Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Red dictionary

As much as I can remember from this super-busy evening:

Make the Spanish computer class reminder calls--half of the people answer the phone in English since it's an unfamiliar number so I feel weird talking to them in my second language when they are addressing me in my first one.

At children's desk: Adult asks for book on physics and one on "the universe," looks at me like I am crazy when I ask if they are for kids.

How does guest pass work?

Wants to borrow puzzle, then magnetic letters, kid and mom do not agree on what to get.

1988 GED man calls.

This came out too small, can you make it print bigger?

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen--purchase request.

Homeless guy I gave my umbrella to: "Emma! Hi!"

Kid too slow putting change in printer.

Tell girl on cell phone in computer lab to take it out to lobby--oh crap she leaves her purse behind unattended.

Coworker: Someone lost these keys, where do I put them?

Can you show us how to print this?

Check on status of my holds?

Fax machine?

Lost and found?

How do I find my hold--oh that's cool.

Power Rangers movies, checked out.

Count people in for storytime--13.

Adult too slow putting money in printer.

Help me print this off? BW printer is bad, can we print in color? No she has to color it in, complicated thing where money changes hands like 3 times.

Excuse me ma'am, can you borrow books here? For free!?

Dictionaries? No, a specific one. Find in through the miracle of Google Image search color filtering and a lot of patience but then turns out we don't own it.

Why isn't this offering us more computer time!? x2

Knock a book off the shelf, notice it is gross, coworker looks it up and there is no record of it--did we withdraw it years ago and forget to take off shelf? That's lucky clumsiness I guess.

I tried getting this form at home through one of your databases but it said "error--link expired," I called earlier, can you help?

Put that guy on a public computer since he needs to print things out and you can't print from our wifi.

I need to get to my email--this is a catalog computer.

You speak Spanish!?

Help me print.

Can you write this in English? Just a couple sentences.

Someone in the teen area is hyperventillating!

Absolute favorite thing

Can you borrow books here? Can you rent movies here?
How much does it cost?
It's free!

I took my GED test at the library in '88...

...and I was wondering how to get a copy of my score.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Secret identities

Our patrons who are so distinctive that they are widely recognized by nicknames:
  • "The Shopper"
  • "The Music Man"
  • "The Voice"
Don't even get me started on the people whose real names we know.

Pet peeve #124

Our staff area is not closed off from the rest of the library and today I had to go back there and shush the staff because their talking and laughing was disturbing patrons.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two hours ALONE on the ref desk

I had to post this because I was so mad at my department for scheduling me out on the desk by myself from 2-4, peak hours. It was super-busy.

My guest pass isn't working.
Do you want to get into a computer?
Well, this one is just for the library catalog so you will have to choose a different one.

Moderately creepy guy wants me to check on his interlibrary loan request--of course it is not in our system yet so I have to check our ILL system--it's shipped out but hasn't arrived yet.

Mrs. Smith, really can't use computers including a mouse, no learning curve, needs to print an email.

Guy with a million trivial requests--pencil, paper, where can I take phone call, etc.--later asks can I log him onto the scanner computer--no, he has to log off his other computer and then he can get on the scanner--hugely but passive-aggressively annoyed by this.

Mrs. Smith doesn't know how to print even though I have showed her 3 times before and it tells you exactly what to do, gets upset when I leave.

"Buffy the Slayer" season 1

Lady 15 feet from tax forms: where are tax forms?

Really slow-walking old man--have to take him to three different places in the stacks. Wants info about Arkansas land grants and about a specific Japanese internment camp from WWII, can't convince him to talk to our genealogy dept or to request books from another branch, he only wants what we have here and I can't convince him that we just don't have anything. Also can't use the internet. So frustrating.

Mrs. Smith's thing prints out too small and she wants me to redo it. I finally free myself to help her and she says "Can you do it without me? I am taking a test."

Old Man: "I just got online and I was wondering if the library has a page I could visit."
(One bright spot)

OM also wants newest James Patterson but gets the title wrong--Unlucky 13, not Lucky 13

Little kid is screaming, screaming, screaming.

Crazy woman wants the 'code of ethics for insurance adjustors' which she 'knows exists' becaue her husband got hurt at Michaels and she 'knows they are handling it all wrong!' Also has 10-second attention span.

Print IRS forms off for a woman who turns out to want multiple copies--the IRS added a bunch of new forms this year that are really commonly needed but either they didn't let us order them or our tax person didn't predict what would happen.

The Voice calls with an achievable request for once--addresses to send fan mail to two different actresses--Tatum O'Neal and Jennifer O'Neill (last names a coincidence? no idea).

As soon as I answer The Voice's call a woman with a simple copier question comes up but I am tethered to our old-fashioned corded phone.

Mrs. Smith whose approach I fear--thank goodness she just wants more time on the computer but of course she doesn't know which number she is on.

Little boy who I told to walk please STOMPS as loud as he can past the desk.

Arkansas/Internment guy: How do I check this book out? Note all he has is the one book I found--I TOLD him there wasn't going to be anything else!

Phone rings while I am helping a lady get her print jobs, struggling with my very limited Spanish vocabulary. I have no choice but to let it roll over to children's.

Do I have to do something special to use the computer lab?

Toddler is rolling around on the floor making weird noises, mom is three feet away but doesn't react 'til I go over to intervene.

Help annoying little boy with checkout.

Audio books--Slovak language.

What? Just WHAT.

More of the same

Man somewhat older than my parents whose interlibrary loan I checked on for him: "If I were 30 years younger I would ask you out in a heartbeat! You are so pretty!...Thank you, have a good afternoon!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dewey Decimal Inadequacy

A surprisingly challenging reference question to answer: "How are the nonfiction books organized" i.e. what are the principles of the Dewey Decimal system?

