Friday, November 30, 2012

Emma the Reference Assistant, PI

I helped an old man (my favorite customer demographic) find a novel. He had the author and title, which he carefully read to me from a piece of paper. As I was walking him over to the shelf I said, "It was so nice that you had the author and the title. Usually people just say something like, the cover was green, and it's a really famous book." He replied, "Well, maybe you could get a job as a police investigator next."

All the news about printing that's fit to print

Spot Dysgraphia Guy, who I haven’t seen in ages, but he gets away before I can tell him about speech/language pathology! Bummer.

Demonstrate num lock.

Is this where I would find Chuck?
The TV series?
No, the librarian.
No…he works at a different branch. But can I do something to help you? Get three articles from JSTOR and email them to her—she doesn’t want to pay ten cents a page at the library, she would rather go to Office Max where she has a ‘special deal.’

Michelangelo? The Art of the Vatican?

Where can I find a French dictionary? Oh, I thought it would be in reference (Just for my own edification I checked—there are two there, but both giant and not Webster’s, and she chose the small Webster’s from the regular shelves)

Help our happiest regular print out an article about some kind of herbal cure and he is thrilled! This is great, thank you so much! Thank you!

Observe him assisting two other patrons with the printer.

It took part of the screen away. Don’t worry, that will go away, it won’t affect your printout.

(Different patron) These all printed out cut off. Did you print preview? No…Help me fix it? Sure, as soon as you are back on those six websites.

Unfiltered computer—blocking a religious website.

Explain holds process, place holds for Lego Ninjago movies.

Really loud cell phone—after a couple of rings the owner runs with it to the lobby.

The ‘printed out cut off’ patron reprints all her pages without giving me a chance to intervene.

Patron on the unfiltered computer not only thanks me when he is finished, but turns the monitor off and puts the ‘unfiltered’ sign back up, just like it was when he got there!

Struggles with the user-unfriendly printing system.

You need to click ‘okay’ for it to print.

How to track changes on Microsoft Word. She doesn’t have a question, only a warning that she is going to have a question. Or, more probably, a lot of questions.

Can I borrow a pen?
Track changes is a success!

Books on dance, any?

Pointing at picture: Do you have this book? (Pok√©mon Handbook—Black and White) Nope, sorry.

Chat with the usual cute three-year-old. She wants the newest Library Mouse book, but it is checked out.

Mercer Mayer books.

Another branch calls with a shelf-check. It’s there!

Princess books.

Pointing to poster: Excuse me, is this the title of a book, and is this the author?

Which library is this?

Christmas books: “My little fellow, this is the first year he understands Christmas, and he keeps asking me when Santa is coming. I hope I can find something that will appeal to him.”

Where is my hold?

Lonestar books.

I can’t get back into my computer!

The Name of the Star, checked out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shaken, not stirred

We have a book display highlighting the 50th anniversaries of Spiderman and James Bond. On Tuesday night one of our regulars took all the Bond books (no Spiderman ones) off of the display, shoved them through the bookdrop, and demanded to speak to the library director.

I wasn't (fortunately) the one who had to speak to him, so I never found out what his exact grievance was.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Library stereotypes day, continued

Although there is a stereotype that librarians love printed material and fear technology, at least at my library that is normally more true of our patrons than of our staff. However, the City changed its website (and thus the library website) and today the library director sent us all instructions on how to make the new site your homepage in Internet Explorer:
·         Click Tools on the right side of the page
·         Click Internet Options
·         Click Use Current
·         Click Apply
·         Click Okay
·         Exit the internet
·         Verify your success by opening internet

This is just like our patrons who don't understand the difference between the specific computer they are on and the internet! What!?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The RFID sorter is good at what it does

Forgotten story from awhile ago: A kid put my favorite puppet from the children's area (an iguana) through the returns slot and the RFID sorter shot it straight into the children's bin. Awesome.

