Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Library of Love

Lately, I've encountered a myriad of stories revolving around love in the library. Take Laura Scott for example. Writing for the SUN, Laura explores the best places for those singles on the hunt to look for love. In this installment, she travels to Wales where she takes part in a singles night at, you guessed it, the local library. This isn't the only story of this nature I've come across. Apparently, several other library programs in the UK and North America are encouraging singles to come and meet their potential soulmate at the library.

Honestly, when you think about it, what better place could there be to meet a fellow book lover? Imagine catching that special someone's eye over the fiction and literature shelves. Or browsing the scifi/fantasy section and reaching for the same book at the same time as your potential partner. A match made in heaven!

Love is definitely not absent from the libraries at my university. Facebook even even boasts a group titled: Books turn me on ... lets get laid in Weldon. (Try not to read the comments, they're a little racy!) Okay. I agree, this might not have anything to do with love in particular but hey, it's kinda funny.

At my own library, love is indeed in the air. While adventuring into the stacks one day, I happened upon a young couple in a full lip-lock. They jumped apart as they heard me approach and gave me guilty looking smiles as I passed. I just giggled to myself and kept on going, glad this quiet nook in the engineering section was at least sought after by these young lovers.

So, if you're looking for love in all the wrong places, or just trying to rekindle and old romance, try the local library to get that flame ignited.

I would like to leave you with some inspiring words from Jimmy Buffet. He's got the right idea, and even wrote a song about it.

Love in the library
By: jimmy buffett, mac mcanally 1994

On the corner of government and bay avenue
The old doomsday fanatic wore a crown of kudzu
Sirens were wailing in the gulf coastal heat
And it seemed like the whole world was in forced retreat
Paid no attention, revolved through the door
Past the newspaper racks on the worn marble floor
Near civil war history my heart skipped a beat
She was standing in fiction stretched high on bare feet

Love in the library
Quiet and cool
Love in the library
There are no rules
Surrounded by stories
Surreal and sublime
I fell in love in the library
Once upon a time

I was the pirate, she was the queen
Sir francis and elizabeth, the best theres ever been
Then she strolled past my table and stopped at the stairs
Then sent me a smile as she reached for flaubert

Love in the library
Quiet and cool
Love in the library
There are no rules
Surrounded by stories
Surreal and sublime
I fell in love in the library
Once upon a time

She gathered her books, walked while she read
Words never spoken, but so much was said
You can read all you want into this rendezvous
But its safer than most things that lovers can do
Well stories have endings, fantasies fade
And the guard by the door starts drawing the shade
So write your own ending and hope it comes true
For the lovers and strangers on bay avenue

Love in the library
Quiet and cool
Love in the library
There are no rules
Surrounded by stories
Surreal and sublime
I fell in love in the library
Once upon a time
Surrounded by stories
Surreal and sublime
I fell in love in the library
Once upon a time

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Bookstore of Questions

I have worked in my current bookstore since before we had books on the shelves. It will be 13 years this October. Yet I am still thrown to the mat by customers asking me questions and then insisting my answer is wrong.

Customer 1: How do you get to the first floor?
Me: This is the first floor.
Customer 1: No, you used to have 3 floors.
Me: No, it's always been 2.
Customer 1: Then what did you do with all the books that were on the first floor?
Me: They're upstairs.

Customer 2: I can't believe you got rid of your upstairs restrooms!
Me: We've never had restrooms upstairs.
Customer 2: Yes you did.
Me: Maybe your thinking of the store across town
Customer 2: I know what store I'm in and you had restrooms upstairs.
Me: I'm sorry. We only have restrooms downstairs now. Would you like a token?

Customer 3: You don't have any science books in this whole store!?
Me: Sure, their upstairs.
Customer 3: How am I supposed to get upstairs?
Me: We can take either the stairs or the elevator.
Customer 3: Well, where are they.
Me: Right this way sir. (My head: The giant monstrosity in the middle of the room that looks just like stairs)

Customer 4: When did you start closing early on Sundays?
Me: We've always closed early on Sundays.
Customer 4: I've been here after 10 on Sundays.
Me: Oh! Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we stay open until midnight.
Customer 4: No, like a month ago.
Me: Hm. Well, we close at 10 now.

