Reader's Exchange

August 2013 - Posts

This post is not cardiologist-approved

Suspense fiction fans love to encounter surprises and mystery in books they've chosen.

But not like this.  Co-worker Carolyn handed me a still-new copy of a popular thriller, outlining the customer complaint:  someone had taken it upon himself/herself to cross out and "revise" phrases throughout.  Surprise!

Not that it matters, but the grammatical edits weren't even correct.  And the mystery was, as Chip put it, "what would possess anyone to think that was a good idea?"

Still muttering over the disruptive markups, I spotted one of our regular customers strolling by the reference desk.   What a great opportunity to share my little outrage!

But this patron hadn't received the Scribbling is Bad memo.  He curiously flipped pages, assessed the inky text interruptions, and grinned.  "I have to disagree", he shrugged, "Ever since Gutenberg, print has been one-dimensional and non-participatory.  And now someone has made this copy interactive."

Fine.  Customer approval always makes our day.  But I still can't bring myself to equate a defaced library book with "interactivity"--especially when September, promising fall and its beloved festivities (even beyond football, I mean) is nearly here. Mingling in outdoor vistas, sampling new delicacies, marveling at creative talent:  now that's interaction.
Texas Star ferris wheel
The State Fair of Texas opens this year on September 27.  Check out SFT's timeline for an enlightening scan of innovations, celebrities, and organizational changes reflecting a microcosm of Texas life.  But you'll have to wait until September 2 to learn whether deep fried versions of Nutella, Thanksgiving dinner, King Ranch casserole, or another crispy delight/cardiac health threat snagged this year's coveted Big Tex Choice Award.

This week's Scout Report sported--in addition to its always-impressive slate of educational links like Pew Internet's Infographics and American Biology Teacher--a feature devoted to that notorious annual phenomenon: the national buffet of state fair fried food specialties (try saying that three times fast).

Atlantic Wire's photo spread of trendsetting fair fare may leave you wondering how many more iterations of the corn dog are possible (also how you, too, can get your hands on Cocoa Cheese Bites).  The Scout Report staff even highlighted this portal for state-fair-winning recipes.  Compared to the Deep Fried Hot Dog Wrapped in French Fries, pie sounds like health food. 

You should award Round Rock Arts Council's popular Chalk Walk (a feast for your eyes) a spot in your  calendar for October 4-5.  Texas Book Festival will crown the October 26-27 weekend.  Stay tuned for soon-to-be-revealed announcements of author appearances and events, but you can go ahead and contribute to the cause or register to be an event volunteer now.

Even before these rewarding events, there's another chance to engage in a mass effort--remotely.  Work From Home Day (9/10/13) challenges Austin-area esidents to improve air quality by "removing 20,000 cars from city roads" for one day.   Round Rock Public Library's online resources stand ready to support our cardholders in that effort. 

And, to prepare for the later festivities, why not accessorize your green telecommute with a verdant, leafy lunch?

Extra! Extra! Read all about it

That message had no business landing in work email in the first place.  I would delete it, but it represents a career path of potential interest to the library's job seekers and vocational explorers.

OK, so  I'm rationalizing; I kept it because it intrigues me personally. 

Sent by Onlocation Casting, recruiting local extras for the NBC television series Revolution ("filming in Austin, TX and various surrounding areas") the notice asks us to publicize their casting call.  Links (further details, Facebook page, an application) accompany the letter. 

Film clapper boardApplicants are encouraged to complete the form and cautioned not to pay for unnecessary "active" upgrades.  I found that tip even more interesting than the promise of free snacks and references to other company projects:  Friday Night Lights, Crazy Heart, Titanic.

But why would an introvert like me find this opportunity even remotely appealing?

Certainly not my prior film career: the highlight was a close-up on a local TV children's show years ago.  The camera panning the row of seven-year-olds in Blue Bird vests caught my freckled nose and wide grin then devoid of two front teeth and zoomed in.  

And last summer, what might be my shoulder is visible in audience sweeps on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.

