Back to previous post: Just checking

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Monkfish

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 7, 2003

True tales of combat
Posted by Teresa at 01:30 PM *

Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian, from the Librarian Avengers website. See also their Stupid Research Tricks and What They Didn’t Teach Us in Library School sections, which will teach you that (1.) being a librarian is more challenging than you may have imagined; and (2.) it isn’t hard to make them happy, so get with the program already. (via The Shifted Librarian)

Comments on True tales of combat:
#1 ::: Holly Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 01:50 PM:

The state of secondary education worldwide will be much improved when there are Cliff's notes for Stephen King.

#2 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 03:08 PM:

The one I liked, in the "What They Didn92t Teach Us in Library School" section:

That Historical Collections librarians go through a Tolkien-like 'Gollum conversion' where all books become "their precious."

#3 ::: Elayne Riggs ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 04:35 PM:

Great site - I'll have to tell my ex about this. Thanks Teresa!

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 04:45 PM:

My favorite, from the Stupid Research Tricks section:

April 11, 2000
Who: Peter
Where: USA

This happened to a coworker of mine recently. A patron called to say she wanted to obtain a birth certificate for someone born in 1945. The librarian explained that the Health Department would only give out copies of birth certificates to family members - was the person a family member? The patron said no, the person was a character in a book she was writing. Did she mean that she was writing a book about a real person, or someone based on a real person?

No -- the character was entirely a product of her imagination. She then said that the reason she wanted the birth certificate was that it would list the character's mother's maiden name, and that was really what she wanted to find out. At this point my coworker told her there wasn't anything we could do to help her.

#5 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2003, 11:11 PM:

Did I ever tell you about the patron who called the reference desk wanting Queen Victoria's phone number? After some minutes of patiently listening to her rambling story, I told her that I couldn't help her because they didn't give people like me that kind of important information. But I would take her name and phone number and pass the request on to my boss who was head of reference and would have the necessary information. At least it got her off the phone.

When I handed the note to my boss, she looked at it and said, "Oh, her," crumpled up the note and threw it away.


#6 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2003, 11:14 AM:

It's all true, every single word.

They didn't tell us any of that in library school because a) we wouldn't have believed it, and b) some things cannot be explained, only experienced. Like dealing with the public.

I am thinking quite seriously about buying the guy-brarian shirt.

#7 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2003, 05:40 PM:

A librarian's in-joke:
The librarian spots a woman wandering around the lobby. After watching for a while, she approaches her:

"Can I help you?"

"Maybe you can, " handing over a piece of scrap paper with a title and call number on it. "It says main entry in your catalog, but I can't find it anywhere."

#8 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2003, 11:23 PM:

On some of the librarian mailing lists like Stumpers, the subject of strange reference questions comes up quite often. (The Stumpers archives are at
if anyone wants to explore further.)

I had a patron who wanted to know how many garbage bags one would need to hold three million dollars (in ones). Another person wanted to know which team won the toss in each Super Bowl (*not* something easy like who won the game. And by the way, there's no correlation; the winner of the toss wins the game about as often as they lose).

Then there was the kid who was looking up "satin" on the "card" (now computerized, of course) catalog. "Oh, you're interested in fabric," I said, even though I suspected -- rightly -- that he'd misspelled "Satan." Or the other kid who was not having much success by looking up "parts of girls."

And of course there are the people who ask, "Are you the Reference Desk?" I know I've put on some weight but I don't think I look like a piece of furniture!

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.