A quick head's up for anyone who's system uses Lightspeed for their internet filters. The company recently added a new filter category (which they claim was requested by users) for violent extremism. Naturally they rolled it out without you know, telling anyone about it, and naturally it’s automatically on. We found out about it when a librarian helping a patron tried to go to the Nation of Islam website and discovered that it was blocked because of course it was. Further investigation found that the KKK website was not blocked because of course it wasn’t.
Our IT department jumped on it, found out from the company about the recent addition and told them to opt us the fuck out of it because unlike the schools they claimed had requested the filter, our internet use policies can in no way support that kind of filtering. I wanted to get the word out because this is the kind of thing that can be a very unpleasant surprise for a librarian trying to help a patron.
I haven't been seen around these parts in a while, mainly because I was working in support services and wasn't on a public desk a lot which doesn't lead to many interesting stories. But time marches on and what with one thing and another I'm officially an associate librarian as of last week. (no degree, just 18 years of experience) Today I was officially, um... baptized? as a librarian with my first serious Mofo, so I figured I'd dig up my account and share.
A bit of personal info, I have mild cerebral palsy and a slight speech impediment, not much but I stammer a bit particularly when talking on the phone. This will be on the test...
Got a phone call "Do you have X book?" and it seemed straightforward except that the patron sounded annoyed from the start. I looked the title up and confirmed that we had a copy, then asked the patron if they'd like us to hold it at the desk. She snapped "Yes I'd like you to hold it at the desk" in a nasty "God I can't believe I'm having to say this" tone. Of course this made me more nervous so when I asked her for her name I stammered more than normal. She then mockingly said "Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh" mumbled something else (I think "Idiot") and hung up without giving a name. I seethed a moment, then retrieved the book and put it behind the desk with "No name given" on the slip. After hearing what happened my co-worker at the desk advised me to not set the book aside but I figured I didn't want someone else to have to go through a Mofo moment of their own when the book wasn't there.
This isn’t my first bad phone experience related to my speech impediment, and I once had a patron call me a “retard” to my face when I was discussing a fine with her, but this is my first time as a librarian, so yeah.
20 years till retirement...
So, I work at a library that has a drive through window. It is quite popular for people to pick up holds and ask simple questions.
I was in the back organizing books to shelve, which is right around the corner from the window. My coworker, C, was at the window. I, half listening, heard something about donations, so I got up off the floor to see if I was needed. (We have a staff only door next to the window and I normally help receive donations if I am around).
Lady had walked to our window so she had no vehicle or books with her. She gestured that she had a bunch of boxes of books in her truck 'over there', which we both thought meant in our parking lot. C likes to over explain and told her to bring her truck over to the window, but she would have to drive around because this is a one way street--where you pull off the main road to go down to the window. Not sure if the lady thought C was talking about the main street being one way or something, but she got super confused. And I think her truck was farther away than just the parking lot.
Lady complained that she didn't think she would be able to find the window again, asked us at least 5 times during the course of the conversation if we would drive her truck for her, and even contemplated carrying the boxes to the window.
She was an older lady and didn't seem quite right. Maybe a touch of dementia.
After she left, I told C that if she ever showed back up to the window, that the books would probably be in horrible condition, but we would take them anyway because we didn't want to go through another 10 minutes to make her take the books away.
I went back to sorting books, organizing more than I needed to because I really wanted to see if she would show back up.
15 minutes later she did. ( Sorry, this got long lolCollapse )
I normally don't work until 1 on Tuesdays, but was asked to come in at 11am to assist in an event outside of the library.
Library opens at 10, and some staff shows up at 8-9.
So, I get there and the normally locked door is wide open and the first coworker I see speaks of a 'situation'. My first thought is 'shit, I could have slept in if they didn't need me'.
As I work my way further into the building, the next coworker I see can't really talk very well and croaks out a hello.
Then I get into our break room/locker area and the humidity hits me. 90 degrees, muggy, feels like a swamp.
( this got longCollapse )
Second issue. State grants for construction. AT LEAST a year ago (before I was even employed here) my board requested and received an information packet from the library system with all of the information about the application process for a state construction grant. They were put off by the thickness of the packet, and put it aside. It has come up at every meeting. Finally, back in March I had someone from the system come out and explain that the packet is only that thick because it contains every possible document that COULD be necessary, not that IS necessary. Each library's situation is unique and it is up to the library to determine what documents it might need. Not all projects require the same amount of paperwork. Ours, for example, doesn't require architectural drawings etc. etc. The board - two members, anyway - was awful to our consultant from the system and I was embarrassed to be at the meeting. They decided not to pursue the grant.
