Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hedgehog Headlines

There were some hedgehog stories in the news today. One comes courtesy of my Jersey-City-Host that is just TOO cute for words.

Orphaned hedgehogs adopt cleaning brush as their mother

Seriously--the headline was fabulous. How can you not just fall in love with those little guys! *sigh*...if only I wasn't so hard core about wanting a Siamese again. I'm afraid a cat would eat the hedgehog. Certainly Dinah would play with it until it died (she's not quite bright enough to eat it--she's getting by on her cuteness).

The other story was rather sad --apparently hedgie's need to be amongst protected species...

Hedgehogs join 'protection' list

I hope it's not a long term protection and they can come back and be as prickly as before.


I blame Bob and Michael.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Sunday (on Friday) Quiz: Norse Mythology

I'm going home this weekend and am doubtful about my posting habits while hanging out with the Kids. So our quiz is a bit early...

Which Norse Mythology character are you?

You are Frigg! Frigg is the goddess of childbirth and marriage. She is the wife of Odin and highest in rank of the goddesses. She is called the mother of the Gods. Frigg is as wise as Odin but is more reserved and shy. She's very rational and people come to her for advice.
Take this quiz!

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Reading Condescension

According to a friend of mine, I have a reading problem. While this might be somewhat related to heavily overburdened five books shelves in my current apartment (all but one of which have my books on them) or to the two 2.5' piles of books from the library on the coffee table (that's about to be 3 piles unless I get some quality reading time in soon)--I'm not sure.

Personally, I don't see this as a reading problem and certainly my branch's circulation stats see no issue.

If you've been following this blog at all this summer, you'll have noticed a propensity for romance novels and cozy mysteries. Add on top of that my position as a children's librarian--which means lots of bringing home of juvenile fiction and reading through that--and, yes, there aren't a ton of books following me home that one would consider heavy reading. There are a few things--David Weinberger's "Everything is Miscellaneous" that I was pleased to get my hands on and a couple of knitting books that are waiting for me to browse through and decide which patterns I'm interested in trying.

What grates on my nerves is her condescension. Apparently because I'm not only reading "high literature"--I'm wasting my time. Could I be reading more engaging material? Absolutely. Should I be reading things of greater literary work? Probably. Do I need passages of what I'm reading re-read aloud to me in a mocking tone? Not so much. Even my-friend-the-lawyer, who has specialized in his amused teasing of my romance novel habit for the past decade, doesn't go that far.

But my reading habits are one of the few things I feel I have complete control over in my life. I'm at a number of unexpected crossroads in my life at the moment, the majority of which are wearing me down enough that I haven't the energy to sit down with non-fiction. So bring on the mysteries and romance--and forgive a little reverse condescension that I'm not watching sitcoms that sound like Friends rehashed.

Grrr....annoyed small hedgehog.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More "On a Claire Day" and the Public Library

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the comic strip "On A Claire Day" was looking at the main character interviewing for a job in a public library. Today (8/23), the strip picked the theme up again and I think they did a nice job.

They pick up with Claire's interview, where she makes the inevitable "I know Dewey" joke. The librarian with whom she is interviewing notes that it's great and mentions how they've incorporated Dewey with modern technology (SQL, etc).

Hooray! A non library focused strip noting that libraries (public libraries--no less) are moving onwards in technology! Yay!

I hope they'll be able to keep it going--Claire was working over the holidays in a "Crate and Basket" and that was amusement in corporate/customer service stuff.

Back to the rest of my non-2.0 day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Joy of the Spoken/Written Word

I am among an apparently small population that grew up being read aloud to--almost continuously. My mother read scores of books aloud to her three children and I have numerous memories of hearing her create worlds from pages of words. This continued through my teenage years as I listened to her read to a brother seven years younger than I.

Talking books became a part of my reading career when I was in junior high and was thoroughly enamoured of George Guidall reading The Cat Who Mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. Apparently I wasn't the only one--Recorded Books tried, briefly, to switch over to a different reader. He was awful and I think it surprised no one that they not only switched back, but re-recorded those books. It was also the way that I first tackled The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. As it lead to my reading all of Clancy's fiction novels (his non-fic is a bit dry for me and no I don't read the stuff he has "help" writing), I think this proved to be a valuable starting point.

