Sunday Lowdown #61

Interesting Notes from Class:

This week the course covered book displays, which I already learned about in a previous class, so I’ve got nothing. However, I have been watching webinars to earn credits for my library license, and the most recent was about concerns libraries and museums might have when we re-open to the public. Both speakers, one an epidemiologist the other a health scientist, were from the Centers for Disease Control. You can listen to “Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections” free here. Some takeaways:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting are different. Staff should do both at least once per day.
  • You can use alcohol wipes on books covered in plastic and DVD cases if you want.
  • Paper, cardboard, and fabric are porous materials, meaning it’s hard for a virus to leave them. Materials returned to the library should be fine after 24 hours.
  • A patron would basically need to hork a visible loogie on a book for libraries to be concerned about transmitting the coronavirus.
  • Wash hands at least 20 seconds, cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue and throw it away, disinfect hard surfaces that are touched frequently.
  • The epidemiologist basically repeated that libraries don’t need to worry about disinfecting books (literally) about half a dozen times. The librarians who joined the live discussion had a really hard time believing it.
  • The CDC’s order of concerns for spreading COVID-19: being near other people way at the top, next is high-touch surfaces, and then much further down would be books, papers, soft furniture, shoes, etc. (The epidemiologist talked about all of these).
  • If a symptomatic person enters the facility, close off the area they were in most for 24 hours so any droplets settle. Then, housekeeping can clean the hard surfaces. Open any doors or windows that go outside to increase airflow.

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Thanks for joining the conversation about physical limitations and reading. Many of you have your own aches that you’ve lessened through tricks of your own! I’m still keeping my eyes open for new technologies to help readers with mobility issues.

I was so pleased by the thoughtful questions and responses to my review of Ginger Gaffney’s memoir Half Broke. Any non-traditional prison setting is interesting to me, and the way the author explored her identity (mute until six, gender non-conforming, “untamed” with sexual partners) was beautifully done. The book was just published in February 2020.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

I’m not sure about you, but this pandemic has changed me. I used to have barriers created when I would code-switch from home to work to public to family and then friends. Those barriers seem gone. I was crying to my mother and talking to my book club about my ovaries. Even my alone time has changed, which I realized when I admitted to Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku that instead of walking the neighborhood on the road like a normal human I am now dragging a stick around the yard. I put together a pandemic post that includes advice, humor, and a request. I hope you’ll check it out on Tuesday.

After it occurred to me that I hadn’t read a fiction book with a leading lady who is fat for a while, I picked up The F Word by Liza Palmer. The main character actually is quite skinny, but she used to be fat, and how does that affect a person? You know it’s a funny book when I’m practically braying. Come back Thursday for me review!

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

Still reading Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins. This famous author fell into a career as an art critic with zero knowledge of the field. You ever feel like Boomers had things way easier? I mean, the guy was in Richmond, Virginia, decided to go to grad school in Washington state, filled up his car and went there, casually dropped out of grad school and fell into a job as an art critic, decided he needed to move somewhere else to be a writer, drove to New York City, and lived for a year on the savings he generated while working as a newspaper art critic with zero credentials. The book is still fun, though. Allen Ginsberg just kissed Robbins on the mouth (surprise!).

I shall always think this is a hideous, confusing cover.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

41 comments

  1. There is no doubt we boomers had it easy. I went to uni when it was basically free, dropped out, went back, tried Engineering, Philosophy, Accounting, Logistics, Business and Literature over the course of nearly 40 years and it was only the last couple I had to pay for. Never got a job as an art critic, but I was a journalist for a while, worked in a circus, taught myself to be a computer programmer and lived by that for a decade. I think my parents, who worked from the 1950s to the nineties saw more prosperity, but they had a harder start too.

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    • How are we missing so many stories about you? You worked in a circus? And as a journalist? And you had so many majors that you remind me of Pauly Shore in the movie Son-in-Law! That was a great 90s flick.

