Friday, April 29, 2011

Put Through The Paces, Part 845

"Do you have any books by Rene Girard?" the man asked.

"Hmmm...let me see," I began, starting the search.

First I searched on the way I'd spell it, and found nothing. I tried a variety of other ways that seemed likely to me, a non francophone. Then I asked him how to spell it, since I had found nothing. He spelled it more or less the same way I would have. I started my usual speech about trying to get M. Girard's work from a different library system.

"I can't believe you don't have anything by him. He's very famous and influential. Are you sure you're looking right?

Assuring him that I was reasonably confident in my search strategy, I went to WorldCat and discovered that he was pretty common and one of his works had a dazzling 2000+ libraries. But it was a book about Proust and only academic libraries and nothing had been published by him since the early 80's. For a public library, something published in the 80's, unless it was maybe by Jackie Collins, was less likely to be found in the stacks than a dinosaur. A living one. I let him know this, but his scorn was not yet spent. I was told that someone like Girard should be in all libraries and several other things that I only pretended to listen to. He walked off, declining my offer to do an Interlibrary Loan request. Perhaps he feared that his intellectual standing would decline if an academic institution found him in any way connected to a low-brow dive like deskslave Central. It did not occur to me until later to think it odd that such a juggernaut of sophistication should probably know how to use a catalog.

A while later he was back with another author, this one named Susan Summer. No dice on her either. He also found this one hard to believe, but by now I was used to his incredulity so it didn't bother me. I quizzed him a bit more about what sort of thing she wrote about but did not get a lot of help, though he did think that one of her books might have been titled "Breakout."

"Try Suzanne Somers," my desk colleague offered, and up popped Breakthrough : 8 steps to wellness : life-altering secrets from today's cutting-edge doctors. It was exactly what he wanted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Library Grammar, Lesson 36

The possessive form of "You Guys" is "Your Guises."

Todays example: "Where's your guises movies?"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Does That Mean? A New, Occasional Series

I know, you go into the library and see all sorts of fascinating and confusing things that the staff members do. You're befuddled, maybe even nonplussed, and want to know just what's going on. I'm here to help. Now when you see the librarian or clerk make this signal to another staffer, you'll know exactly what she/he means.
Cake/Cookies in the Break Room

All libraries have a little, windowless break room with castoff chairs, crap coffee and a fridge that's less a fridge than a food museum.* It's like a police interrogation room in a 1940's cop movie--minus the charm and bright lighting, but with those silly ALA "READ" posters featuring long-forgotten minor celebrities. People always bring snacks to share, though. You make this signal when something good has shown up.

* We take turns curating at the food museum. The current exhibit is titled "That Better Not Be From Thanksgiving."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Hope I Wasn't This Clueless at That Age

Lots of people forget their passwords and can't log into our computers. Usually, we just reset the password for them and send them on their merry Interweb way. Works most of the time. Sometimes, people come back up to the desk after a reset. We go back to their computer with them and often find that it's a matter of them typing things into the wrong boxes on the screen. Pretty straightforward, boring, workaday stuff. Today, though, a teen boy went above and beyond. He told me that he'd forgotten his password. I reset it and he walked off. He came back about 45 seconds later because he'd forgotten what he'd told me to reset it to between the time he told me what he wanted for his new password and the time he got to the computer. It annoyed me, but I reset it again. He asked me to write it down for him. I handed him one of our cheapo golf pencils and a piece of scratch paper and encouraged him to do the writing, thinking that it might reinforce the memory.

He seemed a little put out, but did it and sauntered off to the computer room. He came back a moment later, annoyed.

