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Preview: Tales from the "Liberry" 2.0

Tales from the "Liberry" 2.0



An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while still dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.



Updated: 2017-10-02T04:45:25.328-04:00

 



Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #22

2017-05-25T13:48:25.555-04:00

A long time female patron we haven't seen in months brings several books on tape to the desk to check out. She stands there for several seconds as I wait for it to occur to her that she needs to produce her library card. It does not.

ME: Do you have your library card?

PATRON: Oh, no. My name is SUZIE SCHEXNADER. (Not her real name)

ME: Well, these days you do need your card.

PATRON: Oh, sure. My husband said you had gone to a new system and that I would need to get a new card, but I don't have one.

ME: (For some reason, something about her name rings a bell with me. I believe I made her husband's card and that he had one made for her at the same time. I look her name up in the computer and sure enough there she is.) Are you sure your husband didn't get one made for you. We already have you in the computer.

PATRON: No. No. He showed me his, but he didn't give me one. I don't have a card.

ME: (Still remaining polite) Well, our computer says that we issued a new card for you. (I hold up an example wallet-sized card for her to see) You sure you don't have one like this?

PATRON: (Going through her pocketbook to no avail) No, that's what his looks like, but I don't have one.

I leaf through the stack of unclaimed or forgotten cards we keep by the desk, but her card is not among them.

ME: Could your husband still have it?

PATRON: Um. Maybe. I suppose I could call him. Can I use your phone?

ME: Sure.

As the patron dials the phone number and waits for her husband to answer, I notice that her phone-holding hand is also holding a ring of keys upon which is secured one of our Key-Card library cards.

ME: (Pointing to it) Ah. There it is!

PATRON: (Looks at it, dumbfounded, as though she's never seen it before in her life) Oh... um... (Hears her husband answer the phone ) Oh, hi, Phil. I'm calling from the library... and I... just found my new card. So... never mind.



The Endy Bit (a.k.a. "Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #141")

2009-06-15T17:36:35.018-04:00

I had cause to pay a visit to the Tri-Metro area, recently, so I popped by the "liberry" to see everyone. The last few times I've been in, I've only seen Mrs. B, Mrs. D and Miss Temp, but this time nearly everyone was in house, including former bosses Mrs. A and Mrs. C. They're all doing fine and wanted to hear the latest news from me. ("Uhhhh, I got a cat.")

While I was there, Mr. B-Natural came in, signed up for a computer and then noticed me standing at the circ-desk.

MR. B-NATURAL— (In what I thought was an uncharacteristically bright tone for the grumpiest old man in all the world to take) Hey, you're back!

ME— Only temporarily.

MR. B-NATURAL— What? You're not working here again?

ME— No. I moved to BORDERLAND.

MR. B-NATURAL— How come?

ME— My wife got a job there.

MR. B-NATURAL— (Nods knowingly.) I need to get me a wife who has a job.

We stood there for a few minutes as I finished up what I was doing at the desk and Mr. B waited for Miss Temp to finish helping another patron and come log him on his computer.

MR. B-NATURAL— (Gestures toward the computers) Hey, you wanna put me on one of these for old times sake?

ME— Oh, sure.

They hadn't even changed the password.



Year Five (and this blog) in the Can (almost)

2009-11-09T14:23:22.220-05:00

Today is the fifth anniversary of the beginning of this blog.I'm normally a fan of writing entries in advance, but I put off writing this one until today because I didn't know quite what to say.Other than, "goodbye," maybe.Sort of.You see, I no longer work in a library. It has therefore been pointed out to me, seemingly by more than one person, that perhaps another venue would be more appropriate to the continuation of the sort of tales I've been telling lately. My initial attitude toward this idea was to give it the finger on the premise that it's my blog which I may use to write about whatever I please regardless of how little sense it might make to the average observer. And as much as I still fully support that attitude on my part, I also have to concede that the opposing view does have a point. There is something to be said for bringing one story to a close before spinning off into something smaller with a few of the same characters. Granted, this almost never works in TV, where for every Frasier there are fifty Tortellis. (Unless, of course, you're producer Norman Lear in the `70s, who wound up having successful spin-offs of successful spin-offs of All in the Family.) It works better in comic books, where series end and new #1 issues begin all the time. In other words, I think it’s probably a good thing to give Tales from the “Liberry” a bit of closure and let it be its own boxed set (or glossy hardcover collection) before starting something new.I have no illusions [p----------------nmm cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk,(Sorry. Walked away from the keyboard for a bit and Avie seems to have trod on it.)As I was saying, I have no illusions that all of my regular readers will find my non-"liberry" observations as entertaining. Lord knows I didn’t read most of the spin-offs of the library blogs that closed up shop during my five years in the business and lord knows my stats have dropped off since I stopped posting new material daily here (or, since I stopped posting about my job, depending on your point of view). But if you've stuck around since my retirement as a "liberry" ninja, and if you like reading about occasional encounters with assholes in the wild or the antics of circus animals like the one who sat on my keyboard a few minutes ago, you’ll like the new place, too.There are a lot of people I’d like to thank before I go, many of whom are present in the sidebar links, but some of whom have moved on. I'd like to first thank Tiny Robot (a.k.a. “T," formerly of the late lamented blog Poocakes, currently of Hermes’ Neuticles and the Chronicles of Bleh), Sonny Lemmons, (currently of Through the Windshield, which was formerly Chase the Kangaroo) and Glen (who never had a blog when he worked in a library, but who really really should have cause his tales were better than mine, and who has just embarked on a massive new adventure by knocking up his wife). Those three more than anyone originally inspired me to take up the blogger's pen, though I believe at least one of them said something about there being money in it, which I haven't found to be the case. I'd also like to thank some of my colleagues who've especially kept me entertained over the past five years: Tiny Librarian ("liberrian" of the Great White North), Foxy Librarian (whose work I've always enjoyed and who I've failed to congratulate on her recent edition/addition (heh, see, that's a book/baby joke for ya)), Tangognat (who works constantly to keep comics a part of the library), Bizgirl (or, I should say, James--who fooled us us all, did it with style, and whose link to me got this blog a mention in a New Zealand newspaper), Daisy (a former co-worker of Glen's who, as far as I know, has left the library blogosphere, though not libraries), and a fond farewell to Happy Villain, whose spin-off blogs I do continue to r[...]



Walter the Farting Dog: The Movie

2008-10-28T08:50:41.445-04:00

Just read over at Ain't It Cool News that 20th Century Fox is looking to make a big screen adaptation of my favorite kids book ever, Walter the Farting Dog and are hoping to get the Farrelly Brothers to direct it.

That sounds pretty perfect.

However, the not-so-perfect-sounding part is that the script for this film is by the guys who wrote Evan Almighty and Daddy Day Camp. (Mmmm... Daddy Day Camp.)

Oh, and Fox is somehow looking to use the film as a vehicle for the Jonas Brothers. As long as they get farted on a lot, I guess even that would be okay.

Find all of Variety’s story on the matter here.



Epic Conclusion (Moving Days R)