Oh dear

One of the regulars stopped by to wish me a happy Thanksgiving, and then winked. I feel like I'm in the branch that's the home of Love the Liberry.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ethical question, this one about staffing

I have noticed that we get more 'directional' questions (where is the bathroom, how to I log on to a computer, etc. etc.) when I am on the desk compared to when only librarians are on the desk. This could be because I am better at logging them or it could be because patrons are more willing to ask me those questions. I think that it might be the latter, but not because of anything about me personally. Rather,  it might be just a matter of denmographics. I am substantially younger than most of my colleagues, and I get the impression that people care less about sounding stupid in front of me--"just a kid"--than sounding stupid in front of a middle-aged librarian.

It's a given that some questions in a library are going to go unanswered because they go unasked, no matter what you do. But in theory, if the library could reduce the number of questions that go unasked by hiring staff who are more approachable not because of training or attitude but simply because of how they look, would that be ethical?

Library stereotype day at my branch

Today is apparently the day for all the stereotypical questions that modern libraries get--the kind that make actual librarians say, 'I got a master's degree for this?' This is a sampling of how my day has gone so far:

Argue with a patron about two overdue books, which he says he returned.

Do you have a pen I can borrow?

Two patrons get into a heated discussion over whose turn it is at the copier.

Where do I return books?

If I don't like how this copy comes out I just lose my ten cents?!

Do you have a clear envelope?

Do you have a highlighter?

Where is the bathroom?

Friday, November 16, 2012

One last Freaky Friday post

Two different patrons came in today and said "This is the first time I've been here. Where do I return books?" What is wrong with this picture?

Today's highlight

I have been on the desk with a substitute librarian all day today. She answered a phone call while I was fixing a display and had to consult with me to answer the patron's question. Then I overheard her saying into the phone, "I checked with one of the other librarians, and she says..." YES!

New record

A new record has been set for the patron whose motives I most wanted to enquire into.

A 20-30ish man, well-dressed, hurried up to the adult reference desk a minute ago and said breathlessly: "Where are your books on fire trucks?"

Me: "For kids or for adults?"

Him: "It doesn't matter."

Me: "Are you looking for a specific piece of information? I'm seeing some titles here but I'm not sure they are relevant."

Him: "Like what?"

Me: "There is one about fire chiefs' cars, but it is at another branch."

Him: "Well do you have anything here?"

Me: "It looks like we have some in Junior Nonfiction. Let me show you where they are."

I take him to the books, walking as fast as I have ever walked across the library, and he says, "This is great. Do you have more?"

Me: "If we have any in the adult section they will be at this same number, but on the other side of the library."


What did you need to know, fire truck man?

Don't talk to strangers (this is why)

Colleague has me check a patron’s PIN—it matches the one the patron thought he had, but the patron was trying to enter it into the Internet Explorer web address bar, so predictably it didn’t do anything.

Do you need some help with the copier, sir?
I’m trying to see if it’s a fax machine.

Is there a way I can get more time on the computer?

Fax man, shown the real machine, says ‘It says it sent, so thank you!’

How can I find out where the latest Consumer Reports with flat screen TVs is?

Incoherent complaint about a website from one of those patrons who thinks all of the internet is controlled/run by us. Turns out they have been given bad instructions, will have to call the people who run their online class.

The Beginner’s Goodbye.

Observe the Consumer Reports man helping two other patrons with the copier. Awesome.

Walk please!

Guy who asked about computer time (who I was NOT helpful to because we just changed our system and this was my first ten minutes with it) says “thanks for all your help!” and is completely sincere.

Coworker comes to report that the TV is still broken and they have called facilities to help them figure out how to cut the power to it.

Are you who I bother for change?

A very polite man wants help with label templates in Microsoft Word, but the process snowballs out of control, beginning with him saying “Word Perfect,” continuing on to him getting a library card so he can get on the wireless network, etc. etc.

Template guy is trying to enter his password into the keyword search box on the main page of a catalog-only computer. I redirect him to a regular public computer.

I tried to place a hold from home but ‘it’ wouldn’t let me.

Guy calls, confused about his hold on Bones—it is set to go to another branch but he actually wants it to come here. Since I saw that exact title less than 2 hours ago I rashly tell him that things are taken care of without checking the shelf, and then I can’t find it ANYWHERE. Now I’m in dread that he’ll come in and find out because he said he’d come in and get it today.

How many CDs can you have checked out at a time?

Can I hold these? Not until you get a card…Come back after that and we’ll do it (he never comes back).

