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

Reference Question of the Week – 5/17/15

   May 23rd, 2015

accept and decline buttons on iPhone screenI thought this was actually an interesting question, but the real punch line comes at the end.

Yesterday at the library, one of our volunteers came out and asked me if she could ask me an iPhone question.

Me: Of course. [despite knowing very little about iPhones*]

Her: Okay, good. Sometimes when I get a call, I get the Accept and Decline buttons - but sometimes, I don't. Why does that happen?

Me: Huh, I've never heard of that before - let me see what I can find and I'll let you know [because the volunteer was going to be at the library for a few hours, I knew I could get back to her on it]

Her: That's fine. I tried it with someone else in the back - she called the first time and the buttons weren't there, and when she called a second time they were.

A search for "iphone not showing accept decline buttons" was all it took - I checked two of the results, and they had the same answer: if the phone is unlocked, you get the buttons; if the phone is locked, you get a "slide to answer" option.

She didn't mention getting a slider, or having her phone locked or unlocked, so I wasn't sure if this information would actually help. She happened to be sitting with the person who had done the test calls when I went back and told her what I found. Happily, she said she did get the slider the first time, which she slid, typed her code, and answered. Then the second test call, with her phone now unlocked, showed her the two buttons.

Since everything they saw seemed to line up with what I found, we decided this must be the case. Which was an interesting discovery, and she was going to watch and see if it kept happening this way in relation to being locked or unlocked.

Before I left, they thanked me, and she said,

Thanks Brian. I could have asked my kids, but they always show you so fast, and just do it once and never explain anything and get mad if you don't get it right away.

So there's another good reason for the future job security of librarians - someone more patient at explaining things than a 14 year old kid.


*I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Reference Librarian's motto is, "you don't have to know everything, you just have to know how to find out everything."

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4 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 5/17/15”

  1. The Librarian With No Name Says:

    They could also have a special hang up button that plays the sound of somebody slamming a phone down in the cradle to the person on the other end.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @The Librarian: ha, I guess you could really have a lot of fun with that. And once telemarketing to cell phones becomes more commonplace, I bet there will be. I can see an app you activate in response to a telemarketing call that plays some Ferris Bueller-type recording just to keep them talking and waste their time, while you’ve long hung up. Or one that plays the most annoying sound in the world, or tries some phreak box stuff, or just a painfully-loud noise. Which reminds me – my grandmother used to get so many telemarketers and prank calls that she kept a whistle by the phone. Any time she got a call she didn’t like, she’d give them a loud blast in the hopes they’d stop calling. Maybe if I ever create this app, I’ll call it Grama H.

  3. Emma Says:

    I go back and forth between being annoyed by and grateful to the kids and grandkids who help our older patrons with technology. Sometimes they’ve given them a great start, and sometimes they seem to set them up for failure (“I don’t know what my password is, my daughter made the account for me…”). I never thought that the latter situation might actually have the positive side effect of job security…

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Emma: I guess my emotion is best described as “sad disbelief” – do people not get that you can’t just had technology to someone and it automatically improves their lives? And these are child-parent relationships too. But I have to remind myself that the only people we see are the people with problems, so there might be many times more kids who do such a good job that their parents never need to come looking for help (aside from specific help with Library resources).