Saturday, October 31, 2009
It takes time to prepare and conduct programs. The staff has been reduced to such a level that it is harder for them to cover their regular duties, like the information desk, and to do the jobs in the back room that need to be done. There are simply not enough staff hours to do everything.
I know staff members who are frustrated, disappointed, and saddened that they can no longer share their knowledge and passions with the public in the ways we have come to expect.
The Friends began their operations with enrichment projects. We would like to be the icing on the cake at the library. We don't want to replace the county and state government in their roles in providing for libraries.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Let me start first with my favorite euphemism: co-sponsored. In the monthly calendar published by FCPL, there are descriptions of programs to sign up for. The editors use co-sponsored by; I prefer the clear phrase paid for by.
First up for George Mason Regional Library is Personalized Internet Tutoring. Who provides this service? A volunteer.
Second up, English Conversation Group. Who leads the group? A volunteer.
Third up, Yoga for Seniors. Shakta Khalsa leads this program. FCPL signed a contract with her and provides a room. In this case, co-sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library means paid by the Friends.
Next up, Please and Thank You, stories for 2-3 year olds. This program is presented by a paid staff member.
The list of programs goes on. When you get to Golden Oldies, a movie, you might think no cost. Wrong. To show a movie in a public place, a movie license must be purchased. Who pays? It's the Friends of the George Mason Regional Libary, who also pay for the refreshments.
Come to the library. Great things are happening there. Don't always assume that tax dollars are paying for it all.
Today's secret: sometimes people register for programs and then don't attend. Check with the staff about whether or not they will let in people to replace the no-shows.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Why am I putting myself through something I hate? More than hating meetings, I love Libraries, Parks and Recreation. I think they constitute some of the best that County government has to offer. Last year, this part of the County Budget was in the neighborhood of 1% of the county budget. The schools were 52%. After the budget cuts were said and down the school percentage had grown to 54% and Libraries, Parks, and Recreation had shrunk.
As a percentage of their budget, Libraries lost 18% of their budget. This percentage was much bigger than many county agencies. Library hours were lost. Many staff positions were lost. The budget for acquiring materials was cut in half. The library system is already set up so that a new hire with a Master's Degree in Library Science can only get a part-time job. Think of that. No full time work with a Master's Degree.
This situation is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is getting worse, worse, worse. For the next fiscal year, the Library is being asked to take another 15% off their budget. It is going to be ugly.
Go to these meetings. Speak out for what you believe in.
Visit your library. Visit your parks. Visit your nature centers. Talk to the staff and then go to these meetings.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Another benefit is it expands your social circle. Everyone who has been outside of school for any period has noticed how your social circle can contract. Being a volunteer can certainly help you meet people.
With the George Mason Friends, there is a lesser known but very tangible benefit. You gain a personalized book search service. Largely this is an informal operation. Someone will mention that they have discovered so-and-so's books and people will start looking for them. The volunteer pays for the book; the search doesn't cost extra. If you have been volunteering with the Friends and are looking for an author, please let us know.
What have I found in the past? The list includes Sister Wendy books, paperbacks by Donna Leon, novels based on King Arthur and Camelot, books by Daphne DuMaurier, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, cookbooks published by America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Illustrated, Superman comic books, Delderfield novels, Clavell novels and James Patterson novels.
Why do I look for books? I think it is fun (yes, that is just a bit warped). It is a challenge to handle hundreds of books every week and every once in a while find a book that will please a particular person. As anyone who goes to book sales knows, a best seller of five years ago is extremely easy to find. An author from thirty years ago who didn't become a modern classic is a lot harder. Delderfield is such a person. Daphne DuMaurier's books other than Rebecca are also fairly uncommon.
So, Friends' volunteers and book lovers, save yourself the Amazon postage and enter the world of serendipity. Tell us a book you have been thinking about buying used and we will see what we can do for you.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
For those who fear that we won't have any selection if they come to our sale on the last day, let me say that two trucks came to take away the remains of our sale. Many book sales don't have enough to fill two trucks on the first day of the sale.
I must say it has been a full four days, full of books and people and happy shoppers.
