ASSOCIATES (vol. 8 no. 2, November 2001) -

RE: Library Life, 7/30/01


Tinker Massey
USC Thomas Cooper Library Copy Cataloger
Richland County Public Library Shelver
Columbia, SC

I am a Katie fan from before her truly public days and I love the fact that she has never changed…only gotten better. I was appalled when I read of her discarded titles for future articles. I believe they, in themselves, have great merit and would tickle anyone's funny bones given the right twists. I wrote Katie after the publication of this material and she suggested that I send it to you all for your thoughts. I shall try to take each subject or perhaps combinations and make comments about their possibilities.

"Librarian hair: sugar bowls or does it grow that way?"

This could actually be an open forum topic. "Buns" and other styles that epitomize librarians might be interesting to talk about, but is this in reference to some of the abbreviated haircuts I've seen lately? My Dad used to cut my brother's hair with a bowl over his head. Does that technique still exist? I am more interested in the streaking methods of all the rainbow colors I see about us. Add to that, the logo of the university where I work on your cheek and you have "tres chic" in bloom. This could actually be a kicker for articles on the dress styles of library workers and Circulation personnel win hands down. Well, just a thought. This could get very rowdy and possibly back biting. Maybe Katie's right -- chuck this one!

"Who let the catalogers out?"

This may be too personal for me. I am a cataloger by trade and in my heart. We are a rare and strange breed. We want order! Gosh, I hope no one looks at my desk! This could spawn a whole series of articles on the egos and eccentricities of various work types.

"Reference THIS!"

Some evenings, I want to get away from patrons who incessantly ask those awful reference questions. The above topic would be my response on those hard nights when I am trying to get our shelving caught up and I am the only shelver on board. Thank goodness I have the strength to grin and go on. Last night in one of my panics to get things done, a patron sitting at a computer called me over to ask a question. I politely said that I knew nothing about computers and the reference person would help her. She said, "Oh no, this is a general question. Do you spell gray with an 'a' or an 'e' ?" I responded that it depended on which English language you would be using. "Gray" is an American spelling, while "grey" was a British spelling. She looked at me very puzzled, so I continued by saying that I actually use the grey spelling in my poetry because I like the looks of it better than gray. She brightened and looked back at the screen avowing to use the grey because she liked it better too. Reference THAT! if you will.

"Why E-bay should be considered work-related."

Please, Katie, write this one! I have never understood how participating or snooping on E-bay is ever considered work-related. There is nothing more distressing than trying to ask a question of a worker at the public library venue who the person is engrossed in that website. I always feel like I am interrupting some exciting transaction to bring a little dullness to their lives. I can understand people tapping into book sites or news sites, but come on…how does this relate folks? I would enjoy some edification on this topic. Are they trying to sell the library out from under us? or the books?

"Feral librarians"

What an interesting topic. I have known some feral librarians and some feral patrons. Actually, this could be approached from the "wild" personality to "having a lack of personality." I believe these are the widely variant definitions. I think the feral patrons are a bit scarier, because I know the feral librarians and they are just "wild" with no other explanation. Sometimes I scurry behind the seasonal decorations when they come out of the woodwork, or is it plastic now? I have helped to tame a few, but that is another story.

"Staring patrons: mentally disturbed or simply can't believe what they're seeing?"

I am a little more concerned about staring librarians. Is there anything behind the eyes or have they just adopted a new method to appear awake when they are really dozing?

"Two can live as cheaply as one in compact shelving drawers."

Wow! This really hit home, or lack of one. A friend and I are trying to find a way to combine three households into one and save money. Had never considered compact storage. Perhaps we could get some ideas. BTW, Katie, what do we do with the dog and the cats?

"Turn paperclip chains into a profitable business."

How timely. I am always looking for a way to make money and pay bills. Is there really a market for the chains? I was trying to make animal ornaments and jewelry out of them. Your idea is much easier.

"Shelver's cramp."

I can certainly speak from experience on this topic. Could we also add a discussion of the "shelver's thumb"? I wish I had a nickel for all the times people ask me about my wrist supports. Children seem to be the most curious of all. They really are dears to be so concerned.

"Chewing gum, the librarian's friend."

I cannot tell you how often I have used this devise for quick repairs and putting up posters! Can you name five ways to use chewing gum? Be nice!

"Organic bookmarks"

This could be an exciting article. Steeped in the history of library work, I could shed some light on various and sundry items used as bookmarks. Leaves, pine straw, Popsicle sticks, gum wrappers (some with gum), bills, receipts, parking tickets, pornographic photos, cat/dog collars (where are the animals now?), and other biodegradable materials are popular items. Some of the truly organic items, such as mushrooms, moss, flowers and food or excrement are definite winners. My latest was a book with bloodstained pages, but I think that was an accident and not merely a bookmark.

"Make your own cockroach circus."

I can help a little here, as my friend and I tried to make use of the various species that came through the mails in packaging. One lizard from India was too dehydrated to be of much use, but the cockroaches are trainable. I did find that they are resistant to walking highwires and being shot out of cannons, but they paint up very nicely as clowns. I did lose my circus one day to an overexuberant cat who couldn't resist a cockroach in clown's clothing!