"It doesn't work," I was informed. I probably should have gone down to his computer and typed the damn thing in for him to make sure there wasn't a bigger problem, like maybe the entire InterWeb was broken or maybe he couldn't operate a ten key, but I didn't. I am, as I have mentioned many times, quite old and crotchety. I was annoyed by what looked like abject cluelessness, and, the more I looked at him, the more my annoyance turned into contempt. It was clear he had spent a great deal of time in front of a mirror that day (he'd gelled the shit out of his hair and was nauseatingly redolent of Axe or some other malodorous boyfume). He wore shiny, tight, skinny, red pants and a mass-produced t-shirt that was supposed to look all thrift store ironic (dude, I totally believe you found that North Carolina bait shop t-shirt at the Goodwill--total thrift score, bro). To top off his up-to-the-minute ensemble, he wore a yellow, puffy, ill-considered vest with a skull motif on it. I couldn't see his shoes, but I bet they were from Ed Harvy. Who could blame me for not wanting to lift a finger on his behalf?

So I handed him a guest pass. Guest passes are supposed to be for people from outside the area who don't qualify for one of our cards. We're supposed to encourage/request/beg people to get cards, but lazy deskslaves hand out guest passes like Halloween candy. They have the word USERNAME on them, followed by the word GUEST. Below that, they have the word PASSWORD followed by six random characters.

"What do I do?" he asked, taking the slip of paper.

Knowing who I was dealing with, I said, very slowly, "Well, on the screen, where it says 'Username," type 'Guest.'"

At this point, I tapped the word "Guest" with my red pen. "And where is says 'Password,' you type these six characters." As I said "these six characters," I circled the six characters with the red pen.

He took the pass. He looked at it. He stood there for a longish moment. He looked at me. Fleetingly, I had a small but sincere hope that my simple instructions had somehow sunk in. That they had, against expectation and logic, taken root in the rocky soil of his mind. That maybe I had connected with him in some way and that this would be the beginning of something greater. That, thus armed with the guest pass, he would stride forward into a brighter future of learning and accomplishment. That someday, far in the future, he would look back on that moment as a turning point in his life. That he would tell his his grandchildren of the time that he was handed a small, simple slip of paper by a scowling geezer and that it lead to all the greatness that he had achieved. Or that at least he'd get away from the desk before I passed out from his cloying scent.

But instead, he looked at me funny. "Wait," he said, "Can you write that down?"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring is Definitely Here

Hello friends. Because of the time of year and because I'm lazy, I present to you a rebroadcast of 2009's Tax Time FAQ.

Tax Time FAQ

Where are the tax forms?
Right behind you.

Right over there.


Should I use this form?
I don't know.

Maybe this one?
Really, I don't know.

Why can't you tell me?
I'm not allowed to give tax advice. I'm not a tax professional. I'm a lowly deskslave.

I'm not asking for tax advice, it's just information.
Look, even if I was allowed to give tax advice, you wouldn't want my advice. I don't even do my own taxes. I'm lucky to find my way to work.

Why don't you have tax forms any more?
We do.

Then where are they?
Right behind you.

Is there somebody who will do my taxes for me?
We have some volunteers who offer help. It's by appointment only. All the slots were filled months ago. I can put you on this very long waiting list, though.

So nobody will do my taxes for me?
Well, actually, you can have the IRS calculate your taxes for you.

Really? How do I do that?
Here, it's this form here, the Schedul D'OH! Just fill in your name and check off the box where it says: "I'm a chicken, please pluck me."

Where's the tax forms at?
Right there.

Which one am I supposed to do?
I don't know.

Why don't you have the incredibly obscure form that I think I need?
I don't know. But I'll print it out for you.

I'm still very upset about having to do my taxes at all. May I berate and abuse you since I am powerless to express my rage directly to the Internal Revenue Service?
By all means.

I almost forgot...could I also hector you?
Feel free.

Malign you?

Call into question your intelligence and integrity?
It would be my pleasure.

Why can't I get a reaction from you?
Because I'm not really listening.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Two Most Common Reference Questions Today

In order, they were:
1) What time is the NCAA Championship game?
2) Is it on network TV?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Note to Patrons for Next Year

"March Madness" was not a suggestion on how to behave in the library.