or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Librarian-Related Gift Ideas

   December 12th, 2012 Brian Herzog

This time of year always brings out the "best gifts for" and "best of the year" type lists. Instead of adding my own lists to the pile, I wanted to highlight two slightly different takes on library-related gift ideas:

First, a great blog post by the Nocturnal Librarian - instead of trying to find the one right book for someone, she came up with a much better idea:

My idea of the perfect gift book is not going to be yours, and might work for your sister but not for your grandfather, your niece, or your teen. So I suggest the gift of professional reading advice.

Read the full post.

And secondly, Stephen Colbert has the best possible advice I wish everyone would gift to the librarian in their life:

Stephen Colbert's message

Via LISNews, that is the gift that can make any day Christmas Day.



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Reference Question of the Week – 11/13/11

   November 19th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Fanned savings bondsThis week's question is actually something I needed to find out for myself. And I'll tell you up front: once I found the answer, I ultimately just walked away because it's too difficult (which is something I see many real patrons doing).

When my siblings started having kids (ten years ago), I decided I'd give each child a savings bond for birthdays, Christmas, etc. I thought it was something nice to do for their future, and it wouldn't clutter up their house with more toys (although I also usually give a book or small something too).

This has been working great, until this week. When I went to the bank to get a savings bond for my niece Alexis' birthday, the bank teller told me they no longer do paper savings bonds as they are now only available online.

Well that's a pain. But lots of things are transitioning to online-only options, so I gave it a shot. The bank lady didn't know the website I had to go to, which actually made me skeptical of the whole thing, so I just searched for buy savings bond. The first two results were:

Individual - Buy EE Savings Bonds
www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/.../ebonds/res_e_bonds_eebuy.htm
Jul 12, 2011 – Buy EE Savings Bonds. As of January 1, 2012, paper savings bonds will no longer be sold at financial institutions. This action supports ...

Individual - Savings Bonds As Gifts
www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/planning/plan_gifts.htm
Jul 21, 2011 – You can give savings bonds for any occasion or purpose - like birthdays, weddings, or graduations. You can buy gift bonds in several ...

Those were both informative, and I've used TreasuryDirect.gov before. I opened them both in different tabs, but expected to use the second one to get the gift savings bond. A note on the top of each page read:

As of January 1, 2012, paper savings bonds will no longer be sold at financial institutions. This action supports Treasury’s goal to increase the number of electronic transactions with citizens and businesses. See the press release.

It seems my bank was jumping the gun with no longer providing them, but that's fine. If I want to keep giving savings bonds this is obviously something I'm going to need to do anyway, so step one of the online process was to create a TreasuryDirect.gov account.

I don't doubt the trustworthiness and reliability of TreasuryDirect.com, but I was surprised the new account form required me to enter my social security number. But then at the bottom, it also required my bank name, account number, routing number, and other account information - it was at this roadblock that I decided more research was necessary (I was doing this on a Saturday morning from the couch in my pajamas, and didn't have that info handy).

Any time I have a problem with a tech something (be it an error code, weird account creation requirements, etc), I always search for my problem online, figuring someone else had the problem too (and hopefully solved it). So this time I searched Google News for buy savings bond and found an article from the Sacramento Bee, specifically about giving the online-only savings bonds as gifts.

It did reaffirm everything I'd encountered, but this part was the last straw:

...recipients of gifts purchased through TreasuryDirect will require an account of their own to receive the gift bonds...*

*Children under age 18 must have a minor account linked to a parent or guardian's TreasuryDirect account.

This is when I decided the new process was too difficult and just walked away from the entire question. I'm going to look for a bank that still does paper savings bonds so I can get one for Alexis, and also stock up for the rest of the kids for Christmas. But after that, I'm going to look for another gift for them - I highly doubt that all my siblings will want to set up TreasuryDirect.gov accounts for all the kids.

Oh well - supporting the government was nice while it lasted.



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Librarian Holiday Gift Guide

   December 9th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Festivus PoleDo you know what I enjoy more than telling people where the bathroom is? Shopping.

In case anyone is pestering you for gift ideas, they could read How To Get Good Gifts for Librarians, or use the links below to find something for the librarian in their life.

And finally, the Washington Post's fiction critic picks special gifts for the book lover (via LISNews):



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Reference Question of the Week – 12/29/08

   January 3rd, 2009 Brian Herzog

gift bookWhile I was home for Christmas, one of my brothers asked me:

Is it okay to read a book before you give it to someone as a gift?

I thought I'd post it here to see what other people thought, because I'm curious if there is a consensus.

I don't have a firm opinion on this, so I could be swayed. But after I thought about it, giving a pre-read book seemed okay. Having read it means you're better able to know if the person will like it, and you can talk about it with them (I always read the books I give to kids for these reasons).

Also, unlike many other objects, books can be gently used and still be in perfect condition. I like sharing books, and give books to people off my own bookshelf all the time. Usually not as wrapped gifts, but if the only copy I could find of a book someone really wanted was in a used book store, I would have no problem making a gift of it.

So, I think used books make good gifts, so long as they are still readable (but then, I work in a library). Which means, I think the real question is this:

If you buy someone a book as a gift and you read it before you give it to them, do you tell them?



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