It’s cute when you're in high school or college. But in a corporate environment, it sounds disingenuous and downright silly.

Ultimately, Facebook candy-coats the true nature of business relationships. And it will rot your teeth.

From Wired.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Busy Monday on the Desk

Information on the Free-Soil Party

Do we have more science fiction than what's in that paperback rack?

A dozen summer reading club sign ups

Study room

Little kids wanting to collect the free paperback they get after reading 10

GED books

I dissuaded a mom from getting Chris Lynch's Inexcusable. It's highly regarded, I said, but you should know about the subject matter before you get it for your 14-old-daughter.

A zillion students wanting something from their school reading list

Directions to a library in the county just north of us

Kid I like a lot wants to do the teen Treasure Hunt (follow clues around lib, win a prize). She's too young, but I say Sure (because I like her). She needs help on almost every step. . . .

Her older brother complains that they prizes are "too kiddie."

Study room

Books on business plans

Something on nepotism

A new book with vampires, but she doesn't think its S. Meyer or Laurell K. Hamilton

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Late Adapter

Capital City Desk post #1 had to do with peer pressure, so perhaps this one -- post #1000 -- ought to as well. For a year or so, I've had a mild internal struggle about picking up a MySpace or a Facebook page. Even though the library system for which I work continues to filter social networking sites for teens, it seemed important, as a teen librarian, to understand the experience first hand.

Then again, it was one more thing for which I'd need to create a login and password.

The first time I'd read about MySpace and Facebook was in the New Yorker: such a middle adapter way to learn about trends! (Though it's good to remember that Gladwell's piece on cool hunting -- a chapter of The Tipping Point -- first ran in the New Yorker in 1997.) And I kinda wanted to sign up for Facebook right then, because it still had (or perhaps had just lost?) the snob appeal of being open only to students and alumni of certain schools, and mine seemed to be one.

But it meant more filling-in of online forms and making up a password -- plus, I didn't get how it was better than my blog.

Meanwhile, I set a work goal of doing some of the things on the 23 Things training program, and soon I was setting up names and passwords left and right. I tried Bebo as a different social networking site and have already forgotten the password I used there. I have kept up with Flickr, LibraryThing, and Bloglines for a while now, so why on earth would I create one more space for myself that seems to duplicate what all these sites (products/services) do?

Well, because everyone else is doing it, of course. Reunion must have been the (yes) tipping point for me.

So I filled in the form and created a password and now I have a Facebook page. And I joined something called Linked In, which is meant to be professional networking, I gather. We'll see how long I can remember the password for that one. . . .

What I like about Facebook is that I got to have a tiny, unplanned conversation with Sheree the other day. What I don't like is the feeling that I have to start so many things all over again. I could share books on it -- only I am pretty dedicated to LibraryThing, now. I can share pictures -- by taking them from my Snapfish and Flickr online albums. I'm competitive, so I can see challenging people to all these games (yeah, like I need another distraction). I can't see all the virtual presents and whatnot . . . but then the "flair" did give me pause because I've always sort of missed my denim jacket with its little 80s buttons.

To rephrase myself (see post #1): I'll be interested to see what I do with Facebook and if I have the tenacity to keep it and CCD going, too.

Just Read: Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. (I enjoyed it thoroughly. Allow me to disagree, however, with the NY Times blurb on the back cover: "'A direct descendant of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.'" Clearly, Good Omens descends from the Dirk Gently books.)

Capital City weather: hot, humid, clear

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Is It Just Me?

Because we all have those moments of imagining we are some kind of conspiracy victims -- that amazon or yahoo! or twitter is working for everyone else except us -- a computer whiz has developed a little website that lets you go check. Read about it in the NYTimes.

Library patrons often don't believe us when we say, "It looks like that error message means all of Yahoo! is down right now." It's all about "your computer won't let me read my e-mail/buy books/whatever" and "what do you mean a website doesn't always work??" So, I passed this link to lib colleagues so that when patrons are really suspicious, or annoyed, or confused, we can use this site to research it further. I got various thanks and accolades -- and I tried to act like I diligently keep up with the Times, but of course, I was just clicking around various diverting blogs and read about it on berg with fries.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Flip Flops

WDL: "Don't wear them to dressy restaurants. They are not dressy." (7/6/08)

Phusband: "Flip-flops as regular footwear are, like reality television and rude cell-phone habits, signs of the decline of western civilization." (11/30/05)

Cotton Dick Clinton: "Flip Flops and Mutton Chops" is the first song on the list, here. (It's really hard to date CDC songs...)

Capital City weather: rainy and 80s. Which really isn't flip flop weather, people! Put on real shoes and keep your feet dry and warm.

Recently Read: Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. Bella wears boots, sneakers, and that one high heel to the prom. I don't recall any floppin around.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Q & A

Q: How many patrons does it take to read the hours sign?

