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

Job Opening at Manchester (NH) Library

   October 5th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Manchester Library in snowMy friend Lichen is moving on from her position at the Manchester (NH) City Library, opening a great spot for a techie librarian with ideas and initiative. The details are:

Librarian III (Head of Info & Technology)

(Announcement No. R-073-10)
Salary Grade 20
Starting Salary: $48,809.48/yr + benefits
Work schedule includes nights and weekends

Manages the day to day operations of the Information/Technology Division. This position is responsible for maintaining the library’s public computer system, staff training, online presence and recommending technology improvement for the effective and efficient delivery of information to library users. Incumbent partners with the City’s Information Systems Division to maintain staff computers and library networks. Supervises 9 staff members to provide high quality, customer service, and friendly information services to the public using current technology. Oversees the expenditures for material purchases assigned to the division in all formats. Performs related duties. Position is part of the Library’s Administrative team and reports directly to the Library Director.

Master's Degree in Library Science from an ALA accredited program with 4-6 years of progressively more responsible library experience providing library services. Experience in Information Services as well as current Library Technology is required. Supervisory experience is a plus.

Offer of hire conditional on candidate's ability to complete essential job functions, with or without accommodations, as determined by medical exam. A background check, as well as a drug and alcohol test, will be required for this position.

Candidates must complete a City of Manchester employment application. Resume should be submitted with application. Applications may be obtained at www.manchesternh.gov or Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at
City of Manchester
Human Resources Department
One City Hall Plaza
Manchester, NH 03101
Tel: 603-624-6543 (Voice/TTY)
Fax: 603-628-6065

OPENING DATE: Friday, Oct. 1, 2010 - CLOSING DATE: Monday, Oct. 18, 2010

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Reference Question of the Week – 12/6/09

   December 12th, 2009 Brian Herzog

100 Million BC coverA patron called and asked,

Can you tell me what I'm watching?

Sigh. After an initial pause on my part, he explained that he had turned his television on in the middle a movie. He didn't have a TV Guide, so he called us to look up the online television listings.

One of the subject guides on the library's website is for Entertainment Resources, and for this question I used the Boston.com's TV Listings - perfect.

We knew the time and channel, so this was easy to find - it turns out the movie was 100 Million BC. He said it was good, and asked if the library had it in case he had to leave and thus miss the end. When I told him it wasn't in our catalog, he said,

Well, now I'll have to stay to watch the ending, but I guess I'll never get to see how it starts.

Perhaps it'll appear on Hulu.com soon.

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Reference Question of the Week – 8/24/08

   August 30th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Attack of the B Movies posterHere's an example of what should be a simple question needing a round-about path to find the answer.

A patron came in asking for help finding movie listings. He'd heard there was a special showing at the local Showcase Cinema, called "attack of the" something, and he wanted to go. It's part of a series the theater is doing, showing certain movies on Thursday nights for $5.

But when he was at the movie theater, the employees wouldn't tell him what was showing on Thursdays. They said they didn't know. So he came to the library.

Usually for quick movie listings I check Yahoo Movies, but that didn't mention this special Thursday series. Also, all the phone numbers I could find for the theater were just their recorded show times, which likewise did not mention the special Thursday movies.

So the next step was to search the internet for "showcase lowell thursday attack." The first listing was the flickr photo shown above, which the patron was excited to see.

The second listing was "Attack of the B Movies" Series Playing at Select National..., an article about this series. It mentioned the information came from the National Amusements website, and after clicking around their site for a bit, we found their Special Program listing, which linked to the upcoming schedule of movies.

You can also check their locations listings to find a theater near you.

It took less than ten minutes to follow this chain of links to the answer, but it shouldn't have even taken that long. It's disappointing that the cinema employees (and the theater's phone recording) didn't answer this question right away, but I am glad the patron thought to come to the library. I hadn't heard of this movie series, and not only am I a fan of B movies, but I've also been asked about these twice since this first reference question.

Too bad this isn't a drive-in.

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Phone Book Follies

   August 21st, 2008 Brian Herzog

The Phone Book ListingsSo apparently, in 34 years, I've never looked up in the phone book a business name starting with the word "The."

While looking up a phone number of someone whose name started with "Terr," I happened to glance at the rest of the page. I was surprised to notice that there were business listings filed under "the" - The Pizza Place, The Family Eye Care Center, etc.

Since listings like this in a library catalog would be an error, it caught my eye. It seems like it should be wrong for a phone book, too, but I could understand there are business where "The" is an official part of their name.

But I was amazed I'd never noticed this before. Just to make sure I wasn't crazy, I looked up some of these businesses where I would have thought they'd be - under "P" for Pizza, "F" for Family, etc. Some were listed, and some weren't. How strange.

So I checked the other phone books we have, to see if all the publishers did it that way. I found that some businesses are listed under "The," some aren't, and some are under both. And then I found something even stranger.

Test Test in the phone bookOn the "T" page of one of the books, there were listings for "Test Test." This is something I commonly do when entering junk information to test a new system, and I was thoroughly entertained to see it published in a phone book.

All of the various "Test" entries were listed at the same address, but with different phone numbers. Curiosity got the better of me, and I tried a few of the numbers - but they all just went right to a generic voicemail. These "Test" entries were listed in the other phone books, too, so I'm guessing it tracks back to whoever complied the data originally and sold their database to the publishers. Ha.

But again, this underscores the important of knowing the appropriateness and limitations of your resources.

And so, now the world knows that I can entertain myself for a good twenty minutes reading the telephone book.

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