Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage

A post over at the Annoyed Librarian about the upcoming book of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library sparked a great set of comments here. Before I continue, I just have to say that I love the Annoyed Librarian. I love her writing style, and I agree with many (not all - I'm still thinking through the big discussion that's taken place over there about the purpose of the library) of her positions regarding the ALA and the library universe. As with most of the blogs I read, it's possible that I actually enjoy reading the comments even more than the entries themselves. This is probably because the Annoyed Librarian is intelligent and well-written, but several of the comments....aren't. Which leads me back to the point of this post. One of the commenters over at AL stated: "However, if your kids weren't in the public library, where would they be? In their violent public schools? In dangerous mass transit? Trolling a mall (unsupervised)? At least we provide some protection against perverts and criminals."

Really? Really? I knew librarians weren't necessarily the best at PR, but come on. That's the best you can come up with? My brain translates that statement "Yes, the library is crappy. But hey, at least we're LESS CRAPPY than the Metro or the mall!"

So I started thinking - what other fun ways can we advertise the library? I'd like to propose making posters and billboards that say things like:

Come to the library! It's better than....
....Supermax prison
....having a cat scratch your eye
....getting food poisoning

....hanging out with the crack heads down by the river
....Wal-Mart on Black Friday
....the middle school cafeteria on chili day
....churches where you have to handle live rattlesnakes
....the bathroom on a Greyhound
....Guantanamo Bay

I'm sure I could continue, but I won't. Anybody else have any ideas?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All the Small Things

Over the past week or so, my department has been going on one of our semi-annual binges where we clean and organize everything in the office. J, my fabulous assistant, actually does a lot of cleaning and organizing on a regular basis, but every few months she goes through the dozens of boxes that we have in the office, puts all of the craft supplies, prizes, random papers, leftover books, and assorted junk into some type of logical order, and labels everything. During her mad cleaning spree this time, J discovered that for some unknown reason, we have no fewer than 5 "lost and found" boxes, including one that was clearly left from last winter (it contains coats and gloves). We've been having a lot of fun digging through them.

My staff members are often surprised by the things that they find in the lost and found box, asking themselves how our customers can be so careless. I am also surprised by the bizarre things that wind up in the box, but for two reasons. Although you'd think I would be immune to the carelessness of teens, I still do not understand how one forgets a winter coat when it's below freezing, a single shoe, or an ipod. The second reason I am surprised is that in order for something to get in the lost and found box, a member of my staff has to pick it up, put a label with the date on it, carry it into the office, and put it in the designated area.

What we've found so far....

Several textbooks.
A single shoe.
Several pieces of jewelry.
3 winter coats.
A pair of pantyhose.
The aforementioned ipod.
A rose made from duct tape (this one is pretty cool, actually, and I'm going to keep it on my desk).
A garage door opener.
Several sets of keys.
A cat teaser.
Half a pack of gum.
2 cell phones.
Various types of sporting equipment.
A switchblade.
An opened bar of soap.
A bikini top.
$52 in cash.
Several uncashed paychecks.

We still have three boxes to go, so I'm sure there will be more random objects as the week continues.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Anything But Ordinary

Every fall, we do library card drives with local middle and high schools. Making library cards makes me feel incredibly old, as I'm forced to realize that people who were born the year I graduated from high school are now in middle school or high school themselves. Besides the constant feeling that I'm ancient, though, the thing that most sticks with me about making library cards is that so many of the kids have names that really make me wonder what their parents were thinking. In addition to the "creative" spellings that have almost become common (Crystal/Krystle/Kristal or (Jenifer/Jenniffer/Genniffer), names seem to fall into a few broad categories. To quote Dave Barry - I'm not making these up.

Cars and Other Brand Names
Lexus, Corvette, Ford, Celica, Porsche, Jetta, Chardonnay, Bacardi, Chanel

Vegas, America/Amerika, Ireland,

"Unique" Names That Aren't
There are at least 3 people with each of these names who have library cards in our system
Unique, Princess, Queen, Charisma, Special, King, Divine

Bad Role Models
Judas, Adolf, Charlie Manson, Salome

Stripper Names
Bambi, Sugar, Kitty Kat, Bunny, Princess, Sassy, Peaches

Why Do Their Parents Hate Them?
Sugar and Candy Kane, Dick Stroker, Max Dick, Chlamydia, Harry Cox, Harry Beaver,