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And the cycle begins anew...

My last job was event programming for a multi-branch system. The work would've been fun, but lord, sometimes the environment just makes it a lost cause. I have since quit that job with extreme prejudice, and now everyone I know who's worked there freely shares their horror stories. Sadly, professionalism often precludes us from being totally frank, and by extension it precludes the people who are the real problem from having a frickin' clue about how pervasively poisonous they are.

My 2 predecessors each made it less than a year there, and I didn't learn this until I started the job. By four months in, I could see why - the managers were collectively a nightmare. Whenever they were gathered, they would snipe about whichever one wasn't present at the moment. They all had awful things to say about the director, when she wasn't there of course, and they would even casually badmouth my predecessors, to me, as if I'd enjoy the gossip. I often learned what was expected of me second- or third-hand, and after the fact ("Hey, doombird, Mary told me that Bob mentioned last week that you weren't filling out the scheduling forms correctly. Did Bob or Mary mention it to you? No?"), which was often too late to be useful. I had thought this meant they just were very casual about things, but it turned out that at least some of them were legit stewing in silent disappointment and judging me for failures they had not informed me of.

I learned from several staff that the director and ass't director had unpredictable tempers, and had made more than one employee cry, right out on the floor, in front of patrons. They gave unclear expectations and then when they were disappointed they blew up and maligned the person's work, or worse, maligned them personally. Apparently, my predecessors had both had this happen to them more than once, and had left within about 7 months of starting. Somehow they couldn't do anything right, yet they went on to be amazing librarians and do amazing things elsewhere. Sure enough, right around 6 months in, I missed a single e-mail from the assistant director with a work request - the guy didn't bring it up again at all for a whole month, though we spoke frequently. (My bad really - but the dir and ass't dir, failed to respond to emails all the time. I had no problem reminding them if I thought they'd missed it - you know, like a normal person would do?) The day before the request would have been due he called me and made a similar request, only as if it were a whole new idea with a 1 day turnaround. When I told him I would see if I could get it done but would appreciate more notice in the future, he blew up at me over the phone and told me he'd always thought my work was sub-par and he was trying to make things easy for me but didn't know how I'd ever managed to become a librarian. Then he hung up on me. This is the jackwad who hired me in the first place. (I didn't cry. I DON'T CRY, I JUST PLOT REVENGE.)

When I left, I was as honest as I dared with why I was leaving. I told the director about the incident, and she said well, the managers were under a lot of stress and I was being very hasty by running away after just one bad experience. (I stayed silent about the long list I'd heard from others.) I told her how the only feedback I ever got was negative and secondhand at best, and she said she was surprised because the managers always told her how wonderful my work was! (All I could say was I was as surprised as she was.)

Just after I left, a former cohort of mine asked me about a different position opening up in the branch where I was located, and if I'd recommend it. I was very, very honest with her, but admitted she might be OK since she would only have the one manager, not a gaggle of bosses like I did. She weighed her options and decided that the job would be a move up for her.

Yesterday, cohort contacted me to say I was lucky to be out. The director herself, who's known for coming out of her admin office and looming over the staff though she's not their direct supervisor, had yelled at her - yelled, big-girl voice and all - in front of a library full of patrons and staff for being 2 minutes late to her shift. To the point where this talented, cheerful, enthusiastic and normally very dependable woman was in tears - then told her she'd better suck it up and do her job and left her in tears at the desk.

I wish I could say I had hopes that management had noticed a pattern by now, and are doing some soul-searching to fix it. But now I'm wondering if they're even at the stage of beginning to notice that their staff are all either barely hanging on with their heads down, or running from them screaming - let alone realizing that THE PROBLEM IS THEM.

Testing, Testing 1 2 3

I haven't seen a new post here in more than two weeks and that just seems weird. Perhaps I'm missing something? But I thought I'd send out a test post just to check.

I suppose I should make it relevant to the community, though. Let's see. Oh! I recently saw LibGuides described as 'emerging technology.' O.o

Printing Mofos

We have problems with patrons who come in a few minutes before closing time and print a huge document.

