Posts Tagged ‘New York Public Library’

Service of No Info at Information

Monday, July 24th, 2023


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay  

I am intrigued by people who are so secure that they don’t care if they can’t answer a question even if they sit behind a desk with an Information sign overhead. This also goes for those who work in customer service or as dispatchers for a bus or railroad company. What really gets me is that when they can’t, many don’t try to find out the answer.

I’ve always been too insecure to behave this way.

I’ve been a volunteer guard in rooms in private homes for house tours produced by historical societies and before the visitors arrived I’d learn as much as I could about the antiques or paintings there in case there were questions. As a longtime PR person, I’ve felt that I couldn’t expect to know the answer to every question about a client’s product, initiative or organization and I wouldn’t rest until I found out and I’d get back to the inquirer a.s.a.p.

But that doesn’t seem to be de rigueur these days.

I was knocked off the New York Public Library eBook app which was strange since my membership is good until 2026. Nevertheless the popup notice informed me that my membership had expired therefore no eBooks for me.

I visited the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, iPad in hand. The ground floor Information desk staff has previously solved all my issues and/or answered all my questions. The pleasant young woman that day sent me to the second floor. There I again stumped the Information attendant who called for the tech expert. Her first response on hearing my situation was that she hadn’t been trained in eBooks. Between the two of us we finally finessed it so that I am once again able to download eBooks. Hooray! But it took a while.

I guess it’s vacation time.

A friend found Long Island Railroad staff similarly lacking in knowledge with a dollop of “who cares?” She’d missed the train to her usual beach destination and there was an hour wait for the next one. She made a last-minute decision to hop a train to a different beach that required transfer to a bus. Not only did a person advising her in Manhattan neglect to mention that the wait for the bus would be half an hour—adding even more travel time to a much longer train ride–it turned out that between the ride, the wait and ride to the beach, she would have been better off taking the next rain to her original stop which is a short walk to the beach.

In addition, there were no signs indicating where the bus stop was located once she got off the train–two blocks from the station–and when she asked about the return bus schedule, all she was told was where to pick up the bus. No timetable.

Have you found that Information staffers aren’t always informed or helpful? Are any apologetic or do they seem content in their ignorance?


Image by D. from Pixabay 

Service of Unsolicited Promotional Items: Use or Toss?

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

I love–and use–the return address labels and notepads that charities send soliciting funds. Mostly I don’t donate.

In the last two weeks I received a few surprises. The Central Park Conservancy mailed five note cards [photo right] and envelopes. The New York Public Library doesn’t need to send me anything because I already donate out of gratitude for the tremendous e-book collection it shares with me. Nevertheless I recently received a notepad [photo above] and return address labels. They look great–I like the graphics.

The pen [photo below] came from a company that hopes I’ll order more. Because it’s a business I don’t mind putting it to use with no plans to purchase.

Do you keep–or toss–freebies from charities if you don’t donate? What are your favorite promotional items? Do you always send money when you receive an unsolicited gift?

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Money plant cutting

Since the pandemic began, I’ve written two previous Service of Little Things posts. Two of the following four little things may really be big.

My vote counts

I’m grateful for the link a friend sent me for the skinny on which exemption to check to legitimately send for an absentee ballot in New York State. https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vote-state-by-state-guide-voting-by-mail-early-in-person-voting-election/.

When I drilled down to New York, https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html I learned which option to check: “Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability (temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19).

Queries to the NY Board of Elections and to one of my senators had gone unanswered.

 A tree grows in a NYC high-rise

I was thrilled that a cutting from a money tree, aka Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut or Saba nut–seems to have taken root. This baby [photo above] is two months old. I feel joy watching it grow.

E-book heaven

And while this isn’t little–I splurged and bought myself an iPad and I’m thrilled with it–the book world is my oyster thanks to the New York Public Library’s e-book collection. Some books I’ve reserved, photo right. I’d never wanted to read a book on a gadget but the library is still closed and in any case I am uncomfortable borrowing a book during the pandemic. Like any convert, I’m taken with this space saver that almost everyone else has owned for years.

Talent to Amuse

I learned that a wonderful series on Netflix–“Call My Agent”–is in production for another year. In French with subtitles, it’s a well done, funny show that takes place mostly in Paris. It’s about a quirky collection of talent agents and their famous clients.

