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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have a flashier job, a better-paying job, a job that would allow me to use my creative talents for "greater" things, a job where I felt a little more respected and a lot less frustrated.

And then a kid comes over and talks about something going on in her life and she asks for advice, and maybe complains a little bit like kids sometimes do (and when you hear what the thing was, you feel sad for her and know that she really just needed someone to talk to).
 
Or an adult will come over with a grown-up problem and I help him and then, because he couldn't fix the problem alone, he has actual tears of gratitude in his eyes, and suddenly I do too, and I remember that these are things that matter and I'm where I'm supposed to be.

So maybe the flashier things are empty and meaningless and maybe they aren't, but it means more to me to be there for someone than to be someone.

Sometimes I think about that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Unusual Questions

There's this woman who comes into the library every day and asks very unusual questions. (That's all I will say about her other than the fact that she's a very nice lady who seems to have run into some bad luck over the years.) What I love about my job is that I am pretty much required to treat all questions the same, no matter  how unusual or what the subject matter. After all, at the reference desk, there's no such thing as a stupid question. Right?

So here's my favorite "unusual" reference transaction of the week so far (starring the aforementioned lady):  

Her: "I need to know what Nostradamus predicted for December 21st. Something's going to happen."

Me: "Something's going to happen?"

Her: "Yes. God has something in mind for us."

Me: "Ok...kay. Well, I found this information..." (I explain to her what Nostradamus allegedly predicted.)

Her: "So there's nothing about a comet?"

Me: "I'd have to do some more research to be sure, but I don't see anything in this about a comet."

Her: "So you don't know if there would be people in that comet?"

Me: "I'm sorry?"

Her: "People. Landing from space".

Me: "...In the comet."

Her: "Yes."

Me: "That's probably not something you need to worry about."

Like I said, there's no such thing as a stupid question. But there ARE unusual questions, and quite honestly, I am thankful for them. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hurricane Book Help

From your friends at Urban Librarians Unite, a group of awesome volunteers of which I am proud to be a member (is that grammatically correct? I don't care):

"Urban Librarians Unite is calling on our friends and supporters to help us build a new collection of materials for NYC libraries as well as putting books directly into the hands of young victims of this storm.

All donations of new and good quality used books should be sent to:

Urban Librarians Unite
45-06 Queens Blvd
Suite 120
Sunnyside, NY 11104"


See the entire post here for more information.

Also, there is a specific wishlist of books up on the Powell's website, making it really easy
to choose books for these kids:

Sandy Children's Book Relief

Thank you for your help!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Just a Little Patience

 Kid: "Can you see if my book is here yet?"

Me: "Sure." (I check the kid's library card.)

Me: "There are a few holds ahead of you."

Kid "You mean I still have to wait?"

Me: "Yes. I'm sorry."

Kid: "It's okay. As long as I eventually get it. If not, I'll just shoot this whole library with a gun."

Me: "Um, WHAT?"

Kid: "Sorry, I get aggressive when I get mad." (She smiles sweetly.)

SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE CHILDREN WAIT FOR BOOKS? VIOLENCE AND ANARCHY. WE HAVE ALL BEEN WARNED.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Voting Booth...

I am happy to say that my voting experience this election was mostly positive. I know that some other people had a tougher time, but I only had to wait about 30 minutes to get a ballot. There wasn't much confusion, and people were behaving themselves. There was one woman who was shouting about how she "HATES this crap" (I wasn't sure if she meant voting in general or the new electronic ballots), and another woman who very loudly proclaimed that she thinks the system is "crazy" because they don't ask for ID. But other than that, things went smoothly. 

Here are a few interesting things that happened:

- The lady standing in line behind me was holding her daughter, who looked about 4 years old. The girl asked for french fries, and the mom said "We can get french fries when we leave. We have to vote first." Aww! That mom has her priorities straight. 

How I view you when you tell me you've voted. 