Let us fast forward through months of dithering. I convinced them to have another think on the matter, because we could get 75% of our construction project funded. At our May meeting they decided to send a board member to a workshop at the system to determine whether or not we qualify for the grant. (I told them that we did, or else the consultant who has ten years experience dealing with this wouldn't encourage us to apply.) So they approved moving forward pending the workshop. Then there was an emergency meeting following the workshop at which they had many more questions....and nothing was confirmed. Then, at the June meeting they asked me all of the same questions I already answered at the emergency meeting (and the May meeting) and they bitched some more about how the library system hasn't done its job....but decided to go ahead with the application. We went to the town board meeting to explain what we need from the town (letters of assurance etc. etc.) I might also add that there were some hissy fits by board members in here where they said "I wash my hands of this. Who is going to work on this? Not me!" And during the library board meeting we had the night before the town board meeting (which we moved up a week, specifically so we could talk about our presentation to the town board) the library board president was moaning that he didn't want to make the presentation. Isn't that his job as the board president??? Doesn't he realize that if they hadn't dragged their feet on this for a year that there wouldn't be a time crunch right now???
The grant application is due on August 12th. I don't doubt there is enough time to complete it if I can successfully wade through all of the government websites and permits, but.....am I justified in thinking that my board should be helping me with the process instead of pushing it all onto me and being extremely negative about the whole thing? Especially considering that I am going on two weeks of vacation at the end of June/early July (and they have known this for months - my husband is in the Army and everyone takes vacation at the same time.) Also considering that we need construction estimates and cost breakdowns. I am not an expert in this field. The board member who has washed his hands of the project has worked in construction. The board president keeps combing through the 50 page power point presentation the consultant emailed and making lists of everything that needs to be done. He keeps adding to the list and bringing it by the library each day. He wants me to email it to the consultant to ask her if "this is everything, or are we going to find out about more things we need to do on August 10th?" Then he goes on to complain about how she doesn't know how to do her job. I don't want to hear any of his bashing. If he has problems with the system, he needs to call or make an appointment and speak with them. Our consultant is extremely nice and extremely helpful. She is dealing with at least 20 libraries applying for grants. He wanted to be present for the site visit so he could talk to her, but when I gave him the date he said he couldn't make it that day. (Several things on the list are forms we simply need to print out and sign. Several more are copies of state education law that we have to read and agree to. He could just as easily Google these as I can.)
I'm the sole employee, so I'm doing the summer reading program stuff in addition to this fun grant, as well as all of the other day to day duties. (Book ordering USED to be my favorite thing, until my choices got used against me at every board meeting.) I'm doing grant stuff on my own time. It's starting to affect me. I honestly feel like it's time for a trip to the doctor for an anti-depressant.
Oh - and just as an aside, I also brought someone in back in March to talk to my board about applying for 501c3 status. That was a HUGE no go with the board, despite the fact that we have the money for the application. They do not want to have to file federal taxes (our secretary offered to do it) and do not want to have to have a treasurer on our board. I tried to tell them that we would be eligible for so many more grants but....no.
As ANOTHER aside, the board has been taking the money that we get from the school ballot each year and just giving it to the town. It doesn't get put in a special account for us to use as we see fit. At the end of the fiscal year last year, we had something like $11,000 not spent in the budget. We have no capital fund and no rollover. This just went back to the town to use for....I don't know what. Perhaps some of it went into the town capital fund, and we are drawing on some of that this year for our construction project, but...what the hell? If we had a proper capital fund just for the library, chances are we wouldn't need to apply for a construction grant IN THE FIRST PLACE.
We keep most periodicals for one year; things like quarterlies we keep for two years and weeklies for 6m, hence we normally do weeding in that area twice a year. I noticed a few months ago that someone had started weeding the weeklies, and I assumed the rest would follow. Well, now it's May and it's still not done, and in some cases we're running out of room and cramming them in their boxes on the shelves. So, Sunday being slow, I took it upon myself to sort through them and remove everything from 2014. I must have removed several hundred magazines, and I only got to M. As a page, I neither have the training (nor the pay grade) to discard magazines (there's spreadsheets involved), so I left them on two carts hoping someone will take care of them and instead of getting a talking-to about "not your responsibility" I rather get one about "appreciate your initiative". It only took me an hour to go through half the periodicals - though I know it will take a little longer than that to discard them - so I don't understand why this wasn't done sooner.
