Monday, December 21, 2009

On a wing and a prayer?

I have been very, very slack with keeping the blog up to date; but trust me when I tell you that is hasn't been for lack of adventures in LibraryLand, particularly in the realms of Administrivia, Beaurocracy, and EgoManiacal Whatsits.

However, tonight's big news is that I just found out that a very kind (virtual) friend of the non-library variety had posted a prayer for me over at The People's Steeple (which will require you to log into Facebook to access). Was it a prayer for keeping what's left of my mind - I hope all those who have been given a piece of it are better human beings for that - in tact? Was it a prayer for a larger functional budget? An epiphany for those that control matters bibliotechnical?

The prayer for a speedy recovery from the March gum surgery was answered. Let no one doubt the power of the Internet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

End of an era?

Just a quick note to let all 11 of the Warrior Librarian fans know that Yahoo!Geocities has informed all and sundry that as of 28 October 2009 all sites hosted there (including the Original Warrior Librarian) will cease to exist.

The good news is that almost all of it is cached at the Wayback Machine, and a new and brighter Warrior Librarian Weekly will soon be available once some Other Matters have been finalised. More information is here ...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Google Digitization Project

For those of you with an interest in copyright matters, and published works, the deadline has now passed for opting out of the Google Digitization. But you do have until 5 January 2010 to claim the Cash Payment on offer from Google, and by extension obtain the percentage of the profit Google will be making from your work.

Careful with filling out the online form, though. Or you may find yourself in ongoing correspondence with the process administrators, such as:

Dear [name removed for obvious reasons],

I'm not sure if you noticed that my email address ends in the country code "au" ... I am resident in Australia. Unfortunately your toll-free number is not available through overseas directories, so it is of little help for you to continue to refer me to that number.

I do thank you though for your explaination that you require that "rights holders who wish to have changes made to their book listings send said corrections in the form of a signed request". We do indeed live in Strange Times! Is it not absurd that the "signed request" that you require - presumably for security purposes - is so much more easily "forged" than a digitally traceable email?

However, if you check the Google Settlement Entry for the rights holder details for the book that I wrote you will see that I have actually been able to correct the error (that I have been asking for your assistance in correcting for some months) myself, through my secure password-encoded log in.


I am certain that you will understand that the above does not inspire confidence, in regard to appropriate administration of the processes with which your company has been engaged in the matter of Google's digitization of copyright protected publications.

Amanda Credaro

Too narky? Perhaps. But it is now on its way through the ether, regardless.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Street Smarts or Dumb and Dumber

For a while now, I've been noticing that people seem to be getting stupider. I almost had myself convinced that the problem was really just me, that I myself was getting crabbier and less tolerant. Until yesterday.

Racked items in KMart's Children's Clothing section had tags attached at the neckline "Warning: Clothing must be removed from hanger before wearing". No one would possibly make this up. Not even me. Q.E.D.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The History of American library humor ...

Jeanette Smith of the New Mexico State University Library wrote:

I have been researching and writing a book on the history of American library humor, and now that my 451 page manuscript is complete, I am contacting people that I mention and make short quotes from in the book. You are, of course, an important library humorist worldwide and in America. Below, I have attached material from your work in the book, with full citations. May I use this material in my book? ...

I really do love it when folk ask permission first! I wonder if I'll be getting a complimentary copy of the published work? Most probably not; the only folk to have done so thus far were ALA, who honored me with a copy of The Whole Library Handbook 4 in thanks for my humble contribution (p 368).

You'll have to get hold of your own copy of Jeanette Smith's book to find out which quotes she is going to use. And no, I'm not getting a commission on sales. As usual.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lost Widget ...

There's a terrific little widget to publicise Dan Brown's latest offering, which would have been appearing here to impress all 10 of my blog fans. Sadly though, Blogger tells me that I am not allowed to use the html necessary for the widget to be displayed.

Geez, but doesn't it make your toenails curl backwards when the simplest of technology falls down when the administration of it become the barrier. There's nothing malicious in the code (no pun intended, Mr Brown), a bit of Shockwave, a touch of embedding for display purposes, and so forth.

But my 10 loyal fans can still see the widget and "grab it" with immunity from where it is generously on offer to all.