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  2. It’s interesting to think about what the library experience might be like in a post-covid19 world. I wonder if they’ll wait longer to reshelve books, and even though shoes are much farther down on the list of concerns, maybe we’ll start taking our shoes off when we go into some public spaces or wear shoe covers like we do in the infant room at my nephew’s daycare (now closed, of course). Before covid, I took my children and my nephews (who are much younger than my kids) to the children’s room in the library regularly, and I noticed how many children were crawling around in spaces where older kids and adults were walking with shoes. It didn’t bother me much then, but in a post-covid world, it probably will.

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    • I actually have a beef with people wearing shoes indoor, so I hear you on that one. If there is a room with people who crawl, that should be a no-shoe room! I’ve heard bits and bobs here and there about starting programming again when things are safe, but still designing programs in which everyone is far apart. I was telling a librarian in my book club what I’ve heard, and she was very sad picturing a world without children’s story time (she’s a children’s librarian).

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  3. Your post just made me want to go back to my library so badly. I miss my regular patrons so much and I know they are messing the books. So many of them are older and haven’t converted or don’t want to convert to ebooks. Sigh. I also miss the structure of the work week. I am grateful to be safe at home but I’m ready for “normal” to come soon. I can’t imagine how crazy the first week back at the library will be! All the books piled up everywhere! Our maintenance crew is emptying all the branch bookdrops supposedly. It’s gonna be insane.

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    • A concern listed in the webinar is how people are putting books outside the library because the drop box is either full or locked to discourage people from returning materials. It’s seems silly and unwise to just leave library books next to the building, but people do it. And yet, checking on the library is not considered an essential job, so folks could get pulled over by police, hypothetically. That’s not really happening when I am, but my husband was given a letter to show police in case he does get stopped that basically functions like a hall pass.

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  4. I look forward to your post on Tuesday. I’m unsure what you mean by “code-switch” between family and friends and work and home, but I do feel that the boundaries have blurred and home isn’t so restful anymore. And what you mentioned about Tom Robbins just confirmed my suspicion that Boomers did have it easier! When my grandparents were my age they could already afford a house through owning a gas station. I’m so envious too of how standards for job qualifications weren’t too high – no one can “fall into” a job as an art critic now. (Nor would they want to, I’m guessing.)

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    • Code switching refers to the way people will change how they speak in different groups. It’s oftentimes used in reference to African Americans who speak one way around people in their home and friends and then adopt a more “academic” (e.g. “white”) tone of voice in the classroom, at work, and around white people.

      Code switching can also refer to the way we change how we speak to different groups in general, such as being more personal at home and more professional at work.

      An interesting note about your grandparents’ gas station is these days young people wouldn’t even have the capital to purchase a gas station!

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  5. I often feel like Boomers had it way easier! But I also think that might be true mostly for Boomers who were white men. There are a lot of ways in which I think my life is easier than my mom’s was at my age.

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  6. Some intriguing books there in the new-in section! I’ve become more and more closed off and isolated, it’s weird and I need to work on it. Still trying to comment on my favourite blogs.

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    • Lately, I’ve been running into Korean culture quite a bit: movies, TV shows, etc. Thus, I went searching for a book by a Korean author and found The Hole. Some of the others I added when I was looking for more books written by Liza Palmer, whose novel The F Word I just finished and really enjoyed.

      What are you doing to be less isolated? Do you video chat with people? I’ve found that helps a lot.

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      • I did a video chat with my BookCrossing group on Saturday and found it a bit much as I was confused when I could speak or whatever. I’ve done better with just three running friends on one call on my phone, and a video chat with my best friend last week. I don’t like to take people’s time up or make demands on them when they have families to worry about and look after, so I’m mainly trying to support my husband to have the energy to support his parents and keeping out of using up other people’s energy. I think it’s OK to keep blogging about books as people like the book chat and I’m getting a lot out of the several readalongs I’m doing at the moment.

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        • I see you’re hosting the Willa Cather read-alone. That should be fun! Bill @ Australian Legend is already reading for it.

          It does get confusing on a video chat when you have too many people on there. If you don’t develop a system for “raising your hand” to talk, so to speak, it gets clunky.

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          • Yes, we’ve had one book already someone said they wanted to read along and it was lovely knowing she was and also that Bill is going the extra two miles and reading two books in the leadup to My Antonia next week!

