...and the world suddenly HAS to get to the library. Our book return box was packed to its epiglotis this morning, and more than one patron grumbled at us about not being open yesterday. It's not like we didn't put up fifty signs two weeks in advance saying we'd be closed, though. Too bad all these loyal book addicts can't frickin' read.
I feel especially sorry for the internet crowd, who no
doubt stood on our steps yesterday pounding on the door for an hour and
shaking from the DTs before they finally noticed the sign. They more
than made up for it today. We had 34 people pile in to use the
internet. That may not seem like much, but we're a small town library
with only three internet access computers and we usually do only about
two thirds of that traffic on our busiest days.
Two of our usual internet crowd, who I call the Russians
cause they're, well, Russian and all, came in for their usual Wednesday
afternoon's surf. They're good guys as far as I can tell, though I
still have no idea what brought them to the area. I put one of them on
the only available computer and I had to ask the young woman next to him
to relinquish hers as her time had run out. She seemed a little
distraught at this, as she was typing something. Russian #1 valiantly
came to her rescue saying that she didn't have to get off as Russian #2
wouldn't mind waiting. He seemed pretty insistent about this. This was
very nice of him and it also saved me having to explain to Russian #2
that we give people working on writing projects extra time so that he
couldn't have a computer after all. This would have been a complicated
process since the Russians don't speak good English like me.
Still, for every patron who grumbled, there were two
who were genuinely interested in what kind of training we were getting
and then were excited about the word of our new system.
Some of the patrons, however, were concerned that we
were going to charge them a fine for their books that were due
yesterday. I hesistate to inform them that there's no danger of this
happening as we haven't actually charged a late fine on book since
September. This is mostly due to the computer issues associated with
preparing a multi-county library network to transition to new library
software. It's also due to sheer laziness on our part. There IS a way
to charge fines, but there's an added hassle about it, in addition to
the usual hassle of remembering to turn VTLS's grace flag on Friday
morning for Fine Free Friday, and then remember to turn it back off
Saturday morning. VTLS, being the library circulation system of
Lucifer, goes out of its way to make this the least easy thing to do.
You can't just push a little button with a mouse (in fact, I think VTLS
only has ONE little computer button in its entire arsenal). Instead,
you have to telnet to an address, login, then you get a series of four
double-digit menus from which you have to choose the correct seemingly
grace-flag unrelated item in order to continue to the next one.
Eventually, you get to one that mentions a grace flag at which point you
have to answer a trickily worded question, apparently written by Yoda,
in order to turn on. ("GRACE FLAG IS OFF, CHANGE ITS STATUS, NO?") Then
you have to shut the whole VTLS system down and bring it back up, or
all that hassle will be for naught. It's just one example of how
un-user friendly VTLS is and how much better we're hoping and praying
Millennium will be.
On the subject of packed book returns, they tend to
lead to packed book-shelving carts. Ours certainly was when I came in
today. I cannot abide a full shelving cart. Some of my fellow
employees have no trouble abiding one, and let it pile up quite a bit
before they make a stab at shelving. There are even other libraries in
the county that let theirs stay perpetually piled up, not to mention
their shelves in a constant state of chaos. I've had to sub there on
occasion, and on each occasion I spent my entire day trying to get
everything put away and semi-organized, or at the very least put all
their books upright on the shelves.
A full book cart, to me, is a living representation of
work to be done and if there's one thing I can't stand it's knowing
there's work ahead of me. I don't mind working. I'm all for work. In
fact, I spend most of my job time LOOKING for work to do. So I am
completely cool with shelving books while I'm in the moment, but I hate
having to think about all the books I'm gonna have to shelve later piled
up on a cart. The trouble with this is that I can NEVER get all the
shelving done at once unless there are other employees to mind the desk
and phone so I can just do the job. This is near impossible when I'm
the only Joe in the store, as it was this afternoon while Mrs. C was out
to lunch. I make attempts to shelve and can usually get most of the
fiction done, but as soon as I gather a stack of books on tape to shelve
in the computer hall, or a stack of non-fiction to carry upstairs,
either the door opens and an especially needy patron walks through or
the phone rings with one calling to ask if Mrs. C is in or what time we
frickin' close. It never fails to go down like that.
Today also brought something of a compliment. One of my favorite patrons came in and told me that he really loved Life of Pi,
by Yann Martel, which I'd recommended to him a while back. He wanted
to know what else I recommended. Naturally, my mind went completely
blank and I had no idea what to give him. I finally sent him away with Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, both of whom are authors who I think would really enjoy Life of Pi.
I do realize that the above logic makes no sense, but I'm stuck with it.