Audio books have come appeared on the news recently with strong feelings for and against. Apparently (news to me) listening to an audio book is considered cheating by "true" bibliophiles. Hmmm. There goes my rank as a true bibliophile. I was rather surprised to read a NYT article which portrayed book clubs rebelling against participants who listened to books instead of reading them--accusing them of "cheating." (Get through a database---apparently it's been 2 weeks since the article came out. I've got a copy somewhere too.)

I, among others, fail to understand how listening to stories--part of a long oral tradition that predates writing and also part of how we all learned to read--is suddenly taboo. Certainly parents of children wading through the classics just before school starts, as a recent ShelfCheck points out, don't see any difference between their children listening to CDs or on their Ipods. Harry Potter's audio performer, Jim Dale, has gained a fascinated following, all waiting to hear the familiar voice intone to them Rowling's tales. Incidentally, that was the first version out the door at my library the day that Book 7 was published.

I've most recently gotten into classical literature via Overdrive through the two . As a result I have the better part of the Jane Austen's works committed to memory. Nadia May reads the versions that I listen to and she's very soothing to listen to. I spent a week's commute recently on yet another "read" of Pride and Prejudice. I enjoy it in the printed format but am usually trying to read new books when the chance to sit down with printed text is available. But Jane plays happily in the background as I iron, do some light database modification, and drive thither and yon--wrapping me into the ridiculousness of middle class English love lives

I'm waxing loquacious..so I'll just end with a link to a more favorable article on audio books

Listening to books is not cheating

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Reading Program (8): Knitting Rules!

Wow, I've been blogging up a storm. Granted, it's mostly been about giving myself a reason/excuse to curl up with more reading because our online summer reading program is over in a few days....but still. I sit down to the computer and automatically pop open a new post.

I'm not only reading romance novels, although I've another one to mention in another post that will probably hit the boards later today. Instead, I'm going to take a brief look at the book that was last night's bedtime entertainment and probably left the girls at the nail salon today going "Why do you think the crazy girl was reading about knitting?"

Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I follow Stephanie's blog, Yarn Harlot, with a nearly religious fervor. If she has a post up, everything else in my RSS feed is going to wait until I've gotten through it. Her dry Canadian humor (occasionally poking fun at Americans) and her passion for all things yarn related are always a bright spot during my day.

Recently, as a self-reward for something or other, I purchased all of Stephanie's books. I probably would have had them before if they'd been available in used book stores but, not surprisingly, the knitters who own them hold on to them and are probably more likely to bequeath them to other knitters than to pass them off to dollar bins. (e.g. My Stitch-and-Bitch sneaked home with the-Blonde's-Man-of-Honor about a year ago during efforts for him to learn how to knit. I'm never getting that book back, I might as well just go and get another copy.)

This book is not a basic "how to knit book." Instead it's more of an introduction to the culture of knitting and some basics that the usual how to books make dry enough that one wants to ignore. Stephanie's charm and wit infuses descriptions on making sure you're using the right size needles, figuring out just how obsessed you are with yarn, and helping me not feel guilty that a large chest in the living room has been pretty much taken over by my stash.

After charging through the amusing points of quizzing how willing you are to drag others into the knitting fold, Stephanie offers up some basic patterns and alterations for scarves, hats, socks, shawls, and sweaters. With each one, she takes care to explains the pro's and con's of working on the project. She provides basic patterns, explaining each stage with such clarity that I almost (almost being the key word) am interested in taking on a pair of socks. That's saying a lot-I have little understanding with the fascination of knitting socks. She then offers up variety for these patterns, explaining how to make little changes so you don't get bored and can venture slowly and without risk to trying new things in a comfortable pattern.

It's a delightful book for someone who is already a knitter. Whether or not it would appeal to someone outside the yarn clan, I'm not sure. Her style is engaging though and it's a lovely read for a rainy day like today.

Almost Dry Nails and Cat Fur

Roomie has been absent from the apartment for nearly a week, leaving me with the furball whose ownership she technically has. (It's debatable in winter--depending on whose covers she's burrowing under for warmth.) Dinah has decided that this means my lap is always at her disposal. Other than the occasional choking inhalation of excess fur, this has worked out pretty congenially. Until about five minutes ago....

