Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Hour At the Reference Desk

The best part of working the reference desk is that I never know what will happen. Some Saturday lunchtimes it's nothing more than an Internet question or two (usually about the printer) and handing out a few newspapers. But other days it's a batch of questions to challenge my brain cells:

Patron wants CDs to learn Greek. Turns out he wants to learn Greek in order to study the New Testament. I try to point out that Biblical Era Greek bears no more resemblance to 21st century Greek than Middle English does to our modern tongue (even less, I'd guess), but he still wants whatever I can find him. That means Berlitz stuff for tourists, but he wants it. While I am calling the other branch for that, I notice they also have a grammar for New Testament Greek, and he'll take that too. He's delighted, says that we're "fabulous", and though I'm glad of the praise, my feeling is that we're just doing what we SHOULD be doing!

While I am on the phone waiting for the other librarian to find the Greek materials, have a call asking for a book with the word "vortex" in the title--author is Esther Hicks. Put him on hold while I search. Library doesn't have it. Meanwhile librarian at other branch gets back on phone. Two titles on the CD shelf about Greek language --which do we want?

Tell patron on phone that we don't have the Hicks book. Wants to know if other local libraries have it. Tell him I can check but that it will take time--their catalogs are not hooked into ours. Tell him I can find info on the book to be sure of title info. How? He wants to know, and the answer, of course is via

While I'm doing that, the librarian at the other branch calls to let me know that I hadn't placed the hold on the second item the Greek language patron wanted. Apologize, go back in the computer to the item and do so.
Tell phone patron that the book is just called The Vortex and came out in 2009. Tell him I can look in the other systems websites, but it will take time. He agrees, but neither system owns the book. He DOES say thank you--I wasn't sure since he would.
 Art teacher that teaches in a school in the worst part of DC comes up to see me--she's been getting help from me a lot lately. Wants to do a project with the 3-5 graders about the things that keep them from achieving and how they can overcome them. First request is for books on conflict and behavior. Happens I have a whole series of non-fiction about things like teasing, bullying, etc that is aimed at just this age group. Send her downstairs for it, and for several funny picture books about misbehavior.   She comes back up twice  more times for books on monsters and heroes, and promises to bring me pictures of some of the kids completed works. I love seeing what happens after the books go home or to school!

A gentleman is writing a proposal of some kind--the business kind, that is--and needs dictionaries, thesauruses and books with synonyms and antonyms. Show him the circulating ones, tell him there's even more in the reference section.

And a gentleman wants to use the computer, but none seem available though no one is at three terminals. Wish people would log off when they're done, but I do so on all three so he can use one.

Ten minutes of quiet reading broken only by occasional babble from an infant whose mom is on the Internet, and it's time to take off my reference hat, go downstairs and go back to getting ready for Halloween.

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