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

Reference Question of the Week – 7/21/14

   July 26th, 2014

legalpadA patron asked for help using our public scanner. She had forms from a court in Rhode Island that she needed to scan, fill in the information, and then print to bring to court. No problem, right?

We scanned it, OCR'd to Word, and she spent time filling them in. I then showed her how to save a copy by sending it to herself in email. She said she knew how to print, so I went back to the desk.

A few minutes later she came over and said her document wasn't printing. I walked over and saw the printer was asking for legal paper in tray 1. Since the forms we scanned were legal size, I should have anticipated this, but I got some legal paper for her, put it in the tray, and waited with her to make sure it printed okay.

When it came out, I picked it up off the printer and was happy to see everything was formatted correctly on the legal paper and the print job looked fine. Except, the patron was not happy - when she saw how long her document was on legal size paper, she said,

That's no good; the court will never accept that weird long paper.

I honestly didn't know if it would or not, but since it is legal paper, and the same size as the forms they gave her, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that they would. But she insisted on reformatting the document to print on 8.5x11 paper.

Luckily she had sent it to herself in email, because she had already deleted the new Word file. So we downloaded and opened it, I showed her to how change the page size, and then she went through comparing the text to make sure everything was there before printing on regular paper.

She asked me to shred the legal size copy - which I did, but not until after asking her if she was sure she didn't want to take both to court just in case. She did not.

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2 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 7/21/14”

  1. The Librarian With No Name Says:

    I’m sure legal size paper seemed a lot more convenient when it gave you another couple of inches between switching sheets on a typewriter, instead of having to load it in a tacked-on bonus chute on your laser printer.

    Also, if anyone is curious about where the paper sizes came from in the first place, I recommend this Straight Dope article.

    Summary: the British can’t do anything the easy way, and it’s a shame we listened to them instead of the Germans. For once.

  2. Sweater Librarian Says:

    Want to bet she will come in days later wanting that legal sized form? :p