Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pimp My Bookcart

Pimp My Bookcart

X to tha Z....

Xzibit! I bet rapper Xzibit never thought his MTV show "Pimp my Ride" would inspire a bunch of librarians who all read the same comic strip ("Unshelved") to pimp their own vehicles... their bookcarts. First I will explain that the word "pimp" here has nothing to do with pandering of any sort.

Pimp (verb)- to embellish, augment, decorate, and/or otherwise improve.

On "Pimp my Ride," Mr. Xzibit pimps various and sundry junky cars. Every library employee knows a junky bookcart. (I have an ongoing battle with one in particular which has an issue with a wheel which completely falls off at inopportune times. Not cool.) Thus, the premise of this comic strip. This inspired two contests, one which took place in June 2007 and another in November of the same year. June 2007's winner was "Pink Cadillac" and November 2007's was "What Can Brown Do For You?" Never far behind on the library bandwagon, Norman, Oklahoma's Public Library is featuring appropriately "pimped" bookcarts in this year's Christmas parade. The parade will include an elf, Santa Claus, and fancy schmancy bookcarts. Merry Christmas!

This video will explain the pimping of bookcarts better than I ever could...

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's a Wiki for Everything...

I was playing around today and ran across WikiHow. It's really useful, it tells you how to do everything. Here are some really detailed instructions on how to fix a book's binding.

There are all sorts of awesome how-to's on this wiki. My favorite, though is How to be a Rodeo Queen. Who knew it was important that the soles of your boots be black? Maybe that's why I've never been a rodeo queen.


RFID and Me

I made this video about RFID technology in the library for my class on Web-Based Information Systems. Looking back on it, I had a good time doing it, but it sure has stressed me out this semester! My friend Laura is the lovely actress. Check out her Oscar-worthy performance:


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is the official kick-off of the holiday season. It's actually cold now, and the stores can legitimately play Christmas carols, even though they have been for weeks. During the holidays, people make it a point to be more charitable to and mindful of those less fortunate. Hunger is an especially popular cause during this season. Kelly Clarkson sang in front of two giant Salvation Army shields during halftime the Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day Game against the New York Jets. The library where I work even conducted a creative canned food drive last week: bring in cans and we'll erase your fines. I found a website which is the perfect marriage of my being somewhat of a logophile and my desire to help those less fortunate:

For each correctly answered vocabulary question, the site's advertisers purchase 10 grains of rice to be distributed by the United Nations. Impress your friends with your brilliant vocabulary and help stop world hunger. Now that's fun. I'm going to go play now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Patron vs. Customer

This blog's title reminds me of that movie Alien vs. Predator, or maybe something from MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch. Unfortunately, neither one of those things are what I'm going to ramble about today, but I will try and make this as interesting as possible.

The driving force of any library is its users. An institution exists solely to serve and educate the people who avail themselves of it. This is a known fact in the library world. So, why do information professionals have such difficulty agreeing on what to call the people who make use of library services? Should they be patrons or customers? In order to discern whether library users should be referred to as patrons or customers, we turn to the always helpful dictionary.com for the precise definitions of the word customer and the word patron.

Customer- A person who purchases goods or services from one another; buyer; patron.

Ah-ha, the word "purchase" is included in the definition. This clearly implies a monetary exchange. I know I feel a twinge of sadness when someone asks me how much it costs to get a library card. The sadness is quickly replaced by a warm fuzzy feeling when I get to tell the person that "Library cards are FREE!" We do not want anyone thinking library services cost anything, right? So, why would we call them "customers," when clearly a "customer" is a "buyer." But wait, dictionary.com also says that patron and customer are synonymous. This will be harder than I thought.

Patron- 1.) a person who is a customer, client, or paying guest, especially a regular one, of a store, hotel, or the like.

Oh dear, this definition doesn't only imply monetary exchage, it explicitly says "paying guest." In addition, a library is in no way analogous to a "store" or a "hotel." Maybe patron isn't the way to go after all. There are more definitions to look at before we conclude, though.

2.) a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsements and artist, writer, museum, cause, charity, special event, or the like.

By this definition, library users would not be patrons at all, but Friends of the Library members and volunteers would be. Also, library donors would be patrons, but we certainly don't want to imply that a donation is required to use the library.

3.) a person whose support or protection is solicited or acknowledged by the dedication of a book or other work.

That definition is no help at all in this case.

When I began to write this, I was convinced that patron was the correct way to refer to those who use library services for the simple reason that it did not insinuate that any charges applied to the use of the library. However, now I am pretty sure that neither one is very good for the reasons previously stated. I am still partial to patron, though, because I think it sounds more old-fashioned and just plain nicer than customer. Perhaps "user" would be the best way to go, though, since it is neutral. The only thing I am still sure of is that the library exists for the people who use it, no matter how we refer to them.