Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's me or the cell phone - you can't have both

The rudeness of some people ASTOUNDS me sometimes. I was helping a guy find a book this morning. I left him browsing the shelves while I went and did a quick catalog search at the reference desk, 20 feet away. I heard his cell phone ring, and he answered it. When I went back to the stacks with the information from the catalog, I indicated that he couldn’t use his phone in the library. Yet he continued to talk leisurely for another two minutes, standing there unhelpfully, watching me while I tried to "help him" find a book. He did not apologize when he got off the phone.

DO NOT come to me for help and then have a phone conversation with somebody. That is unless you have suddenly decided you no longer need my help, because that kind of behavior certainly indicates that you have ceased to care about finding the book you came here for.

Agreed! A thank you would be nice.

Or I love it when you help someone, and then they don't say anything at all. It's like they totally forget that you just helped them and that you're still standing there, waiting for some feedback. Their attention has totally turned to the computer, or the books, and they don't give you any leave. I find myself walking away slowly, backwards, quietly. Or, on the flipside, if I'm feeling sassy, I'll say loudly, "Okay then, let me know if there's anything more I can do!" And then they usually wake up and go, "Oh! Yeah...thank you..."

It's not the same

If people saying "OK" meant "Thank you," I'd be a lot happier.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We're the kind of people...

After providing stellar reader's advisory service to two prepubescent girls (who reminded me all too much of myself at that age), which included the placing of tens of holds, one of them smiled at me, head cocked slightly, and said, "You see, we're the kind of people who love books." In true Julie fashion, I responded with a smile, winky eyes, and a "Then you're my kind of people." It's moments like that when I truly love my job.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Supply Seargent

What's that? Oh, you'd like a piece of paper? Sure, here you go. Oh, and a pencil? Of course, here you are. Hmmm? You need to borrow a dime for the copier. Sure, here, what's a dime? And some white out? I think I have some white out here somewhere. Oh yes, here it is. Please bring it back when you're finished. Three hole punch? Umm...I think there's one somewhere in the back office. Let me take your papers and I'll see what I can do. There you go. A floppy disk? Yes, we sell them for fifty cents. Oh, silly me, I should have known. You don't have fifty cents and you just want to borrow one for a minute and you'll bring it right back. Before you go, here's the tape and a stapler. No, no...just take it. I'm sure you'll need it later, so let's get it over with now. You know, we have a little stash of candy in the desk drawer here. Would you like a York mint patty? No? What's that you say? My soul? Oh no, no, you can't have that. I can see that you are trying to rip it from my very being, but you're going to have to try a lot harder than that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What do you need?

A man came up to me at the desk the other day and asked where the business books were located. Naturally, I needed some clarification. Sometimes, a patron says business and they actually mean real estate, or how to start a small business, or business leadership, and these would all be found in different places. So I began the usual reference interview: "What kind of business books do you need?" I asked. Offended, he responded with, "Well, I don't need any of them. I just want to look at them." "Okay," I said, quickly making a mental note that this guy has an ego problem, that this reference interaction might get worse before it gets better, and that I'd better tread lightly. Then before I could filter myself, I started laughing as I said, "Fine. What kind of business books do you want?"
Yes, I was mocking him.
No, he didn't seem to notice.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I realize that your print job was Very Important and that it had Sensitive Information on it. I further realize that you cannot be blamed for not understanding how our hideously counterintuitive photocopier/printer works (or doesn't) and that it is NOT YOUR FAULT that you closed this ultraimportant document without saving it or making sure it actually printed. I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry. I take full responsibility for the situation. It's clearly my fault, so, in the interests of fairness please feel free to abuse me personally for any frustration you may be experiencing. I seriously don't know what the heck I was thinking when I wired our network. I guess I just wasn't thinking and made a few mistakes. Or maybe it was when I programmed the router. Or when I designed the pathetically inadequate Xerox Document Center combination copier/printer and then, in a fit of insanity put a gun to the library director's head and made him both a) buy my poorly designed piece of you-know-what and b) hire me to sit near it, so that I could enjoy the fruits of my evil. But now you have caught me and I humbly bow my head and meekly accept the condign punishments you shower upon me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Old story, first post

I feel jealous because I haven't had any interesting reference interactions lately. Perhaps because I haven't been on the desk too much of late. So I'm going to write of an incident that occurred during my first month as a librarian in a library that shall remain unnamed.