Postscript: No birds this week, so far. But it is only Tuesday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A bird of another feather

Yep, another bird flying around the library again on Friday. Not the cute little 'blue jay' of previous fame, but the ubiquitous Indian Minor, an import by a previous generation and charged with contributing to the extinction of native species.

The Indian Minor doesn't get good press, nor any legal representation, but all that aside this particular feathered fiend flew (another 'f' word) through the library, and did in fact poop a number of times. Once - that I found - on our newly shampoo-ed carpet, and another on the back of the shelf at the end of our Reference collection.

We've got 'rules' about how high we can climb on ladders and such, so I'm still not quite sure as to who will get up the tops of the shelves and clean them, nor when. Not the cleaners' role, apparently. It may be lucky that there's a 10 year accumulation of dust across the tops of the books on the upper shelves - it may just save the books from the messages left by little birds ...

Friday, August 28, 2009

My New Hero

There is more than one Mohammad Tariq in the world, so if you are Googling, make sure you include "Keddies" in the search terms. You will unveil a story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

This particular Mohammad Tariq took on a major law-firm, who had ripped him off mercilessly when they were supposed to be Acting On His Behalf. Mohammad Tariq - eventually - won.

You're probably thinking "that's nice", or something similar. Unless you are a compensation lawyer, in which case you're probably in the middle of shredding documents. Almost worse than a lone-voice-in-the-wilderness, Tariq fought against the establishment. He was threatened with incarceration as "mentally unstable" on one occasion. He was charged $49 by his own lawyer for being told said lawyer was taking a holiday. He was charged hundreds of dollars for phone calls that could have been (and most probably were) made by clerical assistants.

Tariq took to 'sandwich-board' protests. In April this year, one newspaper described him as a "one man headache" when he protested outside the TV station on which Keddies front man has a football talk-show. The same newspaper changed its tune in August, when barrister Michael Robinson, appointed by the Supreme Court, found that ''Keddies in each case has practised systematic duplication and overcharging, which, in my opinion, is deliberate and has in many cases led to the charging of costs that are grossly excessive''.

Mohammad Tariq took a stand and won. Sure, it took him 3 years, but he never gave up - despite all the 'experts' that told him that he would never win; he was wasting his time; he should get over it. Etc. Just a personal opinion, but I think he should be the official Poster Boy for natural justice and fair play.

Weirdness and Mind Power

I have to start, right here, by swearing to you that this is true. You can choose to be sceptical, which is your right. If I was sitting where you are now, and about to read what you are about to read, I can honestly say that I wouldn't believe it either. But that's probably more to to with being a cynic than anything else.

So I'm working away, doing what I'm paid to do, during the course of which some YouTube resources were being evaluated. A small and unexpected deviation into the area of Zen philosophy resulted in a number of footages of streams/forests/mountains with the feely-floaty musical background.

Next thing I knew, and I kid you not, into my office flew a Superb Fairy-Wren. Our American cousins should maybe thing along the lines of a "blue jay". It fluttered around alarmingly for a bit, then settled on the top shelf of my professional resources. For a moment there, I thought it might poop on the folders containing the last 7 years of stock take records. That alone gives pause for reflection.

I co-opted a colleague from a nearby office, and together we gently encouraged my little feathered visitor back out into the Wide World. Bird poop on stock take records might be a fair call, but it sure would be a financial tragedy on expensive reference books.

Being Friday, Staff Morning Tea was the next event on my schedule. Don't laugh - its a serious venue for exchanging information, strengthening working networks, ensuring sufficient sugar levels are maintained until lunchtime.

But Blow-Me-Down! (an Australian expression meaning a surprise of sufficient proportions to knock an individual horizontal). When I came back from Morning Tea, my small feathered friend was perched next to the main door of the library, waiting to be let back in.

Now the really spooky part of this is the thought of what might have happened if I'd been reviewing material on, for example, Continental Drift. Would we have had an earthquake?

Just wondering.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Cable Guy

So today, our cable TV service Team Member made a "courtesy call" to make sure that we're happy with the service. Only a cynic would note the phone call came after the contract period was finished, and now being Free Agents we can sign up with some one else, if we've a mind to do so.

Was I happy with the service? "No". Really? Why not? Coz we're paying over a hundred bucks a month and still having to go down to the video store and hire something worth watching - although our cable service provides access to over 40 different stations, including six movie channels.

