or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Reference Question of the Week – 2/24/08

   March 1st, 2008

Microsoft Office logoThis is a question I've gotten in various forms, and I finally have an answer for it. Usually, the reference interview goes something like this:

Patron: I can't open a file on your computer.
Me: Oh; what kind of file is it?
Patron: It's just my resume. My sister updated it for me on her new computer, but her printer is broken, so I came here to print it out. But now it won't open. It works fine at her house.

The two key parts of the patron's last statement are resume and new computer. These words almost always indicate a Word document created on a Microsoft Vista computer running Office 2007. My library's computers have Windows XP and Office 2003, which cannot open Office 2007 documents due to the change in file formats.

That is, until now.

Our IT person found a plugin that will allow Office 2003 programs to open Office 2007 files. This plugin is available from the Microsoft download center.

We have installed this on the computers at the reference desk, but not yet on all the public computers (we are changing the profiles on all of those, and this plugin will be part of it). And of course, since installing it, I haven't gotten this question again.

But we'll be ready for the next patron...




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One Response to “Reference Question of the Week – 2/24/08”

  1. Graeme Williams Says:

    Microsoft has always been pretty good about this. If you have older versions of the Office programs, you can install a converter that will automatically convert newer formats as they are opened and read in. If you -don’t- have a copy of Office, you can still download a free viewer which will let you open, print and copy (but not edit) documents from any version of Office. For example, search for “Word 2007 viewer”.