I just got back from the nail salon. In a not completely vain attempt to get my nails looking like something other than chewed off disasters, I'm back on my every-other-week manicure regimen. I can't fully explain it but if others paint my nails for me, I don't chew them. If I paint my nails or if I leave my nails unpainted, commence nibbling. It keeps me healthier (less germs directly in the mouth) and my hands certainly look better--so it was off to the nail salon.

I arrived home, sat down to determine when the-boy-dating-Roomie is swinging past to fix my desktop computer, and Dinah hopped up on my lap. I start scritching her under the chin and....are my nails totally dry????

Whew--apparently dry enough to pay attention to the purring long hair that's now just gotten comfortable. So I won't look at the dishes for a while and I should probably avoid the cat brush with all of it's little prickles, but we're safe for the moment.

Superhero Sunday

Our first quiz du jour is courtesy of 3M's priest, who always had an extra fabulous hug waiting for me at the end of the night.

Your results:
You are Superman

Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

And the other one is courtesy of the fact that I know too many comic readers...I might even venture to mention that I live with one who has all of her comics in plastic wrappers with boards. I'm not that good to my books.

Which Marvel Super-Hero are you most like?

You are most like Daredevil!
Take this quiz!

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Reading Program (7) Decaffeinated Corpse

Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle

The fifth series in Coyle's enjoyable Coffee House series sees a return from the Hamptons to the lower East side. Manager Clare Cosi is back and trying to ramp up to the world wide introduction of a botanically decaf coffee bean. While I certainly don't drink decaf, I have enough friends for whom caffeine is an evil and I can understand their desire to continue enjoying a strong cup of Joe. Considering some of the weak and yukky regular "coffee" I've had from time to time, at least with a strong cup of decaf I'd get the psychological pick me up.

The story moves comfortably through the week prior to international release of this bean. There is assault, men cheating on women, women cheating on men, two people murdered, and a little fraud in the middle of everything else. An old friend of Clare's ex-husband has created the wonder plant, but his ambitions, sleeping around, and muddy political family history leads to lots of drama. Clare's detective friend Mike Quinn is back on the scene, though without her usual friendly neighborhood patrol, and her flavorful and interesting baristas always keep things sarcastic. Drop in a little dose of the coffeehouse owner, Madame, and you have a cozy book for a rainy afternoon.

This was better than Coyle's last, Murder Most Frothy, nearly had me give up on the series. What probably keeps me coming back most strongly is Coyle's spot on descriptions of Manhattan. Having worked there, particularly in the Chelsea area, Coyle describes the buildings, people, traffic and mood in such a realistic fashion that I'm transported easily back to 14th and 8th, sipping a latte in my own favorite spot. I much preferred being in Manhattan than out in the Hamptons--it was just too glorified. Also, Coyle didn't have Clare fall into bed with yet another man. Even with one of them being her ex-husband, it bothered me that every book there was someone else for pillow time.

She's got another one coming out in 2008 and I'll probably get it through my library. Fun and light reading if you enjoy descriptions of Manhattan.

Friday, August 17, 2007

But We Need it By MONDAY

Today was quite a lot about trying to determine if we had another copy of Beast by Walter Dean Myers (we do not) or Jamaica Tag-Along by Juanita Havill (we went through all four today). It got to the point I printed up a neat list for tomorrow's crew specifying in detail which books we did NOT have. There won't be a children's librarian there tomorrow so I imagine it should save some time digging fruitlessly through the shelves.

Seriously! I got abrupt at one point when I got yet another "shelf check" call from another library (something else that ONLY professionals are allowed to do--stupid in my opinion, the pages know the shelves as well or better). No, for the 13th time today, I don't have another copy of it.

Of course, it's not the calling librarian's fault. I blame the parents who've had these lists since June. Granted, I've been putting P.D. Eastman's Go Dog Go on hold all summer, but we also had that as a play in one of the parks as well as it being on a reading list.

It would be nice if the schools would send us the lists so we had some idea what to expect. Maybe then I could have gotten a couple of extra copies of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, instead of calling three branches today to try and determine if they had it. (When all of your Mouse/Cookie stories are out, you know there is trouble brewing.)

