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

Reference Question of the Week – 2/14/10

   February 20th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Alarm clockSometimes I can't tell if patrons asks for something because they think we actually offer it, or if they just figure there's no harm in asking. To wit:

Patron: You know how when I have a book on hold, someone from the library calls me?
Me: Well, yes, but it's not a real person - we have a computer system that automatically makes the calls.
Patron: Yeah, exactly - since it's a computer, can you set it to call me really early to be a wake-up call?
Me: Um, no.

So I can go two ways with this. First, I mean, yes, technically, we could absolutely do this, without really any staff involvement. And when we could do something, I feel bad saying no - but really, we have to draw the line on the services we provide somewhere, and here be that line.

But since he actually was looking for a free wake-up service (and didn't necessarily need someone from the library to do it), I searched around to see what I could find. I knew that hotels offer this for their guests, and have never thought of this in any other context before - but plenty of people must:

Some of these are free, or at least have a free trial (which would be good enough for a one-time call). Lifehacker also has suggestions for free wakeup calls from Telepixie and automating calls with Skype. They also reference combining Skype with Google Calendar - so many options.

Happily, I never need to be to work before 9am, and my house has lots of windows, so I generally just let the sun wake me up. Ah, the blissful life of a librarian.

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