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




Librarian Book Quote

   August 11th, 2009 Brian Herzog

The Puzzling World of Winston BreenI like recording book quotes about librarians, and found a good one while reading The Puzzling World of Winston Breen.

The book is about a kid who loves puzzles, and gets caught up in a real life treasure hunt. The moral of the book is that there are different kinds of people in the world, who may not always be what they seem, and it's important to be able to work collaboratively to get things done. However, during the story the main character reflects,

If anything could dampen the excitement of going on a treasure hunt, it was having to do it with the town librarian...

The librarian in the book is a minor hero in her own right, so I'll let it slide. But come on, I like treasure hunts. We're not that uninteresting.



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25 Famous Librarians Who Changed History

   February 12th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis CarrollLast week I received an email heads-up for a blog post entitled 25 Famous Librarians Who Changed History.

It's an interesting quick read, and it was neat to learn that both Mao Zedong and Lewis Carroll, among others, had both been librarians in their lives (congratulations to #24 for being recognized as a history-changer).

I'd never heard of the website before, but the rest of the posts on their blog (started in Jan 2009) seemed equally interesting.



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Reference Question of the Week – 12/7/08

   December 13th, 2008 Brian Herzog

I Assure You We're Open sheet sign from Clerks movieDue to the ice storm that came through the area on Friday, there is a tie for most popular reference question today:

Hey, are you open?

and

Do you have internet?

My answer all day has been, "we're open, we have lights and heat, and everything is working normally except our internet connection is down*."

Needless to say, it's been a quiet day: not unbusy, just quiet - most of our work tables and all of our comfortable chairs are filled with people researching and reading, which all but goes unnoticed on a regular day. And because lots of area residents are still without power, there's even a couple people napping in the corners, just happy to be someplace warm.

The next most popular reference question has been:

Do you know how I can keep my pipes from freezing?

Most area residents lost power on Friday, 12/12/08, and although many homes are now back on, there are still plenty who are looking at two or three days without power. Temperatures are predicted to be in the teens and twenties for the next few days, so freezing pipes is a major concern.

The best advice came from Home Maintenance for Dummies. Before loaning it out to the first person who asked this morning, I photocopied the necessary page to keep a "reference copy" at the desk. It recommends:

A faucet left dripping at the fixture farthest from the main water inlet allows just enough warm water movement within the pies to reduce the chance of a freeze...

Insulating pipes that are above ground (those that are most susceptible to freezing) prevents them from freezing during most moderate-to-medium chills - even when the faucets are off. This includes pips in the subarea or basement and especially any that might be in the attic.

If your kitchen or bathroom sink faucets are prone to freezing, leave the cabinet doors open at night. This allows warm air to circulate in the cabinet and warm the pipes.

The last tip won't help much for a house that is at 39 degrees, but it's good to keep in mind anyway.

Hopefully the power to my house is back on by the time I get home, otherwise I might sleep at the library tonight.


*I'm sure you're asking, "No intertnet? Then how'd you post this?" As a reference librarian, I know the laundromat up the street has great wireless internet.



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Brian’s Got a Brand New Blog

   February 22nd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Swiss Army Librarian logoI've been threatening this for awhile, but I finally got in gear and managed to get it done - I've got a new blog: the SwissArmyLibrarian.net.

The official transition day is Tuesday, Feb. 26th, 2008, so I won't be posting anything until then. I'll talk more about it soon, but before then, please update your feed readers to the new RSS feeds.

And stop by the new domain to take a look and let me know what you think.



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Job Opening: Gun Librarian

   February 7th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Cabela's logoI keep an eye on library job openings in Maine, and now I see the the Cabela's store in Scarborough is looking for someone to work in the Gun Library.

A few of the job duties overlap with my current position:

  • Ensure proper display of merchandise on the sales floor.
  • Assists customers in finding and selecting products that best meet their needs based on extensive study and field experience.
  • Attends and/or schedules management and area meetings to ensure all departments objectives are met.
  • Prepares store for daily opening and closing.

And a few do not:

  • Determining the market value of a wide range of firearms
  • Buying and selling antique and collectible firearms
  • Big and small game hunting
  • Upland and waterfowl hunting

I wonder if having a Swiss Army knife since college could get me the job. Probably not, but maybe for "Big and small game hunting" they'd count wrangling little kids and teenagers in the library during after-school hours. But I guess that's more like herding than hunting. I just need to keep looking.

Anyone interested can apply online.

via MELIBS-L



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Library Website 404 Pages

   September 18th, 2007 Brian Herzog

404 screenshotSparked by a discussion in the ning Library 2.0 forum, I recently revamped my Library's 404 error webpage (what displays when the webpage someone is looking for is not found).

Until earlier this year, we just had the standard "404 error: file not found" page, which is common and boring. I had made it a little more interesting just by adding our logo and some helpful information. But Darlene's call for injecting humor and casualness in this situation got me to rethink it, and I came up with our current page.

Libraries are always fighting the traditional stuffy stereotype, and little things like this can make the patron experience more interesting and memorable. Also, it really was fairly easy to do, and I think in this case, a little effort goes a long way (of course, ideally, this page would never be seen).

But let your 404 page be seen - Darlene also started a flickr Library 404 Page group, so please add your screenshots. Also, some live, non-library examples are available at sendcoffe.com.

And before anyone asks: I didn't put too much thought into the books in the photo. This is just the shelf closest to the Reference Desk. But really, I think these titles lend themselves pretty well to the process of discovery of something missing - plus, this is the "self-help" section.

404, 404 error, chelmsford, chelmsford library, error page, librarian, librarians, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, web page, website



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