Ah well, the week is over and I got the correct prescription in my glasses today, so I'm legal to drive at night again. I've never until now quite so appreciated the ability to read street signs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Reading (6): Mountain Top Mystery

This one will be a little shorter--getting tired and I still have stuff to do tonight.

Mountain Top Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden's go for a day trip to a nearby mountain and end up stranded overnight when a rock slide breaks the trail down. Said rock slide opens up a cave and a treasure is discovered.

This story is less a mystery than some of her other books. The children are a little older, though Violet is inevitably fragile--which I find a little annoying. With all the running about these kids do, you'd think she'd have developed some health, if not some gumption but she's mild and sweet--always.

Warner speaks of an Indian tribe that used to live in the forest near the mountain, with the two remaining survivors coming together and finding a treasure of French silver as the "mystery" portion of the book. It was a little unbelievable that a young boy of 12 could hitchhike and disappear in and out of camps but considering how Warner started the series, perhaps it's not entirely unreasonable for her imagination.

Has anyone else ever noticed that the Alden children's parents are NEVER mentioned, they never seem to grieve for them, and it's amazingly unclear what they were doing before the first story? These are well educated, nicely brought up children---even assuming they were estranged from their grandfather because of something between the parents and him, why were there no friends of their parents to look after them? Where was their mother's family? How do four children wander off into the night with only one change of clothing and no one notices?

Summer Reading Program (5): One Night With a Spy

If you hadn't guessed, I read a lot of romance novels. I don't watch television except for the occasional HGTV binge and I need something brainless with a happily-ever-after ending. Or at least a chance for happy but interesting-ever-after ending.

Celeste Bradley was recommended to me by an estimable branch manager friend over crepes one evening. After wading through (yesterday evening's reading) a collection of short stories, I was ready for one of her longer works.

One Night With a Spy is part of a series of called "The Royal Four," which is built around the idea of the King of England having four advisers who tell him the truth and pretty much seem to run the country.

The plot introduces, Julia, a young woman married to a MUCH older man who is part of the Royal Four. In his final years, her husband teaches her about the Royal Four and, following an accident that leaves him mostly incapacitated (it sounds like a stroke), she pretty much takes over. After his death she confronts his confederates to take his place---to their surprise and concern. To evaluate her they send in a very handsome young man who is being groomed to join the four also. However, they didn't plan on an outsider who is also trying to kill her.

Bradley has Julia as a bright and imaginative young woman. She also has her as one of the more sexually frustrated and imaginative widows that I've read in a long time. Before taking on Royal 4 business, Julia wrote copious diaries of fantasies. Considering her experience is supposed to be a man over the age of sixty when he married her, even with a low upbringing (which she had), it seemed a little excessively detailed. Putting that aside, Julia's pretty self-sufficient, and that's nice. She's interested in Marcus, the one sent to spy upon her, but she doesn't let that get in the way of her being a functional person. Fantasies aside, Bradley did an excellent job of moving along a very interesting story.

The fun side note is Julia's upbringing in a traveling fair troupe, which means that her butler likes to hang upside down from the chandeliers and her footmen are acrobats that like to do various stunts. It adds some light humor that is enjoyable.

Looking forward to seeing what else she's written. Back to tormenting the cat with a ribbon....she's much neglected because her mommy is out of town.

Summer Reading Program (4): Mike's Mystery

Well...look at that. Despite what Muffin kindly told me (see the comments), I had it in my head that I only had until the 15th to finish my reviews.

Alright, I've a few more days and it's time to get cracking. Considering I've read three books since I got home from work this evening, there's obviously some work to do.

Earlier this summer, I had a bizarre desire to re-read the Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. While I sped through all of her books when I was probably between the ages of 8-10, I only read the ones she wrote, and have never been able to get into the more modern versions being published under her name.

Then I went on a reservation binge at work and I'm in the process of rereading all of the original 19 books that Ms Chandler Warner wrote. Starting with Mike's Mystery.

Mike is a character who appeared in the second book in the series, Surprise Island, a resurfaces as a uranium mine. He's a classmate of Benny's and he's loud and just slightly annoying. I realized about half way through the book that he's a lot like some of my kids (at work)--great in small doses and good if you can keep them busy but when they're bored they can drive you to distraction.

