Blogging Reference

College students have been moving in all week,  The Fall term at FSU and FAMU starts on Monday.  It's a good day to stay away from the universities and popular restaurants.

It's a clear day, and expected to be hot.  You'd never know a hurricane is churning up the Atlantic coast.  I shouldn't joke, but I feel a little left out.  We haven't had a tropical storm here in a few years.  Maybe I should watch Key Largo.

Another Saturday morning with the A/C down.  They seem to have gotten it going a little.

10:00  I open the doors at the 2nd floor entrance.

PC for Cheryl.

Phone:  She got a notice for a book she returned.  Can I look for it?  Grrr, we're not supposed to get these calls, but I'll handle it.  Not on shelf, find Rick Steves' Prague & The Czech Republic on a cart in the circulation workroom.

Phone:  Is Joyce M.  Wants address & phone for a company named Santana.  Has no idea where it is.  Try Switchboard, Google.  It's not enough to go on, sorry.

Today's paper.

Where to get library card?

10:26  Still have about 8 PC's free.

PC for Michael.

She wants The Territorial Papers of the United States, vols. 22-26, covering the Territory of Florida.  After a couple of tries, I find them in the catalog, and there they are in the reference collection.  She remembered them from years ago, before we moved into this building in '91.  Embarrassing to have never noticed them, over all these years.

Do we do phone reference?  His library in Memphis did it too.  He says he stumped them twice, with "How deep is the sand in Saudi Arabia?", and "Why are salmon and mackerel cans smaller on the bottom than on the top?".

PC for Miller.

PC for Jeff.

Where is PC 56?

The floppy drive in PC 52 can't read his disk.  Give him another PC.  Advise him to move his files to a USB drive.

PC's for Vincent, Jason, Brittany.

Long schmooze w E., who retired as a cataloger from the FSU library, about e-book readers.  He is pretty sold on them.  Has a Nook, but thinks Kindle may be a better choice.  Nook can't zoom maps and diagrams.  He likes that you can change the type size.  No need to buy a large print edition.  Mostly reads ePub versions of free books from Project Gutenberg.  Has issues w e-book pagination, which plays hell w citations, and w current state of "digital rights" for e-books.  I am hearing good things from serious readers about these e-book readers.

How to find McDonald's web site to apply for job.  Bing is confusing.

Any more titles in Molly MacRae's Lewis Wilder mystery series after Wilder Rumors?  No.  Do we have The Terrorists, by Maj Sj√∂wall?  Is on hold.  Is the hold for her friend?  She will get it from her.

Phone:  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  Place hold.

Do we have more recent issues of Value Line reports?  Not yet, show him online access through the library web page.

Check the materials request database, (MRD).  It's up to 54 new, but only 22 book requests, the rest media.  Can get to them later.

11:58  Time for lunch.

12:43  Back.

The NYT.

Today's Democrat.

Print out 1040EZ tax form for a man.

Phone:  It's Florida P.  Who won the 1998 World Series?  Yankees.

Where are books on psychology?  Take to shelf.

Her PC is not on,  Have her press power button to turn it on.

Today's paper.

Refill CD's Southern Gothic Fiction display.

Can she have scratch paper?

1:19  SE is back from lunch.

Where to get library card?

It is very quiet.  Plenty of people.  Quiet people, reading.  It's nice...

She is here for a meeting.  The Greater Tallahassee Section of the National Council of Negro Women is meeting in program room A on the first floor.

Does the library have food vending machines?  No, sorry.

Where to get library card?

Tarot Woman walks by.

Might as well work on requests,

Try to show self-check-out machine, but her card's not in the system.  She must go to circulation.

MRD:  The Forgotten Locket, by Lisa Mangum.  New, juvenile, redirect to Youth Services.

SE is making Grisham/Baldacci readalikes display.  I'm alone for a little while,

Has anyone turned in a flash drive? No.  Is WiFi available on the 3rd floor?  Yes, but public not allowed up there on weekends.  Can she print from the 15-minute PC's?  No.

She's here to pick up On Human Nature, by Edward O. Wilson.  Was on 24-hr. hold at refdesk, but she couldn't get here.  We still have it.

He can't find The 7th Victim and False Accusations by Alan Jacobson.  Go back to the shelf with him and find them.

 Repair information for 1989 Saab 9000 CD.  Mitchell doesn't cover Saabs.  Auto Repair db has only service bulletins.  Have only annual all-in-one Chilton tune-up book for imports.  They'll take that.

Do we have Pharmacy Technician Certification book?  We had a different one from the one he wants, but it's now lost.

