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

Reference Question of the Week – 10/14/12

   October 20th, 2012

Official Green Hornet Agent badgeThis was the entirety of a call that came in Wednesday afternoon this week:

[ring ring]
Me: Reference desk, can I help you?
Patron: Yeah can can...can you tell me what...what's on green tonight Green Lantern...Lantern...I mean Green...you know...the other one...Green Lantern...Green...Arrow...Arrow Green...Green Arrow yeah Green Arrow no... Lantern Green...Green...um...it's not Green Lantern, it's not Green Arrow...um...HORNET Green Hornet can you tell me what's on Green Hornet tonight oh wait it's Wednesday nevermind [click]

We have a patron who frequently calls to find out which episodes of his shows are going to be on that day. He usually ends up watching them all anyway, regardless of the episode, but he just wants to know in advance.

In this case, I think he had just woken up from a nap, and only eventually realized his show wasn't on that night.

In general, my favorite "what's on TV" resource is Zap2It.com, because it usually provides better descriptions of "local programming" than TVGuide.com. Although for some of this patron's shows, we have to go right to the MeTV Channel's website for schedule and descriptions.

This patron calls with this question so much that I've bookmarked both of these websites at all the reference computers. It kind of makes me laugh that we have ready reference resources devoted to just one patron, but it certainly is worth it.

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5 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 10/14/12”

  1. Chris Says:

    Gotta check out TheFutonCritic.com which lets you add your shows to a “my listings” page. It will then give you a customized view of what’s on and when and any news regarding your selected shows. (Canceled, guest stars, special nights, etc.) That’s been favorite resource from tracking TV viewing.

  2. ChiLibrarian Says:

    Doesn’t every library have at least one person who calls all of the time for TV listings (or classified ads)?

    My favorite was the sweet, but nearly deaf, lady in her 90s that used to call and ask, “Who’s that on my TV right now?” Usually we could hear the show in the background and as she didn’t have cable, figure it out pretty readily.

    My least favorite character was the rather horrible racist who’d call for movie listings, but didn’t want us to read him any of the listings with non-Caucasian stars. I didn’t know what he was talking about the first time I helped him. I naively thought he didn’t want movies shot in black and white. Unfortunately, he explained what “no Black movies” meant. Ugh.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Chris: that does sound pretty elaborate – I’ll check it out, thanks (for work, of course, since I don’t even have a television myself anymore)

    @ChiLibrarian: wow, that’s bad. I get the odd sexist comment (being a guy) and the extreme political views, but have never heard something that racist. My absolute favorite retort for that sort of thing (especially in the workplace) is “whoa, whoa, save that kind of talk for the klan rally” – that usually shuts them up. But, well, I wouldn’t say that to a patron though. I love the idea of listening to the patron’s TV through the phone to see what’s on – and yes, I’ve gotten that same “what am I watching?” question too.

  4. Christina Getrost Says:

    Oh my gosh! We had a similar regular patron, whom we called “TV Land Guy” since we didn’t ever learn his name. We thought he might have Asperger’s or an autism spectrum disorder, because he was very abrupt, impatient and unemotional-sounding all at the same time, incapable of any small talk, always asking the same question in the same way, varying only by name of show. He always asked for the episode titles, of a vast array of shows (so we couldn’t just bookmark particular series, tho I love the suggestion of theFutonCritic, thank you!), and they were always shows that had been BROADCAST A DAY OR TWO BEFORE HE CALLED. So we got frustrated because websites rarely tell you what was on two days ago, only what’s coming up next. But it got really weird when he started asking what color necktie or color dress a news anchor was wearing on the news for a particular day… (sigh).

  5. Christina Getrost Says:

    Forgot to add, this warms my heart because we too had all sorts of tv description websites bookmarked just for this one particular patron, who called multiple times a day!