ASSOCIATES (vol. 3, no. 3, March 1997) -

Table of Contents


As one of the founding editors of Associates, I am proud of our
publication dedicated to the advancement of library
paraprofessionals.  Our Chief Editor, Kendall Simmons, asked me
to write the editorial for this issue.  The topic that comes to
my mind is technology in the library, particularly the computer
that we are sitting at all day long.
Can computers be fun in the library?
I am sitting here trying to ignore the pain in my wrist and
elbow, adjusting my wrist and mouse pads, and following the
guidelines for ergonomic exercises.  I check my email, sorting
through all this stuff, when I find one subject that is "re: re:
re: fwd."  Anything forwarded this much must be worth looking at.
The message says:
     Spock: Why did the chicken cross the road, Captain?
     Kirk: So she could go where no chicken has gone before.
The Captain's correct, Mr. Spock.  Everybody should feel like
that chicken and be excited about exploring the computer.  We've
all heard about stress, strain, and monotony of computers, so
let's look at the fun side.
1.   Spell check.  It's fun to make typos these days with word
processors that have spell check.  Misspell "that" as "taht" and
the spell check recommends replacing it with "tart."  You get
"amble" for "email."  And, what a hoot to spell check ordinary
library abbreviations:
ALA = ala (a winglike structure or part, such as an earlobe)
CLA = clabber (sour, curdled milk)
OCLC = Occult (hmmm?)
For kicks, I checked my own name:
Wendee = Wended (proceeded, or gone)
Eyler = Alar (having wings)
Reminds me of that chicken crossing the road.
2.   Computer sound effects.  Why have the mild, pleasant Windows
chimes and dings when you can have anything?  If you go into your
Program Manager, and click on Control Panel, you may be lucky to
have an ala, I mean an ear, icon for Sounds.  If you play around
with it (come on, explore strange, new worlds), you can switch
sounds around.  Even better than that, you can use sound effects
from other programs or download sounds from the Internet.  My
computer laughs when Windows opens, and Homer Simpson says,
"Where's my burrito!" when my printer paper tray is empty.  My
co-workers tolerate these sounds pretty well, but they just
couldn't stomach the dog yelp that I replaced for the ding.
Especially the day it got stuck and yelped about 2000 times until
I had to reboot my computer.  They called out to me in
annoyance, "Wendee, what ARE you doing to that poor dog?"
3.   Screen savers.  Most computers come with some kind of screen
saver.  We're flexible around here, and staff can purchase and
load their own.  One person has a saver that displays a famous
art work, then fades into another.  Beautiful.  We have several
Star Trek savers; Mr. Data giving cha-cha lessons is my favorite.
Some people simply change the Program Manager, Control Panel,
Desktop screen saver to "Marquee."  You can have a rather
long, free-text message, because one of ours says "This computer
will self-destruct in 5 minutes ..."
4.   New users of Windows can have lots of fun.  We were
required, yes required, to play Solitaire, the game that comes
with Windows.  This gave us skill in mouse techniques, such as
clicking, double clicking, and dragging.  Of course, too much
mousing can lead to actual injury, so I recommend using some of
the Windows key options.  Here's an example.  Close down or
minimize everything in Windows without exiting.  Then open
something, such as OCLC's Passport for Windows, and minimize it
(go ahead and click it to minimize).  Next, open another Windows
application, such as WordPerfect or Microsoft Works.  Now, hold
down ALT and press TAB.  You should jump right back into
Passport.  Just for fun (and experimentation only), open
Solitaire or Hearts.  You can jump into (or out of) these
programs as quickly as you can hear footsteps coming up behind
5.   Email.  Oh, those lists! And lists!  Come on, aren't they
fun?  How quickly one feels inundated with all those mailings.
Actually, the fun part is trying to remove your name from the
list.  We've all seen the message sent in error to the list
rather than the server that snowballs from "Unsubscribe" to
"Please take my name off this list" to the final "Get me off this
**** list NOW!"
This is only a sampling of the fun you can have with your
computer, right there in your library, at no cost.  A new market
of computer gadgets is out there: frames for computer screens,
Beanie Baby toys that can be arranged attractively on the top of
the monitor, and whatever else you can imagine.
Is having fun important?  You can be the judge of that when the
stress, strain, and monotony of the job creep up on you.
Wendee Eyler
Editor, Associates
Library Assistant
Rivera Library
University of California, Riverside