Friday, January 24, 2003

Notes from the Reference Desk

* I get more proposals and invitations for dates just for helping people find information they need than I ever do in the real world. It is a pleasure to say, "Oh, thank you, but this is my job, and job satisfaction is sufficient." (I guess that's a pretty librarian-y response, as well.)

* It is a very bad idea to assign a premenstrual librarian to many reference desk hours at the beginning of a semester.

* At least I am mostly working weekend evenings and during the Super Bowl, when the place should be dead quiet.

* People who love books often say they wish to be librarians, which has become more & more ironic as the library environment evolves further toward the thoroughly digital. (For the record, though, I do not believe that "traditional" books will ever be obsolete.)

* Since most periodical indexing only goes back a century or so, digital databases & indexes came along just in time and are the best thing since bottled wine. Consider the alternative: paging through a hundred or more volumes of a single source index (say, to the New York Times) to look up a single term, only to have to go through a hundred more for another source. I fell in love with print indexes at a young age, but even I hit my limit when I realized how much more efficiently it could be done with technology.