Case in point: today a guy came in about 20 minutes before closing, which you'd think would be enough time to print something quickly.
But it turned out it was a 70 page pdf with a complex image on each page.
The document came to $11, and the print machine won't accept more than $10. I had to accept his cash and run upstairs to the register to get change, then put in the staff override code on the printer. Honestly, I probably should have just said it wasn't possible because there's a reason we have that limit in place.
When I came back down, he was complaining that half his document came out as blank pages. We had about 2 minutes to close at that point. Since funds were already exchanged I told him to go quickly re-print his document.
He did so, but since it was such a long, image heavy document, it took more than 2 minutes to process and send to the printer, and the computer shut down automatically before it could finish.
He asked if I could print it from my staff computer--uh, no. I gave him a note that he had printing credit he could use tomorrow, but first I had to talk him out of receiving a full refund. First of all just no, second of all that would mean running back upstairs and voiding that transaction in the register, and it was already almost 10 minutes after closing. He was polite enough but I could also tell that he thought I should be making more of an effort to help print the document tonight. But I'm being paid hourly and I'm not getting a $20 check every few months to make up for the times I stay late with a patron.

Everyone on staff has had to deal with a case like this at least a few times. I know that patrons lingering after close is just a fact of life in a public library, but this particular incident seems avoidable. I'm wondering if we could start shutting the computers down at 7:50 instead of right at 8...maybe then people would get their print jobs done in time. I'm not sure if this would be considered unfair in some way though.

(Also, once I got home I realized that I forgot to shut down Millenium on my computer while I was dealing with this, so hopefully we don't get that "too many ports in use" error tomorrow morning. Argh!)

You found it under *what*??

And now, some brickbats for these people who make life (i.e. access) harder for EVERYONE, especially those of us in the access business.

1. Printed materials (church hymnals/songbooks, I'm looking at YOU) whose indexes include initial articles when sorting. Without an alternate entry. Thus we have "A mighty fortress is our God" listed under "A", but not under "Mighty". And if the first word of the title is "Oh", it appears - yep - AFTER "O".

2. Programs, including library automation and cataloging software, which include initial articles when sorting. Thus we have A manual for writers listed under A, not M; The Odyssey under T, not O; and An education in Georgia under A, not E. And no option for changing this behavior.*

3. Programs which include non-alphanumeric characters when sorting. Thus --y no se lo tragó la tierra is at the top of the sort, since "-" comes before alphabetical characters in the ASCII scheme. I don't know about you, but I've never browsed for a title under "-". (Allowing for artistic license, here.)*

4. Websites that use ISBNs as a search option that MUST have hyphens in appropriate places or their search engine will refuse to find your item. God bless those sites that provide for either the hyphenated or non- options.

*Fortunately for the patrons, the software sorts these as one expects, without the article, according to whatever you've put in the "non-sorting characters" indicator. Why can't it do the same for the librarian/access-providing person?

I didn't need to know that

I work in a medical library that's open to the public.

Today, a gentleman called asking if we have books on infant circumcision procedures. I check the catalog and nope, some histories but no books about the procedure itself. But we do have some general medical textbooks with several pages each on the topic.

During the course of the conversation, the man said:

"Fortunately, my circumcision wasn't botched."

And once he found out where the library is, he went on a tear about how it's a bad neighborhood and he doesn't want to have to walk through the projects to get to us. I stayed silent, seething, waiting for him to realize just how classist and racist he was being. He did try to dig himself out of the hole a little by the end, but it was too little too late.

Needless to say, I hope he doesn't end up coming to pay the library a visit.

Ain't no cure for the summertime blues.

My library is in a community where the population triples in the summer. Our policy for issuing cards is based on the system standards - photo ID such as a driver's license, and if that is not available two pieces of currently dated mail such as a rental receipt or phone bill. This becomes a sticking point in the summer when people who are only here for a week want to get a card. Now, I have no problem saying no and explaining why. What I'm wondering from you, oh beloved community, is do any of you work in a system that does issue short term cards for non-residents? If so, what are the parameters? Do you charge for the card in case materials go home with the tourist?

I've come across a few websites that will issue "guest" library cards that only allow the guest patron to sign out one item at a time.