2008-09-16T18:17:53.908-04:00

In the days since I left the "Liberry," life has proceeded as usual over in Tri-Metro. I know this because I've been back for several visits. Most of these were in the days prior to us fully vacating our house in Town C, when the wife was still living there as she wrapped up her medical residency, but I've made a few since. In fact, one such visit of mine was made specifically because of her residency.Each year, the hospital holds a mini-graduation ceremony for all of its residents, giving out graduation certificates to each class as they either pass into a new year of their residency, or, as in the case with my wife, fully graduate and pass into the real world. Now, unlike most graduation ceremonies, which tend to be pretty boring affairs, these residency ceremonies are great because there's an open bar, massively tasty hors d'oeuvres beforehand, followed by a catered buffet dinner with dessert and then what amounts to about half an hour's worth of award-awarding, which is usually a pretty fun time because most of the people giving the awards are friends and colleagues and very funny people who know how to make such ceremonies interesting and fun. (Or, maybe I've just been to the open bar one too many times to know otherwise.) This year's ceremony promised to be very similar, only this year the wife was the major honoree when it came to graduating third year residents. Actually, she was the only graduating third year, not to mention she's also chief resident, so it was even more of a focus on her. Unfortunately, the graduation ceremony fell on June 12, a day I was already committed to being at a conference for a non-profit organization I am a member of, in another part of the state. Not only that, but this was a conference for which I did the majority of the planning and at which I was obligated to be in order to help get things set up. The date had been set in stone for literally the past year. The wife wasn't happy that I couldn't get out of it, nor was I, but she said she understood that that's the way things had rolled.As the days went by and the conference date grew closer, it occurred to me that it would be the ultimate surprise if I was somehow able to get out of the setup portion of the conference and turn up at the wife's ceremony after all. I get so few opportunities to surprise her without her managing to spoil it in advance, so I thought this would be a great choice. I kept completely mum about it and didn't actually make the final decision on whether or not to pull it off until two days shy of the conference itself for fear of my big mouth letting something slip early. The longer I waited, though, the more I knew it would be gold. None of the wife's family was going to be able to come, so she would be there alone. I knew it had to be done. After making arrangements with a trusted colleague to take over my setup duties, and with a trusted colleague of the wife's to run interference if need be, I officially decided to slip in and surprise the wife.On graduation day, I snuck out of Borderland and hit the road for Tri-Metro. I had to head over early, to pass some of my setup materials on to someone headed to the conference, so afterward I had a few hours to kill before the ceremony kicked in around 6. So I headed over to the "liberry." The alphabet squad was happy to see me. Mrs. A even had me go around and mark all the shitty shelf-ends with tape yet again in preparation for the delivery of the brand new non-shitty shelf ends. Mrs. J had already been given instructions not to touch the tape.Around 5:15, the wife called me on my cell phone to ask how the conference set up was going. I told her that it was hectic but going as smooth as could be expected. She said she had just arrived at the hotel where the graduation was to be held and was about to start eating shrimp. She was real sorry I couldn't be there. I told her I wished I was, cause I could use some shrimp, too. We said lovey goodbyes and as soon[...]



"Liberry" 2.0 (Moving Days Q)

2008-09-16T18:18:55.356-04:00

As the actual move into the new library began, I continued to consider whether I would chronicle it after my backlog of material from the old library ran out. I suspected that I wouldn't, but continued to take notes here and there just in case. The trouble was, there were no real dramatic beats in the move itself, so most of my notes amounted to "Wow, it sure is nice not having any patrons under foot" and "I can't believe I get paid to come to work in shorts and flip flops and listen to podcasts all day as I shuffle books from shelf to shelf and devise new and revolutionary ways to organize our periodicals section." I began to suspect there just wasn't much of a story there.I persevered, though, waiting for the big event to occur. You know, something that could elicit headlines like "D.T.-Addled Innanet Crowd Storms Liberry -- Astoundingly, Shitty Doors Hold." Instead, the best I really managed was "Dumbass Vinyl Signage Idiots Spell Mrs. C's Title `ASSITANT DIRECTOR' on Office Door Sign."I decided that if I was going to step under the beam of scrutiny by announcing that our "liberry" was moving at a time when various newspapers and television stations around the state were doing stories about that very move, most of which wound up on their websites, most of which featured me as the "liberry" spokesperson, because everyone else in the damn building runs screaming at the sight of a camera, there really ought to be a good story in it and there just wasn't--not from that angle, at least. Logic and experience told me that news of the move would likely get out at some point. In the meantime, I might as well have fun with it and see if I could maybe create another layer of enjoyment for long-time readers.The plan, as I initially conceived and eventually enacted, was to let all of the backlog of stories set in the old "liberry" run out and tie up all the loose ends from what was essentially Volume 1. During that time I would be gathering new stories in the new building which I would publish after the old ones ran out. The only clue I planned to initially give that something different had occurred was to update the page's look and label the new material as Volume 2. And to show you what my backlog was really like, even with the three weeks we were closed for the move and the fact that the new place didn't open until late July of 2007, "Liberry 2.0" still didn't begin until August 15. Coincidentally enough, I noticed that the old stories were going to run out right around my 1000th post. Seemed a fitting place to end Volume 1.During my gathering of new tales, I realized that the geographical differences between the tiny old building and the gigantic new building were going to come into play. The fact that we now had, essentially, five public restrooms and one private one for staff, as opposed to the crappy little restroom under the stairs and the oft-patron-traversed "private" restroom in Mrs. A's office of the old building. New readers might not notice the inconsistencies in description, but I figured long time readers would likely pick up on them. I'd already adopted a policy of being a bit vague when describing certain aspects of our previous location, after being busted by a former employee who recognized the layout, but there was no hiding some of the things that were going to come up in the new place. Sure, big ticket items, such as elevators, kitchens, fireplaces and massive new computer facilities, could be dropped in sometime down the line, but there were less instantly obvious details of the new building's layout that I decided to start layering in immediately, throwing new tidbits in every so often until I could begin dropping in larger ones , months down the line.I figured that sooner or later a reader would call me on something (not via telephone, hopefully) and point out the inconsistencies. I would have then had to admit that, yes, there were some and pose[...]



Ed Gruberman (Moving Days P)

2008-09-12T12:35:04.743-04:00

As is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of words that comprise this blog, I've never lacked for material to write about. Oddly, this used to frustrate me in the early days when I was attempting more of a real time blogging structure and would often have so many blogworthy events occur on a given afternoon that running multiple posts for that day seemed the only proper way to handle it. Eventually, though, I got over that. As in newspapers, with my particular blogging subject most of the blogworthy events had a pretty long shelf life and did not have to be posted immediately. There was, therefore, very little reason to blog in real time unless events in my life called for it. So I swiftly developed a backlog (backblog?) of material which I was able to parcel out, rewrite, refine, and often discard. I've been able to take entire vacations and continue to post on a week-daily basis.It was because of this backlog that I had no fear about running out of material during our big move into the new building. What I was concerned about was whether or not to mention the move at all.When I first began the blog, I didn't really care if people who read the blog knew who I was in real life. My thought was that anyone local who might not like what I was writing was unlikely to stumble upon the blog, but if outsiders traced it back what did it really matter? I even used the real last name of the now pseudonymous Fagin Family for a very long time claiming I didn't care if they found it because we had so much dirt on them that they'd never dare sue. And, by and large, this was not a problem for me for the first couple of years of the blog. As the old saying goes, though, it only takes one bad asshole to spoil the bushel. This being the internet, of course, the assholes did not come in single servings.Keep in mind, when I say "assholes" I'm not talking about readers who've disagreed with me, who don't like the blog in the first place, who think I'm whining and aren't afraid to tell me in the comments or in an email. That kind of thing comes with the territory and I've always made it a point to publish such negative comments and to address issues made via the occasional negative email I've received. No, the assholes I'm talking about are those souls who have seen their way fit to drop pebbles into the pond of my real life. There have been quite a few of them and until this moment I've made it standard operating procedure not to mention their assholery because it seems unwise to give such behavior publicity. However, just as a for-instance, I will now break that rule twice..Instance #1-- A gentleman phoned my "liberry" workplace, asked a co-worker of mine if he could speak to me, using my real name, and when I came to the phone he screamed, "This is Mr. Stanky! I love your blog!!!" at the top of his lungs. Then he hung up. (And with all the similar assholes I've dealt with, the level creativity never has never risen above the bar set by this guy.)Instance #2-- This one was not so much an asshole as someone behaving unwisely. I received a phone call, again at work, again using my real name, from a lady who claimed to be calling from another state. She said she was doing research into the geneal0gy of the aforementioned Fagin Family (only she used their real name), being as how she too was named Fagin (again), had read about them on my blog, knew exactly where I was located, was pretty sure a branch of her particular Fagin clan had made their way here at some point in the past. Naturally, she wanted to know what I could tell her about the local crew and their origins. (This person also expressed confusion as to why I no longer used their real name when referring to them on the blog. She'd searched and searched but could no longer find the original reference.) I started to point out to her that anyone who'd read this blog for the length of time she evidently had should have long [...]



