It’s disconcerting how often I get the brush off when seeking basic service or information from libraries. Some examples:
A few months ago, I phoned the ALA library in search of the photo used in Libraries – protect that brand. I described the photo clearly, shared that it was an American Libraries cover and that I had seen it recently in a brochure on the ALA’s first 100 years. Over the phone, I heard the keyboard click a few times and the librarian said she didn’t have it. I waited a moment, expecting that she would ask a question or suggest something else. When she didn’t, I nudged a bit by asking if the library maintained an archive of the magazine or ALA promotional materials. Nope. The librarian’s tone made it clear she could have cared less about my inquiry and wanted to get off the phone. So I did and searched the web until I found the material on my own.
Via phone, a reference librarian at a metropolitan public library outside Boston helped identify a journal article that seemed promising for my research. I’m a cardholder and asked if she could get the article for me. She politely declined and explained that she didn’t do the ILLs – that I’d have to call back and ask for the person who does them. I suggested it would be more convenient if she helped me since we had the info handy. The librarian said she didn’t know how they do it over there and told me I’d have to call the other department directly.
I’ve recently been matched with an 11 year-old girl through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts. Remarkably, my “little” has never used a library before, so I stopped into her town’s library one Saturday to inquire about how we could both get cards and perhaps get a quick intro to the facility & resources. There were two people side-by-side at the service desk just inside the front door. The place seemed empty and no one entered or left while I was there. My inquiry about obtaining a libary card was tortuous. Wanting to end the visit on a better note I asked what I thought was an easy question: “Can you tell me if there’s any better time to visit or what we might check out while we’re here?” “How old is she?” the staffer asked. “11. That’s young adult and the YA librarian isn’t working today. You’ll have to call back next week.” The other staffer said nothing throughout this encounter, which clearly wasn’t going well. He was busy inserting paper bookmarks into a stack of books.
How likely is it I’d have a similar experience @ your library?