A few libraries in our system issue new users cards that have restrictions on them for the first several months, but those patrons still need to meet the residency requirements.

(I would also like to add that I don't understand why our rudest patrons always seem to be summer visitors!)
This morning I received a $2 payment in the the interlibrary delivery. A patron at library B paid it at her library (library B) for an item belonging to my library, that she signed out here. Great. I like to get money. However, said patron actually owes us $42. I looked at her account to see that she currently has NO bills. $12 of these bills had been paid at library B and $30 had been paid at library C. I called library C first, and they investigated. Called me back to tell me that a clerk had made a mistake and tallied the $30 with library C's money and they will send us the $30.

I could not reach library B by phone, so I emailed and asked if I could expect to see the $10 in the mail. The answer I received was kind of hilarious, in a way that makes me want to smack myself (or someone else) in the face. The director said that the $10 was not paid at library B and she doesn't know where it was paid. Perhaps I can email someone at the library system and get them to investigate? Furthermore, she has "difficulty" figuring out where fines are supposed to go to, because she didn't know where the items were signed out from.

All you have to do is click on the amount owed, and a window pops up. It tells you who owns the item, and where it was checked out. How did she figure out who to send the $2 if not this way? Even after the bill is paid, you can click on the amount paid and it will tell you at which library it was paid. You can see this information it multiple screens.

To make matters worse, she didn't even have to send me the $2, because our circulation system standards are that if a fine is under $5, the library that collects it can keep it. So I dug a little deeper and saw that the fine wasn't even PAID at library B it was FORGIVEN. This is a no-no. You should never forgive another library's fines. We should have least been given the courtesy of a phone call. "Hey, Patron is here and has the following sob story. Can we forgive the fine?" To which I would have replied no. Because this patron knows one of my clerks, and had been texting my clerk asking her to erase all her fines.

We had a directors meeting about two weeks before this patron's fine is forgiven, during which we made it part of our circulation standards among our automated libraries that one library must not relieve another's fine. Do you want to know who made the motion? THE DIRECTOR AT WHOSE LIBRARY THE $10 fine was forgiven. Jeez Louise. Every single fine this patron has "paid" at library B has actually been forgiven. Which is fine, I guess, if it's your item - but not if it is someone else's!!!!!

I'm sending the director screen shots of the pages that show the fine was forgiven at her library and asking her for the $10. I'm going to ask our person at the library system services office to see who was logged into Sirsi and did the actual forgiving too.

Am I over-reacting?

Spelling 101

Okay, so my boss sent me a file to proofread. This is not abnormal, I am very good at spelling/grammar, to the point where I considered becoming a professional copy editor at one point.

She has clearly not read through it or even hit the spellcheck button in Word.

But I'm really not sure how the hell she managed to make some of these spelling errors, as you'd THINK she'd notice she typed disapperan instead of disappearance and dn instead of and. These are not simple typos.

So yeah. Annoyed. Again. Bah.


Originally posted by clementine123 at hmm
My department has recently begun working with another department in a joint venture and I have noticed that there is an odd dynamic going on with the other department.  There are several people in the department who are not often here - A is taking well deserved time off with vacation days, B is having health issues, and C just hides in his/her office (it seems).  The fourth, D,  is a very hard worker whom the others seem to not enjoy working with.  Whenever we need something explained or need any kind of help whatsoever - no matter what or when, D is always there assisting us and generally being a superstar and covers for the others who cannot be there without complaining or whining.  My problem is listening to other people inside and outside of the department bad mouth D who has NEVER said anything bad about anyone else.  I do not know how D got the red headed step child card but when other people in the library to talk to me about D, I just say how nice it has been working with D.

So the question is, does anyone have a quick response to say to others when they want to trash D?  I just do not want to hear it.

Dark & Twisty

My favorite spelling error of the day (if not year) came in the agenda for my director's organization meeting:

5. Difficult Patrons and the NY Division of Human Rites

Does this mean we'll get to offer up unruly patrons to the library gods - oh please oh please oh please???

Authority Record

the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

Date Due

August 2014


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