Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We are not omniscient...

Yes, I can usually track down a city-person's phone number if you have the address (using the Polk directory & address lookup).  If you don't have an actually house number (just the street name), and only a first name?  That can make it nigh impossible.

Some addresses don't have any names listed.  Some are only initials.  Most aren't going to be what you're looking for.

Might a past directory help?  It might.  I went three years back, though, and it didn't help in this case.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Books on demonology are much like demons themselves...very scarce.  They go missing, patrons hide them, pages go missing...

So, every time I'm in a certain section (that would be the 133s), I have to go through them (not just the demonology, but also ghosts, numerology and astrology) and see what ones aren't in, and which ones I need to replace.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Books on Machiavelli

I had a patron come in today asking for books written by Machiavelli.  Did more than a handful of searches, and only 3 books came up.  Two were already 'lost' (aka a patron still has them).  One said it was on the shelf.

So I wrote down the call number (320.1 Machiavelli for those interested) and sent the patron on his way.  A few minutes later, he comes back.  Not on the shelf.

So I go back there and look at not only the shelf it's supposed to be on, but on surrounding shelves.

Not on the shelf.

So I offer to order the book, but he laughs, thanks me but declines.

So I order the book for our collection.  And I gratefully note that I'm glad that I'm weeding the 300s so I can hopefully find it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

There's a special place in hell...

For people who write/draw in library books.  Especially in pen.

Like the book on Alzheimer's I found.  New book, just a year old.  Lots of pen underlining.  Or how about the math equation books with all the answers filled in?

Or the books on costumes with notes and everything written?

Thankfully I can erase most of it.  But the ink stuff won't erase out.  And in that case, the book has to go.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

You have study rooms for rent?

We do...but not for instrument practice.  Now, if you were just learning how to read music, that'd be one thing.  But actually practicing an instrument (a flute, in this case) in a study room?  Nope, sorry.  The rooms, although they look it, aren't sound-proof.  And a lot of patrons would be very upset if the sounds of a flute started wafting around the library air.

(Now, I wouldn't mind personally, being a flautist myself, but that's just me.  I can't speak for any of the patrons who are studying etc in the library.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can I just take this?

I had a patron call about a needlepoint book she had out.  She wanted to know if she could just remove the patterns in the back of the book since the book was due back in a couple of days.

I had to politely tell her that no, she couldn't, but she could make copies of the pattern at the library.

She reworded the question, but it was the same thing: could she take the patterns from the book since she needed them?

I had to reaffirm what I said: no, she couldn't, but we did have copy machines here for her to make copies of the patterns.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kid Snippets: The Library

Freshwater Fish

10 year old girl: Do you have any books on freshwater fish?
Me: like a freshwater aquarium?

Her: Yeah!

Me: *smiles* I do!  *writes down numbers as I look them up*  So are you getting an aquarium then?
Her dad: Yep!  30-50 gallons!

Me: so no pirannah, I hope?"

Her:  Oh no!

Her dad: *laughs then tells her about an uncle that had a pirannah*

Me: Good luck with your aquarium!  *tells them where the books are*

Audio Engineering

Well, another question and another topic I knew nothing about!  A patron came in asking for a book about 'audio engineering'.  When I asked about it for a bit more information, he said it was about the music-creating process, which can including mixing music.

While my husband is a musician, he'd never mentioned audio engineering to me. 

So I looked it up on Google for a bit more information, and when I found a few more keywords, I was able to put a few books up in our catalog for my patron.

When he came out of the stacks, he had a couple of books in hand.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lightning Resistant

The question I got today was "is there some kind of lightning resistant coating that mountain climbers can use on their equipment?"

From my research, I found that no, there isn't one type of lightning resistant coating.  But there IS a paint that's lightning resistant.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do you have...

Any resume or cover letter books for felons?  Because it's really hard to get a job, as I'm sure you know.

Well, I didn't find any specifically for felons, but I did tell him that several of the books we have to have sections on that.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overdrive & the iPad

So you can get the Overdrive app with the iPad.  You (after making sure the wifi is turned on) go into the appstore, and just do a regular search for "Overdrive".

Once it's downloaded, authorize it through the settings (using an Adobe ID, which you can use on up to 5 devices).

From there, you add a library, and can go and check out books.

Really, it's no different than using the Overdrive app on an Android.  The big difference for me is the swiping motions and the back button.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tracking down a year

So I got a call from a state librarian.  She had a pamphlet from our city about a Lumberman Days event that had been held.  It had the dates (October 17-20), but not the year.  She had a guess as to what decades, but she really wanted a concrete decade, if not year.

Using our past year indexes (which are indexed by subject, and since this was held by a historical society, there was a subject for that), we were able to track down one of the years the event had been held (1976).  From there, using the dates the event said, we knew that it wasn't the right year for this event.

So, using a perpetual calendar, we were able to find out what days those dates were.  So Thurs-Sunday, and from there, we were able to pinpoint a year.

Once we had a year from the perpetual calendar (1974), we were able to go back to our indexes for 1974, go to the historical society subject and find the articles that pertained to the Lumberman Days.  When we found the articles, we were able to confirm the dates, and therefore the year.

