Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday questions

First call of the morning is my boss from downstairs. Can I check for two books and send them down on the dumbwaiter?

Say hi to a coworker from my job at the community college. Oh my goodness, you work here too!?

Second call, a surprisingly interesting reference question: Can you tell me who is the lighthouse keeper for a particularly lighthouse in Michigan? The lighthouse she's interested in is the Grant Traverse Lighthouse, and it turns out they have a program where  you, Jane Citizen, can stay there for a week and be the lighthouse keeper! I don't know if that is at all relevant to what the patron was interested in, but I hope she tries it out. (I give her the contact information for the museum affiliated with the lighthouse so that she can call them and get more information on the lighthouse keeper situation.)

A 7th grader calls. She wants to volunteer at the library but needs help with the application. Among other difficulties, she doesn't know the word 'applicable' and has to spell it for me over the phone so I can identify and explain it. After several minutes, I gently inquire whether she has a parent who might be able to help her with the application. "Oh, I didn't think of that..."

Can you help me find Bitch is the New Black? She has the call number but doesn't know what to do with that information.

The Haunted House Diaries is checked out, but I can show you other haunted places materials. You're really writing a paper on this?

Nicest phone patron (the anti-Mac) calls. All his calls start with "I wonder if you could help me with..." He just wants the phone number of the local UPS store.

Patron comes up: 'I think the guy on computer 39 is very drunk. He is talking to himself and falling over and he's dropped his wallet three times." When we call Security to come check on him, he says, "I think he's petting an imaginary dog." Fortunately, the man leaves peacefully with a police officer.

Angry man: There are three people over there and they came and sat down and all they are doing is just talking!

I can get change for a ten dollar bill downstairs, right? Actually, I think we have it up here.

I put these two books on hold but they're not ready yet. Can you show me where to find them? It's tough to explain to people that there's not someone waiting by a computer screen just watching for holds to come in. We only pull them a couple of times a day! Normal stores don't do anything like this at all ("Hi grocery store staff. Please collect a carton of eggs, a gallon of milk, an onion, and a loaf of bread and save them under my name. I'll be there to pick them up in half an hour.") yet somehow the fact that it takes us, like, hours to pull people's books for them seems to annoy many people a lot.

Is this the right elevator to get back to the main floor of the library? Sorry, I usually go to [small branch library]? Thank you so much, have an amazing day!

Is there a bathroom on this floor? Thank you!

(Why is there a negative correlation between how tough/annoying a question is for me to answer and how pleased patrons are when I help them? The people who ask the easiest questions are almost always the nicest.)

What are the hours of the library through Wednesday?

Are you familiar enough with the scanner to help me scan something in and edit it? (Not how that works, sorry!)

If I highlight something on a website and then print, it will just print the highlighted part, right?

The same conversation about highlighting and printing again, 30 minutes later. Same patron. This time I walk her through how to copy and paste just the part she wants into Word.

Guy searching on a jobs website can't make it show jobs close to where he lives (this is because the website isn't working properly.)

Okay, now I want to copy things from multiple web pages into the same document. Can I do that, too?

Computer virus help for the job search patron. Word help for the printing patron. Neither will come up to the desk; they just keep waving me over as I start to go back to my desk after helping the other one.

Printer troubles.

Can you look at my cover letter? "I'm not any kind of expert on...yeah, I can help you fix your grammar, anyway."

What Is The What by Dave Eggers (love that title) and where is the fiction section?

(As I am doing 'roving reference' i.e. making a sweep of the floor to see what patron misbehaviors are happening and/or what aftermaths need to be dealt with) 'Excuse me, are you one of the reference librarians? Can you tell me if this 'Great Fish Bay' has any other names and what modern day country it's in? And can I get a printout of a map?"

Excuse me, what time does the library close today?

I'm trying to find a book. The catalog says it's here and the call number is 921 Mitner, but your 900s go straight from 920 to 923. Oh no, it's in Biographies, sorry!

Boss from downstairs again: Now can you send down The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?

Request Allen Carr's The East Way to Stop Smoking from another branch. Good for you, sir! Good luck!

Can you show me where this call number is? Also, do you have anything about this in large print?

Are there maps of town I can look at?

Did you move the biography of Thelonious Monk?

Do you have The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis?

If you wanted to listen to internet radio here, what are the rules?

Young volunteer comes in in person. Still has a lot of questions about the application. I ruthlessly pass her off to our Youth Services Librarian.

Our oddest phone patron calls for some info on home security systems.

Well, it's 5:45, so Loud Background Noise Woman will be calling any minute now. I'd better get off the blog since talking to her always requires opening a million browser tabs.


  1. Well, DID you move the biography of Thelonious Monk?

    1. Actually, yes. We did shift the biographies a little bit after weeding the reference section.

  2. nice job on the lighthouse question....

    1. Thanks! It's just the powers of Google, though.

  3. mm, don't like those patrons who summon librarians by waving at them, but better than snapping fingers I guess.

  4. Nice grunt. I love your blog!!!