The Wild Librarian Goes Migratory

Wild Librarian

In honor of National Library Week, I quit my job.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

After fifteen years in the genealogy and local history mines, I’ve moved out of the archives and into the sunlight of general Reference.

Literally—my old department was in the lower level of the central branch, with no windows and only a couple of vents to circulate all the leather dust  spores of history historical ambiance.  THe staff there have dubbed themselves The Mushroom People.

Vitamin D and fresh(er) air aren’t the only changes in my library life.

I’ll be handling InterLibrary Loans and homework help instead of historical architectural surveys and genealogy charts.  I’ll be running up lists of read-alikes instead of indexing newspapers and compiling data.  Writing quick, cheerful review posts instead of  historical snapshots with thorough source citations—lest someone call to complain that I made it sound like one of our city’s founding fathers had two children with his stepdaughter.*  I’ll be swapping recalcitrant microfilm reader/printers for stubborn meeting room projectors.

And instead of in-depth research for a few patrons, I’ll be supplying ready reference answers for, well, all of ’em.

On the whole, it’s  like trading complicated surgery for triage, but with more readers’ advisory.**

It’s also like leaving an established household for the migratory life.

My current schedule has me working at all of our branches throughout the week.  I don’t have a cubicle anymore, I have drawers and shared workstations.

This is in no way a complaint; now that my job isn’t dependent on a single reference collection in a single building, I won’t need all that space.

Unfortunately, this meant that fifteen years of accumulated stuff had to be sorted through and condensed into three small desk drawers.

It took the better part of a week, but I managed to transform this:

Organized Mind--Left

and the six square feet of space behind the camera, into this:***



Clean Desk 2

I may have left this space less cluttered than when I moved in, and marginally cleaner.  The desk part, I mean—there’s a reason you aren’t seeing the floor.

The Wesson Children’s Art Gallery was taken down, tchotchkes and coffee cups (all full of pens and pencils and pennies) were wrapped in bubble wrap borrowed from acquisitions and put in empty Girl Scout cookie cartons^ to take home, extraneous desk accessories—twenty-three library pencils, seven rulers, a stapler, two pairs of scissors, a box of obsolete computer cards, three nail files, a box of decorative pushpins, and a lot of etcetera—were distributed with great pomp and ceremony, and several reams of papers were examined and dealt with.

I might have teared up a little.  You know, from the dust.

The essence of my librarianship—by which I mean the three folders holding employee contracts, certifications, handbooks, my Short Story Binder, and my cache of individual caffeinated acai-blueberry drink mix packets—is now in a single drawer at the Favored Branch.

I have thirty days—twenty nine, now—to decide if I can handle the vagaries of life as a migratory disseminator of information.

Bring it.


* Someone did.  Because I did.  Because it’s totally true.

**Not that there’s anything wrong with my old job, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing it for so long.  I’m sure I’ll miss it, especially my lovely and snarktastic co-workers.  But . . . it was time to make a change, before I started phoning it in.

***Minus the green document stand.  It’s mine and it’s staying mine.

^This is either a metaphor or a microcosm for my life.




Whine of the Wild Librarian: Owww

Wild LibrarianMy library branch is currently closed for recarpeting and renovation and will remain closed until the day after Christmas.

This is a good thing, as all the nonfiction from the second floor is now on rows and rows of tables in my department on the lower level, fiction is filling up the first floor elevator bay to the children’s department, Horror is in YA, and most of the furniture in the building had been gathered or stacked in great piles to be broken down or assembled, respectively.

Shifting the library

The visual answer to the question, “But why can’t YOUR department stay open?”

I spent my day helping to transfer books from ranges to carts, deliver the carts for unloading, and take the empty carts back to the ranges.  I also tagged shelves, which involved tearing pieces from two rolls of identically-numbered sticky tape and slapping matching numbers on the first book on a shelf and the shelf itself.

This is necessary and saves reshelving everything after someone realizes after finishing the Ms that we forgot a cart way back in the Bs.

But since the tape is ancient—so old I couldn’t even find an image of the rolls—and very sticky, I had to scrape and pinch the pieces off the roll, which meant I repeatedly jabbed my thumbnail into the tip of my forefinger, for two hours.  It also meant doing a series of very slow toe touches at each section of the ranges, for two hours.

It was difficult to move this morning.  I may have cried, just a little, when I passed my stationary bike and remembered that I owe it some time tonight.

They never mentioned this in Library School. I didn’t have to shift books for the final.

It was bad enough to learn that librarians don’t actually sit around and read books all day, if at all, and that math is required on a daily basis—but this is adding injury to insult.

And next week, we’re going to have to put  everything back.

But it does have to be done, and who better to do it than people who care about the books and about being able to find them again, once all this is over?

So this morning I put on my favorite tee-shirt,* comfortable jeans, and my old, broken-in Adidas, and packed myself a nice Advil sandwich for lunch.

Bring it.

. . . slowly . . .





Random Thursday: From the Library of Random

It’s Random!  It’s Thursday!  It’s . . . you know the drill.

By the time this post is up, I will be at the state library conference, attempting to ingest enough caffeine to compensate for waking up at 4:30am in order to leave the house at 5:30am to get the library van at 6am so my fellow zombies librarians and I can arrive at the conference around eight.

That’s a lot of am to overcome.  Wish me luck.


Meet Kuzma

Russian Library Cat

Click the image for more adorable photos and a video.

Kuzma is the new library assistant at a children’s library in Novorossiysk, Russia.

He wears a bow tie and is paid in cat food and skritches.

