The Newsfeed in Your Newsfeed

I’ve apparently taken a long leave of absence from blogging:  I blame the flurry of work and writing that accompanied finishing the MLIS (which is done!).

So here’s a little post/essay to interrupt your regularly-scheduled OITNB viewing.  If you’re like me, you immediately tried to find the song that ended the first episode.  Because I find it Deeply Inspirational, here it is:


The topic here is my tangled attempt to explain something I articulated poorly.  I said I deliberately dressed in a performative way, which was vague and confusing.  What I said was a lazy shorthand for what I should have been more specific about.

So, here is the not-shorthand version:

 The personal is very public at this time (see:  social media, particularly Facebook), and it’s often unfiltered (Twitter, anyone?).  Like so many other people, I use social media (Facebook, in my case) to construct the image of myself I want others to have.  We’re all yelling at people to ignore the man behind the curtain, to varying degrees. The genius and pitfall of social media is, that if you put thought into it, you become your own PR person.

 I do something similar with clothing.  I construct an identity that functions as a tent pitched protectively around the things I want to keep hidden.  I’m not talking about physicality, though I certainly could (but that’s not very interesting).  Every time I get dressed, I put on clothes and throw a blanket over myself.  Part of that is shame (emotional, physical):  I need to cover something up.  Part of it is hiding:  my clothes are my blanket fort.

In a contradiction (the confusing part), clothing as performance can call attention to myself, which is not what I want.  It’s inevitable, though:  who can ignore a walking blanket fort?  So what is going on?  It’s deflection:  look at this, but don’t look at me.  In a culture obsessed with distilling things to a perfectly flat surface (a phone screen, a laptop), it’s simple to turn the human form into a “virtual” social media feed.  I ask you to look at what I display and only what I outwardly display.

The outward display leaves limited space for comments and engagement, which is the effect I want to have.  It’s the picture I’m posting to prove that God’s in His heaven– all’s right with the world (here — “Pippa Passes”– talk amongst yourselves!).

Clothing as performance thus provides me with a shortcut way of expressing (publicly) that I’m okay, confident, colorful, and unashamed.  I am representing myself (on a daily basis) in the current cultural vernacular of virtual reality.  Please understand that I am not talking about social media; I’m talking about how 24/7 existence is increasingly interpreted as a newsfeed.  I’m not talking about lenses in the college-essay way, either.  I mean that reality really is merging with virtual reality.  There’s not even a lens of separation.  I am here copping to taking advantage of that.

The real reality– myself, the machine parts that power the display– is safely encased. (I’m not going to blather about whether or not there is such thing as objective reality; head over to Reddit if you’re interested).  Few people deconstruct an object that appears to be working perfectly well.  We count on people not probing beyond their phone screens to see what’s really going on, and I’m counting on people not to pick at my sleeve.

It works remarkably, or maybe worryingly, well.

This post is deliberately image-free.  The featured image is a picture of the sky.  That’s it.  The sky.  Make of it what you will, though, as we always do.


I Want You to Want Me

The song titles are getting away from me; however, to my credit, “My Bloody Valentine” was the first thing that came to mind, and I skipped that.  Last year’s Valentine’s post was a cards compendium.  This year, it’s shorter:  I’m ditching the efforts of every dating site and app in favor of the Prost Questionnaire.

I normally resist linking to Wikipedia, but here’s a brief history.  Here’s a more interesting link with David Bowie’s answers (given to Vanity Fair); from there, you can also view the answers of a number of other people that might pique your interest.

But you also get me.  Sorry.  My version of the questions is from here.