Someone is engaged in an attempt to cause problems at the uranium mine and it's up to the children to figure out who is at fault. What makes this mystery a little different from the others is that the Alden children aren't really the central figures--even for Warner. Instead she focuses on this other ten year old (age is my estimation) and let's him be bright enough to determine what's going on and to help bring down the bad guy.

John Carter plays an essential role--and as an adult I remember he seemed a slightly romantic character to me as a child. Then he was this mysterious cool guy who had connections to the FBI and was just always "there" to help with everything. As an adult, I'm not exactly clear on his role. He's definitely around all the time to bail the Alden children out of trouble but how that equals being a jack-of-all-trades for Mr. Alden and being connected to the FBI is a little beyond me.

I'll be plowing through the rest of them--about ten of them came in today for me. :)

America's Most Literate Cities, 2006

The ever amazing Joe Schallan, well known to the PubLib-L crowd, pointed us the other day to a list of the most literate cities in the past year.

Selection from the Central Connecticut State University "focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources."

The study and it's results can be found here. The number 1 city for 06 is Seattle--despite their weird and unwelcoming architectural library building creation.

Neither Chicago nor New York rank in the top ten overall or for library services. Interesting considering that Queens Public has amazingly high circulation stats. Looks like there's still some work to do in many cities.

I wonder how it would hold up if we were examining computer literacy.

I wonder what the most computer literate

Hedgehog Paraphernalia

I'm slowly developing a hedgehog collection. I bought my first hedgehog stuffed animal in college at a Hallmark near campus. It's a beanie baby, Prickles, that has since been duly retired.

Since then the collection has mostly grown by gifts from my mom--who has an amazing ability to track down cute little plush animals for me. I now have a "big" hedgehog, about ten inches high, with a place of honor on my bed (it beat out the elephant collection, at least for the month) and some smaller ones that mostly hang out on my desk. My favorites she recently found--a matched pair about three inches high--with purple (on one) and blue (other) "prickles" and noses. They're sooooo cute!!

Yes, I'm nauseating.

But the object crossing my desk today was a little odd. A Hedgehog ....CD case.

While I suppose it could be useful for the car, I just don't think I'm QUITE to a point where I need to put my CDs in a hedgehog. Particularly when I don't know how many it would hold. Knowing the seive commonly referred to as my short term memory--I'd probably forget what I had in there too.

Anywho...Via PopGadget.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pause for a Quiz

I missed a Sunday Quiz, so we will now a brief interruption for a Quiz...

Which Shakespeare Character Are You?

My result:

You're urbane, a good friend to have, and love a good laugh. You're Beatrice, from Much Ado About Nothing. Make sure your love of a good quip doesn't get in the way of your love-life.

I think I can live with that. I'm rather fond of Beatrice.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Hedgehog.

Summer Reading Program (3): The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

It's the 15th and I said I'd get 15 books recorded by now. That's not going to happen, unfortunately, but I should at least go through a few of the things I've been reading.

In the last couple of days I've been flying through a second reading of

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

I have to note that it's the only one of Miss Quinn's texts that I do not yet own. I've restrained myself admirably I think.

Julia's most popular series is about a family with the surname of Bridgerton and is often referred to as the Whistledown series. While this particular book does not feature any of the Bridgerton clan, it's in a similarly engaging style.

The heroine, having fallen for her ultimate hero at the age of 10, starts a journal about life at his behest and these journal entries are littered throughout the book. It's somewhat like the collection of interesting words kept by Caroline from To Catch an Heiress. It creates a familiar style that allows more insight into the characters and more of the witty humor that I've come to expect from Julia.

The plot follows a calm path: Miranda meets her best friend's older brother when she is ten and promptly falls in love with him. Jump forward to when he is a widower from an unhappy marriage and she's just coming onto the marriage market and they have their adventure of falling in love.

Miranda is a likable and appealing heroine. She's easily imagined to be pretty without being the "diamond" --as follows par for the course for Quinn. The role of being in the center of society's eye is left for her best friend Olivia--who comes across a little too 16 for her 20 years. Olivia is loud and making mistakes while Miranda is a little more sly in her sarcasm. Miranda has a fall from grace (of course, with the hero) and ends up pregnant. This terminates in a miscarriage but ends up leading to a wedding which greatly surprises his family.