Sometimes Standing Urine is a Good Thing (Moving Days O)

2011-11-06T10:03:00.330-05:00

It was standard afternoon shift. I had been going about my day and things were actually turning out fairly well. Then I saw Mr. Big Stupid coming out of the men's restroom and my view on the day fell. I can't say for sure that Mr. Big Stupid was smirking upon his exit, but something about his manner sounded alarm bells in my head. I was also reminded that I hadn't checked the men's restroom for cleanliness since my arrival at work.Sure enough, as soon as I walked in the door, bucket of cleaning products already in hand, I saw the dreaded sight and knew what Mr. Big Stupid had been smirking about. I marched back out the door, over to the circ desk and retrieved our temporary-signage folder from its hiding place. Seeing that my boss, Mrs. A, was standing nearby, I held up my "RESTROOM CLOSED, PLEASE USE DOWNSTAIRS RESTROOM" sign for her to see."What is it?" she said."Two words," I said. "Standing Urine.""Oh, no."Yes, indeedy, there was a wide puddle of urine covering much of the floor in front of the urinal. For the record, Mr. Big Stupid was not even a suspect, as he had been not present for the previous standing urine incident and had likely only been smirking at the knowledge that someone else would have to clean up what he'd just seen on the floor. Most likely the person responsible for the urine was one of our regular mentally handicapped patients from Unobstructed Doors.After a brief search, I found our mop and mop bucket in housekeeping, filled the bucket with warm water, grabbed the Comet, affixed my sign to the bathroom door (if you don't put a sign on the door, patrons wander on in and, despite your obvious efforts to mop up the urine, they track through it anyway to leave some of their own) and headed in to do battle. Unfortunately, after using most of the Comet during the previous incident, there was less than half a tablespoon left in the container, so I then had to go back out and fetch our jug of bleach. Much diluting and sloshing ensued, followed by mopping, cursing under breath and vows to find the culprit and visit unspeakable punishments upon them. Soon the room was filled with bleach fumes. I began to suspect this wasn't a safe thing, so I went over to the restroom's window, intending to open it and help disperse the fumes.First, a note about the restroom windows: I've mentioned recently how our architect had some rather dangerous ideas about how public buildings should operate and our new restrooms were a major part of that. When he designed the restrooms for our main floor, he included in them the exact same windows that had been installed in the rest of the building, which are very tall, sliding pane windows that allow in the greatest amount of light possible by being very very clear, with no window screens, but which also had venetian blinds in case, I presume, it got too bright to poop. Yes, that's right, the architect installed large, crystal clear windows in ground level restrooms both of which were in direct view of the parking lot. Now, granted, because of the way the interior of the restrooms were arranged, people on the outside would not be able to view people on the inside actually using toilets nor urinals through those windows, but they could certainly see people walking around and washing their hands (hopefully) after using said facilities. Regardless, the presence of those windows made the restrooms feel extremely non-private in a way the vast majority of public restrooms I've been in--including all of the ones I used in Central America, some of which were quite terrifying in other respects--don't. We also had to consider the unsavory possibility of someone like Chester setting up a damned chair outside the ladies' room and having himself an oggle-party. So, shortly before we opened, Mrs. A had Ms. D install some opaque window film over the lower section of both public restroom windows and that solv[...]



I've got another itch and the only thing that can cure it is more cowbell (Moving Days N)

2008-09-12T12:36:25.688-04:00

Around nine months after we opened the new place, we had a pretty major incident of theft go down. We're not strangers to thievery at the "liberry," as seen in such previous incidents involving a member of the New Devil Twins' Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids, another involving such rogue patrons as Jimmy the Anonymous Snitch and the Amazing Bladder Boy, and one involving a former member of our staff, Miss E, who we're pretty sure made off with some money from the cash box four years back, but it's been a while.The new incident came to my attention when I arrived for work on a Monday to find our cashbox empty of all cash. Ms. M was working the Monday with me and indicated that it was like that when she arrived for her shift on Sunday. She'd assumed that Mrs. A had taken it for some official reason, for the cashbox had been full and accounted for when Ms. M had left for the day on Saturday. This didn't seem at all right to me, though, because Mrs. A would have left a note had she taken the cash and there was not one. Ms. M then offered that perhaps the money had been taken by Mrs. C's kids, who had been in the library with Mrs. C Saturday evening when she came in with them to help set up our multi-purpose room for a Sunday program. She said Mrs. C's kids had been behind the desk at one point. They too seemed unlikely suspects, though, as they are toddlers and Mrs. C would surely have noticed them toddling around with $40 in cash and change.This left us with a very unsettling probability; if the cash was present at closing on Saturday afternoon, but was missing at opening Sunday morning then it had likely been stolen in the interim. For that to have happened, the thieves either broke into the building somehow, gained access to the building via a door left unlocked, or they had found some place to hide in the building on Saturday, stole the money after Ms. M and Mrs. C had departed and then departed themselves. None of these were beyond the realm of possibility.My best guess was that someone had snuck in after hours. See, thanks to some pretty shitty cost-cutting on the part of our building sub-contractors, the front doors of the new "liberry" were not of the strength and permanence one would hope for in exterior doors of a public building such as ours. The doors that were installed, you see, were actually doors designed to be used within the interior of a building and not as actual exterior doors. They were stout enough for interior doors and they work "okay" for exterior ones, but they're only passable at best. (And on that note, the interior foyer doors were none too solid, either, as the board that held one pneumatic hinge to the overall door frame was yanked from said frame one day by a 60-year-old woman. Turns out, when that particular board had been installed, the contractors hadn't used long enough screws to actually secure it into the foyer housing. "Thanks, shitty contractors!") Compounding the problem was the fact that these wrong doors had not been installed correctly to begin with, which made them very tricky to lock. They had to be aligned just right by hand or their locking bolts would not set into both the floor and ceiling shafts. If only one bolt was set, the doors could be popped open with only a little effort.Once we realized the trickiness of our door's locking system, soon after we opened, we made it a point to teach and reteach all the staff the rituals involved in getting them properly locked. Even then, it still came back to bite us once in a while. Assuming that Ms. M had locked the doors correctly, someone in Mrs. C's function-setup-party might have exited that door and not known to double check it behind them.The other possibilities mentioned were just as likely, but there was no real way to know how the thieves gained access to the money. Or so [...]



Innanet Crowd Onslought (Moving Days M)

2008-09-05T09:03:33.634-04:00

As I mentioned, we only had four public internet terminals when we opened the new building. Our plan was to eventually have ten and we had already installed the desks for those--or, rather, we'd installed one gigantically long computer desk with room for ten stations and serious issues with picking up the squeezings of patrons on its surface. The other six computers did arrive within a couple weeks of opening, but the company we'd purchased them from neglected to stock enough monitors to accompany them and said they weren't expecting a resupply for months. We bought new monitors from another vendor, but before they could arrive we experienced several wonderfully fun conversations such as this...PATRON-- So when are you getting your other computers?ME-- Oh, they're here.PATRON-- (Does doubletake. Looks at six empty desk spaces.) Uh, they are?ME-- Yep.PATRON-- Um... when are you going to install them?ME-- Already did.PATRON-- (Looks again. Completely ignores obviously present CPUs on the floor beneath each empty desk space.) Uh... what?ME-- Yep. Installed the computers a few days ago. They're right there. (Points to CPUs) It's just the monitors we don't have yet.PATRON-- (Looks again. Looks back. Appears confused and slightly irritated. Decides I'm an asshole, perhaps justifiably. Walks away.)We decided early on that our old system of using kitchen timers to monitor the amount of time patrons were using the computers was probably not a workable system for ten machines; it was hard enough getting those accurate with only three computers in the old place, plus the idea of more than one of them going off at the same time made us edgy to even think about. So the new plan was to extend the time patrons had on a given machine from a half hour to a full hour (still with no kick offs if no other patrons were waiting), reserve two of the machines as 15 minute stations and then just keep track of everything on paper. This sounded like an enormous headache to me and I was actually quite panicked about it. I began begging Mrs. A to see if we could get some sort of computer-based monitoring system, one that would allow us to decide who lived and who died. Mrs. A said that the state techs were considering such a program to be used consortium-wide, but hadn't made any firm decisions, so we'd just try our new paper system and see how things went. And so I awaited the doom of our sanity at the hands of the innanet crowd.Quite unexpectedly, the doom did not come--at least, not at first. Even after we had all ten stations up and running, the competition for them was surprisingly slim in the early weeks. We rarely had to enforce the 15 minute station rules and often just let users of them go for however long they wanted as there were almost always other stations open. We didn't even have to kick anybody off a machine for nearly a month into the new gig and even then it was a rare occurrence. Patrons basically could stay on as long as they wanted and there was enough turnover that we didn't have any problems with competition.As the months passed, though, we began to have more and more innanet crowders more and more often. Word was getting around that we had a bountiful supply of computers and the crowders began to crawl from beneath their rocks and lurch in to use them. Patrons we'd not seen in years, such as Matilda the Cranky Wiccan, Mabel the Amateaur Geneal0gist, Sunday Bob, and the Formerly Sweatiest Woman in All the Land, began to become regular visitors again. Previously frequent innanet crowders such as Germaphobe Gary, Johnny Hacker, Mr. Little Stupid, Mr. Hinky, and Mr. Perfect began coming far more frequently, usually multiple times a day. And former repeat offender Innanet Rogues, such as Mr. B-Natural, Old Man Printer, The New Devil Twins Auxiliary [...]



