Monthly Archives: July 2007

Un-amusing week

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Apologies. My muse took a vacation this week. She still hasn’t returned from Helsinki or wherever it was she went.

Her absence has had devastating effects. Remind me to give her a raise.

Devastating effect one: This post is really boring. I’d like to think my blog can be funny or entertaining. Today it is neither. You may wish to stop reading now. Wouldn’t blame you.

Devastating effect two: I have not written my article, due Wednesday.

Devastating effect three: I have not written my other article, also due Wednesday.

Devastating effect four: I’m in a reading malaise. I’ve told myself that I must begin serious work on the Women’s Nonfiction book come August (which starts this Wednesday, for those of you seeking a pattern). Nothing productive has happened this past month, unless you count reading the entire Harry Potter series and attending the related social functions. (Look at the pictures, ably taken by a cataloger and a staff husband, here, and here, and here. Can you pick me out? Hint: I’m the one whose hair is a color that rhymes with wink.)

With this looming deadline of cracking down and writing my damn book, I’ve been trying to squeeze in all sorts of good, last-minute reading. It’s been disappointing. Jeffery Deaver’s Sleeping Doll, though interesting, did not have the psychological intensity of his Lincoln Rhyme series.

Heart-Shaped Box was disappointing. Couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. I kept wishing Joe Hill was his dad, Stephen King. That’s not really fair to Mr. Hill, but even trying to read it for its own sake was a letdown. Then again, I haven’t read any good Horror in years, unless you count An Inconvenient Truth.

Now I am reduced to reading a book about pigeons and a book of English history. This is not exactly what I had in mind when I envisioned a last-days-of-freedom-before-writing mega book-a-thon. For one thing, I didn’t anticipate all those hyphens.

Devastating effect five: Even at the library I’m slogging though my work—though, to be fair to myself, I think this is because of the nature of the work. I’m taking the books in my computer collection and recataloging them.
Let me speak more precisely, since the cataloger who reads this might get irritated with my sloppy language. I am not recataloging, exactly; I am merely assigning and affixing new call numbers. In a few cases I am adding or changing subject headings, but mainly I’m giving the books a different Dewey number. (This would all be moot if I worked at this one library in Arizona.)

This is important work, mind. By reassigning call numbers, I’m ensuring that books of similar subjects are grouped right next to each other. I’m also adding the year of publication to the call number, so that you can tell at a glance if this Microsoft Word book is too old for you. Very important stuff, this. But mind-numbing, absolutely tedious.

Here’s hoping my muse gets back soon. Wednesday’s right around the corner.


Pink is the new black

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I’m dead tired. The library party wore me out; I was about to fall asleep on my feet while waiting for the book in the bookstore. Got home at 1, read till 5, then admitted temporary defeat with a 4.5 hour nap. Woke up, continued reading with no interruptions, ‘cept for an emergency caffeine run. I’d say it took me 18 hours to read, all told. I’m going to go to sleep now, and then re-read the whole thing Sunday.

I just realized I haven’t even identified my subject. We’re talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, understood?

Within a few days I’ll post a recap of the spectacular party we hosted at the library, along with some of my feels now that the series is over (chief among them: despair).

In the meantime, a pic:


Buns of Bastille

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This must needs be brief, as I need to read the remaining half of Order of the Phoenix and all of Half-Blood Prince by this Friday at midnight, but I simply must tell you about the clever machinations of my subconscious.

My college friend Whitney visited this weekend. Delighted about having a houseguest, I decided to forgo any pretense of healthy eating. We walked to Farm Fresh on Friday night and loaded up on yummy edibles. We got Indian foodstuffs to make for dinner, and then we turned our attentions to food for breakfast the following day.

There was some really yummy looking brie, so we grabbed that, and then we got a baguette to go along with the brie. I would have been satisfied with that alone, but Whitney wanted jam, so we mulled over the different flavors and finally settled on a tasty looking choice, Black Cherry, made by some company in France.

The next morning we feasted on our brie, baguettes, and jam. We hadn’t intended to put together a French petit-dejeuner; it just sort of happened.

Only later, while listening to NPR in the car, did we discover that it was Bastille Day.

A skeptic might think the French flavor of the breakfast was a complete coincidence, but I prefer to believe that my subconscious mind was arranging affairs that my conscious mind is too busy to bother with. Being as phenomenally brilliant as I am, I cannot be bothered with mundane matters such as remembering holidays, recalling where I put my cellphone, or driving across town without getting lost. (Took me three tries to find the cellphone store to replace that missing phone, arrrgh.) Fortunately my subconscious keeps me in line.

Maintenant, je doir lire beaucoup. A bientot.

