Thursday, January 25, 2007

Miss Information is less invisible today and that doesn’t work out so well, either.

There is just so much going on this week. Today the branch is filled with managers from around the region who are here for some kind of meeting or something. The managers sometimes need to check their e-mail and so they use the computers in the librarians’ main workroom/secret clubhouse/rumpus room. However, Miss Information was all alone when a manager she didn’t know came into the room. The woman was friendly and expressed an interest in using a computer. Miss Information was packing up her stuff to return to the reference desk. In her right hand she was carrying a couple of publisher’s catalogues and a pen. In her left hand she was carrying her coffee mug.

For some reason, the manager introduced herself to Miss Information. She even extended her hand for a friendly handshake. Miss Information’s left hand was the easily accessible one and it would have been a snap to balance the coffee cup on the catalogues and shake hands left-handed. Unfortunately Miss Information’s mother always said that this was a social faux pas. So, in order not to be thought of as a barbarian, Miss Information juggled her stuff so that the publisher’s catalogues and the coffee cup were in her left hand and was relieved that she could shake hands properly with her right hand.

And this is how Miss Information ended up stabbing one of the regional managers with a pen.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In which Miss Information suddenly becomes invisible, how annoying is that?

It was a very exciting day at the library. A library dignitary came to visit. There aren’t many dignitaries in the library world so this was special. This was a librarian who had left the field to do great and glorious things for the betterment of society. And so she was being honoured by having to visit libraries. By the way, if Miss Information ever does any great and glorious things for the betterment of society, she’d like to be honoured by having to visit bakeries.

So the important former librarian and various other important people from around the system came for a tour and meeting. The tour ended up at the reference desk at some point. There were only two staff members at the desk—Miss Information and the Librarian Responsible for Getting the Teenagers to Come to the Library. (Thanks a lot, buddy!)

Anyway, the head of the tour introduced him to the VIL (very important librarian). She seemed friendly. They chatted. It was pleasant. She looked in Miss Information’s general direction. And the tour moved on.

Miss Information concludes that she must have ceased to exist for a moment there. She hates when that happens.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Miss Information is annoyed by a bad speller

A kid approaches the adult reference desk. He’s about 7 and mumbles. He wants to know how to spell a certain word, but Miss Information can’t figure out if the word is “crater” or “creator”. Miss Information asks for clarification. Can the kid use the word in a sentence?

The kid obliges. The sentence he offers is this one: How do you spell the word crater (or creator)?

Hm...Miss Information needs a bit more help with this. She asks the kid if the word is “creator”, like when you invent or make something, or “crater” like the holes on the moon. The kid, who has started to get a bit annoyed himself, replies that it’s “crater (or creator)" like the website.

Oh. Amazingly this doesn’t help. Miss Information writes down a couple of options and the kid goes away. He returns to tell her that neither of them was the word he was looking for. Miss Information realizes that there is an almost endless combination of letters that could be used and she tells the kid to use a website whose address he can spell.

It is yet another example of why Miss Information is not cut out for children’s services.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Miss Information is annoyed by something new

You’d think after all these years Miss Information would have heard it all. You’d be wrong. At least once a week there is a customer encounter that makes her shake her head in disbelief.

Today’s began when a gentleman handed Miss Information a date due slip. Lots of the customers hold on to date due slips as a record of the books they’ve read in the past since the library doesn’t keep that stuff on file. He pointed at an item. He wanted that book please.

Miss Information looked up the book in the computer. It was an older title and there was only one copy in the system. It was due back on February 1. Miss Information offered to put a hold on the book for the man. Then she noticed—the date due slip the man had handed to her had a return date of February 1. Strange coincidence. Miss Information asked the man if he had the book already.

Well, yes and no. The man signed out the book and lost it, misplaced it, whatever. Now he would like another copy of the book please.

Miss Information regretfully replied that the copy he lost, misplaced, whatever was the only one in the library system. At this point the man became outraged, quite hostile, in fact. This should not be. It was really stupid, inconsiderate really for the library to have only one copy of this very important title. Miss Information restrained herself from pointing out that it was really stupid, inconsiderate really for this man to have lost, misplaced, whatever the only copy of this very important title and then get mad at the library because the only copy was lost, misplaced, etc.

After allowing the man to vent for a few minutes, Miss Information suggested that he look around his house again. Maybe the book would reappear. The man agreed to try.

