Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ban Vending Machines!

Why do libraries insist on having vending machines? I mean really. Why? Do we get a percentage of the vending revenue? No. Do we get free snacks? No. Do we have any control whatsoever of the vending machines? No. Do we get tons of grief from patrons about the vending machines? Yes.

Now staff vending machines are okay. If the vending machine is in a staff only spot, that’s fine. But why set any out for patrons? The patrons think because the vending machine is in the library that we librarians are somehow the vending gods, but we are not. We aren’t even demigods in the vending pantheon.

Why do we allow these false gods into our sacred temple of free information? These little altars of commerce negate all that we stand for. A patron can check out all the great books of literature free, but Buddha save you, if he loses seventy-five cents to the vending machine.

Ban vending machines!

The cops have been called twice this week to Library X due to the vending machines. The first incident was during the overnight. A student thought it would be fun to rock the drink machine and make a case of drinks fall out. He wouldn’t listen to staff when ordered to stop or cared about the riot act read to him. The surrounding students didn’t help matters by snickering over the whole ordeal especially when the overnight staff person went back to collect all the drinks to give to the vending machine person when he came by later that night. But our new overnight person has connections. She was a UPD dispatcher before coming to Library X. She called a UPD friend and had the officer come in and read the riot act to not only the student who’d messed with the drink machine but also all the students that had laughed at her. That was pretty awesome.

Tonight, I got a report that the snack machine on a lower floor had been vandalized. The glass front had been completely shattered. There was glass everywhere. I called UPD to come by and take a report and went down to look at the mess, and boy was it a mess! Glass was everywhere. I got a broom and dustpan and started sweeping up.

One odd thing about this vandalism was that it didn’t look like anything was actually stolen. Sure, there were snacks on the floor, but no packages were actually missing. It makes me think that maybe the vandalism wasn’t intentional, but can’t be sure.

The UPD officer that came out was luckily a big burly guy so he was able to turn the machine around to face the wall so students wouldn’t be tempted to take a five finger discount. None of this would’ve happened if we didn’t have vending machines.

Having vending machines in the library seems a much bigger headache than not. The patrons would be extremely pissy when they noticed the machines were gone, but they’d learn to deal. They could still bring full course meals into the library, bring whatever snacks and drinks they wanted, and there would still be free food giveaways throughout the year. The relief of no vending machine complaints would be such a big gain for library staff and faculty. I have to wonder why we put vending machines in the building in the first place. I know the obvious answer. It’s because patrons wanted it. But where do we draw the line on giving patrons what they want? They want a pizzeria in the library too. Are we going to get a pizzeria? What about a DJ spinning house jams? Yeah? What about a nudie bar with pole dancers?

Many academic libraries are already putting coffee shops in the library. So all day at the reference desk, you get to listen to coffee grinding and smell it brewing. I like the idea of a coffee shop near a library, but in the library? Big Research Library has a coffee shop. I’ve tried to use it a few times. Usually the line’s too long, they aren’t accepting plastic that day, or the drink I want is not available, but every time that I went, the place was crowded and the sound deafening because everyone was shouting to be heard over the machinery. I can’t imagine what it would be like to work within ear shot of the place for eight hours. It would drive me batty. (And then I’d fly into the rafters, and animal control would have to come tranq me.)

This is all because of vending machines. By letting them in, we let commerce jam their foot in the door, and more stuff is going to try sneaking in. We’re going to get that pizzeria, the DJ, and the pole dancers. You just watch. The only way to stop it is to slam the door on commerce’s foot and keep the library the free information temple it was supposed to be. Exorcise the commerce devils. Purify the library temple.

Ban vending machines!

Here's a view of the flipside.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Meditating in the Library?

Students do a lot more than just study in Library X. If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll know this. They come here to party, procrastinate, hook-up...and meditate?

I found this sheet of paper when I was walking through the library:

If you look at the enlarged images, you will find someone has written the word Ram 108 times and Kleem 324 times, though the Kleems are broken up into sets of 108.

As you can imagine, this sheet of neatly written words piqued my curiosity. I couldn't find anything definitive on Ram in this context, but I did find some stuff out about Kleem. It seems to be some sort of mantra used to attract people. If said/written in sets of 108, a person attracts friends and/or lovers. The meditator is supposed to ultimately say/write the term 10 million times then, he or she will attract relationships from all three worlds. I don't know what the three worlds are, but it all seems kind of fishy, especially since in this same article you can hire Brahmin priests to do the chanting/writing for you. Yes, meditation by proxy. It boggles the mind, though I believe Christianity has an equivalent of this, though I don't think it's broken down into a price list.