All in all, it took just over an hour, between helping other patrons, tracking down the info and using the indexes, which are paper.  Our digital indexes don't start until 1994, although I'd really like to index the indexes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kickstarter: Not a Reference Request

A movie theatre local to me has started a kickstarter project to save the theatre.  It's trying to go digital, which is extremely expensive for a small-town theatre.

Help save this theater by pledging or/and sharing the link with your friends, family and network.

Become a Movie Hero for the Vassar Theatre

Friday, May 17, 2013

Advice vs Information

As a librarian, I'm prohibited from giving out legal advice.  I can understand why.  A person could get into a lot of trouble if they were given incorrect advice.

As a librarian, I can give out information.

The line between advice and information can be quite fuzzy.

A question like "I'm getting a divorce, and I need a lawyer.  Do you know a good one?" can be both informative and include advice.  As a librarian, I would answer this question one way.  With the information.  Such as, "here's a list of local lawyers, a legal help group and the web address to a great legal help website, Michigan Legal Help".

The advice is the part where you say "oh, I've heard Gary Doe is a great lawyer".  Don't do that.  As a librarian, you can't give advice.

You stick to information, which is something that you can tell everyone, no matter what side of the question they ask.  Such as where legal help books would be, how to find a statute, a list of lawyers, help finding a certain form for court that the judge has requested.  Those are all information that we can give out.

A tip to knowing whether something is advice or information is this: if it starts with 'should I...' or 'is this a good idea'...those are both advice.  You might be able to move those around, flip around the question to turn it from advice to information by rephrasing the question posed, though.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nook & Overdrive: Authorization

I had a patron come in yesterday with her Nook and laptop.  She couldn't get a book to transfer from her laptop to the Nook.  She'd had her brother look at it, and according to him, whatever was wrong was our fault.

It too me, quite literally, less than a minute to figure out what was wrong.

Simple fix: she hadn't authorized her Adobe Digital Editions.  I got it authorized, and easily transferred a book from laptop to Nook.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Overdrive: returning audio books early

So, I figured out that now, with the new updates, you can return audio books early.

If they're MP3, you can either return them through your account if you haven't downloaded them, or through the OMC if you've already downloaded them.

If they're WMA, you can only return them early if you haven't downloaded them through your account.  If you've already downloaded them, then you're out of luck, unfortunately.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Overdrive Error: Kindle book showing up in 'pending delivery'

I had a patron come inside today with a weird problem with her Kindle Fire.  She'd tried to download a book, and it wouldn't show up on her Fire.

I walked myself through it, but nothing I tried worked.  Turning off the wifi, syncing the Fire, nothing.  No matter what I did, the book sat in the 'pending delivery' part of the 'manage your kindle' section.

I had to hand it over to my co-worker, who works with Overdrive much more than I, but even he couldn't figure it out.  Seems like an e-mail to Overdrive is in order if our searches come up empty.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Currently Reading

Listening to: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison.  It's the 8th book in the Rachel Morgan series, read by Marguerite Gavin.  I've read the series (multiple times!), but it's my first time listening to it all the way through.  In this book, Rachel has to get from Cincinnati to LA in three days to get her shunning removed.

Reading: Below Stairs by Margaret Powell (if you like the show 'Upstairs, Downstairs', this is the book for you!

Also reading: Women of the Frontier by Brandon Marie Miller.  I love her books.  Even though they're geared towards YA/J age groups, they are well written.  And despite me having read a wide range of non-fiction books about the 'wild west', she's popping in with new facts and tidbits that I just adore.

Playing: going between Mass Effect 3 (I'm a Kaidan and Garrus fan all the way!) and Fallout New Vegas.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Overdrive: read in browser or download to OMC?

With Overdrive's new 'read in browser' option, it opens up a whole new slew of options.

Not all books can be read in browser, but the ones that can look very nice, especially if you're using either the Firefox add-on (if you're reading in IE) or through one of the other approved browsers (Chrome, Opera, Firefox etc).

If you have a tablet, I suggest this: read any books you can in browser. Save them in your favorites so you can read them off-line.  If you have a book you can't read in browser, then download it into the media console.

My reasoning is this: it's one less step.  By reading them in browser, you're saving yourself the time of downloading them.  While it can be a few minutes for some books, depending on the internet connection, it can take fifteen, twenty minutes or longer for other books.  By reading them in browser, you don't have to download them so you can start reading them immediately.

It saves your place, you can place bookmarks and a whole slew of other cool things.

Save the media console for when you can't read them in browser, or for those audio books.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Adobe Digital Editions 2.0 Has Stopped Working

What to do when it won't load at all?  Through no screen?

The patron had already installed and uninstalled the program, but still, nothing worked.

What I did was reinstall it, while it was still installed.  While ADE was installed, I went to the ADE website and redownloaded the program.  It recognized that it was alreayd loaded, and it asked to make repairs.  I said 'yes', and it redownloaded the program.

When it was done, I opened the program, and downloaded the patrons books.

Another fix is to download an older version, such as  ADE 1.7.2.

The problem behind the issues is that it isn't fully compatible with Windows 7, which my patron was running.  The biggest issue with Win7 is the firewall, which you do have to change.