And then, not only do they show rubbish on the channels we are paying for, they also want us to pay them even more money for the "premium" movies. "Premium" in this case translates to movies that people probably wouldn't mind watching.

No, of course I'm not happy. Will this be feedback be conveyed to the appropriate personnel? "But of course!" And which personnel would that be? Unfortunately the telephone line seemed to have dropped out at that point.

Gee, I hope the telco Team Member makes their curtesy phone call soon to see if I'm happy with their service.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not too long ago, I was awarded a great honor - I was appointed the Mystic Archives Librarian of the Dark Brotherhood. Yet another honorary position; you don't get paid for having fun. Apparently.

If you're not a FaceBook subscriber, this (at the moment) may mean nothing to you. However, if you're a librarian, you will no doubt be shortly rushing off to research the Dark Brotherhood. If you're in the second group (the librarians), remember that I'm only the librarian, and not responsible for the Dark Brotherhood's past activities.

Part of my virtual duties includes regular interaction with the library's patrons. No, you can never escape, even in cyberspace. But the question was posed to the other members "What would you do if you were stuck in the Dark Ages?"

Geez ... as the Librarian of the Dark Brotherhood, obviously I'd use the time to catch up on the cataloguing backlog; I sure as heck don't have the time to do it at the moment, what with having to slave over a hot keyboard 24/7.

OK, I don't *have* to be 24/7 at the keyboard, but if I leave the 'net for anything other than the absolutely necessary, who knows what critical information I might miss out on? And THEN what am I going to do if a library user comes and asks me something - in my capacity as The Font of All Knowledge and The Keeper of the Toilet Key - what am I going to do? Break into a soft-shoe shuffle and hope they back quietly away and never come back again. Sure, that's always worked in the past, but eventually folk are going to expect a little service from The Librarian at some stage ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

And today I did shelving ...

No, not as in "put the books on the shelves" ... as in "unpack the metal frames, brackets and shelves, get a screwdriver (and a big mallet) and assemble them". And THEN put the books on the shelves.

The final result looks great, but it's still not something I'd like to have to do every day - or even every month, year, gig, lifetime ...

So we went from this (left hand side pictures) to that (right hand side pictures).

The colour/color change can be credited to either an innate artistic flare, or to photographic incompetance. You choose ...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

76 Trombones in the Grand Parade?

The Street Parade for Blacktown City Festival was inspirational, in many unimagined ways. As each of the 'floats' and groups went past, an overwhelming desire to sign up with the Scouts was quickly followed by wanting to learn the bagpipes, join the Emergency Service volunteer brigades, take up gymnastics, and - I swear this was true albeit only for a few fleeting moments - learn Punjabi.

Mind you, I don't know why each and every vehicle with claxton and/or sirens had to give full voice only when at the closest possible distance from my ears. And why every human tank had to make sure they were walking at inverse warp speed in front of me. Or maybe it only seemed that way? Nah. There must have been a huge meeting somewhere last night, where my photo was distributed and an orchestrated complex set of maneuvers was planned and executed with great precision. Those of you who are thinking that it's just the nicco withdrawal talking better not let me hear you.

Highlight of the day was most probably having a 'chat' with our state Premier (sort of like the US equivalent of governor, but with less visible security). Particularly since I was able to provide my personal gratitude for his kind donation to our school library last year. Mind you, he did seem a little lost for words when I casually dropped the fact that the library budget was once again completely depleted, and less than half way through the year ...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And the stocktake begins ...

Yep, tomorrow stocktake ("inventory") starts for the Non-Fiction location. Having spent the last 4 months culling/weeding/deselecting, it's down to a mere 7K-ish volumes. Five days, 2 people ... hmmm. With one person scanning and the other screen-checking (with regular swapping under OHS), that's only 1400 books/movements per day, on and off shelves.

Over a five hour period (six hours, less 20 minutes morning break and 40 minutes lunch break), that's 280 per hour, or 4 per minute. But allowing for an average of one in ten resources - which was about the going rate for Fiction last year - having a problem that will require approximately 5 minutes to correct (eg catalog error, incorrect spine label, invalid barcode) that's an additional 140 books x 5 minutes work time. That's only another 12 hours work, or a little over 2 additional days.

If the equipment doesn't fail, the network doesn't go down (two power surges in the afternoon on last Friday), no one stops for any reason, like they die or something ...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Memorable Words?