She wants books in Spanish by Esmeraldo Santiago.  Place hold on Conquistadora.

Today's paper.

Mom w 2 little kids wants Run, Baby, Run by Nicky Cruz.  Take request for ILL.  Anything on the West Memphis Three.  We used to have Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt, but all copies are lost.

Phone:  Mrs. Rounds wants Escape by Barbara Delinsky in large print.  Do we have Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner in large type?  Not yet.  She'll take regular print then.

Phone:  Joyce C. wants Smokin' Seventeen and Explosive Eighteen by Evanovich.  Place holds.

Show Democrat on microfilm.  Demo viewer.

DC gives me a break.

GED book?  Copies for in-library use, or can reserve copy for check-out.

PC's for four kids.

Phone:  Rosa B. in Lloyd wants contact info for Ruby Kisses.  Made by Kiss Cosmetics.  E-mail only on web site, not listed in Dun & Bradstreet directory.  There is a store locator.  Give her three local stores.

Phone:  Joan C. wonders why ducks removed from Lake Ella, popular walking location in mid-town.  Muscovy ducks, threat to local species, aggressive, leave "unsightly waste".

3:26  So much for quiet time to process requests!

Mom & teen son.  How can he volunteer at the library?  Show VolunteerLEON web site.

PC for Dave.

Books for Bolivar.  Also wants The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang, Not a Suicide Pact by Richard A. Posner, In the Shadow of Death by Elizabeth Beck, and The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr.  Take to shelf for Rape, don't have the others.  For a course?  Yes. criminal justice, so don't offer ILL.

PC for Matt.

4:00  SE takes discards and books for bindery up to Collection Management.

MRD:  Surrendered :the rise, fall and revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick by Kwame Kilpatrick.  Send to ILL.

MRD:  Eviction Notice: A Hood Rat Novel by K'wan.  New, send to Purchase.

MRD:  3 X 33: Short Fiction by 33 Writers, Mark Winegardner, ed.  2004, $100!, send to ILL.

MRD:  The Hot Zone by Preston.  We own, place hold.

4:27  Phone.  Hurricane Tracking  Man wants particulars from the National Hurricane Center's 2:00 advisory on Irene.

MRD:  The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman.  New, received, in process.  Place hold.

Show her how to reserve PC w her card.

Dave asks if we have an envelope.  No, sorry.

30 min. announcement.  I think that's enough for today.


Summer Break Is Over

After weeks of sweltering days and nights, the morning was cool, with a mackerel sky.  I wore a windbreaker on my scooter ride to work.  Autumn is still a long way off, but it looks like we can expect arid, if still hot, days and cooler nights.

It has been the most serene summer break that anyone can remember at the main library.  Not that it hasn't been busy, but we haven't had the numbers of unsupervised children and teens this year that we've had in the past.

I can only guess why that is so.  The nearby Life Skills Academy, which was a program for teens ejected from the high schools, is gone, I heard.  The city buses have new routes that don't involve transfers at the old main terminal across the street.  Several library branches have more public access computers now, (the contrast between Monday, when the branches are closed, and Tuesday, was noticeable this week).  The shift of Internet traffic from PC's to portable devices, chiefly "smart phones", may be a factor too, though iPhones and Blackberrys are rarely seen on the premises.  I wonder whether the Web has simply lost its novelty.

Whatever the reason, it's been a pleasant surprise .  The library has been more like a library ought to be than it has been in a long time.  People are coming in to use it, not to see if their friends are there.  When we are needed, it is to help people do their work, not to make children behave.  It wasn't what we expected over the summer break. 


The Marines of the Library

 I don't know who came up with this name for bookmobilers, but it always made me feel good to think it of myself, when I ran the library bookmobile in the 1990's.  The idea is that bookmobiles establish "beachheads" for library services, regular stops in places, often rural, that will someday be succeeded by permanent branch libraries.

A bookmobile librarian is a librarian who is also a truck driver, an odd combination.  When I applied for the job, it mattered that I had once driven a school bus.

It is a lonely job: only you and your assistant, without the larger crew of a branch or a department to help out, and your work is invisible to the rest of the library.  It is physically demanding:  heavy canvas bags of requests and returns must be handled, and at senior communities an indoor service desk and collection must be set up and taken down several times daily.

The hazards of the road, mechanical breakdowns and severe weather, are facts of life.  The hardest times were in winter, driving in from miles out in the cold and dark, wanting only to see the lights of the truck route, Capital Circle, that would signal I was almost home.

