11.20.2008

Conversations I get to have over and over and over again

So my new library is a lovely, lovely place filled with lovely people and the occasional pack of junior high kids that I have to throw out for using the f-word in the children's area after being warned about the language.

One thing my boss mentioned when I started is that although our patrons are kind, dear people, they also expect us to earn our keep. And by this I mean that they will never try to look up something on their own in the catalog using any of the 8 million catalog terminals but will instead come straight to me and ask me if a certain book is in. A lot of them are older and not comfortable with computers, but some of them I've decided are just lazy and like the idea of having a personal library shopper.

So scenes like this happen quite a bit:

Patron: "Hello, I'm looking for this book." (Actually, no, you're not. If you were looking for it, you would be on a computer right now or in the stacks. You're asking ME to look for it for you.)

Me: "Okay, let's look for it together. Please take a look at the monitor in front of you." (This is when I hit a really cool button that lets them see what I'm doing on my computer. It shows them exactly what they would have seen if they'd gone over and used one of the terminals. Because I'm not letting anyone off the hook entirely. It's baby steps towards information searching skills before I throw them to the wolves by walking them directly over to a patron terminal and making them learn how to use it.)

Patron: "It's the new book by an author named [So and So]." (Note: That's not his name.)

Me: "Sorry, I'm not seeing anything under that name. What's the title?"
Patron: "The title is [The Something Something]." (Note: It isn't.) "He wrote another book called [Such and Such]." (Note: He didn't. And neither did the actual author.)

The level of their wrongness in this situation is directly related to the amount of time it will take to figure this all out. In this case because she had read one of the books by the author I finally thought to ask if she remembered what that book was about and then I Googled the key words from her description.

That is how the "Blue Something" by Peter Finch who also wrote The September Group or possibly The September Music actually became A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch who also wrote The September Society.

Seriously, what would I even do without Google?

11 comments:

Z. Marie said... [reply]

For starters, without Google you might kill a few library patrons.
I guess being a librarian is a lot like being an elementary school teacher. I don't envy you.

Azúcar said... [reply]

You would spend 30 minutes going down the wrong path, wracking your brain and those of your co-workers, possibly call other locations, and in the end, finally prove that the askee was wrong, but not have the book anyway.


How do I know? I worked in bookstores before Google.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I'm still checking in now and again, and YES, this happens to me all the time. Do you ever get the ones who refuse to even try the terminal and keyboard because a) they claim they can't see (I guess you need this book to help hold up your three-legged couch or perhaps you're looking for a make-shift T.V. tray.) or b) they have an "extreme" case of carpal tunnel syndrome (it must have been an excruciating experience for you to write out this 5 page list of books you want me to find in 3 minutes or less and equally daunting to then carry off the resulting 20 lbs. worth of J.D. Robb and his/her twin sister Nora's books before heading off to your tennis lesson--another reason you should not be making cell phone calls in the library as I tend to eavesdrop.)?
Librarian 2

april said... [reply]

seriously, you deserve a medal. being able to find a title from "blue something" is just amazing; (well, and yes, google is amazing too.)

touche to miss anonymous' comment!

Anonymous said... [reply]

Maybe the patrons are just really annoying so they can get on your blog. I think you underestimate the honor. Now they can just google "blue something" and find themselves cast in a Nemesis Post. No greater glory than that, right?.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I stand by my claim that you are mentally ill. Still looking for correct diagnosis. Symptoms include tantrums and impatiens.

Jenny said... [reply]

anon, you must think my children are mentally ill then too, huh? And like half of my professors in college.

Nem, I promise never to ask a librarian anything stupid before I turn 70 years old.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Hey, I love me some impatiens! They're purty. Almost take the edge off the rage . . .

coolmom said... [reply]

I don't even use the library - I go online at home , look up my junk, reserve it, and then when I get my emiil telling me they are ready to pick up at the library of my choice, I go in, march directly to the reserve shelf, pull my mess, and toss it on the counter. That's the way to check out books!

Anonymous said... [reply]

I like to get my books from Redbox because i'm retarded.

BEFore said... [reply]

>>>I don't even use the library - I go online at home , look up my junk, reserve it, and then when I get my emiil telling me they are ready to pick up at the library of my choice, I go in, march directly to the reserve shelf, pull my mess, and toss it on the counter. That's the way to check out books!<<<

I didn't even know THAT was possible. Of course, it might not be here. Very nice though. Of course, you miss out on the browsing-for-hours part of a library visit this way.

On a side note, you seem to have attracted a troll Nem. I suggest we name him Franky. Because I like that name, but not in a way that I would ever use it for anyone in real life.

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