Sunday, December 9, 2012

This week in reference Dec. 7, 2012

Since I have moved to mostly doing cataloging, I’ve had very few reference questions that are amusing, challenging, or otherwise worth writing about. Most of the questions are quite routine; however, last week provided some reportable incidents. It’s too bad that when you read this you can’t hear the tone of voice and therefore will not be as amused as my audio audience.

The College has the only physician’s assistance (PA) program in a community college in the area. It is a rigorous program that requires incoming students to have basic education course work of almost as many credits as an associates degree, some prior health science work (such as medic, nurse, etc.) and dedication to complete the program and serve the public. A potential student came in for advice concerning what to read. Since it was not immediate clear why she wanted the basic science books and how I could help her, I asked questions to try and get her to focus her search. As part of a project to catalog medial books and work with the health science faculty I have been reading their departmental web sites and talking with faculty. I knew that the PA program is highly selective. Most of the programs at the College are open enrollment. Finally the potential student asked, “Does the Library have any medical books?” I answered, “Thousands.”

A staff member came to the Library office suite looking for some pictures. First she went to an office of someone who not only does not work for the Library, but has never even said hello to any of the Library faculty or staff. I didn’t even know he could talk until he attended as a guest a meeting of the assessment committee. On course he knew nothing about the picture. Overhearing the conversation I went out of my office and offered help. She wanted pictures from the College president’s office. Not knowing exactly which pictures, I showed her the place we had pictures. She said, “Oh no, I wanted the big pictures that were on the wall.”

I suspected that the pictures were in the storage room. I offered to take her there. She asked, “How far away is the room?” I told her that the room was on the other side of the Library. She said that she was not wearing “flats” and couldn’t walk that far. I immediately looked at her feet and saw shoes similar to ones in the picture. She said that she would some back the next day. As far as I know she has not yet come back. I related the story to a fellow library and he couldn’t believe someone would be working in such impractical shoes.

The public relations person from the College sent an e-mail on Thursday after I left wanting some pictures for a College retrospective. She was sent a reply that I would be able to help her on Friday. On Friday I sent her an email telling her the library is only open until 2 PM. Since she was at another College,17 miles away and using public transportation, she would need about 1.5 hours to get to the Library. I told her that the archival pictures are in unorganized boxes and it would take several hours just to get them in a condition for her to examine them. I couldn’t even choose them for her, because I didn’t know what she was trying to accomplish and what ideas she had and because the scanner only took memory cards that that Library did not have. She said OK and would see me on Monday at 9:30. I said, “Sorry, the Library will be closed on Monday and no faculty will be in the building until January 7” She wanted to speak to the department chair. I answered, “Sorry, we don’t have one. She resigned her chairmanship.”

Another example of not having the staff time to do all we are asked for.

It’s winter break. I’m going to be spending my time studying and writing about management. If any of you have examples of how organizational management that works well, please share the stories with me.

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