So I have two possibilities with this sheet. Either I have a lonely college student trying to attract friends and lovers, or a poor college student trying to earn a little extra cash. Kyle would not let me put the sheet in lost and found. He found the sheet off putting and wanted me to get rid of it immediately. He especially hated hearing what I found out about Kleem. I'm not sure what I think about the whole thing. It seems odd to me and a little sad. I'm pretty sure the student is doing this for his or her own benefit and not for someone else. The fact that a student would resort to chanting and writing a word hundreds of times in the hopes of attracting friends and/or lovers seems pathetic, but maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe the student is well adjusted and really believes in the power of meditation. I just hope that he or she is not pinning all of their hopes on this simple word solving all of their relationship woes.

Here is a link to a Youtube video explaining Kleem.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Annoyed Librarian has a post today about the IWOW movement/meme thing. IWOW stands for "I work on the web". People are posting pictures of themselves and proclaiming that they work on the web.

I find this all particularly funny because somebody cut University Z’s big fiber cable today. It has been snipped, and we are all squished onto a MUCH lower bandwidth back-up link-amajig, pushing and shoving for our piece of teh internets.

I’m not working on the web. The web has snapped! I am falling! Cyberspace is swallowing me whole. No Bloglines! No gmail! No Desktop Defender! OH NOES!!!!1

No ETA for repair. This entry posted by Morse code.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tough Reference Question

I was walking by the circulation desk when I overhead a co-worker say this into the circ phone, "Um, find shelter?"

I turned to a nearby student assistant. "Are we under a tornado watch? What's going on?"

My co-worker heard me, sort of sputtered, and waved at me to go away. I went to my computer to check There was no tornado watch.

Once my co-worker was off the phone, I asked him about the phone call.

ME: What's going on? Are we in imminent danger?

CW: No, a resident advisor wanted to know what to do if it began raining during the first-year's tour of the libraries. I couldn't think of anything not snarky to say. I almost said, 'Ever heard of an umbrella?'

ME: So you told him to find shelter?

CW: Well, how else was I supposed to answer the question? What does he do when it's raining and he has to go to class?

ME: Skip.

CW: Obviously.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What a Difference a Link Makes

Hello to everyone coming in from Annoyed Librarian. I hope you enjoy your visit. Thanks for stopping by!

To those that have sent me emails complimenting this lil ol' blog, thanks!
They've really made my day.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Getting Around Campus

Students find all sorts of ways to get around: walking, buses, bikes, cars, skateboards, mopeds.

But unicycles? I have seen three students so far riding these things around campus. Did I miss that latest trend report? I guess it's a way to get noticed, but I haven't seen anything that relates why they might be better than bikes or other traditional transportation. I guess unicycles would be less appealing to thieves, especially those that like to make their getaway on their stolen goods, but other than novelty and exercise, I don't see any appeal. I mean there are tons of enthusiasts, and I bet they enjoy using their unicycles everyday, but the practical benefits are escaping me. Anyone care to enlighten me?

And while bikes are not allowed in Library X, I'm not sure if unicycles would be okay. I've let the skateboarders bring their boards in as long as they carry the boards everywhere in the library. No tricks allowed inside. But unicycles?

Unicycle resources:
CBS Video on unicycling.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

And I thought I was obsessed with staplers.

Read these and be amazed and maybe a little frightened.

Stapler Liberation Front

Campus Staplers Wiki

University Z is not UCDavis, which is sort of a relief and a let down.

We have not had any stapler related problems since exams. We have one normal stapler and that's it. We aren't going to ever again buy a fancy electric stapler or a heavy duty one. We're keeping it simple, and it's working. (For now...)


Monday, September 03, 2007

PSA for Students #10

Don't quit before the first day of work!

This is really annoying the shit out of me. I've had several students back out of jobs after I've interviewed, fixed schedules, submitted paperwork, and you know made freaking plans. I had one back out 2 HOURS before he was supposed to start work. Just emailed and said, "Thanks! But I got a job at another library. Bye!"

Several people have suggested I should tell the other library what this particular student did, but I'm not sure if they're being serious. I mean it's something I would totally do, but I've gotten in trouble before when I made a fuss about stuff concerning student workers.

From now on, when I hire students, I'm making them sign in blood.