The story rolls along at a smooth and comfortable pace. Quinn is not trying to reinvent the wheel but is providing an enjoyable story that pulls on many of her strengths. Miranda and Turner are believable as people, close enough in age to not be weird (I have issues with 35 year olds who are "young men" falling for just-out-of-the-schoolroom 18 year olds....*shudder*). It's a girl next door story for a man who has been trapped and disappointed in an early marriage.

The pair marries on the sly and I enjoyed the idea of not everyone being prepared for the wedding or even immediately notified of it. They're married for two months before the maternal figure (Olivia's mother) is called down upon their heads to bless the marriage. The final problem is his admission of love for his wife, which only comes with the birth of their first child. It's a little bit forced but understandable that a man severely disappointed is cautious with his heart the second time. It doesn't stop me from wanting to smack him upside the head with the "Duh" stick but that's what these stories are good for.

A very enjoyable addition that will hopefully find a home on my bookshelf soon--much to Roomie's regret.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reference Question from Atlanta on Line 1

It was a bit of a long day today but the usual pattern of getting stuck behind the circulation desk because we're short staffed again was broken up by an unusual reference question.

M called. She's a former coworker who utilized me and my research skills to all kinds of degrees when I worked for/with her and still makes use of having a good friend with an MLS under her belt.

Today's question came from the editorial department of some people who, considering the word "Library" is in the name of where they work, might have thought to call their own reference desk before calling long distance. But apparently that doesn't occur to those types, who rang Atlanta instead.

The issue at hand was a 95 page password protected PDF. Apparently this editorial type was calling M on a last resort to see if SHE could crack the file before they brought in a temp to transcribe the 95 pages. M, being the sensible and practical woman that she is, took a few shots at cracking it and then called me. Did I know of anything?

I recalled that the National Library of Medicine recently started putting up a PDF converter tool and that I had chucked it into my del.icio.us list--to be brought up at just such a moment. DocMorph anyone? Only--that creates PDFs, not reverse. Okay, no problem. While introducing M to del.icio.us and getting her totally hooked on the idea of browsing through my favorites, other's peoples favorites, etc etc-- she chose one of the PDF converters. I'm looking for the link but I can't find it and it's too late to call M and ask tonight. Perhaps in the morning.

She had the file unlocked and transferred to Rich Text Format in about five minutes.

I asked her to provide the following response when she sent it back to them and they exclaimed "How did you do it?" : "I called my librarian."

And I saved them a 95 page typing job. That was my reference service du jour.

Moment of wow.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Passing of a Patron

Whenever I was around people from the New York Public Library--during library school coursework, an internship, and some special volunteer work--the name of Brooke Astor often came up with reverence and respect.

Mrs. Astor firmly believed in the library and spent vast quantities of time and effort shoring it up and seeing it's development into the 21st century.

Today, Monday August 13, 2007, Mrs. Astor passed away and NYPL and the library community has lost a patron--in every sense of the word.

The Joys of a Hold System

May I just take a moment to reflect upon my love of putting holds on books.


At my current POW, patrons are not yet allowed to place their own holds. We're working on a new ILS that's coming "soon" that will allow them to do so and slowly ramping up for the waves of holds that the new system will incite. But in the interim it means that while I can place holds to my heart's content, our most frequent hold placers spend a lot of time with the professional staff putting Harlequins, Regency Romances, and the latest from Pixar on their lists. (For whatever reason not understood by me--only the degreed staff is allowed to do this.) It creates an interesting relationship, I know a few patrons more by what comes in on hold for them than I do for any other reason, and it tends to surprise them when I start a conversation on something I know they had on hold. I know, we're supposed to respect their privacy but when I place the hold for you or happen to unload the box of holds when your frequent holds come in and then check you out--readers advisory is just going to happen.

It's an interesting experiment in seeing what people are looking for and following. It's also a really good effort to retrain myself not to make assumptions about who reads what. I try to remind myself that I went through about 200-300 of the Regency romances held in the NYPL catalog and that the circulation staff at the Jefferson Market Branch library probably thought I was incapable of reading anything other than those romances. I was in about once a week to change out one bag of them for another--and usually had one nearly finished by the time I got home that evening. (I miss taking the train to work....A LOT.)