And shelf-reading. I think it's safe to say the branch as a whole hasn't been shelf-read in over a year. Certain small sections can get done in short order, and the reference staff put stuff back in order when they've done weeding, but when I came back from mat leave last year I felt like I was being punked by my new supervisor, because every shelf I put something on had something else in the wrong place. I'm not just talking 551.6 before 551.46, but adult NF in with JNF, 695 in with 595, 811 in the 300s, English fic in the French... It never ends! We've now lost two pages so the next few weeks are going to be hectic, so never mind shelf-reading, but it's just so frustrating.
Mind you, I'm the kind of person who'd be happy if patrons never touched books at all and only told me what they wanted, because the phrase I hate to hear the most is, "Put it back where you found it."
The spray was so intense that it set off the smoke alarm on the other end of the floor. The entire floor was closed for nine hours for cleaning, and we are still in process of determining if the books are in good shape or not.
We are in the last week of classes and students were pissed that we had to close and entire floor for nine hours. If I were them, I would have hunt down the kid covered in foam spray and taken it out him.
In the last 6 months since we have gotten a new boss (the other retired), we have had a complete overhaul on how things are organized, we are allowed to put up signs advertising programs on the ends of the shelves, the counters have been cleared. Old stuff has been thrown away (paper money records from the past 10 years which made no sense to keep). Etc.
Stressful finding things, but it is worth it in the end.
Now, I am an Aide. And I have OCD, and change is even more stressful for me, but I have gotten over most changes so far.
We have these little 3 shelf green carts, that are about a foot+ wide that we use to take books to the various sections to shelve. We have a huge cart behind the desk, that both sides are filled from check in. Things are sorted by row, but not organized beyond that. Those, when they are filled, are taken to the back for the two shelvers to alphabetize, load to green carts, and go shelve.
Now comes the part that is making me want to pull my hair out:
Boss wants to replace the large cart in the back with 6 little green carts, for circ to fill up. One for fic, non fic, LP/NEW, JFic, Picture, etc And we are to take them right from circ to go shelve. Sounds fine from a step back.
What in reality is going to happen:
Nothing will be in order, they will be crammed full of books, they will be hard to put in order because things can't shift books when there is no room to shift them.
All of that is to save the 'time' of moving things from the big carts to the little carts.
But it is wasting circ time (if they indeed try to put things in order for us), because circ doesn't really have the mindset for organizing (believe me!), and organizing the carts to shelve them is one of the things I enjoy doing the most, and I think handling the books an extra time is a good thing. Circ doesn't catch problems with books, the shelvers do (I pulled 10 waterdamaged/stained/broken books from ONE large cart yesterday that circ had checked in). Plus there isn't always a shelver working, so the carts will have to be put in back and replaced frequently.
When changes are proposed to us (there are 8+boss), I am the only one voicing opinions, while later after the meetings, other staff come to me saying they aren't thrilled with the idea. The staff who are okay about things are the two ref people (they do NO circ), and the two new people who feel they need to be agreeable. The other two who hate the idea don't like to be vocal about these things.
Anyway...am I being unreasonable? I already had an evaluation with the new boss and one of the things mentioned was I had a negative attitude. I hope she was referring to my gallows dry humor when I talk to staff rather than me trying to voice an opinion.
Sorry if TL:DR
And I hope that made somewhat sense. It is past time for bed, but I needed to get this off my chest
To the person with the duct tape:
The ceiling fixture over the handicapped stall is a sensor, so the lights come on when someone comes in the bathroom. It is not a camera!
Please, if you have questions or concerns about any equipment you see in the library, please ask a staff member. We will be happy to explain it to you.
--(Friendly Neighborhood) Library Staff.
- Current Music:"Eye in the Sky" by Alan Parsons Project.
2. Another parent wanted my contact info to talk about her kid's grade, which is a high B.
3. A student died around 12:30-1am today after a brief illness. They had serious physical and cognitive disabilities, the former occasionally causing IMMENSE pain. I'm sad and I'll miss them, but I'm also glad that they'll finally have some peace.