Grand Opening (Moving Days L)

2008-09-05T09:04:00.907-04:00

After nearly three blissful, patron-free weeks of preparation, it was at long last time to stop stalling and open the doors on The New "Liberry." Opening day was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon and the "liberry" went all out with a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a cookie and leftover cheese from the wine & cheese reception reception. State officials came by, speeches were made, the Board of Directors and Mrs. A were thanked for all their work in making it happen, we the staff were thanked for helping them, and the man who'd spearheaded the whole project for so many years, Mr. Kreskin was mentioned and honored as well. To further cement this, the previously unnamed street which the new library building had been built above was named after him.We opened the doors and the public began piling in.A good many books circulated on opening day, but by and large people were there to see the place and get a whiff of that new "liberry" smell. For our part, we were doing double-duty running around making sure the cookie and cheese tables were full and also running the circ desk. The desk was only running at half capacity because despite the fact that we now had two circ desk computers we still only had one barcode scanner and none of us felt like typing 14 digit barcode numbers all afternoon.The coming week brought lots of business as word spread that we were at last open and the usual suspects began to trickle in. It was a pretty major time of transition for the patrons but especially for the staff, as we not only had our regular duties to attend to but also some new roles as defacto tour guides. Because the placement of library materials on the shelves was still somewhat in flux, we didn't want to put up any sort of permanent signage denoting where things were located. Actually, our architect was dead set against signage of any sort because it just offended him for some reason. Mrs. A tried to explain that our patrons needed to know where things were and signage was the most efficient way to convey that information, but he was unmoved. (He had some other odd and dangerous ideas about how public spaces should be run, which I'll get to later.) Now, we all understood that it wasn't his decision to make and Mrs. A did declare that we would eventually put up some sort of signage, but we couldn't even stick temporary paper signs to the wooden shelf ends (even the shitty ones) because tape allegedly would ruin their finish. (Never mind that I'd affixed Post-Its and masking tape to most of them already to denote their shittiness.) Mrs. A's decision was to treat it like a study and see what sort of signage our patrons truly needed. After all, from years of experience, we already know that patrons NEVER read signs.So we got to play tour guides, which wasn't bad because with the new building came more hours for the staff so we'd always have at least two people on the desk in addition to any directors who were present. (And who on the board that brought the new building to fruition was the person who insisted we always have two people on the desk? Why, Mrs. Day, oddly enough--the very woman who always complained bitterly that we had too many people working whenever she visited us before.)One of the major misconceptions we had to combat, primarily over the course of the first few weeks, but occasionally beyond, was the misconception that the new library meant everyone had to get new library cards. Uh, no, cause we did that four years ago and it suuuuucked.Another major misconception is that because we had a brand new library, we therefore must also have purchased brand new books. Some patrons were downright offended to browse our shelves and find the same books from the old library staring back at them.And a third major misconception was over the[...]



Fund and/or Temper Raising (Moving Days K)

2009-06-10T09:29:10.260-04:00

As you have probably guessed, Mr. Crab did not donate his stuffed animal heads to our new "liberry." I'm afraid I don't know the story behind his decision not to, but I suspect he didn't like our proposal to sell them for cash. I do know that at some point he did donate some amount of money to the new "liberry" project (most likely $200, but possibly more) for he was among the people invited to attend a donors only wine & cheese reception in the new "liberry" building, a few days before the place officially opened. (And on that subject, I must say, the public support for the new project was quite astounding. While there was a lot of grant money secured and state funds allocated toward the construction, a great deal of our funds came through donations from the public at large. In fact, a full two thirds of the fundage was in hand before ground was broken and the rest quickly began coming in afterward.)Though the "liberry" now has its own set of wine glasses (stored in the staff breakroom--NOT the kitchen) we didn't own them at the time of the donors reception and had to borrow some from a couple of area restaurants. The cheese and wine were likewise donated by area restaurants and area vineyards, respectively. The cheese was high quality; the wine, not so much, but there was certainly a lot of it so only a few people complained.Naturally, the "liberry" staff had to work the reception, along with members of the Friends of the "Liberry" group and members of the Board. The board poured the wine and hob-nobbed with the rich & powerful while the rest of us canvassed the room, picking up the empty plates and half-drunk wine glasses people kept leaving on every exposed surface, before someone had a chance to come along, knock them over and spill them on the brand new carpeted areas. In between cleanup missions, we had time to nosh on some of the goodies ourselves. During one such cheese break in the workroom, I heard the unmistakable sound of a wine glass shattering somewhere. Fortunately, it had smashed on the tiled floor near the foyer and not on the carpet. Unfortunately, as I quickly saw, it had been Mr. Crab who'd dropped it.I'd like to think that most human beings, after having dropped a wine glass in public, would actually attempt to do something about it. I'm not saying they should go find a broom and dustpan themselves, necessarily, but at the very least they should tell somebody about it and perhaps try to pick up the broken glass before someone else steps on it. I'd also like to think that most human beings, after someone comes out to clean up the broken wine glass THEY had just dropped (and not told anyone about) would at least have the decency to assist in the smallest way possible by, say, getting out of the damned way. Not Mr. Crab. No, Mr. Crab refused to acknowledge the glass he had just dropped despite the fact that it was very clear he had been the one to drop it being as how there was glass and wine all around his feet and on his shoes. Instead, he went right on talking to the man he had been talking to as though nothing at all had happened. And when I came out with the broom and dustpan to clean up his mess for him, he remained planted in said mess as though the glass and wine weren't there at all, continuing to talk and hindering my efforts to sweep around his feet. This was very, very annoying to me, but not surprising coming from a known colossal asshole such as Mr. Crab. Ultimately it would have been okay as I would still have been able to sweep up most of the glass despite him. What Mr. Crab did next, however, made doing my job without having to first render him unconscious very very problematic.You see, the reason Mr. Crab was refusing to acknowledge his broken glass w[...]



Mr. Crab, the Third Grumpiest Great White Hunter in All the World (Moving Days J)