- When I left the polling site, a man who had just parked his car asked me if he could park there. (I guess he didn't see the signs? Was he messing with me? Whatever.) When I said I wasn't sure, he remarked about how tough it was to find a spot. We then had this conversation:

Me: "Well, I guess it's tough to find parking because it's Election Day."

Him: "It's Election Day?"

Me: "Yes."

Him (sarcastically): "Huh. Well, good luck to us all." 

Me (cheerfully, because forget that guy): "If you want to vote, it's right around the corner."

Him: "Who do I vote for?"

Me (now I knew he was messing with me): "Vote for whomever you'd like."

Him: "I don't vote. There's no one to vote for."

Me: "That's never true." 

And I walked away. I seriously hate this kind of faux-jaded apathetic stuff. I'd much rather hear you calling me an idiot because of my political views than hear you say "Oh, I don't vote. It doesn't matter anyway." It DOES matter. I don't care what state you live in. Because if you don't vote, you live in a STATE OF IGNORANCE. 

(Hey, that was a good one. I'm going to use that in the future.) 

How I view you when you tell me you don't vote. 

- I walked by a nutty lady on the corner screaming about how she was a lifelong Democrat, but this time she voted "straight down the f*cking Republican ticket." (I have my suspicions as to why she did this, seeing as how she was cursing loudly at any minority person who passed her). But, lucky for me, she was an equal opportunity offender. She looked right as me and yelled "FUUUUUCCCKKK YYOOOOUUU" to me as I walked across the street. Awesome. I LOVE NEW YORK. 



Anyway, I hope other people had positive voting experiences today (or at least interesting ones). I'd love to hear your stories! And if you haven't voted yet, you still have time! Get out there and get potentially yelled at!




Monday, November 5, 2012

V-O-T-E! Vote! Vote! Vote!

Remember when I posted a few months ago about the guy who came into the library to get a voter registration form and it was really inspiring to me and I talked about how much I love voting and how I think it's really important? Well, THIS IS YOUR FRIENDLY-slash-ANNOYING REMINDER TO VOTE! THE TIME HAS COME! 

No matter what anyone tells you, Election Day is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6th. There have been some bad people out there trying to trick voters into thinking it's a different day. C'mon, son. 

IMPORTANT: if you live in NYC, your polling site may have changed because of hurricane damage. Please check out this PDF document from the NYC Board of Elections to double check. 

Here's information about transportation to polling sites in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island

There used to be a great site that compiled links for aaaalll of the State Election Boards for each state in one place, but alas, it seems to be defunct. But, in case you've never used a computer before, it's really easy to find out the information for your particular state: just Google your state name + board of elections and WHAM. Information city. You are are a voting GENIUS. You're like the Indiana Jones + Stephen Hawking + Bon Jovi of voting. Boards of Election BOW BEFORE THE BREADTH OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND WEEP AT THE STRENGTH OF YOUR POWER. 

Anyway. Sorry. 

Remember, if you have problems at your polling place, you have rights. Please contact your board of elections and let them know if there's something shady going on. I get really, really angry about voter suppression or disenfranchisement and I want to see that it doesn't happen. So don't be afraid to speak up if you are being treated unfairly. And everyone please be nice to each other and to poll workers. We're all in this together! (I don't want to see more stories like this.) 

Lastly, just for fun, here are some voting-related posters I like. GO OUT THERE AND GET YOURS, AMERICA! 













*Sorry for all the caps in this blog post. I am REALLY EXCITED ABOUT VOTING.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NYC Hurricane Relief


Like most people, I feel really sad and weird about the hurricane and its increasingly worrisome aftereffects. Personally, I am very lucky; I am fine,  my apartment is fine, most of my family and friends are fine. My parents on Long Island lost power for about four days, but they are fine as well. Unfortunately, my cousin's rental house in Sheepshead Bay was destroyed by flooding, which I feel absolutely horrible about, but she and her family are unharmed and living with her mom for now. There are stories worse than that coming out each day. It's just crazy. 

