Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Miss Information is annoyed by lack of climate change

Miss Information has been struggling with her usual winter melancholy. She may have mentioned that she hates the cold…also, snow, hats, ice, boots, runny nose, steamed up glasses…well, the entire stupid season, frankly. This year seems worse because in addition to all that weather stuff, the library is in yet another transition period compounded by shuffling staff and the introduction of a new computer system which has everyone suicidal. Miss Information is also waiting for the inevitable rejection of her graduate school application. Of course maybe this year she won’t be rejecte…no, no, no…Must. Crush. Optimism. Ahhh…all gone now. That was close. As John Cleese once pointed out it’s not the despair that will drive you insane, it’s the hope.

In spite of all these distractions, Miss Information is positive she could cope much better with life if she didn’t have conversations like this:

There is a customer standing in front of the microfilm reader. The microfilm reader is clearly labelled with a large “Out of Order” sign.

Woman: Can I use this?
Miss Information: Sorry, it’s not working.
Woman: When will it be fixed?
Miss Information: We don’t really know. Soon we hope.
Woman: So I can use it to read the old newspapers?
Miss Information: You could, except it isn’t working.
Woman: Oh. When will it be fixed?
Miss Information: We’re not sure. It needs parts.
Woman: But can I use it?
Miss Information: Not right now. It’s out of order.
Woman: So I can use it to make a copy?
Miss Information: Well it’s out of order right now, so no.
Woman: So, when will it be fixed?

At this point Miss Information does something very wrong and completely unethical. She whispers conspiratorially that she’s heard rumours that the machine will never, ever be fixed. It had to be done. If the conversation lasted another second Miss Information would have run screaming into the night—without her boots, hat and gloves.


At 6:02 PM, Blogger Brent said...

Friedrich Nietzsche said of hope: "In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment."

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Kim said...

Sadly,I think many of us can relate to this. Often, if I give someone an answer that they don't like, for example, "I'm sorry, that DVD is checked out," the patron just stands there and stares at me. I think they honestly believe that if they stand there long enough, I'll change my answer to something like "Oh I'm sorry, I misread the screen. Yes, the DVD you want is on the shelf after is your lucky day!"

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just when Thursday was too dispiriting to face... a new entry to read. Thanks for making my day.

At 8:07 AM, Anonymous almost a librarian said...

I had a similar experience with a library patron who wanted to use the internet, despite very clear signs plastered over each PC stating that the internet was down.

"When will it come back up?"

We don't know.

"So can I go on AOL instead?"

Uh, no.

"Then let me check my email while I wait for the internet to come back up."


At 5:03 PM, Blogger kittenpie said...

Exactly why Tuesday saw me pretending to punch the phone and throttle myself as I worked my way through an equally repetitive and stupid conversation with an equally obtuse patron who had called in. It's better, really, because the counter is not distance enough between us, sometimes, whereas I haven't yet figured out how to actually reach through the wires and slap a phone patron.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the phone:
Our copy of that dvd you say you need ASAP is out and not due back for a week, but it is in at another library. We can get it sent here which will take a few days or you can go there tomorrow and pick it up. They are closed tonight.
"Can you call and tell them I'm coming".
They are closed now. It would be a good idea for you to call before going over to make sure it is there.
"Can you get it for me".
I can have it sent here; that will take several days.
"I need it tomorrow, can you call them and ask them to send it sooner"
They are closed now. I can do an online reserve to have it held there or brought here, but can't guarantee that it will be available.
"I need it right away".
This is the short version, on an evening when we are the only open library in our area and I am the only refence librarian on duty.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear fellow library people! I feel your pain!! And it again gives me some relief to know that it isn't just me!
My story: We are migrating to a new system. Said migration will take place all day Monday. No internet will be available. The previous Thursday, library staff takes extra pains to put up signs and inform regular internet users that THERE WILL BE NO INTERNET AVAILABLE ALL DAY MONDAY.
Come Monday, it never fails. We open and three people (regular users) make a beeline for the computers. They just want to check their e-mail. They can't? Why not? What do you mean email is internet realted? They never heard of that! They were always able to check their email at the XYZ library when the internet went down! Yes, they were able to do that! I obviously don't understand the way computers work. And by the way, the XYZ library has a much bigger internet than we do, so there!

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Misanthropina said...

Ah, Miss Information, you have obviously struck a chord. My personal favourite was explaining to engineering students why exactly they couldn't use the photocopier during a power outage. Very unreasonable of me, given that they just wanted to use it for a couple of minutes, and I had already forbidden them to use the computers.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger dancer said...

Yes, I can relate to all of the above. I have reproduced below an oft repeated scenario in my branch.

Patron: I'm looking for a book on (insert topic here.)

Me: Here's a good, up to date book on your topic. It's reference, so you have to read it here, but you can Xerox anything you need.

Patron: Ok, great! Can I check this book out?

I then repeat what I just said, and wonder why they felt the need to ignore me the first time! I'm really not just talking because I like the sound of my own voice. Ugh

At 6:41 PM, Blogger scrimp said...


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