Today is the anniversary of the patenting of the rubber band. At the time, it was (apparently) said that the innovation would mean the end of string. This is true, I'm not making it up.

As usual, there will be The Doubters, to whom I would say you are quite free to research this for yourself. I would only ask that you use an authoritative source, check for currency and lack of bias, and remember to reference your source.

Hmmm ... I wonder who will spot the deliberate error in the above :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So, how was *your* day?

This morning started off well, with three hours x 2 goodly folks clearing an enormous backlog of accessioning. Then things started going pear-shaped. The standard back-up procedure 'hung', was remotely 'solved', and the morning's work was completely lost to the system. So tomorrow, we get to do all the work again.

A rainy lunchtime meant a very busy library; borrowing was less than usual, with crowd control becoming first priority. But it was the two men with clip-boards measuring things was a much greater concern - particularly when it came to light that they were looking at what part of the library was expendable. A handicapped toilet had to be constructed, and where else would you put one except in an upstairs area with no adjacent sewerage plumbing? The library was an obvious choice. Not. Being as how the library is 3 classrooms with the walls removed, with one third of the created space taken up with 'administration' type area, one third with resource storage, and one third with reader/learner space, of course the other third could become a handicapped toilet.

A student altercation consumed the rest of the work day; and that didn't even consider the amount of paperwork still to be completed. Resolution was 'not yet reached'.

Then it was off to the hairdresser's in preparation for tomorrow's school photographs. When my spectacles fell in half after being dropped from a very small height. Not to mention the fact that it was raining when I left the salon. On my newly created coiffure.

I'm tempted not to even mention having also cracked a tooth, and not being able to get through to my dentist, let alone not get an appointment.

Ah well, tomorrow's another day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The mysterious case of the missing librarian ...

... or, where the heck have I been for the last month. That's an easy question to answer, although possibly not quite as easy to justify. In the never-ending battle to stay abreast with cyber-developments, I signed up with Facebook, uploaded pictures, commented on other stuff, and spent about 3 hours a day 'engaging'. [For those who haven't undertaken the Youth of Today's Social Networking Experience, read 'playing games'.]

After only 27 days, I can report that yes, it's addictive; yes, it sucks the life out of life; no, it has virtually no educational value; and no, it doesn't come anywhere near real-life 'socialisation'. Take for instance the Friends facility. Here you can ask people to be your friend, or they can ask you. But then you get little messages that say things like "6 of your friends hate you". Yeah, OK, maybe it isn't all that far removed from real life. Sort of makes you feel like George Bernard Shaw ... "he doesn't have any enemies, but his friends don't like him much".

There were many things that I didn't understand. For example, in the dedicated advertisement portion of each web page were 3 or 4 ads - with an extra little thougthful link to "more ads". I couldn't imagine why anyone would click on that link, except by accident. But sheesh! What would I know? I'm a Baby Boomer in a Gen Y world. Apparently.

On the other hand, I did find out a number of things about myself that I hadn't known before joining Facebook. I absolutely suck at games where getting money relies on the generosity of people you don't know, and who don't appreciate the gravity of the situtation. But wait! That IS just like real life. At least as far as financing the operations of a library.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. I just want to reach Level 50 in Heroes and Villains before I log out for the final time. And I'mwaiting for a power pack for Dragons. Oh, and I have to find out why the daily income in Metropolis has fallen to $12/day ...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Quietest Excursion Ever?

Friday was a stinker, weather wise, but traveling to the (NSW) State Library for the Australian launch of Room to Read was well worth the trip. The fact that some of Australia's top Young Adult authors got to hang out with me was a bonus ... or maybe it was the other way around.

For non-USA library folks, meet Susanne Gervay, Libby Hathorn, and Melina Marchetta (pictured above) with me. My latest coiffure was courtesy of the early morning start and the extreme heat.

Getting a free copy of John Wood's book (Leaving Microsoft to Change the World) wasn't any problem at all - it was included in the 'show bag'. Having him sign his book was also only a matter of lining up and waiting; I guess he's used to library folk closely supervising what he writes. After all, we don't want any scribbling, do we?