The next question many people ask is what we are going to do with all this money. Let me tell you it takes a lot of books being sold to bring a professional puppet show to the library. Imagine repeating that across all 23 branches in the Fairfax County system. We do bring puppet shows and magic acts and drummers and professional storytellers to every branch in the system as part of the Summer Reading Program, all 23 branches. Plan to attend them next year.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
As many people have commented, three libraries are having major sales this weekend. The biggest one in this area is at Arlington County's Central Library. I wish I could say that we are bigger but I know it isn't true. Being prejudiced I think we are better but that is a subjective judgement. The other one I know of is at Chantilly Regional Library in Chantilly which is in the western part of Fairfax County.
Some people are happy that there are multiple sales in multiple places so they can have lots of choices. Some people are sad because they like to be at opening night and can't be in three places at once. These are the people who wish we would coordinate our sales dates and stagger them.
At George Mason, we think it would be a great idea to coordinate but don't know how to do it. The problem is that demand for meeting room space in Fairfax County is very high. We have to reserve the space for our sale as soon as the Library system opens its books for the next year. That means that we picked our date in June of 2008 for both the spring sale and the fall sale of 2009.
The constraints we have are many. First, we can't have use of the rooms the second Wednesday of the month because the Fairfax County Library Board usually meets at George Mason on that date. Second, we need to check religious holidays. We can't impact people's plans for Easter, Yom Kippur, or Rosh Hashanah. Third, we need to watch the dates for Columbus Day when the library is closed. We also don't want to touch Mother's Day or Halloween. It does feel like a juggling act at times.
The result of all these considerations is that we don't have much leeway. So for all those who are inconvenienced, I can only say I am sorry. I would love to have gone to the Arlington sale myself. Someday, I hope to get to the Chantilly sale but it just hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, come when you can.
Hope to see you on Sunday.
Friday, October 23, 2009
First, today was a beautiful day. It was great to be outside. I hope that the people who waited in line enjoyed the weather, the warmth and the sun after our four days of gray and drizzle last week end. I understand we have some more of the gray and wet coming so whenever I could get outside today, I savored it.
Second, the people were beautiful. We had some last minute volunteers. They provided much needed hands in running the sale. Two were two college students. I was impressed that these two young people would clear a full evening to volunteer.
I worked with some of the school-age volunteers, many of whom were getting some of their required community service hours with us. Two charming girls from Queen of Apostles handed out maps to people waiting in line and conducted an informal survey. We are trying to learn how to reach potential customers better. Two eager young men searched for books. Another young woman helped take purchases to people's cars. Another young man helped to keep the sales floor looking good. Anyone who has ever been to any kind of sale knows how things can get haphazard in a hurry so no one can find anything. Wednesday afternoon, another young woman helped me for an hour as we finally got price cards on books in a display case. Their help was much appreciated.
Did you notice in the last paragraph when I said that two young men searched for books? We have people in each area who will help customers find something in particular. Sometimes, a student is looking for a book for school. Sometimes, another book by a favorite author is wanted. We enjoy helping in the search for those requests.
Their search was for a different purpose. To give some background, the George Mason Friends do not give cash money to either George Mason Regional Library or Fairfax County Public Library to buy books to add to the collection. What we will do is give donated books to the library instead of selling them. In particular, at George Mason, when a staff member finds that a copy has just worn out but is still being circulated, we will search for a replacement copy. Tonight, these young men did that difficult search and came up with a number of books which will replace a worn out book in the collection. Our way of maintaining the collection is growing in importance given the 50% cut to the budget for the collection in FY2010 and the expectation of even deeper cuts to the budget in FY2011.
Finally, the books are beautiful. I read a lot. I see a fair percentage of the books that go into the sale as I work with them for the six months between sales. Still, at every sale without exception, I will see a customer buy a book that I might have bought if I had seen it first. Sometimes, the item might be a book by an author not commonly found in FCPL libraries. George Garrett comes to mind. Sometimes, the item is a music CD. Sometimes, it is a video. I just discovered a British production whose main characters are gardeners. Sometimes, the happy purchaser clues me in on a new author or musician or movie.
Tomorrow is day 2. The tables of books are still full. Hope to see you there.
