Author Archive

You Never Know Who Your Patrons Were

We all have that patron… just slightly off psychotic, generally unkempt, possibly drunk and has a seemingly delusional story of grandeur. You know, the one who:
– Continually asks for books on advanced theoretical mathematics to disprove some Ivy League professor’s latest theory but has yet to figure out the equation “water + soap + body = less stinky”
– Claims they were once mayor of a town, possibly the one you work in, but was then run out by some unethical person of minority (take your pick and probably use the derogatory term for the chosen minority member)
– Plays chess in your library every single day and talks about how they once bested Bobby Fisher in a competition in Central Park
– Claims to be a former director of some popular videos, friends with former celebrities yet can’t seem to enter the library without making an enemy
And despite that little voice in the back of our heads saying “yeah right” we, as good public servants, listen to their story and smile, allowing them a chance to bask in memories that are, in all likelihood, probably false.
But what if, one day, that music-producer patron asks for help scanning pictures and it turns out his story isn’t complete BS?
This happened to me about a month ago.
One of our patrons, who I would love to but cannot name, comes in every single day and tells us stories of how he produced, directed or worked on videos for “many famous and successful bands.” He has always been very keen on name-dropping celebrities he used ‘hang out and party’ with. And every day, the staff smiled, nodded our heads at the appropriate times while taking very shallow breaths in order to help lighten the strength of his rather strong body odor and stale booze aroma.
So when this patron asked me to help them make a Myspace page of his former work, I took the challenge basically because I thought it would be neat to see just where the truth lies in his stories.
Imagine my surprise when he walked in with an entire photo album and film negatives of him with Jimmy Page, Gene Simmons, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Jon Bon Jovi, George Bush Sr., Hank Williams, Loverboy and Motley Crue.
How to respond? Well, I just started laughing and couldn’t stop. Each picture, musician, actor, political figure brought on another chuckle. It all seemed wholly unbelievable even though the pictures we arguably authentic. In fact, I laughed until the patron finally turned to me and said, in all seriousness, “What?! You thought I was always a drunk?!”
And then it hit me.
I thought of who my friends were in high school and then of who they are now, 15 years later. I watched a heavy drinker build his own Web-development company. I also watched one of my smartest friends trade all his potential for alcohol and pills. My best friend, who swore that children were ‘the most annoying thing on the planet’ kiss his baby on the head, tear up and say “This is awesome, I can’t believe I ever felt differently.”
And then I thought of myself and how life is most certainly different from what I thought it would be ten years ago.
Is it really all that crazy to think that we may have a former music and film director in our library? Is it unlikely that, surrounded by all the other influences that stem around the rock and roll lifestyle, that he might have succumbed to it and that today is the result of such vices?
How little we really know about the people we see day to day. How we only know who they are now, not who they were or who they will become.
Anyone else have a story they want to share?

January 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm 5 comments

Growing a Mo and you get to choose!

Haven’t you also wondered what I would look like with an early 1900s mustache complete with connecting muttonchops?

How would you like to see me grow a tex-mex so hairy that little children fear there is a caterpillar on my lip?
The Movember Foundation is a charitable organization that began in Australia in 2004.  Its primary focus was to create funds for cancer research with a focus on prostate cander.  Over the past four years, the novelty has spread to England, Ireland, Spain, Canada and into the good ol’ U.S. of A.  In just a short time, the Movember Foundation has raised over $29 million dollars in order to help find treatments for victims of prostate cancer.
All this money just by growing mustaches!
I am asking for your help as join the cause and risk strange looks in public, potentially painful ingrown nose hairs and possibly even rejection from my spouse and children as I try to smooch them with a lip-rug.  Please consider donating whatever you can (yes, it is tax deductable). 
As an added incentive, whoever is the most charitable (i.e. sponsors the most amount of money), I will let him/her/them pick the style of mustache I grow over the month!  That public humiliation thing could be a distinct possibility now.
During the month, I will also be setting up a day-by-day photo diary so that we can all share a little laugh as I grow my Mo from a strange straggle of stubble into the marvelous glory that is a mustache.
Many of us already know what it is like to have lost a loved one to cancer.  I ask you to think of those who battle this illness, lost or survived their fights and please help me in fighting by donating whatever you can give.
Tyler Rousseau (registration #1335611)

October 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm 3 comments

Obama looks towards gamers for votes

It seems that one of the presidential candidates is taking note of just how large and active the gaming community can be during the electoral season.
Barack Obama has recently purchased ads within Burnout Paradise (XBox Live version) to have his face and campaign message appear on billboards as players race by. These billboards have been purchased for display in the 10 battle ground states.

