Sunday, November 15, 2009

Librarian's Lobby for November

The spelling of a word is not always an easy straight forward answer. Last Sunday someone asked about the spelling of Yerushalayim in the Hebrew Bible. 360 times the spelling is without the yod-mem but the pronunciation as if that was the spelling. This month's column examines the etymology and meaning of Yerushalayim.

This month's column, "The Spelling of Yerushalayim," may be downloaded from:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Librarian's Lobby Passover Story

One never knows who will find my columns. On November 11 Justin Shubow wrote me about a revision of information for a column I wrote in March and April of 2000. He is the great-grand nephew of Rabbi Shubow, whom I mentioned in the column. My column talks about a Passover seder held in Goebbels' castle during World War II. I said that we don't know if Goebbels knew about it. Shubow pointed me to a biography that stated that he did know of the seder and it bothered him. I edited my column to reflect this new information. Read the whole revised column : Passover Story from Harvard

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hello November -- Last Night in Reference

Monday night we had some interesting questions at the reference desk that are way beyond what we can do at a college library. I present these cases for your entertainment and edification. I am merely describing, not complaining.

Two 8th graders came by with a father of one for help with their science fair project on preserving meat with salt. They said their teacher recommended going to the college library. I asked them if they requested help from their school librarian; they had not. I showed them some web sites that might help and explained to them that our library is small and we only have books that support our courses. We don't have any books for their age level. I asked if their teacher contacted the local public library. The teacher had not. Sorry, we don't have the resources to help 8th grade science fair projects. I recommended they try their local public library because they have books on science fair projects.

A woman came to ask for help with the data bases; a common question. I explained how to do a search and the student asked if she could do the searches at home. I gave her a card with the instructions. She said that she was a student at a community college in another city and she couldn't get into that college's library system. I went to that library's web site. The user name and password that her teacher gave out did not work. On the web site was a phone number for their reference librarians. I suggested to the student to call the number. The student looked puzzled as if I could wave my hand and help her with another library's security features. After repeating, "call the number listed on the screen," more than four times. I think the student finally understood what to do.

A telephone caller wanted to know if we are still giving flu shots. The library is not giving flu shots. We're not allowed to practice medicine ;-). The city health department is offering flu shots and using the College's facilities. We did not know the hours.

Two adjunct professors came by to ask for help with the state mandated ethics training. The computer in their office asked for a password that they didn't have. All the library staff took the training and had no problems entering the system. These professors had never before tried to use the College's system. They had never used any of the College's web sites including the Library and Human Resources sites. Here were two teachers who were challenged by the College systems. I was able to help them. They had to access the system to retrieve their College IDs and passwords first.

Students came in to ask for research help for their English papers. This is normal. We are able to help them if they know their topic. Usually I show them Pro-Quest or Opposing Viewpoints. This is enough to get them started.

Then there was the students who wanted help with the color printer. He reported that the printer gave a message, "Order yellow cartridge. " We know about the message and are just waiting until it says, "Install yellow cartridge." I asked the student if the printer refused to print his job. "No I haven't even tried to send it yet." Rule 1 -- When expecting the printer to print, don't forget to send the job first. "

It's all in a day's work. Without stories like this what would I have to write about?