According to this blog, this should help walk you through changing your firewall so ADE2.0 can work properly:

"....WIN 7 has different firewall settings. There are 2 ways that worked for me.  In Windows Control panel, System & Security, Firewall, it showed me 2 different firewalls, one called Home or Work (Private) and the other called Network.

I turned them both off … but it still would not download my ebook. This is where I was stuck. 

Option 1. (safer) On the left side there’s a link for “Allow a program or feature through Windows Firewall”.

I went there, where it shows a list of programs with boxes to check off for “Home/Work (Private)” and “Public”. As Digital Editions wasn’t there for me to choose, I clicked on Allow Another Program. Another pop up box still didn’t show it, so I had to browse for it.

Once found, I was able to add it to the list and checked both the “Home/Private” and “Public” boxes.  

Option 2. Still in Control Panel, System & Security, Firewall, click on Advanced Settings on the left. This area showed my Firewall was still on. I clicked on “Windows Firewall Properties” which brought me to a choice of 4 tabs, Domain Profile, Private Profile, Public Profile and IPSec Settings.

My Private and Public firewall was off (which showed in Control Panel) but the Domain Profile Firewall was still on (missing that little tidbit of info in Control Panel Firewall). I clicked on Firewall State: OFF.  Bingo, I could then download my ebook.

As I had done Option 2 first, I tried keeping the firewall Domain Profile ON and allowing Digital Editions access as a program. That worked, and as that’s safer, that’s where I’ve left it. ....."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So you get to read newspapers all day? I wish I could do that!

*sigh*  Actually, I'm indexing newspapers from '95, so while I do get to read the newspapers, they're 18 years old.  Although the news is interesting (reading about the OJ trial has been fun!), it's still not a walk in the park.

Indexing it means that I get to read the whole newspaper (save the classifieds and comics) and add the articles that relate to My City to the database with subjects, keywords etc.  I do find it really interesting.

I admit, I am getting tired of hearing the comments (at least one a week, usually more) "so you get to read all day?  Lucky!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tracking down obscure (but in-library) titles

I had a student from one of the local colleges come in today.  She was doing a paper on the history of the local lumber industry, and one of the founding members in particular.

Last year, as part of my growth and development, I put together a bibliography of all books about My County that aren't in the section that most are in (977.447).  This includes biographies, some sports books, family histories and all together, a full six pages of titles, call numbers and authors.

Using my 'Master Bibliography', I was able to find her three books on the lumber industry and the illusive biography of the founding member in under two minutes.

If I hadn't had the bibliography, it would have taken me a few more minutes if I'd chosen the right keywords, and longer still if I hadn't.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not quite the reference desk...

I had a program last night where we had various authors come and present to about 55 patrons (80 signed up, and the weather was nasty) about how they became published authors.

During the Q&A at the end, I was able to answer a few questions myself.  I'd tried to get my own book published last year, and I failed miserably.  But I learned a lot - and I was able to share a bit of what I learned.

Like the forum Absolutewrite.  The blog Query Shark.  Preditors & Editors.

We'll be having another in November with a new round of authors, and I hope it keeps being this popular!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Currently Reading

Currently reading: Buried Memories: The Katie Beers Story by Katie Beers

Currently listening to: Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison (yes, still on this one!  I only drive for 50 minutes a day, so it takes me upwards of two weeks to get through one book.

Currently playing: Mass Effect 2

Currently watching (for the second time through): Big Bang Theory.  I'm in season 3 right now, but we're going through at least 2 episodes a night.

Patience is a Virtue

It's a good thing that most of my patron's are patient, because I get a few requests per week that take over five minutes to track down.

This time, it was about a news program he just saw.  He knew it was on a specific channel.  He knew it was about some kind of gas that voids a vehicle's warranty.  But he wanted to know more.

So I did some sleuthing.  It took me a few minutes, but I found an article that was about just that topic.

Apparently using ethanol in certain vehicles (basically, every type but Ford & GM) can void the warranty if any damage happens due to using ethanol in the vehicle.  According to the article, it accelerates wear and tear on the engine.

It was an interesting article (linked to just above), and the patron thought so too.

As a side note to the use of ethanol: I tried it in my car, but my MPG went down drastically.  I did some sleuthing of my own and found that unless the price of ethanol is at least 25% below the price of regular, it's actually more expensive to use ethanol than it is to use regular.

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Overdrive & Overdrive Read

My library got the newest version of Overdrive today.  I played with it a bit, and I found it really easy to use. It's a lot easier to differentiate between books that are checked in and out.  A book that's out has a grayed out icon (either a book shape for e-book, or headphones for audio), while a book with available copies has a black icon in the upper righthand corner of  a cover.

When you go to check out a book, you just click 'borrow'.  That's it.  To decide whether it's a 14 day or 7 day checkout is through your settings, which is one thing I don't like, since some books I'd rather have for a week, while others I want for the 2 weeks.

Overdrive Read.  It's a very, very good thing.  It's basically being able to read them right in your browser.  Now, IE (internet explorer) isn't compatible with it.  I know.  Well, mostly incompatible.  You can use ODR, but it's a dumbed down version without all the bells and whistles of the normal one.  If you download a Firefox addon, you can use the 'regular' version of ODR, but if you don't want to download anything, you're stuck with a very plainclothes version.

