Friday, January 14, 2011

No, I'm Actually an Exhaust Manifold. But Thanks for Asking.

Ereaders are the latest tool of Satan, sent to drive me to an early grave. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the devices themselves. If I had boodles of spare money and my retirement was secure through a bursting IRA and substantial investments and the house was paid off and the car was in perfect running condition and the kids’ college savings accounts were brimming with cash and the appliances were all EnergyStar-rated and my wardrobe was not shamefully out-of-date and threadbare, I’d probably be the first one to run out and buy one. Nope, it’s not the gizmos. It’s the people who buy them or get them as gifts and then plonk them down in front of me and expect me to show them how they work, often with quite a bit of heat and impatience in their voices.

“Lug them into the library?” I hear you exclaim, “Why should anybody expect a humble library deskslave to make an ereader from goodness-knows-where work?”

Excellent question. But you see, deskslave central is part of a consortium of libraries that purchased the digital rights to squoodles of ebooks that patrons can check out just like real analog books. Thus, the patron’s reasoning goes, if the library provides the ebooks, they must, ipso facto, show me how to use my device so’s I can get them on my fancy new ereader. Canny reader that you are, you have already figured out the flaw in the reasoning. Just because the library provides something doesn’t mean that we can or will show you how to use it. We provide books, but it is not a reasonable expectation to take one up to the desk and get all huffy because you cannot read. Likewise, if you do not know how to operate your DVD player, you would be looked at strangely if you placed it on the reference desk and demanded to know what the deal was with this darn box and these stupid DVDs we bought.

Still, most of us will give it a shot when the bewildered ereader owner comes in with their difficulties, even though none of us own an ereader. And I admit, it is a little hard. The manufacturers make it VERY EASY to buy things through their store, but damnably tricky to get the freebies from the library.

So it was today when the sprightly senior citizen lady came in. She couldn’t figure the durn thing out, so she thought she’d come in to the library where we’d show her how to use it on our computers. The biggest problem with that is that the library’s crack IT team has not gotten around to installing the ereader software on any of our machines and forbade us from doing it ourselves. I told her this, but she steadfastly refused to believe it.

“But they’re your books!”

I went through my little script as kindly as I could (large consortium, not really our books, consult the website, IT team not in a hurry, call me from home and I’ll try to talk you through, etc), but she wasn’t buying it. I think she thought I just didn’t understand what she wanted, so she went through her script again (your damn books, you get them on, look--there’s a damn computer, put the book on my spifftastic ereader with it right now). Finally, I think she figured out that she wasn’t going to be downloading anything on her nifty new device at the library. She was mad, and decided that what she needed to was put me in my place. She leaned in with the kind of smile that indicates anything but mirth and said, “You are a library, aren’t you?”

There were many things I could have said, but I opted for, “I think you know the answer to that question.”


Dances With Keyboards said...

We have the same thing happening - probably happening all over the country.
We don't allow any downloading in the branches, because it takes up too much bandwidth, and slows everyone else down to a crawl.

DeskSlave said...

Oh, yeah, our friend bandwidth. People complain about the Interweb speed and I try to explain it. It never helps.