Blogging Reference: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Working w Susan E. today.

Savannah holly trees at the Park Ave. entrance are in bloom. Tiny white flowers.

Woman e-mails that she can't find the "PenPals" page. Asking her to elaborate, turns out she means our FAN Club, (Favorite Author Notification), program.

10:00 Open.

PC for Ronald, who can't get a card because he lives at the Shelter.

Help two other men type in their card numbers to get sessions.

Woman doesn't want to wait for copier to warm up. Can I credit her dollar to the other copier? No, it'll just be a second. God in heaven.

Phone: SJ in Media confirms we're to relieve her for lunch.

10:36 Quiet. Susan goes to do a little shelving in fiction, which is terribly backed up.

Clicking of keyboards, hum of machines.

Anything on Frederick Douglas and Aaron Douglas? FD on shelf in Biographies. Both copies of Aaron Douglas : art, race, and the Harlem Renaissance lost, but find profile in Contemporary Black Biography. Help her make copy.

More in Sunrise series by Karen Kingsbury? No, she's read them all.

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child. Place hold.

Summer Youth Workers question. Give HR Job Line.

ASVAB test prep. Show Learning Express program, take ID for book.

The Kill by Allison Brennan and Since You've Been Gone by Carlene Thompson. Find on PB carousels.

Can get PC to print off the Internet?

Show woman how to paste resumé into web form.

PC for José.

Freestone wants to talk about the outbreak of influenza in Mexico. Observes that the healthy are more in danger, and that a widespread quarantine could be the final death blow to the economy.

Phone: Things Fall Apart. On shelf in YA Fiction, transfer to YS.

PC for Karen.

Few nibbles, but no bites for my Florida Faves display. Change out some titles. Tales from Margaritaville has sat untouched all week. Likewise Connie May Fowler's River of Hidden Dreams.

Find myself again wondering what happened to Sam Harrison, who penned two fine novels, Walls of Blue Coquina and Birdsong Ascending in the early '90's, and then vanished.

11:55 Lunch.

12:25 Back. Susan hands off Commissioner P. to me. Wants info on impact to county of university budget cuts.

Rat terrier book. Don't own.

Daughter of York by Ann Easter Smith. Should be OS.

Blossom by Queen Pen. No.

ESOL tutor wants room opened. Call super.

PC for Jarel

PC for Michael

Phone: ILL renewal request for Drawing Near by John Bevere.

The Omega Code. Don't own.

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy, and commitment by Steve Harvey. About 20 copies, 89 outstanding holds. Never mind, she says. This is the runaway No. 1 pop-psych hit of the season.

PC for Phillip.

PC for Pauley. (?)

Browser won't print. Printer prints error msg. Turn off & on. Prints job.

PC for Jean

Help w copier

Primary sources on Southeastern Indians.

LSAT test prep.

Old lady w blond wig wants book on Manx cat. "He only eats real tuna. He won't eat cat food tuna. Why can't I have a cheap cat?"

Both phones ringing back at desk. Put one on hold and answer other: Customer service number for CreditOne bank.

2:05 Susan back from Media, out for smoke.

PC for Zenobia.

Why is someone on his computer? Has 15 min. wait.

PC for Fashon.

Man tells me he's gotten position at FAMU library. Had recently moved here and asked if we had anything open. Where's Holocaust exhibit? He missed it, sorry. Opines that there is more to being Jewish than the Holocaust. Is he Jewish? No, but he has known some. Says Holocaust has become an industry.

Zenobia cancels her reservation. Used stand-up PC.

Books on scholarships.

PC for Dwayne.

Susan updating reference information binders. Yes PowerFinder and American Business Disk gone from Dell PC at desk. Couldn't update when ReferenceUSA sub ran out.

Where is womens' bathroom?

Security alarm. Pass him through.

2:45 Quiet.

Help w microfilm viewer.

PC for Larry.

Paper for printer.

Can scan something? No, sorry.

Phone: Number for Mike's Pawn Shop.

PC for Colson.

