Friday, October 30, 2009

Seven Quick Takes -- Sloooow Day Edition

Once again I'm joining Jennifer for 7 Quick Takes on Friday.

1. I am sick. Not the flu, thank goodness. But my sinuses are so painful that it hurts to read. Aaaaaargh! Which is worse -- not reading or reading with sore eyeballs? Either way, I guess I should offer it up for the Poor Souls in purgatory. (All Souls Day is just around the corner. Pray early and often!)

2. I love reading children's literature, but I'm not that keen on young adult fiction. I hear that many adults enjoy reading YA, but I don't. The teen years were not a happy period of my life, so I cannot fathom why any adult would want to relive them through fiction -- especially nowadays when most of the titles look so grim, dark, and gloomy. (Some YA fantasy is kind of fun such as Sorcery and Cecelia. But I never really consider books like that to be YA. Although they're marketed as young adult fiction, they aren't awash in adolescent angst.

3. Shelving in the YA section has its own special challenges since our library has set aside that area as a teen only zone with movable floor seating which sometimes makes reaching the shelves a job for a contortionist. And I overhear all kinds of things when I'm working there, everything from what kind of pornographic content is available on cable to whether Arnold Schwarzenegger is French, Australian, or a robot.

4. I guess I'm showing my age. When a patron says he can't find a certain book on the shelf, I always ask if he's already checked the card catalog to ascertain whether the book is in the library or currently checked out. Recently I realized that I'm probably the only aide who says card catalog. Because of course there aren't any cards. It's all on computer and has been in most libraries for quite some time. Old habits die hard.

5. One of the things that most surprised me when I first began to work in libraries is how filthy the books are. I am not, you understand, referring to their contents but to their covers. Like filthy lucre, books pass through many hands and pick up a good deal of grime. You don't notice it when handling a single book. But if you work as a library aide, two hours of shelving will leave your fingers black. I can't bring myself to eat my break-time snack until I've washed my hands at least twice. With everyone getting excited about the upcoming flu season, the city has installed hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of the library and near the reference desk. But book don't get cleaned unless they're returned with seriously sticky, icky stuff on their mylar covers. So consider yourselves warned: When using library materials, don't touch your face.

6. Okay, so fiction books get shelved first by author, and then all of the books by a certain author are shelved alphabetically by title. Now I've always been taught that titles that begin with numerals, such as 92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber, are shelved as if the numerals had been spelled out. (So this title would be shelved after Mrs. Miracle and before On a Snowy Night.)

When I started work at my current library I made it a point to ask my supervisor about this point just to make sure that this was the shelving protocol they were following. (It was.) But I notice that some of the aides are placing these titles at the beginning of an author's books, even before titles beginning with the letter "A." I think this must be the younger aides who have grown up with computers which always place numbers and symbols before letters in alphabetized listings.

7. For some reason being sick always inspires me to do long neglected household tasks. Yesterday, in between collapsing on my sickbed of pain, I slowly washed my way through a great stack of dirty dishes which had been piling up all week. And washed several loads of towels. Today I am slowly cleaning the stove top, including the burner grates. I don't know why I do this. Maybe my subconscious figures that if I'm feeling lousy anyway, I might as well do housework. After all, when I'm feeling fine there are so many other things I'd much rather do.