Thursday, December 06, 2007

News from the front: The continuing battle against ignorance

Here's how my work day is going:

I show up at work at 3.
Ask my fellow librarian how many ways can Hanukkah be spelled, officially, in the English language.
(A good reference question, don't you think?)
Virginia snorts, and says 16.
O. says that's crazy, and that she can think of at least two ways, no wait, three ways.
So I say: Final answers?
O: 3
Virginia: 16

Correct answer: 17
(Hebrew has no vowels, so the English has to kind of guess at how it should be spelled.)

Virginia says she didn't even think about it, just took a number out of her head.
Yup, Virginia IS a really good reference librarian.

I head downstairs to see my Christmas Church mouse collection which is being loaned out and is now on displayed in a locked case.
Apparently the mice are a huge hit with everyone passing by.
O. informs me that when they set up the display they put the bride and groom mouse being "married" by a church mouse and the rabbi mouse, just like it was at our wedding.

I tell O. we weren't married by a rabbi.
She says she thought B. was Jewish.
I tell her no, he was raised Mormon.
Now she is totally confuse.
I explained we studied under a rabbi.
She says the display is still cute, and very ecumenical.
Yup, 'tis.

I report to the reference desk.
First question: "I need to write a paper about the writer's strike out in LA. I know there are not any books written about it yet, but I need to use two books about it to write my paper. Could you help me find two books about it?"

Me: (Trying to look friendly instead of totally in a state of disbelief) Well, as you noted, there aren't any books written about this, at least yet, so pretty much there aren't any books on the topic.

Guy: Oh.

Me: I could maybe help you find an article about it...but you said you need two books.

Guy: Yeah, I need two books.

Me: I could find books on 1. Screen play writing or 2. Strikes in history. Would that help you?
Which one would you prefer?

Guy: I don't understand.

Me: (Raising both hand up to my sides, and looking at my right hand first) Well, you could:
ONE either look at books about writing for television,
and then *maybe* you could figure something out from that book that you could use,
OR (waving second hand, thinking maybe the guy was a visual learner)
TWO you could read about historical strikes and maybe find a way to discuss how strikes have changed things historically.

Guy: Yeah maybe.

Me: Which one?

Guy: The writer one.

(We have a long conversation about the fact that these books WILL NOT be about the writer's strike. He informs me his paper has to be about a controversial topic. I tell him to think about something easier. He says maybe stem cells. I show him books. He looks puzzled. I tell him to think his topic over and get back to me. He leaves.)

Next I have to walk around the library and count how many people we have in the library.
As I head way back to the back corner, I find a student has moved a desk into a little area by the fire door, and he is stretched out on the floor, on his back, asleep in the sun streaming in through the window.

I wake him up and explain that I *have to* wake people sleeping on their back on our floor to make sure they are not dead, because if they are dead we have to bury them.
He informs me he is not dead, and closes his eyes again.

Works for me.

I head back to Reference desk. Inform fellow librarian K. about Mr. Nappy Time.

K. is worried that he is blocking the emergency fire door. The fire department would be unhappy about this.

I suggest we call the fire department.
(Cuz you guys...cute....always worth a look.)

K. tells me the fire department here is volunteer, and volunteer fire fighters aren't as cute as the real ones.

We decide it wouldn't be worth calling them.

Still at reference desk, I am informed my co-librarian Hope is out sick and I will be flying reference solo tonight. That is fine with me. I can do my usual research, spelled r-e-a-d-i-n-g b-l-o-g-s, and e-b-a-y to make the time go by.

I also have to buy several thousand dollars worth of DVD and videos.
Shopping for movies: that's what they pay me for.
Did you know you can buy Jane Eyre as a CLIFF'S NOTES dvd????

Next O. come up to me at the desk. She wants me to know there has been a guy on the second floor, with a mohawk under a hair net, who has been rather agitated, and trying to lure the staff to go places to find his papers, or cell phone or comb...and that they have called the police.

Mr. Mohawk Hairnet has either left or is still here. Hard to tell. Around age 40, maybe Hispanic. Has tattoos. Be aware.

Oh, and he has been added to the list of people to watch out for, along with the foot fetish guy that visited our library twice. And the guy who pats people too.

I am to feel free to call the police if I feel uncomfortable.
And Daniel is working downstairs, he will be watching as well.
(So is Daniel willing to take the guy out if he is a problem and the cops can't get here???)

OK that one.

Decide to call Bernie, maybe he would like to hang out in the library with me tonight.
He doesn't answer.
Go to the back to comb my hair, put on some more lipstick, and grab a piece of taffy.
I notice the huge kitchen knife that I brought to the library with me on Tuesday, along with a loaf of home made persimmon bread.
Bread is gone, the knife is clean and waiting.
Hmmm...should I take it out to ref desk?
Just in case?


At desk: Spin dreidel. Teach others how to play dreidel.
I have my little chanakiah here, and I brought jelly belly beans to play for.
The other librarian have poured the beans around the chanakiah, so now it looks like the Easter bunny has dropped by for Hanukkah.

Watch various Hanukkah videos on Youtube.
Really like this one.

So far so good. Two and a half hours to go.

(Last week a guy called wanting a book about how the United States has banned cell phones.
I told him that since the United States actually hasn't banned cell phone, there were not any books written on that subject.
He then explained that he actually needed two books about it.)


Anonymous said...

Wow. People. Wow. Just like here at work where the doctors spent 4 hours, yes, 4 whole hours explaining and clarifying and detailing a "plan of care" for a patient with the family. This morning, the family member tells us, "the doctors have a plan, but I don't know what it is."
Yes, I actually saw the doctor banging his head against the wall.

Vicki said...

Life at the library - always interesting, huh? Did you ever see Mr. Mohawk Hairnet? How strange!

Cute video...I always wondered about the spelling of Hanukkah...thanks for reminding me why we really don't know.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I think you could write a book about your job - good novel material!

I consulted my old Modern Hebrew text book - I remembered learning vowels once upon a time. It lists 14 vowels. However, you won't find them used in everyday printed Hebrew, but you should find them in the Hebrew Bible; most of those dots and dashes above and below the consonants are the vowels. They are not included as part of the Hebrew alphabet either. And, to make it more confusing, one or two Hebrew consonants are sometimes silent, but you can't leave them out or the word means something else.

Have I totally confused you?? Even with the vowels included, it's still impossible to know how to spell Hebrew words in English. No wonder there are 17 variations of Hanukkah!