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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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Christmas cards

I want to thank everybody for all the cards and letters that are masking taped to my bathroom walls. Britney, I still think you're cute. Thanks Howard. Our senses of humour are similar.

A special thanks to Laura Bush. As a former librarian, she wrote that she can fully relate to the anecdotes about the library world that I feature. Jenna and Barbara enjoyed the piece on the Day After Thanksgiving. Jenna was disappointed a few years ago when the Crawford Library was closed the Day After Thanksgiving when she was hoping to get some ideas for her anthropology mid term paper.

Not surprisingly, Dick Cheney liked the recent piece on Christmas in libraries. He also thinks putting lights on one's cubicle is an unnecessary use of public money. Madonna, Opra, Rosie, a high five again. And a special hello to Hillary and Al Gore. They both have "men in libraries" thumbtacked to their office corkboards. Well happy new years to all. Mr. Mustache.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Christmas letter

If I was a library director, every December 1 I would give every staff member a letter accompanied with a small chocolate truffle with my docs and don'ts for the holidays. This is a fantasy incidentally.

To our dear staff:

Just a few reminders for the holidays:

Holiday parties are wonderful and we all enjoy them but the planning and execution of such events should only be done during our lunches and coffee breaks.

We can put one or two momentoes of the holiday season on our desks and workstations but more than that is excessive.

Administrative assistants do not look cute in Santa hats.

If you make candies and cakes for the season remember they are for everyone on the staff, not just the people you like.

Taxpayers should not be charged for electricity for Christmas displays they cannot enjoy. Electric lights around one's cubicle are fire hazards and are not appropriate.

You may celebrate the holidays in song, if need be. But songs and caroling should be done during one's breaks only and not during working time. And the lyrics should be of a non-sectarian nature.

Santa Clauses look ugly when sported on a woman's blouse.

Fir sprays can be disagreeable to some people. They should not be used in the library.

Your schedule of holidays indicates when you may leave the building. Just because it is December 23 you do not have the right to cheat the taxpayers out of an afternoon's work.

Older people do not generally like to travel on holidays by themselves. They like their loved ones to be carted to them. Hence we will not believe you when you leave early to pick up your grandmother at the airport.

That being said, have a happy and healthful holiday season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What to do with union stuff

Many people don't realize it, but librarians are often members of unions. And as members of unions we often are involved with picketing, rallies, and the other exciting activities that a union card entitles one to participate in.

Today, rallies are much better choreographed than the days of yore when hand written signs and tattered jeans served as the accoutrements of a demonstration. Today we get sandwiches (bread and cheeses from union shops one presumes) and "stuff". Presumably to wave when the tv helicopters hover over us.

My problem is what to do after the event. A loyal union member acquires a full assortment of hats, cheeseheads, hands (note photo) fire engine red tee-shirts, and the like. They could conceivably be all worth a fortune some day, like old Beatle wigs, but I tend to doubt it.

You have to be careful where you wear such things. A tee shirt emblazoned with "We earned our benefits" may not be well received in a bar full of Rush Limbaugh or Jim Gerhardt fans. "Support workers rights" may hit the wrong note at a four star restaurant.

One possibility is to put them on our children. However, a young tyke with a red tee-shirt saying "hands off our pensions" may seem threatening to a grandparent as the child crawls out from under the Christmas tree. There must be a cottage industry of people who convert union slogans to sports slogans. A little spray paint and "don't touch our benefits" becomes "we love our Jags".

The best idea I could come up with for getting a second life out of the hands (see photo) is to use them at church services. When the priest says "We offer each other a sign of peace" we can put on the hand and shake hands with everyone in the next pew

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Civil Service Tests

Civil service tests have a close relationship to libraries, whether it is in public or governmental libraries. Libraries are expected to have the books that go along with the tests that the patron is interested in taking. Since civil service book publishers (we use NTC a lot) have national audiences and civil service tests are usually state specific, this can cause a number of wrinkles.

One wrinkle is that if the test numbers the difficulty of the test and the level of hierarchy of the position with one being low and four being supervisory. Some states, however start their titles at 4 and work up to one. Then there is the test title. Sometimes a test title sort of sounds like a match to a test, but it really isn't . Having the patron thumb through the books and see what sounds like a match to his/her job title can be a good idea.

Of course some test booklets have questions that are so general a social worker and an administrative assistant could be taking the same test. It is always good to remind the patron that civil service tests are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get when they finally hand you the test packet.

There is always the problem of supply and demand. A civil service test that has languished on a shelf collecting cobwebs suddenly becomes popular after a test notice is posted. Like school assignments, the third person to show up at the desk on the same day that the notice comes out will inevitably find that the book he/she really wanted was leant out an hour ago and is not due back until the day after the test.

I have a solution to the problem of civil service tests. The librarian would rank and evaluate the patron asking for the test booklet, thus eliminating the need for the test altogether. This would save a lot of money and time for both the librarian and the patron. For starters, the librarian would judge the patron by his use of the OPAC. The vocabulary and social skills of the patron would be scored. The ability of the patron to successfully retrieve a civil service book would then be rated. At the end of the encounter the librarian could tell the patron whether he/she passed or failed the civil service test and give the patron a score. The librarian would be escorted to his/her car by an armed guard.