Archive for May, 2010

He’s Baaaaack!

Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel

photo: jim mccormac

Some months ago, we had a squirrel who caused some havoc in our library building. We called him Mr. Squirrel. Well, he’s baaaaack! Apparently, it wasn’t goodbye, but “hasta la vista, baby.”

Our first hint was a lot of noise in the ceiling over the circulation desk. It was hard to tell. Had he set up quarters up there and busily loading up the larder or, maybe, and this is still a possibility, was Mr. Squirrel really a Mrs?

But, within a few days, the scurrying diminished and we figured, Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel had found a better place to hunker down for the hot weather on its way.

Then, a few days ago, one of our regular patrons tapped on the window and waved us outside. Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel was stuck in a vertical drain pipe. The customer, one of the “boys” who hangs out all day at the branch on the computers, said he heard lots of scrambling and scratching and projected panic in the pipe.

Once again, we turned over this problem to a higher authority: administration and/or animal control.

While one librarian called Al, our facilities manager, I called animal control. That was an interesting conversation. It was almost as bad as calling emergency.

“Are you sure it’s a squirrel?”

“Well, no, not exactly. Sounds like a squirrel.”

“Where is it exactly?” (Notice, animal control wasn’t making sex assumptions.)

“In a drainpipe.”

“Where is the drainpipe?”

“Uh… outside the building, kinda goes up and down along the side of the building.”


“Uh, at the side of the building?”

“Can you reach it standing up?”


“Can you reach the pipe standing up?”

“Uh… yeah, it goes from the roof down into the ground. So, you can reach as high up as you are tall. I guess. Does that completely answer your question?”

At the moment, I was saved. Gary, our delivery driver (super star savior for all things mechanical), showed up. I told the animal control person I’d call her back if Gary couldn’t handle it.

Good ole Gary did the trick. He got the pipe separated from the lower plastic pipe. Of course, we thought Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel would leap out immediately. Not so. Apparently, it was a privacy issue.

We left the pipe open and our customer informed us later that Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel made a safe escape some fifteen minutes later.

By the way, in case you’re wondering. When Administration called animal control (they, too, decided to opt for a higher power), they were told that animal control no longer comes out for animals who are having problems outside a building. Instead, we would have to hire a professional to come out and tackle the issue. They provided us with a list of wranglers. That’s right, wranglers.

So, the next time, Mr/Mrs/Ms Squirrel makes a death-defying plunge down the drainpipe, we may have to call a squirrel wrangler. They got ’em in Michigan (so they must be in Maryland even if they’re not advertising yet) and another internet search produces, not only a website, but an 888 number (I wonder if they charge for travel). Please note, however, they do not wrangle dogs or cats.


Crazy Day

What is normal for a programming day? What’s crazy?

Saturday, along with every other library, I’m sure, we presented a Mother’s Day event. We decided to build on an idea we had last year of doing a Mother’s Day Tea, but instead of spending $200 to serve 26 adults and children fancy tea, scones, tea sandwiches, and sweets, we opted for an all-day “Drop-in” version. It would cost about the same and we were sure we’d have at least 100 people. After all, the Farmer’s Market was open down the street, the church next door was having a craft fest outside on the sidewalk and it was a beautiful day.

The Friends were great and made most of the food although I was stuck with most of the tea sandwiches. So, at 5:00 a.m., I was slicing cucumbers for marinating, boiling and cutting eggs for egg salad and spreading salmon salad on frozen bread. By 7:00 a.m., I was cutting off crusts and filling Tupperware with my 200 triangles.

By 8:30 a.m., I was at the branch with my daughter, putting on the hot water, adding food to the buffet, and decorating. Fortunately, we had already wheeled in the round tables from the branch floor the night before. One of the pages helped me set the tables with colorful spring cloths, folded napkins, luncheon plates, matching cups and saucers, and silverware, as well as small bowls for sugar cubes, nuts, and lemon curd. We had the three tier servers loaded by 9:45 and the artificial daisies & bows were affixed in the nick of time. By 10 a.m., the music was playing and we were ready to go.