Even the plain version was nice, though.  The Mozilla version?  Amazing.  Easy to read, easy to use.  Bookmarks, offline reading, it had it all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Currently Reading

I'm reading: Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical Industry's Quest to Manipulate Height by Susan Cohen.  It's a really interesting book about the use of human growth hormones to affect height in too-tall girls and too-short boys.

Waiting for: Gone with the Woof by Laurien Berenson.  It's a cozy mystery.  She took a hiatus for several years, and is just now coming back into the dog-mystery business.  Her books are amazing, and if you love cozy mysteries, Janet Evanovich or Susan Conant, you'll probably love her!

A Nook, Kindle and a Laptop walk into a library...

What do they have in common?  They all need a version of Overdrive so the owner can get our e-books.

The laptop was easy.  Getting Adobe Digital Editions on the computer, and we were set after authorizing it.

The Kindle Fire?  Even easier.  She knew what she was doing - she just got turned around with where to find it once she hit the 'get this library book'.  I showed her how to sync it, and once she got that down, she was just fine.

The Nook was a little bit harder.  We connected it to the laptop, opened the e-book in Overdrive, and I showed her how to drag it into her Nook.

Once it was in the Nook, we lost it for a minute before finding it on the next page.

It may have taken it just over half an hour (between waiting for the stuff to download and walking her through the stuff), but it was easy enough.  I gave her some handouts on all three so she could get her other laptop going for her husband.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tractor repair manual

The one in the system was lost.  But there's still an option.  One of our databases is amazing.

You've heard of the online Chilton manual to help repair cars?  Well, there's one for small engine repair.

Which includes motorcycles, tractors (farm and yard), ATV and a host of other small engines.  If you peruse the manuals, some of them are very in depth.  Some of them aren't, and are basically the 'change your oil' type manual.  If you get the right kind, like the motorcycle ones, they go through wiring, disassembling wiring and more.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Problem with Overdrive: Stuck on Authorize

I had a patron come in with a problem with her Overdrive on her iPad.  She was stuck in the 'authorize this device' step.  She's put in her e-mail address and password, but the 'Authorize' button was greyed out.  We couldn't back out into the Overdrive homepage.  Even when we closed Overdrive and reopened it, we were stuck in the authorize menu with the button still greyed out.

After restarting her iPad, it reset Overdrive, letting us finish authorizing her device.

From there, I also walked her through how to download an e-book both through Overdrive and through her Kindle App.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What is the speed of sound?

A. 768 mph.

Other than that, I only had a few questions about books in the library.  One, I requested to purchase, and another was right where it was supposed to be.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Overdrive 2.0 aka Overdrive Next Generation

So we're rolling out a new version of Overdrive soon.  I've taken a peak at the video of the new and enhanced features, and I've gotta say, I like what I see.

For one, the in-browser reading sounds like an amazing idea.  For someone who doesn't want to download a book, or can't figure out how to for whatever reason, being able to read the book in-browser would be really helpful.

I also really like being able to go from device to device.  I don't always read on my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S3 for those interested), but I also read on my laptop, on my husband's tablet and probably three or four other places.  Just being able to go from my phone to my laptop would be really nice, especially since it (apparently) remembers where you are in the book.

Copy available or all checked out?  One of the best features.  The book symbol in the upper righthand corner of the cover is such a good way to show that a copy is available or not.  With just a quick glance, it's easy to see if you need to put a book on hold.

And finally, one-step-checkout.  This will make a lot of patrons very happy, I think.  The multiple steps to check out books sometimes confused patrons, particularly those who had never used a tablet for this (or any, sometimes) purpose.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to Overdrive 2.0 (just my name for it!) being implemented in my library.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A specific CD with a specific song.

I had a patron today looking for the song 'Morning' by Edward Grieg, on the CD Solitudes by Dan Gibson.

I searched for a good five minutes before I could track it down.  It wasn't under 'Gibson, Dan' at all, like the other CDs in the Solitudes series.  It was under a completely different name.  Luckily, it had the Grieg song on it, so we were able to positively identify the CD based on the song.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I love making someone's day! (Aka tracking down a birth certificate)

I had a patron call in, needing to know how he could get a copy of his birth certificate from a certain southern state.  He had a thick accent, but once I understood what he wanted (by confirming the state and city he needed it from), I was able to understand him rather easily.

I was able to get onto that state's vital records website, find the application for getting a replacement/certified copy, the mailing address, the fees required and what information he needed to provide.

The elation in his voice when he was thanking me made my day better than anything else could have.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What I'm Reading

I've got a stack of books to read, but the one I'm on currently is on bullying (the topic of choice for right now.)  I just finished "Stick and Stones", and now I'm on to "Odd Girl Out".

I'm listening to Kim Harrison's "White Witch, Black Curse".  I'm playing "Skyrim" after finishing "Final Fantasy XIII" (still need to finish XIII-2, but I'm about 20 hours in.  I just needed something a bit...lighter, maybe?)

I just made someone's day!

He was looking for the movie "Slaughterhouse-five".  Only one library in the area had it.  Sometimes, libraries in that area don't lend them.  This one did.  He was so excited that I could order it for him!

I love my job!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


We've been get a lot of students needing information about certain countries.

