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

Stopping Unsolicited Scientology Books

   January 16th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Scientology books in my libraryA couple weeks ago, my library received the latest shipment of free Scientology books, and I'm guessing your library did too. On the whole, we never want these books, and rarely do they make it to our shelves (or even out of the boxes they came in).

So I was happy to see a post on the Maine Libraries listserv the following week (from Mamie Anthoine Ney of the Southern Maine Library District) detailing an email exchange she had with the company that sends them out. She asked them to stop sending them to her site, and this is the response she received:

Dear Ms Ney,

Thank you for message alerting me to this situation.

I have taken your address off the mailing list.

If you have not been able to send the books back yet, let me know the correct address, contact name and number and I can have my shipping department get FedEx to pick them up.

The books are very valuable and I do not want them to go to waste.

I will pick these up right away if you have not been able to arrange this.

Best regards,

Mr. Larry Perras
Library Distribution Manager
Bridge Publications
5600 E. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90022
(323) 888-6200

Mr. Perras' email is address is [email protected] and he is the person to contact if you'd like your library to stop getting these boxes of books. I forwarded this to my library's Head of Technical Services, and she was only too happy to email them to take us off the list (although we never got a reply from them).

Thank you Mamie for sharing this information - hopefully it will keep more of these books from ending up in dumpsters.

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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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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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Post-Christmas Post

   December 26th, 2006 Brian Herzog

Books make great Christmas giftsIt's the day after Christmas,
and all through the house,
not a creature is stirring,
because everyone has gone home...

A few people this year have told me that the day after Christmas is the saddest day of the year for them - all of the hustle-and-bustle of Christmas is over, and today is such a letdown. Personally, I am fairly anti-hustle-and-bustle in general, so I don't mind. After all, we still have leftovers.

Plus, if you were nice all year (and Christian), you should have some gifts to play with. This year, among a few other things, I got two books, Ben Schott's Schott's Almanac and Tom Robbins' short story collection Wild Ducks Flying Backward.

I also got a Canon PowerShot A540 digital camera. I figure having my own camera will make updating my profile on flickr a bit easier (so here's to entering the Information Age, one baby step at a time).

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your holiday, if you chose to celebrate one.

Ben Schott, Canon PowerShot A540 digital camera, christmas, flickr, gifts, Schott's Almanac, Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward

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