Saturday, December 27, 2014

Conspiracy day

Today, callers want to know:
  • "What can you tell me about criminal optical labs? You know, how they grind the lenses to make you cross-eyed or so that you can't see. People are dying every day. It's the master crime."
  • "Can you tell me the contact information for Eric Davis of Warp Drive Metrics?...He has a contract with the Air Force. You have one of his books at the library...because teleportation is a science now, NASA has colonies on other planets."
Whenever a conspiracy theorist has a 'question,' they always do at least 90% of the talking. It's hard to believe that they don't want to tell you things more than they want you to tell them something.

Bonus: That book the second caller mentioned? It's Secret journey to planet Serpo : a true story of interplanetary travel by Len Kasten, and it is classified in our library as 001.9, "Controversial Knowledge" rather than 629.4, "Space Travel."

Double bonus: Do a Google Search for "dewey decimal 00," and this is what you get on auto-fill:

I'm surprised the conspiracy theorists think we might be their allies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some good, some bad

Today one of our regulars came to ask me for help with ebooks. He said "Do you know anything about Overdrive [our ebook provider]? I've never used it before. I checked this book out and I don't know how to download it." The book he had checked out was Kraken by China MiƩville. A recommendation I wrote for that very ebook was posted earlier this week on the library homepage. Coincidence? I think not.

Wandering the stacks, I found just the front and back covers of Samsung Galaxy S4 for Dummies, no innards. Apparently someone has figured out which part of the book sets off the alarm at the front door. Seamus the Boss of Security is on it--I'm sure the book is long-gone, but maybe he caught the perpetrator on camera.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I don't have enough information

Only five minutes after we open, my friend asks me if I can come down and cover the first floor desk for her for a few minutes so she can make a phone call. No questions. I come back upstairs to Reference and ask my coworker "Did I miss anything?" First he says, "Nope," but then spots Seamus, the Boss of Security, listening earnestly to an agitated patron. "Oh wait, maybe."

It's my turn to answer the email 'reference' questions this morning, but there aren't any.

Phone call: Trying to reach Local History, but I don't have the number.
I transfer him, which is scary because Local History is one digit off from my own extension so if I mess up I am the one who gets the voicemail and has to explain my mistake...

A patron says the printer won't print because it 'says I don't have enough information.' Actually, it won't print because she didn't put enough money in the printer, which is what it is saying. At least the former is true, though.

Caller: I went through a box of my old things lately, and I found something that needs to be returned. But the address I have for them is 15 years old. I don't want to send it to the wrong place. Can you see if you can help me find an newer address for them?
How thoughtful! I actually confirm the old address based on newer information. The ideal outcome.

Can I borrow a scanner and a pen?

Guy with big headphones who I see a lot but am not sure I have ever actually helped with anything more challenging than giving him a computer pass. "Hi! How nice to see you! You are my favorite liberian!"

Do you have 11x17 paper for the copier? (No, sorry.)

Lady who is already really overwhelmed by computers and she hasn't even sat down at one. But she comes in from the elevator side of the room so my coworker gets that one. Not sure if I am envious or relived. Yet, anyway.

How do I log off the computer? (You'd be surprised how often this comes up.)

Can I help you?
I need to scan my card to get on a computer.
You can just sit down at any of the ones that are available and type in your number.
(How can people be so sure about how things work, and so wrong at the same time?)

Scanner returned.

Email Reference: Yes, we DO have old issues of the local newspaper you are looking for!

Will the copy machine take pennies? I need a solid nickel.

A text-to-speech issue about a website that 'won't accept my password.' See where it says 're-enter password'? You have to enter your password again there.

Do you have a piece of paper? (Yes)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Results have often been disastrous

Today I am working on a book display called "Amazing worlds," which features some of the most interesting premises in fiction. I've been trying to add to my list by doing research on out-there scientific concepts that have probably made it into fiction, and I was amused to come across the below in a Wikipedia article on the Fermi paradox (the universe is really big so other life probably exists, but we haven't met it), discussing possible answers/solutions:
"It is dangerous to communicate
An alien civilization might feel it is too dangerous to communicate, either for us or for them. After all, when very different civilizations have met on Earth, the results have often been disastrous for one side or the other, and the same may well apply to interstellar contact.[111"

Mouse over "have often been disastrous for one side or the other" and you see it links to:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Please advise (more ethics questions)

I got an email from the administrative secretary, sent to all staff, saying:

"If you would like to win a food item from the Harry and David Company, please submit your name to this email...This gift is from [a local law firm]."

What? Why would they give us this 'gift'? Do they represent the library? Is it ethical for me to enter the raffle? Please advise, thoughtful readers.

Can I print out the whole forth amendment?

A guy came to the desk to ask this. He actually wants the text of the amendment plus a bunch of commentary on Okay, that is less weird.

Tax forms requested. And so it begins...

Find three abandoned magazines on the shelf: ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and...Archaeology Today.

Can you help me change this Word Perfect document into Microsoft Word? (Does anyone my age who doesn't work at a library even know what Word Perfect is?)

Patron advises me that the Norfolk, VA library is installing cell phone service blockers in their walls, isn't that a great idea?

Favorite patron of the day asks for a book on "American Pit Bulls," is amazed by the dogs section.

Printer is out of paper.

Coworker: Didn't we have the Consumer Reports Buyers Guide up here in reference? I promised my daughter I would look up drills.

Boss warns her that she is in charge of the building, a dreaded designation for us lowly library assistants. Also warns her to keep an eye out for 'a lady who is really angry about The Count of Monte Cristo.'