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  7. Agreed the Peach cover is disgusting, and I can’t wait for your Pandemic post. Also, why are you dragging a stick around the yard?

    Ok sorry to beat a dead horse with this, but I’m still on this whole e-reader thing (it’s a big purchase!) and I want to avoid getting a tablet, because a) I don’t want another screen-like thing (ya know what i mean? It’s basically just a computer) and b) I don’t want to have the temptation to give it to my kids b/c if it’s there I know they’ll be getting more screen time they don’t need and c) the -ereaders look more comfortable to hold and read from. I’m basically going to be downloading from netgalley most of the time, so do you think I”ll have to worry about formats/apps then?

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    • Hahahahaha, you ever see little kids carrying around a stick? They poke and tap and drag the stick. There’s something satisfying about it. I think for me a big part is that I’m often listening to audiobooks outside, so I don’t get much “outdoor” sensory input. The stick bumps along the ground and lets me know what’s behind me: dirt, grass, cement, bumpy tree roots, etc.

      I looked at the Netgalley site and found this info for authors: “…NetGalley automatically converts epub files to mobi files, so readers will be able to download your book for regular e-readers and Kindle devices.”

      I double checked with my husband, who is an IT professional, and he also recommends a basic tablet. I looked more into Netgalley, and authors can send you a PDF file, which if you get a Kindle means you’d still do a work around with a special email address. It’s a pain in the ass. With a generic tablet, you can also search in the apps something like “epub reader” and read anything. What it boils down to is if you buy an e-reader you’re going to be limited/struggle with certain formats. On my tablet, I literally only have book apps downloaded because I don’t want to do anything else on it. I treat it like an e-reader, but don’t limit myself with an e-reader tablet.

      If you want to chat more about this, I’d be happy to get my husband with me and we can do a face chat! Let me know and I’ll set it up.

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  8. I am very relieved to hear that libraries don’t have to worry much about the virus spreading through books. I have a bunch that I need to return at some point (my library did finally close and push back due dates, so it’s not an immediate concern) and was wondering if there would be any different protocols for it. I didn’t want to risk any damage by trying to disinfect them myself, so I’m glad to hear that’s not really a concern.

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    • Libraries are really asking patrons to not return their items at this time. I know part of the concern is what if the books have something on them, and patrons are accidentally spreading the virus by returning books. Now that we know that’s not as much of a concern, the second concern is that employees aren’t emptying the drop box bins as much (if at all) due to libraries not being considered essential businesses (and I agree). Some libraries are having problems with people leaving their books outside the bin or by the library door!

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      • Thanks for the tip! I definitely wouldn’t leave them outside the door, but it’s worth remembering that even if mine fit the next person’s might not and they might not make the same choice to take them back home for safekeeping. At this point, I know there’s no telling whether the due dates will get pushed back again if the libraries stay closed longer than first announced, so I’ll be holding off. I was going to need to make a special trip to drop my books off, and now that that’s not necessary I’m in no hurry to be out in public!

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          • Yes, I can log into my account through the catalog search site to see updated due dates for my books if someone updates the system. Otherwise they have only a tab in the city website that’s mostly for meeting minutes and such, and otherwise goes unused. On more than one occasion I’ve driven the twenty minutes to the library to find a note on the door saying they’re closed for the day- their only advertisement of that news. (Luckily that’s mostly only for holidays, so I’ve learned to just work around those.)

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            • Oof, that’s not cool. Then again, you may have one of those libraries that have three total staff members, and they’re all part-time. I’ve discovered this is more common than I thought possible after interacting with my peers in the continuing education course. Since it’s offered through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, most students are from Wisconsin. They must all be part of rural Wisconsin, because they tend to have teensy libraries.

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              • I think there are five staff members at my library currently, including the director, and I generally see two of them in the library at a time. I think that’s pretty common in my area (I’m right on the Minnesota-Iowa border), and actually it’s better than a couple of even smaller towns nearby. It seemed perfectly normal to me until I went to college in a bigger city where the library had two floors and self-checkout stations, and I could find almost any book I was interested in without resorting to interloan. I do miss that, but here all of the librarians know me and are interested in what I’m reading and that’s a whole other kind of nice. 🙂

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  9. I do often feel like Boomers had it easier in some ways, more difficult in others. The world has changed a lot since they were my age. And I think they are struggling the most with this pandemic.

