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Thursday, May 18, 2017

1999*: Weeding in the Secret Garden, part iii

Finished the Italian collection today. Discarded 63% of the collection for poor circulation and condition issues.  Many, many items not circulated since before 1999. A few more in the 1/1/1980 category, and numerous books the record of which fell out of the system.

My supervisor alluded to what may be replacing everything that I'm removing, but nothing firm as of yet. She did say Arabic titles may be coming in, so we'll see what happens there.

Onward to the Spanish collection next week.


*--Prince, 1999, 1999. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Language of Love* : Weeding in the Secret Garden, part ii

Some highlights of my time weeding our foreign language collection:
  • Samuel Beckett in French
  • Tom Sawyer, Old Man and the Sea, , and Dashiell Hammett in Italian
  • LOTS of extra work to put titles back in the system--and they'll probably be weeded when no one checks them out for another year.
  • French Collection--discarded 47% of titles
  • German Collection--discarded 43% of titles
  • Italian Collection--well over 50% so far
  • longest period between last checkout and today--37 years, 5 months (January 1980)
  • many items with 20+ years since last checkout
No, an item's lack of circulation isn't the only criterion for weeding. 
*--Dan Fogelberg, Windows and Walls, 1984.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

And so it goes*: weird days in the library world

Nothing profound to say today.  I'm edging toward the door to leave for the day, and suffice it to say that my patrons have tested my patience and made me realize that I should dust off my mindreading skills (I'm a parent too, don'tcha know) and I'd make a lot more money.

Patron 1: Can you look up a book for me? it's called Trust. I don't know the author.
Patron 2: I saw this African-American author on the Internet.  I don't remember her name or the title of the book.
Patron 3: Do you have the movie "Raw"? It just came out last month...and if you don't have it can I get it through Interlibrary Loan?

All within five minutes of each other.


My wife says, "let's go to that restaurant that just re-opened".

Noisy ambience, and I really can't believe the kitchen had the stones to serve the chicken that time forgot (or at least forgot it was in the oven). Even in the relative dark, I could tell that the coating was burned, and one bite in told me it had that unintentional charcoal flavor on the bottom (burned worse than the top).  I will say that they were sincerely apologetic and didn't charge me for my new item or my second beer. Kudos for that.

*--Billy Joel, Storm Front, 1989.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Weeding the German Language Collection

So I had my broken ID badge replaced and finally returned to weeding the world language titles in our fiction collection, finishing the German collection and weeding the first shelf of the French titles.  Some statistics:

  • I started with 313 German-language titles, and ended with 188--just over 60% of what I started with.  
  • I didn't compile an average on the last circulation, but suffice it to say that 10-15 years would have not been too far off.  
  • The most distant circulation date was April of 1980.
  • There were only 6 titles that had circulated during the previous 12 months.  Not saying much about interest in German-language modern fiction here in Philadelphia.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how did this man with almost no knowledge of German fiction (or for that matter, the German language), know which books to save and which ones to toss?  Fair question.  Here's what I did.
  1. I checked for the author's presence in SIRSI, our catalog system.  Oftentimes I'd keep a title if it had an English translation (or vice versa).
  2. I looked at the title through the eyes of Google Translate.  If there was an "aha!" moment--where I recognized the title from the English translation--I kept it in the mix.
  3. I looked for the author's and the title's presence online.  I discovered several Nobel Prize winners (as well as winners of other prominent prizes), and members of prominent writers' groups or movements. 
  4. THEN I checked circulation data.  So many titles showed less than ten check-outs over the course of 15-20 years, with almost none during the 2010's.
  5. I gave some titles the benefit of the doubt.  If, for instance, the author had been famous in another field, been a WWII resistance worker, or had written for other media (films, tv, radio), etc., sometimes I gave the book a second chance.
  6. Titles that had circulated at least once during the previous twelve months (yes, there were only six) were saved regardless of author, genre, quality, etc.
After chatting with my supervisors, they gave me the impression that I was on the right track, so onward with French-language fiction tomorrow.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Day in the Life, opus 7*

753 am: Arrive at the FLP, Philbrick Hall.  My ID badge gave up the ghost yesterday, so I can't get into my office.  I worked the Hold Pickup list from the Ref desk, and then realized that the Ref desk printer is bolloxed up, so in a flash of brilliance I sent the job to the Circulation desk.  Short list today, only 7 pages (about 50 items), including one in Russian.  Let's see, the last time that circulated was 2007? Likely it isn't there...

