title="Atom feed">Site Feed Blogstpot Site Feed

Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Government documents

When I moved to Denver Colorado in the late 70’s I got a job working in a giant office office park as a contract worker. I always remember it took ten minutes to get off the exit ramp of I-25 in the morning.

The job was to put together the key words and subject headings for an index of state documents. We did this without having access to the original documents themselves, so with a bit of imagination we figured out that the annual report of the Montana Milk Commission could be categorized under “milk”, “dairy farms” and “agriculture”. That was probably accurate but I’ll never know if “What the blazes do we do now” had to do with fire prevention or existentialist futurism. The job was a contract job, no health benefits, and no unemployment benefits. That was a shame since I was laid off early the next year, apparently the audience for such an index being elusive.

That was my only experience with government documents but eleven years later, still looking for a professional librarian position, the line on my resume must have tweaked the interest of a library directory in New Jersey for I was hired as a government documents librarian. Thankfully, the fact that I had never taken a government documents class was cleverly glossed over in my interview, and I learned documents by what we shall call, the seat of the pants.

Part 1 on a series of pieces on my life as a government documents librarian. To come are the sequel, the return of government documents and the bride of government documents.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Computers and the Internet can add great efficiency to many library processes. Unfortunately, sometimes another person doing a task, even if the task is done in an inefficient way, is a more efficient use of my time than me doing a task efficiently. This issue inevitably has confronted many librarians as computers and the Internet has woven its tentacles into every aspect of our jobs.

One example. A volunteer has been doing the obituary index on file cards for years. A library manager decides that the index should be done on a database. The volunteer can’t use computers so she leaves. Suddenly a staff member is doing the task, albeit more efficiently.

Another example. Someone from another department has been printing out reports using an overpriced service. The department supervisor decides we can save money by eliminating the service. Of course the change means our department inherits the job since it was our idea. The next week I find poor little me doing, albeit more efficiently, what the other guy from another department had been doing. Not to whine but me doing a job that I didn’t have to do before doesn’t seem efficient on my part.

Before they computerized the taking of reserves, Mrs. Krufuldt could handle the reserve cards. After computerizing the process, someone else had to take over the task. The job is done more efficiently now but on the human level, it means a task that dear Mrs. Krufuldt was doing has been taken away from her and another over taxed staff member who knows how to use computers has a new job.

Before the New York Times was put on-line a patron could wade through the microfilm on his own. Now the librarian has to find the article on the computer.

Before the library had an on-line catalog the patron could find the book
she wanted in the card catalog. Now the librarian has to find the book in the OPAC. Bu bup bu bup bu bup……..I guess I need a second cup of coffee.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Book Mooch

I need to write a blog on the library or at least book world or I may lose my 025 status. Book Mooch looks like an interesting site. On the honor system, although one is rewarded for good behavior, one can get rid of the books that are filling one's bookshelves and get books that one wants.

Of course, sending books by mail is part of the equation. I know other blogs have talked about this first, but I have a theory that my blog is read by people who don't normally read blogs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Last spring in a spirit of jeu de la vie, I decided to help a woman I know plant a garden. We went to the local big box store and got 100 pounds of topsoil, several cartons of tomatoes and, on impulse, a sixpack of collards that cost ninety nine cents. It gave me a chance to talk about my Southern heritage and how my mother used to make collards. After an hour and a half and fifty mosquitoe bites, the job was done.

My friend admitted she had never tasted collards, her being of Yankee extraction, so this would be her chance to taste some good old collard greens.

Today she looks out at her garden. The tomatoes are puny and when a tomoato does sprout she has to rush off to capture it before the squirrels do. But there are rows upon rows of huge, bushy collards. She has tried the collards in salads, fried, steamed, and boiled. She has decided she doesn't care for collards.

Tomorrow she will wake up and turn to her garden. Those *^#%&* collards! And that darned Mr. Mustache. I should never let him plant those blasted things.

Here's a nice web site on collards.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Sharon Syndrome

Someone asked me why I hadn't published the Sharon essay to accompany the Fred essay. Sharon being the lackadaisical employee that is the counter-weight to Fred's. I'm afraid I can't publish it. Librarians must present a united front to the public and never admit for a moment some of their collegues are second rate.

Just like your doctor won't say anything bad about your other doctor and your child's teacher won't tell you that the reason he is having trouble in math is because of the teacher he had last year.

We must stand united as worthy underpaid martyrs. I will put the Sharon syndrome in my safety deposit box to be opened at the reading of my will

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A barrister from Newcastle

I was sitting in my desk when Mrs. Blantosky came into the library and addressed my boss while I hid in the seat trying to look inconspicuous. We all know Mrs. Blantosky's in the field, the older patron who wants you to read her prescription or give her medical advice. I was scrunching in my chair then retreated to the bathroom.

