Welcome to Your Own Mind

I’m not one for graphic novels. I can now say I’ve read two, and surprisingly, they were both excellent.

Tangles

The first was recommended to me. Tangles is a powerful first person account of how it is to be the child of a someone suffering from Alzheimers. Sarah Leavitt’s graphic autobiography is funny, sad, inspiring and depressing all at once. I laughed, I cried and I prayed to whatever it is I pray to as an atheist that I never contract this horrible disease and that none of my family or friends do either.

Yesterday, I was taking a trolley load of books out in the library and a book on display caught my eye. The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Travellers’s Wife and another graphic novel, Three Incestuous Sisters. It is a gem, it will only take 10 minutes out of you reading life, but stay with you for a long while after that.

The Night Bookmobile

Even if you’re not a librarian, the concept of an old mobile home with a Tardis-like interior that is filled only with everything you personally have read ever, from War and Peace and the dairy you wrote when you were 12 to the back of your favourite cereal packet may just peak your interest. I can’t say much about this gem, lest I spoil it for you, but it is affecting, with a bitter sweet finish.

The art work is gorgeous and so in keeping with the subject as well as the personality of the main character, Lexi.

I’m still not keen to read Japanese Manga or the latest Batman graphic novel, but I’ll be searching for more of these tales from lives a little like mine.

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Read All About It, Then Steal It

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$1.70

The cost of our daily newspaper. We get two copies of our local paper arrive into the library each day. We staple them, stamp them with words such as , Property of… , not to lend etc, and put them out on tables in the library ready for the start of each day.

A week or so back, we started noticing one was going missing each day, and when I noticed it had gone missing 10 minutes after we opened, I decided perhaps we should do something. Now, you may think, hey it’s only $1.70, but it is also 50% of available papers, and although we can also offer the paper on-line (along with so many world papers on a site called Press Display), people do still enjoy perusing an actual paper, so when we lose one, it is an inconvenience for many of our customers. Besides, it’s theft.

So, we had a think and decided to put a tag in the papers so that when the ‘thief’ left the library, and alarms sounded,we could ‘stop and shame’.

We had a suspect, there is a gentleman who spends every day, all day with us, and seems to sleep in his van at night.  We suspected him as he arrived and left suddenly the day the paper went missing at 9.10am, which was not like him. He also had been asked several times not to do the sudoku, crosswords and in other ways deface the papers, so we thought perhaps he was getting his own back.

But a couple of days after we had put the tags in, another regular customer left the library, no bags, nothing in his hands, but with the alarm sounding. He was stopped and asked if he had anything such as a paper, magazine, book, but he flatly lied and said no. Of course, we couldn’t physically search him, so our plan seemed to fail.

We then decided the only way was to put the papers behind the front desk each day, and people would have to ask for them and leave some kind of ID.

Unsurprisingly, the gentleman in question has not returned, so maybe he was shamed, or he has just gone to another library.

$1.70, is it worth all that effort? But then you could also ask, “$1.70, why not just buy your own if you are so desperate to have it?”

We recently had a burglary in our own home, when we were asleep, and that also made me question people’s sense of entitlement, as well as making me freaked and nervous for a bit.

I guess we all justify things to ourselves at times, make ourselves feel better about a slight or white lie, but I can’t imagine myself how you justify theft… call me Pollyanna.

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A Librarian’s Work is Never Done…

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I rise from my bed, lavishly appointed with frills and chintz. I open my curtains and pause to enjoy the view, my wee city garden all pretty flowers and carefully trimmed hedges.

After my shower, I take time to get ready, which tweed skirt to wear, which button up sweater today, the pale pink or subtle sky blue and will it be the long or short string of pearls?

I wrestle my long dark tresses under control and twirl them up into a tidy, functional bun. Now the toughest choice: I open a warm coloured oak box on my dresser and peruse my glasses. I love collecting glasses, but I do tend towards horn rimmed of varying shades of tortoiseshell, not real of course, that would never do.

Living alone gives me plenty of freedom, and plenty of room for all my favourite books, cute cushion collection for my Chaise Lounge and my growing assortment of candles and nic nacks.

Choices made, I head to the kitchen. The most pressing job is to feed Mr Blinky, my wee tabby cat who demands his breakfast before I start on mine. My usual breakfast is porridge with a little brown sugar and trim milk, and of course, a china cup of green tea. I check out the newspaper headlines and read movie and restaurant reviews.

Suddenly I realise the time is racing by, so I grab my handbag and keys and jump in the car.

My wee Mini Cooper blasts along the motorway and I sing along to my favourite John Mayer CD. Soon I’m at the library, I park in my favourite park and I head inside to start the day.

First things fist, make another cup of green tea. I chat with my fellow colleagues and we get the library ready for a new day.