2008-08-27T12:35:04.342-04:00

JANUARY 7, 2006I rarely know anything that goes on in our monthly meeting of the “liberry’s” board of directors and that’s fine with me. What does trickle down to me often pisses me off and I would just get myself in trouble by opening my yap were I there to hear it first hand. This is particularly true when it comes to matters of our proposed new “liberry” building. (And I’ve kept my yap mostly shut about it online for two years now for fear of drawing the wrong attention to myself.) Friday’s meeting of the board was different, though. I might still have been in trouble, had I been there, but it would have been for laughing my fool ass off. My boss, Mrs. A, told the staff about it afterwards and assured us that it was a tale that will be retold for months to come.Some time before the meeting, Mrs. A received a phone call from our eldest and longest-standing board-member, Mrs. Day. To date, Mrs. Day has not been at all wild about our campaign to build a new library. In fact, she voted against it for quite some time before Mr. Kreskin, our former board president, was able to convince her that it looked bad for one lone board member to keep voting against everything, so she jumped on board to save face.On Friday morning, Mrs. Day phoned to inform Mrs. A that she had a major and exciting announcement to reveal at the board meeting. She wouldn’t give any indication what it regarded, but said it was something huge. Naturally, Mrs. A’s mind wandered to the possibilities. And while waiting for Mrs. Day to turn up for the meeting, Mrs. A and the other four board members—Mr. Eggs, Mrs. Emm, Mrs. Aitch and Dr. Watson—plus our press officer, Mrs. PR, mused aloud as to what the big news might be. Consensus of hope was that Mrs. Day had found someone to donate the remaining funds we need for the new building (around a cool million), but they found it more likely that she was merely going to take credit for securing a rather large donation a neighbor of hers had recently made that everyone already knew about.Mrs. Day eventually rolled in for the meeting and after much smiling and excitement on her part, she finally revealed her big news. It seems that Mrs. Day has been in contact with everyone’s favorite cranky patron, annual $200 check-donator, frequent $200-donation revocation threatener, and third grumpiest old man in all the world, Mr. Crab, regarding what he might like to donate to the library’s building campaign. (All together now, “$200!”) Mr. Crab claimed that due to obscure IRS laws, he could not donate any actual money to the project because he had “already donated over a million dollars.” (I assumed when I heard this third-hand quote that Mr. Crab meant he’d already donated a million dollars to the library over the years, in which case he would have to be 5000 years old since he only ever gives us $200 at a pop. Now that I’ve thought about it, though, he probably meant he’d given a million dollars to various charitable contributions over the years—no doubt in $200 increments.) Instead of giving us any money, Mr. Crab said he wished to donate something far more valuable: an extensive antique German train set he’d collected and two, count em two, stuffed animals. And when I say "stuffed animals" I’m not talkin’ about Teddy bears or MonChiChis, I mean actual dead animals from Mr. Crab’s collection of animals he has shot, killed and had stuffed, taxidermy-style. According to Mrs. Day, Mr. Crab specifically wishes to donate two stuffed dead animal heads to be hung above the two fireplaces in the proposed new building.From the way Mrs. A described it to me later, Mrs. Day couldn’t have been more thrilled about this donation. She be[...]



Either I'm Itching to Tell Another Tale or I've got a Really Bad Case of the Crabs (Moving Days I)

2009-06-24T10:45:28.422-04:00

Back in December, I alluded to an incident in which 3rd Grumpiest Old Man in All the World, Mr. Crab, and I nearly came to blows at a wine & cheese reception. I've been itching to tell that story for over a year now but couldn't do so without first explaining the whole bit about us moving into a new library, which I didn't want to have to explain at the time of the occurrence for reasons which I will eventually explain.

However, in order to properly set up the tale of the hurt locker I nearly stuffed Mr. Crab into--which, by the by, would have likely involved cramming a broom handle up his ass, so the one he has up there already would have some company--I will first have to tell a different tale, one which I have also been itching to tell for even longer than the wine & cheese hurt locker one. Fortunately, I had the foresight to write this setup tale back in January of 2006, but for similar reasons as those of the previous omission, never officially published to the blog.

See ya next week.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)



Damages (Moving Days H)

2008-08-22T14:12:14.509-04:00

As our intended opening day approached, we still didn't have all the furniture we'd ordered months before. Though we didn't yet know for sure, it would still be a few weeks before we had received and installed all ten of our patron computers. And, there was also the matter of the toilets that weren't quite up to snuff when it came to actually flushing their contents (though we did have a urinal that would take your arm off), thanks in large part to shoddy sub-contractors whose work hadn't been checked after by the main contractor. But we could certainly operate without all that stuff for a while. The major thing we'd been waiting for was the delivery of our shelf-ends. For those not in the know, the shelf ends are basically thick, monolithic slabs of stained and ornamented wood that are affixed to the ends of our metal library shelves ideally to add some aesthetically pleasing quality to otherwise institutional shelving. Unfortunately, the very first one I looked at, and, as it turned out, many others, looked as though they had been assembled by a blind, paraplegic rhesus monkey, in the dark.You see, the ornamentation on each shelf end amounted to two sections of allegedly squared off molding with fancy curls at their corners, which were glued one above the other to the overall surface of the shelf end. I say "allegedly squared off" because both of the molded pieces on the first shelf end I looked at were not at 90 degree angles within the overall shelf end, nor were they at all parallel to one another. As I mentioned, this was one of the worst examples, but was by far not the only one available. Of the 35 some odd shelf ends in the building, 22 of them should never EHEHEHVER have passed through quality control. I was furious. And after I'd pointed them out to Mrs. A, she was not real happy either.This brings up a none-too-pleasant retail concept I've been developing called: Give the Library the Broke Ones. It's a concept similar in nature to the "They F*CK you at the drive through!" syndrome, so commonly experienced at french-fry-serving fast food restaurants worldwide, and phrase-coined by Joe Pesci in Leathal Weapon 2. (I myself once returned to a McDonald's from which I had purchased a super-sized value meal to-go, and came up to the counter brandishing my half-full box of fries. "I'm sorry," I said, "but it seems I've been given the incorrect amount of fries. I was supposed to get a super-sized order of fries." The girl at the counter looked at it and replied, "That is a super-sized order of fries." I smiled and said, "No. That's a super-sized box containing a medium-sized amount of fries." Having absolutely no grounds to make an argument, she took it away and filled it to its proper level.) In Give the Library the Broke Ones, retailers of furnishings for libraries, schools and nonprofit agencies requiring furniture low bid a job in order to get a contract with said organization, then will supply them with remaindered furniture that they couldn't otherwise sell to businesses that can afford to pay more. My evidence for this is based on our experiences with two separate companies that supplied us with furnishings of such shoddy workmanship that it took our breath away. I've already covered the extreme shittiness of the 22 shelf ends. We also ordered ten tables of varying sizes to fill out our reading areas from a completely separate company. Out of those ten, six came pre-scuffed for our convenience. That's four full-sized tables and two coffee tables that were so obviously damaged that I cannot see any way that they could have been supplied to us by accident.Now, I'm not going to name names of the manufacturer[...]



Settling In (Moving Days G)

2008-08-20T14:48:25.927-04:00

Meanwhile, back at our branch(es), we were hard at work boxing up and transporting the contents of the lower level of our building to the new place, not to mention some of our furniture, which was to serve as furniture in the new place until the comfier chairs and sofas we'd ordered months previously were to finally arrive. (It was around this time that former board member Mrs. Day began her unfortunate refinishing of the "liberry's" tables, ultimately resulting in Ms. D having to redo them all and then redo one of them yet again later.)Most of the actual moving was accomplished withing a couple of days and most of the unboxing and shelving was done in a couple more. And with books finally starting to be shelved, the prospect of actually working in such a cool new place began to seem more real.The new place truly was awesome. It sat high on a hill and offered great big windows,with possibly the best view of Town-A in the whole area. Not only that, but with the new place came far more space to operate in, offices for both Mrs. A and Mrs. C, a staff workroom with a desks and computers for both me and Mrs. B (that we technically had to share with Ms. M and Ms. S, but whatever) and actual counter space upon which we could accomplish such tasks as processing and covering books without having to be hunched over a tiny, rickety table. Mrs. A had even ordered task chairs for us, making sure that they were both backless and uncomfortable to sit on, precisely so that Ms. S wouldn't stay on her duff the whole time. And within that staff workroom was a private restroom for staff only! Oh, sure, we had a private restroom for staff only back in the old library, but it was in Mrs. A's office and was inconvenient to use when she was actually IN her office, plus patrons often used it, too, whenever she wasn't in there. Now we had our own "facilities" away from prying patron eyes and ears, complete with a column of lockers in which we could stash personal items. We were amazed.The new circ desk was also a thing of beauty, with plenty of storage cabinets and drawers to fill. We had so many, in fact, that I eventually declared one of them The Barcode Drawer, and stored in it one sheet of barcodes which I used for magazine processing. This eventually lead to conversations such as:ME-- Why are there totebags in the Barcode Drawer?MRS. B-- I dunno.ME-- No, you're supposed to say "The question is: Why are their barcodes in the Totebag Drawer?"(Long pause)MRS. B-- Oh.No, my fellow employees don't watch as much Scrubs as I do.Another major innovation was the installation of a new phone system so that when Mrs. A received phone calls we wouldn't have to walk all the way to her office to tell her; we could just transfer the call. And another phone line was also installed to allow us to take multiple calls from multiple phones.We also had a staff breakroom on our lower level complete with a full sized refrigerator, a microwave, a stove, a double sink, a dishwasher and loads and loads of cabinet space in which we could store... well, groceries, I guess. Sounds a lot like a kitchen, right? Nope. Not a kitchen. Not a kitchen at all. And, sure, while people who eventually were going to rent out our multi-purpose room, located there on the same level, could use it AS a kitchen, it was most certainly NOT a kitchen. This was mostly because if we'd called it a kitchen the health department would be duty-bound to come round and inspect it once in a while. They didn't have to inspect staff breakrooms, though, so that's what it officially became on all plans and signage.Back upstairs, we had a far bigger children's book area, with sect[...]