For up to date information, I steer them away from books, which are usually outdated by the time they're published, and towards one of my favorite websites.

It's a database, to us, provided by the Michigan Electronic Library.  CultureGrams is an amazing resource for any person, student or just curious web-surfer.  It has up to date information about different countries, states and more.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm looking for a movie...

"I returned a cd today.  I meant to write down the title, since it was from a movie so I could watch the movie, but I forgot to.  Can you pull it up on my account?"

Hmmm...  "Let me see...no, it's already been returned so there's no record of it."

*very sad face*  "It looked like a good movie.  It was an older movie, I think with Tom Cruise..."

"Let me see what I can do.  So you don't remember what movie it was?"

*head shake*

"What about any song titles?"

"Hoochie Coochie Man, I think..."

*searches*  "Was it 'Stand Up Men'?"


*big smile*  "It's a newer movie, just out last year.  I can reserve it for you if you want."


I love it when I can reverse-search something like that!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reference Interview - my style!

It usually starts out with me saying "Hi, how can I help you?" to a patron that's either standing/walking around awkwardly, or someone who's just come up to my desk.

When they tell me what they're looking for, let's say, in this instance, they're looking for books on psychology.

I ask if it's for homework or just for personal reading as I search to keep the conversation going.  I also repeat their request at least once, sometimes several times.  Not only to make sure I heard them right and that they requested it right, but also to keep it in my mind.

As we make small talk, I'm searching the catalog for books that will work for them.  I write down the call number and author, with the title underneath.  Between each book, I draw a line to differentiate the different entries.

From there, I hand them the paper, tell them about where the book is located and then ask if they need anything else.

If they don't, they go about their merry business, sometimes coming back up (maybe 1/4 of the time) when they can't find it.  Usually, it's on the shelf where it's supposed to be.  Sometimes, it's just a little off.  Sometimes, it's not there at all.  Either another patron has it, it's on a cart somewhere or it's just plain missing.

In those cases, I ask the patron if they'd like me to order it.  If they brush it off like it's a big step, I laugh and say it's no problem.  Usually, maybe 8/10 times, they'll have me order it for them.

If they weren't done when I asked if they needed something else, rinse and repeat.

Sometimes, I end up ordering everything from another library.  Either through our Consortium, or through MeL (the Michigan Electronic Library).  While MeL is an extra step, since I have to do another search, and if I find the book, put the patron's name and library card into the website, it's no problem.  I've done it (probably) hundreds of times for myself, and to do it for another patron is no problem.

If no library has it, I ask if they'd like me to request to purchase it.  I explain that the request doesn't mean that it will be purchased, since it's up to someone else, but if it is purchased, we can reserve it for them.

Some of the more popular stuff, like the next season of Downton Abbey, or the new Stephen King, will be purchased but it's too early to order it.  I keep the forms for the things I'm requested to purchase, order them when I can, and reserve them when they're ordered.

Overall, I make sure my reference interview has the main steps (from Wikipedia, but also what I learned during my MLIS):

  1. Welcoming
  2. Gathering general information from the user and getting an overview of the problem
  3. Confirming the exact question
  4. Intervention, such as giving information, advice or instructions
  5. Finishing, including feedback and summary

Problems with your Kindle? No problem!

Thankfully, I can walk a patron through most problems with the Kindle and Overdrive.  The steps are all the same, it's just getting to the point of when do the steps and in what order.  And knowing (which means asking the right questions) where the patron missed a step.

Usually, they don't realize you have to go to the Amazon website to get the book.  That's the biggest miss.  The other isn't a miss so much as it is never having used a Kindle before.

While I can walk you through over the phone, it's a lot easier to get you started in person!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yes, I can get that number for you!

Generally speaking, I can get any phone or address for a person.  I say generally, because although I'd love it to be, not every number is online.

If I can't google it (or whitepage.com it), and it's not in my area of Michigan, I'll tell the person to call the library nearest the person/place they're trying to reach.  They'll generally have a Polk city directory and be able to look it up much better than I can, since I only have 2 counties worth of Polk city directories.

A senator/representative is sometimes much harder to get a phone number from. Some of them seem to be only through e-mail, which for someone who doesn't have a computer or access to a computer is very limiting.  So I do my best, and give them the best information I can.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are you a psychic?

Then no, I'm sorry, but you don't know that those prints are yours.  There are forty-some other computers hooked up to the same printer as yours, and most of them are occupied.  While most people don't print anything, there are, say, one out of every four people that do print.

Which makes it unlikely that you know that those prints are yours.  As in impossible for them to belong to anyone else.

Please, sir.  And no, I won't leave fingerprints on them.  Not visible ones, at least.  I touch the edges of the pages, not the center.  And I haven't been playing with graphite.  So, no, no visible prints from this librarian.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I don't mean to be offensive or anything...

but can I ask you a question?

That was my most interesting question of the day.

The rest of the question was "Can you get me a list of all of the gay bars in MyCity?"

I couldn't find any, actually.  Not in MyCity, at least.  There's a bunch more in Michigan, but none nearby.

And, no, I wasn't offended.

Tax booklets yet?

Yes, yes we do!

