Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Day in the Life

Indeed, it is always an interesting adventure working the evening shift at an academic library. Today our campus-wide internet went down... on the first day of finals.... with a huge number of on-line classes giving exams... requiring proctors... and could be online ONLY on a campus-LAN-connected computer. You get the idea. What was the cause, you might wonder? Oh, someone cut one of the fiber-optic lines running to our servers. And then our online catalog went out too, but of course who needs to look up books this time of year??? So what happened? A student came in just after all the day staff left, looking for (you guessed it!) a book. He had the call number written down. In Dewey (that's right - we use the Library of Congress system here!!). So there was no way to A) see if we actually owned the title (though he was CONVINCED we did, and was ASSURING me he had just returned it last week) or B) check to see if the public library owned the title. There we go, off looking in the stacks. I knew roughly that it would be in the low Es (being about American history) but that's as far as I could figure. So we looked. And we looked. And we looked some more. And the guy just would not take "we don't have it" for an answer! Finally I left him looking and made my way back to the front desk. By that time the internet was back up (though not our catalog) I had the brilliant idea to go on the Library of Congress website and see if I could find it there, and of course, BINGO. I had a probable call number, which I triumphantly took to the student. He had wandered off into the Bs (though I didn't think he'd find what he was looking for in the comparative religion section) so we headed back to the Es and I showed him where it would be if we had it. Then we went on the public library site, and -- you guessed it again! -- there it appeared. So off he wandered, and I had to have a cup of hot chocolate just to recover from the event!

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