If I were, like my patrons, required to ask the professional staff to trigger holds for me--I'd never put the number of holds in place that I do. However, since I'm not a patron and have full access to helping myself--I currently have about 30 holds (all but about 3 placed this morning!)

Current project-- bring in and reread all of the original Boxcar Children books.

If you're in a multi-branch system, I hope you make as much use of this as I do. What a priviledge to reserve books and have people arrange to ship them to me, free of charge and of my time and make sure that as long as I can wait a few days--I can access nearly any book the library system owns.

Summer Reading Book Review (2): Thursday Next, First Among Sequels

It was with great anticipation that I daily checked my library's reserve system for the fifth installment of the Thursday Next series. Jasper Fforde's reputation for enjoyable, witty and fast moving texts had it at the top of my "things to read list."

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

I went into the novel fully prepared to be swept along with the insanity of jumping between a very bizarre version of England in the 80s and classic British literature. Fforde's books to date have been amazing satires and blends of humor with moments of "Oh, right, DUH!" when he sneaks in a reference to a book or poem read while suffering through English Major undergrad with a focus on Shakespeare and Brit Romantics.

Fforde's fifth novel in the series went too many ways with too many distractions. The redoubtable Thursday is back. SpecOps has been dissolved, so now they're running it underground with a carpeting business front and she keeps hopping in and out of BookWorld when she's supposed to be on SpecialOps work. Add in two apprentice Thursdays: an evil one from her "first four books" which are nothing like the works Fforde authored and an imaginary fifth book that has a hippie version of Thursday (who is into macrame, etc). Toss in an imaginary child created by Aornis' imagination, a Chronoguard War against itself and two versions of her son Friday and not nearly enough appearances by Mrs. TiggyWinkle and Emperor Zhork. Overall Fforde seemed distracted pulling Thursday six different directions and ending with weak resolutions for everything.

The book is unfocused and lacking a lot of the intelligence of the previous books. Fforde seems to have run out of steam when it comes to inventive and creative names--playing with rather tedious and obvious word plays in stead of subtle digs at Brit lit. The new literary characters introduced are only the Thursdays, which is disappointing. In earlier texts I enjoyed meeting Marianne Dashwood and I really enjoyed Hamlet from the fourth book. This book left me hoping that it was going to get better but ultimately it never did. There were squeamish and stupid moments that weren't worth it and didn't make for a good laugh. All in all it took the better part of a week to read, and that was because I kept setting it down and walking away .

I would still continue to recommend the first books in the series but unless there is some regrouping by Fforde, I doubt I would advise readers go further in the series than book four.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Family Tree...or Shrubbery

A new and interesting article is making the rounds following a publication appearing in the journal Nature on Thursday. Discovery has a summary of it, in case you don't have access to Nature.

The short version is that two types of humans which they assumed to have an ancestor-descendant relationship actually coexisted. Oops?

I enjoy genealogy and family history research, despite the fact that I have yet to link myself with any of the royal families of Europe. One branch either got thrown out of Scotland or Ireland (it's not really clear and there's people of that name in both countries), one branch had a nice large family farm in a totally different state of Germany than my grandmother spent years telling us, and we MIGHT be related to landowners near the German/French border but as we've been unable to trace the name past Revolutionary War discharge papers, we're assuming something got changed or written down incorrectly. Kind of pales in comparison to a family I know with a direct line to Russian nobility (not the Romanovs but part of the royal court) and another friend who can trace to a wife of Henry VIII and a noble who has a small state on the east coast named for him.

But as we wander back up the family archives there's some interesting history and if I chose to make the jump further back, I can now wonder about the inter-species mating of homo habilis and homo erectus. (Is that right? Are they considered different species?) I wonder if there would be a way to extract DNA or some kind of genetic material from the skeletons they've found and figure out any descendants. I wonder similar things about neanderthals--they say they died out but then they show you these "recreations" based on skulls and skeletons they've found. I don't know about you but I've seen people, modern people, who have a really really similar appearance. (And no, I'm not talking about Geico commercials) I like how they put it in the Discovery article "our family tree is more like a wayward bush with stubby branches."

It's nice to know not everything in anthropology has been answered. Still a little genealogy work to do...