For the last two months, we've been getting non-stop question about whether we have certain tax booklets.  Mostly centering on the 1040.  We finally got them in last week.

So I can finally tell the patrons, yes, yes we do have them!

The only thing we don't have in paper are the odd forms that we can print right off of the IRS website!

Magazines, magazines everywhere...

So, in the last year or so, we've found parts of magazines all around the library.  By parts, I mean the back cover.  Which has the barcode.  Sometimes, only the barcode.

So there's a thief (or thieves) in the library, stealing magazines.  It's usually the popular ones.  Cosmo, people, US weekly...ones like that.  Sometimes, there's an odd one.  Dog Fancy, Dolls etc.

But considering our hours (we're usually open for 10 hours a day, except on Fridays and Saturdays), there's no real reason to steal one of the magazines.  At least, no good reason I can think of.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Different names for companies & Tax Information

Got a question a couple days ago.  A girl needed information on a local company.  She called the company (not the real name) "United Chemical Company".  In the area, it's known as something else.  So we ended up finding it under "North American Chemical Company".  I'll remember that next time!

And no, we don't have all of our tax forms in yet.  That's the most common question within the last month.  For awhile, we had only a couple forms and no instruction booklets, but that's slowly changing.  We still don't have all the forms, but it could be worse.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ghost Hunters

I've had a patron in a few times now asking about any movies (preferably documentaries) about ghosts and ghost hunting.  I'm into them as well, so aside from the regular ones (like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures etc) he was asking for, I had a few of my own suggestions.

Using both sets, and an Amazon search, I was able to scour our systems, looking for any and all movies about ghosts and ghost hunting.  Unfortunately, by the third search, we were just getting repeats, which he wasn't interested in.  I told him that I'd keep my eyes and ears open for any new ones we get in, but aside from further developing our Ghost Hunters collection (which always seem to be out), we don't have very many new ones.

Netflix, however, has at least a dozen different ghost shows.  Ghost Lab, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Files, Fact or Faked, Ghost Hunter International are just a few off the top of my head, but I've seen many, many more come across my suggestions screen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Optimal Sleep Time: Results?

I had a patron come in asking about material (not just books, but articles too) about 'Optimal Sleep Time'.  You've probably heard of this.  It's been the focus of a few studies where the result is that high schooler's do better in school when the school starts later, and kindergartners do better earlier, when the school starts early.

Unfortunately, a search (not just through several databases, but google and google scholar) of "Optimal Sleep Time" only gave me a couple results, much to my surprise.

After finding the few scant articles that specifically mentioned the words "Optimal Sleep Time" for my patron, I started to brainstorm other ways to search for the information she was looking for.

The one that got the most results?  From google and our databases?  "High school sleep", and a few variations of that.  So, after probably fifteen minutes of searching for what we'd consider the 'proper name', a few keywords pulled up more than anything.

With her second topic, I just basically ignored the 'proper name' and did a keyword search (early intervention at risk kids), and a few variations of that as well.  (Of course, that didn't have a proper name so much as the Optimal Sleep Time did).  I found her enough articles to make her very happy.

So, using the very specific isn't always a good idea, even though, logically, if you're looking for that one thing, it should be.  Go a bit broader.  Do a keyword search.  That's also how I find a lot of the obscure books that patrons ask me about.  If they don't remember much (like just a plot), a keyword search can usually get me a lot further than most anything else.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Computer Questions

Let me preface this by saying that I'm pretty good with computers.  My dad and husband both have comp. sci degrees, and I've been around them since before I can remember.  I know how to do a lot of things with and to them, and I'm pretty used to running checks etc so they stay working.

So I get a patron who asks if our wifi is down.  I tell him, no, it's still up.  He replies that he can't get into his e-mail.  I cock my head (over the phone, so he can't see the gesture) and ask him if he's in the library.

No, he's at home.  But he can't get into his e-mail.  He's just making sure that our wifi isn't down.

Upon further questioning, I find out that it's just his e-mail that's down.  He can access other websites except for his e-mail.

Now, to my knowledge, that's a problem with his e-mail.  Host, server, they're doing something.  Maybe updating, maybe it's just down.  But it happens to websites - sometimes, they go down randomly.

I tell him this, that it's a problem with his e-mail, especially if he can get into other websites.

So he wants to speak to our tech page certain name.  I shake my head and tell him that he's not here right now, but even if he were, he'd probably tell him the same thing I am.  That if he can get into other websites (which he says he can do), then it's a problem with his e-mail and there's nothing we can do.

I had another patron (a few days ago) wanting to talk to our tech guy to help retrieve his facebook password.  That he'd put in the day before.  And hadn't saved.  Now, to my knowledge, without a keylogger, there's no way to retrieve a password like that.  And our computers wipe the drives (or something like that) when they're shut down, so there's no way to retrieve the passwords.

He was very disappointed, but understood where I was coming from.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


So today, I got asked a question about a murder that had taken place in '92.  Going back into our indexes for that year, I found not one or two articles, but over 3 dozen.

I copied what I thought were the most relevent off of the microfilm and called the patron back.  She wanted all of them, so I explained to her what I did and invited her (she is in the area) to come and look up all the articles she wanted.