Moving the Innanet (Moving Days F)

2008-08-18T22:42:16.547-04:00

After nonfiction was moved, we decided to go ahead and shut down the old "liberry" altogether, as we knew moving everything else would negate most of its usefulness to patrons until we got the new place open. We didn't know how long it would take to reopen, because we didn't know how long it would take to organize everything, nor how long it would take the last items of necessary furniture to arrive. We guestimated two weeks and crossed our fingers.Of course, the group of patrons most inconvenienced by the closing of the library was the innanet crowd. Keep in mind, back in the old building, we only had three public access computers because that's all we had room for, but there was still plenty of competition for those. We knew that once word got out we were closing for a couple weeks there would be gnashing of teeth when patrons couldn't get their daily or even hourly fix from the innanet teat. The complaints began before we'd even closed. We answered them by informing the complainers that when we reopened we'd have ten computer stations and by suggesting they try one of the four other library branches in the area, most of which had more terminals than we did to begin with. From their reactions, you would have thought we'd suggested they drive to Abu Dhabi rather than five minutes down the road.During the weeks we were closed, we heard from these other branches about the shenanigans of some of our regulars who began to darken their doors. Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine was chief among the displaced offenders. He chose to relocate to Town-C's branch where he began to spread his usual Gene-idiosyncrasies, such as telling anyone who hoved into his field of vision the suicide-inducing (or perhaps homicide-inducing) details of his geneal0gy research, printing reams of geneal0gical records and complaining bitterly about how much it cost him to do so. See our branch charges 10 cents per page for prints, but Town-C's branch charges a full 25 cents for both prints and photocopies. This royally torqued Gene and gave him cause to complain each and every time he came up to pay for his prints; which was often. Just like he did at our branch, Gene drove Town-C nuts by printing and printing and printing and coming up to pay for each batch of prints as he printed them. You wouldn't think this would be a big deal, but Town-C's branch is wildly understaffed in comparison to ours, with barely two employees on their best day. Add to that Gene's penchant for long-ass stories about all the people he's related to with each print pickup, not to mention an accompanying complaint session over the price of each page and you've got yourself a damned nuisance. Finally, Town-C's director, Mrs. S (no relation to Ms. S) told Gene that she would charge him only .15 cents per page if he would simply wait to pay for his prints at the very end of his computing session. Gene outright refused, and went right on paying a quarter per print as it was printed and complaining about the cost every time.I've been itching to tell that story for over a year now. I got a few more such itches left in me and soon, oh, very soon, they shall be scratched.For our part, the lack of innanet crowders was pretty blissful, except for the few that would turn up and bang on the door to get in despite the gigantic WE ARE NOT YET OPEN sign we had outside. Sometimes, when we'd left the front doors unlocked to allow free access for the staff, the patrons would just saunter right in and would even ask if they could go ahead and use our computers anyway even after being told we were not open to the public. I gave those people a complimentary kick in th[...]



Typical Day (Moving Days E)

2008-08-15T09:16:19.700-04:00

The first thing we did to facilitate the move was to spread the word far and wide that while we weren't accepting any help with the move itself, patrons could help with it all the same by lightening our load. To that effect, we had removed all limitations on the number of books patrons could check out at once and encouraged them to take as many as they could, the caveat being that they had to turn all those books in at our new place when we reopened. Furthermore, all fines would be waived until such a time as we were firmly ensconced in our new facility, so there would be no fear of zapping people. Our patrons, thankfully, complied and checked out a great many books.The second major thing we did was to hire on someone whose job it would be to help plan the move itself and make things run as smoothly as we could. Her name was Ms. D. Yes, the very same Ms. D we eventually hired to replace eternal newbie greenhorn Ms. S. See, Ms. S was still with us at that time, but was, as you would expect, of very little help with the move itself. Her schedule with her fast food job suddenly became very very busy and there was just no way she could break away during the times of day we were doing the major portion of our moving (i.e. mornings, when it wasn't so butt-ass hot) so she was unavailable to help us much with that. Her schedule only allowed her to roll in in the afternoon, after most of the heavy lifting had already been done. While we were not surprised by that turn of events, we weren't too put out by it either, cause we knew she'd be useless at actual work anyway. Instead, Ms. D stepped in and helped get us moving.So, one morning, we began boxing up the nonfiction. It was slow going, with each of us taking one shelf column at a time, boxing up the books according to how best they fit in the boxes while still attempting to maintain as much order as possible. Size concessions had to be made, though, in order to have boxes that would be full enough to be stable when stacked. Very quickly it became apparent that even after we got the books moved, we'd be reading the nonfiction shelves for order for quite some time to come.With our original building being as ancient as it was, we had to be careful to stack our newly boxed books along the edges of the room and directly beside the shelves on which they had resided. Part of the reason for needing a new building, after all, is that the weight of the books had been causing undue strain on the support structure of the second floor itself for a number of years.The next major problem was actually moving the boxes downstairs. With no elevator to speak of, we had to be more innovative. So we rented one of those long metal box conveyor platforms that I don't know the real name of. Whatever it's called, it's the kind with rows and rows of metal wheels that allow boxes to slide along horizontally, only, we tipped ours up and ran it down the stairs. What we did then was to haul hand-truck loads of boxes to the top of the stairs and slide their contents down the conveyor contraption at very dangerous speeds. Each heavy box of books would then be caught by the catcher (fortunately not me) and passed to someone loading a handtruck at the bottom of the stairs (often me). Once loaded, each hand-truck would be trucked out to the UHaul. It wasn't the most elegant of systems, but it saved a lot of knee and back strain going up and down the stairs. Within the space of six hours, we'd pretty much boxed everything up, moved it into the van. Another hour later and we'd unloaded the boxes at the new place.For some reason, we d[...]



Construction (Moving Days D)

2008-08-13T10:05:11.939-04:00

The new "liberry" was pretty much the daily topic of conversation, at least from our patrons' standpoint. As the structure grew and grew, we'd be asked our thoughts on it, how we planned to move into it, could we use help, etc. We really had no idea how to respond to most of the questions, as none of us had ever done anything like this before. In fact, we continued to tell patrons that we would be hard-pressed to even believe any of it until we set foot in the building ourselves. And, again, it was difficult to argue with the thing growing on the hill nearby.Mr. Kreskin, our former board president, was delighted with the progress. Though he'd stepped down as board president a couple of years before ground was broken, he had been on the committee that generated much of the funds needed to get the project to the ground-breaking stage. His health had taken a few turns here and there, necessitating his departure from all committees. But he was there on the day the ground was broken to see his dream come to pass. All of us on staff knew his days were numbered, but we were betting he'd hang on like the Bluesmobile until the day we finally opened the doors to the public. We also joked that, like the Bluesmobile, he would then spontaneously combust. We were wrong. Several months before work on the building was completed, Mr. Kreskin passed on. And even though we knew it was an inevitability, his death still came as a shock to us because we'd all been so certain that he would hang on `til the building was finished.And, at long long last, just over a year ago, the building was finished. I'd taken my first tour of it back before it had carpet, lights or furniture, but could see the potential there. By the time I set foot in the more or less finished creation, things looked really really nice and I began looking forward to working there. The place had SO much more space. For one thing, the entire staff would be able to fit behind the circ desk. For another, we'd have two--count `em TWO--circ computers with which to better serve patrons. There would be ultimately ten public access computers, compared to the three we previously had. Sure, none of them had arrived yet, nor had the long computer desk to put them on, and when the computers finally did arrive they did so sans monitors and it was another week or two before we could order some from a supplier who wasn't fresh out, but they would eventually come.Which brings me to a very important point: despite the fact that all of our furniture, shelves, wooden shelf-ends, computers, and other essential "liberry" materials had been ordered many many months in advance, with a very specific due date on delivery given, you'd be amazed at the amount of things that failed to show up on time. Most of it arrived during our down-time as we did the actual move, but some of it we wouldn't receive for months after we'd opened. And when it did arrive, some of it was damaged, half-assedly-constructed or just outright wrong. More on that in a bit, though.We the staff kept plenty busy making preparations for the move, right up until the time we were scheduled to accomplish it. We'd been hoarding boxes for weeks, but the idea of filling them gave us pause. Books, particularly nonfiction books, which was the section we were starting with first, are not always of uniform shape; they come in all sorts of dimensions, from tiny to over-sized and they don't lend themselves easily to being boxed in their proper order. But boxing things in as close to proper order as possible was exactly what we wanted to [...]