PC for Takoya.

Ronald may not have another session without a library card, sorry.

Where are typewriters?

Help her upload attachment from her laptop.

Bathrooms up here?

Woman wants to search newspaper microfilm for 1951. Looking for story on Leon High baseball team.

Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews. Turned in yesterday, so not on shelf. She doesn't want me to hunt for it. I say ok, but do it anyway. Find in Circulation Workroom on truck. She's thrilled. Just like my dear old mother, God rest her soul, I know her type. Have to force her to let you make her happy.

Help woman start session.

Brings back paper for ID.

Where are math books?

What are flowering trees at entrance? Ligustrums.

Help printing microfilm article.


Where is number 63 at?

Ligustrum woman pleased to know that our county named after the explorer, Juan Ponce de León. Is quite senior, but charming, w pretty, 50-ish daughter. Where is art museum? Susan gives map to Brogan Museum, and I tell them about LeMoyne.

Phone: Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand : a novel of Adam and Eve by Gioconda Belli. Is checked out. "Oh crud!", she says. Place hold for delivery to the Northeast Branch.

4:30 announcement.

PC's for Olivia, Shonte and Jasmine.

Turning off Catalog PC's.

Phone: Can get in to NetLibrary at work, but gets error message at home. We are almost closed, can she call back on Monday and ask for DF?

The Bad Old Days

I've spent a lot of time searching our microfilm archive of the Tallahassee Democrat for stories about a man's cousin, a white student at FSU, who was arrested in 1963 in connection with demonstrations demanding equal rights for blacks at area movie theaters and restaurants.

He was a member of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Earlier actions, such as the bus boycott, had relied on economic pressure, and were solidly supported by the black community. CORE, whose members were primarily college students, introduced sit-ins and picketing, and began to provoke arrests, tactics with which ordinary black working people, understandably, had misgivings.

1963, Lord have mercy, what a hell of a year. Cuba, Vietnam, Birmingham, Dallas. I was 9 years old, but I vividly recall the fear of nuclear war. Our present troubles pale by comparison.

Yet, politics aside, what stands out is the number of traffic, aerial, and industrial fatalities reported. They were enormous. Government-mandated inspections and safety and health legislation have saved countless lives since then.


Reading as Voyage

After I read Ford Madox Ford's four-part Parade's End, a birthday gift from my wife the English Major, which in the Penguin edition runs to 864 pages, I realized that I had an appetite for literary ocean voyages, circumnavigations of reading.

Last year I completed the twelve volumes of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. I also put away, in the same year, an hour at a time, every Tuesday night at adoration in the chapel at Blessed Sacrament Church, the 825 page Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is formidable, being a very granular history at 3360 pages in the Womersley edition.

My paternal grandmother, a devout Baptist, used to read the entire Bible every year. It is a different kind of reading from the stand-alone 300+- page novel. Hence, the maritime analogy. Gibbon is the literary equivalent of the whaler's "three-year tour".

Stay tuned for a Branches and Rain special feature, "Blogging Gibbon".


Left Behind

A column in the NYT's Style section a couple of weeks ago crystalized what I've been feeling lately about new trends in digital media. Michael Winerip writes in Aging by Megabyte that, "Somewhere between the cellphone and BlackBerry, I stopped. I pay my bills by mail, not online. I listen to music on a CD, not an iPod. I e-mail, I don’t I.M. or friend people on Facebook or Twitter."

Winerip, who admits to being in his "late-middle 50's", is a little bit older than me. I do download music, and I have a minimal Facebook presence. But I'm 55. I've never liked telephones, and I don't own a cell. I think Twitter was the end of the line for me. Y'all go on ahead, I'm going to sit down.

Browsing the NYT blogs, I read an article in Bits about a "web tool" called StumbleUpon, yet another social networking site where users share cool stuff they've found online: Umbrella Art Installations, Free iPod iPhone music, Top 9 Video Game OCD Moments. And I didn't care about any of it. These posters are perhaps 20-30 years younger than me.