A: More than 3, apparently, because that pack of grown adults couldn't between them find the 11x17" sign just to their left. The one with, like, 2 inch lettering on it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back at Work

I got to work early on Saturday, expecting a ton of e-mail to sort through. I had only 43 messages. Children's Librarian and I found we were vacationing ships passing in the day: she's off to the beach for the coming week. We got ore pre- and post-vacation minds together, opened, and I did these things:
  • I remember nearly all passwords for various lib softwares on the first try!
  • Dude says, How do I sign into my Comcast account? (Um, with the password you created with them?) He comes back later, because "it still won't let me in." I note that he's typed "Mr Blah Bluh" in the box that comes before "" and I say, Now that's an unusual e-mail address, are you sure you created it that way, with spaces and all? "Oh, I don't have e-mail. I just put that there."
  • She's using Word's calendar template and I get lucky and immediately find "gridlines" for her even though I never use that template. She thinks I am a genius and gushes about her new(?) job and whatnot.
  • Sure, let's sign you up for kiddie summer reading! I have totally forgotten how the prizes work, but I am sure you will love them!
  • I get an adult and various random middle schoolers signed up for their SRCs with less drama.
  • Most kids (or their designated grown ups, who call back home to check the title with the kid) looking for school summer reading titles come from Neighboring County and I decided to print more of those lists and provide links on staff blog for my colleagues.
  • I run a report with the summer reading club program and see that, finally, more kids from "my" middle school are signed up for the SRC. For the longest time, of the 317 tweens I pitched SRC to, only 3 had signed up.
  • A man plays "that other lady always does it for me" and gets me to look up Selina and some gospel singers for him and print off pages. Then he complains because the print is so small. (Well, this is why we like you to do it yourself, I don't say.)
  • A cool, quirky woman we see often is camping at the lib because her A/C is out for the weekend. She finds the general hubbub too much and gets a study room, but she hears weird running water sounds in their so she comes out again.
  • Two cool high schoolers complete the teen treasure hunt really quickly. After seeing so many 12-year-olds who needed help to go from clue to clue around the lib, it's nice to see that some people can get it without a hitch.
  • At 2:45, the day seemed infinitely long, and I craved my daily splash in the Bay, then suddenly CL was doing the closing announcement on the PA and it was time to find the keys and toss out folks!
Re-reading: The Hobbit came camping with me and I am nearly done, but Phusband wants to go see "Get Smart" today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where I've Been

Camping on the Eastern Shore! Here's a shot from a bizarre hike on a "boardwalk" (two planks wide) across a wetland. There were many beautiful sights, and some good birdwatching. We saw a yellow-crowned night heron -- new for my life list. We also saw signs that people, no matter how pretty their surroundings, are pigs.

Today, we returned a loaner SUV to my folks. On the way home, we stopped at an antiques mall, and we almost wished we still had the gas-guzzler, but this chair did fit in the Accord!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sowing Seeds of Mistrust

When I taught "Word I" at my lib last night, I may have planted a little more than healthy skepticism in the minds of my students. I pointed out that they do not have to agree with MS on spelling or grammar -- probably, you can spell your own last name correctly. I may have answered one or two questions with "because MS thought it was a good idea to make it work that way." So when a student asked "How do we know it really saved?" after clicking the disk icon and not even catching a flicker in the screen to indicate that something had happened, I had to sheepishly encourage them to trust the software maker on that one.

Just finished reading: Unacustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri. Damn, what fine writing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In preparation for summer camp season, perhaps, an item from Wired on the Swiss Army knife.

See also:
Victorinox history, here. Browse their fine products, here.
To prepare a kid to go to summer camp, read up on tips from the American Camping Association.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So, yeah, we have summer reading clubs (SRC). It's not the kind of thing sibling and I would have been signed up for as kids, but many of my lib's peeps do start looking for it at the beginning of May. I don't know if SRCs didn't exist in the 70s, if we weren't joiners, or if Mom felt like The last thing we need in the house is more bits of paper stickers and random little prizes.

My library system does run a great club for teens. (That's middle schoolers and high schoolers: so many rising 6th and 7th graders seem to think I will get them in trouble for signing them up for the Teen Club. The Young Adult Services Committee -- like many similar groups at libraries everywhere -- specifically chose to call the club "teen" because we don't think anyone really relates to the term "young adult.") When a teen or her parent looks skeptical in response to the opening, Would you like to join our summer reading club?, it's easy to blurb the whole complicated process as "All you gotta do is keep an online list of either numbers of books read or the titles of each book, and keeping that list up to date automatically puts you in drawings for great prizes like pizza and movie gift certificates -- and even our grand prize of an MP3 player!"

I don't say it exactly the same every time, of course, like the time I must not have said "gift certificate," because the boy wanted to know how I was going to get the pizza to him, still hot!

We've been signing people (there are clubs for all ages) up since May, but this week the logging feature of the online lists went live. People can now type in what they read, and teens and adults can write book reviews. Yesterday, a newish patron, an energetic boy of 12 or so, made a beeline for a PC, opened up summer reading without a hitch, then zipped back over to me. "I want to write a book review but I can't spell the title!" Well, what is it? "The Tale of Despereaux." Damn, I did not say out loud: that's up there on my Top Titles I Cannot Spell list along with Fahrenheit 451 and The Metamorphosis . And, because OPACs suck, you need to have the spelling darn close to find the book. What I did say was, "Let me show you the notebook over here in YA with all this summer's reading lists in it." Oh yeah: good save.

