Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All the reference...part 2

From August 30th.

Woman wants to see if we have two titles—they’re both textbooks, so unsurprisingly we don’t. She’s a student at the local community college so I find them for her in their library catalog.

Different woman wants a list of places to take ESL classes.

The college student wants to know if ‘devilish’ is a synonym for ‘frightened’ or something else, I forget what. Neither option is a synonym but I’m not so naive as to get into that. I show her a thesaurus and explain how to use it. (Bonus: she begins the question by asking “Can I ask you a personal question? In your opinion…”).

Where can I find a book on making a living trust in Texas?

All the customers for the rest of the hour are old men. One wants the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant, but our only copy is at another branch and he doesn’t have a library card and won’t pay the $50 non-resident fee to get one, so he can’t place holds. I tell him that JUST THIS ONCE I will put it on my own card, because I’m a huge history nerd, and he should check the shelf in a few days. I hope word doesn’t get around.

Another old man wants to know why his hold on an ebook has disappeared. Turns out it hasn’t; ebook holds show up only on the vendor website, not when a patron logs into the catalog.

Third old man wants a DVD—only copy is at the branch across town. He doesn’t want to place a hold and says he’ll “wait until another day” as if somehow it will magically come over on its own.

Where is the biography section?

The Trouble Brothers are being loud at the children’s PCs.

One of the Trouble Brothers is picking up the keyboard.

A youngish girl wants ‘ballet tapes’ (instructional DVDs for ballet). All of the good stuff is at other branches so her mom comes over to give approval for placing holds and kind of takes over the process (eventually the girl wanders away). Then the same mom wants books on the Star Spangled Banner. Oh, and inventors from the early 19th century. All for kids. Not encyclopedias—well ma’am, a biographical encyclopedia of scientists might give you an idea of who to get biographies of….this is the biography section. This is how it’s organized.

“My Sister is a Vampire” books (all checked out).

Books for first graders/learning to read books.

Man I helped earlier walks by and says thank you.

Do I REALLY have to tell you not to put your feet on the computer table? (Trouble Brothers again)

Explain to my kids the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Which books should a first grader and a fourth grader read? (Not readers’ advisory, just wanting to know the meaning of ‘junior fiction’ versus ‘early reader’ etc.)

A nice lady has me look up three children’s series to find out the title of the first in each, and place them on hold for her.

I need your help with the color printer.

Man on the phone has an 8-disc Pimsleur program for learning Russian and wants the 16-disc one instead. It’s checked out so I place it on hold for him and make sure we have his correct phone number to notify him. At the end of the conversation he says, “May I compliment you? You’re great on the phone. You have a good phone voice and you sound like you really enjoy your job.” Highlight of my day so far!

‘Where’s Waldo’ books.

I put these on hold but I don’t want them anymore. You can take them off. They can do that for you at the Customer Service desk, ma’am.

Damp man: Surprise! It’s raining outside!

It says my print job is too many pages. What do I do?

If the computer is asking for a password does that mean someone else has it reserved?

How do I print in black and white? Just one page.

More help for the ‘just one page’ guy.

Do you have three paper clips?

Can you help us print from this website?

Man wants help deactivating not one, but two Facebook accounts. He’s really nice, but it takes FOREVER.

Help a kid with a homework assignment! (For the first time ever!) She is doing a geography project and needs two pictures, one that shows the ‘absolute’ location of our city and one that shows its ‘relative’ location. I help her brainstorm ideas and show her a road atlas and a city map.


  1. Oh, you sound so good at this!

    But wait, who are the Trouble Brothers?

  2. Aww, thanks! The Trouble Brothers are my mental name for two small boys who come in and terrorize us on a regular basis. They're not necesarily naturally bad kids, they're just some of those kids that are at the library all the time because they don't have a home that it's pleasant for a kid to spend time in. They have a whole stack of lost/stolen library cards and one of them in particular tells very creative stories to justify their use.

  3. For example:
    "This library card isn't in your name."
    "It's my brother's."
    "Is your brother Hispanic?" (Trouble Brother #1 is clearly not Hispanic.)
    "He's my half-brother."
    "Is he here at the library?"
    "No; I haven't seen him since birth."