Aha.  Now I remember the lure of "extra" work: behind-the-scenes access.   For the price of waiting in several consecutive queues, I discovered how much smaller the Colbert set is in real life than it appears on television and how Colbert interacts out of character (just as funny, but really charming).

Studio audiences also see how glitches are managed.  Singer Regina Spektor flubbed a couple of notes--she was the only one who thought so--and requested a do-over.   The intro was repeated, the built-in time lag covered the re-shoot, and an apparently seamless musical segment was broadcast.   But Spektor's grace under pressure and warmth lent our onsite perspective added value. 

On a film set, in costume and in close proximity to actors, directors, and whatever unscripted goings-on transpire, an extra witnesses the good, the bad, and the ugly.  For me, that (and the $8 per hour) would represent a nice payoff for filling out the application, waiting in more lines, and devoting a vacation day or two to the project.

Cinema fans who are Round Rock Public Library cardholders now have a new way to participate:  RRPL's new Indieflix resource (accessible 24/7 with your library barcode) allows our patrons to stream thousands of independent films, including documentaries and shorts. 

Because Indieflix was founded by filmmakers and assembles the best (or, as their FAQ page notes, "possibly the weirdest, depending on your taste") offerings from film festivals, you not only provide worthy productions with an audience, you help to fund future creations and innovations.  IndieFlix shares revenues with filmmakers and even invites film submissions.

Important notes:  (1) To view Indieflix for free as a cardholder, always start from the library's homepage to log in. (2)  After you're "discovered" on the Revolution set or presented with a statuette for your film, please tell the Academy that you owe it all to the library!

No time (or reason) for summertime blues

Ah, summertime at the place across from the Main Street Plaza fountains.  We're also known as Rocksssanne's home or the library, where incidentally, you can still enter the adult summer reading program if you hurry, and where we daily witness the joys of vacation time.

Joy, yes.  Leisure, no.

Summer reading program stats for all ages are soaring.  So, too, are mountains of materials to be checked in and re-shelved.   More visitors with more genealogy questions, teachers happily loading up on books they typically don't have time to enjoy, young customers with hours to fill: all demonstrate why folks around here view the library as a top summertime destination.

Flip-flipsWe like to think that the vibe on the other side of the service counter feels relaxed.  It appears so: flip-flips softly thunking as they convey patrons with bags of beach reads, smiling parents shepherding kids back out to the car, cognizant that the contents of the program just attended will be rehearsed all the way home.

A popular question these days concerns hours for the Main Street Plaza fountains.   (Other timely, albeit less entertaining, water wisdom can be viewed on City of Round Rock's Water Conservation pages.)

We're never too busy to enjoy reactions of triumphant grownups scouting for the Pop-Up Prize sign with an accompanying giveaway at the reference desk.  (Hint:  This being the last week of Summer Readers' Bonanza, we're putting out more frequent freebies).   Yesterday, a savvy reader spotted a prize from clear across the room and squealed, "Yesssss!"  to the amusement of onlookers. 

Water and prizes aren't the only elements appealing to one's inner child.  Sharing (a year-round challenge) is a principle we encounter early on and never cease considering.

In a recent related chat, a library patron recommended a substantial policy change, then listened patiently while I extolled the values of the procedure in place. 

The issue:  study rooms.  Check into a library study room (no reservations-first come, first served, one turn per day) and it's yours for an hour.  That's the minimum; if no one else is waiting, you can stay on.  But on high-traffic days, we'll need to re-assign the room as others queue up for a turn. 

Given a population of over 100,000 and only five study rooms, this scheme works very well.   The nicely-spoken gentleman agreed with nearly all of it.

The inconsistency he highlighted:  some folks (if they're lucky and study room traffic dissipates after they check in), may get more than an hour.   To be perfectly fair, he suggested, we should kick everyone out after their hour. 

Acknowledging his excellent point, I explained that we've chosen to err on the side of chance and generosity, so that everyone gets fairness at minimum and will likely benefit from fairness-plus sometimes.  Nobody ever claimed that sharing was easy.

The discussion ended pleasantly.  It's easier to be gracious when you believe you're in the right (and we both did). 

And perhaps we were subconsciously soothed by the distant splashing of the fountains...