Sunday, April 24, 2005

Dead time

Our system is down.

The IT folks have been running regular system upgrades on Sundays for the past couple of weeks, during which both the public catalog and our "back-end" functions are unavailable. Although previously they've been finishing the upgrades well before we open at noon, this Sunday I guess things didn't quite go as planned, and thus far we have been dead in the water for about an hour and a half, with no clear indication of when the system will be restored.

Fortunately we have backup procedures for checking out books by hand when the Circulation module goes down (a more frequent occurrence in the days when the system was new), but our patrons--who depend on the OPAC to find the materials they need in the stacks--are just plain screwed right now, although I have been encouraging people to go upstairs and try their hand at the old card catalog on the third floor.

No takers yet on that decidedly low-tech approach, however, even though the catalog is good for materials as late as the early to mid 1990's. How quickly we lose our nerve to do things "the old-fashioned way"!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

It's not just me

Checked out books to a classmate of mine from History of the Book, and there seems to be an emerging consensus that the second half of the course has not been nearly as interesting as the first half was. Whereas earlier in the term we were watching papermaking documentaries from the Czech Republic and casting our own hot lead type, now we have to endure three-hour lectures about preservation and conservation management and collection development, topics that are not just classroom Nyquil per se but ones we'll all be forced to cover again in various other library science courses. What made this class interesting was its novelty. Even an inspired lecturer such as Professor Berger can only do so much with the material beyond a certain point...

I wish we could have lingered over the "hands-on" stuff and jettisoned the lessons what would be duplicated elsewhere. Let's cast more type, make some paper, print our own folios. That would have been cool. But to chase a strong opening to the semester with canned lectures about library operations is just a recipe for disappointment.

Negative feedback

I think I may have to have a little talk with the weekday help.

For the past few months I've been helping the 9-to-5'ers with their Hold and Recall processing, picking up whatever slack which remains by Friday afternoon and putting a dent in the workload that used to sit all weekend until Monday. All in all it's a couple hours of work each day to process the incoming Hold Shelf items and weed away those that have expired. It's a job I don't really mind doing, as it gives me something to do other than my homework or random websurfing, but as time has gone on I've realized that the amount of books waiting for me when I punch in on Friday afternoon has been steadily growing over time. Whereas it used to take me about two hours to get the Saturday processing done, sometimes I find myself working all the way up until my noontime lunch break to get it all squared away.

The culprit, I suspect, is the weekday processor, who has come to rely on the fact that whatever she doesn't get around to on Fridays will magically be taken care of by me over the weekend. While I don't mind having my efforts recognized and valued, it's quite another thing to start slacking because you know it won't be your problem anymore at the end of the day. But this puts me in somewhat of a dilemma--do I make an issue out of this or not? Given the nature of the problem, there's no way to address it anonymously. Even if I ask my boss to be discreet about bringing up the issue, it doesn't change the fact that I'm the only possible person to complain about it in the first place.

Ah, the hidden price of being an overachiever...

Friday, April 22, 2005

You can't bring that in here!

Ah, the paradoxes of library rules and regulations:

Cameras are not allowed in the library, unless they're digital cameras and you're using them to take pictures of library materials.

Cell phones are not permitted in the library except in designated areas, unless you're using the phone in a non-verbal capacity (which presumably includes camera phones!).

As technology blends the features of one hand-held device with another, it becomes harder and harder to know when to draw the line with a patron. For example: this afternoon I was getting ready to call out a woman standing in line at the Circ Desk for using her cell phone when it became apparent that she was merely checking her voicemail.

Is it merely an infraction of our phone ban if you're not talking? Common sense would say no, but we have been so well-trained to bark at violators of our policy at this point that it's hard to catch oneself before saying something.

Crunch time

Because I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul of late as far as my library school classwork is concerned, I'm going to have to make up for spending the past week on my History of the Book paper (which I still managed to turn in late--d'oh!) by becoming Super Terrific Happy Cataloging Man for the weekend. I fear that my overconfidence during the earlier weeks of the latter class may have gotten the better of me, as now I'm a few lessons behind and staring at the prospect of a final exam I have not yet even begun to prepare for.

Didn't take me long to find my old grad school form, eh?

Ready reference

In case you've just been unfrozen from a glacier, let me be the first to tell you about Google Maps. Not only do you get a click-and-drag interface which is 1000% more user-friendly than Mapquest, but with the push of one button you can toggle between maps and satellite photos of virtually any region in the United States.

Not too shabby, although it would be nice to have scrollable maps for... um... the rest of the world? C'mon, Google!

In the meantime, why not take a gander at where I work.

(Hint: It's the big honking building in the center of the map!)

Because you* demanded it

It's been a long semester.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm almost done with back-to-back-to-back consecutive terms, but I'm beginning to feel a little winded. Despite my best intentions, March and April have been chock full of enough real-life crises that there just haven't been enough hours in the day to get everything done on time and to my satisfaction. I guess this is the price one pays for going to graduate school while raising a toddler and trying to teach two nights a week on the side!

The funny thing is that last semester was objectively speaking more brutal than this one, although I seemed to weather it better. This has me somewhat worried about the upcoming intensive summer semester, but I fear not, fellow Library Asses--I have no intention of giving up the ship now, no matter how many icebergs are in the channel ahead of me...

* You know who you are!