  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  If there is such a thing as perfect happiness, it exists only in moments, as a transient state.  Happiness, perfect or otherwise, is mutable and must be achieved over and over again.  It is a series of moments, not a resting place.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  I can think of a lot of abstract fears of things that have never happened to me:  terrible things.  The most concrete answer I can give is when I think back to my lowest moment and imagine being there again, replaying the emotions and physical sensations I felt then.  Realistically, that is the greatest fear I have.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  I have difficulty knowing how to respond to things other people say in any appropriate manner.  I can attempt to filter a response and then agonize over it for days/hours afterward, but I can’t say something and then be comfortable with it.  I think it’s a fear of presenting an authentic self and feeling comfortable with that.  That sounds very egotistical.  I’m just typing this on the fly.  
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Lack of self-awareness, unquestionably.
  5. Which living person do you most admire?  I hope that I can look for something to admire in everyone, but I’m getting a bit cynical on that front lately.  I have not thought of a specific #1 person and suspect this position would be a rotating one.  Actually, I think I’d like to debate this one over coffee.
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?  Have you SEEN my book collection?  Though I question whether those are an extravagance or a necessity.  The qualifier might be that I own physical copies of many things that I could borrow or own in electronic format, but I am extremely partial to having my own marked-up hard copies.
  7. What is your current state of mind?  Picture an old-school card catalog; that’s where I have all the books, music, etc. I’ve read or am interested in filed away.  Next to that is a filing cabinet, where I have all the relevant/interesting information I’ve gleaned from the former.  Throw a tornado in there.  Now you’ve got it.
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Anything that the current moment declares a virtue.
  9. On what occasion do you lie?  Lately, about what I’m doing with my life.  I’m ashamed that I do it, but I’m ashamed to be in such a suspended state.  I do this to people I won’t see again.
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  NOT the right person for this question.  Pass.  There are only 24 hours in a day.
  11. Which living person do you most despise?  Oh, my.  There was a debate last night featuring America’s Most Wanted Sociopaths.  
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?  How about one I don’t like but have had occasion to observe a lot lately?  Colonizing public spaces, physically and vocally.  So I like it when people don’t do that.
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?  Don’t put yourself down, jokingly or otherwise; it’s a protective mechanism against letting someone else do it first.
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  actually, probably, apparently, possibly
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?  [this space reserved] 
  16. When and where were you happiest?  I hope I haven’t hit this yet.
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?  The ability to pre-plan without anxiety.
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  I would turn down the volume on the anxiety that bleeds into so many other things:  how I react, how I speak/respond, things I do.
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  Currently, maintaining the health I’ve worked for.
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?  One of Bob Ross’s happy clouds.
  21. Where would you most like to live?  The British Library.
  22. What is your most treasured possession?  My books, because my cat is not a possession.  You do not possess cats.
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  See #2.  I can speak most concretely to misery as I’ve experienced it.  In short, though, when my world has been most reduced, I’ve been most miserable.  When it opens up, I’m happier.
  24. What is your favorite occupation?  Reading, but I’m prone to doing multiple things at once.
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?  I think that’s best observed by other people; I doubt I’d catch it.
  26. What do you most value in your friends?  I hope they know.  If they don’t, I need to tell them personally.  
  27. Who are your favorite writers?  There are only 24 hours . . . I already said that.  Currently, Sarah Waters, Jeannette Winterson, Ali Smith, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Wallace Stevens, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, I can keep going.
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?  Dr. DeSoto
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?  Someone in the background of a crowd scene of a painting, on the edges.
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?  Numerous.
  31. What are your favorite names?  You know a name I really like that I could name neither child nor pet?  Tess.  Thomas Hardy ruined that one for everyone.
  32. What is it that you most dislike?  Coconut.  As well as mistaking opinion for fact, which tends to be joined with the lack of self-awareness previously referenced.
  33. What is your greatest regret?  Nope.
  34. How would you like to die?  There’s a great Reno 911 bit about this.  How about defenestration?  Can you imagine the newspaper having to print that in your obituary?  “in local news, . . . .”
  35. What is your motto? See God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater– ever since I first read that as a teenager.


Field Notes: Stirring the Pot

I’ve had this in my head for awhile:  an intermittent [read:  when/if I get around to it] series of field notes posts on the various local places I show up with any regularity.  I tend to write little narratives about them in my head, so why not funnel them into blog posts?  Oh– no one is interested?  There’s always that, but I generally don’t let it stop me . . .


