Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reference Phone Call

How do you spell scissors? I can't find it in my dictionary.

I told him the answer and he said that he would never think of it being spelled s-c-i-s-s-o-r-s.

Reference Phone Call

What does the name Zondervan mean?

I initially found out that Zondervan is the name of a publisher of Christian books. However, that's not the information the customer wanted. She wanted the etymology of the name. So, Frank helped me with this one.

Frank initially thought the name was Dutch. We confirmed this by finding another site with the name Zondervan with a windmill. Then we looked up the words Zonder and Van in our Dutch-English dictionary. We found that Zonder means without. Van had several meanings. Then we found this website: and learned that

"In the Netherlands, these spelling variations continued until the time the occupying French started the civil registry of surnames in 1811. During their seven year occupation, the French established a census for tax collection purposes. At the time, only nobles had surnames. Commoners, like the Bustraans, had names such as "Maljaert the Woodcutter". The census required everyone to be called to the stadhuis and pick a surname. Surnames for commoners--what a silly idea! Oftentimes names were just made up (den Beste: the Best, de Jonge: the Younger, or Zondervan: without a "name"). Whatever the name chosen, it and its spelling, stuck."

Tax Form Season

Woman: Do you have tax forms here? I just went to Hallmark and they sent me over here.

A frustrated mom

Frustrated Mom comment: I don't know why we have to do all these assignments for my daughter's school. The kids are at school all day. When they come home, it is MY TIME. What a waste to spend the time running to the library and doing homework?

and she went on and on about MY TIME! . . . I wonder how she was raised.


Internet Customer: Where's Springfield? The US or Canada?

Me: There's more than one Springfield in the US and Canada.

IC: Oh, because my cousin lives in Springfield. I'm trying to find him.

Me: Do you have his email address?

IC: No.

Me: Thinking: of course not, that would be too easy. So I listed off a few Springfields for the customer and probably overwhelmed him.

7 year old and his dad

Dad: Do you have any books or magazines that we can cut up? We're looking for pictures of a European Rabbit.

Me-- tell him of course not, but I can print some images from the Internet.

Dad: OK.

Me: It's 75 cents a page for color; 15 cents for black/white.

Dad: I'm not prepared to pay 75 cents a copy.

So I didn't print it out. I recommended that they go to the Friends of the Library's bookstore. I hope he's prepared to pay their prices!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Guy: I'm looking for a book, but you probably wouldn't have it...

Me: (wondering if it's something really weird) Well, what book is it?

Guy: Plato's Republic. I'm sure you don't have it.

Me: I think we probably do. Let's see. Oh yes! We have 3 different versions in fact.

Guy: Really?!?! You would have a book like that here?

Me: You just never know what you might find at a library.


Me-- So take this library card application to the front desk. Just down this path on your right.
Customer-- Is the front desk outside?


Old Lady: I might be asking for the moon... (so I'm prepared for a crazy question)... but do you have books on how I can write a eulogy?

I have her the moon!

From Frank...

Customer: Do you have My Antonia by Willa Catheter?

Monday, January 21, 2008

from a librarian @ the University of Notre Dame

"Being a librarian is a simple task, observes Laura Fuderer, who is in charge of collections for English and French literature. 'All we do is organize and make accessible the entire range of human thought and knowledge.' Online and in person." --John Monczunski

-- Notre Dame Magazine, Winter 2007 - 08, page 19

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not really a service we provide, but I didn't have much of a choice--

A woman came to the reference desk and told me that her dad, who lived across the street from the liberry, recently passed away. He listened to a lot of books on tape.

Then she took out a big tape recorder from her bag and put it on the counter. She said I don't know what to do with this.

I looked at the back side of the tape recorder and showed her a toll free number to a braille agency. She said she doesn't have time to call them; she's leaving town tomorrow.

Then she sort of threatened me: either I take the tape recorder and research how to return it to the agency or she throws it in the trash!

So, I took the tape player and called the braille agency. They thanked me for not letting her throw it away. They also told me how I could return it without paying postage. I never thought that boxing and shipping items was a service we provide.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Today a woman ran to the reference desk and whispered in an intense tone- call the police, the man on computer #5 keeps following me. He sits next to me, follows me home, he raped me, but I'm pregnant by an angel.

Of course I'm alone at the desk, so I go to the back room and tell whoever wants to listen the story and help me. Frank remembered the woman because she said a similar thing before about someone else. He said absolutely don't call 911.

Fortunately, the security guard had just arrived for her shift. She listened to the woman tell her story again with even more intensity. She told the woman, if you can calm down, I will let you use my phone to call the police. I can't call, she [Amy] can't call. But you need to calm down.

And the woman went back to her computer!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Customer comments on Janet Evanovich

Woman who likes to check out CD books comments on Janet Evanovich: Janet Evanovich is a quick read. It's not easy to listen to the audio book. Reading is better: you laugh, you cry, wipe your eyes and nose, then keep reading. No rewinding necessary!


Caller wishes to place some items on hold, but doesn't have his library card handy. He says, can you look it up by phone number, social security number, prison ID number. . .


Man comes to the desk-- do you have any bookmarks?

Marian pulls out about 5 different ones, and the man takes one and starts to walk away.

He turns around and says, "Actually to tell you the truth, I got these (bookmarks of animals) @ the other desk and I’m not into all that animal rights movement." He gives them to Marian.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Noise Control

Guy comes to the desk and talks my ear off about his stereo.  It's so loud that it can break glass.  The windows shake, and his neighbor from upstairs comes down and asks him to please turn it down.  He said to me, "I tell her, you turn yours down, and I will turn mine down."  He repeated that about 3 times because he was so proud of what he said.  

He told me all the neighbors (except the upstairs neighbor) love the music he plays.  Today he ordered the soundtrack from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Don't be so sure

Man:  How do I get on the Internet?
Me:  You need a library card and a PIN number.
Man:  But this is the only time I will ever come here in my life!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Looking for the Governor

Man: Do you have the address and schedule of the governor? I need to hand deliver these papers to him. I'm going to the capitol. I was just across the street at the church and from there I saw the liberry. I know you can help me.

Kids Liberrian: I'll find the address for you, but the governor's schedule is not something that is published.

Man: I need to hand deliver these papers to him. My wife was shot and my daughter was sold. (He goes on and on with the story).

KL: Your story sounds so complex.

Man: It's not complex at all. I just need to hand deliver these papers. And pretty soon the governor will be looking for me. The president will be looking for me. Last week I was on CNN. My daughter was sold, my wife was shot.

The conversation lasted about 15 minutes. Fortunately no one was waiting in line @ the ref desk. Frank saved the day when he came out to the desk at 12:00. Simultaneously the phone rang.

How much time do you have?

Customer:  Do you have a reverse directory?

I hand him the directory.

C:  How does it work?

Me:  If you know the phone number, you can look it up to find the address.  And, if you have the address, you can look up the phone number.

C:  I don't know either of those.  I just know the person's name.  Let me look through it anyway.  I'll know the phone number when I see it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008