Do you increasingly appreciate little things in these unsettling times? For what are you grateful?

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot II

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

I wrote the first post with this title three + months ago. It’s time for a reprise. The first post was about friends who reach out. This one is about strangers who warmed my heart.

How Cool is That?

The air conditioning units in my apartment all fizzled on a toasty day. I followed up a few times–the units belong to the landlord–and when the temperature had climbed upwards of 86° with four more hours until sunset–I get afternoon sun–I visited the lobby again explaining that I was beginning to feel woozy. The morning year-round doorman had been passive and useless. The manger was on vacation.

Climbing up to 86 degrees+

Doorman Joshua, a very young man and summer temp jumped into action and within an hour a porter/handyman was on the job. As I waited for him to return with new units the intercom rang. It was Joshua–we’d met only that afternoon–asking if I was OK. The porter told me Joshua had also called him again to confirm that he was on it. Too bad for us this is his summer job. I suspect he’s a student and given his common sense and empathetic streak predict great things for his future.

Beautiful Cashier

I visited CVS drug store on Third Avenue and 42nd Street early on a recent Sunday morning. The cashiers consistently help me make the most of my coupons. As I left that day–I was dressed in pandemic fashion on the cusp of sloppy–the young woman, who was barely out of her teens, called out: “Stay as beautiful as you are.” She could see my wave but not the smile under my mask.

Moving Along

I called the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] about returning a discount MetroCard sent my husband. When I explained the reason the clerk, hearing he’d died, was compassionate and so heartfelt in her condolences I could hardly catch my breath.

Read On

I treated myself to an iPad so I could download books. I got tangled in the process of ordering a book after I’d downloaded an e-card from the New York Public Library so I sent a query to the help desk. After more fiddling I figured it out. A few days later I heard from Elizabeth at AskNYPL and in another email I explained that I was set and apologized for bothering her unnecessarily.

She wrote: “You are not bothering us. We’re here to answer questions, so if you run into any more e-book trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Chat and phone are best for quick answers.” I responded again as did she: “So glad you were finally able to get a book! I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Hope you enjoy it….Take care and happy reading!”

You don’t feel alone when dealing with people like these. Kindhearted, lovely strangers who take extra steps beyond their job descriptions are welcome anytime but especially these days. I suspect they enjoy their jobs more as well. Many of them suffer from pandemic fallout yet they still go the extra mile. Do you have similar instances to share?

Service of Borrowed Books from the New York Public Library

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Visiting the New York Public Library branch on East 96th Street with my mother is one of my earliest memories. The system is 125 years old this year. As a result, it publicized statistics of most-checked out books over time which is significant because it’s the second biggest library in the country, behind the Library of Congress.

There was a distinct difference between the genres of books most borrowed by library habitués last year vs. those over time.

  • In 2019 citizens most checked out six adult fiction and four nonfiction books, leading with Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming.”
  • The most borrowed since the beginning included six children’s, three fiction and one nonfiction book. Number one is “The Snowy Day,” a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.
  • The range of publish dates of last year’s favorites is 2017 to 2018; over time from 1936 to 1997.

Top 10 takeouts in 125 years

  1. “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats, [1962]: 485,583 checkouts
  2. “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss [1957]: 469,650 checkouts
  3. “1984,” by George Orwell [1949]: 441,770 checkouts
  4. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak [1963]: 436,016 checkouts
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee [1960]: 422,912 checkouts
  6. “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White 1952]: 337,948 checkouts
  7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury [1953]: 316,404 checkouts
  8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie [1936]: 284,524 checkouts
  9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by J.K. Rowling [1997]: 231,022 checkouts
  10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle [1969]: 189,550 checkouts

Top 10 takeouts in 2019

  1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama biography [2018]
  2. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover [2018]
  3. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng [2017]
  4. “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult [2018]
  5. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens [2018]
  6. “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee [2017]
  7. “Circe” by Madeline Miller [2018]
  8. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty [2018]
  9. “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou [2018].
  10. “Milkman” by Anna Burns [2018]

Are you sad to learn that there are no children’s books on the 2019 list? What would the reason be? Have you read any of the books on the two lists? What are some of your favorites both recently and over time?

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