The big question I have is whether the decision to purchase such a unique advertising space was influenced by the recent PEW report, “Teens, video games, and civics” which seems to show that avid gamers and Internet users tend to have an increased interest in civics. While the report itself is directed to the 12-17 year old demographic, I imagine there is a certain correlation with older gamers and Internet users as well.
As odd as this sounds, this news made my day in so many ways. It legitimizes video games as an important media that can be used for more than entertainment.
The real question is what happens from this point on for game developers? Are gaming companies going to be viewed as liberal or conservative (think in terms of an anti-abortion ad in a video game and which companies may or may not put it in their game). Not to mention, will they have to conform to TV advertising standards (no alcohol commercials until a certain time or rating).
Certainly, there is a potential can of worms being opened for game development and hosting companies but, at the moment, I’ll let it be. I’m just thrilled that gaming (aka the third media) has been recognized by a candidate as a medium for messages.

October 15, 2008 at 9:48 am

The New IT Librarian Application

In the past couple weeks, I’ve listened to a few librarians talk about the woes of their supposed IT specialists.

The problem? They are really good with buzzwords and not so great with applications. Some have complained that their IT specialist were generally unfamiliar with basic computer competencies. And while it is generally deemed okay for a ‘normal’ librarian to be unfamiliar with computer applications and some 2.0 technologies, this should be essential for a person who specialized in IT for their library. If not, we are then left with libraries that stagnate in their IT competencies and fall behind the tech-trend.

So, let’s lose the buzzword interviews. Let’s plan an application process that would really test the abilities of your IT specialist.

When the job is posted for a general IT position, require that the application and cover letter be sent via email in an attachment. If they can’t do this, which is largely considered a basic competency, then they are not qualified for the job. Require a cell phone number (more on this later).

If they are applying for a webmaster position, require them to post their resume online. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a site with resume and a link to download the resume as well… to show they have basic web-design skills.

If the person’s resume and cover letter meet your standards, TEXT their cell phone to set up an interview. Unorthodox? Perhaps, but part of the IT personality is embracing modern technology. Texting is one of the most popular means of communication with our younger population and, if we want to stay current with our patrons, then we need make sure our IT people are familiar with it as well.

Next, set up a time to talk meet your potential employee ONLINE. Nothing complicated, have them meet you on G-chat, Meebo, AIM or whatever. Once they get there, just hold a brief conversation about what the upcoming interview will entail, quick clarification questions, or see if they have any questions. Better yet, perhaps ask them, for the interview; to prepare a brief demonstration on their favorite 2.0 technology that they think would be useful or popular with the community. The importance is not the conversation itself but more that, once again, they are familiar with using this technology. Again, IM is a popular method of communication and your IT specialist should be comfortable with it.

By this time the interview comes, you will have a basic understanding of the applicant’s technological ability. If they needed instruction or familiarization with any of these things, that should be a warning flag. When they give their demonstration, you will also be able to see how well they can communicate the use of these technologies to other people and just how ambitious their Library 2.0 goals are.

Yes, I do realize there is a possible flaw in this method; it requires that someone on the interview team be familiar with technology as well. It’s a conundrum, that’s for sure. But, let’s look beyond that.

Oh, and if you want to have a little fun with them at the interview, put them in front of a computer with the machine on but the monitor off (or unplugged) and ask them to figure out the problem. Tell them you’ve tried hitting the machine but ‘nothing happened.” If they look at you, remark, “I just don’t think this machine likes me very much.” Then watch for a reaction.

May 15, 2008 at 10:02 am 16 comments

Friday Fun … the best band name for librarians

If you were in a band with a bunch of other librarians, what would you call it? Would you refer to your profession in the title?