Too much fun. I think I work in the Twilight Zone.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Falling Up

Many people believe working in a bookstore is a nice quiet job where you can do a lot of reading. Not true. By the way, if you do see this, ask for a manager.
But, as I was saying, there is a lot of work that goes on that customers never notice. Ever wonder how all those books got on the shelves in the first place? I'll tell you how. 3 weeks before a store opens, the entire staff plus staff members from other stores in the company are working six day weeks, 10-16 hrs a day putting all those books into place, training the new staff members and party-ing hard on Saturday night!!!
This is called a "sort" and is the foundation of each stores aura. Very deep. I have "a million" sort stories, but the following is my favorite. It happened in San Jose. (Insert mysterious music)
This store had posed a number of small problems throughout the sort process. We would loose hours of work at a time due to the fact that the shopping area was not yet fully constructed. Random fire alarms and gas leaks causing evacuations. Roads that existed yesterday, gone today. Time was a wasting!
This store was being built with an escalator, which was a first for all off us so we cautiously used the freight/handicap elevator to get hundreds of boxes of books to the second floor. Lo and behold a week and a half into the sort, the elevator went on strike! We'd already lost far too much time to delays and had already planned an 8hr day for the following Sunday to play catch-up. We had no choice. Hello Mr. Escalator.
Well things were actually going quite well. We would fill up a dollie with 4 boxes of books. Park the wheels on one step and then stand on the third step. But we were still loosing time, only getting about 20 boxes up the stairs in the time it would take the elevator to get twice that.
So we kicked it up a notch.
We put all the boxes that were to go upstairs at the entrance of the escalator. A team of people to fill the dollies. A team to take them up. And a team to unload at the top. SWEET!
We got so good at this that there was no waiting anywhere. Dollie, step, employee, dollie, step, employee, dollie, step, employee...There was no wasted space.
And then it happened. Someone tripped at the top.
Have you ever wondered how a domino feels when it sees certain demise in its wake?
I was just past the halfway mark heading up to the top. Helplessly watching as my co-workers at the top were pulling people off of one another to the left and pulling boxes to the right. Knowing eminent death was just moments away. I was trapped. It was time to accept my fate.
Just two more people to go! I'm going to die!!! And then...everything stopped.
It finally occurred to someone at the bottom of this circus to hit the off button.
Nothing more than minor abrasions and bruises to about a half dozen people. The books were evidently easier to save than the people, not the least bit of damage to any of them.
Let's open another store!!!

Books aren't just for reading anymore!

Did you know that books aren't just for reading anymore? While I do like to get some reading in from time to time (all the time!), I'm also guilty of using books in other, and in some eyes possibly blasphemous, ways. I've used books as coasters, risers and even door jams. But, did you ever imagine that books could be used to make furniture?

Boing Boing recently posted about his wonderful chair, created by artist David Karoff.

Mr. Karoff is not alone in his genius. I did some searching and discovered other innovative people making furniture with books. Artist Jim Rosenau has a whole website featuring his bookish furniture. He created this beautiful bookshelf and you can check out his other creations at This Into That. And, MIT student, Stephanie Hartman, even fashioned a whole bedroom suite using recycled books for a school project.

So, next time you're thinking about unloading your unwanted books, try using them to make a wonderful and unique book creation instead!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


First a little background information:
My father is a fan of the "Wizard..." anything fantasy series genre. My mother, political non-fiction. In my 17 years of growing up in their home, I never knew romance novels existed outside of the classic "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Height" variety.
I've lived away from my parents for almost 30 years now and don't see them terribly often due to geography and finances.
Now the story:
When I last visited the folks, now in their 60's, I happened to walk into "Dad's office" only to find a hardcover copy of Judith Krantz' Mistral's Daughter sitting on his desk with a bookmark in place.
After getting over the initial shock, I timidly approached my father.
"Dad? Are you reading a romance?"
"Yep. It's not bad."
OH NO!!!
And then all was put back into place when Mom chimed in with this explanation:
She was decorating the entry way of the house. So she and Dad headed to the discount bookstore in search of hardcover books with black spines and either gold or silver lettering after removing the dust jackets. When they got the books and were unpacking them Mom's keen I spotted the bright pink cover!
"I don't want people coming into my house thinking I'm reading that."
My dad's assigned punishment was to read that unwelcome tome.
Now it all makes sense. These are my parents!