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.