Libraries: The New Google!

| Norman, OK, USA | Bizarre, Non-Dialogue

I work in a library.

A guy from Florida called because he found a painting in his mother in law’s garage and wanted to know what kind of turkey was in it.

Working Title

| ME, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

Patron: “Can you help me find a particular book?”

Me: “Sure! What’s the title of the book?”

Patron: “It was published in England so I don’t know if you can get it.”

Me: *fingers poised over keyboard* “Well, I can check. What’s the title?”

Patron: “It was in the bibliography of this other book that I just read. It sure sounded interesting, so it would great if you can get it.”

Me: “What’s the title of the book?”

Patron: “Now I don’t know if I spelled the author’s name correctly…”

Me: “What’s the title of the book?”

Patron: “I think it was probably published in the 1800s.”

Me: “What’s the title of the book?”

Patron: *looking at me expectantly*

Me: *fingers still poised over keyboard*

Patron: “Well, are you going to look for it or not?”

Misplaced Your Misplacement

| ME, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading

Patron: “Can you help me find a book? The catalog says it’s available, but it’s not where it’s supposed to be.”

Me: “Sure! First we’ll check and make sure we’re looking in the right ‘neighborhood’, since our books aren’t in strict Dewey order anymore; they’re arranged in neighborhoods and then by Dewey.”

Patron: “Yes, I know. This one is supposed to be in Sports & Recreation.”

Me: “Perfect! I’ll just look it up real quick to get the complete number.”

(I jot down the call number of the book he is looking for (he actually remembered the title!), and then we go to check the shelf in Sports & Recreation. Sure enough, the title he wants is not on the shelf where it is supposed to be. I scan the shelves above and below, and on either side, just in case it is a little out of order.)

Me: “Hmmm… I don’t see it anywhere. We can go check on the carts downstairs to see if it’s waiting to be shelved. We can also check to see when it last circulated. It might be missing.”

Patron: “Oh, it was just here the other day, because I was looking at it before.”

Me: “Oh, did you happen to put it on a cart to be re-shelved?”

Patron: “No, I put it on a different shelf so that no one else would take it.”

Me: *struggling to keep facial expression neutral* “Okay… well, where did you put it?”

(He leads me to another section entirely and points at the cookbooks. Sure enough, there was the book he wanted, tucked in among the vegan cookbooks.)

Me: “Here it is… right where you left it.”

Patron: “Well, that’s frustrating. How are we supposed to find books if they’re not where they’re supposed to be?”

The Color Of Stupid, Part 3

| TX, USA | Extra Stupid, Technology

(I normally work as a shelver or circulation aide, but as some people have called in, I’m on loan to the computer lab.)

Patron: “Hi, can we make copies here?”

Me: “Yes, of course. The copier is right over there. just scan your library card and put in your pin, then pay the vending machine. If you have any problems, go ahead and call me over.”

Patron: “You can make color copies, too, right?”

Me: “Yes. Black and white are 10 cents, color are 50 cents. Just choose the ‘color’ option on the menu.”

Patron: “Ok, thanks!”

(A few minutes later, I hear muttered curses and hisses coming from that direction. Turning, I notice the patron looking frustrated and staring from one page to another, but as she hasn’t called for help, I’m not allowed to leave the desk. Another few minutes later, the patron comes back.)

Patron: “Excuse me, but the color printing is not working.”

Me: “Oh? I’m sorry. Maybe it ran out of ink? Let me go check on that.” *as I walk over to the copier* “Did it charge you the 50 cents per page? I can get you a refund for that.”

Patron: “Yes, it did. This is what came out.” *she hands me a heavy packet of black and white copies. At 50 cents each, I am alarmed. That’s going to be a big refund, and I would probably get in trouble because the copier ran out of ink and I didn’t notice*

Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am. You know what, let me just check out the ink cartridge and change it out, and then we’ll get you set up with your color copies. You won’t have to pay twice.”

Patron: *huffs* “Thank you.”

(As I open the copier, however, I notice that not only are the color cartridges not empty, they’re almost full. Now really worried, I grab a ‘Library Hours’ advert from the stand nearby and set it to color copy using the employee account. The copy comes out in full color, no problem. Now I’m more confused than worried, but I still continue.)

Me: “Ma’am, could you please lend me the paper you were trying to make copies of? I’ll go ahead and do them for you.”

Patron: “Okay, here.” *hands me a black and white paper folded in half*

Me: Uh, ma’am, I think you gave me a copy accidentally. Could I have the original, please? So I can make the color copies?

Patron: “That is the original.”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Patron: “I want to color copy that. It’s supposed to have the heading in dark green, the body in red, the times in navy blue, and the background a nice yellow. That’s why I asked if you could do color copies here.”

Me: “Um, ma’am, you set that on a computer before you print it out.”

Patron: “I know! I did! I set it up at home, but since I don’t have a color printer, I printed it out and brought it here to color copy it. My friend told me the library did color copies! I need those for a meeting in an hour!”

Me: “Um, once you print it out black-and-white you can’t just color copy it. Any copy you make will be in the same black and white. You need to print in color to copy in color.”

Patron: “Oh, really? I didn’t know that…”

Me: “…”

The Color Of Stupid, Part 2
The Color Of Stupid

Maybe He Should Google That

| Charlotte, NC, USA | Extra Stupid, Technology

(A harried-looking patron gets up from one of the public-use Internet computers, and approaches the reference desk at the public library where I work.)

Patron: “I want to use Internet Explorer, but GOOGLE keeps popping up!”

Me: “Okay! I’ll come take a look!”

(We get to the computer he’s using, and… IE is up and running.)

Patron: *points to the screen dramatically* “SEE? I TRIED TO USE INTERNET EXPLORER, BUT GOOGLE IS THERE NOW!”

Me: “Uh, you are actually using Internet Explorer already, sir. See that icon on the taskbar, how it’s got a different colored box around it?”


Me: “Okay… Internet Explorer? That’s what you’re using to access the Internet. That’s a web browser. Google is a search engine — you can access Google through Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome—”

(The patron starts to draw a breath, but since I already know what he’s going to say, I cut him off.)

Me: “Sir, please type in ‘gmail-dot-com’. And you see, Gmail—”


Me: “Sir, Gmail is owned by Google. But you can see right there that it’s asking for you username and password. That’s where you’ll sign in.”


Me: “You— look, you’re using Internet Explorer. I promise. Okay? I promise.”

(The patron has no trouble signing in…and therefore has nothing else to say to me, though he still seems pretty tightly wound about using Google. The horror! But honestly…what does he think the ‘G’ in ‘Gmail’ stands for?)

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