Capital City weather: the heat wave that kept us over 100 broke last night, and we should linger in the 80s for several days. Whew.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Librarian Girl has a standard speech for us, when, like athletes, we have microphones thrust at us:

Well we started out strong today with a string of reference questions answered but then a committee meeting came up and we just lost our footing for a moment but we recovered during lunch when my salad was full of crispy postivity. We dodged some dicey situations in the afterschool hours and could have given up but we came through and finished clean with a batch of new books and some witty repartee. Peace.

While that does sound like a typical day, my Friday was quieter than typcial:

A specific book on Alzheimer's? No; we'd be glad to ILL it.

My coworker handled the woman who wanted to know if her email would still be "on the screen" from yesterday. She hadn't written it down and need to know what it was to get back to the job application site. . . .

I enjoyed seeing a Teen Advisory Board "grad" back home for the summer from her Ivy League school

At 35 minutes until closing a mom and a toddler came in: They needed books on topics like No Hitting and Sharing Is Nice.

Additional Reading: Zenith has a nice article on the history of the television remote, here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Reunion, Part 2

Literally and figuratively, a picnic on the green follows the parade as the big thing on reunion weekends. One of the first meals incoming students get is a picnic dinner. Cookouts on the green appear again for Family Weekend and once or twice in the spring. I like eating outside with a huge community/family. Here's Michelle & Fran:

Just beyond my lunch bunch, you can see the new addition to Blanchard.

Blanchard houses the student center, the campus store (which no longer sell text books!), offices, and a food court-ish space. The campus store, another Must, was packed, but shoppers were cheery. The store's staff was about as gruff as always. Though, there was a cheerful young woman working who seemed to be telling her line that this wasn't the campus shop she usually worked in -- it was so nice here, and how 'bout that parade?

Of course, I gave Phil and the Teen a tour, with predictable stops like the library:

Then Teen and I joined a large crowd touring the New Dorm.

I wonder how long the college will wait to see if a donor wants to buy naming rights? How long before we can all vote on something? I would suggest honoring beloved college figures: Kennan, DeLonga, or Calhoun, anyone? Speaking of Liz, I ran into some classmates upstairs in the library where there's a portrait of President Kennan. I was trying to articulate what it was about the breezy pose (striding with academic robe, flying, over a red(?) dress) and the dog at her heels that I didn't like, when one classmate appeared and pronounced it "too Carol Burnett." Yes, that's it.

Here's Ween. She loves to entertain.

After the tour, we had just enough time to drive up the Mountain. I had not been in the restored summit house, yet. There are sample bedrooms and other displays. It's a great space. P and I climbed to the top deck.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Glory Be!

A Wacky Packages book!! (via Bookgasm)
In the Stacks

I worked only half a day yesterday so I could take the Teen to the orthodontist. During the drive to the suburbs, I wasn't feeling chatty, but she hates silence in the car. She likes to mimic my typical questions and, so often asks what I did at work.

"Mostly, signed up people for computer classes. Registration for July classes opened this morning. And tried to explain meeting room reservation rules. Oh, I did help a woman find a novel by Nicholas Sparks."

I did not mention to Teen that both copies of the book seemed to have sand trapped in their covers. People: Just because the book is set on the Outer Banks, it does not mean you need to take it there and incorporate it into your sand castle. (More on Rodanthe, NC: live image, here and text info, here.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Reunion Part 1

So much happens in twenty years: births and deaths; marriages-divorces-new marriages; careers are launched, impressive new titles bestowed, careers are changed up (several times). Yet, MHC Class of '88 seemed remarkably the same. Even women whose names I never really knew looked much the same: Over there, by Whosit -- the blonde? She looks just the same, only with lines at the corner of her eyes. (Many of us have new lines on our faces and white in our hair, and that's okay.) I'd know her anywhere as a classmate, even though I can't think of her name.

The first classmate I spotted was hot off the road from her drive up from Maryland. SS live in North Rocky, too, freshman year, and we were bio lab partners. Her kids must have been angels for the long drive, because she jumped out of the car fresh and spunky as ever! I had just negotiated my way into two rooms in Torrey because, the alumnae association staffer said, most families have no trouble sharing a dorm room with their children, so of course we had been assigned one room -- I felt less than spunky.

Our Torrey rooms were a let down -- the furniture looked like crap. The rooms always look grim when empty; no matter how often you repeat this, it's hard to be prepared. Luckily, class headquarters was Ham Hall, so we got out of the dorm quick, and strolled just up the hill for a drink.

We saw Sheree there.

Our next stop was town. (What did we say, back in the day? I'm going: Uptown? Into town?) We visited the Odyssey, and found the restaurants packed with people who had made graduation weekend - reunion weekend reservations. . . . We got back in the car and found some pizza.

Saturday, of course, is all about the Laurel Parade (click here for history of).