Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Actual Questions to the Reference Desk #4

(At the New Belfast branch, which as previously mentioned, is literally down the street from the Longshore branch. Even more baffling is that these two branches were built within 2 years of each other. I suppose it was part of some urban renewal plan that has since lost steam. Anyway, the New Belfast branch is fairly "ghetto" as it were, but nowhere near as economically supressed as the Washington branch. I'm manning the reference desk when a young lady in her mid 20s approaches)

Patron: "Excuse me, but do you know where the term 'ba-donka-donk' came from? Particularly in when refering to a girl's butt?"

First off, I would have never expected anyone to really care about the origins of such a slangy word. It's slang, it means "big ole juicy booty" (Oxford Dictionary vol. 4 p. 356 ln. 12) or whatever, no one really knows where slang comes from, it just kinda appears in language. Nevertheless, I attempted to search our databases for an answer. I gave her a warning that it might be hard to find out the etymology of such a term.

Okay, but what's really surprising is that I WAS ABLE TO FIND OUT!

It turns out it first hit the national scene with the song "Fatty Girl" which was a collaboration for a Fubu album between Ludacris, LL Cool J, and Keith Murray. During Keith Murray's verse, (which was the 3rd and final verse of the track) he makes the exclamation "Girl, you got a badonkadonk! Don't hurt nobody!" It is believed that the phrase is an Angloization of either an African or Jamaican term for female behinds. Regardless of where Murray got the phrase, he is credited with exposing the term to the national conscience. He has since made mention of his claim to fame in his new song "Nobody Do It Better," where he boasts "Who got 'em saying Badonkadonk all around the world?" A common misconception is that Trace Adkins originated the term with his Country smash "Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk." While he might have widened its usage amongst the CMT crowd, there is no doubt that Murray predates this track by a good 5 years.

Now, what's really amusing about this whole situation is that at Reference, we are required to keep a log of questions asked (For accounting and ordering purposes, standard practice at all libraries, as far as I know). There was something hugely satisifying about writing down "Badonkadonk" under "Nature of inquiry"

I guess now the powers that be are going to order a whole bunch of booty materials to satisfy the public's growing need.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Absent-minded love

I'm at Timberland today in the children's room. Timberland is like Antietam in that it's one of the larger more affluent libraries, but for some reason I like Antietam better, even though Timberland doesn't get homeschoolers.

So as a mom and her two little toddlers are leaving, the two little girls are saying "bye-bye" to me, the friendly man behind the desk who found them some horsey books. I return the acknowledgement and wave bye-bye to them. As they pass to leave the room, I believe the mom attempts to say "Thank you for the help." But that's not what comes out.

Mom: "Love you," stops, and just leaves

I have to laugh cause I recently ended a call to my supervisor with the same type of non-thinking "I love you"

Ruining an otherwise perfect day

So I spent the other day at Antietam, which is probably my favorite branch ever. It's got nice building, a great patronage, and the best staff taxpayer money can buy. Going there is one of the few real pleasures this job has. In addition, I trained at that branch (All except reference, which I did at Redwell Waters) and have nothing but fond memories of the place. Sadly, I don't get to work that often since it's fully staffed and a high traffic library. Still, sometimes the powers that be throw me a bone and schedule me at Antietam, which occurs maybe once every 2 months.

The day was marvelous: lots of cute, literate kids for storytime, people checking out loads of materials, and a decided lack of persons monopolizing the internet. In short, it's everything the other libraries aren't. The only "bad" thing about Antietam is that it's located in a crazy religous zealot subdivision, so you get lots of homeschoolers and Penecostals. But hey, I'd prefer a close-minded homeschooled family anyday of the week over a mentally unbalanced homeless person.

But 2 people marred an otherwise perfect day. The first wasn't that major, but an ongoing annoyance; Petey Pedaphile showed up to do his regular searching for underaged pictures. What's remarkable is that this is the 3rd library he's shown up at whilst I was working, prompting me to wonder if he's stalking me or just getting around to all the libraries. He's never been kicked out or banned to my knowledge. I even asked some of the regular Antietam staff about him, to which they responded that they've never seen him before. This distresses me to a small extent since it gives a shred more credance to the theory that Petey is stalking me. So for about 3 hours, I played internet chicken with Petey, making sure he didn't fall into temptation and make those 2 extra clicks. And to be honest, each time I've had to deal with Petey, I've paid him less and less attention, which is probably a trap and all part of his plan to lull me into a false sense of security.

As time-consuming as Petey was, he was nothing compared to the next problem patron. Lemme set the scene: It's 20 marvelous minutes until closing. Petey's been gone for over an hour and I've recovered from constantly checking his screen. I've just finished checking in a whole slew of returns and am anxiously awaiting closing time so I can go out (hey, it was Friday night, and I have a social life not mentioned on this blog). I begin to start shutting everything down and pulling receipts when a charter member of Future Spinsters of America comes to the desk with a printout in hand.