I was working at the children's reference desk of said unsaid library when one of the adult reference librarians came up to me in an agitated state. She said, "xxx, where do you keep your Joy of Sex for children". Excuse me? My what? Huh? So I had to do a reference interview with the reference librarian in order to figure out what it was she was looking for. Turns out she was helping a couple that was getting married and they were both mentally disabled. They needed a book on marital relations written at a level they could understand. I explained to her that I thought the original version of Joy of Sex would work just fine, seeing as it had a lot of pictures. We also found some anatomy books that explained where babies came from for them as well. What a day.

Monday, August 6, 2007


It started as a pretty normal telephone call. A patron had purchased some lipstick and read the ingredients list and came across an ingredient she did not know and decided to find out more about it. OK, maybe not that normal. The ingredient, which observant readers like you already figured out is Squalane. A little research (which involved more than Googling I'll have you know) gave her the information she was looking for, but since this goo can come from animal sources, she wasn't sure she wanted to use it. Then she told me that the lipstick came from China and launched into a real tirade about all the crap turning up things imported from China. At this point she veered away from the realm of the acceptable and turned her tirade away from the crap and the crooks who sent it to a blanket condemnation of the Chinese in general, using several nasty terms I haven't heard in quite some time and a few she probably made up on her own.* When I didn't join in, she worried aloud that perhaps I was Chinese, but then went in for another round of icky name calling. I suppose I could have used this moment to engage in a bit of anti-racism work and I really wish I knew exactly how to do this, but instead I pretended that I had another call and quickly disconnected. Cowardly, I know.

* I resisted the temptation to point out that technically she oughtn't call people in the People's Republic "Chop Sueys" since that dish originated in the United States.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Google as operating system

So one of the people I taught in my computer class today wanted to know about Linux. I was really surprised to hear this. Most people in a beginning computer class have probably never heard of it, let alone want to use it. I know very little about it myself and have never seen it in action, so I wasn't very helpful in telling her about it. It didn't really matter, though, because she seemed to be pretty unclear on the whole concept of operating systems. I explained that Linux was an operating system like Windows but that it wasn't the kind of OS novices should be using.

"So I should stick to Google then?" she asked.

Umm.... "Well, Google isn't an operating system," I said. "It's a website, a search engine."

"So, like America Online?" she inquired further.

"America Online???" I thought. I haven't heard it called that in years. It's "AOL." And who still uses it, seriously?

"No, that's an internet service provider," I told her, not knowing if she'd been referring to it as a search engine or as an operating system, but either way she was wrong.

We dropped the whole Linux conversation. I'm not sure if it was that or just everything else about computers, but she said she was going to take the class again because she didn't get it all. I'll have to remember to stress the difference between an OS, an ISP, and a search engine!

We have been warned

Found at a public access computer, naturally.

300 movies

A patron came to the desk and said that he had read in the newspaper that we had just gotten 300 new movies in and wanted to know where they were. Naturally, I stuttered and panicked began my patient reference interview. Eventually I figured out that it wasn't a newspaper, but the city's newsletter which is sent to every household in town. And it wasn't 300 new movies. Rather, it was the new movie, 300. You know, battle of Thermopolae, Persians, Spartans, Special Effects. Our copies were all checked out and had a million holds on them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Angry Senior Male

Angry Senior Male
A play in one scene
CAST (in order of importance in universe):
Angry senior male
Timid librarian

Scene opens with the timid librarian putting paper in temperamental copier. Angry Senior Male enters from right carrying two carved and painted wooden salmon.

Timid Librarian. Compliment of carved fishies.
Angry Senior Male. Outraged expressed at having to wait for library to open.
Timid Librarian. Apology for inconvenience, attention drawn to library hours which have remained unchanged for years.
Angry Senior Male. Demand to know where our glass display for fishies his fishy carving club display each year at this time.
Timid Librarian. Polite explanation that case was in old library. Observation that library is in temporary location with limited space, ergo no case, ergo no nice fishies behind glass.
Angry Senior Male (Condescending, slightly malevolent). Claim that, since they put fish in case EVERY year at this time since the carved species was still evolving, that case somehow materialize before him.
Timid Librarian. Allusion to laws of physics and probability couched in soothing tones.
Angry Senior Male. Speculation (unfounded) about librarian's mental health and intelligence.

Angry Senior Male exit.