The doors open and I greet our borrowers, most of whom I know by name. I settle at the issues desk and chat with customers about their book choices while grabbing a moment or two to read my own book.

Off desk for a bit, I grab a coffee and some bonbons this time and settle myself in one of the big comfy armchairs in the library and get stuck into my Chaucher.  Of course, if customers ask for help, I’m more than happy to do so, but my reading is important, as there is an expectation that I have read all the books in our library. It does mean I have to look over the top of my little glasses in order to focus on them, but this seems to be something my male customers enjoy.

I do a little shelving, which involves climbing old ladders with a couple of books, while bending my knee and lifting one leg behind me in what some may say is a playful manner. 

Shelving done, I smooth down my pencil skirt and make sure the seams in my stockings are straight, I wander the magazine section and check out the fashion and celebrities. I am much more interested in philosophy and earnest writing on eastern erotica, but I do need to keep current with world and pop culture events.

Lunchtime already and I head to a local cafe for lunch with a couple of gal pals, where we go over the events of the weekend. Lets just say I’m not always the naughtiest in the group, but I try my hardest.

Back at work after a leisurely lunch, I spend some time recovering some rather gorgeous old tomes and also put a trolley full of books away in the library. I have to remember to make sure the top buttons of my tight little jumper are firmly buttoned for all the bending over in amongst the shelves.

I spend time talking with customers, discussing contrasting characters in popular novels. Is Heathcliff more tortured than Mr Darcy is irresistible?

After three is when the shushing finger gets some action. Little children flock to the library and sometimes the wee darlings get a tad over excited, so I deploy the time honoured librarian’s weapon of index finger to lips just to remind them gently of our expectations.

The day continues, with more bonbon eating, deep discussions and shelving deep in the library.  I fend off a few advances from our more tempestuous customers, sigh… all in a day’s work for a librarian such as myself.

The day is at end, and I say goodbye to my library chums, jump into my car and head off to a local art house cinema to watch a spot of Bergman and later to a intimate coffee house on a date with my new beau.

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A Day in the Life Of…

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So here’s yesterday, Monday the 9th September at the library for me:

  • 8.30am Arrive at work, my turn to do the float and figure out if we came out even, over or under in the money department and get the library ready for a new day.
  • 9.00am Library opens. As it is a Monday, that means the first hour or two is spent discharging books thrown through the after hours slot from when we close on Saturday afternoon to now. Read heaps, mountains – a lot! This is curtailed several times by customers needing help and assistance out in the library.
  • 10.30am Take out some trolleys, either shelving directly back onto the shelves, or onto recently returned shelves so our ever busy shelvers can put them away.
  • 11am Spend some time out at the front of the library helping people use the self service kiosks, pay bills, find books, reference enquiries, computer help, you know, core library stuff. Any time when you are doing ‘work’ you are also there to help customers. If you are working out the back, a buzzer may ring, which will head you out into the library to help.
  • 11.45am Do some amendments to my blog for work, a rant about feminism thinly disguised as a celebration of Suffrage Day … I have to tone it down, apparently mentioning local politician’s scant regard for half the population is not kosher. Oh and a quick cup of tea, spent chatting to a colleague. 
  • 12.15pm Work on my Who Needs Feminism display for the Young Adults section… yes, I’m still ranting, but in a pictorial kinda way. 
  • 1pm – ah lunch – left over dinner while reading Cormac McCarthy – nice!
  • 2pm – I sit at the desk in the library labelled ‘information’ for a bit, helping customers with enquiries while going through the ‘K’s’of the CD collection, looking for those that are too old, too scruffy, not going out or duplicates to: put back, withdraw or move onto another library. I’ve just recently taken over the role of overseeing the CD’s – pop, jazz, blues, country, easy listening, world, TV/movie soundtracks, even brass bands. I’m always finding things of interest and taking them home to listen to them. Yes, I return them! 
  • 2.30 – Head out into the library to put some books that are reserve for customers onto the holds shelves. Customers come and collect them themselves and pop them on their cards. While I’m out there, I help a lady do some photocopying, a man look for books on Buddhist art and show a woman how to scan documents onto a USB stick, then send them on an email for her Earthquake claim.
  • 3pm – Write up statistics for the daily foot count, this varies from Saturdays which are around the mid 600’s to around 1200 on a busy day. Answer emails, send emails.
  • 3.30pm – time for a cuppa, then back out into the library to look for ‘dead books’ in the library’s Young Adult section, another area I’m overseeing at present. The books aren’t really ‘dead’ , they just haven’t been taken out for a certain length of time, so I find the books on the list, then check on the computer to see how often they have been out, their condition, then decide if we keep them, send them onto another library to see if their customers would love them more, or send it to withdraw heaven, where all sad old books go to be sold in the book sale or recycled.
  • 4pm – Do some more book returns, then into the bosses office briefly to think about rearranging hours on the roster.
  • 4.30pm – heading home 30minutes early today, as our old tortoiseshell has reached the point where she will take her last trip to the vet. Very sad end to a fairly typical day in the library.
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Cormac Can Do No Wrong

cormaccover

Ok, this is going to be a post about Cormac McCarthy, so if you’re not a fan, best look away now.