FSA member in her 30s: "Yes. I got this in the mail." (Shows me the printout, which is automatically sent via the system through the mail. It's a notice of items that are overdue. Like I said, it's automated. 1 out of every 7 patrons has it with them when they have problems with stuff checked out)

Me: (Very used to this sort of thing) "Okay. Can I see your library card?"

FSA: (Coldly) "Here"

Me: "Thank you" (Attempts to smile at her to lighten her up, since it IS the weekend. The smile goes unrequited, I return to business) "Okay. I'm seeing a few things checked out on your account. Nothing overdue. In addition, you don't have any fines. Your account is clean"

FSA: "That's not what this says" (Dangling the slip)

Me: (Furiously typing away to get this over with. We are nearing closing and I want to get out of there) "Okay, all three books on that slip were turned in over a month ago. No fines. You're clear."

FSA: "I thought I turned them in!"

Me: "Yes ma'am, you did. And we have a record of it. You are good to go."

FSA: "Then why did I get this in the mail!"

Me: "Sometimes the computer issues those early as a reminder. It's probably just a notice that you renewed all those 2 times and that you would be unable to renew them again." (Library policy. You can renew stuff 2 times online before you have to take it back to a library, there you can renew them some more, unless there's a hold on it. Library 101)

FSA: "Well, all I know is someone needs to get fired over this!" (She is not kidding. Hellfire and Brimstone)

Me: (Baffled and slightly offended) "Excuse me?"

FSA: "What do you expect when you mail things like this? It's upsetting!"

Me: "Ma'am, you don't have any fines and the books were turned in on time." (She never gave me a chance to really read the letter, so I didn't dare venture to claim that the slip was reminder that her stuff couldn't be renewed online again. Even so, I didn't see what she was so upset about. Yeah, she got a official looking printing out with the County seal on it, but everything was cleared. Nothing to be upset about)

FSA: "Do you call this customer service?" (Shaking little sheet of paper) "Who sent this? I want to talk to their supervisor and get them fired! They need to lose their job!"

Me: (Wishing that I had a supervisor or a higher up around to help me out. So I decide to go to default get-out-of-trouble-excuse numero uno) "Well ma'am, I'm not a regular at this particular library, so I'm not completely sure how they do things here. (Works everytime) But at most of the other branches, the computer system automatically prints those out and sends them. Also, we just switched to a new circulation system, so there are kinks in the system that need to be worked out. However, if you like, I can see if I can get one of the regular librarians here to help you out.

FSA: (Slighty, ever so slightly mollified, but not much. Kinda like putting a kleenex over a razor blade.) Yes...Yes...I think I'll like that a lot.

By this time, it's 8 minutes until closing and the staff is beginning to congregate around the front, getting ready to leave. I motion over to one of the regular guys, and he comes over and just lays it on thick, like butter. After his explantation of events, he has not only totally set her mind at ease about the situation, but could probably get her phone number if he asked. She leaves and he locks the door behind her.

I know this is stupid, but it put a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the evening. If it was at any other branch, it wouldn't be a big deal. But it was at Antietam, which I hold to a higher standard.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Country Music Fans

I haven't mentioned it before (and this is a tad personal) but I like rap music. Quite a bit. I mean, I enjoy aspects of all genres of music, but 53% of the time, my iPod is jamming to some Rap and/or Hip Hop. In addition, unless you've been under a rock for the past week, you've probably heard about the whole 50 Cent vs. Kanye West "who can sell more records" hype, with Kenny Chesney (sp? I don't know too much about this guy. Wasn't he married to Renee Zellwegger? Crap, that's another name I have no idea how to spell) representing the Country market as a dark horse to sell more than either 50 or Kanye.

Anyway, that was last week and Kanye handily sold more. However, apparently some of the folks in Redwell didn't know that little tidbit. Now that it's been set up to death, here's the actual exchange with a patron:

Big country woman comes in. She's wearing overalls. She's got a John Deere hat. She looks like she can bench press me (and I'm not the smallest fella). She comes up to the circ desk.

Big Country: "Hey! Ya'll got the new Kenny CD?"

Me: "Excuse me?"

BC: "You know, the new Kenny Chesney CD. "Pirates: Songs of Scrips, Scabs, and Scallywags." (Or whatever it's really called) It came out last Tuesday."

Me: "Oh. I'll check to see if we ordered it. I seriously doubt it's already out of processing since it's so new."

BC: "I can wait"

Me: (Checking on our system) "Um...I'm sorry, it doesn't look like we've ordered that. We have some of his older stuff in the Music section if you're interested"

BC: "Yeah. I'll take some of that. Every little bit helps. You hear about that thing with him and the rappers?"

