Posts Tagged ‘Reference Desk Interactions’

Things They Don’t Teach in Library School

This week’s story is definitely one of our all time favorites! We certainly applaud this brave librarian for keeping her cool in what was surely a stressful (and surreal) situation. (And bonus points for the name suggestion…)

Under the category of “Things that they don’t teach you in Library School” how to deliver a baby certainly must head the list. But when the 911 operator tells you to lay your patron flat on her back and stay on the phone because she is going to “talk you through the delivery and YOU MUST be the one to do it if the ambulance doesn’t arrive” the first thing that happens is your heart nearly stops beating! Yes, our patron was in the end stages of labor and said that she thought her water had broken about 1 or 2 a.m. when she came to the library about 5:30 yesterday evening. Why did she come to the library? Well where else do you go when you want information? You go ask a librarian!!

And she asked me four things: for a DVD about labor and delivery, was what happened to her early that morning really her water breaking, did I think that what was happening to her body right then could be contractions, and did that mean that her baby was coming now?

After a few questions (like we do in any good reference interview) it became VERY apparent that she was indeed in labor and that, as a matter of fact, those labor pains were coming every two minutes! That’s when the 911 call went out and I found out that delivering a baby just became part of my job description! Luckily for ALL concerned the Fire Department arrived just as I got the mother-to-be into my private office and they took over the timing. I could tell that they were sweating the arrival of the ambulance as much as I was, however, because by the time the ambulance actually arrived the contractions were coming every 30 seconds. The ambulance whisked her away with me telling her to be sure to name the baby after Melvil Dewey and to bring him in soon so we could get him his own library card!

~“Rachel” Fort Worth, TX

Back to the Basics

After several months of pretty specific themes on The Merry Librarian, we’re going back to our roots for April! We’ve got a collection of wacky patron interactions, reference desk shockers, and some miscommunication moments worthy of a good, old-fashioned forehead-smack. Moments like these are what it’s all about! (We think…)

I was a young librarian, on the desk, still clueless enough for coworkers to be entertained by me getting the weirdos.  My patron approached.  “Do you have a phone book for Deerfield, Michigan?”  No, I was sorry, we did not, (cue shock! and explanation that we paid for phone books, so didn’t get out-of-state books) but I was sure I could find the number for him if he would let me know what he was looking for.  “Well, the Ford Museum.”  Okay, so I found him the phone number and asked if he wanted to know their hours – was he planning a trip?  “No,” but the hours would be great – he’d been there.  Could he call them from the library phone?  No, he could not, but perhaps he could email them?  “Can you help me set up an email account?”  Sure, I could, no problem.  As we moved toward the computers he let me know what he REALLY wanted.  “See, I was at that museum, and they had this video for sale about Henry Ford, and I thought I’d call them and see if they could loan me a copy of it.”  Ah, well, I was sure we could interlibrary loan that for him.  No email necessary!  “You DO that?”

My favorite circumnavigation of the question ever.

~”Kelly”

Thanks to a fellow librarian in Munich, Germany for this next one!

I’m working at a museum library in Munich, Germany. Last month there was a retraining for the new RDA-system which should be presented to us. In the auditorium were over 150 librarians from all over Bavaria, the teacher talked for hours and after five hours one elderly librarian asked:
“And how to deploy RDA in card catalogues?”
The teacher looked very confused.
“This retraining concerns RDA. It’s a system for online cataloging. You’ve got STILL card catalogues???”

Greetings from Munich!

~”Annette”

Security Guards at libraries get the wackos, drunks, vagabonds and vagrants…but apparently they don’t get to answer basic questions…

In most of our Branches our security personal are also trained to perform clerk duties, at the Circ desk.  One of our Security/Monitor person at our branch will cover the Circ Desk while staff is at lunch or working on a project. I was staffing the Information desk, while he was staffing the Circ Desk. I was helping a patron and noticed that the line was getting longer while patron lined up at the Info desk.  I looked over to the Circ Desk a noticed that no one was  standing  there, except for our security monitor asking patron if they needed help, and they would reply no thanks,  then move quietly over to the Info Desk.

I  then asked the next patron in line that the person at the Circ desk would be able to help her and she looked at our security person then looked at me and said, “He can’t help me. He is just Security!”

I looked over to him and he says, “All I wanted was a simple retirement job, where are those termination papers?”

~”Matt”

A Case of Mistaken Identity, Mate

Another tale from Queensland, Australia, demonstrates the global phenomenon of patrons mistaking librarians for…well, just about anything else. We’ve had patrons mistake us for janitors, psychics, babysitters, contractors…just to name a few. (Check out our archives for more stories of mistaken identity!)  In this case, the patron assumes the librarian capable of incredible financial feats. Ah, well. It all goes back to that infamous question: “You are a librarian, aren’t you?”

Library patron was using one of  our public use Internet access computers. I’d had a fair amount of trouble getting him logged on as he wasn’t too computer savvy but no worries, that’s what we’re there for,  we’re in a low socio-economic area and a big part of our job is to get people ‘connected’.

However, my jaw dropped when he came over and complained that he was trying to book a plane flight and his card was rejected!  Could I fix it? (Yes I did make sure he was actually using his credit card and  not some other card and that he was using the site correctly.)

I guess this comes under the heading ” I’m your librarian not your #$%@#* banker!”

~“Shelly” Queensland, Australia

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