First, the shocking news:  I’ve given up coffee except as an extracurricular treat.  The coffeemaker in the kitchen sits cold, except when company requests some.  This, from a person whose neighbor, passing by on the fire escape, once saw me singing “Stand by Your Man” to my Mr. Coffee (yes, really).


The Mr. Coffee in question in other days. Also: a book endorsement. Read that. Now. Stop reading this post. Go.

So I drift to get coffee locally as a treat (and, if it’s a latte, it counts as a snack, which is very nice when I get tired of absolutely every option in my kitchen).

On a recent trip, I went in with a book and a notebook, having noticed that most people are not really paying attention to what anyone else is up to in there; I made some brief notes, unobserved.  So here are my field notes, Jane Goodall-style, from that day, combined with some previous observations:


This is not a chatty place, as far as speaking to Unknown Humans goes– an observation I’ve made before.  The place fell into two clear camps:  people who were together and the forever alones.  The people who were together occupied their own islands.  Except for me, all the alones (autocorrect turned that to “clones,” thereby reading my mind:  I’m ready for Orphan Black to return) were wearing headphones.  I thought there was another exception for a moment, but she turned out to be waiting on a to-go order.  “No man is an island,” indeed.

I’ve long had a quiet standing bet that there’s some unwritten rule that Macs are the Official Computer there:  4 Macs, 1 PC.  I kind of feel like that HP was hanging its head in shame, the odd one out on the playground.  I didn’t go over and pat it sympathetically, which I thought might be viewed as a little strange.


Speaking of strange, is it another unwritten rule that all children present in coffee places must be treated as small adults?  There was one very small one, and her parents spoke to her as if she were . . . well, a great deal more intelligent and mature than I am.  Which is entirely possible:  we’re not talking a high standard here.  An extremely polished business type passed by her and clearly felt compelled to say something; what he came up with was “tiny!”  Well.  Articulate, there.  I thought he’d shake her hand and ask for her vote any minute.


A disclaimer for this next part is that I was reading Inherent Vice (on my shelf, yet I’d somehow overlooked reading it!) at the time.  A cop walked in and went straight to the restroom.  By this time, I’d been soaking in Pynchon paranoia for a day or so, so I was pretty much under the table.  A girl and a guy walked out of the restroom shortly thereafter, and paranoia gave way to feeling like I was back in junior high.  I prefer paranoia.  Fifteen or twenty minutes later, a bicycle cop (?) came in and started hanging around the counter.  That was about twenty more minutes of reading a book with the message “no matter how paranoid you are, you’re not paranoid enough,” so I considered pulling the fire alarm and running.  Again, I realized I might get banned.

It’s probably good I don’t act on impulse all that much.


. . . though neither I nor the photographer got thrown out of the store while, um, showing off this particular gem.


You know, another reason for the earphones could be a soundtrack that’s heavy on the 80s, which generally doesn’t bother me (it just makes me feel old).  My scrawled notes from that day have a lot to say about “Message in a Bottle” getting stuck in my head, so I’ll spread the joy:

You’re welcome!  I’ll send an SOS to the world . . . I’ll send an SOS to the world . . .

I only made a few notes at my most recent visit, but Duran Duran features heavily.  I’ll pass my earworm to you:

I did also notice that employees can apparently wear beanies.  As a person who wears beanies around the house regularly (and sometimes in bed– WHAT?), that seemed appealing.

My beanie game is on fleek.  <— pathetic attempt to sound vaguely young


Alice does not feel that beanies are the best look for her.

In assorted observations:

  • People who buy a single cup of the cheapest, to-go coffee are more likely to hang around the counter and attempt to make conversation.  This will not work.
  • People who even let a phone see the light of day get the hairy eyeball.  Person who was talking on the phone while ordering, I strongly suspect that someone may have spit in your coffee.  As a librarian, I feel that particular pain (but have never had anything in particular to spit in).
  • I’m fairly certain the 80s music isn’t ironic, but I’m not sure what it is.
  • People are so occupied in their own bubbles that me making a list of old-fashioned drink names in all caps (Maggie May, Blue Blazer, Lee Burns, Mamie Taylor, Whiskey Milk Punch) goes completely unnoticed.  Maybe they think I’m studying for . . . the bar exam.  Sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I had to.


I’m cutting myself off, because this is clearly headed downhill.

Final thoughts:

  • Go local.
  • It would honestly not hurt you to look at, or even speak to, other humans once in awhile– by which I mean you don’t have to wear headphones all the damn time.
  • Turn on, tune in, but DON’T drop out.  Notice.  React.  Even if what you’re taking note of is pretty much minute or even inane, it’s part of the fabric of your world and your life.  If you’re wearing blinders (headphones, staring constantly at a computer), you’re missing something.  My former eye doctor used to advise me to look up every 15 minutes or so to give my eyes a rest.  It’s not bad advice in general:  come up for air and see what’s going on.



We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Thursday night/Friday morning, I wrote an insomnia-fuled post, intended to be humorous (did I mention the insomnia part?), for next-up publication.  After Friday, I put it on hiatus; it’s still in a notebook.

I’m not going to attempt political commentary; I’m not informed enough to say anything of substance (or that hasn’t already been said, and better).  What’s written below here is abstract and could apply to pretty much any situation, and that’s intentional.

The following is the only concrete detail:  What I have seen in the headlines, as of this morning, concerning only the Paris attacks (and not including the Lebanon ones):  at least three attackers were French citizens.  The victims were various nationalities.  Photos of increased military presence, including officers in full combat gear, carrying what appeared to be assault rifles [this picture has disappeared from the New York Times (online) article in which it appeared during the time I’ve been writing this; when I tried to go back and confirm that’s what they were, the photo was gone].

What I am thinking about is how very, very little it takes to feel out-of-place, like home is not, in fact, home, and as if you do not belong.  How little it takes to feel as if you’re being encroached upon.  How your automatic urge is to throw up barriers and defend. How, when you’ve become disconnected from something even very small, it’s acutely disorienting.

My micro-microcosm:  I’ve been in this apartment slightly over a year, and I still don’t call it home.  It doesn’t feel like home, but it is the place I live.  I’ve never shaken the feeling it’s temporary.

Some time back, someone asked if I’d ever posted pictures of this place (as in the “ta-da, look at my new place!” sort of thing), and I said no; it hadn’t occurred to me that putting up photos of decorated areas would be something to do.  Nothing ever feels finished, and nothing ever feels complete or right.  I have no sense that anything is complete, and not in a ongoing-project sort of way:  everything feels temporary and transitional.

I also sometimes have nightmares about the other residents waking me up in the night to evict me for some unknown offense (it’s very Kafka), but that’s probably me being me.

However, that’s what I feel living as a resident of this state in the country I was born in, how unsettled I feel even now.  I certainly don’t have any friends here, but I’m not dealing with active hostility.  All the same, I’m uneasy in the place I can’t even call home, and I have dreams about being kicked out.  Magnify that by . . . what?

Then there are the physical objects I’m disconnected from:  my books.  I realize most people think this is trivial, but my missing books are my phantom limb, and their absence troubles me every single day:  it’s not just an annoyance.  I feel like I’m missing some part of my self.  Those books have passages marked, things written in them that are parts of my mind, bits of my thoughts.  Each one is like a piece of my brain, “serious” and potboiler alike.

And then I imagine what I could do with them.  I picture the (completely imaginary) bookcases I could fill with them, lining the wall between me and my noisy next-door neighbor as a sound buffer.  They’d become a protective barrier that could shield me from the encroachment of something that bothers me.  Instead of noise and the pervasive odor of smoke at my back, I would have all my friends and allies behind me:  a wall of comfort, not a zone of vague tensions.

I spend a lot of time joking about apartment-life annoyances (microcosm again), generally noise-related.  Last weekend was chart-topping bad:  Beatlemania next door at a volume that reflected the second coming of the British invasion (and I really dislike the Beatles).  Sonic assault from the other side as well; pictures on my walls were vibrating.  I’m pretty sure it was bowling upstairs.  At one point, late in the evening, I spent a very, very long time in the shower for some peace and quiet, having nowhere else to go (it was also raining in a fairly epic way).

Again, magnify this minor living hassle (which felt pretty far from minor at the time) by whatever is necessary.  There was nowhere to go in a place that is supposedly safe to escape what felt like encroachment from all sides.  Everybody’s everything was leaking into my space, into my skin, all over all my senses.  I tried to explain to a few people what it felt like at the time– how extreme that particular violation felt at that moment– and no one understood.

This lack of understanding is in part, because, yes, I’m editing to make this a story I’m willing to tell publicly; the reasons for my personal reactions are getting left out, as they tend to, because they’re convoluted, long-story-stuff that you don’t want to put on a public forum, anyway– could a journalist tell each and every one of those stories, either, even if they were spoken?

If it’s not clear by now, I’m not speaking about immigrants, migrants, French citizens, attackers, or really anyone of any particular nationality with this abstract nattering about an apartment.  What I am talking about is how very, very little it takes to unbalance the entire pH of your entire environment, how very little it takes to make it feel like your personal space (or simply the space you would like to call safe) is anything on the continuum from uncomfortable to unbearable.  It takes a lot of personal investment– mentally, not monetarily or otherwise– to feel like anywhere is home.  It doesn’t take much to strip away the sense that a place is home or that what you know as home is imperiled.  When you are in that moment, you don’t have to know specifically why that is or what’s causing it:  it is simply real.

The why gains in importance in the long-term, as the situation drags out and the sense of destabilization turns from temporary into a fixture of your life.

–Where do you live?  –Over there, see that building?  –So that’s home?  –Well, no, not really; it’s just where I am right now; we’ll see.  –What are you holding out for?  –I really don’t even know.  I’m just in a holding pattern now.

How long can you [a personal; a nation; an international consortium; etc.] realistically be in a holding pattern before everything crashes?

A Broken Wall of Books, Imperfectly Shelved

Title:  Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus.  Image:  London, Terry Pratchett BookBench.

“I looked hard at the image of me, at that darkening of the glass, and then my gaze pushed through it, over the cool floor, to a broken wall of books, imperfectly shelved.”

Let me begin by saying that, per usual, this post is satire.  I’m going to be joking about libraries, something I actually take seriously.  To balance this post (and because I think it’s a truly wonderful book), I’m going to recommend Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (a memoir), which discusses, eloquently but simply, the crucial importance libraries have had in her life.  I’m also going to mention a truly excellent novel, The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai, which is a perfectly realistic (and very funny) book that still manages to convey the idea that librarians are actually superheroes and that libraries are pretty much magic.

You may read the post when you have completed the reading on the syllabus and finished your 5-7 page essays.  [1]

Ground Rules:  Libraries, an Overview

Sir Pterry:

  1. Silence
  2. Books must be returned no later than the last date shown
  3. Do not meddle with the nature of causality.

Note that The Librarian will break/bend 1 and 3, but never 2.  So, if you know who you are and have had my copy of Readme since 2011/12, you could maybe consider that three years is kind of pushing the due date?

Just had to bring that up.  Again.  This individual knows who he is.

Spotted recently at flea market.

Spotted recently at flea market:  mugshot.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BOOK THIEF.


(I only recently found out that “FTW” apparently does NOT mean what it once did.  I’ve probably been sending some confusing text messages.  One site helpfully notes that my previously-intended meaning “has dramatically faded in use in the 21st century.”  THANKS.)

