Saturday, March 28, 2009

cordite acts

I want to be loved, even at Christmas. The shapes suggested a nest. Lovers are leavers, aren't they, although we who stand at the intersections of beats, wait only for strings before raising our elective spirits.

Mother, did you remember the separator? Several august personages and a small packet were seen at the alphabet trough. Afterwards we heard things, carried things, and repeated our ideas with abandon on porches. Pop! Severally activated or lightly activated, action alerts, hack tactics. The rehearsals? We don't know if we can make them, other things interrupting our plates.

Tired in the pest's best. The lady's daughter called her other daughter and the answer was forthcoming. An agenda or a peacemaker, you never know. Despite a collection of promises, you never know. Never being the operative word. An electric shock where you expect a yellow facial tissue.

Friday, March 27, 2009

pobre me

Leave me to the bargains. Nobody looks in the door at the fratricidal envelopes. Even people whose ideas have been knotted for years are willing to forgo a sincere episode of the regular series, Mrs Edges has written in her column for the Sanguinal Section.

We don't know what rooms have let room in so we turn our heads to the left & to the right, repeatedly, in quick lunges slowed perceptibly by meager easements of the peripheral. A weary tear drags its gelatinous ass toward the maw of legends.

A new vigor was replaced before it had given a tenth its value. What can you do? You put your head back into the noose, but where is the gamekeeper's daughter? You crane your sympathetic nervous system but this time there is no attitude set to adjust.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

circs to Austen

I made a rough estimate of the backlog of paperbacks I have stacked up on shelves in the workroom here at Claremont: 160

I'd say with 95% certainty that I have between 150 and 200 paperbacks waiting. But I'm not going to count them to find out how right I am. Cuz who cares.

I processed a batch earlier. Mostly general fiction, a few mass market-size mysteries, a romance. I can do 'em pretty fast these days. A barcode, an RFID tag, rubber stamp "Claremont Branch", a spine label with the first two letters of the author's last name, some tape covering stuff easily torn or rubbed off, and an item record in the computer. Then out onto the shelves to see if anybody wants to read 'em.

Saw a book had circ'd (that is, had been checked out) 30 times in the last three years. That's a lot. Standard circ period for a book is three weeks and renewals don't count as circs.

I can't remember what it was ...

Oh yeah. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Not quite three years, actually. I put it out there in August '06, so that's 2 1/2 years for 30 circs.

I was just scanning the list of paperbacks and I think it's the only one to have hit 30. In order to be sure I'd have to check through the stats on each individual title and I'm not that obsessive.

A few others that have more than 20 circs in 3 years:

Michael Cunningham's The Hours
Elmore Leonard's La Brava
Zadie Smith's White Teeth
Yann Martel's Life of Pi
Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex
Tom Perrotta's Little Children

At 27 circs Little Children is closest to catching The Jane Austen Book Club. And, no, at present I do not have any Austen-authored novels in the browsing paperbacks collection. On the other hand I do have latter day sequels:

Jane Fairfax: a companion to Emma by Joan Aiken (12 circs) and Elizabeth Aston's The Second Mrs Darcy (2 circs in the 4 months it's been on the racks).

Moments after writing the above a patron came up to the desk to check out Aiken's Jane Fairfax, so I suppose we should say that one's got 13 circs now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Active Dimensions!

Quiet so far today at the Claremont branch. Have had a few reference questions -- a caller asked if we had Moo, a novel by Jane Smiley (I knew there was a copy among the browsing paperbacks and, yes, it was on the shelf, so I put it aside for the caller to pick up this afternoon); another patron, who had placed a hold on a book this morning but came in before we had a chance to fetch it from the shelf for him, came to the desk saying the book wasn't on hold for him and it wasn't out in the stacks, help?, so I said first I would doublecheck the regular shelf cuz things get out of order, and, yup, there it was (and it was in the right place -- they always apologize when they overlook an item, which is nice, but I'm just glad when it's easy to find); just now I was told Berkeley Library books were setting off alarms in other places (a bookstore, the Cal library) but we don't use the magnetic theft detection system anymore (with RFID it's all radio) so we no longer have equipment that will desensitize the magnetic strips that are in so many of our old books, no way I know of to prevent the setting off of foreign alarms, the patron was understandably irritated at having his bag pawed through at the bookstore.

One of the books I've added to the weeding truck, a 1983 book on frugal fashion for men, suggested, "Substituting for the traditional sweater and pants, a sweat suit adds an active dimension when worn under a blazer." This is a caption under a photo depicting a handsome 40ish man conservatively dressed, suit jacket, white shirt, tie -- and a rumply gray sweat shirt and sweat pants. Active dimensions!

Another book (1984) promises, "The uniforms of policemen, sailors, farmers, equestrians, doctors, sculptors, cooks, cheerleaders, etc., can function as the most practical comfortable, durable, strong and chic pieces of one's wardrobe." The book is dedicated to Mao Zedong -- a photo shows Mao in a light button up shirt and khakis held up with a dark belt; he's resting one hand on a shovel. The book has been checked out 5 times in the last 18 years (and not since 2003). Time for it to be discarded?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

the new replacements

I want to. No. That's not what I want. If you've come for the high water, turn to it. If you've come for the higher, turn over.

A new perspicacity waits in the car, motor running, engine humming, future in gases.

I want to. But I am willing to change. I am willing to report what needs to be changed. If you've come to bear witness, bear it and smile. If you've come to the barrier, witless from beatings, cling to it deformed.

