Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Librarian Plague

A patron walked up to Marina tonight and said she was looking for a book. When she uttered the title, Marina couldn’t understand her. When she asked her to repeat it, Marina thought she had the right word: e-trade.

She typed “e trade” into the catalog and hit Search, telling the patron what she found about e-trade as the results came up.

The patron said no, not EEE-trade, BEE-trade.

What happened next is such classic librarian train of thought, it should be in a textbook.

Marina then typed “b trade” into the catalog and hit Search.

The assumption is always (and often fool-hearted) that the patron knows not only how to pronounce words, but that they know what they’re asking for, and we cannot know everything so if there is an e-trade and this patron has corrected her with what sounded like b-trade, Marina assumed b-trade was just something the patron knew about, which she did not.

Alas, there was no b-trade.

So Marina did the next logical thing a librarian does and expanded her mind around the syllables “b” and “trade” and thought maybe it was about the endangered honeybee situation.

She typed “bee trade” into the catalog and hit Search.

Again, nothing.

She tried to extract more information from the patron, who gave up that the book is part of a series, and when Marina searched for the series, she saw the elusive title that was there all along.


Not b-trade. Or bee trade. But close.

We are fatally too literal, we librarians.


BeckEye said...

Ha ha ha!! It's funny how the simplest things can seem so hard. I still always remember when I was younger, I was reading this interview in a magazine (about Wham! no less) and there was a line where Andrew said, "George is much kinder than me." For some reason, I read it as kin-der (like Kindergarten) and thought it was some weird English slang. The funny thing is, I read it a bunch of times and ALWAYS read it that way, and all of a sudden, it just hit me one day that it was kinder as in "more kind." I felt like a moron.

Kate P said...

This just happened to my co-worker at the bookstore! The customer wanted "Best Friends Forever", the just released Jennifer Weiner title, but she told my co-worker the title was "BFF" and nothing was coming up. Arrgh.

Megan said...

Oh, that reminds me of the time someone requested "that book with the parachute." They wanted "What Color is Your Parachute?" Of course.

Rachel said...

I can't remember any specific titles at the moment, but it happens more often than I'd like for me! Once I misheard the title and actually took the patron straight to the wrong book. When we got there, she was like, "Um, no, I wanted..." >.<