Later the head librarian gave me the printout from Mrs. B. Apparently, a well loved Englishman from Newcastle had passed away and Mahmud Kasinki, a barrister, wanted to have Mrs. Blantosky's passport information so he could help the beloved widow of the beloved Englishman find his death certificate.

I put on my library scowl. It's a scam. I could not find the barrister listed on the Internet and his e mail was mahummadbarrister@yahoo.com An English barrister who would use Yahoo.com as his e mail address.

My boss informed our patron that she thought it was a scam and advised against sending a copy of her passport information to the barrister in England.

They should have a class in library school on developing the library scowl. It also comes in handy when you are trying to look busy. One web site on scams is this
one. One thing librarians should be good at is advising vulnerable people of internet scams. We get enough practice.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sweaters on chairs

One blog I always read is Librarian etiquette. It reminds me of some of the issues I have experienced as a librarian. For many years I was the computer guy on staff. Often I'd have to go from desk to desk testing something or fixing something. Inevitably I'd face the dilemma of what to do when the chair in front of the computer had a sweater draped around it.

I suspect this is a female thing. Men, to my knowledge, never wrap sweaters around their chairs. I suppose it makes the desk seem more cozy or is a way of establishing territorial rights to the chair.

The problem occurs when someone else needs to sit in the chair. I never know the proper thing to do in the situation.

Should I stand instead of sit because there is a sweater on the chair? Can I tactfully remove the sweater? Should I try to find another chair and move it over? Can I sit on the sweatered chair leaning forward so as not to touch the sweater?

When librarians go on vacation why do they always leave their sweaters on their chairs?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

World Cat

I just discovered World Cat. Fascinating. Just think how great it would be if they included Marc records. But then they probably don't want to give away the store. And the part about any registered user being able to add comments and even subject headings. Interesting. You do learn things from blogs.

Monday, August 07, 2006

the Smokers

I've worked in three types of places. The places where you could smoke at your desk. The places where there was one restricted area of the break room you could smoke. And the modern age of outdoor smoking. I don't remember anyone saying smoking at your desk was wrong back in the olden days. But then, I was young and had more to worry about than second hand smoke.

I remember my public library days and the break room with the six feet of table territory where the smokers sat. The smokers would shout their opinions to the non smokers at the other end of the table and the non smokers would then give their opinions on the other. I remember the smokers being the Republicans and the non smokers being the Democrats.

Today the smokers have to smoke outside. The workplace is otherwise banned for nicotine. The smoker looks at the clock. "One hour til I can get a cigarette." Misery. Then he brightens up. "Half and hour til a cigarette." "Holy Mother of Mary! Ten minutes til break." And then break.

The smoker runs to the elevator, notifying even the non smokers that it is break time. The smoker caresses his cigarette thinking of the pleasure that the object will give him in the near future. He gets his lighter ready. A rush at the door. The doors are open. Ecstasy. The first cigarette of the morning coffee break.

The smokers are hardy souls. They assemble in the cold of winter, the heat of summer. They sit on broken down benches. And then they tell the jokes of the day. Gossip and the latest news. Nothing is ever more truthful than the words smokers exchange during coffee break while they create a cloud of smoke; competing with the construction crews and their jackhammers with their own industrial smoke.

Sadly, break is over. They slowly troop upstairs. Two hours til the next cigarette.

Incidentally I have received so few comments that I have changed the restrictions so you can leave a comment without signing a registration form. Let's here those comments!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Masculine and feminine tastes

Men and women have different tastes. Men watch Die Hard movies and are lining up to see the Miami Vice movie. Women like the Devil Wears Prada and the Lake House. Men read Tom Clancy novels and women read "chick lit".

Recently I was debating what movie to see with a female I know. I wanted to see the Devil Wears Prada and she wanted to see Superman. We saw Superman in imax, 3-d glasses and all. Later I saw the Devil Wears Prada. I liked it better. I even thought the cinematography was better.

I like Sex and the City. I even watch the Gilmore Girls. I now know that if you wear a baseball hat backwards make sure it is a fitted cap or it looks really bad.

This problem can be traced to the fact that as a kid I watched television with my mother. I saw Arthur Godfrey every morning before I was whisked off to kindergarten. I watched Merv Griffin. Once my mother and I were walking in New York and they were giving out tickets to see the live show. It was a treat to see Authur Treacher give the pre show monologue.

The first adult book I ever read was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I suppose would now be considered an example of early chick lit. One good thing is that I developed good verbal skills young in life. The bad thing was that I was nobody's early choice in picking teams for baseball games.

The greatest compliment that can be given to a boy is to say "he's all boy" when he's not supposed to be listening. To say a man is a "man's man" is a distinguishing thing to say about a fellow.

Of course now boys are
said to be in academic trouble. Boys who are "all boy" are falling behind academically to their female classmates. Our president is a "man's man" and we all know what kind of trouble that can lead to. Perhaps what we need is "chick lit for boys" programs in public libraries. And the boys could wear baseball hats backwards.