Monday, October 19, 2009
(Pictured are James Lee Burke's Rain Cross,
Jonathan Kellerman's True Detectives, Peter Robinson's All the Colors of Darkness, Lindsay Davis's Alexandria, C.J. Box's Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, and M.C. Beaton's Death of a Witch.)
If you look closely at the book by Brad Thor, you will see the word "Autographed" on the same slip. We also have a lot of books signed by their authors. Some books with signatures cost about the same as a copy without that extra touch of the author.
(Pictured are Brad Thor's The Apostle, James Patterson's Swimsuit, David Baldacci's First Family, Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow, and Clive Cussler's Medusa.)
If you are interested in books published in 2009, look for the lilac paper bookmarks. If you are interested in signatures, look for the goldenrod papers.
(Books pictured include Alexander McCall Smith's The Lost Art of Gratitude and Nevada Barr's Borderline.)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
And now for the book sale secret, volunteers get book buying privileges. In particular, the volunteers on Wednesday, the day before the sale starts, get to buy in limited quantities. These are the restrictions. The two biggest restrictions are volunteers must be amateurs and book lovers (sorry, book resellers need to shop at the sale) and items in the display cases can't be purchased ahead. We have a few other restrictions on quantity.
We try to be a friendly group of people. Come to the library and sign up at the information desk or email us. Come meet us.
This book is just one of many for sale at the Fall Book Sale. It is in one of the lobby display cases if you want to see it in person. If you want to see a list of items in the display cases, use the links off the George Mason Friends page.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Back in 1980, the Philadelphia Phillies went to the World Series and won in six games. Their star pitcher was Tug McGraw. The following year, to show he was a man of many talents, he authored a children's book about baseball. The result was Lumpy, A Baseball Fable.
We have a copy he autographed. His signature is big and bold. I think this is a great piece of sports memorabilia for the fan who has everything.
We have this book listed on our Amazon storefront http://www.amazon.com/gp/shops/storefront/index.html?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&sellerID=A36TSWKKQGX8VY. It is not easy to find just our storefront but Amazon doesn't have many books named Lumpy written by Tug McGraw so you can search for it that way.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I remember when Gary Larson decided to take a break from creating his legendary cartoon The Far Side. Fortunately, those early cartoons have been reprinted in many forms. I am used to seeing them in paperbacks which, as you know, are just not designed to last. This collection is designed to last. The comics are published in two volumes called The Complete Far Side.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This is a government publication from the depths of the Depression It is a report, the first report, by the Resettlement Administration. Looking closer, you find an inscription and then flipping pages, you realize the inscription is by the head of the Resettlement Administration. Historians will recognize his name as Rex Tugwell.
Hopefully, our current depression won't last as long. I am getting a little feeling for the pain that must have been felt in the past one.
Now talking about the current depression, Fairfax County has started its FY2010. The libraries have changed their hours as a result of budget cuts beginning in July of 2009. The staff has been cut as well. What may not be obvious is the cut to the budget for materials, for the magazines and periodicals and books and data bases and all that stuff. According to the library, back in FY 2001, the materials budget was about $6.33 per county resident. It is now $2.71 per resident.
The budget people are having to prepare their budgets for FY2011. It doesn't look good for Fairfax County. Again this year, community meetings are being held. The results are sent back to the Board of Supervisors. This is one way for the Supervisors to hear about the priorities of the residents. The Libraries have been asked to look at cutting another 18% from their budget. It hurts.
Plan to attend a community meeting. To find out more to to fairfaxcounty.gov/budget.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Edward Gorey fans will be used to his work but I have never actually read one before. This short work is as loathsome as its title. It is yet another example of the interesting things that pass our way.
The photograph is of the dust jacket so you can see that it is in fairly good condition. The book dates to 1977. There's no subsequent printing information so it is my guess that this is a first printing. This appears to be before Dodd, Mead uniformly adopted the now familiar number line for printings.
More about the Tasha Tudor book, I have now found out she was nominated for the Caldecott for Mother Goose and was recognized with a Honor Award in 1945. Caldecott's are awarded to books first published in the previous year.