Help the label guy for about a zillion hours. How do I save this, what is its name, how can I find it again, how can I print, how do I make it bigger and move it over there? His labels are for “Corporate Shakes” and he struggles with the spelling of ‘corporate’—‘copirate’ is my favorite alternative.

Can I print from here? And do you have Excel?

Which library card do I use, the one for this city or the one for [neighboring city]?

The color printer says it is on ‘pause.’

The Bones guy arrives but it still hasn’t turned up. And it turns out he has left his baby outside in a bike carrier while he comes in to ask. My coworker does a really good job not quite shouting at him. (Later one of our…eccentric regulars comes up to ask if everything is all right and to commiserate with us about how alarming that was. You know you’re doing something wrong when the library regulars are concerned about your behavior.)

Someone at the other branch calls over and asks me to pull a hold—he is coming right over to get it.

Mom, to son leaving the library: Don’t talk to strangers!
Son: I’m not!

I need help to print. Well you release your print job from this computer here…I thought you just put your money in the machine.

Label guy is still here! I teach him the concept of backing up your files.

I want to know if you have any other books by this person (Eyone Williams).

Do you need help finding your hold? Well, did you get a call that it was here? Let me check where you are on the list…Is it the audiobook of Fifty Shades of Grey? You’re number 60 on the list, sir.

Can you help me? I’m trying to save my resume to a USB drive.

They told me you had this book in your 983 section. It’s a history of Chile. Can you help me find it?

Do you have the holy books of different religions here? (Wants the Bhagavad Gita but doesn’t want to stop talking on his cell phone long enough for me to explain where it is.)

The Death Cure by James Dashner.

Do we have to have our card to check out books? Can you look it up by phone number or something?

Walk please! Walk please! Walk please!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The customer service desk at the community college library

Me: "You have two overdue items. Do you want me to check what they are?"
Student: "Yes...wait a minute, no, I know what they are. An Aristotle and a Plato."

Student, with no prompting except brief eye contact: "Look at what I have on my keychain. I have a flashlight."
Me: "That's neat."
Student: "I used to have a cross too, but it decided to break off."
Me: "I'm...sorry?"

Attractive Fire Science student: "Um, can you tell me how to log onto a computer?"
Me: "Are you a student?"
Fire Science Guy: "Yes, but I'm from the fire school and we never use the computers!"

Student holding two books with large 'In-Library use only' stickers on them walks out the doors and the alarm goes off.
Coworker: "You have to use those in the library."
Student: "I was going to go upstairs."
Coworker: "Sorry, you can only use them in the library."

Do you have the world literature book, the blue and orange one?
Do you have books for a history class?
Do you have Police Systems and Practices? No, that is the name of the class, not the name of the book.
Do you have the neonatal respiratory care book? It's the really big one.
Do you have the statistics book with the sweater on the cover?
Do you have the chemistry book with the flamingo?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Biggest pet peeve

As of today, it's people who walk away while you are researching their question! Not  people who leave because they don't want the answer anymore, people who act like their time is too valuable to stand there for 30 seconds and answer your follow-up questions while you are working on their problem!

Friday, November 2, 2012

This all happened in two and a half hours at the library.

Is there a map of [two nearby cities] that I can check out? No…we call another public library, they don’t have it either and she won’t use anything that’s been printed off the internet or photocopied. I ask her if I can get her directions to somewhere specific but no, she is house-shopping. Eventually after perusing the reference maps and checking out irrelevant maps, she decides she will be fine and leaves.

Where can I vote?

Phone call: I have several questions about early voting. How long is the line there? If I don’t have my ID can I still vote? How can I get to the library from here?

Which branch is this? Oh, that explains a lot.

The printer is super-messed up and the patron who it benefitted by printing a zillion copies of her document for free is mad for some reason.

The new flood insurance maps—We have them at the other branch that starts with the same letter as our name, but not here.

Mom and 7-or-8-year old daughter. Daughter whispers ‘Can you ask her?” but mom says “No, you ask her.” Where is the ‘Junior Professional’ section?

Group (with ipad...): Do you need a library card to get on the computers?

Gentlemanly old guy: May I leave these right here? My card’s out in my car.