Me: (Trying to be a tad sly as to not expose my true feelings on the subject) "I've heard a bit about it on the news."

BC: "Some Canyon West, or whatever that fellas name is, said he could sell more records than any country album and I'm doing my part to support Kenny. And all country music."

Me: "Really? He said that about Kenny"

BC: "Yessir. And I'm here to check out all of Kenny's stuff."

Okay, does she not realize that borrowing stuff from the library does not count on the sales figures? And that old albums have no bearing on the current sales. Anyway, as my mind is about to blow up from the massive logic failure, she continues:

BC: "Of course, Kenny better watch himself. Them rap guys kill themselves on a regular basis."

I just smile and nod, not wanting to continue this current questioning. She returns later with a thick stack of Kenny, plus some Garth Brooks just for good measure. I check her out and watch her leave with no incident.

I hope she felt proud for doing her part to help save Country.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


So I'm at the Riverview branches, home of homeless and jurors, and there's a new face intermixed with the homeless regulars. Before you even see him, you smell him; he's got that typical "no-bath-in-eons" homeless smell, but just a tad more rank. Anyway, when I finally see him I notice a hysterical detail about his attire.

He's wearing a white shirt, now stained yellowish gray, with the word "Padre's" in sharpie.

I suppose he's such a Padres fan that he wouldn't let his lack of a logo on his shirt get in the way of telling the world what team he supports. Anyway, he comes up to the front desk and asks to use the courtesy phone, which I point him to. He then proceeds to dial about 5 numbers and have this conversation with "the person on the other line." Quite loudly, might I add, even for the Riverview Branch.

"HEY! I was just wondering when we're gonna go get something to eat?!?! I...yeah....yeah....yeah...well, I haven't had anything to eat today since breakfast...nothing but my pills! And Peaches! Oh yeah, Peaches!"

He then starts on a 3 minute rant about the quality of the peaches, how many cans he had, comparing canned to fresh peaches, Georgia Peaches vs. local peaches. Pretty much anything you can say about peaches, he said. He finally hangs up and leaves the library, looking for something to eat.

He returns about an hour later and asks to use the phone again. I let him, and sit back to enjoy yet another rant on peaches. Once again he dials too few numbers for an actual call and talks to his "friend".

"Hey! Don't worry about lunch, somebody bought me lunch! Yeah, it was great! Lunch!.....yeah....yeah....yeah....no they just bought it for me! I was just looking into the shop and this guy buys me lunch....uh huh..it was great! See you later! Maybe I'll bring some peaches!"

He then looks at books for the next 15 minutes and picks out a few about baseball to check out. He actually has a card, which is impressive. With a stack of books about his beloved Padres in hand, the last I saw of him was going out into the wilds of downtown.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pyscho-Billy Freak-Out

Today I'm at the Redwell Waters branch, which is host to a whole bunch of legitmate group homes housing both the recently released from prision and the mentally handicapped. However, the most interesting of our patrons this morning are from neither of those groups. I blame the whole general sense of the craziness on the fact that the mighty Rampaging Rhinos of UBC are having their first homegame this afternoon. In quick succession there were 2 insane phone calls and 2 equally bizzare walk-ups. In all the following exchanges took place from about 10:03 to 10:17 this morning.

Phone call #1

Me: "Redwell Waters library, how may I help you?"

Patron: "Yeah, I wanna renew some DVDs."

Me: "Okay, you have your library card on you?"

(Patron stumbles through reading the card number. Finally finishes.)

Me: "Alright. You had one DVD checked out and it's been renewed for a week"

Patron: "No. I had 3"

Me: "I'm just getting 'A Hard Day's Night on DVD.' The rest are books."

Patron: "I'm looking at 3 right now! I HAD 3!"

Me: "Well, what are their names?"

Patron: "I've got the 'The Brethren' by John Grisham right here."

Me: "Yes sir, that's a book. It's not due for another 2 weeks"

Patron: "Are you calling me a LIAR!?!?!" (as if this is the worst thing he's ever been called)

Me: "No sir, but the system is claiming it's a book. Are you sure it's not a book on CD?" (Note: this particular Grisham has not been made into a movie. Unless it's like an author's special reading, there is no way on earth it's a DVD)

Patron: "I'm VERY sure! I watched it last night with my son. (Terrible attempt at sarcasm) Would you like to ask him?"

Me: "Well, I'll just renew what I have down here. (It renews for 3 weeks, which only books will do) What was the other one?"

Patron: "3:10 to Yuma"

Me: "Okay, I don't have that title listed on your account"

Patron: "Well, we gotta find it don't we?"

Me: "And you're certain it's a DVD?"

Patron: "Me and my son also watched it last night."

Me: "There's no title close to that name on your account."

