January 31st, 2016 Brian Herzog
This was posted on Boing Boing a couple weeks ago, but I thought people might find this funny:
Actual conversations with rude or odd customers at a used book store.
Some are rude to the point of being mean, which of course is not something that would happen in a library - at least, not something library staff would say out load. Here's a couple of my favorites:
I found a book "---" on your web site. It was written by my Uncle. I was wondering why it is so expensive? ($50)
It was inscribed and signed by him.
Why should I have to pay for his autograph? He's my Uncle, not yours!
(sigh... and no, she didn't buy it)
(Older gentleman calls)
I see you have a book titled "---" listed on your web site for $200
I am the author.
That book originally sold for under $20
How can you justify that?
Charging so much!
That's what it's worth. Look it up on Bookfinder
You will make more on the book than I did
I guess I should feel bad about that! If it makes you feel better, you could adjust for inflation (30 years)
I just doesn't seem right
It's the free market at work. You shouldn't have written such a good book
I will take that as a compliment
(I should add, I paid a lot more for the book than it sold for... originally. The customer I sold it to will probably donate it to his favorite charity and the cycle will continue. Makes me wonder how many profits there are in these things...)
(Customer fills out search card: 16 Chapels)
(me) Oh, you're after books on European Churches?
No, just books about the 16 Chapels.
Yea, you know the one with the big painting on the ceiling.
We will let you know what we find (once we stop convulsing).
Any time I see something like this in book stores, I can't help but hear them in the voice of Bernard Black - and then end up watching that entire series again.
Tags: answers, book, book store, bookstore, bookstores, libraries, Library, public, questions, reference questions, rude, store, stores
May 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Great News - the Libraries and Information Science question and answer forum, by librarians for librarian, is now open for business! Check it out:
This is the long-awaited replacement for Unshelved Answers - at least, I've been waiting for it, because I used it all the time. I love that librarians have a place to ask each other questions, share tips, ideas, and best practices, and just easily communicate - all with a searchable archive.
Thanks to all the early committers and beta testers. If this is completely new to you, please check it out - it's worth it, and is definitely useful professional development.
Tags: answers, forum, librarian, libraries, Library, lis, q&a, question and answer, questions, stackexchange, unshelved answers
June 24th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I passed this church sign while walking around Ottawa:
I'm used to hearing the "Google is not as good as libraries" rhetoric, so it was funny to see another profession facing the same struggle. By the way, Bibles in my library are shelved at 220.5/Bibl - maybe our slogan should be, "find a library, find your way."
December 19th, 2009 Brian Herzog
Since it's the season for goodwill towards men and all that, here are some exchanges that are the exact opposite. Boing Boing linked to a bookstore's website that posts funny conversations he has with his customers.
Hey, bookstores get reference questions, too. What I thought was funny was how many times a library was mentioned - and how he referred the really hopeless people to us:
[a customer calls the store and asks...]
How can you tell if a book is old?
Age is a state of mind.
OK. But what makes a book old?
It's relative kind of thing.
OK. But, hum, how do you know if it is old?
Try looking at the date.
Usually on the copyright page.
At the library.
Yeah, yeah, we have that page - it's on the same shelf as Sherlock Holmes' biography, our photographs of Socrates, and our primary sources on dinosaurs. Lots more healthy cynicism on the bookstore's website.
November 14th, 2009 Brian Herzog
This entertained me, so I thought I'd share - Huffington Post collected some funny responses to questions asked on Yahoo Answers.
I wouldn't call them the "funniest of all time" - most of them were snarky answers or just really bad questions. But the one about the sandwich did make me laugh out loud.
Occasionally I use Yahoo Answers to help with a patron's question, but like with any traditional or crowd-sourced resource, it needs to be evaluated critically (and enjoyed).
July 30th, 2009 Brian Herzog
One of my coworkers and her husband run Gibson's Bookstore, in Concord, NH. When hiring new employees, each applicant is given a knowledge of literature test to see how well they'll do at reader's advisory.
Their opinion is that bookstore staff are first and foremost reading advisers, and cashiers and stockers second. The test questions cover a broad scope of literature, just like the questions of customers (and library patrons):
2) Name five characters invented by William Shakespeare.
13) What is Ender Wiggin famous for?
14) James and the Giant ________ by Roald _______.
23) Why do some Sneetches feel superior to others?
To get hired, applicants must get at least half of the questions right. Perhaps libraries could implement something similar? Perhaps they already do.
I also have a list of reference questions and tasks I give to reference staff after they've been hired, to help with training. It is based on something my director found (can't remember what or where), but I tailored it to get new staff familiar with the type of questions we get, our collection, our policies, basic tech support, and reference in general. They get it as a Word document, and work on it for their first few months.
Some people like tests and some don't. But each in their own way, I think these tests are valuable to make sure that the people interacting with the public are really able to help the public.
Tags: bookstore, gibson's, hire, hiring, libraries, Library, public, questions, quiz, quizzes, ra, readers advisory, reference, test, tests, train, training