I don't want to tell patrons that it is pretty arbitary because I worry I'll shake their faith in the library as an institution.


Not okay: Creepy 20-something and 30-something guys asking if I have a boyfriend or just plain asking me out.

At least tolerable: Sweet Spanish-speaking grandmas asking if I am married--scouting for their sons

Monday, March 17, 2014

Best questions

I've been looking through the archives recently (it's been slow at work) and thought I would do a 'best of' for questions I have gotten at the desk, some which have already appeared on this blog and some which are new.

In the good category:

Most Difficult: How many pools are there in Texas?

Privacy Awareness Award:I downloaded a program onto this computer and now I don’t know how to make it go away. Can you help me?

Not an Answer we Provide: Why would someone make a video imitating Psy?

Directness Award: We need help. We want to save my powerpoint onto a flash drive but we don’t know how.

And in the un-good category:
Ultimate No Award: Do you have a manuscript of Beowulf?
Captain Obvious Award: Which library card do I use, the one for this city or the one for [neighboring city]?
Incorrect Premise Award: Do you have any information about postpartum depression? You know, PTSD?

Most Mysterious: Is your Genealogy department planning any trips to Utah soon?

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Fifth Native Americans

Woman: I need a book on the first Native Americans. Not the second or the third or the fifth, the first. It's for the Boy Scots.
Me (in more diplomatic terms): What?
She wanted books about Native American history and culture in 1492 and earlier.

Marx Translations Guy is here but he does not come over and talk to me for once. Too bad a little because I found a 1906 Modern Library edition of Capital in the stacks earlier this week and I kind of wanted to tell him about it.

Tax forms x2.

A man who came to look for his lost hat is angry because apparently someone (not a staff person) found it and threw it away.

Woman with two small children: Do you have the magazine Consumer Reports, in print or online? We have it in print but we keep all issues behind the desk because people steal them, and we had it online until the CR publisher decided it wasn't worth their while to offer it through our e-magazine service. I tell her all this and she leaves without taking advantage of my repeated offers to help her photocopy what she needs from our print issues, but at least she is annoyed a how publishers treat libraries, which is a small and morally-ambiguous victory.

Woman who just walked in the ground floor entrance of our clearly one-story building: Can you tell me where the tax forms are? [note: they are fifteen feet behind me over my shoulder, directly in her line of vision] [She points at the floor] Are they downstairs?

Artist guy I translated a flyer for once: I have a picture book in Spanish and I need to translate it to English, what should I do? Establish that I can help him send an email copy to his bilingual son in California. Dodged a bullet there but start getting dollar signs in my eyes about the idea of setting myself up as a document translator.

Young man: By any chance did someone here find a phone?
Me: About how long ago was it lost?
Him: Mmm...about ten minutes.

Place an interlibrary loan request for a book about Texas Confederate stamps and a purchase request for some Irish Country tales.

The print release pay box makes the rare choice to accept a five dollar bill--for a ten cent print job. It sounds like someone has been having good luck at the slots.

A guy asks, "excuse me, do you have paper?" and I was zoning out so I stare at him for about three seconds like I have no idea what he is saying to me. Embarrasing.

Paper guy: I need to fax this letter to an email.
Me (silently): Uh oh.

Go over to check on  the catalog computers--sad to see a search for 'dispicable me 2'--no results.

Parenthood, the DVD, for a guy who owes us the case of a previous DVD he checked out--but this is Customer Service's problem, not mine.

Coworker: Yaagh! Oh sorry. I thought I had popped my contact lens out, but I must not have because I can still see.

If you logged out of the computer your document is lost. I'm so, so sorry. There is nothing I can do no matter how sad you are.

Lady with a pile of library books, pointing to *my* book display: That is so great!
Me: Thank you!
Lady: But I already have so many books. I will have to come back.

Self check machine troubles--the self-checks and the copier are my favorite library technology because they are the only ones that send out distress signals when something is going wrong.

Pointing to the printer: Excuse me, do you help with this part too?

Can't find a lady's hold for ages until I figure out it's an interlibrary loan so it's held for $2.50 in ransom behind  the counter.

Take an abandoned bag to the lost and found. When I pick it up I see it has a COMPUTER in it!

Little girl shouting over and over (more in excitement than anger): It's time to go! Time to go! Time to go! Time to go!

Most valuable skills

I present, in rough order of importance, the five characteristics that contribute most to my effectiveness as a public library reference assistant:

1. Grew up after the average person stopped thinking a computer might blow up if you pressed the wrong key
2. Always sorry for everything
3. Spent a lot of time playing with Microsoft Paint as a child
4. Big, genuine smile
5. Ivy-league caliber undergraduate degree and 2/3 of the way through a master's of library science program

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Some excellent library things from around the web

1. How to tell your patrons the FBI is monitoring their library use without violating the PATRIOT act:
  [the FBI has not been here. watch closely for removal of this sign]

2, Another great public library incidents blog in the genre of Love the Liberry (and to a lesser extent this blog):
A great sample: "Most of you are probably familiar with James Patterson’s books—particularly how his face is prominently portrayed on the back covers. Well, one day I was walking through the stacks and found that someone had turned all the copies of his books around on the shelves so that all you could see was his face. They also lined them up in a row on the floor along the aisle. And all along the windowsills. James Patterson everywhere!"

3. Why ebooks, the internet, etc. will not make libraries obsolete:
"[ebooks will] replace libraries like elevators replaced stairs."--Andy Woodworth
Or, more flambuoyantly: "We don't need sex, we have IVF!"--Richelle Brown
Collected by Jacob Berg at: