Saturday, April 6, 2013

Things I believe--Library Edition

A library is an organism.  Technical Services is the digestive system (They supply the materials and discard the ones that are no longer needed.)  Access Services is the cardio-vascular system. The circulation desk is the heart of the library—shoot, it is even in the name.  Administration is the brain.  Reference is the nervous system that is ready to jump as soon as it gets poked by a sharp object, like a question.  All of them are needed, all of them are important.  They all need to work together.

The vast majority of the public think the kid behind the circulation desk who checks out their books is a librarian.

Many reference librarians believe that students should consult them more often.  Most librarians whose primary duties are to other parts of the organism, but put in time at the reference desk, would prefer that the students were 100% self-sufficient.
 Most of the one-on-one help a librarian gives is to non-traditional (older) students and community users.
There is a time to teach patrons skills so they don’t need you, and a time to just get them what they want or think they want.  Wisdom knows when to do what.
I crunched five years of reference desk data, making generous estimations regarding how long it takes to answer most questions.  I can say fairly accurately that a four hour shift at the reference desk will, on average, yield about 16 minutes of work answering questions.

Average is purely a statistical phenomenon.  I will have one shift before finals, when I actually have people waiting for my help and have almost 3 hours of work to do at the desk.  Then there will be several weeks, or in the summer, months where the only reference desk tasks I have are making an ID card because the administrative assistant is out of her office, or telling someone where the bathroom is.

“Is there a bathroom around here?” is the most frequently asked reference desk question of all time. “Where is the copy machine?” used to hold that place before everyone got a computer and most of the journals went online.

Signs are not put up to inform people.  Signs are put up so workers can feel superior when patrons ask questions and you point at the sign that answers the question which is usually less than a foot away from where the patron asked it.

Every database vendor will use “global warming” as their test search.  No student will come to the reference desk asking for help finding information on “global warming.”  Students will ask for scholarly based research articles written in the last five years on how the rise in temperature of Lake Michigan has hurt the trout fishing and what impact that has had on local economic development.  Oh, and the paper is due tomorrow and all they have found so far is a 1973 book on fishing in Wisconsin.

College students don’t want to talk to grownups.  They are more likely to consult their friends then a librarian when they need help.  If they have to talk to a librarian, more than likely it is going to be one of those frustratingly difficult trout fishing topics.

Despite a reputation for being broadly curious, after helping a patron find resources for a paper my thought is rarely “What a fascinating topic.”  More often it is “Glad I don’t have to do that assignment.”


lhg edited and approved

Monday, February 18, 2013

Married Middle Age Woman Without Kids

It is almost my 41st birthday.  There is no way of denying it, I am middle aged.  My life has taken a lot of turns I didn’t expect and didn’t take a few turns I counted on as a young adult.  I am 40.  I am a wife.  I have been a wife eighteen and a half years.  I’m also a librarian.  I’ve worked in libraries since I was 15.  I’ve had a degree to go with it since 2002.  That I have a degree in Library Science was a bit of a surprise to me.  In my early days of library work I used to state in interviews that I planned to get a degree as a way of showing my interest in the field, but I didn’t believe the line myself.   I finally had a boss who encouraged me to pursue the degree, and there were compelling financial reasons for getting it.  Of late my enthusiasm for my career choice has waned.
                What I am not is a mother.  This was not an active choice.  God in His wisdom has not blessed us with children.  To abuse Job: the Lord gives and sometimes he doesn’t.  Thanks be to God. 
                The simple fact is I am socially an unusual case.  The peers that are my age mostly have school age children and are rightly busy with all that goes into that.  They are very busy with carting children hither and thither and I admire their dedication and diligence as parents.  It does, however, leave me in a lonely place.  They don’t have time for a friend like me aside from the odd comment on Facebook.  It also becomes challenging to find things in common to talk about.  The lack of children often means being left out.  Elusive are couple friends in the same circumstance.  First you have to realize that they do not make up a large portion of the population and then without children a couple develops other interests that are quite diverse making it harder to find friends that you have much in common with.  This is compounded by the fact that Mr. Gaba and I don’t share a great many hobbies or interests.   I’m not complaining.  I am simply stating the facts. 
                There are other groups:  The empty nesters and the newlyweds who haven’t started a family yet.  Relating outside one’s own generation is never a simple thing.  Single girl friends are often more difficult.  While it is easy to find common ground around hobbies or profession, they don’t understand that I’ve been married for 18 years and that my life is ordered by what that means.  When I explain that I do or don’t do something because my husband has strong feeling about it one way or the other, they give me funny looks, like they should be slipping me a phone number for a shelter for battered and abused women.  They simply don’t understand that being a good wife means obeying your husband and that this is not a burden but a privilege.
                Now regarding children themselves:  I do not dislike children, and if I were to find one in my charge, I would be grateful for that child.  As an aside, please don’t ask me if I’ve considered adoption, or inform me that adoption is an option.  It takes every ounce of self-control to keep me from sarcastically saying, “Really, there is such a thing as adoption?  I will have to look into that.  What a novel idea.  I think I’ll go home tonight and introduce that idea to Mr. Gaba.”  I’m a talkative person.  If I were working toward adopting a child I would probably never shut up about it.  Along a similar note please do not ask if I’ve been to a fertility doctor—quite simply, that is none of your business.  When you ask if I have children and I reply, as I often do, “Not so blessed,” take a hint and drop the subject.  It is a bit of a tender one with me.  It is the reason I don’t teach Sunday school, the reason I spend December fighting depression, and the reason I cry every time I see an infant baptism at church.  Most of my life I am content with the blessings God has given me, but at times I look at Mr. Gaba, who in my estimation would be a wonderful father and who so dearly loves children, and I think, “My family is too small”  And yes I have a cat.  I like my cat.  No, he is not my baby, nor a baby substitute.  He makes the house more welcoming to come home to and less lonely when I am home and Mr. Gaba is not there.
                While we are on the subject of home and work, I spend a lot of my life by myself.  One of the difficult adjustments I’ve had in my current job is that my office is removed from my co-workers and the public and it is possible in an eight hour day for me to only speak to one or two people for a few minutes and then get home and wait for Mr. Gaba to get home.   I am not like my peers who are mothers.  My life is filled with too much time alone, and very little in the way of things to plan, arrange, or look forward to.  This will pass.  The children of my peers will grow up and move out and suddenly their day to day lives will be quite similar to mine.   They may then find need of a friend to hang out with and I will be there.
                I’m not writing this asking for sympathy or prayers that God would give children.  I am writing this because it’s been spinning around in my mind for a while and I thought I’d share. 


lhg edited and approved

Friday, June 22, 2012

Street Parking June 22, 2012

        The city of Milwaukee requires a permit to park on the street at night. You can purchase window parking stickers either on an annual or quarterly basis. The most economical option is to purchase the Annual pass. On January 3rd I went online to figure out where we had to go to get one and we realized at that point with our work schedules we had two choices: Ask for a temporary three night visitor waver and then purchase a pass on the 6th or order it on line and get an eight day grace period for it to show up on the mail. To order it online you had to pay an extra $2.50 convenience fee. I figured why go through the hassle, besides if we got it downtown we would probably pay at least that much just to park the car to get it. So I pulled out my card and filled out a form and was given a confirmation number. The money was taken out of our account and everything seemed fine. But the sticker never came.
        Ten days later we got a ticket. Latif decided that all he needed to do was go downtown and deal with it. So one Friday afternoon, after getting directed from one office to another, he was told that he needed to call the number on the ticket. They were the only ones who could forgive the ticket and rectify the situation.

        The number on the ticket is only answered on weekdays during regular business hours. Calling it you can expect to be on hold for upward of 20 minutes. The only time Latif has to make such calls is the odd Friday when he gets off work early. In the meantime we got another ticket. Latif finally got ahold of a human being and had a lovely chat with, let’s call her, Shannon. She agreed to forgive our tickets and explained that when I filled out the online form I failed to enter the license plate number and they couldn’t distribute it without that. Of course the form did have our phone number, e-mail and mailing address, but there was no way, after taking my money, that they could figure what car I drove. Shannon promised that as soon as she received our parking sticker she would forward it on to us. Time passed; we never got the sticker, but we kept getting occasional tickets. Latif would call, tickets would be forgiven and finally in late February when calling to deal with yet another ticket Latif was told that the sticker was finally ready to be put in the mail. But the sticker never came.

           Eventually, they claimed that according to their records someone else lives at our address and thus they couldn’t mail it to us. Funny that—they had no difficulty sending us letters about unpaid tickets that Latif hadn’t had the time to call and get excused right away. At the end of it he asked them not to mail us our sticker and worked to see where he could pick it up in person. Arranging that took another two weeks and we got two more tickets in the mean time.

       So here we are, six months and 19 days after paying for our annual night street parking pass, 12 forgiven tickets and money spent in downtown parking for Latif to finally show up in person at the third party company that the city contracts with to handle parking citations and we have the proof that we paid for our parking on January 3rd. Icing on the cake is that letter they handed him with our sticker is addressed to LITIF GABA and thanks us “for using the web permits application/renewal system.”

      If I were rich and petty I would sue the city for a refund of the convenience fee or as I refer to it: the worst $2.50 I have ever spent.


lhg edited and approved.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mate Szedlak's Travel Journal April 2

Sunday afternoon, We went to Takikawa to a church service where we took part of the Holy Comunion. On the home way we went through a 10km long City of Sunagova

3. Monday. We had a company at Ernö’s house. Rev. & Mrs. Schiesler with their family were here for dinner and we had a good time.

