Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh, The Extra Work!

I was summoned over by a cross-looking fellow at a library catalog computer* a while ago. He was trying to reserve a book and I got all good and ready to give my patented "here's how you place a hold" pep talk. But that wasn't the problem. He was down with the tech. It was the number of digits he had to type to place the hold that was the source of his scowliness. Like most libraries, we have a barcode with about 6 zillion digits on it. OK, only fourteen, but still. I was informed that in the neighboring county's truly amazing system you only have to type in 5 or 6 or some other small number. He wanted to be able to do that here in the lightless regions where we filthy primitives huddle. The news that he just couldn't do it like they do it in the paradisiacal system on the other side of the highway where I earnestly wished him to be struck him as not just odd or irritating, but bad and wrong.

We have all had the experience where there is something that we have nothing to do with and can't do anything about, but have to weather the storm of others' frustration and it's never fun. But this was different, since he could not believe that he had to type all those gosh darn numbers, so it had to be the stupid moron, i.e. me, who was just being, well, stupid. I just didn't know enough to let him know which 5 digits he had to type.

My shrug is practiced, and he was treated to one of them.

*Or OPAC, as we library types like to say. OPAC is an acronym for Obtuse People's Automatic Confusion, reminding us all that, even in this day of computer ubiquity, lots of people still haven't the faintest clue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once had a patron ask me what OPAC means, clearly expecting that it was gibberish whose true meaning had been lost to the mists of time. When I promptly told her what it stood for, she looked at me like she couldn't decide whether to be impressed of pity me. Oh, patrons. Pity me.