I think I probably had an ideal LEGO childhood:  some nearby neighbors had children somewhat older than us, and that, in the fashion of the time, had resulted in a massive LEGO collection.  This was when it was mostly just loose, random LEGOs, not really sets and kits:  little teeny-tiny colorful bricks.  My brother and I inherited this splendor, and many things were created (and many bricks were embedded in feet and inhaled by the vacuum, but So It Goes).

This is the type of LEGOs I'm trying to describe:  not a set, generic, perfect for building absolutely anything.

This is the type of LEGOs I’m trying to describe: not a set, generic, perfect for building absolutely anything.

I do realize the above ad has been pretty ubiquitous as of late, but rightly so.  At any rate, that IS what they looked like.  For that matter, I also wore overalls a great deal of the time during that period.  I’m kind of suspicious that gender-neutral LEGOs and overalls caused any lasting damage, but I’m willing to volunteer for a scientific study if anyone would like to try to prove it.  And I also played with Micro Machines.  [hushed gasps]

Oh, and Barbies, but, admittedly, mine were kind of twisted.  Twisted pretty much meaning serial killers tending toward sociopathic.

This is an actual artist's work.  Sadly, not mine.

This is an actual artist’s work. Sadly, not mine.

If any of you readers have children who would like to be shown how to make a DIY Barbie body cast using supplies in your own home . . .

I digress.  As usual.

I enjoy the LEGO ideas site, where people get to propose potential LEGO sets.  If you’re not familiar with it, the design is posted, along with detailed pictures and (usually) a lengthy description.  If it attains the necessary number of backers, it will be reviewed to become an actual sold-in-stores LEGO set.  It’s sort of an imaginary toy store.

I’ve been eying the “Modular Library” submission, a 1920s Baroque building intended to fit with other modular building sets.

(“People with no upper-body strength, who read poetry. These are my people.”  —How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran)

But would I be me if I didn’t have two (plus) cents to add?  Of course not!  I’m pretty sure these are not the sort of suggestions they’re soliciting on the site, so . . .


Modular Library-- exterior

Modular Library– exterior

I could talk about the mix of styles popular in that era, compare and contrast with the six common Carnegie library plans, etc., but who’s here for library school?

Not me, sailor.

Let’s dissect. I’ll start with the bike.  I don’t see a chain there.  That sucker is going to get stolen as soon as white-shirt dude blinks.  Ideally, there should be a lurker around the corner watching out for unattended bikes.  [2]

The skateboard person should be causing a disruption.  And why is (s)he even outside?  Is there a hard surface hall in that building?  That’s where they should be.  Right in front of the “NO SKATEBOARDS” sign would be perfect.  Don’t forget to scuff the floor!

I’m not sure how to covey this idea, but it should be clear that the person with the briefcase intends to run a business out of the library (needless to say, in violation of policy).  Suggestions for locating this guy:  at circ desk, demanding to use phone, or in a study carrel, with cell phone (generating multiple complaints and exceeding time limits for said carrel).  Bonus if you can figure out a way to indicate that he’s complaining about the wi-fi speed and/or Internet restrictions.

The woman carrying a satchel has stolen books.  At least one of the following should be peeking out:  anything by Zane, Confessions of a Video Vixen, something about the occult, or The Heroin Diaries.

Wimborne Minster: the chained library (1686):  no doubt contains then-current equivalents of the above

Wimborne Minster: the chained library (1686): no doubt contains then-current equivalents of the above

Apply graffiti and disrupt removable/breakable fixtures as necessary.  Oh, and that other guy should feel free to fall and threaten a lawsuit.

Taken at a remote gas station several years ago,

Taken at a remote gas station several years ago,  I posted it on Twitter some time later; within minutes, someone (a person? an entity? It wasn’t clear) attacked me with “informative” 140-character capsules intended to educate me about objectivism.  Then the questions got really weird:  what type of pen was used to write this?  (I didn’t write it.)  John Galt is on Twitter, and he is watching.

