Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miss Information has a strange day in the nice part of town

Miss Information is only working part time until she finishes school. This means she can no longer afford to eat. Coffee remains in the budget--how could it not? There are 6 coffee shops in the one block between the bus stop and the library--including 3 Starbucks. Three? Really?

Well, anyway, this being part time thing means she usually misses all the good times at the branch. Except yesterday when her 3.5 hour shift was filled with delights of all sorts.

Her first customer was a woman who was wearing a really ill-advised pair of camel coloured leggings. Miss Information would like to remind all women that just because leggings and thick tights are back on the market it doesn't mean you can throw out all of your skirts and leave the house half dressed. Anyway, the woman wasn't entirely satisfied by her photocopy. Miss Information helped her out. Mistake. The woman then decided that Miss Information was her personal slave and had her doing everything but changing the oil in her car. And she got really hostile when Miss Information tried to help another customer. "I wasn't done yet!" she would snarl when another customer approached the desk. She would have to come running from across the library to say it, though. "She's mine! No one else must touch her!"

One of the other customers who actually asked for help was an Internet user. "Do you permit the viewing of nude ladies on the computers?" he asked. Miss Information hesitated. Depends on who the ladies are, and the degree of nudity and artisitic merit, etc. The man suggested she keep an eye on the guy at computer 3. She did. Oh, yeah, that isn't really what you would call artistic, is it? One of Miss Information's co-workers approached Computer 3 man. They actually had a nice civilized conversation about the permissibility of watching hardcore porn in the library--which is how you know it's the "nice part of town". No one cursed anyone out. There was just a quiet philosophical conversation about how the library wants to provide a "welcoming atmosphere" which does not include the broadcasting of sex acts to little old ladies and toddlers.

Just when Miss Information was starting to wonder if she was in Munchkinland, a screaming fight broke out between a really really nice staff member and a customer. Miss Information has no idea what caused the problem but she did what she usually does when a fight breaks out in the library--she kept right on conducting a reference interview about Michael Jordan. This pretending-nothing-is-going-on approach to library service strikes her as bizarre, but it seems to be the way this sort of crisis is handled in all libraries.

Denial. It works for us. Don't question it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Dispatches from the nice part of town

Earlier this week a patron complained that a man in the browsing section had a cold but instead of wiping his nose on his sleeve like a normal civilized person, he was just leaning forward and letting his nose drip on the carpet. Apparently there was a puddle. Ew.

On Saturday a customer interrupted Miss Information's pleasant thoughts to report that the lady sitting next to him was making racist statements. "Really racist statements" he clarified as if there are various types.

By the time Miss Information found the guy in charge an actual screaming match had broken out between 2 other customers. Miss Information has no idea what started the disagreement but it got ugly, shouty and sweary pretty quickly and ended with one of them getting kicked out of the building--because telling a librarian to "fucking leave me the fuck alone" is never going to win you friends among library staff. On another note, the "really racist statements" lady made a good eye witness.

Miss Information is forced to conclude that it's only considered a nice part of town because there are so many gourmet coffee places nearby.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Miss Information is not a mathematician but this seems wrong

This semester Miss Information is taking a course on online searching. The first assignment involved 4 sample searches using Dialog. Now don't feel bad if you haven't heard of Dialog. It's irritating as hell and not nearly as pretty as Google, but Miss Information thought she had a pretty good handle on it.

Last night she got her paper back. Of the four searches she messed two of them up very nearly completely. She misunderstood one of the questions so her search results were sort of right or to put it another way--almost entirely wrong. In another question she used the wrong syntax and the wrong limit--so the results were spectacularly wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, to review:
4 questions - 2 wrong answers = B+