I’d wear a bow tie, too, if I could sleep on the job . . .

Kuzma, by the way, means “order” and “arrangement”, which isn’t a bad name for a library cat.

Library Cat

We totally would, too.

(I don’t remember who sent me this first, but thank you Dee, Lisa and Vannie!)


Speaking of Librarians . . .

What did you think we do all day?

Shelve books or something?

(Thanks, ‘firstmausi!)


All the World’s a Library

You know those Little Free Libraries popping up all over the place?

They just went free range.

BookCrossing Logo

BookCrossing is the equivalent of literary geocaching
or the environmentally sound equivalent of releasing a balloon with a postcard on it.

It’s simple:

Select a book from your own vast collection.

Go to and


I’m told that there are a couple of  “official” BookCrossing stations around,
but most of the time, people just leave them on buses, street benches, coffee shop tables, airplanes, wherever.

Since I tend to do that anyway, I might as well tag ’em first!

I’ll report the results . . . once I can choose a book.

Who’s with me?

If you try this, let me know how it goes!


Be Honest

All you library staff out there:

When you’re alone at home, do you do Dewey?


Or do you just say, “Chuck it”?

Shelf Reading Cat


Again!  Again!

If only because of Christian Kane’s “fraud” line—if you’re a fan of Leverage, you know why.

I wonder if this show will help fill the hole in my heart where that one used to be.


But I’ll bet it finds it’s own place in there somewhere.

Random Thursday: Literate Tattoos, Library News, and Thug Clues for Questionable Reviews

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Janie is off to Concordia Language Camp, so I have half an empty nest, a missing MP3 player, and a seven-year old who claims she needs to move into her sister’s room because she’ll miss her SOOOO much—though from Jane’s reaction to this during the morning commute, I’m thinking Sunny was just getting in one more dig.  Guess we’ll see tonight.

I accidentally used Janie’s body wash this morning—through blindness, rather than sentiment—and now I smell like a rainforest as interpreted by Suave’s scent chemists, who appear to think rainforests are made of grapefruit trees and Douglas firs.

It’s not bad.


Reading Ink

Found me a new Time Suck, y’all.

Matilda Tattoo

I’ve been thinking about getting more ink for a few months now—which means I’ll have a final design decision by this Thanksgiving, maybe*—and while I was idly clicking through some images of literary tattoos, this homage to Matilda led me to Contrariwise, which bills itself as the original literary tattoo site.

 Even when I started skipping over all the variations of “So it Goes”—not because I don’t appreciate those words, but there are only three of them—I lost about an hour looking at the other quotes and images and symbols from literature that made such an indelible impression on people’s imaginations that they made them a permanent physical part of themselves as well.

Regardless of how one personally feels about body art, it’s a fascinating study.


R.I.P. Reading Comprehension

A librarian friend shared a link to a list of one-star reviews of classic or prizewinning works of literature that say far more about the reader—and for most of them, I use the term ironically—than the book.

This one is my favorite:

“Mr. Beowulf should be required to repeat his nighttime writer’s class at the learning annex.”

Beowulf Cover

I’m sure Mr. Beowulf would be devastated by this harsh criticism, if he weren’t the main character in a story written by some other guy about a thousand years ago** and if he hadn’t died at the end of it, making any claims of autobiographical elements in the subtext  just a tad problematic—by which I mean, of course, that the reviewer is box o’ rocks stupid.

Having said that, I have to agree with the person who said that s/he would “never read another Shakespeare novel again.”

Neither will I, though mostly through lack of opportunity.


Check This Out

Springwater Library in Elmvale, Ontario,
I salute you.


Geek Ink

Turns out, there’s a site for geek tattoos, which is called—wait for it—Geeky Tattoos.

Who knew?

Geek Tattoo

The Geek Virus, designed and inked by Fien-X at Houston Body Art and proudly worn by IT Manager Eric.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kev.  I’ll keep it in mind.
Yes, that probably means no—it’s awesome, but my kind of geekery has more Kudzhul, Sindarin, and Sherlock Holmes in it.


 Thug Help for the Hapless Reviewer

Need help understanding epic Scandinavian poems written down between the 8th and 11th centuries,
without losing your gangster cred?

Sparky Sweets, Ph.D  is all over that $#!%.


*Hey, Mom—you still game for that apple on your shoulder?

**Seriously.  Somewhere between 700 and 1100 A.D.

Psst: booksecret!

Are you a library employee who likes recommending books?

Are you someone who likes book recommendations, from people who know from books?

Are you someone who likes to look at images of librarians holding books?

Are yo—wait, really? Um. Okay. . .

I’m going to let you—yes, even you—in on a little secret that I don’t want you to keep:


Several of my favorite  library people have just issued a challenge to everyone in the world who works in any kind of library to sing the praises of their favorite books—in seven words or less.  And they’re putting the results up where everyone can see ’em.

A literary Time Suck—how could I resist? works as a free reader’s advisory and a great (free) way for libraries to show how awesome their people are.

The photos and recommendations of library staff (and one library dog) from all over are already going up and I’m told readers are starting to (ahem) check them out.

I might be in there somewhere, myself. . .

This is a fun, easy way to get the word(s) out about our favorite books and to learn a little about a lot of other people’s favorite reads.

And to see images of librarians holding books.  If you’re into that.

Go take a look. If you think it’s as cool as I do, please help me spread this secret around.

If you work in a library, please send in your seven words and image  and nag your co-workers into doing the same. If you don’t, please encourage your local library—public, academic, corporate, presidential, whatever—to join in.

Good books shouldn’t be kept a secret!