Here's to the family shrubbery...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Getting a Safe Ride Home

When I was staying with my older sister in Bremen a few years back we enjoyed going out at night. One of the nicest benefits to going out was a service called "Frauen Taxis" (sp?). At the end of the evening, we could call and get a taxi for about half the regular price. The focus was to ensure that young women arrived safely home. It ensured a lot of regular taxi usage and, to me, seemed designed to prevent a lot of possible attacks.

It still rather surprises me that in major US cities there isn't something similar but it looks like a company is working on changing that. Get Home Free provides a one time taxi ride home--no matter the distance, 365 days a year. It's a card to put in your wallet and use in time of emergency. The card seems a little expensive ($70) for a one time use but I could see giving it to a teenager for a time of emergency (along with a discussion on what an emergency is). Certainly I'd rather see one of the teens I work with whip it out rather than end up in a drunk driving accident. Of course, getting them to use/understand/etc etc it might be a challenge.

I would consider carrying one if it were a little more reasonable and there was a little more information. But I applaud the efforts and hope it will take off.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wouldn't It be Cool to Work:

As every good professional should (IMHO), I keep abreast of current jobs that are on the market. My former managing editor constantly advised the young professionals that she worked over that it was imperative that we keep a current resume available. This was not due to any disloyalty to the company for which we worked but because you never knew when an ideal and unexpected opportunity might arise.

And while I'm probably not the ideal candidate for this particular job, I thought it was too cool not to comment upon.

Librarian/Archivist at Gunston Hall Plantation, 18th Cent. Home of George Mason

I think that sounds like an incredibly amazing job. The plantation is in Virginia and the job description includes the following:

"Maintain collection of rare books, manuscripts, letters, documents, photographs, and maps relating to the life of George Mason and life in colonial Virginia according to archival conservation and preservation standards."

Idealistically I imagine this job to afford puttering about a large plantation library, looking through shelves and drawers of documents from pre-during-post Revolution and trying to imagine what life must have been like. Wandering through rooms and the lands of the plantation. I have this wonderful sense of immediately being immersed in American history, just driving to work every day. And that's just from a rather short job title and description posted on LisJobs. If you actually check out the library information for Gunston Hall, it's even more impressive.

Isn't it an amazing profession we work in that we have opportunity to take on something like this? If you're qualified, I hope you'll take the time to apply and let me know if it's as exciting as it sounds.

Breaking Out the Records....

About six months ago, my-friend-the-lawyer, who also used to DJ, commented that he still had the majority of his records and that he'd like to get them transferred to CD/MP3 at some point--in case something ever happened to them. (Or so he can indulge in a little house music on his Ipod on his way to work.)

So when I came across the Ion iTTUSB Turntable with USB Record this morning--my first thought was of him. I imagine he'll have one overnighted as soon as he gets back from his current vacation abroad.

Now I just have to figure out who else on my Christmas list might like one. There are several candidates, and at $122--it's not that unreasonable.

Thanks to PopGadget for the link!!!

Sunday Quiz: Jane Austen Character

Hooray, I'm Elizabeth Bennet. What luck!

And who wants to venture with M and I to Austenland when they build it?

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

You are Eliza Bennett from Pride and Prejudice! Yay, you! Perhaps the brightest and best character in all of English literature, you are intelligent, lively, lovely-- in short, you are the best of company. Your only foibles are that you stick with your first impressions... and your family is quite intolerable.
Take this quiz!

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Friday Levity: Bunnies

I think bunnies are adorable. If I wasn't so enamored of cats, I'd probably want a bunny.

Please enjoy this bunny , who looks amazingly ridiculous and cute.

Happy Friday!


So technically I have two more days of wrap up and then a month of cleaning up and out and filing paperwork on every book that every child ever read ever. BUT ladies and jellyspoons, it's done.

We had our End of Summer Reading Party today. It was well attended, no one had to be forcibly evicted from the premises, the cops weren't called, the building is still standing (or was when I left a few hours ago). All in all an exemplary day.

All I have to do tomorrow is sit in front of a computer and get things into the database. Oh, and help patrons and stuff. But seriously, hard part is done.


Hopefully more meaningful posts soon. Thanks for hanging in there while I got through these 8 weeks.