Wednesday, January 23, 2013

People? Letters? Islam.....

It is paper season! Yup, I was bombarded with patrons today from 3rd graders to college students jump starting on their papers. While I was helping several patrons today, I noticed three girls plunk down in the Reference 900s and pretty much remodel it. I kid you not, they had books EVERYWHERE on the floor.

Normally this is awesome, but the Reference 900s is across from my 200's area, which is a pretty high traffic area in my library. A lot of people weren't able to get to what they needed because these girls were sitting in the floor. All in all though, I didn't say anything to them because I was proud of these students for jump starting on their papers.

I ended up asking one girl what she was working on and pulled several nonfiction books for her. A little while later another girl surfaced from under all the books that they had pulled. She looked a little lost as she browsed the Reference 800s (which is by my desk) so I asked if I could help her. Her response was as follows:

Girl (about 20 yrs. old): Um...I don't think you will be able to help me......*silence*

Me: Well, tell me what you are looking for?

Girl: Um......well......I"m.........looking.........for.......*silence*........*more silence*.......people.

Me (half asleep from the long silent pauses): Are you looking for a particular person?

Girl: No......more like.........uh.......things they have written?

*Sidenote: It took just about everything I had not to respond with, "oh you mean books?"
But here is what I said instead.....

Me: Autobiographies?

Girl: No...............letters?

Me: Correspondences?

Girl:....*silence*, Islam I guess.........*crickets chirping*

I could tell this girl had no clue what she was looking for. To spare you the painful teeth pulling conversation, here is what she was really looking for: Religious artifacts before the Bible was written to help her prove that the Bible was real

When I was in Library School, we had an assignment to find a Reference Librarian and give them the vaguest topic and see if they could help the us narrow it down by asking us questions. The whole assignment was to teach us how to draw things out of students. I sometimes think that someone is pulling this assignment on me...but then I realize that some people have no skill at vocalizing what they want....or they are just dumb.


Elizabeth said...

One of the best things about working in a special library is at least the user has some sort of idea of they're looking for. It might be fairly vague and return 1000 hits in a search, but at least they're not asking for people and wanting info on religious artifacts. :)

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