It's not that I've lost my sense of curiosity. I am rather in deep waters now, late in life. I want to read Gibbon and the classics: Thucydides and Virgil. The StumbleUpon kids are trading marbles.


World Made By Hand, a must-read.

Casting about for a suitable novel to nominate for the 2010 IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award, (it has to be a novel published in English in 2008), I settled on James Howard Kunstler's World Made By Hand, a post-"peak-oil", post-"global-warming" novel set in the near future. It's been widely reviewed, so I won't waste my breath summarizing it.

The publisher, Grove/Atlantic, has mounted an impressive web site for it, redolent of Ken Burns, with its sepia photographs and plaintive folk string music. Yet, I thought they got it just right. Reading the novel, I had a sense of what Civil War reenactors call "period rush". If all the crap of modern electronic life went away, would a primitive American sensibility reassert itself? In the novel, there is a kind of bleed-through from our ante-bellum past to the world just over the horizon.

I had thought I remembered reading a review in the NYT, but now I think I saw him on Colbert. Kunstler has a religious sect, the "New Faithers", arrive to settle in the upper New York State town of Union Grove from Virginia. But they put me in mind of New York's "Burned-Over District", the region that produced the Mormons, the Shakers, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and other Protestant sects.


Author web site.



Tending the Collection

A much needed quiet day. The Jewish Passover and Easter Triduum are almost upon us, a time for retreat and recollection. Many staff are already on leave, as I will be after today.

Time to give our hard-used collection some TLC. I sort through the "new non-fiction" browsing section, pulling titles older than about six months, removing the red dot stickers on the spine labels that keep them there, peeling off old tape from "on hold" slips left on their covers. For many of these books, this would be the end-of-life in a bookstore. The author tour is over, they are off any bestseller lists, the talk shows and book reviews have moved on. Some have gained enough standing to continue to circulate for years. Others will soon sit unread, ultimately to be weeded after 5 or so years of inactivity.

Working them into the regular non-fiction sections, I have sometimes to make room. The 320's, Political Science, are particularly tight. There the shelves groan with the printed blasts and counter-blasts of the Bush years, 9/11 -> Iraq Invasion -> the '04 Elections. Four and five copies of titles by Coulter, O'Reilly, Franken, Huffington, Michael Moore, are beginning to gather dust. Guys, I'm taking your shelf space. Two copies per title.

It's almost as bad in the 332's, Personal Finance, where "get rich" investment and real estate titles from the Bubble Years seem almost nostalgic.

Later, I take a truck of selections from the March donations to be processed: a fine, new edition of Plato, complete works of Montaigne, Karl Popper's Conjectures and Refutations, Lamps of the 50s & 60s with values, Bowie in Berlin, many precious replacements for titles lost or withdrawn.

It's all I ever wanted, to work with my ink-and-paper friends. Arm-loads of books, how I love them.


Summerport Beach

Photographs taken last Sunday at my parents' house on Lake Butler in west Orange County.


Netbooks On The March

Looks like my cheap Netbook is on the horizon. Write-up in the NYT. Saw another one, an Acer, in the library today.

Inexpensive cell phone chips with Linux and Cloud storage. Not for me as a primary machine, but a luxury upgrade for low-income or mobile smart phone users without home Internet access. And depending upon Wi-Fi as a public utility, something the big ISP's have been trying to thwart.

Interesting intel by way of my niece Stephanie, a high school senior who hardly ever actually calls anyone on her cell. Texting is the medium for the Millenials. Full circle to UNIX "talk". Observed numerous Millenials at local restaurant Masa all using iPhone clones. Clamshell cell phone going away.

Motherless Children Have a Hard Time...

...when Mother is dead, Lord.

Back from a trip to Orlando, where my mother died on Saturday, March 28th, of cardiac arrest, following hospitalization for an aneurysm the previous day. She had wished to be cremated. A memorial service was held on Tuesday in Eustis.

Rosalie Nieft Castleberry.

Goodbye, Mama, rest in peace.