Great fun actually, even though we didn’t have 100 (more like 50), we were still running back and forth washing dishes, refilling serving dishes, refilling coffee urns with hot water, and chatting up the library all day long. Everyone agreed, the day was a success, but a long, long one.

So, we closed up the Tea Room a little early. We washed all the dishes and put them away in our storage tubs and collected and doled out all the leftover treats. My teenage boys came in and rolled all the round tables back into the library main room, lugged everything out to my car for the trek to the storage room, and folded up the other tables. I even had the wherewithal to give a yellow rose to all the staff and helpers (including my teen daughter) who worked all day.

Then, in the last 30 minutes of the day, the craziness started:

  • I couldn’t find the storage key. Solution: It must be at home, 15 minutes away.
  • But, the car only has room for 2 people with the boxes and I had 2 teens to cart home. Solution: One stays at the branch.
  • There are 4 men standing outside the men’s restroom waiting to get in. How long have they been there? One of them pounds on the door. I check with staff: how long has the john been occupied? Answer: 10 minutes. Solution: I go and get the master key to make sure there is someone actually in there.
  • A new lady comes into the branch, fully decked with multi-colored bags and a big flower-studded straw hat. She starts walking around the branch having conversations with the books, loudly. Solution: I walk over to her and gently ask her to lower her voice and she apologizes and shushes the books.
  • The men’s restroom line is getting rowdy and I suggest they use the ladies’ room and provide the key. I knock on the men’s room and open the door with my key. I hear a man scream at me, “I’m havin’ a bowel movement in here!” Solution: I tell the line to all use the ladies’ room.
  • One man refuses to use the ladies’ room and starts pounding on the men’s room door. Lots of expletives are traded between the men on opposite sides of the restroom door. Solution: I ask the man to try and be patient, after all, the other man is using the facility more or less appropriately.
  • A staff person comes to tell me the police are outside talking with folks in our parking lot. Solution: I go out to see what’s happening and apparently an anonymous caller phoned the police and reported someone drunk in our lot, but they couldn’t find anyone drunk. Was it the woman in the hat? Solution: Leave it to the police.
  • The BM man from inside the restroom finally storms out without looking back. I follow and call out, “Sir, sir, excuse me, but we need the men’s room key.” In reply, and in between expletives, he tells me he left the key inside the restroom. Solution: retrieve the master key again and let the other long-suffering man enter.
  • Oh yeah, still have to rush home to get the storage locker key to put away the tea supplies.
  • 5:00 o’clock, time to close up the building.

At 6 pm, all is put away, the building is quiet and dark and I sit out in the parking lot and take ten deep breaths.

These are the times I’m glad we’re not open on Sundays. And next year, I may go on vacation on Mother’s Day weekend.

Fire Alarm

How many times does the fire alarm go off in your library? We’re running about once every six-eight months.

It’s the break room, you know. We’ve burned up something in the microwave, in the toaster, in the oven, and on the stove top. We’ve burned soup, popcorn, toast, leftovers, and cheese. No one has ever been danger. There was never a flame. Just smoke… lots and lots of smoke. And yes, where there’s smoke, there’s a fire alarm.

There’s a pad at the back of the building that has a code to be entered. But wait, we can’t key in the code until we push the button on the red box in the foyer. Or is it two buttons? No, we can’t push the buttons until we get the smoke out of the building. Are there patrons in the building? That’s right, ask the patrons to leave. That is, if they can hear us over the alarm. Oh, don’t forget, we have to call the fire alarm company (not the fire dept) to tell them it’s a false alarm. That is, if they can hear us over the alarm. Oops, they’ve changed the number. Can you direct us to the right number? Nope. Call this 800 number. Did I mention that the alarm is still sounding.

So, we prop open the back door in the break room and fan out the smoke. Fred, volunteer fireman, lives behind the library and usually cuts through the building on his way to the fire department in an emergency. On these days, if we’re open, he cuts through, waves and says he’ll be right back. Then he, and a few others walk across our street (in full regalia) to see what’s up. Nice to have them all nearby.

The smoke is gone, the red box button is pushed (it is only one now, it used to be two), the code is entered, the firemen have walk around (God bless ’em, they are always patient). We’re all clear. The patrons are invited back in. We’re back in business.

Whew. Got through another one.