I rode my bike to work this morning and saw three elk on the way. Those that remain tourists (running as they came from their hastily parked vehicles on the shoulder) asked me (apparently I looked like I knew where I was going this morning) a question like a bad pick-up line in a bar: “Do they come here often?” I replied merrily, “They’re always here!” I contemplated the truth of that statement for the rest of my ride and decided that it was in fact entirely true. Elk live here, this is their habitat, they’re always here…just not when being charged by men with expensive DSLR cameras. I can’t wait for the commute tomorrow morning to see if the lens men have set up a stakeout.
Attended a brief meeting in the courtyard this morning where Betty introduced me to a hodgepodge of people who work at HQ. IT straightened out my govt. computer log-in, apparently it is commonplace to have snafus when transferring from one park to another. Somehow my info coming from Grand Teton got a kink in it so I’m still waiting on my govt. e-mail access, “so you can see who died” Betty said. In the Tetons they would e-mail a daily digest of the precious day’s incident reports, which was highly entertaining…and sometimes tragic. They don’t do that here in Grand Canyon but I get the impression that e-mail still gives you the insider’s knowledge about what really goes on around here, besides the Italians spilling ice cream on their shoes.
Research Library lesson of the day: While the last few hundred books are waiting to be barcoded Betty still uses an old school system of circulation. Old school means cards in pockets with the name of the person borrowing it, card goes in file according to call number, then you enter the borrower’s name, call number, and title into an Excel spreadsheet entitled “loaned.” To check in, the card is found, placed back in the pocket, then the patron info cut from the loaned spreadsheet and pasted into a “returned 2010” sheet. Clunky, but when your collection isn’t on the same page you don’t have a whole lot of choices. Growing up in electronic libraries there was even something weirdly exciting about this manual process.
Every NPS employee I’ve talked to raves about Betty’s service, efficiency, and knack for finding the obscurest of information. One of her marketing strategies is to send a monthly e-mail to everyone in the park with a list of periodicals that have arrived along with an index of their contents. This pathfinder either includes featured stories or those pertinent to the Southwest and GCNP. It is not always as simple as copying the table of contents, because often items of interest are not included there and the feature titles are often ambiguous. So, it’s my dream task, browsing magazines like National Parks, Scientific American, High Country News, and summarizing in a pithy sentence what exactly the nature of the information is.
I observed Ranger Graci’s storytime today, she read a book on condors, passed around replica realia and even had one brave dad dress up as a condor. I then moved on to Ron Brown’s fabulous Condor Talk at Lookout Studio. He was riveting, had the audience laughing, clapping, and held the kids’ attention to even though this was more geared toward adults. NPS makes a distinction between the Interpretive Programs and the Environmental Education programs, the latter being more family friendly and engaging for kids, and if your kid starts screaming during the former the Germans are going to give you dirty looks. I also met the Ranger responsible for doing all the multimedia on the GCNP webpage, such as Ranger Minutes and podcasts. I applauded him for having the most media rich website of any in NPS.
Oh my, a rust colored cat is digging a, er, cat hole right outside my kitchen window as I type this. Apparently the wildlife around here is also domestic. The cat hole of my day was smelling cigarettes. I think I might go on a campaign to convince NPS that they need to ban this practice. There’s a big forest fire near Flagstaff, at least ban it in the summer months when most of the millions are here visiting and when the land is at its driest. Good excuse.
Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.