Last Monday in April

This was our first Monday with all the new public-access terminals on the second floor in Adult Services.  There are 41 terminals now, where there were 28 PC's and terminals before.  Monday has always been a busy day for computing, but today was intense.  If we had not had someone from Tech/Media detailed to handle computer reservations for us, I don't know what we would have done.  We wouldn't have been able to answer the phone or take reference questions.

I had a woman today who wanted to find homeless shelters on the California coast.  We recognized her, having spent a lot of time a couple of months ago helping her apply for certification in Florida as a cosmetologist.  She was living at the homeless shelter, and was very unhappy there.  She wanted to live somewhere that is not as hot as it is here, but not up north.  She said that she had gotten cancer on her head from living here.  She thought that California might be the place to go.  God in heaven.  I wanted to help, but she needed more than I could give her as a librarian.  I found an online directory to homeless shelters, and printed out the list of towns in California that had shelters.  She took it and got a computer.

Processing online requests, I got around 20, from what looked like two Chinese brothers, for every current MCAT test-prep guide there is.  I can't imagine wanting something bad enough to work my way through 20 test-prep books. The Decline of the West.

It's the last week of session for the Florida Legislature, and R. is working late.  It was raining when I left the library on my Vespa at 6.  In spite of my poncho, I arrived home with my shoes and cuffs wet.  After I changed, I browned some chicken strips, sauteed mushrooms, a shallot and garlic in butter, and simmered all in chicken broth, serving over rice.

I watched The Journey Home, the EWTN show where Catholic converts tell their stories.  It was a good one tonight, with Leo Brown, a former rock DJ who runs a Catholic radio station.  Good stories.

R. arrived home around 10 p.m. and, after a little while, took a shower and went to bed.  She has to be at work by 6 a.m. Wednesday, and may have to stay until midnight.


Public-Access Computing Back Online

We were all nervous this morning before opening. We needn't have worried.  The few glitches were minor.  The technical crew wrapped up the project as though it had been easy.  It was in fact an impressive accomplishment.  By mid-morning all was smooth & serene.

You can see the new print station on the right.  For now, printing is still free, while users see what their jobs "would cost", and will, as of May 10.  The mere addition of a few steps to go through to print, even without charging, seemed to cut down on printing today.  Users have to preview their jobs before sending them to the printer, and then release their jobs at the printer station by putting in their library card or guest pass numbers.

It has been decided to make the Gates Computer Lab downstairs a quiet zone, with no sound available on the terminals   Sound ports will only be provided for the upstairs workstations.


What I Will Be Looking At

This is what the new arrangement looked like at the end of Friday.  They are supposed to be done by Monday the 22nd.  Those are magazine racks at the far end.  The public-access Internet workstations have largely taken over the old sleep.. um, reading area with upholstered chairs and low tables.  Our loungers and readers must move on to other spaces.

It looks rather daunting, but we will have help from the Tech/Media folks downstairs for Internet sign-up, since we have gained most of their  workstations.  The media collection, CD's, DVD's, and a dwindling collection of books on audiocassette and VHS videos, will benefit enormously from the extra space.

It is a stripped-down, rationalized public-access computing we will be offering now.  The Pano-Logic Zero Client stations offer ports for USB devices and head-phones only; no drives for DVD's, CD's or floppy-disks.  The installation of executable files will be blocked, so you won't be able to install iTunes or file-sharing programs.  And then in May we will be going to pay-for-print, which most other public libraries already have, and which I expect will reduce our door-count significantly.

This renovation has been talked about for 10 years or so, and here it is.  It is going to be a lot better than what we've been living with for so long.  It will be what we have when I retire in the not-so-distant future.


End of an Era: Good-bye to PC's, MS Office, Free Printing

All of the public-access "desk-top" PC's and terminals are offline this week at the main library.  We are making several major changes at once.

Since the 1990's, there have been public-access Internet computers on the the first floor, ("Tech-Media"), and the second floor, ("Adult Services").  Most of them, 42 seats, will now be assembled, with new furniture, in Adult Services on the second floor, leaving 20 or so in the old "Gates Lab" classroom in Tech-Media.

