Thursday, January 12, 2006

Greek and Latin

Miscommunication tends to be one of the more frustrating problems that spring up between patrons and librarians. This often stems from the policy that we're obligated to pretend we're wrong while the patron is obliged to insist that they're right.

Today, I got one of the most confusing calls in a week.
An older gentleman's call was transferred to my department (information) after circulation gave up hope of helping him.
Mr. Wrinklebottom informed me that three or four days ago he had asked for a book on CD to be pulled and held for him. Apparently, it was on the mending shelf because the case was broken. It was decided that the CD could take another quick rotation so it was taken from the shelf and placed it at the checkout desk for the man. When he came in, the hapless worker noticed that one of the boxes was missing. (Upon later investigation we discovered it was John (aka Zog the Intruder). Our books on CD are often too expansive to fit in one case so two or three boxes is not unusual. Zog searched but was unable to locate the other disc. It was too busy for much of a search at the time to the older gentleman left saying he would check back with us at a later time.

Cue today when I answered the phone to be emmersed in one big miscommunication that would end up taking up an hour of my time and two good handfuls of hair.
Mr. Wrinklebottom related the aforementioned tale and told me that circulation had searched for the missing disc and had come up empty-handed. I offered to take a look of my own but he said that it would probably be a waste of time because they had already looked.
I paused at that point wondering what he would like me to do if not conduct my own hunt.
After a moment I regrouped and said I knew a few places were it could be that circ. wasn't aware off. I put him on hold and thrust myself into the enormous pile of mending poor Mae must deal with on a daily basis. I came up empty handed as I expected but I never-the-less also checked the chelves and reported back to circ. to get first hand information about their search. I left circ. feeling just as baffled at they.

I returned to the phone to get a little more information; it looked like I would have to refer this one to someone else (mwhahahahahaaaa! I love having no authority!). I tried to find out who had initially pulled the CD for him but he couldn't remember but I figured it must have been Mae because no one else is really qualified to determine if the CDs on mending can take another battering before being tended to. I told him when Mae was working and looked up the CD title on the computer in the vain hopes of gleaning anything that may explain the mysterious disappearance. Here I noticed that the title was checked out a few weeks ago. This baffled both of us with Mr. Wrinklebottom adamantly stating that he had never checked it out.
So, we were at an impasse. I could think of nothing else to do for him because I had no idea what was going on but I had the feeling that he was just as confused. Everytime he spoke he confused me more and I managed to confuse him more whenever I attempted to explain something.
So, I kept telling him to contact Mae on Saturday and maybe she will have more answers for him. He kept having Lumburgh moments repeating the reasons why he didn't check it out and why he needed it.
I was so thoughrally frazzled by the end of the conversation that I had to have a quick soda brake in circ. to regroup. That was when Zog the Intruder clocked in. I gave him quite a scare bum rushing him in my excitement to find out what was going on.
He just blinked at me (as most people do) while I breathlessly conveyed my confusion. After a moment he went up to the desk and picked up a CD in our holding area.
Zog: For Mr. Wrinklebottom?
Me: Yea! The title was "All the Flowers are Dying"
Zog: Noooooooo.....he asked us to pull "Ten Big Ones"
Zog and I blinked at each other for a very long minute then burst into laughter. When we checked his record we found that the title he insisted was pulled for him was actually a CD he was on hold for. Meaning, the CD was checked out when he asked about it so we put a hold on it so when it came back we would hold it for him.
There was more laughter and a very relieved sigh from me as part of the puzzle was solved. Now all that remained was looking for the other half of "Ten Big Ones" I had spent twnety minutes looking for a portion of a CD that wasn't even here!
After another ten minutes or so, I found the other half and there was much rejoicing.

Now the puzzle was not only solved but there was a happy ending; Mr. Wrinklebottom would get the right CD to check out. Thus and so, I happily called Mr. Wrinklebottom to relate the good news. He was silent a really long time after I explained the miscommunication then told me he had no memory of the title we pulled for him. He was also pretty confused about the whole hold concept. At any rate, he thanked me for my time and made a note of the titles and said he would come right now to check out the CD.

After I hung up, I scurried back to circ to tell Zog about the surprising (or not so surprising) conclusion. He just started laughing and was still laughing when I returned to my post.
So much chaos and confusion all because of a wrong title.

On the bright side, Mr. Wrinklebottom was very nice and polite through the whole process. That's what kept this whole incident from becoming insane. That's all I ask from our patrons, if you must be misinformed, wrong, hopelessly lost, and/or insane, then at least be nice about it and I can help you.

*sigh* Just another day in the neighborhood.


Blogger Happy Villain said...

Wait a minute. There were multiple conversations and multiple misunderstandings and no one got so angry they cussed you out? NOT FAIR!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Library Psychosis said...

Hadn't I suffered enough?!

I was balding and chugging Malox at that point.

Plus, I'm eccentric. You never yell at an eccentic person because you never know how they'll retaliate. It's scary enough just being my friend!


1:50 PM  

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