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.

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