PC's, boxes with their own motherboards and hard drives, are going away completely.  Public-access computing will move entirely to Pano Logic Zero Client terminals.  Microsoft Office will also disappear, replaced by Open Office.

The library is also implementing "pay-for-print".  Library card holders will get 10 pages free, and pay ten cents per page thereafter.  Users with "guest-passes" will get no free pages.

It will be a shock to our users.  Some of them, anyway.  Many of our regular "homeless" patrons, (who live at the Shelter), have acquired wireless laptops.


Blogging Reference

It's been ages, dear reader, since my last one of these.

The Springtime Tallahassee festival is underway today downtown.  I had to weave around and between Springtime 10K runners to get to the library on my Vespa.  Some staff were here early to help the Friends of the Library with a book sale in the park.  I expect people who come to the library by car to stay away today unless they are coming to the festival.  Traffic will be pretty tied up with street closings.

Barbara H. called about requests for books by Alex George, a British writer whose 2012 book, A Good American, has made a splash in the U.S, but whose earlier novels are not generally owned by U.S. libraries, and so difficult to get through interlibrary loan.

A patron is looking for Debra S., who is helping with the library's "Springtime" presence.  We can't find her.  It turns out there's more to it than just the book sale, which is in front of the library steps on the park side.  We apparently have two information booths, one for children, with free stickers, and one for adults, up by the DoubleTree Hotel.  It's thought that Debra may be there, but no one knows for sure.  There was no mention of the booths in our advisory about the book sale.

A man wants several titles by Elaine Pagels: Beyond Belief, which is on-shelf, The Gnostic Gospels, which is in transit, and for which I place a hold, The Origin of Satan, copies of which are lost, and for which I send a request to purchase/ILL, and The Secrets of Mary Magdalene, which is on-shelf.  Also, The Fifth Gospel, by Robert Winterhalter, which is on-shelf.

11:42  Very quiet.  Donna C. comes by, asking whether we found Debra.  No, I say.  She says she will be back at noon to relieve me for lunch.

Susan E., with whom I am working today, asks me to look over the new version of our Popular Authors bibliography.  I suggest Gilbert Morris for the historical fiction section, and question Stephen Crane's listing there.  Susan has been passing the quiet morning cleaning old tape and goo off of a large book tape dispenser.  We agree that it must be very old, possibly from the days when the library was in the Northwood Mall, pre-1991.  I started there in 1989, when it was on the bottom floor of the former J. Byron's department store.

Where is the stapler? She didn't recognize our new "plier-grip" stapler as a stapler.  It's been working out very well, and is holding up.  One woman has been asking for our "desktop" stapler, complaining that the new stapler is hard to use with her arthritis.

12:39  Back from  lunch.  Our Internet volunteer, Nellie, is here, hallelujah.  It has picked up considerably, though it is still quiet at the desk so far.

Phone:  it's Jolene.  How old was Andy Griffith when he made the Matlock television series?  Did he have children?  Sixty, two adopted children by his first wife.

A woman with 10K Run bib on sets the security alarm off at the second floor exit.  She says she checked her CD-book out.  I have her go back through, passing the book around to her.

Phone:  She wants Susan E., probably about an exam to be proctored.  She is rescheduling due to the traffic/parking situation.

Here is Nitza, our cheerful shelver, who has arrived in one piece.

1:15  Quiet once more, with several available computers.

Cay, our director, is fussing with the "Bridging Cultures Bookshelf:  Muslim Journeys" display in mid-floor.  There was a presentation for it Thursday night, with scholars from FSU.  She gives a wave, has on t-shirt and jeans, which I don't think I've seen her in for a very long time.

D., from Blessed Sacrament, wants Sacred Darkness:  Encountering Divine Love in Life's Darkest Places, by Paul Coutinho, S.J., for the book club at the Neumann Center.  The library doesn't have it.  She'll order it from Amazon.  Also The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri, She-Wolves:  The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor, and A Long Way from Tipperary by John Dominic Crossan.

