Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekend refgrunt

Today's refgrunt I hope will be a good one. Three different patrons have asked me things about how the library works, which I always like.

The first guy in lets us know that none of the computers have been turned on. We had a program last night which probably caused this, no big deal, we get an excuse to get up and walk around to turn all the machines on, and the guy is a regular who knows enough about computers to just press the power button rather than having a meltdown.

An older black man in a fedora and long coat comes in, dressed in what I think of as 'classic sharply-dressed old black gentleman' style. He asks me where I went to college--Chicago. Oh, that's where he's from! We have a nice thirty seconds of reminiscing, but sadly, he wants to know "If you owe the library a lot of money from a long time ago, what can you do to get that sorted out?"

Teenager: How can I look up books by a particular author?

Phone: How do you place an interlibrary loan?

Help a guy enter his birthdate on a web application. State of Michigan, giving someone a calendar tool that starts on this month, in 2015, is not very helpful for helping someone enter a birthdate!

Lots of phone calls this morning, relatively speaking. Coworker on downstairs desk asks me to check our dumbwaiter (yes, dumbwaiter)--is the door all the way closed? It won't come down.

Excuse me, where's the restroom?

Elevator doors are stuck half-way closed and flailing feebly like a bug that's been stuck on its back for a long time. You can help them by forcing them to open all the way again and letting them start over. I can't wait for the renovation coming in the fall.

I hate all phone calls that start with "Can you please go to w, w, w..." He wants to know about "miniature ultra-sensitive microphones." But his demanded website doesn't have any.

Phone: What version of Office do you have on your computers?

Teach someone how to use the enter key. Second one this week.

Now, how do I indent this? (She doesn't know the term 'indent,' but that's what she's describing).

I need help with printing. Oh no, please don't put that money into the copy machine!

I need help with copying (different woman).

Do you have a bathroom on this floor!?

The elevator is really acting up again.

Checkout desk calls: Patron called about a dropped hold but it's supposed to be on the shelf up there. I can find  the other volumes in the series, but not that one. Grr.

Is your romance downstairs? (Oh, romance section!)

Do you have Local True Crime Account? I'm related to that woman. It's in our local history collection so you can't check it out, sorry. That's okay, can you show me where true crime is instead? Yes!

This is embarrassing, but...I don't know how to turn the computer on.

Rude "Can you give me the number for..." guy calls for a local car dealer. He always talks to you as though you're a moron, and I've never heard someone say "thank you" in a less-sincere way.

Help someone with numbered lists in Word.

Downstairs keeps changing their minds about whether our spazzy elevator should be 'out of service' or not, so I keep taking down and then putting up the sign. At one of the times it's up, a man reads it and then asks, "The elevator's out of service?" What did you think "The elevator is out of service" meant?

Do you have a section for oversized books? I did the worst thing you can do with a book you love--I lent it.

I really hate telling poor people that they have to pay for the copies that are their mistakes, but I did show her how to do it and tell her to let me know if she needed more help, so you've got to draw the line somewhere.

Now Numbered Lists needs to print.

Do you have a stapler I can use?

True crime woman comes back--she's decided to put that first book she mentioned on hold after all.

Physician's Desk Reference.

If I give you the name of a vice president, could you tell me when he died? We go through four, all of whom died in the month of November of various years. He is so excited! He says "You are so helpful, and so quick!" (and so full of questions I would like to ask you, sir!)

The elevator is still behaving very oddly.

How would I upload a picture I found online to Facebook?

How do I print some copies? (I hate the copier vs. printer guessing game)

Copier (different patron, first guy wanted to print) is out of legal-sized paper.

A new variation on "Can you watch my stuff?" No, the bathroom being "tiny" doesn't mean we will change our We Will Not Watch Your Stuff policy.

Adorable toddler daughter of my coworker and his wife stop by! Extremely cute! Coworker makes her ask "Miss Emma" if it's okay for him to go downstairs with her and pick out some picture books. For once he'll get the 15-minute break that we are supposedly entitled to, but etiquette says you never get to take on the desk.

The copier is jamming.

Now it's making 8.5x14 copies when a different patron wants 8.5x11. It's starting to compete with the microfilm reader for Least Favorite Machine.

To get on the computer, do I just put my number in?

The woman who didn't want the legal-sized copies says that the news article she is copying is about her son. He wrote a book!

Here's a good question: How do you find out if a family member who died left a life insurance policy? If you were in Michigan, you might want to contact the DIFS OFIR at,5269,7-303-13222_13250-275328--,00.html. Michigan government websites--their links are the worst, but their acronyms are pretty bad too. This question starts off alarming: "Where would I find out about death insurance? Someone or other died and left money to my cousin. This was in 1979..." but it turned out all right, except for the lady whose son wrote a book trying to interrupt to tell me more about it.

The self-check machine is saying I have something overdue. What is it?

Purchase request for the son's book. The only way I could deflect her from telling me about it ad nauseum, and it actually looks like it might be a good fit for our collection.

Brain teasers? Also, how do we get on a computer?

You can't get on the computer because you owe us too much money. They are super rude about it.

Another person, a kid, also can't get on the computer. Her card is expired and she doesn't owe any fines, yet she, like the fine-owers, has to go 'all the way downstairs' to renew her card. She's totally cheerful.

Another phone call from the guy who calls all the time yet thinks we are idiots. He wants to know how to spell "pesticides" and "fertilizer" and keeps asking me if I'm sure I'm telling him the correct spelling. Then he talks to me for about two minutes about how the library should be open until 9 p.m. on Saturdays for 'family hour.' 9-6 like we do now is okay, but I'd really like to have an hour with my own family on Saturday nights. Of course, I don't say that to him.

Someone wants to borrow the book of tax forms, still.

Regular: "You might want to call security in case that gets out of hand." He walks away before I can ask any questions and I can't figure out what the 'that' might be.

How do I change the page color in Word?

Phone number for a Los Angeles.


  1. Fascinating, just fascinating. The one that I won't be able to get out of my head is the vice-presidents' death dates guy.

  2. We Will Not Watch Your Stuff is a very important policy.

    1. Possibly the most important. At least of the policies that are potentially enforceable.

  3. if you can answer questions like "How do I change the page color in Word?" you are a winner!

    1. Thank you! It is under the "page Layout" tab, in case you are interested.

  4. do you get the geneaology nuts?

    1. Fortunately we can generally divert them to my long-suffering colleague in Local History. But yes, yes we do.