But the whole point of Room to Read is to support the establishment of school libraries in developing countries. Who knew that only US$15,000 was enough to build a whole school in Nepal? A handful of very small schools in my area did some fund raising, and were able to present a cheque for AUD$8,000. Even without the fluctuations in exchange rates, that's half a school already paid for.

The two students from my school that traveled with me on The Excursion also got a tour of the State Library. They were pretty much blown away not only by sheer volume (no pun intended); we descended down into the bowels of closed stacks, saw mammoth OldSystem catalog cards and cabinets (pre 1980 acquisitions, all undergoing entry into the LibraryManagementSystem); the Historical Records bit, etc. A big day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Website of the Week: OneMotion

Talk about fun! (Yeah, OK ... actually have some fun, if you're allowed to). You can bounce the 'rappers' all over the floor; it's especially fun to drop them on their noses from the top at Breakdance.

Or if you're not that much into that type of diversion, you could also try playing with the spider. Not recommended for arachnophobes, but you grab it by the leg with your mouse and drag it around the screen. It's a lot more fun than it sounds. The right mouse click drops some insects for the spider to eat.

For the more sensitive and caring, OneMotion also offers The Drum Machine or a little snowstorm thingy for the more gentle reader.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sydney: Holidaying at Home

And now, the Global Economy Crisis Strategy for Vacationing ... "homecationing". A week in one of the world's greatest cities, and without the expense (and drama) of overseas travel. Yes, we "did" Sydney.

For non-Oz readers and others who might be interested ... what did a family of 4 do, and at what cost? Stayed at the Meriton Kent, close to the heart of the CBD, in a 2 BR self-contained unit for AUS$160 per night. (Found via

Amusements included the Star Wars exhibition (AUD$60 for family ticket) and Luna Park (free entry, pay for rides ... but with the McDonald's vouchers cost was $24 per kid for an Unlimited Ride Ticket). Travel around Sydney was AUD$10 for "Family Fun Day" ticket - all trains, buses and ferries.

Shopping? Paddy's Markets (open Saturday and Sunday) was 2 blocks away. A few good buys, but often cheaper in downtown stores - especially clothes. Don't miss dropping into Elizabeth's Bookshop. Well worth a detour (and no, I don't get a commission).

Eating out? Hotel was 10 metres from "the Spanish Quarter", two blocks from Chinatown, a leisurely stroll to Darling Harbour.
  • Best Value meal was at "Mamma's Kitchen" (Italian) in Liverpool Street; total bill came to under AUD$80.
  • Worst meal? "Capitan Torres" (Spanish); total bill was over $140 - which included a plate of bone and gristle that was supposed to be the house specialty, Suckling Pig. [After registering two complaints - once with the waiter, then again with the owner - they reduced the total bill by AUD$9.00.]
  • Worst value? 4 x Burgers,4 x cola and 3 x chips at The Rocks; total cost AUD$78.00. Really.
  • "Cold Rock" Ice cream x 2 was AUD$12.00, but well worth every cent - so I was told by the kids.
And being Sydney, lots of free stuff, sightseeing-wise at least - particularly around the harbour and Circular Key. Brilliant saxophonist near Customs' House; didgeridoo playing near the Museum of Modern Art (yes, Sydney has one of those too). Unfortunately the bagpipe player outside City Extra meant we changed our lunch plans for that day. Don't get me wrong, I really like bagpipes, particularly when the piper has a repertoire of more than three tunes.

Come, see, enjoy. And what's even better, for cheap!

Language Abuse: A sign of the times?

News reports of the last day or two have been bemoaning falling literacy standards throughout the country. Welcome to reality, Powers-That-Be. Yeah, we know you've been denying it for decades - but you won't believe the years of academically rigorous studies showing the potential for school libraries to impact positively on educational standards.

Why? Coz it's going to cost you money. Al told you years ago that you were all very good at defining your educational benchmarks, but that you need to also set resourcing benchmarks and do A Little Something about funding them. But wait! You started national testing in 2008. Brilliant!!! But then what?

Here's something interesting ... what does the sign photographed mean? I asked 3 high school students who were waiting for the doors to open. They all said "it means if you join up [as a Museum member], you can get in free". Sadly, no. It's $75 per year.

On the other hand, the Museum staff need to take some heat on this one. Where's the comma supposed to be? And shouldn't there be - at the very least - a semicolon after the word "today"? Ah. "What's a semicolon?". Indeed.