Librarian Rave Mix

Musical libretto with color overlay

Librarians: You know how it goes.

You are out partying with your librarian friends. Suddenly you realize that your gathering requires a suitable soundtrack. A library-themed soundtrack. Indeed, without the proper music, the event will be a disaster!

It could happen. The worst case scenario is sobering: everyone ends up hopping around to the They Might be Giants’ album “Flood” until the police show up and ticket you with a noise violation.*

Using a combination of technology and powerful query-typing skills, I have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. Introducing Dancing on the Reference Desk, a free playlist dedicated to libraries, librarians, and their interests.

Including such timeless classics as Ch-Check it Out by the Beastie Boys, and Lady Writer by Dire Straits make sure your next librarian rave is a success with this excellent compilation.

Note: I’m not associated with Spotify, but I do think they are pretty awesome. If you end up using this soundtrack let me know. I would love to attend some rocking librarian parties vicariously.
Credits: I dictated this entire blog post to my iPhone via Dragon Dictate while spooning nutrient-rich goop into the baby’s mouth. Special thanks to Jenny Klumpp who provided numerous excellent suggestions.
* This actually happened. I was in grad school hopping around with my fellow nerds, watching the Muppet Show and listening to TMBG. We chipped in to pay the ticket. This was in my experience hands-down the Dorkiest. Police Intervention. Ever.

Library Tourism: The San Francisco Main Branch

Air freshener

I’ve escaped my parental bonds for a moment, thanks to my husband, so I have a few minutes to tell you about my recent trip to the SF Public library. The big one downtown. The one I visited a long time ago and left, convinced that public librarianship in a large city belonged to the realm of the nostril-less.

San Francisco has a Big Beautiful Library, located in the Civic Center across the street from City Hall. The building is full of glass and marble and echo-y ceilings, in the grandest tradition of main library excess. As a young library tourist, I had visited this landmark eager to see Library Done Right, and learn what can be made when budget constraints are erased and the architects are released from their fetters. Unfortunately, I had failed to consult with a resident when planning the walk there, and found myself entangled in The Tenderloin, SF’s most unpleasant neighborhood. I dodged madmen in wheelchairs and puddles of vomit for a few blocks, and arrived safe but shaken. Which is not to say that the special Tenderloin atmosphere ended when I went inside.

Due to its location, the SF Library Main branch has struggled with strange bedfellows. City Hall, the Opera, the Symphony, and a few lesser monuments surround the building, but the clientele and the smell remind you that the Tenderloin ends only a block away. Nine years ago, this meant the entire bottom two floors were permeated with Eau Du Armpit, and the best reading chairs were occupied by scruffy men with newspapers over their heads. This may have influenced my decision, upon moving to the city, to avoid the downtown branch entirely.

However! When Adorable Daughter and I visited the library two weeks ago (after some discreet nursing in the car) we encountered a cleaned-up building, with a less lived-in look. We visited the small soulless cafe downstairs, wrestled with the wireless (mommy has an iphone MMORPG problem), and found a nice browsing collection staffed by two friendly and incredibly overqualified librarians. The homeless problem seems to have abated somewhat, and I noticed security guards everywhere.

One of the things that prompted me to give it another try was an excellent article in the Chronicle announcing “the country’s first full-time psychiatric social worker stationed in a public library”. A quick google search reveals this to be a much-press-released, and apparently effective tactic on the part of SFPL to combat the library’s struggle with homeless patrons.  It might have been a coincidence, I’m just a single data point, but there did seem to be an improvement since my last visit.

If you want a reason to be grateful for your current job (assuming you aren’t an SF Public librarian), you might enjoy reading the many Yelp reviewers who have shared their encounters with some of the library’s pants-eschewing patrons. If you want to save thirty bucks on a newly-released hardback, you might enjoy the Main Branch’s science fiction collection.

The San Francisco Library Main Branch: Four stars. Would visit again.

