Thursday, May 28, 2015

(Hip hip) hooray?

The ongoing weirdness of customer service: The guy who I lent a marker to is profusely grateful; the guy who I spent 15 minutes trying to find out the etymology and literal meaning of the expression 'hip hip hooray' for is kind of disappointed that the answer isn't as definitive as he was imagining it would be.

It's not that I 'can't find the answer,' it's that the documentary evidence to prove that a single answer is correct just isn't there. I'm sorry.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I know you'll miss me...

...but your aim will get better!" is one of the jokes that one of our regulars told me today. He's a substitute teacher, and he was telling me what he learned from third graders this week. I asked him how he was and he said, "Can't one would listen."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Recovery refgrunt

After the last two posts (especially the last one) this blog has to have something more cheerful. There'd better be some funny reference questions today.

Man who's arrived promptly at 9: "Where are the free comics?" This question isn't as odd as it sounds; it is Free Comic Book Day today, after all.

Patron: Can you show me some books about Microsoft Word? I need to pass this test.
Me: Sure! [shows her a shelf full of Word books]
Patron [picking up a book from the shelf below about Excel]: What about this one? Do you think this is a good one?

Weird guy who teaches the citizenship class wants to know if he can keep his two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew in the staff fridge. Nope. Probably not even if you hadn't been so rude to me when I was a new employee.

Phone call for contact information for a small press. He wants to buy one of their book series. This guy is a regular caller and is super-nice, but he always wants to tell you at length about how get this week's book is and why you should read it, and they are all nutty. This week's selection is Anastasia.


Travel books? China?

China Travel comes back--"There's a white-haired lady coming up too. My wife. Could you just....shoot her back toward that corner [where the travel section is]? Great!"

Me to white-haired lady: "Looking for your husband, by any chance?" (She was, fortunately. Hope China  Travel was he.)

Can I check this out downstairs or do I have to check it out here [on the second floor]?

Trade a patron a nickel for five of her pennies since the copier won't take the latter.

"I'm looking for the men's, uh...facility." (bathroom, not jail.)

"Do you have a twin? The young lady at the [unintelligible, sounded like 'car park'] looks just like you! I thought I was in Inception!"

Bathroom again.

Security guard drops by--apparently someone clogged the toilet in the downstairs men's bathroom with loose tobacco and rolling papers, so it's closed. That explains a lot (in a way).

Materials for studying for the medical assisting exam? Books are all checked out, but we have an online course!

Slow cooker cookbooks? Sewing? Wow, this is a big library.

Do you have a pen I can have? I have a pen you can borrow. No, do you have an extra one that I can keep? No, we don't give them away, sorry.

From my desk I have a good view of the print release station, so I know when to leap up and intervene when someone is getting a "no jobs for this user at this terminal" error message. It's hard to find a way to say "It didn't print because you never hit the 'print' button" that doesn't make someone feel stupid.

Yes, the printer will make change for your quarter.

OMG! Earthquake! Ben the security guard and I have a nonverbal exchange from across the room: "WTF was that?/I don't know/me either/I'm Googling it right now." Lots of the patrons look around/at me, but no one freaks out, luckily. The main earthquake tracker website's page for our area is down, suggesting that we aren't the only ones who felt it.

Odd patron comes up to the desk: "Do you make change for a dollar?"

Less odd patron comes up to the desk--"Did I really just feel that?"

Phone call which I am 99% sure will be "Did an earthquake just happen!?"  but she just wants to know if we have a subscription to

Phone call: Did Princess Kate have her baby? (Yes!)

Is there someone here who can help me with my Kindle?
Unfortunately, fifteen minutes of investigation reveal that her problem is that she's forgotten the password to her Kindle account, and that I can't help with.

While I'm helping the woman with the Kindle, the BBC Farsi Man comes up. Patrons, especially patrons who have communication challenges, often pick a preferred library staff member because that person can rely on their history for a lot of clues about what they're trying to say. I'm the chosen librarian of BBC Farsi Man. This is the first time I've ever seen him be rude--he's annoyed that my colleague helps him and won't interrupt me so that I can help him.

Finally a phone call about the earthquake. I've had this tab lurking open for ages and I can finally use it!

Any more City tax forms? Sorry, we're out of ones you can take for free. You can photocopy our reference copy, though.

Oh no. I told the earthquake caller that the magnitude was 4.0, but now I see it's been upgraded to a 4.2!

We have a system where the person on the left hand ref desk answers the phone and the person on the right hand desk answers email reference. Someone's written in to complain about the limited functionality of our public computers but hasn't supplied a return email address. Coworker grumbles--"If they're not going to tell me who they are, I'm not going to forward it onto the help desk. Just kidding."

No, I can't tell you if the dosage of Klonopin prescribed to your friend by her doctor is too high, sorry. Would you like general information about what WebMD and the Mayo Clinic says about dosage guidelines that is absolutely not medical advice in any way? Good.

Can I check out books here?

Nice middle- or high-school aged girl wants CDs to help her Arabic-speaking mom learn English and study for the citizenship test. "I was like, 'mom, just go to the library and see what they have!' but she didn't want to so I thought I would get some for her." Awww!

Girl comes back: Oh, can she have some dream interpretation books too? This is the only time I've ever cheerfully shown someone the dream interpretation books.

Someone has one of those mylar helium balloons with them at the computer.

Loud Background Noise woman calls for three addresses--only one of the people is our database. Bummer.

Ben from security asks us to give him the info of the guy using computer 39. Pornography? (ick.)

Do you have the book My Story by Elizabeth Smart? Yes we do!

Do you have any books on institutional chaplaincy? No, sorry.

Can I buy some headphones?

I need the book 'Levine.'
Is that the person who wrote it?
Hm. Do you know the person's first name?
You know, Mr. Bean.
Ohhhhh, okay. I'm afraid he doesn't have a book.
Yes. That would be downstairs.

BBC Farsi Man asks me to write down the (English) name of the video he's watching. He can see he's almost out of computer time and he wants to be able to find it again tomorrow. Smart!

When does the new Star Wars movie come out?

Well, we close in ten minutes. Goodnight!

Scratch that; this is the saddest thing

I helped a black guy find some books on Rastafarianism this morning. He came back to show me that someone had written "N****ers go home--to Mother Africa!" on one of the pages. It was in pencil but even after a lot of attempted erasing it was still legible. We'll be replacing our copy of this book with a new one.

He and his wife had their elementary school age daughter with them. I hope she didn't see it.