Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Terrible horrible no good very bad reference desk shift

Even in Australia.

I've been on the adult ref desk for three hours now, and usually, at this desk, boredom is my biggest foe. Tonight, that was not to be the case. As soon as I sat down our "red alert" patron came in, the one who's made us get the Police Department on speed-dial. He was no trouble. In fact, the first two hours were cake. In the last hour, I've been swamped by very kind patrons with really absurdly difficult requests. One lady came in and handed me a copy of her credit card bill. Or rather "Father's" credit card bill. Father stumbled in behind her, an ancient priest. "Father," who, I came to learn, has no trouble putting together a TV set, but perhaps was best not left alone with the Internets, had $850 on his card to a travel agency in Michigan. Could I find all the travel agencies in this particular town in Michigan? Sure. Well, at first glance, there are 451 of them. I tried to explain to the nice woman who wanted to help a very old priest that perhaps trying to phone each of the 451 travel agencies might not be a good strategy. I tried to explain that if he'd made a reservation online, it would be hard to pinpoint the the right person to call. I really, really tried to get her to work with the credit card company. "Father" kept trying to help, wondering where the city was.

Meanwhile, another patron was wondering how best to search back issues of tabloids for articles about Bigfoot. No, really, I'm serious. She seemed an adept web searcher, was familiar with searching the archives of other periodicals, but couldn't seem to grasp why the National Enquirer might not keep meticulous, easily searchable records. Then I dropped a huge book on my toe, and you know, I couldn't do any of the yelling that is normally required to dull the pain of injured toes.

And, just for giggles, I just helped a very sweet older gentleman track down the address and phone number of a super-Christian Pro-Life organization. Since chanting to myself "Libraries disseminate information!" didn't make me feel less guilty, I'm trying to convince myself that maybe he's going to write them a well reasoned letter about why women should be allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies. The sweet older gentlemen didn't have quite the right name for the organization he was looking for, but gosh darnit, I was still able to find them. "You're like a detective!" he said, shaking my hand. "That's what librarians are," I said grimly. "I'm going to put you on my list of good people," he said. It doesn't feel like I'm on that list.

1 comment:

jean said...

Cheer up, jenn. Maybe he wanted to stage a peaceful pro-choice protest outside facility.

Interesting patrons...

...then again, it's not like you could expect to get King Noels all the time, right?