February 1st, 2017 Brian Herzog
Last week, someone called the library asking if they could return a book by mail. Of course, we said, that's no problem.
This week, a package arrived with this inside:
How awesome is that? I have no idea if American Airlines, or airlines in general, make this a general practice, or if this Flight Attendant just did it because he felt it was the right thing to do. But it is great, and we appreciate it, and I'm sure the patron* does too.
In any case, I sincerely hope American Airlines reimburses their above-and-beyond Flight Attendant for postage. Thank you very much Tom!
*By the way, we looked up who had it checked out and called to let them know their (lost) book was returned, but the phone went right to voicemail. Probably that means they're still on vacation - but now without Rodney Dangerfield to keep them company.
June 2nd, 2016 Brian Herzog
Recently one of our patrons submitted a purchase suggestion for a book she saw reviewed in the Boston Globe: Old Bags Taking a Stand, by Faith Baum and Lori Petchers
The patron had also clipped and stapled a little part of the Globe's review, which made it sound interesting enough to investigate further. In cases like this, my first stop is Amazon to see if anyone else has reviewed it.
Now, one of the little games I play when searching - for anything - is to try to type in as few keywords as possible to get the result I want. Known item searches are of course the easiest, and in this case, I just typed "old bags taking" into Amazon's book search - and laughed out loud at the result:
Yes, the correct book was listed first, but the second result was what struck me. Little Women? Really, that's the exact opposite of "old bag" in this sense. Amazon, what in your search algorithm matched these two books?
I've showed a couple coworkers this and their search results varied slightly, but Little Women was always on the list. It seems weird, but maybe this is one of those reader preferences computers can identify that people wouldn't - maybe Little Women fans really are the target audience for Old Bags. Hmm.
April 1st, 2016 Brian Herzog
This blog has been without a new post for longer that I intended, and hopefully no one minded too much. Switching from Head of Reference to Assistant Director has been both more different and more busy than I expected, but things are starting to calm down finally.
So hopefully, that will mean more regular updates from the back office. Especially since I'll be at PLA next week, I'm sure there will be lots to talk about.
But something I always liked doing (probably more than you liked me doing it) was a traditional April 1st post. I wasn't able to get something together for this year, so hopefully you don't mind settling for this:
That's a photo of my library's lobby. And it's hard to make out, so here's the slide showing on the digital display:
So far, no one has noticed - or at least, no one has said anything. We'll see.
By the way, the featured title is The Berenstain Bears and the blame game, but there were other options too.
February 20th, 2016 Brian Herzog
Sometimes, what would have otherwise been an ordinary, simple question, gets asked with a slight twist and I just know it's going to be the question of the week.
Last Saturday, a college-age male patron walked up to the desk carrying an empty water bottle and asked,
Where is your Brita filtered filler station?
A coworker was with me at the desk at the time, and both of us kind of paused - long enough, apparently, that the patron then said,
Well, maybe you don't have one...
We get asked regularly where the bathrooms are, and only slightly less frequently if we have a drinking fountain*. We explained to him where the drinking fountain was, and he seemed happy enough for it.
I wonder if he actually expected a Brita-filtered tap, or free-standing water cooler. Maybe that's what they exclusively use in his house or college, to the point that he's just so used to saying "Brita filter" that it's the name he uses for any water dispensing device.
Regardless, it suddenly made me feel like a 19th-century library and the best we had to offer was an old farm water pump out back. I mean, I' very happy we still offer a typewriter to patrons, but I never thought our drinking fountain would become retro too.
*In New England, at least this part, they call drinking fountains "bubblers," which I think is funny. They also call pop "tonic."
Tags: brita, bubbler, drinking, filter, filtered, fountain, libraries, Library, public, Reference Question, water
February 6th, 2016 Brian Herzog
I've said this before and I'll say it again, but I know that sometimes, some things are funny only to me. One day this week, a patron walks up to the desk and says,
Patron: Can you help me find a book? The title is, The [szuunnttz] of Murder.
Me: I'm sorry, what was that first word - "sounds" or "silence?"
And then she set her phone down on the desk and spun it around so I could see the title: The silence of murder, by Dandi Daley Mackall.
Ha. I blame our cataloger for constantly drilling into me to ignore the leading article in a title when typing it into a library catalog. Unfortunately, I can apparently no longer tell the difference between typing a title into a computer and asking a real live patron what the title is. Oh well.
Th good news is that the book was in the catalog, and I showed the patron how to place a request for it, so everyone was happy. Even the patron, who perhaps now thinks I'm an idiot. Oh well. It also made me wonder if patrons have blogs where they share all their stories of crazy interactions with librarians - now that would be interesting.
January 31st, 2016 Brian Herzog
This was posted on Boing Boing a couple weeks ago, but I thought people might find this funny:
Actual conversations with rude or odd customers at a used book store.
Some are rude to the point of being mean, which of course is not something that would happen in a library - at least, not something library staff would say out load. Here's a couple of my favorites:
I found a book "---" on your web site. It was written by my Uncle. I was wondering why it is so expensive? ($50)
It was inscribed and signed by him.
Why should I have to pay for his autograph? He's my Uncle, not yours!
(sigh... and no, she didn't buy it)
(Older gentleman calls)
I see you have a book titled "---" listed on your web site for $200
I am the author.
That book originally sold for under $20
How can you justify that?
Charging so much!
That's what it's worth. Look it up on Bookfinder
You will make more on the book than I did
I guess I should feel bad about that! If it makes you feel better, you could adjust for inflation (30 years)
I just doesn't seem right
It's the free market at work. You shouldn't have written such a good book
I will take that as a compliment
(I should add, I paid a lot more for the book than it sold for... originally. The customer I sold it to will probably donate it to his favorite charity and the cycle will continue. Makes me wonder how many profits there are in these things...)
(Customer fills out search card: 16 Chapels)
(me) Oh, you're after books on European Churches?
No, just books about the 16 Chapels.
Yea, you know the one with the big painting on the ceiling.
We will let you know what we find (once we stop convulsing).
Any time I see something like this in book stores, I can't help but hear them in the voice of Bernard Black - and then end up watching that entire series again.
Tags: answers, book, book store, bookstore, bookstores, libraries, Library, public, questions, reference questions, rude, store, stores