Smiley's Ballgame (Moving Days C)

2008-08-13T10:04:33.693-04:00

Mr. Smiley's first time at bat against the new "liberry" project was to claim (via fliers and letters to the editor of the local paper and an article written by Mrs. Smiley, published by another local paper entirely) that our new building would destroy specific examples of an endangered species of tree, the 0sage 0range, that he felt was historically significant to the area. At first everyone at the "liberry" was confused, for we'd never heard of 0sage 0ranges before and certainly didn't want to destroy endangered examples of them. Then a city worker brought us an example of the fruit of the 0sage 0range tree and we realized that we did indeed recognize the green and brainy-looking fruit, except we all knew them as "horse apples". Not only are they NOT endangered but they are in fact quite plentiful to nuisance levels throughout the state. Strike one.Next up, he claimed that our new building was going to be constructed on a historically significant Civil War campground. Mrs. Smiley herself wrote a newspaper article about it, detailing how the parking lot of the new building would utterly destroy this valuable campsite. I'm all for preserving archeology, so I began asking questions about it too. Turns out, you pretty much can't build ANYTHING ANYWHERE in the greater Tri-Metro Town-A area without disturbing a Civil War site, being as how the entire town and surrounding area was the site of some pretty major Civil War activity. Beyond that, though, the campsite in question was, according to historical record, in existence for exactly one night and our state's historical preservation organization had already surveyed the site in question and had declared it of no historical significance. Strike two.After that, one of his followers claimed that our new building and the construction thereof would somehow affect the wildlife within the inaccessible system of underground caves that run beneath the area and indeed the entire region. How anyone could tell this, being as how the caves are, again, inaccessible, was not elaborated upon. No one cared. Strike three.Instead of heading to the dugout like a good player, though, Mr. Smiley and his crew brought out several more excuses that made even less sense and which no one cared about anyway. In fact, one of his people, who worked for the aforementioned another local publication, published a top ten list of things Town A needed more than a new library. The list had very little to do with the new library, but was basically a wishlist of stuff that would be helpful to have. ("10: Traffic lights that go `ping.' 9: A publicly viewable clock that's actually set to the correct time...") I proposed we write our own top ten response list in our library's weekly column, give it a topic and then proceed to list ten completely random things that had nothing to do with anything. ("10: Guacamole. 9: A handjob from Nicolette Sheridan...") Mrs. A declined my proposal, though she did find it funny.When all of these efforts failed to result in public revolt against us, Mr. Smiley's crew resorted to actual physical sabotage--or monkeywrenching, as I believe it is also known. After ground had been broken on the site and construction was very much under way, the foreman at the site happened to be wrapping up a few details after the rest of the men had gone home when he saw a car pull up outside of the mobile-site-office. A woman got out of the vehicle, walked over to the silt fence that surrounded the site, used scissors to cut through it in two places, then get back[...]



Smiley's People (Moving Days B)

2011-08-04T16:03:01.964-04:00

The idea of building a new library building had been in the works for years before I started working there, but it gained momentum only a couple of years after I came aboard. Not that I had anything to do with it, as this was all in the hands of our board of directors, led then by the now late yet still infamous Mr. Kreskin.Yes, Mr. Kreskin has passed on. Not long after I'd started at the "liberry," I learned that he had been diagnosed with a couple of different slow-growing yet ultimately terminal forms of cancer. And it was not long after this diagnosis that plans to build a new library building were put into a higher gear than they had been running at. I believe he saw that he had a limited amount of time on his hands and decided to make the new "liberry" a reality. From what Mrs. A has told me, Mr. Kreskin saw the project as his legacy to the Tri-Metro area.There had been a couple of false starts to the project in the past, such as the proposal to buy up existing buildings in the area and convert them into a new library, but time and time again the issue of lack of parking reared up and we were forced to return to the idea of simply building a brand new facility, with triple the space for books, a gigantic multi-purpose room that could be booked for use by the public, much improved story-hour and craft facilities, handicapped access on all levels and, naturally, adequate parking. Grants were applied for and attained, outside donations were sought and came pouring in, century-long leases were acquired with the owners of the land on which the new building was proposed to be built, architects were hired, meetings were had and everything seemed on track.Once a design had been accepted and approved by the local historical preservation society, a number of public viewings were arranged for the plans for the new building. And since it was still early in the process, these viewings were also forums for anyone with differing opinions as to the validity of the project to voice said opinions and become a part of the process. One such soul with a differing opinion was a long lost rogue of ours, Mr. Smiley, the Second Grumpiest Old Man in all the World. Mr. Smiley attended each of the public meetings regarding the new "liberry," looked at all the plans, heard all the explanations, ate the provided hors d'oeuvres and said nothing whatsoever yay or nay. Then, as soon as contracts were signed and ground officially broken on the building project itself, suddenly Mr. Smiley couldn't make enough public complaints ag'in' it.Now, keep in mind that this is a man who, according to Mrs. A, spent the previous twenty years complaining bitterly about how inadequate to his needs our library was, how small it was, how there was never any place for him to find a moment's peace within it without being disturbed by the voices of children or--and I'm not making this next part up AT ALL--the ticking of clock hands, etc. You would think, therefore, that a new facility that offered a respite from all that would have been of great interest to him. Not so. See, in addition to being the second grumpiest old man in all the world, Mr. Smiley is also an old hippie protest-marcher from the `60s who spent a great deal of his time back then fighting against The Man in all his forms via said protests as well as through a hippie protest-marcher newspaper publication of which he and the future Mrs. Smiley were editors. Now, from his age, clothing and demeanor alone, I could have guessed his identity as a f[...]



The New Place (Moving Days A)

2008-08-08T20:12:30.040-04:00

Now keep in mind that while the new place had been in the works for a very long time, we had difficulty believing it would ever happen. In fact, it had been in the works for so long that we used to tell people that we wouldn’t believe it was real until we set foot in it ourselves. However, over the course of the year it took to finally build it, we found it difficult to argue with the presence of that monstrosity slowly rising on the hill.

Everyone wanted to know when the move was and how they could help. We didn't really know what to tell them. None of us had ever accomplished a move of this magnitude, so we had little idea of what would be required. It had seemed that every stage of the project thus far had been frought with important decisions that had to be made, not to mention people standing in the way who didn't understand how enormous the ramifications of making the wrong decisions might become. There was also a small but vocal contingent of people opposed to the project as a whole--people who were silent throughout the process of leading up to the project itself, when commentary from anyone who wished to add any was sought, but who became not only vocal but then also physical saboteurs once the project was officially underway. We managed to leap those hurdles as they came at us, but one could never tell precisely when the next hurdle would pop up.