Librarians love Liquor

In which I write about my evening as though it appeared in a social column:

Librarians-turned-Software-Goons Sarah Dilling and Erica Olsen spent the evening discussing religion, the raising of rhetorically skilled children, and workplace mentoring this evening over mojitos at local bistro Luna Park. Rumor has it that the field of software development pays more than *twice* that of Librarianship, and offers larger amounts of free food. Where will this double dose of database-discussing debutantes appear next?

Introducing a 7-year-old to the concept of “library”

Modern Day Prometheus or why my boyfriend is the greatest guy ever. Can you believe I get to kiss this man?

My first question was a slightly judgmental “where were his parents during all of this?”

adobe-orange-yellow.jpgI’m remembering week after week of library visits when I was a kid. We didn’t have any money, but we had all the books we wanted. My first library card was at age, what? four?

Apparently the parents were there checking out videos. Hopefully they will return.

70’s Librarians Know How To Party

I grabbed this photo from my Information School’s 75th anniversary website. Which I designed. A long time ago. Before I discovered that flexible CSS-layouts make everyone’s lives better.

Anyway, I love these librarians. The photo was from the “campus life” section, and I’ve just got to say: If you are in this photo or know someone who is, please let me buy you a Schlitz. Because that’s what they’re drinking. I know this through the magic of Photoshop.

So is it just me or was library school more fun back then? My classmates drank, don’t get me wrong, but we did it in a more serious, social-reform sort of way. You know, Mojitos and Cosmopolitans. These guys look like they just grabbed a case of beer after Intro to Cataloging and went to town.

The Worst Librarian Ever

It’s time to tell the story of The Worst Librarian Ever.

Once upon a time, I was a new employee at Cornell University’s Olin Library. One of my first assignments was to tour the campus libraries and get a sense of the place. As you can imagine, campus library tours are not as popular as say, bong hits at the Tri Delts. Often the tour consisted of three or four people. One ill-fated day, the Olin Library tour consisted of one person: me.

Two of the library’s head muckeymucks guided the tour. One of them, a stern grey-haired woman, will heretofore be known as the Worst Librarian Ever.

The tour proceeded, and the three of us wandered through various rooms. I feigned interest in an array of statistics. Finally we reached a popular section of the library nicknamed The Cocktail Lounge, a white 1970’s style reading room filled with comfy chairs and tables arranged for group work. Students sat reading, listening to music, and talking.

I was relieved. Here at last was a comfortable space where the real life of the library took place, away from the fluorescent back-rooms of library administration. I wondered what people were reading. A buzz of conversation filled the room.

My tour guide kept up her spiel about circulation and holdings, until The Worst Librarian Ever suddenly cut her short. “Excuse me” she said, striding away from our small group. A lone student lay across two of the comfy chairs with a book on his chest. The comfy chairs, which I suspect were chosen for the express purpose of being comfy, had put him to sleep.

The Worst Librarian Ever leaned over the student and poked him awake. I watched in horror as he woke with a start to stare into her blazing eyes. The Worst Librarian Ever, pausing for effect, raised her finger, pointed and said in a voice so terrible its echo caused students in surrounding states to drop out of Library School:

“Take your feet off that chair RIGHT NOW young man!”

I winced. The entire room winced. The student took his feet down and put on his headphones. Conversation started up again. The earth continued to turn.

Five years in the future, three of the students in the room find themselves voting down a library millage but can’t quite explain why. Ten years in the future, the young man will be arrested for soliciting a dominatrix to flog him with rubber stamps. Five minutes in the future, I place an emergency call to my friend the Excellent Cornell Librarian.

She explains that the Olin library is open 24 hours. She mentions that The Worst Librarian Ever works an average of 8 hours per day, leaving 16 hours for students to stomp around on the furniture in whatever manner they wish. She confides that in addition to damaging the reputation of librarians to a roomful of future-influential ivy leaguers by loudly eviscerating a fellow student for a trivial infraction, The Worst Librarian Ever didn’t even work in that library.

She was just, you know, helping out.

Index This

Did you know that there is an American Society of Indexers? How meta is that?

In a similar vein, our fearless leaders here at the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds recently spearheaded the creation of an animal behavior ontology. I was browsing through the list of behaviors and have concluded that librarians are predisposed to aid-giving behavior, and perhaps homeostatic postures.