Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Questions, No Stupid

Famous book with appropriate titleI hate to share this piece of information with aspiring librarians. I hate to say this in front of seasoned librarians....

Remember when your teachers told you "oh, Honey, there is no such thing as a stupid question..."

They were totally telling a lie. A big one.

I just want to warn you that once you sit behind any sort of desk, and do your thang, stupid questions will roll in. Just like my sister in law when she hears there is going to be free food or child care.

One of the first stupid questions you will be asked:

"Can you help me?"

Did Rose Kennedy own a black dress?

The obvious answer is yes. That is why I am collecting a pay cheque, and sitting behind this fine Gaylord® catalog desk. (PS mine was actually was actually designed by an architect.)I am here to answer your questions. See the big sign that says "ASK HERE!" or in more archaic facilities a sign reading "REFERENCE"?

The hard part is, we can't actually help everyone. Some people want to know things that don't have answers to, like "Why does Mommy cry?" and "Where is my Dad?" or "Will this rash ever clear up?" But overall, librarians help people.

Stupid question #2:

"Where are the books?"

Look around Bright Eyes. Yes, there are closed stack libraries. They are the exception rather than the rule. The books are everywhere. SURPRISE!

Maybe I wouldn't be so quick to call a question stupid if it was phrased properly, for example:

"Where is your Liberace section?"

I want them to say "Where are your biographies?" or "Do you have any materials about Liberace?" (I don't really want someone to ask me about Liberace, I'm just saying...)

I want to say "Just look for the Grand Piano and candelabras!" But I don't.

Then there are the specifists. They know that we have exactly the book they want.

"Do you have any books about black, gay clarinet players with diabetes who lived in Northern Maine?"

Why YES! It's your lucky day. Let me take you to the Ethnic Artist Homosexual with Medical problems shelf!!

Another type of stupid question you will surely get at some point, will come from a genealogist. I can assure you.

"Where are the books on the fill in the family surname family?" Refer them to the Mormons in Utah. Most libraries will have a great collection of genealogical materials, sometimes even have titles of "founding members" of the community you are in. More than often, we do not have those titles. The question may sound earnest, but really, it's stupid.

Other questions will include (but do not require an MLIS):
"Do you have bathrooms?" No, actually, I've been peeing in potted plants for months.

"Can I use a computer?" I don't know, CAN you?

"I need the phone number of the President of the United States" And I need Mary Poppin's umbrella.

"How long can I rent this DVD for?" Um, they are free. You have to check it out on your card. We don't rent things in public libraries [unless your library does, but you don't count for arguments sake - this is MY blog after all].

Of course, some people live for these moments, to instruct and inform the public. I've done my penance. Now, I hand the baton to the next generation of librarians. Today, I receive information requests, and form the questions myself. And of course, my questions are never stupid.


Moral of this blog: I checked this book out before, it was red with pages......you know which one I mean?

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