The Desk

A stereotypical day on my reference desk…. I got these five questions one after the other, about five minutes apart:
1) I’m doing a paper for math class. Do you have any books on Cevian triangles and Giovanni Ceva?
(Not as such, no. Meaning, the most recent monograph I could find on the man at *all* was dated 1915, written in Italian, and certainly not in our little popular-materials collection. But I did find some nice encyclopedia articles and a few good web sites my patron could use. interesting side note– Gio’s brother Tommaso was right next to him in the mathematical encyclopedia, but noted that he’s better known for his poetry than his math. And if you’re wondering, it’s pronounced CHE-va.)
2) I saw a recipe on Martha Stewart I’d like to use for Thanksgiving– can you look up Turkey Tails?
(Sure. And I printed out the recipe for Sweet Potato Soufflé Pie afterward for myself. 😉 Another side note (which I did not editorialize for my patron as it would be highly unprofessional to do so) is that my mother, a former home economics teacher, *abhors* Martha Stewart as the bane of all things practical and economical. I may have to get Mom Martha’s latest grimoire as a Christmas gift. Why yes, I *am* an evil child.)
3) I’m doing my master’s thesis on Aztec civilization in the time of the Spanish Conquest, and wanted to see what you might have on the shelf.
(Answer: Not terribly much, at the graduate level; there are some good academic libraries around that might be better able to help you. I *really* hope the patron was just browsing for curiosity’s sake, because honestly, a master’s candidate should know better than to try to do thesis research at a suburban public library. Yes, we do support life-long learning, and yes, online databases have *really* stretched our scope, but what we can lay our hands on for a patron and what we’ll have physically in our collection are two very different things. We do *not* have an academic library’s clientele or budget. Heck, my personal history collection is better than our library’s, and that’s as it should be. I’m a specialist, a public library perforce has to be generalist. I was amused to see this title turn up in the results, though.)
4) Do you have the latest in the Clique series?
(Yes, but it’s not checked in. If you have your library card, I can add you to the wait list?)
5) The copier’s not working.
(I hate our new copiers, they are not at ALL intuitive. I showed the patron how to set the page orientation and size, and lo, it worked.)
(I swear, I nearly wrenched my brain going from #3 to #4. Public libraries– everything to everyone.)

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Un. Be. Lievable.

Banned Books Display… Banned.
Original article is here.

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French is no.

A regular patron of ours has been trying to authenticate a piece of artwork by a particular artist. Today he came in and said that he heard about a series of volumes put together by a gallery, a museum, and a university all working together to create something called a “catalog… reason?” of his works. He said he probably wasn’t saying it quite right, but that the word sounded French. Although he knew some of the scholars involved, he had no idea of whose name would be on the cover, or exactly what the title was. Could I possibly help him track down what it was, and possibly get it, or find out who had it? Whew.
It turns out that what he was looking for was a catalogue raisonne, and the idea is pretty cool. The preeminent scholars on, and museums holding collections of a particular artist put their heads together and create a folio of *all* his or her works, so that future discoveries of unknown works can easily be compared against the entire corpus and authenticated… well, maybe not easiLY, but easiER than it would be otherwise.
My other “new thing” is completely random…I’ve been playing around with the site How Stuff Works, because I’ve gotten some good reference answers from them lately and wanted to see, well… how it worked. 😉 One of the bits on today’s front page caught my eye, so I’m sharing. Talk about your dual citizenship problems… find out how citizenship works for a child born on an airplane in mid-flight!

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Tom Gauld

I found this single-page graphic story outline (of sorts) called “Characters for an Epic Tale” on the back page of a catalog for First Second (which is a new graphic novel imprint), and went looking for more. Go look, he’s very funny. I can’t tell if he has an association with First Second quite yet (certainly, I don’t see his name in their stable, or any of his books for sale in their catalog), but I’d love to see more of him and his partner on this side of the pond. 🙂

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Let the sun shine in

So, it’s raining again. Bleh.
But on the upside, I got a new rainbow-colored umbrella! It includes one panel of sky blue as well as the seven, yes SEVEN! colors of the rainbow. Poor, neglected indigo is included, and I am geek enough to admit that this was a factor in my choosing this umbrella. (Not THAT big a factor. My other choices were straight black, black-and-beige, or navy-and-blue. Say it with me again: Bleh.) Liz protested the inclusion of indigo in the list of colors, as it is neither a primary nor a secondary color, and so it was that I discovered Sir Isaac Newton‘s nefarious meddling in our color scheme.
So, this entry is brought to you by the colors indigo, puce (I’d always wondered just what it was), and barn red. And if those aren’t enough colors for you, well, take your pick !!! Summer is slipping past (which is fine with me, as I like autumn much better anyway), and it’s a grey sort of day. Liven up your life. 🙂

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Coincidence…? I think so!

Today, I learned a secret so deep and dark that even *I* did not know it.
Today, I learned that I…

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Shifting sands

Don’t ask me why (I’m fairly certain it had nothing at all to do with what I’d dreamt the night before, or work, or anything else), but I woke up this morning trying to remember how one gets out of quicksand. (Yes, “remember”– no, I’ve never been stuck in it myself, but if you haven’t read the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, you’re doomed, friend, DOOMED!)
As it turns out, I learned two new things in the process, so this is both Two New Things *and* a PSA! See? It’s good to know a librarian! I could save your life with this information someday, should you ever become trapped in the Lightning Sand of the Fire Swamp, being threatened by fierce, bloodthirsty R.O.U.– no, wait, wrong reality. (And actually, Lightning Sand is more like dry quicksand— thought ’til recently to be a myth, never reliably documented in nature (although I have my suspicions about the hungry sands of the Desert of Lop), and considerably more dangerous… but I digress…)

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I have a headache.
Our quiet, planned, SIMPLE server upgrade is a mess, thanks to a stupid mistake someone (no, NOT me) made about 8 years ago (the guy hasn’t worked here in nearly that long, but I think there’s still a voodoo doll with his name on it in the server room).
I’m going to run off and become a Luddite, and this will be my doctrine:
“LANs are T3H 3V1L, and there is a special place in Hell reserved for networked printers.”
. o O (you know… it isn’t terribly convincing in L33T, is it?)

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Forgotten words

I love when a book forces me to look up words; not surprisingly, historicals do it to me more often than others. It *does* surprise me, though, when it happens in a trashy romance. 😉 (Although, true, Regencies– tho’ this technically is a “Georgian”– still fit the bill of “historicals.”) So, from the pages of Jo Beverley’s Malloren Chronicles, I give you:
muniment room: An archives room, generally in a noble house (though the same term was used for churches, universities, guilds, etc.), where important business documents were kept– specifically, documentary evidence, bills of sale, proof of inheritance, deeds, etc., proving ownership of property or right to title. The word shares a root with munition (Medieval Latin munimentum, defense, protection, from Latin munire, to fortify) in that muniments were used to defend a title, as munitions defended the physical holding.
greensickness: a.k.a. chlorosis (think “CHLOROphyll” and you’ll get the connection). A malady of young women characterized by a yellowish-greenish cast to the skin (hence the name), menstrual problems, irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Curiously enough, yes, plants can get it, too. Today, it’s believed to have been caused by hypochromic anemia or iron deficiency (although other vitamin deficiencies, tight corsets, TB, and anorexia might’ve complicated a diagnosis). It was occasionally used as an excuse for a young woman’s behavioral irregularities (in much the same way that “that time of the month” is used today).

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Confusticate book meme

Look, it’s spreading all over the site!
Right, so:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

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