Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What Was the Deal ...

... with the 60-something white lady wanting help using the self-check machine to get a stack of Zane books?
... with the grouchy tone of the lady who said, "It say I gotta pay for my prints?"
... with that caller? Being in the midst of some customer-centered thinking here at our place recently, I've been trying to remember to speak slowly yet cheerfully when I answer the phone. Boy was I surprised be her blurting out, "You ever heard of a reverse phone directory?"
... with my usually sharp retired patron thinking that Golf Digest tricked him by having a different cover from ours -- only we get Golf Magazine, so that's why the covers are different.

On the road later on, to hear Andrew Pace at CUA.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Information Wants to Be Free

I found this grade school notebook while cleaning. Click on picture to make it bigger and readable.

So many questions arise: Did I come up with that brilliant explanation of library rights, or were we copying sentences? What was sentence two going to say? And then there's the rest of the notebook: a few pages along, under the heading "Two Cities I Have Been To" is the useful information "The city I was born in is Philladelpha Penncilvarny." Then a new paragraph, "My brother was born in the city of Richmond. We have been in Richmond a lot. My father works at a hospital there."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spiderwort on Belle Isle.
Also seen there and on our walk to it across the railroad bridge:

double-crested cormorant
canada goose
green heron
bald eagle
mourning dove
downy woodpecker
eastern phoebe
tree swallow
rough-winged swallow
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
carolina wren
blue-grey gnatcatcher
mocking bird
eastern bluebird
american robin
hermit thrush
yellow-rumped warbler
yellow warbler (maybe)
red-winged blackbird
brown-headed cowbird
northern cardinal
blue grosbeak
rose-breasted grosbeak
rufous-sided towhee
white-throated sparrow

While staring way up into some trees by the river, trying to keep an eye on fast-moving song birds, a titmouse caught my eye. Here's the internal dialog:

Oh, good: we haven't seen one yet. But -- what's that next to it?

Holy cow, I think it's a koala bear! No, no, that can't be right. What's the titmouse doing to it? (Eww, ick, it's not something dead is it?) No, it's alive. Every time the titmouse flights towards the gray furball hunched against the trunk of the tree and kicks -- well, contacts the animal with it's feet, talons first -- it, the animal flinches. It must be an opossum; what else would be so lethargic?

Oooh: snout! That's not a possum! Is it a fox?! Surely they don't climb that high?

The titmouse flew around to the other side of the critter, and I paused to straighten my neck and find P. Couldn't find P. I looked up again. The titmouse had a tiny bit of fur in its bill!! The bird worried the animal again and this time really got a rise out of it, so I saw it face-on for a moment. Raccoon! Awesome. It put its nose high up in the air and scratched under it's chin for a moment. With my binoculars, I could even see its whiskers.

I found P. and he got to see the raccoon, too, but the titmouse had gone on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

At the Ref Desk

Questions I asked myself:
- "One "n" or two in "Bunnicula"?
- Is it possible I don't know how to use the NADA Official Used Car Guide??
- Who let the top three irritating patrons (Conspiracy Theory Guy #1, Mad Girl, Teary) in at the same time?!?

All My Faves

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trend Spotting

Our local natural foods grocery has been selling fabric bags for 5 or 8 years. They were of the slender, off-white canvas type that were so popular at conferences of Girl Scouts, or camping professionals, or -- it turns out -- librarians. I didn't want one because they were ugly: they looked like free conference totes, or something only a serious earthy-crunchy type would go to the trouble of buying and bringing to the store.

I've also seen those big, plasticized European shopping - tote bags for a year or more.

Within the last 12 months, Ellwood-Thompson and Ukrop's began offering the fabric bags shaped like paper grocery bags. Now those look useful! The ones Ukrop's sells come in ugly colors: I didn't want one. ET had some that were nice minty green, but I don't do that much shopping there. I go for the H&H bagels, and will pick up Pirate's Booty or some of the frozen Thai meals -- hardly a bag-full, though.

My tipping point? Target. When Target displayed red shopping bags with a tree and bird and logo design, I bought two. Yup, cute design is what it takes to make me environmentally responsible. A few days later, I picked up a minty E-T one. Not long after that, I saw that Kroger had some navy blue reusable bags.

Seeing more people, people who Look More Like Me, using them helped, too. I'm outdoorsy; I turn out the light as soon as I leave the room; I reuse bits of paper; I pick up garbage on our block and in the alley. I recycle. But I wasn't yet That Kooky Lady who brings a net bag to the grocery store. Then suddenly, it wasn't so kooky.

I seem to be a classic -- what is it? -- middle-late adapter. "Everyone" is ready to make the switch, including me. Both our independent radio station and our public radio station have shopping bags as donation premiums this pledge drives season. And notMartha has written a long review of some fancy ones.