And yet I used to tell myself, rolling down a leafy country lane on a beautiful day, to remember it, that I was privileged to have such freedom, such close friendships with my readers, and to be so relied upon for books to read.

The opening of two new branch locations this fall, in Woodville and on Pedrick Road east of town, will mean the end of two of the remaining rural bookmobile stops at Woodville and at Chaires.  The old stops at Bradfordville and at Fort Braden were replaced by branch libraries years ago.  Only the double stop at the Miccosukee Land Coop and Miccosukee proper, and the newer stop at Southwood will remain of the rural stops.

The old bookmobile frontier is just about over.  Bookmobile services will be devoted increasingly to senior communities and assisted living facilities.

Raise a glass to all bookmobile librarians!  But for them, many readers would have nowhere to turn.


Shot of Love

Sunday Mass, how grateful I am to be there after another week in this old world of trouble.  The Gospel reading is the story of Jesus walking on the water.  Father Holeda likens the fearful disciples in their storm-tossed boat to ourselves in these uncertain times, when the news only seems to go from bad to worse, and we have so many worries about our work, our families, and what the future holds.  "Be not afraid", Jesus says.  Pope John Paul II often repeated this.  "Be not afraid, I am with you."

It is my turn to serve as a eucharistic minister today.  As I present the cup, Y. approaches.  "The Blood of Christ", I say, and she takes the cup, a glance between us acknowledging the grace offered, and received.

Y. used to run the library's Apalachee Parkway Branch, when it was nothing but an old bookmobile up on blocks in the corner of a shopping center parking lot.  She left us for the State Library in the early '90's, but the collection she had assembled on that bookmobile was for a long time the last resort for anything obscure, literary, or in translation.  I didn't see her for many years.  I had heard she had retired.  Then, one morning a few weeks ago, I turned at Mass to pass the peace, and there she was.  She had come home.

We had planned to see a movie, Beginners, at the Miracle, but when we got there we found that it had already started.  The time in the paper had been wrong.  So we went home.  R. made a lasagne, I washed a load of whites.

R. tried calling her Aunt Pat and Uncle Ray, but got no answer.  A few minutes later, Ray called back.  He was doing well, with no pain, only some tiredness when he over-exerted himself.  He had started two new paintings.

We sat in our reading/radio-listening chairs, reading the Sunday New York Times.  Our cat, Claudius, sat nearby on the fireplace. A jazz program was on the radio.   And joy broke in.  I kissed R., and said I was not sorry we had missed the movie.  Nothing could be better than this: to be reading the Times together on a Sunday afternoon with our cat, and jazz on the radio.  I felt like crying, so sweet was my release from care and sorrow.


Heat is Austerity, Cold is Misery

...Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupad, the guru of Krishna Consciousness, was supposed to have said.  Gerald Ensley, a columnist for our local paper, devoted his space today to hot weather being a fact of life in Tallahassee in the summer.

And it seemed appropriate.  There is really nothing else happening here at the end of July.  I worked this weekend, but it would have been a waste of time for me to do a Blogging Reference post.  The streets were empty.  If it were not for the people coming in to access the Internet, the library would have been almost completely quiet.

R. attempted to go to Governors Square Mall on Saturday, and couldn't find a parking space, so I guess that is where everyone was, if not at the beach or out of town.

I did have a man come in first thing on Sunday, looking for reviews in Consumer Reports for HVAC units.  But CR doesn't evaluate them, nor any one else.  I think that there are too many variables.  So much depends on a competent energy audit and the installation of the right unit for the house in question.

At some point, air-conditioning became a requirement for life in the South.  When I arrived at work Saturday morning, the A/C was off.  A county technician got it going before the library opened.  The idea of being without it was too uncomfortable to contemplate, though the library does have windows that can be opened if need be.

Until the age of eight, I had little experience of A/C.  We and our neighbors did not have it at home.  On hot summer days, we went swimming for relief.  In 1962 we moved into a new house in Maitland that had central heat and cooling, but the new school I attended there did not.  Open windows and fans kept us cool.

In 1969 I entered the eleventh grade at the new buildings for Winter Park High, which had sealed windows and an HVAC system.  Attending FSU in the '70's, the classrooms were air-conditioned, but the dorms were not.  Large fans were something everyone brought with them as incoming freshmen.

Now we expect it. But if air-conditioning the Sunbelt were to become unsustainable, I think most of us would adjust to it.  And for those who found it unbearable, perhaps they would return to the Northern states, leaving Tallahassee and the South to return to its hot, slow, pace of life.