So far this has been the most head-shaking moment of 2007.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Miss Information is annoyed by academia

For many years, people Miss Information works with, knows and respects have urged her to go back to school and become a librarian. The truth is, she applied once and is still trying to get over the rejection. She carved out a nice place in the paraprofessional end of things and all was cool.

Then a couple of months ago, the library had an anniversary party. Miss Information got to talking with a complete stranger. After a few pleasantries (which didn't include an exchange of names) the man, who seemed pretty sane, suggested that she go back to school and become a librarian.

Yes! A light dawned! This complete stranger who knows nothing about Miss Information is correct! She should go to graduate school! It makes so much sense! Why hasn't anyone mentioned this before?

Oh. Right. They have. Well, anyway the nameless stranger seemed normal enough. He probably knew what he was talking about. Miss Information began planning.

Her academic record is pretty laughable. It doesn't meet the school's (or anyone's) standards--but what the heck? She decides to apply anyway, take a couple of undergrad courses, improve those marks and get accepted by Fall 2008. It's a great plan. She even has a backup plan which involves pressing her face up against the window of the grad building until the admissions committee takes pity on her.

Against all odds, Miss Information manages to re-enroll as an undergraduate for January. Today is the first day of classes. One class is at 2pm and the other is at 6pm. Miss Information who lives about 30 minutes from campus, leaves home at 11am. You never know--something could happen. Nothing happens.

Miss Information is stupidly early for her first class, but that's ok. She has a couple of things to do--drop off that grad school application and get a new student card and that could take some time...It takes exactly 7 minutes.

She takes a walk around campus. The 2pm class is in the pharmacy building and she has no idea where that is. Oh. It's over there? That close, huh?

Hm. She's already familiar with the building holding the 6pm class but she decides to check it out--make sure they haven't moved the street or something. Sure enough, it's right where it used to be--about a 30 second walk from the pharmacy building. With all the pesky logistical issues worked out, Miss Information decides to take a breather. She has heard tell of a coffee shop in the athletic building. It'll kill some time getting there. It kills another 30 seconds.

Dammit! Didn't this campus used to be bigger?

Somehow she manages to kill a chunk of time and makes her way to the pharmacy building. Miss Information makes it to the lecture hall about 45 minutes early. It gives her plenty of time to read the sign announcing that today's class is cancelled.

With 5 hours before her next class she goes to the university bookstore. She can't buy books because neither of her professors have posted their book lists. She visits several libraries. She makes herself familiar with the coffee places and discovers the location of the psychiatric clinic.

Eventually 6pm rolls around. The prof describes the course (10 minutes), answers questions (3 minutes), takes attendance (5 minutes), suggests the class members introduce themselves and get to know each other better. This idea is rejected so class is dismissed at 6:27.

Miss Information remembers why she hated university.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Miss Information is annoyed by a contestant

The competition for the library’s annual Mother of the Year contest promises to be intense in 2007. Last year’s winner is a woman who spends hours playing Neopets on the Internet while ignoring her 3 year old daughter. This is some skill as the child spends her time preparing for a career in death defiance. Her areas of specialization are “precarious balancing on rickety furniture” and “eating the inedible”. Once in a while MOTY looks up from her game, screams at the child to “stop that!” and becomes immersed in her online world for another hour or 5.

Miss Information fears that as skilled as the current champion is, she may be in danger of losing her title to a feisty new competitor. This phenom made her first appearance at the library on January 2. She asked Miss Information to help her find the address of a man. She had his name, a couple of phone numbers that may or may not be his, and a vague notion of his location. Miss Information doesn’t usually ask why people need the information they need. In situations like this she doesn’t ask in case the answer is “because I’m stalking him”.

At any rate, Miss Information is unable to locate the man’s address. Does the customer know anything else about the guy? She knows where he works, but the office is closed for holidays. Miss Information is out of ideas. The woman is disappointed.

“Oh,” she says. “I really need to find him because he’s got my kids and I want them back.”

Huh? The voice in Miss Information’s head is telling her to just walk away, but does she listen? Nope. She has to ask. She stammers out something like "what's he doing with your kids?" It seems the woman became ill about a week ago and as the ambulance was taking her to the emergency room, she got this guy to take her kids. She doesn’t really know him. She doesn’t know his home phone number. They don’t have any mutual friends she can contact. She’s always depended on the kindness of strangers, or something. Besides, people are so nice during the holidays.

This seems like pretty shoddy parenting to Miss Information but she refrains from awarding the Mother of the Year trophy right then and there. It will be hard to top this but the new year has just started and who knows what sterling candidates might present themselves in the next 363 days.