It wasn't--as were a number of items on the list today.  Some days are like that.  I gathered the materials I could find, grabbed a small cart, and put it in its usual place outside my office.

830 am: The teen librarian arrived.  I gave her the choice of "upstairs" (fiction novels) or "downstairs" (romance, mystery, teen, large print--kind of the "mop-up" of the department.  She took downstairs, as she's a little under the weather.

9:00 am: finished my end of the pickup list--dvds, audiobooks, new items (referred to as "MacNaughtons") and waited on my first patrons, both of which needed interlibrary loan assistance.

Interlibrary loan has always been a source of fascination for me.  Where do the items come from? We're in the Northeast Corridor, but items come from as far away as Anchorage Alaska and as close as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and the local colleges. In addition to books, we get requests for microfiche copies of genealogical records (most recently from the PA State Library), sheet music and recordings, and--in my first week there--engineering specifications for a Phillips screwdriver (those came from Penn State). Our patrons have a dizzying array of needs and interests, and Sandy, Steve, and the crew do their best to accommodate people

10:30 am: Finished my reference shift and returned to slogging through the DVD donations.

12:00 noon: Lunch from Cho Cho San--Shrimp lo mein, egg roll, wanton soup.  Tasty and relatively cheap (it's an expensive yuppie neighborhood, complete with Whole Foods)

1:00 pm: Our teen librarian went home ill so I'm back on the desk.  Phone call from one of our patrons who thinks we're all his personal librarians:

"I know you're new and all that...".
<<<Cringing inwardly...
"Can you renew my one movie (out of 10) for Monday?"

I explain to him our policy (he's well aware of it) about not renewing any items with holds, and that I'm not going to make an exception for him at any time.  He keeps one of our ILL staffers going constantly for obscure movies and tends to treat the rest of us like his minions.

2:00 pm: I head down to the ground floor security office to get my new ID. They print it off for me and I leave.  Works on the elevators and for the rest room--but--not for the offices and workrooms in my department. @#$@#%@#$!!! I went through this with my first ID

3:30 pm:  AF calls with a question on his Interlibrary loan--but starts by telling me that the direct line to ILL doesn't work any more (not true) and that he wants me to process his requests. He gave me his library card #, then I asked for his PIN.

"Never had one" (not true).
Found the PIN and continued where I found out that I couldn't process his request because he was at his limit (and I was getting close to the limit of my patience).  He hotly disputed it and proceeded to yell at me. He took it as a personal insult when I put him on hold or attempted to transfer him.  I finally contacted our ILL saint and she called him.

4:38 pm: Our boss (the patron for whom we're personal assistants) is here over my shoulder but not paying attention to me as I type, Thank God.  Going home in 20 minutes and not a moment too soon.

*--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

O Danny Boy: Welcome Ireland!

Welcome to Ireland, country #63 on our countdown.

Continuing with DVD processing today. Cheers.

*--traditional Irish folk song

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Language of Love*: Weeding in the Secret Garden

Welcome to my readers in Estonia heard from this week! As always feel free to comment, agree, disagree, throw brownies, etc.

I was handed a new project today: Weeding world language titles! Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!

I made the mistake of telling my supervisor I wasn't busy enough, so now I have the task of going through the foreign language collection, title by title, and checking for condition, circulation numbers, and value to the collection at large.  Never mind my last French class was during the first term of the Reagan administration.  The collection also houses titles in Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

<<<Putting on "patience of Job" hat...

My supervisor says that it's something I can work on a shelf at a time, and that's good, because I'm imagining that this will not be a quick and easy process.  I'll keep you posted.


UPDATE: I've finished most of the German-language collection and of the ~200 books in that collection, only three have circulated in the past twelve months.  The others that passed muster for weeding were either by major authors (Hermann Hesse), Nobel prize winners, or whose authors were prolific or members of an important writer's group.  I'm guessing that I've weeded a little over 50% of the total titles. 3/27/2017

*--Dan Fogelberg, Windows and Walls, 1984.