Gentlemanly old guy comes back with his card.

Do you have books on ancestry here? (No, because it turned out what he wanted was historical documents, not genealogy research strategies.)

Extra computer time.

Bored. Fiddle with all the displays. Think about trying to steal phone calls from the children’s desk using the ‘call pickup’ function.

A loud, repetitive squeaking noise (like from a squeaky toy) coming from over near the front door. I thought it was a dog but it’s a small child, whose shoes make that noise every time she takes a step. Who would buy that for their child!? My boss, who has teenage children, shakes her head and says "A rookie mistake."

Then, over in Children's:

Walk please! (This is how every shift in children's starts. And ends. And is in the middle.)

Get one of those patrons who has built up a major store of questions before coming to the desk. Do we have computer classes? How can he register for them? His father wants to learn to drive, do we have instructional DVDs? This was kind of a failure from my perspective because A) I defied library policy by keeping silent about the fact that he intended to sign himself up for the computer class and then send his dad (not a resident) in his place, and B) I couldn’t find good instructional DVDs. I referred him to my boss.

I can’t find this book. That’s because it is in young adult, and we are in children’s.

Do you have any recommendations for a three-year-old boy? Suggest Mo Willems’s books about Elephant.

Books about presidents. Anyone in particular? Mitt Romney. (Shudder.) Well, there aren’t any books about him yet. Would you like one about someone else, or about presidents in general? Someone else. Who? I don’t know. Well, people who were president just a little while ago or a long time ago? A little while. How about George W. Bush, he was the last president before Obama. Yes!

Busiest time in Children’s ever:
Lewis and Clark.
Davy Crocket.
Geronimo Stilton book that we can’t find ANYWHERE.
Super Mario.
Boxcar Children.
Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Fairy Chronicles series. Times two when another little girl sees them.
New ‘Olivia’ books.
Robin Hood DVD.
Power Rangers.
Scardey Squirrel—there is a movie!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Roderick Rules. The movie.

Highlight: Cute little boy who is fulfilling the quota/limit of four books and two movies set by his dad. He asks for a couple of movies which are checked out. On a hunch I ask him if he has seen Ben Ten Alien Force. At first he said he had seen all of them, but he wanted to see one again, but he didn’t know what it was called. He described it and I found it for him, and he was thrilled!

Mom: He doesn’t want to share.
Little girl: Why?
Mom: No quiere compartir.
Little girl: Why?

Lowlight: A very small girl is holding an Elephant and Pig book, standing near the desk, and crying. I ask her if I can help her, what’s wrong, etc. She just cries. I ask her if her mom or dad is here and her mom, who is three feet away, says “I’m right here.” But she makes no attempt to talk to or comfort her daughter. I eventually figure out that the girl will answer yes or no questions.
Me: Is something wrong?
Girl, in tiny voice: Yes.
Is something wrong with your book?
Can you tell me what happened to it?
Girl, now bursting into tears: I was writing!
Me: Did you write in it by accident?
Girl, wailing: Yes!
I explained to her that we understood that it was just an accident and that no one at the library was mad at her. I thanked her for telling me and told her that she did the very best thing by bringing the book to me instead of just putting it back, because we could fix it and make it as good as new. Then I found her a new book to read and traded it to her for the damaged book (which turned out to be barely damaged). Her mom was right there the whole time and she didn’t do anything!

“I survived” series. But then the girl is called away by her mom and never comes back.

‘Where is the poetry section?” Secretly wants two specific books and one specific author. Then when we get to the shelf it turns out she wants a specific book by the specific author, but doesn’t know the name. And she won’t come back to the desk to look for it with me, she just wants to look on the shelf.

Place holds on the entire Mermaid Melody series for one of my favorite regulars.

Her number three fan wants to know, where is the teen librarian?

Thanksgiving books?

Demanding poetry lady: How do I get on a computer?

She leaves her bag over by the desk and I bring it to her at the computer—I don’t want to be here when she comes back claiming someone stole it or something.

The cute little girl who accidentally wrote in Elephant Broke His Trunk!  is playing with the electric pencil sharpener. "We have one of these. But when I put my finger in it, blood." Well, be careful then! Let's be done now. This time Mom intervenes.