I wrote down all the dates of the papers that had articles pertaining to the case and mailed them to her, so maybe I'll see her in a few weeks!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to get Overdrive for your Kindle Fire

Go to the Playstore (or Amazon Appstore).  Search for "Overdrive".  Download the Overdrive Media Console.

When it's on your Fire, go into the settings.  To get there, it's the middle icon at the very top right.  Looks like three vertical lines. 

Put in your Adobe ID (e-mail address) and password.  If you don't have one, get one using the button for getting one.  Then put it in.

Go back to the library view.

Click on the symbol of a book at the very top right (left of the 3 icons).

Add a library.

Search for your library.  Pick the right one out of the list.  Click the star.  Click the library.

Go to the library's Overdrive page (clicking the library will take you there.)

Search for a book.

Find one.  Make sure it's Epub.  If you get the Kindle version, you can still check it out, but you have to read it through your Fire and it's a few different steps.

Check it out.  Download it.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Overdrive errors: The parameter is incorrect aka error 0x80070057

As a reference librarian, I get to deal with e-books and Overdrive a lot, if you can't tell from previous posts.

Today, I got to walk a patron through deleting her DRM folder.  First, she told me her error was "Parameters are incorrect".  From there, we found that she had Windows XP, and that it's a fairly common error.

To fix it, I googled it.  "Parameters are incorrect overdrive".  One of the first links I pulled up was this: Fixing: error 0×80070057: The parameter is incorrect for OverDrive media console .

From there, they'd posted what Overdrive tech support has posted to several people.  Below is a quote of the fix for "The parameter is incorrect".


We are sorry that your patron is having difficulty downloading OverDrive Audio Books. We think the error they are receiving can be resolved by resetting the DRM (Digital Rights Management) for Windows Media Player. Please ask the patron to perform the following steps to reset the DRM and let us know what results they get:

 1. First, please delte the DRM folder on your computer. Depending on your OS, it can be found in different locations:

* Windows 2000 and XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\DRM
* Windows 98: C:\Windows\All Users\DRM
* Windows Millennium Edition: C:\Windows\DRM


 If you cannot find the folder, it may be ‘hidden’. Please use the following steps to view hidden files and folders.

* In Windows Explorer go to Tools > Folder Options > View
* Under ‘Hidden files and folders’ heading, make the following changes:
o Select ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’
o Un-check ‘Hide Protected Operating System Files’
* Click the button ‘Apply to All Folders’. This will ensure the changes affect all folders on the system.


 2. Re-run the Windows Media Player Security Upgrade from the OverDrive Media Console under the ‘Tools’ menu.


3. Attempt to download an OverDrive Audio Book.


We apologize for the difficulty. Please let us know if this resolves the error or if the patron requires further assistance. Thank you.


The Library Reserve Support Team

So if anyone runs into this problem, I hope this helps.  It worked for my patron who hadn't been able to download several different e-books.

Friday, January 11, 2013

GED books? Sorry, we have none.

They seem to have grown legs and walked out.  Or somebody decided to keep them as a new pet.  Or  a way to keep their coffee table level.  Or to learn how to walk properly.

Either way, we don't have any on the shelf.  Actually, most libraries around us don't.  They seem to be the most popular book that people either like to keep or steal.

Luckily for us, we do have access to an awesome database.  You might have heard of it.  It's called the Learning Express Library.  It's not just for GED, either.

It has SAT, ACT and a few other practice tests.  It has computer tests, career tests, tests to help you remember your English lit and your history.  And a bunch of other tests.

Not just tests, either.  Just e-books and courses.  And it's free as long as your library subscribes to it.

Thankfully for all of our GED-seekers, my library does.

ETA: We had a 2005 GED book returned the other day!  No idea where it came from, but it was in such bad shape that I pulled it.

Overdrive: Kindle App vs Overdrive App

If you have a tablet or a smartphone, you have two basic choices.  You can get the Overdrive app or the Kindle app.  Which one you want depends on what you need it for.

Do you want to listen to audiobooks?  If so, then rule the Kindle app out.  It's strictly for e-books, so go with the Overdrive app (aka Overdrive Media Console).

If you're reading just e-books, then read on.

Do you have multiple libraries you're using?  If so, go with the Overdrive app.  You can add multiple libraries to the "My Library" list.  If one library doesn't have the new book you want, the other one might.

Do you already have the Kindle app and don't want to install another app?  Then stick with the Kindle app.  You'll have to use your browser (Chrome, IE etc) to get to the library's website to get the books, but you won't have to install another app.

Do you want one-stop-shopping?  Then go with the Overdrive app.  You pick what library you want to get your new book from, and it opens up right in Overdrive.  Everything, actually, is done from the Overdrive app once you get it downloaded.

The one drawback (in my mind) of the Overdrive app is that to use it the first time (to get that first book), you have to get an Adobe ID.  It's free, so don't worry about it charging your credit card.  But it's your e-mail address and a password.  You can register for one right on the Adobe website.

As for ease of use, I find the Overdrive app easier to use and more convenient.  The Kindle app is nice if I don't want to get another app, but there are a few more steps since it takes you to the Amazon store to check out the books (a marketing way of trying to get you to buy it), but it's not too bad to use once you get used to it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spelling is important & yes, I know how to research.

