A man in a bright orange shirt and hat comes up and asks, “Are you an expert on doing things on the computer? I mean, do you help people do things on the computer a lot?”
Me: Well, I don’t know if I’m an expert, but we do help people a lot. Usually I can figure things out. What are you trying to do?
BOSH Man: My father has a biography on Wikipedia and some of the things are wrong. I want to edit it but I’ve never done that before. Have you done that?
Me: No, but I think I know how. I’m sure I could figure it out. Let’s go take a look.
BOSH Man: I’m not on a computer right now. I just wanted to know if someone could help. I’ve got to go to my mother’s house first to get some information, like his birthdate.
Good luck, sir!
A woman on her cell phone is talking so loudly that, halfway across the library, I can hear about her rash. My colleague on the desk with me winces, but doesn’t intervene, and after a minute or two the woman either leaves or finishes her conversation.
Old man: Do you have a mapsco?
Me: Sorry, what?
Man: A mapsco.
While I try to figure out another way to say, “sorry, what?” my colleague, who is older, has lived in the area longer, and has worked here much longer, pulls out a book of maps for him. Apparently “Mapsco” is a brand.
How can I get a library card for my son?
Over the phone: Do you have The Racketeer by John Grisham? Yes we do, there are only 169 holds since it is his newest one!
Where would the Mapsco be? (I answer this one with great enthusiasm!)
Pointing at the stapler: Can I use this?
Do you have a paperclip?
Loud man on yell phone: “Yeah, I’m at the library right now!”
An adorable little boy wants to know “where the math books are.” Further questioning reveals that he wants books on “feet and inches.” I show him the measuring books in the children’s section.
Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time?
The line at circulation is up to 4 or 5 groups of people so I go over and ask if anyone is just checking out. Most people look around the way you do in those situations rather than saying no, but one woman points to the person being helped at the moment and says, “she is!”
Various simple fixes to out-of-action computers.
Pick up “Line 2 for reference” but no one is there.
Um…yesterday I lost my card…did you see me leave it anywhere? I want to say that I wasn’t at work yesterday, but instead I say, ask at customer service, if someone found it that’s where we would have put it. The line is still really long there and he leaves without checking. Sigh.
Walk please! (To two surprisingly old teenagers)
You can’t pay for sixty cents’ worth of printing with a debit card. Not matter how you rephrase it. You. Just. Can’t.
Find a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation for a school project. I have a bit of difficulty when I start looking for one in print but then it turns out the kids are already on a computer so it’s easy to bring it up on the NARA website.
Estimate for an excited teenager how soon her hold is coming—it’s a new book and is still In-Process.
Nice regular: Can you believe this? My pen doesn’t work. I left mine outside. Don’t worry, I’ll bring it back.
Me: Let me get you another one.
Regular, a moment later: This one doesn’t work either!
Me: It’s new, let’s try scribbling with it.
(Why didn’t I just do that the first time?)
Refreshingly direct young man: We need help. We want to save my powerpoint onto a flash drive but we don’t know how.
Girl waiting for her hold is back. She wants Pride and Prejudice.
Help with the printer. The only problem most patrons have is a lack of confidence.
Teenage girl: I’m typing on a computer but I need more time!
Borrowed pen returned.
The printer is asking me for the staff password.
How do we make this extra page go away? Oh, never mind, we already figured it out.
Do you have a fax machine? Yes, it’s here, six feet away from me. I indicate it and the guy says ‘thank you,’ but then walks away to a completely different part of the library.
A patron walks up, uncomfortably in the ‘librarian’ area of the desk. But he was just throwing something away. A rock!
Caller looking for an obituary. He has lots of information about the woman, but as far as I can tell she wasn’t famous. My colleague and I look a little bit and then pass the question on to the Genealogy department.
Books on the history of radio.
Can you help me? I want to email this to someone.
Books on radio prove insufficient—expand search to online databases.
Do you have the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens? Can I come pick it up in like…10 minutes?” (He never comes, by the way.)
Find a book that was not at its call number for a grateful tween girl.
Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time? No, I just need this one.
The Bad Beginning.
Do you have a phone I can use to call my mom?