I kinda thought I might be at least leading edge -- not that many other people seem to use them, but, no: everyone has them. The trick is remembering the things. You have to leave the house with your shopping bags. After I took step-kid clothes shopping on Friday, I ran into Kroger for a few things. I had remembered to put the shopping bags in the car (better than I did for yesterday's planned Target outing), but until I saw the display of blue ones for sale, I had forgotten the bring-them-in-the-store step!

Capital City weather: They say the rain is over, but it's foggy now, so hard to believe. Well the roof repair guys are here, so they trust the forecast.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

How could that be?? We fill up our landfills with stuff that's easy to recycle?? People are dopes.

It must be true: I lifted it from a librarian blog! (See Information Junk for, you know, the proper citation and links (Oh, to the EPA. I guess they know what they're talking about.).)

Reasonably serious additional links:

Capital City weather: still rain
Reading: Pearl Cleage, Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I didn't have to spend more than a minute picking at the rediscovered Milliways game to fully remember that I stunk at the original text Hitchhikers game. In the first game, which I played instead of writing papers at William & Mary, I could never get the Babel Fish in my ear.

Possibly, this failure, combined with weak skills in arcade Tetris and Ms. PacMan (honed to mediocrity at the laundromat on Strawberry St.), is why I haven't embraced gaming in libraries like all the true hispter librarians have.

Two other Adams items have been drifting about in the back of my mind: when is Towel Day? (A: May 25), and How could Nick Paumgarten have omitted Douglas's Happy Vertical People Lifters from his piece on elevators in the April 21 issue of the New Yorker? Paumgarten mentions movies, TV, and Colson Whitehead's odd novel The Intuitionist, yet overlooks the elevators that can see into the future and so get where they're needed, faster. Sloppy!

(Okay, and now three: it makes me sad that H2G2 could have been Wikipedia, but misses. Search "Babel Fish" on H2G2 and you get a bunch of links to 2 or 3 sentence sound bites; Wikipedia gives you a quick definition, followed by less geeking out than you'd think.)

Capital City weather: rain

Friday, April 18, 2008

The 21 Steps, one of Penguin's web-native stories.

Dolye hipped me to the source of this shoe-tying fun several years ago.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still Another Way To Celebrate Library Week

Tom Swifties (Swiftys?) at Shelf Check.

Listening: Cotton Dick Clinton (playing at the Camel tomorrow) practicing
Library Week Continues

Entertainment Weekly celebrates with a list of "Sexy Trips to the Library Stacks." Am I a boring old shrew if I say that while I applaud the inclusion of Ghostbusters, I must note that NYPL uses Library of Congress call numbers, not Dewey? Yeah, I guess so.

via Information Junk.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Just now, I gave up on Nikki Turner's Forever a Hustler's Wife.

In my quest to read lots of genres I don't usually read, street lit (urban lit, ghetto lit, hip-hop fiction, or even "African American authors" - call it what you will) got a turn. I tried to be patient with language that some might describe as "holding the race down": it's a true reflection of how many people talk, I told myself. At dinner last night, Coworker (30ish, interracial woman who describes the Big City neighborhood where she grew up as "a real ghetto") and I agreed the simple sentences and vocabulary made Turner (and similar books) easy reading. It's not too hard to keep reading. Coworker had a lot to say about how unrealistic a different Turner thug life type book was: in reality, people get locked up for good, etc.

Like many, many other modern books, Turner drops brand names to show us how savvy she and her characters are. The description of the titular hustler's study read like a 12-year-old boy's list of all the things he wants to own when he grows up. I couldn't decided if Turner described it that way to show us this man had made it, or to show us he's perpetually trapped in adolesence. Still, I kept reading.

But when Turner specifically describes the couple as living in a Hanover County gated community, then has city police come bust up their party, I decided to call it quits.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Additional yard birds: goldfinch, white-throated sparrow

New restaurant: Popkin Furniture has become a hip-ish drinking-dining establishment with pool tables, games, lounge chairs, and dining tables on several levels. I liked the old photos on the walls, including portraits of former businesses -- and their owners -- at that address. Sears-Roebuck and a Mr. Rountree (still a business name in town) are two I recall. Furniture ads and broken up furniture bits (a cabriole leg, in a picture frame; chairs nailed to the wall) completed the decor.

Us 70s kids knew Popkin Furniture for its dopey commercials about being in the "big ugly yellow building" ... on West Broad? I had a surprisingly good grilled chicken sandwich.