Some Exterior Details


Front door detail

There’s the thief again.  But on to front doors.  These should really be papered with signage in mega-fonts about Really, Seriously Important Stuff You Need to Know.  Say, hours.  The printer is broken, no, seriously, we’re not kidding, and we can’t print whatever it is, because, like we said, the printer is broken.  Internet is down, and no, there is no Internet, because it’s down.  Etc.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign . . .

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign . . .

Signs are actually decorative.  No one reads them.  They are beneficial for employees, however, as they are easy to point at while banging one’s head repeatedly on the desk.

See:  9 Very Specific Rules from Real Libraries (signs).  Fact:  no one ever read these signs before they appeared in this Mental Floss article.

Skylight detail

Skylight detail

Okay, not much to say here.  I was briefly in a library buildings-related course (until I figured out that a) I needed to drop one course that semester and b) oops, I was actually taking one more course than was required for the degree in the first place), but I’m pretty sure that the thesis was if you design a library with a skylight, you get what you deserve.



Just no.

It is at this point where I do question whether or not the designer has been in a library.  I see a lone user with a computer and what may be a book.

I do not see:  porn, YouTube, the hand-waving thing directed at the circ staff, any attempt to shield the screen, contraband beverages, the general appearance of attempting to colonize the space, seriously questionable images that are debatably porn, or a screen full of error messages.

I’m not sure why a book would be involved.  Or why the computer appears to be a Apple II (possibly a Commodore?).  Or why the computer is located in close proximity to the shelves.


Is this a joke?

Admittedly, at first the confusion here was my fault:  I thought this was supposed to represent a second computer user.  After looking again, I’m thinking maybe it’s a reference desk?

So:  why is the reference guy old and balding?  I call stereotype.  Old, decrepit librarian alert!  (“. . . when I returned from my summer vacation I would be put in charge of the Reference Room, a position that had been empty ever since that morning when Martha Winney had fallen off a high stool in the Encyclopedia Room and shattered all those frail bones . . . .”  —okay, if this is actually some sort of Roth homage, I’m way too tired/dull-minded to figure it out.)

Nancy Perl Action Figure (Deluxe).  All libraries are required to have one.  Please note that nothing, including acts of God, will keep any component of this set standing upright.

Nancy Pearl Action Figure (Deluxe). All libraries are required to have one. Please note that nothing, including acts of God, will keep any component of this set standing upright.

But I do notice he gets a decidedly Mac-looking laptop, whereas the patron has the Commodore.  Not sure what’s up with that (but somebody, probably the lady with the green book, will be remarking about where her tax dollars are going).

“My tax dollars pay your salary!” (via librarianproblems)

The green book appears to have a bottle of ketchup on it.  I’m therefore titling this reference volume Presidential Fact Book 1980-1988, V. 3:  Ketchup and Other Vegetables.  [3]

The brown thing center-right– stool?  chair?  I’m not really sure.  I think maybe it’s a luxe brown leather Pottery Barn kiddie chair (I feel sure they make those).

If that is indeed a reference section, that’s where employees go to weed ruthlessly and talk about the cost of electronic databases.

Water Fountains


That looks like a bidet, says the potty-minded one.

Before I start rambling about the bidet/fountain, is that Princess Leia?  Hair + white top.  Compare:


Just looking for a water fountain. Or bidet. No preference, really.

The official description calls it a water fountain, so we’ll go with that.  So, first things first:  there’s no gum in it.  It is a Major Library Rule that all fountains must be inoperative for some reason, and gum is a chief culprit.

Does anybody else remember this?  I don't remember the official Ghostbusters one, but there was definitely a knockoff.  Anyone?

Does anybody else remember this? I don’t remember the official Ghostbusters one, but there was definitely a knockoff. Anyone?