As moving day approached, we began making preparations in earnest; storage rooms were cleaned out; supplies boxed and pretty much anything else that wasn't essential to day to day activity was packed up. Soon enough, it was time to start thinking about the rest of our stuff and the best way to get it moved. This wasn't going to be the kind of situation where guys and a truck could be hired to come do the job. And despite the offers of help we'd received, we knew we'd have to do most of the work ourselves. Just thinking about it all was enough to make us dizzy. There was certainly no turning back, though. As I said, this had been in the works for quite a while, so we were pretty much committed to the ride. Not only were we going to build a new library, but we'd move into it as well.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)



Hauling it in (Moving Days 3)

2008-08-18T09:33:39.911-04:00

My first night in alone in the new house in Borderland wasn't as fun as I had thought. It just seemed very lonely and wrong without the wife there. And our inflata-bed, which had served us well during the many weekends we'd spent in the house working on it, was even less comfortable than usual. I couldn't even let Sadie sleep on it, either, for fear her claws would shred it.For her part, Sadie wasn't much help in alleviating my mood about being alone in the house. Every time I took her out to potty, she would just sit and stare into the woods behind our house with an expression of intense uncertainty at the night sounds. This caused me to also uncertain, for our new house is a good deal more secluded than our previous one and I have no idea what sort of animals roam the woods at night. Sure, it's probably just deer and raccoons, but our state was also home to the most famous Mothman sightings as well, so who can tell?The next morning, the movers arrived, though not without first calling for directions. They were pretty much the same guys from the day before, including Bud. With only a few exchanges of pleasantries, they backed one of their enormous moving vans up our steep driveway and began hauling boxes in quick as anything.Unlike the old house, where it didn't really matter if the movers got dirt on the floor cause we were going to clean up anyway, the new place has a carpet to bare floor ratio that's pretty much reversed from the old place. And unfortunately, it rained overnight. Fortunately, Bud had a plan and put down moving blankets throughout the house to keep muddy feet from muddying my carpet. I don't know why I care so much about clean carpet, what with an ever-growing St. Bernard about, but I hate to ruin it before we have to.I felt really bad for the guy who had to haul in my comics. I think the boxes of them have actually multiplied on their own over the past few years, for there seemed to be far more of them than I recalled owning. Fortunately, the wife and I had been in the previous weekend and had constructed brand new shelving in our office closet capable of storing 16 long boxes, plus two shelves of assorted graphic novels and trades. It's a setup that's been needed for a long time, for I now have office space that isn't half taken up by my stinking comics.The new place is really hurting for bookshelves otherwise, though. Sure, we have two big and one little flat-pack press board shelving units, but they're fairly worthless for long term book storage and don't go with anything. We'll have to do some shopping for "real" shelving, or perhaps build our own. We only used about two thirds of our asses staining and constructing my comic shelves, as we knew they'd be mostly out of sight. Maybe if we put our whole asses into it we could come up with something nice.By noon, pretty much all of the boxes were moved in and stacked in the rooms in which they belonged. As we have only one set of living room/den furniture, we put it in the "den" area and left the living room/dining room area as a fallback position for boxes that didn't really fit anywhere else. We'll eventually get around to furnishing that room. After all, if you have a dining room, you probably need a dining room table. And our tiny, four person table is currently being used in the breakfast nook, off the kitchen. We don't really have any desire for a second living room, so perhaps we can come up with something else to do with that s[...]



Packing it up (Moving Days 2)

2008-08-18T09:32:58.834-04:00

On the morning of our move, the wife took off for work, leaving Sadie and I behind to deal with the movers and everything that might entail. Around 9a, a big truck pulled up in front of the house and three skinny guys got out. They looked a lot like the hillbillies roofers the landlord had work on our house a while back."What's goin' on?" one of them asked."Oh, nothing much," I said. "Just a house full of stuff... to pack up... and move..." I added. And though this might seem terribly obvious information to convey to a trio of movers, I'd said it because in the back of my mind I still harbored the fear that they would somehow be expecting everything to already be packed and ready for loading. After all, why else would the moving company send only three guys to pack up an entire house? And looking at them, I couldn't help but think There's no way in hell you three are packing up my entire house in two days let alone the one day I was told it would take. Impossible.Yet, when I ushered them into the house they seemed nonplussed by all the stuff yet unpacked. So far so good, I guessed.Before they could even begin the job, another truck arrived with three more movers, including Bud. I was relieved. With only a couple of greeting exchanges, Bud and his crew started in on it and began packing up our shit. And so as to stay the hell out of their way, Sadie and I retreated to my office where I proceeded to pack up a few last minute odds and ends and get some blogging done.Other than occasional questions from Bud and the crew, that was pretty much my involvement in the whole process. I poked my head out once in a while to let the dog potty and see what progress had been made. Each time I did, another room was all but gone. I was especially impressed by the gentleman packing up our kitchen, who was clearly taking a great deal of care with each of our dishes so that they were not broken. (What we wouldn't learn for a few days is that in taking such care, he also carefully packed up our butter dish, that had been sitting out on the counter, with butter still inside.)Still, part of me felt like I wasn't doing enough. I didn't know if it was standard protocol for the homeowner to supply snacks and beverages, so I decided to err on the side of not having a box of my stuff dropped "accidentally," and Sadie and I went to the store for soft-drinks and Rice Crispie treats. While I was out, I swung by the "liberry" to let Sadie visit with her other family a bit more before we left town. Back at the house, however, Sadie was of no help at all. She wanted to be out and underfoot, so I kept having to haul her back into the office until I finally had to put her in her crate for a long nap. The guys worked solidly from 9:30a to around 3:30p by which time almost every single one of our possessions had been packed away and stacked within their vans. I had to give them credit for it, because I didn't think it could be accomplished in a day, let alone six plus hours. The only things they left behind were couch cushions and bedding on which the wife would sleep (as she still had to go to work the following morning and had opted to stay around and clean), some cleaning supplies and room after room of dust. It was an embarrassing amount of dust, really, and spoke to our distaste for doing anything about it. So as not to cause the wife to have a heart attack upon seeing it, I went ahead and vacuumed the floors (giving Sadie someth[...]



Moving Days: The Last Great Epic Tale from the "Liberry"

2008-08-18T09:31:42.016-04:00

Pay attention, cause this is going to get tricky.I've lived in a lot of places over the past 20 years. My first apartment, as such, was a rental house I shared with three and then four roommates in college that we nicknamed "Da Crib." (Yeah, I know: how utterly white of us.) And while that experience ended badly, it certainly taught us all plenty of lessons along the way and I have few regrets about it. Next up was the Festering Hellhole, a rented set of rooms in a big house near in Tupelo, which I shared with about 250 roaches who were always late with their portion of the rent and who were eternally trying to mooch my food. It was also where I met my future wife, so I can't have all that many regrets about it. After turning it over to the roaches in order to move to North Carolina and be nearer to my future bride, I lived in a Avian camper trailer in back of my future in-laws house. The future wife and I soon married and moved to Charlotte, where we lived in a couple of different apartments; one a standard crappy apartment in a not great part of town and the other a quantum leap in quality to an amazing, super-swank, bachelor pad, garage-apartment owned by my then boss Jimmy. We were only there for around six months before moving state to West Virginia where we moved into a small two story townhouse apartment with a great view of a scenic hillside cow pasture. We were there for a year and a half before moving into our first rental house that had an even better (and considerably less "mooey") view of a river valley.I spell all of that out because with each and every one of those moves, I and then I and my wife had to do all the packing and moving, with all the backbreaking labor that entails. And with each of those moves (particularly the ones where we had to deal with my extra-heavy, ugly green, gravity couch) we swore that not only would we never buy another stick of furniture, but that the next time the sticks we already had were to be moved someone else would have to come and do it all for us, cause damn if we were moving it all again. And, of course, two weeks later we were off to buy more furniture and the next move down the line was again accomplished by us.Now we're set to move into our very first home that we will own in our new city of Borderland and for the first time in our existence our dream of having other people come and move all our crap has become a reality. (Ironic, really, since we finally got rid of the gravity couch last year.)Being unaccustomed to having our moves done for us by others, though, this quickly became a situation that made us both giddy and apprehensive. Never having gone through the process, we didn't really know how it was supposed to work. I mean, on paper it seems pretty simple--Guys come over, pack up our crap, move it to the new house, unload our crap, go home--but there can be a lot of play with each level of that equation.The moving company we chose was local to Borderland. They sent a man named Bud over all the way to Tri-Metro to have a look at our crap in order to estimate how much he'd charge to move it all. His company had done a lot of moving for the hospital the wife will be working for and they knew the whole drill. Bud the mover guy assured me that they had been in the business for 50 years and knew how to pack up fragile and valuable things (of which we have very few) and rarely had any problems with breakage. But[...]