Anyway, I'm doing what I can from where I am. I don't feel like it's enough, but rather than feel completely helpless, I've compiled a bunch of links for the recovery effort in case you live near these areas and can help out. (You might want to check for yourself if the information is still current.)

1) You can donate money here or sign up to volunteer in your area here: NYC.gov
And of course, you can donate money to the Red Cross

2) There is a very useful page on Facebook for Occupy Sandy Relief NYC that is frequently posting information.

3) Bay Ridge Journal has posted a ton of Brooklyn volunteer opportunities. 

4) This page is for the recovery effort in Red Hook.

5) Here is how to volunteer on Staten Island, from Gothamist

6) From Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President (posted on Facebook today):

"From City: We need people out this weekend on our street teams, canvassing neighborhoods door to door and bringing out info, supplies and emergency help as needed in various neighborhoods.

If any of you want to help, or know of groups or individuals who want to help, our nonprofit partners will be at the Distribution Centers in Far Rockaway (all locations except Red Fern), Coney Island, Staten Island and Manhattan (all LES, East Village and Chelsea locations) at 12PM.
Please have folks go and join them to help -- we would certainly appreciate all the help we can get. 

"Below is a list of the distribution sites with street outreach teams in Brooklyn:

Surf Ave Playground West 25th and Surf Ave Coney Island, Brooklyn

Red Hook East and WestRed Hook Coffey Park, 85 Richards Red Hook, Brooklyn"


7) According to Councilman Steve Levin, they are collecting warm blankets from 11am to 6pm at 410 Atlantic Avenue and 122 Java Street in Brooklyn today. 

8) Southern Brooklyn information (including information about schools, etc.) from NY State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes

9) Here's a Rockaway Rescue Alliance Facebook Page. And here's more information about helping the Rockaways

10) Weekend volunteer opportunities via Brokelyn (LOTS of information here). 

11) To help our neighbors in Hoboken

12) If you are near Forest Hills, Queens, Thank Heaven Children's Boutique is collecting donations today and tomorrow.

13) Information about gas/gas prices in NY. Also, according to Gov. Cuomo, gas IS being delivered to the area. 

14) From Twitter user @MonicaDien: "Race to Recover is donating hotel rooms from marathoners to people who need a place to stay. race2recover.com

15) Where & when to donate blood

16) More South Brooklyn information from Andrew Gounardes (as of 3:10pm, Saturday): 

"Thank you all for your generous donations over the past few days. For now, we DO NOT have the capacity to accept ANY more toys, clothes, food, etc. We'll be delivering the toys to a daycare distribution center in Staten Island this weekend. A Bay Ridge resident is accepting food and toiletries donations at her home at 8622 Ft. Hamilton Parkway.  A group in Sunset Park is accepting food at 5406 4th Avenue and will distribute it to southern Brooklyn, the Rockaways, Red Hook, and Staten Island. Otherwise, please direct your donations to the Salvation Army or your nearest collection center. We'll continue posting those locations as we receive updates."

17) Pet food and supplies are desperately needed in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. Contact the office of Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny if you can help. 

18) NYC Salvation Army distribution centers

19) Where to volunteer in Brooklyn from the Ditmas Patch.

20) New Facebook page with volunteer information: Hurricane Sandy Relief Volunteer Group

21) NYC food trucks are coming through! Here's an easy way to donate a hot meal to someone in need. (Just $7 = one meal.)

22) From the Bay Ridge Home Reporter: 
Text "BROOKLYN" to 25383 to donate $10 to the Brooklyn Recovery Fund or donate online at brooklynrecoveryfund.org.

23) Information about transportation to polling sites in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island


I'll post more as I see them. Feel free to add anything in the comments! (Last updated 7:38pm, Monday November 5th.) 

Also, here's a great article from SLJ about how libraries have been there for people during this difficult week. Brooklyn Public Library was closed for three days and a few of the branches will be closed for a while due to damage, but we're up and running and continuing to provide services for the people of Brooklyn. (The other NYC library systems are doing the same.) I truly hope anyone who reads this is safe and warm and surviving.