Librarians in the Mist

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From the groundbreaking new field research study of my demographic, Biblio-Solo: The Social Norms of Single Young Librarians in Their Natural Habitats:

Faced with a pressing deadline, the single young librarian will go to extreme measures to procrastinate. Consider the behavior of Jessica [last name omitted to protect her privacy], a public librarian whose book proposal is due on Sunday evening. Her agreement to prepare the book proposal is, in itself, an act of procrastination. She has already committed to writing her study of Women’s Nonfiction (draft deadline: June of next year). Though she will not start writing the second book until the first has been finished, her proposal for the second book, an entertainment guide to Fantasy, is due to the editor this weekend—not an insurmountable task, until one realizes that Jessica has to work this weekend.

On some level Jessica realizes that she could be working on the proposal right at this moment, but she does not trust herself to write professionally, considering the amount of tequila that was present in this evening’s margarita. It is fascinating to realize that, even faced with a looming deadline, Jessica squandered her day by taking a three-hour nap and then going to a party.

But the procrastination does not stop there. Though she returned all of her books, unread, to the library yesterday, presumably in an effort to remove distractions from her home, this field researcher observed that Jessica took home four books from the library today, three of which are for pleasure reading, and one of which is for her NoveList article, another assignment on which she is procrastinating. Even within the realm of pleasure reading, this young librarian is procrastinating with a precision that defies belief. She spends equal amounts of time each day reading new materials and re-reading the Harry Potter series. This last behavior is downright stupefying, considering that she has already read each book six times each.

Further evidence of this peculiar, sad state of affairs is seen in the comparative cleanliness of her house (the floor is recently vacuumed and the cat boxes are clean). One could even speculate that her intention to attend five yoga classes next week is a manifestation of the procrastination complex, though her book proposal will, at least, be finished by then. Further investigation is warranted and, in this researcher’s opinion, mandatory.

Lots of good news this week. Michael Stephens, who is dreamy, contacted me to see if I had anything to say about Blogging for a Good Book. I forwarded him the article I wrote, which will be published in Virginia Libraries next month. He liked it enough that he’s going to quote it in the next edition of his book, Web 2.0 and Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software.

Tra la la, I’m going to be quoted, and by no less than Michael Stephens. (Did I mention that he’s dreamy?)

Got an email today from my library director, thanking me for the good service I offer at the desk. Apparently the director received a letter from a library patron, who had been so pleased with my service that he felt moved to write the director a note, which mentioned me by name. It’s a nice antidote to the boorish chap who came in the other day and yelled at me about something that A) I had not done and B) I could not fix, though let it be noted that C) I did my best anyway.

But the best thing to happen today was the book party. Nebudchadnezzar recently published his book, Read On… Fantasy Fiction. Guy deserves a party for that, right?

It just so happened that I knew the email of his girlfriend. Completely unbeknownst to N., she and I devised a plan to throw him a surprise party. Under entirely false pretenses, she dragged him out to dinner, where 14 librarians, one library spouse, and one library progeny waited for him. We even had false reviews for him. I can’t remember the details of all of them, but they were hilarious. One “review” came from “That weird guy who looks at Elf-Quest porn on the public computers.” (That’s not exactly right, but close.)

In closing, here’s the review I wrote. It is a parody of a legitimate, though unfortunate, book on readers’ advisory, which encourages librarians to go back to the draconian days of forcing “good” lit’rature on people, regardless of what they actually want:

The once-noble arts of Library Science and Readers’ Advisory have degenerated to an appalling state, as evidenced by the poisonous pen of Neil Hollands. Hollands, the evil genius behind the McForm "service" at the Wilhelmsplatz Library, has created a readers’ advisory tool that epitomizes the worst in professional public librarianship today. Read On… Fantasy Fiction shamelessly recommends books of base, ignoble appeal. Of course, it would be impossible to write an entire text about quality Fantasy literature, because quality Fantasy Literature simply does not exist in abundance. A short pamphlet would have been appropriate. And yet Hollands eschews the few examples of decent Fantasy books that do exist, classics such as Beowulf or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The closest he comes to recommending an excellent book is with his  brief mention of Gregory Maguire’s postmodernist Wicked, but even that book has plebeian appeal thanks to its garish chartreuse cover art. The other titles recommended by Hollands are tripe, pure and simple, titles that serve no higher purpose than to bring simple pleasure to the unwashed masses. It is simply indefensible that a librarian should be recommending these pedestrian hack-jobs, when quality literature has already been written, albeit 200 years or more in the past. But this book does not merely elevate the mediocre: It is actively dangerous for the impressionable minds that might see it. With his crafty puns and shrewd use of clever jokes, Hollands beckons his guileless readers and seduces them with illicit reading suggestions under the guise of professional readers’ advisory. This book must, at all costs, be kept away from the hands of readers.