Newbies on campus, ex-cons in the library
I love the fact that I am not one of them, and walk past with an air of knowing where I need to be, as they scuttle along-like freshwater crabs crawled out of the Detroit River-behind Orientation leaders wearing T-shirts in our obnoxious school colors of gold and hunter green. Watching them reminds me of the adventure I began just last fall as I began classes here. It is with almost a year under my belt that I consider Wayne State as familiar as home, and I am glad that I am far past those first few unsure weeks.
This morning, not long after I had settled in at my desk, a man and woman approached the desk, asking about the microfiche reader. Once the man was settled into examining some documents, the woman approached me and asked me to Google something for her. Upon bringing up my Google screen, she asked me to type in *** *** Criminal History (first listing the name and then the title). Trying my best to do a Reference Interview of sorts, questioning, without prying, I asked, "okay, is that a book written by *** ***?" Trying to figure out where I should be searching.
"No, that is my husband, I am trying to get information on his Criminal History."
"Ok," I said, trying to sound as though I wasn't intrigued as hell to figure out what that was about.
After a few more minutes of searching we found several databases that you can pay to use, which they decided against, and since he was not showing up immediately under Google, they said they were satisfied with my searching.
The husband had come back while this was going on, and when I looked up at him and smiled as I continued to search he looked at me, as though he had to persuade me of his innocence, and said, "That was a long time ago. I got out in like 1993, and I have changed." Then while looking over a page that we had found that did list him, he told his wife that sometimes he is listed under the alias *** ***, and he is listed with crimes that were not his, probably because *** used his name.
That was an interesting conversation. It provided a change from the flow of panicky students.
I have been assailed with many students, finishing last minute projects due this week. The last student that I helped, an attractive guy, was by far the most honest person I helped, and I found him wholly amusing. He didn't offer me the usual pity story that people dump upon my desk, like sewage. He didn't offer excuses why he had not finished or started the paper that is due tomorrow afternoon. Instead he said, "I have a paper due tomorrow on media coverage of wars, and I need newspaper articles that would document this. And I need the information to be available on-line, not microfiche, because this is due tomorrow and I am going to have to stay up all night at home and finish this, so I will need to be able to access the information at home."
After helping him to the correct databases, etc., he thanked me profusely and left. I am not sure about other librarians, but I much prefer people being honest and asking how they can get things done, without getting frantic on me, and screeching things at me, like, "but this is due tomorrow." As if I am going to say, "Oh, really. I am sorry you didn't get it done when you should have. In that case, let me do all of your research for you."
Maybe I should change my blog to The Bitter Librarian. :)