11 to 12

You might think that’s the only shift I ever work at the reference desk, yet I worked a 4 to 7 last week as well, but completely forgot to keep notes on the kinds of questions I handled.

There were two fabulous ones for a total of seven questions in all. Again, M____, the GA and I chatted and he recommend a book: Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Era, about the effect the Great War had upon Europe. There’s a small chapter on the USA. I’ll add it to the list of books I want to read.

Then a young man sought an article about human evolution. The databases he searched on his own gave him far too specialized results, TMI! I introduced him to JSTOR. Hooray. JSTOR is possibly my favorite online resource. I use it a great deal for my research and love flitting around in there from article to article. 

So the problem with getting your email account to work? I told him to be patient; that sometimes, well, technology doesn’t really work instantaneously, as the IT folks like for us to believe. But, that if he felt there was some kind of error, he should step along to the right and consult with the IT student worker. (About two years ago our reference room pcs evolved from dummy terminals to lab terminals that give students access to the full suite of software they’re used to having at their fingertips in the labs. Letting IT, or OIT, as they’re called on our campus, into the library was scary, but ultimately worked rather well. We also received a rotating cast of IT student workers who field all the techie questions like “why won’t my laptop connect to the network?” or “why can’t I access my email account?” and all the rest. It’s nice to pass some of those questions on to them, for they have pat answers for everything.)

Dude, we have a strange set up in our library. It may be one-of-a-kind. Or not. In 1979 our library changed from Dewey to LC classification. A large percentage of those books are re-classified into LC each year as part of our ongoing re-class project. But the rest? They remain in Dewey. Those Qs? They’re on the 4th floor. And the 600s are, too. The call numbers beginning with letters are LC, and they are arranged in the shelving on the left side of the stacks. The call numbers beginning with numbers are Dewey, and they are arranged in the shelving on the right side of the stacks.

Via phone: Sorry lady, but we don’t have the two journals you need. And I’m doubly sorry that your ILL requests for those journals are constantly denied. And then I explain the concept of copyright clearance and how we don’t pass that cost on to students. Here’s the name and phone number of our ILL librarian with whom you can speak and get this problem rectified.

Accessing e-books? You mean netLibrary? Here you go. But be sure to sign up for an account on campus while you’re here so that once you’re jetsetting off to Kalamazee, you can access the books remotely. What? You have a question about ARTbibliographies Modern? Oh, it’s an indexing and abstracting service that collects magazine and journal articles. We used to have it in print, but it’s online; a database now. This is how you search it. You have something specific in mind? Let’s see if we have it. Wow! Amazing! This is incredible. So Fabulous how it turned out. Yay! It’s great when something that appeared in a database is ALSO something that we own and appears in our OPAC. Far too often I’m disappointed, the student is disappointed, because access is so difficult. You know, broken links, too many clicks, too little money to fully flesh out the collection, so we might actually have print resources to call our own.

Then there was an email question to answer:

I need to know where I would find the answer to this question from my online discussion for anthropology?  The question is: If belief in witchcraft increases conformity because of fear of being accused, could it also threaten social control be recognizing that witches’ behavior is possible?  My professor told us to ask a librarian for help.  I do not know where to look.

I directed the student to several reference encyclopedia sets in the library. Seriously, I thought she should be able to answer the question from the reading she did for the course. Sometimes I think that professors/adjuncts are intentionally vague with students and pawn them off, onto librarians, for some, weird reason. Like, maybe they do not like us? 
Lastly, there was a search in the OPAC for two books. We had neither. The title of the first sounded like a textbook. We don’t buy textbooks. Why some professors persist in telling their students that the library buys every textbook?

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