Patron: "Weeeeeeeeeeeellllll then, it looks like you're gonna have to do a little job finding it."

Me: "Just turn in the DVDs you have and we'll fix it here."

Patron: "I ain't a-coming until you find it."

Me: "Sir, you do realize that if it's not on your account, you can't be charged with fines for it being overdue"

Patron: "Oh. Well. That changes things. Thankee" (clink)

No sooner had that ended than we had:
Walk up #1: Church Lady from Hell

Who really isn't worth mentioning in great detail, just know this, it took forever, she was crabby, and she chewed out everyone with the same mouth that she sings choir. Basically, she's a problem patron who puts whole shelves on hold and complains about one book not coming in. Today she claimed that the Middletown library called her up and told her that the books she had put on hold had arrived her in Redwell. Okay, let's think about that. Why would a library on the other side of town call her and tell her that books had arrived at this library. Might this be a lie created so she could make our lives living hell. Luckily, the tediousness of dealing with CLfH was broken by

Phone call #2

Me: (With sound of CLfH yammering in the background) "Redwell Waters, May I help you?"

Dude: (Possibly strung out on drugs) Whoa. Yeah. I'm looking for a word. It's a word with two W's in a row in it. What's that word?"

Me: (Barely containing laughter because of the utter randomness of the request) "Hold on. Lemme transfer you to reference."

I transfered the call and bust out laughing. This angers CLfH, who finally starts to leave, muttering about disrespect for elders. I tried to explain that the laughter was due to the phone call, but she must have a dislike of mirth or something. As soon as she exits, in comes.

Walk up #2: White Trash Meth Head

WTMH: "I need a library card. Here's my old one."

Me: "Okay......Let's see if that one is current"

WTHM: "It should be, I got it yesterday"

Me: "Well then, you don't need to get a new library card everytime you come to the library. That one should be good for 3 years before you need to renew."

WTHM: "Can I level with you sweetie?"

Me: "Um...Sure?"

WTHM: (All as one rambling long sentence) "I got this friend, Julie, well it doesn't matter what her name is, anyway, she wanted to know, well she asked me, what the colors of the German flag meant, not the Nazi flag, but the regular God-fearing flag, and I didn't know, so Amber, I mean Julie, thought the library might know and that's why I'm here but my card is the one I got yesterday, and I want books on Germany, not really the country but it's flag"

Me: "Well, you don't need a library card for reference to look something up for you and maybe print it out. Just ask them. They'd be more than happy to help you." (I know this for a fact cause I trained in reference at Redwell and the place is DEAD. They'd welcome even the ramblings of a meth-head as a respite from the boredom.0

WTHM: "You are such a sweetheart for this. Your girlfriend's gonna go something special for you tonight. It's Karma." (Let alone the fact that I don't have a girlfriend at the moment, I'm not sure I'd want her voodoo on the relationship anyway)

She leaves when all the sudden, guess who should appear but the scourge of the computer printout system and Washington branch regular, yessir we're talking Petey Pedaphile!

Petey: "Wow. That woman was werid. People like that make me wonder." (Goes off to get a computer and scare the administrators.)

I don't think I've ever actually officially introduced Petey. He got the name "Petey" mainly because he looks like an overweight Peter Lorre, star of such films as "Casablanca" and "M." He's got the think bags under the eyes and the general look of helplessness, very much like Lorre's character of a child murderer in "M." This general creepiness is coupled by the fact that his internet habits are frightening. He never looks at actual inapropriate pictures of underaged little girls, but he's like 2 clicks away from getting arrested. There is no reason for a non-pedaphile to be looking at that many shots of the girl who escaped from witch mountain. Not only does he look at these pictures of fully clothed 7-year olds in non-provocative poses, he printing out numerous pictures, and then loudly complains about how he's being over-charged by the new printing system (The new print management system is another much longer post for a much longer day) Anyway, everytime he gets on a computer, you have no choice but to watch him like a hawk lest he finally dive into temptation and make that fateful double click. What he was doing so far away from the Washington branch is beyond me, maybe the gameday traffic was making the place too crowded.

In all, these equally strange exchanges took place in the space of a little over 10 minutes.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, white people scare me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Actual Questions to the Reference Desk #3

At the Longshore branch, which is pretty close to the New Belfast branch. I have no idea why two library branches were built so close together, but hey, it is what it is.

Angry looking woman with three kids under the age of 4 hanging on her storms up to the references desk.

ALWw3K: "Excuse me, where is the job application section on Walmart.com? I can't find it!"

Me: (making small talk as i try and pull up the walmart website) "I have no idea right off the top of my head. I'm not too familiar with that site. Lemme see if I can check on it"

ALWw3K: (Rolls her eyes as she storms off even angrier) "I THOUGHT this was a library!"

I suppose she excepts us to know everything about every internet site ever. I mean, we are the library, right?