4. The whole day was raining so I couldn’t go out

5-6 relax

7. We had a ride at long the two coal mines

8. Rev. & Mrs Schiesler were here for supper

9. relax

10. We had a birthday party for Canisar a Japanise boy who was baptized a year ago to Christian faith

11-12-13 Relaxing

14 The first sight seeing tour to the rocky mountain of Sounkyo Hokkaido. We have seen the marvelous rocky natural walls and waterfalls and the beatyful sinery. We were overnight at the Hotel Sounkaku. We eat there a Japanese meal of it consist of
20 diferent dishes. On our home way on 15th, we stoped in Asahigawa (Morning sun river) at Rev. Patskys hous for dinner.

16. after noon we went to Takikawa for dinner in Restaraun where we kooked or roasted on the table our own meal in ginghis Khan still. It was a delicious meal

17. We were at the Rev Shoppa in Oasa Doushi for dinner

18 We went early in morning to Sapporo to arranging our tour to Central Japan.

The journal ends there. There are still about 20 blank pages in the book, so it seems unlikely that there is another journal after this one. The back page appears to be the score of some sort of game with columns marked “We” & “They” with progressively larger numbers written under each.
I know from my parents that they were in Japan for two months and then went to Hawaii before flying home.

This is my last entry about their trip around the world. I hope you have enjoyed it.

I’d be happy to entertain suggestions about what to do next with my blog. Not sure if I should keep sharing historical artifacts –like old journals or simply tell stories from my past or present. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mate Szedlak's Travel Journal March 27-April 1

From March 1 to March 27 my grandfather did not write anything apart from the note pictured below. I know from the photos that they spent some time in India and some other Far East countries and then he picked up again with their arrival in Japan.

March 27
We arrived at the Tokyo airport at 7.00, with 13 hour delay. At 8.50 We left Tokyo and arrived in Chitose, Hokkaido Airport at 10.00. We took from there a airline buss and went to Sapporo. There I phont my son and during this time Rev. Aho came for us and took us to his house and had there a lunch. From there our son and his family took to Bibai to their house and arrived in at 16.30 in Bibai.
We saw for the first time our little grand daughter.

28.29. & 30
We stayed at house to relax and played with our little grand daughter.

31 We went with Erno’s to Sapporo to a church service and met there a few missionaries with their familes and after the service we had there a good time. In home way we went through Ebelsu and Iwanisavo.

I went for a little walk.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mate Szedlak's Travel Journal: Feb 20-March 1

21 Tuesday
I went out to make Picture

22. Wednesday
We went in the city to shopping some items. Then we went into the Central Bank of Iran and saw the Treasury of the Crown Jewels of Iran. It is the most fabulous jewel collection in the whole world. The value of the jewels treasury is immeasurable

23 Thursday
Daly Walk

24 Friday we went to the famous skye resort for the whole day

25. Saturday
We saw the Arthsological Museum of Teheran and the Colestan King palace, The Royal Siting room and the drawing room with splendor furniture, oil paintings, carpets and other art collection.

26 Sunday
We stayed at home.

27 Monday
We went shopping and we bought 2 Kerinan Persian Carpets and on the evening we went to Shukuweno night club for dinner.

28 Tuesday
We stayed at home.

March 1 Wednesday
Our last day in Iran. We went to Gen Fazelis house say good by and afterward we went to the carpet center and picked up the insurance paper for our carpets. At 24.00we left Anna’s house and went to the Teheran Airport.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mate Szedlak's Travel Journal Feb 1-20 1967

February 1 Wendesday
I went for a little walk

2. Thursday
My wife had her birthday and we stayed at home.

3. Friday
We went to the American Club for diner. Afterward we visited two friends of our son in law and had there a good time.

4 Saturday
I went to Near East Tour traveling agenci and picked up my refund of 120 Rials afterward I went to Pakistan Abacy for visas

5. Sunday
I went for a little walk.

6. Monday
I wrote some mails

7. Tuesday
I had a little ride in the city

8. wendsday
I walked down town just for window shopping

9 Thursday
It was a lazy day.

10 Friday.
We went out for lunch in a famous perian resturant and afterward we drove around the city and saw a round 3 story building like a bal. The whole house stays on a one an half m in cross + cement base and have also seen the old palace of the Shah Pahlovi and the old and new sommer palace

11. Saturday
I went out for a little walk

12. Sunday
My wife and I walked downtown just for window shoping

13 Monday
We went into the bazaar and did some shopping
14 Tuesday
It was a lazy day

15 Wednesday
We went into Theater or movy and saw the Bibel story part of Genesy

16. Thursday
I walked

17. Friday
I went Grocery shopping

18. Saturday
I was a nasty day, we stayed at home

19. Sunday
In the evening we went to a movey