Donna C. asks how we are doing.  Susan has already gone to lunch, but we are not busy.  Donna has been soothing an old woman who received a bill for a lost interlibrary loan book.  The woman is devastated at having lost a book.  I remember how patrons at the retirement communities would feel so guilty about having a late book, when I drove the bookmobile. I wish more people were so scrupulous, but we don't want them to die a thousand deaths.

Phone:  do we have Vietnamese poetry in translation?  Nothing in the catalog, nothing, even, in any Asian poetry anthology on the shelf.  No.

Where can he apply for food stamps?  Access Florida.  They do not actually issue stamps or coupons anymore, but rather a sort of grocery debit card.

2:17  Susan is back.

Someone from the Academia Society needs the conference room opened.

Phone:  She's having trouble with her school's ProQuest database, can't get many results about the International Monetary Fund.  I begin to help her, but she says she will have to call back.

2:30  I'm going to end here.  Enough for one day, and for you, I'm sure.


Mummies in Fiction

Following up on the Bog Bodies post, it turns out that, although there is a significant amount of fiction involving Egyptian mummies, it is largely horror fiction.  Egyptian mummies do not turn up in crime/mystery novels the way bog bodies do.

I did not search for long before I found a good list by the Monster Librarian, Mummy Horror Titles, including, if you really are curious, The Essential Guide to Mummy Literature, by Brian J. Frost, (2007).  The Monster Librarian, by the way, has a fine web site that is worth exploring.  I found an interesting H.P. Lovecraft Collection Development Guide.

I don't much care about fictional mummies.  I guess they are a bit like zombies, but without the contagion factor, and with the added "mummy's curse."

I found a very interesting look at the mummy as a subject for horror fiction, The Curse of The Mummy in Modern Horror Fiction, by horror writer KC Redding-Gonzalez:
Anne Rice is the only modern author to tackle a full-length novel of the Mummy in her well-received and bestselling 1989 title, The Mummy, or Ramses The Damned. There is also a film remake from 1999 titled The Mummy directed by Stephen Sommers (starring Brendan Fraser), a re-telling of the 1932 Karloff film. But there are few other takers outside of the short story format, which itself offers few and too far between anthologies with the Mummy as centerpiece. The scarcity of Mummy tales is the indicator of a sea change in the genre and in audience sophistication.


Bog Body Crime Fiction

Reading Pat McIntosh's The Rough Collier, the fifth in her medieval Gil Cunningham Murder Mystery series, it occurred to me that this was the third crime novel with a "bog body" as a plot device that I had read in recent months.  Bernard Knight's Grounds for Appeal has a corpse turn up in a Welsh bog.  In Elly Griffiths's first Ruth Galloway Mystery, Crossing Places, an Iron Age body is uncovered in a Norfolk marsh.

I had to wonder how many murder mystery novels featured bodies, recent or ancient, in bogs.  (Enough for a display?)  After some searches this afternoon, I have found enough to make a list, but not enough for a display, unless as a subset of mysteries featuring mummified corpses of all kinds.  I suppose there must be lots of mysteries with Egyptian mummies, and possibly some set in the American Southwest, but I haven't checked.

Ashford, Lindsay - Death Studies
Bolton, S. J. - Sacrifice
Brodgen, James - Hekla's Children (2017)
Connolly, Sheila - Buried in a Bog  (2013)
Dunne, Patrick - A Carol for the Dead
Griffiths, Elly - The Crossing Places
Hart, Erin - Haunted Ground, Lake of Sorrows, The Book of Killowen
Kenyon, Michael - Peckover and the Bog Man
Knight, Bernard - Grounds for Appeal
Lewis, Roy - Dead Secret
May, Peter - The Lewis Man
McIntosh, Pat - The Rough Collier
Melton, Nina - In the Moors (A Shaman Mystery)
Page, Katherine Hall - The Body in the Bog
Rickman, Phil - The Man in the Moss
Skerrett, Judith - Kael:  The body in the bog
Talbot, Michael - The Bog