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

Today is Look Above The Bathroom Ceiling Day

   January 29th, 2015 Brian Herzog

It's not, actually, but perhaps it should be. We had a plumber in the library today fixing one of our men's restrooms. In the course of his repair work, he had to go into the drop-ceiling in the bathroom, and this is what he found:


I've heard of library bathroom ceilings being used as dead-drops for drug deals - which at least has a logical utility - but I don't understand why these books would have ended up in the bathroom ceiling.

They all seem like old travel books, had been part of our branch library's collection, and have all been withdrawn and deleted. Not just lost and deleted, but actually stamped by staff as withdrawn.

I have no idea how they went from deleted from the branch to above the men's room of the main library. Plus, it's a ten foot ceiling too, so it's not like it'd be an easy place to store reading material.

So, if you get a chance today, pop your head up into the bathroom ceiling - who knows what interesting things you may find (I for one can't wait to check the rest of our bathrooms).

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Reference Question of the Week – 3/28/10

   April 3rd, 2010 Brian Herzog

1040 starsThis isn't really a reference question, but it is a question from a patron. It's, well, you decide:

Patron: Have you see the monk hidden on the cover of the tax forms?

As Liz Lemon would say, "what the what?" The patron explained, somewhat cryptically, that the negative space between the stars on this year's 1040 instruction booklet cover design seemed to form a monk.

Can you see it? Hover your mouse over the image to see what he was talking about. It's slightly easier to see on a larger animated version on flickr.

I saw it after he pointed it out, but personally, I think it looks more like Darth Vader. The conspiracist in me knows it's not unusual that secret symbols appear in government printing, but they're usually more Masonic than Imperial (but maybe the stars were just to much to resist).

There must be a word for this - hidden pictures formed by positive space shapes. This is sort of like the distorted tessellations in MC Escher's art, but not quite. I looked around but couldn't find a name or description, so I'll keep looking.

In the meantime, if you're interested, here are a few examples of logos employing negative space.

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Hidden Pleasures

   January 15th, 2009 Brian Herzog

food porn books in a corner of the librarySo one morning this week, before we opened to patrons, I was walking around the floor tidying up.

In the furthest back corner of the stacks, the one that is most secluded and is the only place in the library we find condoms et. al., I came upon the scene pictured here.

I'm used to this corner being the place where kids go to hide, so I kind of laughed when I came across this stack of dessert books. Not the reside of illicit sex, or Playboys, or drugs, or a pile of barcodes removed from books and DVDs. I could just visualize someone tucked away, hiding their guiltiest pleasure from the world: graphic books featuring cakes, pies, ice cream and cookies.

But it makes me sad they couldn't bring themselves to check them out. Maybe the temptation to prepare these recipes would be just too much if they took these books home. Good thing the library will always be around when this patron needs another fix.

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