Not so long after I started working at HPL, I was talking to a potential vendor about some work I wanted done and how it fit into some of my long-term goals for the library, and he said, “You’re really ambitious.”

I said, “I think we’re understanding each other.”

I didn’t wind up hiring that guy for that job, but being understood every once in a while balances out the times I have to convince salesmen that I really am the person in charge even though I don’t fit their stereotype of librarian or person in charge. Sometimes I attempt to reassure these lost souls that I find our conversation as disappointing as they seem to, but they never know how to respond to my honesty.

Last month, I started working the closing shift on Wednesday nights to fill in for a colleague who’s out on maternity leave. I work reference at HPL here and there, but my schedule as a whole is irregular. I’m learning a lot working these Wednesday nights, though, and my job is entirely about learning. I am, for instance, at long last memorizing our closing procedure, which involves, among other oddities, a mystifying opening and closing of doors that follows no logical line I can discern. One slow night, I spent some time cleaning the shelf under the reference desk and learned about some things we no longer use. Another night, a man called and asked me to read him two Bible verses.

“My eyes are bad,” he said.

This is old-fashioned reference, the kind of question that used to come in all the time when I was a new librarian that doesn’t happen as often anymore. Sometimes when people tell you their eyes are bad, it’s because their eyes are bad, and sometimes it’s because they never learned how to read. I suspect this man was the second case because I read each verse to him once, and he repeated them back to me without writing them down. Most people who know how to read and write don’t have that kind of immediate recall because the successful navigation of their lives doesn’t depend on it. (Jama recently shared a lovely post about working with an adult new reader that talks about this.)

After I read this man the second verse and he repeated it back to me, he said, “I don’t understand that one.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Me either. It’s kind of a doozy.”

He laughed and said, “Thank you kindly for your time. God bless you.”

“Thanks for calling,” I said, “and God bless you, too.”

That’s one of those things I shouldn’t have said for any number of reasons–my conflicted agnosticism, our religiously neutral institutional stance–but I was caught up in the moment, the rarity of strangers confessing to each other: I don’t understand.

It didn’t matter that I run the library just then, or maybe it did. My job involves writing policies and supervising and creating a strategic plan, but, really, I’m there for that guy.

Maybe he’ll call again.

I Still Don’t Know What One of the Keys on My Work Key Ring Opens

I’m hoping it opens the hidden Door of Power, which, once we find it, will lead to three trials that, if we are able to successfully complete them, will lead to the Magic Money Tree that only blooms under the light of the gibbous moon when you say the exact right words in Elvish, which, thank J.R.R. Tolkien, is completely in my skill set.

I have to remember to add “Quest for hidden Door of Power” to our strategic plan. Just in case.

I’ve Been Playing with

Because isn’t that just the kind of thing you do?

And also:


These people have gone all kinds of crazy with their spelling and usage, but, still, it’s WAY more fun making graphs and charts in than it is in Excel.

This is more strategic planning, incidentally. We’ve been busy here. More to come.


My life has felt a little out of control the last few weeks, which has led me to cleaning my desk. As is always the case, I have encountered notes on meeting agendas that now make no sense to me. Most of them are like this:

What I Do at Meetings

The pictures aren’t mysterious, because I’m always doodling. It’s the math that baffles me. If I’m doing math, there’s usually a pretty good reason for it, the kind of thing that sticks in my head.

Because my math is almost always about money. Money I might have or money I might not have. Sometimes it’s statistics.

Then there was this:

Because Ghosts Have Rights Just Like the Rest of Us

No idea.

Maybe further excavation of my desk will reveal the answer.

What I Did in Storytime Today and How It Worked Out

Anne went to a training thing today, so I got to do her storytimes. I felt a little nervous about it, to be honest, because I’m out of practice and wanted to do a good job (Anne does excellent storytimes), but I wound up having so much fun.