A new personality? What are you talking about? Where did you replace this?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

from Einstein's Daughter to Hemingway's Death

I weeded some paperbacks today. I tend the browsing paperbacks collection at the Claremont Branch in Berkeley. Because there's no budget for paperbacks I choose from donations and good stuff does come in. The flip side of adding new books is deleting old ones. Today I went through the list of science fiction and nonfiction and removed from the spinning racks books that have been going around and around under book hungry eyes for two years yet have left the building four times or less -- in a few cases, not once. Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, for instance. I'd thought we'd have a Hemingway die-hard or two passing through. But no. Either that or they long since pored over his every word. His fiction still does okay. I guess the bullfighting revival hasn't sparked yet. I wasn't familiar with any of the sci-fi/fantasy authors I was removing. I don't try very hard to keep up but I like a science fiction novel now & again. Oh yes, there was one -- Michael Crichton. His time has passed? His Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, turned under uninterested eyes.

Other nonfic that came off the shelves today: Michele Zackheim's Einstein's Daughter, Lars Eighner's Travels with Lizbeth, Cleveland Amory's Ranch of Dreams, a 2006 issue of the literary magazine West Branch. Those, anyway, are the ones I'm hanging onto for possible lunchtime reading. Others that I turned over to the Friends of the Library for their book sale include: Surviving Schizophrenia, a Rita Mae Brown book on writing (I forget the title), and Vision on Fire (this one chronicles Emma Goldman's efforts on behalf of the good guys during the Spanish Civil War back in the 30s).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

the invisible book

We use RFID in the library. Patrons use self-checkout machines. An RFID chip in the book (or DVD or CD or whatever) is read by the machine, which then adds the item to the patron's checkout record.

The machines are temperamental. They seem to confuse themselves. This is one of the weirder quirks: Let's say you've stepped up to the machine. The machine features a helpful wide shelf for holding items for checkout. You lay your book there. You pass your library card under the laser scanner and the machine identifies you. Great! Now you watch the animation on the screen that demonstrates the proper method for checkout. The animation has disembodied hands laying a stack of books down on the nice convenient shelf on which you've already laid that one book you were planning to take home.

You wait.

Nothing happens.

You lift the book and lay it down again, imitating that animation that keeps repeating itself. Your book is not getting checked out. What's wrong?

What's wrong is that you placed the book on that helpful wide open shelf before you scanned your card. Anything that is sitting on that beckoning convenient shelf when you start the process seems to be invisible to the checkout machine. What you now have to do is remove your book, put it somewhere next to the machine or hold it in your hand out of the machine's RFID range, and restart the process. Now it works. Usually.

Except when it doesn't. Then you have to take the book to your helpful human who will use his or her staff checkout machine.

Most people are good at using the self-checkout machines. And most the time the self-checkout machines do their job the way they are supposed to. Once in awhile someone gets a techno-gee-whiz glow from the thrill of interfacing with the 21st century. Other times we see crinkly faces & curses. But mostly it's okay. We all get through it - patrons, library workers, and RFID machines.

Monday, March 02, 2009

reply from Hawaii

I got a reply to the email I sent yesterday:


Thank you for your e-mail regarding this bill. I am very sensitive to the arguments on both sides of this issue.

I will give your comments serious consideration before making a decision on HB444.

Senator Donna Mercado Kim
Chair, Ways and Means Committee
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 210
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: 808-587-7200
Fax: 808-587-7205


Both sides? The good side and the bad side? Very sensitive!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


There's an action alert at DailyKos, the Demo political site, asking people to email Hawaii state senators. It seems there's a civil unions bill bottled up in committee. If moved to the full senate it could pass and civil unions may become law in Hawaii. That would be good.

So I sent the following epistle to

Aloha Hawaiian Senators,

Hawaii was one of the first big trips my dad took us on when I was a kid. Despite my terrible sunburn I had a great time and have been back four times since I grew up.

When the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality for same sex couples, I thought it couldn't happen to a greater place -- except maybe California, where I live. Perhaps my partner & I would marry there? I thought. So I was, of course, disappointed when the voters of Hawaii chose to keep marriage rights restricted to double-sex couples.

After 14 years together we married last fall. It was deeply meaningful to us and to our friends & family and I am so grateful we had the opportunity. Was I hurt by the Prop 8 vote, the one that had voters choosing to de-recognize my family? I was torn up about it. Still am.

These marriage restriction ballot measures do nothing to protect anyone's marriage. They do nothing to help anyone's family. They bring joy to no one and support no one. What are they for?

I'm told the Senate of the state of Hawaii has no power to overrule the marriage exclusionary rule, but that you can create a parallel non-marriage, marriage-like, second-class, better-than-nothing, at-least-it-helps-a-few-people status called civil unions. I hope you will do this. I'm told the bill is HB 444, HD 1, and that it is stuck in committee. Please get it to where a vote of the full Senate can be effected.

My husband & I love to travel and enjoy Hawaii -- had a great experience a couple years ago walking the floor of Kilauea Iki -- and we look forward to returning to Hawaii. But it sure is nice to feel welcomed, not just tolerated, not just pickpocketed by people who begrudge our existence in order to pay for their own families' upkeep. So I hope you will say to us, despite the intolerance of so many Hawaiian voters, that you are willing to treat us in a somewhat equal manner, when you have opportunity. The California legislature has been supportive of gay couples, even since Prop 8 passed.

yours sincerely,
Glenn Ingersoll
Berkeley, California