Item from Historic Richmond.
"He owns the building" commercial. (A tag line I forgot I knew!)
Blurb from the renovation architects.
Brick's reviewer opens with my same reaction: maybe I should have dressed nicer?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Books: Mudbound by Hillary Jordon. Like books by all the authors to whom I want to compare her, this one has left me haunted by its characters. If you like Faulkner, Kingsolver, Caldwell, or Lee Smith, give this one a try.

Also, Selling Good Design, a book about the "exhibits" of modern furniture that department stores put on in the late 1920s; exhibits that helped move "modern" from the potentially bizarre and outre to an acceptable way to decorate.

Garden: tried to rake up the last of the willow oak leaves, but with those skinny things, some always escape. Finished just before a midday thunderstorm. Lily of the valley and bleeding heart blooming happily; hyacinths nearly done.

Spring cleaning: yeah, did some, mostly so I could reward myself and sit and read

Yard birds: grackles, juncos, house sparrows, purple finches, mourning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, carolina wrens, cardinals

Listening: to P doing his radio show

Friday, April 11, 2008

BoingBoing's blurb on an article about a woman who let her nine-year-old use NYC public transportation on his own.

Real city kids always impress me -- the confidence with which they use PT and whatnot. Such a contrast to, say, suburban kids using the DC Metro on a field trip. The latter are fearful and unable to read directional signs.

Stepkid sort of understands a city grid, but won't take Capital City buses.
Filling In

I am at our lib branch at the government center this afternoon. I haven't actually helped the assistant while her librarian has a couple days off -- which is the "reason" I am here. J can find all the law items, log into WestLaw, find "Virginia Lawyers Weekly," and issue new library cards. Me: not so much. Well, when J stepped out for half an hour, she told me where to find the WestLaw password.

I did check out a bestseller to a patron, though!

Also, I took a call from a county employee who saw this book on the Today show and hopes we will get it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On the Ref Desk

"There's no such person as 'Who's' "(as in Who's Who) my colleague has said several different ways in the last two minutes. She's got a phone ref query way more challenging than the two holds I just took over the phone (for Ms Smith then Ms Jones, suspiciously).


Getting a grant

Library card

A book for a teen girl who doesn't like to read, goes to a Christian academy, and needs to read something for a report. She took a Stephanie Perry Moore book.

Big boss stops by

Meeting rooms

Tax forms (she has a temper at first, but I eventually got her what she needed and she mellowed)



Tax forms are over there suits the next patron
Video Killed the Poster Star

More of those videos (see below) on ALA's website, here. Info about National Library Week, over here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Have You Finished Your Shopping for National Library Week?

It'll be here before you know it!


"An informal collaborative of audio historians, recording engineers, sound archivists, scientists, other individuals, and organizations who aim to make mankind's earliest sound recordings available to all people for all time": FirstSounds.

A clothes lending library (thanks MarkyMark): an awesome resource for the needy. I've participated in a professional clothes drive through a social services agency, though I think the customers bought and kept the items. After all, if the suit helps you land the job, you still need something to wear until those first paychecks allow you to shop. Of course, I suppose the terms of the loan could easily take that into account.

Bird banding station at First Landing State Park: click here, look for link "CVWO blog," at left.

Last night on DVD: Murder on the Links (David Suchet as Poirot).

In the garden: Lots of rain. The grape hyacinth are nearly done; day lilies and bleeding heart blooming. Hosta, lenten rose, and solomon's seal all sending up fresh leaves.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Edible Book contest on Flickr. My favs: Burger King Lear, Tipping Point, Humpty Dumpty (the latter mostly because of Cadbury egg withdrawal).
Good News

According to the business card the Children's Librarian left on the break room table, Williams Bakery (from which she bought us treats) will open a Carytown location "soon"!

The French bakery in Cary Court has always felt Too, to me. Williams is a good, basic bakery (with root on Church Hill, I think, then the East End), and soon one will be in walking distance. I usually serve their cheese straws (puffs, really) at my Christmas party.
Dept. of What He Said:

Sure, Web 2.0 stuff is important to learn, but most of our patrons can't save a document or open an e-mail account. They can't believe we won't fix our broken floppy drives. Blog, here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


An item here on the challenges of searching "occult" topics in the library. It's true: it's tough. Patrons begin with questions like, "I need true books about Bigfoot / magic / witches / etc." They don't want parlor tricks, they don't want Halloween stories, and they certainly don't need you beginning with "Well, since Bigfoot isn't real. . . ." You have to be delicate.
Walkable City

This Morning Edition story tells how a former suburbanite's move to a newly-designed city development in Atlanta allowed her to reduce her carbon footprint. All she wanted to do was get out of the car (according to the story, Atlantans commute an average of 32 miles daily).

Go here to calculate your carbon foot print.