Storytime #1: The Babies

For this, I searched my own blog, found this post I did on my Stories for Wee Ones at WPL, and used the rhyme and song plan I posted there. It was like visiting old friends: “Wiggle Fingers,” “Here is a Beehive,” “Five Plump Peas.” Those guys are the best. For books, I read I Like It When by Mary Murphy, We’ve All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin and Randy Cecil, and Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. One of the babies was completely freaked out that I am not Miss Anne, but he seemed to decide that I was okay after a while. One of the babies was very wee–just five months old–and so full of smiles. There was an older sister there, too, who was about four years old and was an enthusiastic and excellent example to the smaller ones. At the end, we had playtime, for which Anne has this most excellent tube that the kids can crawl through. I wanted to crawl through it, too, but I don’t think I would fit. If I wasn’t wearing a short skirt, I might have tried it anyway. I KNEW I should have worn my yoga pants to work today.

Storytime #2: The Toddlers

I use the term “toddlers” loosely. There were maybe 20-25 kids there (Anne, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I forgot to count. I will be confessing this to you in person soon enough.), and they looked to me to range in age from about 6 months to maybe 6 years old. That one girl may have been 7 or 8. I may have the order here a little off, because I didn’t take notes as I went and made a lot of decisions as I went along, as I am wont to do.

Longer “I Wiggle My Fingers”
Seriously, how much fun is this rhyme? I’d forgotten. I had so much fun with this, we did it four times in a row. I think we’re all lucky I didn’t go on with it for the entire half hour.

The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom
The interactive element of this book helped me remember that it’s good to not spend the entire storytime doing one rhyme. Because books are fun, too.

“Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle”
My classic. I enjoyed watching how a group who had never heard it reacted to it.

“I Saw a Bunny Go Hop, Hop, Hop”
We did this three times. I was all about rhymes today.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Before we read this, we counted the three mice on the cover and counted three on our fingers. It was a lot like doing the budget.

“Once There Was a Quiet Mouse”
We did this a couple times, too. The kids really liked my mouse puppet, but I hid him right away again so no one stole him or snotted on him or anything. He’s my favorite puppet, after all.

“I Saw a Snake Go By One Day”
This one is still so funny.

Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePaola
As one child observed, Cookie is a really naughty cat. Everyone seemed to enjoy the part where Cookie fell in the toilet, which is one of those things that is hilarious when it happens in a book (as opposed to when it happens in real life, but I may be the only person who has a cat who actually falls in the toilet if someone leaves the lid up).

“Little Bunny Foo Foo”
Of course.

Do Pigs Have Stripes? by Melanie Walsh
The kids were way too smart for this tricky book, per usual.

Longer “Open Them, Shut Them”
The only thing that kept me from doing this one five times in a row was the fact that our half hour was up. Too soon! Too soon!

At this point, as the kids were all standing around awkwardly, I realized I’d forgotten to bring the hand stamp they were expecting, so I ran out to Anne’s desk and stole these cool heart stickers she keeps there, which was a TOTAL WIN. Who needs stamps when you have stickers? No one, I say.

Even better? Anne asked me to do a couple storytimes again in a couple weeks!

Stuff I’ve Found at HPL, Part 2

Okay, so Part 1 was quite some time ago.

But we’ve found more stuff. Like this catalog card sorter:

You Know You're Jealous of Our Catalog Card Sorter

I have to say it again: a catalog card sorter.

I missed card catalogs so much the day Cathy found this, not for practical purposes like actually finding something for a patron, but I did always love browsing card catalogs back when they were still around. Sometimes I’d just open a drawer to see what was inside.

Something I found one day were these interlibrary loan envelopes that are both adorable and crazy:



To me, they look like tiny envelopes for teeth, and I’ve been imagining how back in the olden days, you had to cough up a tooth if you wanted an article photocopied and sent from another library. Back when MCLS was hardcore. Also, apparently, we have a half thousand of these envelopes:


I don’t know why the half thousand delights me so, but it does.

Strategic Planning: Mission and Vision Updates

For those of you keeping track, the Board approved the library’s new mission and vision statements at tonight’s meeting. They are:

Henrietta Public Library: where our community connects, discovers, and learns.

Henrietta will be known for its library, the heart of a diverse community.

Although to me they’ll always be:

Our Draft Mission and Vision Statements