And knowing how to spell, as a librarian, is very important.

I had a teen come up to me asking if we had any books on fersous?  (That was about how it was pronounced.)

After a few questions on my side, she told me she really needed books on the elements.  Especially zinc and fersous.  When she said elements, I asked her if it was phosphorus.  Her eyes lit up.  Bingo!

Another variation of needing to know how to spell is authors.  Now, I don't know all authors.  That's just impossible and silly.  But knowing how to spell the most popular author names, like Clancy, Steele and Auel comes in handy when we get the questions about a new book they've put out.

The second part to this post is something that sometimes irks me.

When a patron calls up with a specific request.  Something like "I'm looking for an encyclopedia about criminals published in the 30s."

Okay.  So I do my normal searches.  Library catalot.  MeL catalog.  WorldCat.  When those three fail, I go to my backup.  Google, Abebooks and Amazon.

When those three fail, I tell the patron that I'm sorry but I can't find what he's looking for.

He proceedes to tell me "Did you try google?" "Can you search by copyright?" "Did you search in MeL by date?"

Now, like a lot of reference librarians, I went to school (graduate school) for what I'm doing.  I took classes on searching, reference, cataloging and more.  It's a rare thing when I can't find the answer to  a reference question like that - if the answer exists, more often than not, I'm going to find it because I know how to search for books.

When a patron acts like I need to be told every step to take to find a specific book he wants, it's annoying.

Like any good librarian, though, I hide my annoyance.  I tell him that while I didn't find that exact book, I found others that are newer.  They aren't what he wants, though, and he questions my searching skills.

On the other hand, I get patrons who just want me to google something for them.  Which I do happily.  Then, I pick the best two or three links that explain what they want to know.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lost & Found in a Library

In a large library, we get a lot of patrons who bring in their personal objects.  Phones, laptops, iPods, we get it all.  Glasses, hats, gloves, necklaces, we've found them all.  Wallets?  Got those, too.  Strollers?  Surprised?  We've had two name-brand, expensive strollers left behind from children's events.

What's surprising is the number of things that are turned in.  Wallets and phones; that winter coat?  We've had them all turned in to us at some point.

Sometimes, though, they go missing.  Flashdrives are a common thing for people to pocket since they're palm-sized.  Another thing that goes missing are phones.  While they're usually turned in, sometimes we'll get a phone call asking if we have one that isn't in our lost and found basket.

Weirdest thing I've found?  Someone's hoodie in the back of the stacks.

While weeding older books in the science section (500s for you DDC people), I've found flowers and leaves dried in the appropriate classification books.  Bookmarks that are old, recipes, prescriptions and notes are all pretty common things to find in older books.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Just For Fun

Three minutes before closing, we got a phone call.  Since we were still open, I answered it.

The patron wanted to know if I could tell her what movies were coming out next month.  After telling her that we were closing in just a couple minutes, I quickly tracked down the upcoming dvds in February.

I told her that there were quite a few of them, and reiterated that we were closing in three minutes.  She told me that that was all right and that she was a fast writer.

With an inner sigh, I quickly read through the list.

She replied with "I thought Skyfall was coming out then?"

I went to the next month and there was Skyfall, which I told her.  She then wanted me to read through all of the next two months (February and March.)

Still before closing, I blazed through them.  Then, she wanted April's upcomings, which weren't out yet.  After telling her that, she told me she really wanted to know the upcoming Disney dvds.

After getting to the website, the closing call came across the intercom.  I told her that we were now closed.


"You can call back tomorrow at 10 and someone will be happy to help you," I told her.


At a loss for words, I simply said, "You have a nice night" and hung up on her.

Microsoft Surface Tablet & Overdrive

The new MS tablet.  The Surface.  It can come with two different operating systems.  Weird, right?  A comparison of the hardware & specifications of Pro vs RT.  And what's worse is that they're treated different when it comes to Overdrive. 

The first is tablet based, called "Microsoft Surface RT", so to get Overdrive, you treat it like a tablet.  Get the Overdrive app and all that, from the Appstore, like you would any Android device or smartphone.  Straight from Overdrive:

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT
With the OverDrive app for EPUB & MP3 and the Kindle app for Kindle Books.

So, you have to either get the Overdrive app or the Kindle app, much like any Android device.  I've used both, but I prefer the Overdrive app since you don't have to go through the Amazon website everytime you want to get an e-book.  The other great thing is that you can do both audio and e-books from the Overdrive app, so it's one-stop shopping.

Now, back to Overdrive. 

Notice how Overdrive doesn't say anything about the other Surface?  That's because if you don't have the RT, then you have the other OS.  You have the MS 8 based "Microsoft Surface 8 Pro", which is a desktop OS.

To get Overdrive on the Surface 8, you treat it like you would your desktop computer.  To do that, you get the Overdrive Media Console for Windows 8, which according to Overdrive, works on any Windows 8 device.  To get that, just go here.  You just pick your version - which would be the desktop Windows 8.

If you don't want to go through the Overdrive website, you can go right through your Windows Appsore.  Do a search for "Overdrive" or "Overdrive Media Console", both of which give you the only Overdrive app in the Windows Appstore, which is the Overdrive Media Console.  It's a free app, so download and enjoy!