Personally, if I were to be in a rock band with fellow librarians, I would go with:

The Dewey Decibel System

If it were an alternative band, I think it would favor:

Mending Potter’s Spine

So, let’s have a little fun this Friday; what are some great band names you can come up for the profession?

April 11, 2008 at 11:14 am 44 comments

Bamboo: Great tool for a great price

Check it out! Look what I can draw on my computer!
Well, yeah… I know it’s not Mona Lisa but, hey, it was my first try. It deserves some credit, right?
Bamboo is marketed as the affordable and ‘fun’ drawing tablet for the recreational artist. At $79, they were right on the money with affordable. As for fun, I am having trouble putting the pen down.
The learning curve for using Bamboo is pretty low. If you know how to hold a pen, and have a semi-steady hand, there really isn’t much else to learn.
Installation is a piece of cake as well, essentially a plug ‘n’ play device. The pen can double as a mouse and the tablet can be used in leiu of the primary mouse. Every button is customizable, which makes it very convenient to the user. As you can probably guess, I have the second button on the pen set to Control-Z in order to quickly erase those all-too-common slips of the hand.
The box also comes with Adobe Photoshop and Corel Ink. Both are solid quality image softwares that should appease most users.
If you are looking to provide a little ‘something more’ for your patrons’ computer resources, Bamboo might just be an ideal purchase. As for programs, it is a great addition for any graphic novel club, Photoshop instruction, and even handy if you wanted to create a digital signature.
You might want to come up with some check-out or anti-theft attachment for the pen and mouse though, both could easily walk.
That said, I know exactly what new tech toy I am going to be pushing at my library.

April 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm 1 comment

Making Good When You’ve Done Bad… A Guitar Hero Story

As great as the Guitar Hero III game is, it received some negatively publicity for the Wii version.
And deservedly so.

In a previous post I gave the game a glowing review. The controls were pretty good, I loved the addition of a pseudo-plot and the song selection was solid. The sound was always a bit off to me but, I figured that was because of my hearing loss.
Then I learned that it wasn’t just my wonky ears, Activision actually released the Wii version in mono sound. Yeah, it is kind of a cheap thing to do for any video game nowadays but not putting in minimal (and outdated) sound quality for a virtual rock and roll music game!?
Bad Activision, bad!
After enough publicity was generated, Activision started a replacement program for any Wii-GHIII owners who were feeling the sting, which I took part in. About a month ago, they sent a self addressed envelope with a very simple questionnaire and asked me to return my ‘faulty’ CD. Normally, I’d expect this type of mail-in thing to take 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Within 10 days I had a brand new and improved version of Guitar Hero III and, man, the sound was infinitely better. As a consumer I was pleased with the response time but still a little annoyed with Red Octane for trying to pull a fast one with its fanbase.
Two days later, a package arrived in the mail from Activision. I opened it and the enclosed letter read:
Dear value Activision/Red Octane Customer,
You recently received a Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock Wii replacement disc. To show our appreciation for your patience during the re-mastering and manufacturing phase of GHIII, enclosed is a complementary Guitar Hero Faceplate.”

Wow, really? My local gaming store hasn’t had a Wii faceplate in stock for a good two months. Now I don’t have to bother looking each time I go in!
Good move, Red Octane. You could’ve just given the remastered disc and left fans semi-satisfied that the company owned up to its mistake but, instead, you decided to try and win back a little support from the base by throwing in an extra gift. Sure the faceplate probably cost mere cents to make, but it costs consumers $15.
And as a result; will I remember the “The Other Red O Incident” as I’ve come to call it? Yes, but I’ll also remember the ending as well. Freebies and an extra $15 in my pocket.

April 3, 2008 at 9:26 am 1 comment

Older Posts Newer Posts


Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed on this blog are those of the authors and are not intended to reflect the views of our employers.

A Note on the history of posts

Please note that all Library Garden posts dated earlier than September 13,2009 originally appeared on our Blogger site. These posts have been imported to this site as a convenience when searching the entire site for content.

If you are interested in seeing the original post, with formatting and comments in tact, please bring up the original post at our old Blogger site.

Thanks for reading Library Garden!

wordpress
visitors