I love the way this man writes. I’m halfway through a little slip of a book that I had somehow overlooked and it is just a great example of the power of his prose.

Outer Dark was published back in 1968, it’s almost as old as I am, almost…

The story revolves around the search for a baby, abandoned in the Appalachian woods by it’s father, and wanted by his sister who just happens to be the child’s mother. It has one of the coolest first sentences ever!

They crested out on the bluff in the late afternoon sun with their shadows long on the sawgrass and burnt sedge, moving single file and slowly high above the river and with something of it’s own implacability, pausing and grouping for a moment and going on again strung out in silhouette against the sun and then dropping under the crest of the hill into a fold of blue shadow with light touching them about the head in spurious sanctity until they had gone on for such a time as saw the sun down altogether and they moved in shadow altogether which suited them very well.

It’s a wonderful example of how Mr McCarthy weaves a story full of wonderful words and pictures. Not content with just a few words to explain or express, he uses such gorgeous words and phrases it is truly magical.

The story, set in the late 1800’s as far as I can tell, weaves language of the times into it so you really gain a sense of place and time.

Then the sun buckled and dark fell like a shout

It’s not often I review a book before I’ve finished, but I just needed to do it. It is a great example of my favourite type of book, the ones that make me say out loud.. “Wow” or ‘Awesome’.

I hereby commit to reading all of his books, my favourite so far had to be The Road, but that’s another whole blog full of praise of the awesome…

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Honest as the Day is Long

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Events in the library this week had me thinking about ownership and entitlement.

People or a singular person decided to test our security systems, which basically meant they stole from us. They figured out how to go past the security gates and not set them off, with a bag full of items that did not belong to them. Among the items were fiction, non fiction, magazines, movie DVD’s and graphic novels. An eclectic mix and I suspect we will find more as the evidence stashed all over the place will take a while to find it. We use an RFID tagging system, and this is what they got around so they did not set off alarms.

What makes people think these items are there for the taking? How do they understand ownership to work? Do they say, ‘Hey, my taxes pays for this library, so by default the books belong to me’?

I started getting all righteous in my head, how dare they, but then I thought about a visit to a pub the other week with my husband, where we realised after we had left that we didn’t pay for an item we ate. Did we go back? Did we confess our sins?

No we did not!

How many of us don’t go back and confess or choose not to point out missing items from a receipt? We all feel a sense of smugness because we got away with it.

I like to think of myself as an honest, upstanding citizen, but I’m probably just fooling myself. I’m not unique, many like to think it’s all about getting one over on ‘the man’, and we justify it by seeing the company or business or library for that matter as large and thriving and that one measly coffee, a bowl of chips or a missing book won’t make a dent in their huge profits.

For some, it must be the thrill of maybe getting caught or the feeling they are entitled due to a hard life, difficult childhood (insert excuse here).

But now there are things missing from the library that others can’t read or watch, and the library accepts this collateral damage as the price you pay so that customers can have easy access to resources, it’s just that some just take that a little more literally.

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Lending can’t Last Forever

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There was news last week of one of our borrowers passing away. We have a scheme where those elderly customers who can’t easily make it into the library can designate a ‘courier’ to pick up items that the staff pick out for them, and she was one such customer. Many ‘read’ talking books.

These are books read by often well known actors or the authors themselves and are available on CD, MP3, Cassettes ( yes still!) and a device known as a Playaway, a small plastic box that has the story inbedded and all you need is a AA battery and some headphones.

It is always sad when a regular customer dies. We often get to know them really well, know their preferences, they share their life stories and I’ve had some great chats with many. We can be the only person they talk to all week, and sometimes you can sense they are lonely and enjoy the human contact.

We all have our favourite customers, be they 8 months or 80 and I noticed that my favourite elderly man was looking particularly frail last week. He comes in at least once a week with his wife and puts reserves on a wide range of interesting books he has seen reviews of in magazines and newspapers.

He is dignified, intelligent and polite, and we have had some great conversations. I will truly miss him when his time comes. I guess this sort of job does bring you in close contact with other people’s lives, perhaps not so much as nursing or hospice, but enough to forge relationships and enjoy their company and hopefully you have a positive impact on them.

It often makes your day and provides a balance to the sometimes negative or difficult encounters you can have. I imagine I’ll become curmudgeonly and difficult as I age, but maybe, just maybe I’ll be someone’s favourite old lady one day!

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