"Selectric typewriters, demon spawn."

I had one department head who swore that Selectrics were demon spawn. She could never understand non-moveable carriages. This is a possible. I have wonderful stories available for this one. Could almost get into a catalog of demon spawn in libraries. I think this one depends on your experiences and library lore.

"Turn your security gate into an exercise machine."

I can see the possibilities for this one in some circumstances. The gates at the Public Library are either poles or arches, while the ones at USC are the old style swing bars. Hey, we could add the power doors and make this a gym full of interesting equipment. If anyone is intrigued, we can work on this together.

"Beeping sounds and how to ignore them."

I already ignore them! I do have a little trouble with a co-worker's machine that sounds like planes revving up, and all the various heaters and fans that accommodate the various temperatures of the workers. I must say that at times, there is so much noise, I have trouble figuring out the fire alarm. Wonder if OSHA is interested in hearing loss in our workplace?

"Building a new circulation desk out of 2 inch pencils."

Are we talking about the little nubbins? I am totally into woodwork and would find this a true challenge. I think we could either go for variously decorated pencils or just sand them all down and stain them a nice oak or mahogany, depending on one's décor. What do you think?

"101 uses for discarded patron clothing."

Our "lost and found" is slap full most days. I would be interested in this list. Can you share it with us? I want to know why everything "left behind" appears to be for dolls or aliens? How did we end up with that bra anyway?

"Elmer's glue and rubber band sculpture."

I think we could combine this with the paperclips and come up with some beautiful modernistic artifacts. Wonder what we could fit in a time capsule? Wonder what people would think 50 years from now? Does Elmer's glue last that long?

"Book press noodles."

Right up my alley. I love to cook and I do make homemade noodles (German style). This could be fun, but I'm not sure the heating pads for SeLin labels (we still have a few around) are hot enough to boil water. Maybe…?

"Fundraising with fire extinguishers."

Still thinking about the noodles? Might need this item to douse the heating pads or the wiring. I assume we could use them for competitive distances, or areas flooded, or amounts of foam on a person? If we used a bar for a venue, we could be more inventive, I think.

"Why libraries and police stations should be combined."

Perhaps this one is self explanatory. I think of all the strange creatures I encounter in the evenings and know I would rather have the police station than one security guard. How 'bout you? It's a strange world these days!

"Sea monkeys, the key to the future of libraries."

Katie, I think one is your topic. I am intrigued with the possibilities in this topic, but I feel only you could do it justice. My oceanography background is a little too slim.

"Catalog Card Lasagna"

Here we are back at cooking school. We always wanted to know how to utilize those cards. Hey USC has a preponderance of cards stuffed in the lower floor of this building. Perhaps we can give it a try and get back to you on this one. Let me see, what do we use for sauce? There are vegetarian sources of nutrition on the top floor, if they haven't been killed by the "meat locker effect."

"Seasonal decorating with bathroom tissue."

My goodness, we have some real patron artists in this building. This could be a self help article with pictures to demonstrate the new techniques. I'm sure this could be a winner in most reading circles.

"Heathkit circulation systems"

I am familiar with the Heathkit systems and would be willing to try to build a new circulation system. Of course, it might have more bells and whistles than the design calls for, but that's the fun of design, isn't it? Now where does that bolt go? I always seem to have something left over.

"Knit your own new carpet"

Wow, I didn't realize the possibilities here. We have some knitters, crocheters and other hand arts people in the library. Perhaps we could actually collect all these talents for a weekend of fun and excitement in creating something for the floor that could have people looking down for a change. Do you think it's overkill to have the logo done on each floor?

"Bookmobile rodeos: great fundraisers or just a big mess to clean up?"

Could be fun or a mess or both. I think if we could find a way to include bookcart races, book lassoing, cockroach races (or was that in the circus?), microfilm rollabouts, book tosses, rubberband shoots, paperclip tosses into microfilm canisters, and a few other activities, we could raise a great deal of money.

"Lose weight, feel great on the book paste diet!"

Oh, no! I tried this one myself and found that I overate and lost the chance to lose weight, but I do hang together better now! I really do prefer the white paste we had in elementary school from gallon jars. The consistency was great and the taste was much better than the paste we have today. Just a connoisseur's point of view.

"A natural partnership: libraries and bait shops."

Please help me on this one too. I sometimes make lures from rubber bands and paper clips, but is there a possibility of hanging these two together? I'm really interested, because I love both. I'm not sure we can pawn off cockroaches for crickets though. This could be a venture worth trying.

Katie, please give some of these a try. I think people would be interested in some of your unique solutions for out-dated materials and processes, and some new possibilities for us to use our arts and crafts skills in answering the problems of "funds deprivation." I hope I have given you some ideas on how to develop these topics, or perhaps some questions to answer about them. Thanks for the chance to speak to you. Any other suggestions would be greatly acknowledged and accepted toward future articles.

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