Librarian Ire

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The sound you are hearing is a warning.

Growling, teeth grinding, heavy and increasingly ragged breathing on the part of a librarian is a sign of danger to all mortals within their presence. When you hear this sound, please back away from the desk slowly and whatever you do, do NOT make eye contact!

The other day, at the reference desk, I had an older guy (40s) come in to get some help looking up articles. He informed me what he was - PhD student - and his technology level - can't use computers well. Ookaaayyy... I'll play along, even though he is a PhD student in a technology field. So, he needed help finding a book or article (he didn't know which) by a particular pair of guys. I ask what he has done so far ("Did you look in the catalog?", "Do you know the first names of the authors?", "Do you know what field of study they fall within?") Nothing. So I begin. As I am opening up the online catalog to look up these authors he asks if I can look for a book by X title.

"Yes sir, I can, but I can only do 1 search at a time."

I look up the authors - common american names, too many hits. I plug in a few keywords which the patron "believes" are in the title. None of the results match. I flip to WorldCat and give that a try. Again, a zillion results, but we scroll through a few pages. Finally, he says "That one looks right. Where is it?" I can tell from the screen that we don't have it here. Also, there's a 1 for "Libraries worldwide that own".

"There's only 1 copy held in a library in the world. Your chances of getting this book are zero." Knowing its probably the Library of Congress or something. Close - British Library. Now, this is a 1996 book, so clearly it was of little to no importance scholastically. "Ok," the guy says, "I'll place an ILL request for it." Uhhh... (let it go Loki). Then he wanted to know if there were book reviews on this book written. Ok. To the journal databases.

I spend a few moments staring at that book title trying to figure out what database might be relevant - can't decide (completely ambiguous title), so I try Academic Search. Lucky me! Found a book review. I'm telling him, here's a book review - "Can you print that off for me?" No sir, I can not, if you want to print things you have to do it yourself - its not free! I suggest I email it to him. Then he wants more reviews. I hit a few more databases - nada. "What exactly are book reviews?" He asks me. Oh cripes.

Then he wanted me to look for that other title. Then back to the original authors for articles they might have written, then for a different author. I got 2 more requests to print articles off for him, he made me do his ILL request because he "just doesn't know computers" and because its "easier" for me to input that data. (Right, why should he have to type in his name, id #, email address when I could ask him for it, type it in, ask him if that's correct) I had to write down call #'s for him and show him where to get them, bastard even asked me to go get the books for him "because it would be easier".

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