Monday, April 2, 2012

Miscellaneous Monday: Why Librarians are Caffeine Addicts

While I'm in training to be a mad scientist (or the heroine of the next great dystopian novel, one of the two) I have to have a day job, like everyone else. Except in my case it's a night job, and it's in the college library.

Essentially, I babysit the circulation desk from 6 to midnight (1am during finals week). I make sure that books are discharged and in their place, printers are full of paper, and students don't have massive panic attacks. Now I'm sure your thinking "God, that sounds boring. I can see why you need the caffeine." And I suppose, to anyone else, that would be boring. But in truth, I spend 30-40% of my shift reading or doing homework, which (for me) is not such a bad way to pass time. It's the other 60% that makes coffee an absolute, non-negotiable necessity. 

For anyone out there that doesn't realize this: Librarians have graduate degrees. It actually takes a decent amount of time and effort to learn the skills necessary to take on all of the responisbilities therein, and guess what? I have NONE of those qualifications. But I'm behind the desk, so students assume that I'm a librarian and that I'm dying to help with their last minute research projects. It's not that I don't want to help. I really do. But I'm not trained to do more than punch key words into search engines and cross my fingers.

Here's what a typical conversation looks like for me.

Patron: "I'm doing a research paper on jaguars. Can you help me find stuff?"

Me: "I can try. What are you looking for, specifically?"

Patron: "Umm, just, like, history of jaguars."

Me: *Typing* "Do you mean the car, or the animal?"

Patron: "Huh?"

Me: "There's a car called...never mind. Here are the titles I get when I type in 'jaguars' and 'history'."

Patron: "Oh! No, I am looking for the car!"

Me: *add 'car' to search* "Okay, here's what the results look like now. We have four books, two of them are here in the library. Do you want help finding them?"

Patron: "Umm, you have, like, internet sources? I need journals and stuff."

Me: "I can help you look through the data bases, but it sounds like you really need to talk to a research librarian. Can you come back tomorrow, between 8AM and 6PM? I can make an appointment for you."

Patron: "My paper is due at 8AM!"

Because of course it is. And then I get stuck playing this same search and fail game until the patron concludes (correctly) that I'm not going to be able to do anything for them that they wouldn't be able to do by themselves on their home computer. I hate feeling even a teensy bit responsible for someone else's failing grade. The whole process is exhausting. So it is this fact that has me sucking down caffeine.

To all you real librarians out there, I have so much respect for you guys. I don't know how you put up with these shenanigans full time.

Happy Monday!

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