    I’m a recruiter so the biggest thing I see, is that a lot of boomers don’t have college degrees because it wasn’t really necessary to advance their career. Then years later they struggle to find a job they are well qualified for in terms of experience simply because they don’t have that diploma. Nevermind that some of them should be retiring and can’t. 😦

    Now I’m trying to reach them how to do virtual interviews and apply to jobs and I can feel their frustration. It sucks because I can’t meet them anywhere to show them where as before I could have sent them to a library or invited them into the office.

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    • Oof, you’re not wrong there. Watching Boomers try to do any kind of video meet-up is rough. I do Google Hangouts video chat with my mom, she she has her mouth up to the phone, or she lays it on the counter and all I see is the ceiling! She’ll get better though, lol.

      When I was still working at the library, I know that a lot of Boomers and older Gen X folks struggle with getting jobs simply because everything is online now. If you walk into a place of business and ask to the see the manager, no one thinks you’re there to request a job, and no one believes you can get a job that way anymore. The networking in Boomer days must have been amazing.

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      • I have one gentleman, who really should be retired, that has no access to technology right now and also needs to work and I have no idea how to help him. It’s terrible.

        I’m lucky – I have one parent who was an early adopter of every new gadget under the sun, and another who is younger so neither of them really have tech issues.

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  10. I’ve seen various recommendations for how long to wait for the virus to die off paper products and they’ve varied from two days to one week. Now this person says 24 hours. It sort of makes me wonder if anyone actually knows.

    The book drops here are locked, but I can easily imagine people leaving books outside. I don’t know why you would want to, since if it gets damaged or taken, it’s on your card and you’d be financially liable for it, but some people just really feel the need to return items, I guess….

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      • So it does seem like 24 hours if the new standard, but are they considering the plastic covers library books usually have? The study seems focused on paper. I don’t think most libraries would have the time, staff, or resources to wipe down every book cover with an alcohol wipe, though.

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        • I know that we had a bottle of lysol spray that we would use on a rag and then do a wipe before we put away all the books we were checking for this retagging project. It’s surprisingly fast if you’re not opening a tiny wipe for each book (and you’re right about plastic). It wasn’t clear to me if the 24 hours applies to all materials or just paper. Good question!

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            • This weekend I got upset while I was face chatting with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and told her I was POSITIVE that when libraries re-open they’re going to have a designated book licker to decide which ones have COIVD-19, and surely that person will be me.

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              • Ew. noooo!

                Seriously, though, I really hope libraries rethink their opening strategy. They are very different from stores and restaurants where people do an activity and then leave. Some people stay in the library for hours or all day on the computers or napping (not technically allowed, of course). I don’t see how libraries can have occupancy restrictions unless librarians are going to walk up to people and say things like, “Ma’am, I know you are working on a job application, but you’ve been here five hours and we need to let other people in the building” or “Yes, sir, I know the computers are half empty, but we have to maintain social distancing. No, you can’t have one of the empty ones.” How about, “Hello, group of teens who sit here every day as a safe space because your homes aren’t very nice? You can’t hang out here anymore in groups.” None of this is going to go over well because the library’s mission has always been about access and now they might have to restrict it for public health and safety.

                And what about all the homeless people who have no access to adequate sanitation measures? Will other patrons get upset at their presence? What if someone coughs and another patron complains? Do library staff throw them out?

                It just seems like a big mess.

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                • The patrons coughing was definitely a whole thing back in early March when we first heard about the virus. And all the scenarios you point out are totally valid and ones I’ve thought of. I know the library I use is starting with curbside only, and I’m hoping that’s what my library does, too. I’m comfortable with that. But to let people in? I feel very iffy due to all the problems that can arise.

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                  • I don’t know when my library is going to reopen or what they will do when that happens. But I do think it will look very different because it will have to. Definitely no meeting rooms or programs. But what about the people who just sit and chill all day? No idea. I guess we’ll see….

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