Another little-known fact is that water fountains are only available to public libraries through practical-joke companies.  This is why they’re ideal for a cold shower (of course, you could just bathe in the bathroom like most people, but that’s another story).  Getting blasted directly in the face with subfreezing water is another favorite trick, with is sort of a Gwyneth Paltrow GOOP-sounding tip, come to think of it.  [4]

Please stay tuned for my upcoming bestseller:  The Public Library Water Fountain Cleanse.

There are also books next to the water fountain.  I have no clue.

Bond.  James Bond.



This image actually has no label or explanation.

What you’re seeing here is the elusive library employee sneaking in the back door.  I believe it is a cataloguser bibliotheca (gimme a break; I never had Latin; ataloger-cay?).

Seldom spotted, this creature often remains huddled at a desk, whose principal features are the following:

  • caffeine potables
  • all-purpose cardigan, perhaps made of Kevlar– actually a cape!
  • cat hair.  duh.
  • various reference manuals, probably tear stained (particularly applicable post-RDA)
  • backlog
  • shattered pieces of sanity
Real World, Library

Real World, Library

Diet Coke cans highly underrepresented here; must have been post-recycling haul.  Post–Its causing twitching.  Time sheet is most definitely not filled out correctly/entirely (shout out to the business office).  Two Dewey manuals = 2x the power.

You can only see the cataloger if you are Pure of Spirit.

You can only see the cataloger if you are Pure of Spirit.  Verily, she is a unicorn.

Patient warnings:  Muttering and cursing to be expected (again, particularly post-RDA).  The twitching eyelid thing is probably actually a tribute to the Coca-Cola company, Flying Spaghetti Monster bless it.  Either that or the label printer is doing THAT THING.  Should cataloger suffer mental collapse, it’s not you or the library– it’s her.  And if any of you are reading this, she still thinks you’re all pretty great.

Other Suggested Additions

This is for any workplace, really.  Picture circa 1950s.

Apparently from Time?  America, why is your emotional life run by Time Magazine?  Why are your libraries full of tears?  ANSWER:  whiskey shortage.

Apparently from Time? Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?  Why are your libraries full of tears? [here] ANSWER: whiskey shortage.

C’est tout.


The Meta Portion  [5]

[1]  Times New Roman, double-spaced, MLA.  Do not, as a student once did, call during SVU to ask for an extension.


I’m told operetta is low-class.  Well . . . I like it.  QED?

[3]  Technically, the actual 1981 FNS cited pickle relish (as one example of a vegetable substitute), not ketchup; ketchup was the catchphrase.  In the end, the entire part of that portion of the FNS (that said condiments– which presumably did include ketchup) got cut.  The revised policy never got accepted in the end (more due to reduction in school meal size quantity and exclusion of large numbers of previously-eligible schoolchildren from free- and reduced price lunches).  And that was your virtual visit to the reference desk!  I’m so sneaky!  And easily sidetracked!

[4]  Given the current popularity of live tweeting, I plan to try no fewer than five GOOP-recommened cleanses– at once— and share (I love that word– #sarcasm)– the experience.  Given my own experiences with, um, “dieting,” I sort of think that’s probably not medically recommended.

April, this brief appearance of Donna in no way indicates that you are being replaced as my role model.  FYI.

April, this appearance of Donna in no way indicates that you are being replaced as my role model. FYI.

[5]  “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it it.'”  Sorry.  That felt obligatory.  Also just had to get it out of my system.  [5a]

     [5a]  And now you can follow up with:  “What in God’s name are those . . . . those sounds?”  Which is probably pretty much how you feel about this blog in general.  [5b]

           [5b]  And now can say “I am not what you see and hear,” which is generally how I feel, anyway.  I hope this footnote series has given you the warm metafuzzies.



Don’t Mourn (?), Organize!  Or at Least Read Some Stuff . . .

So . . .

Keep up with federal legislation regarding libraries.  People kinda like to try to yank funds.

You may have (ahem) heard me mention this, but the Patriot Act . . . yeah.

Federal funding matters.  You can probably also find out what your state is up to.

Know about your privacy.

Diversity is a thing.