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

Reference Question of the Week – 6/8/08

   June 14th, 2008 Brian Herzog

The phone rings, and a male patron asks:

Patron: Hello, do you, I, have you got, um, wifey, at the library?
Me: Ah, I'm sorry, could you repeat that please?
Patron: Is wifey, at the library?
Me: Well, I don't know, but if you describe her, I can walk around and look for her.
Patron: What?
Me: We don't have a paging system, so I'll have to walk around to check and see if she's here.
Patron: She? No, I mean wifey. For my computer. Can I use wifey access at the library?
Me: [pause] Oh, yes, we do have wi-fi access here...

...and I went on to describe what we offer. The patron wasn't nearly as entertained by this misunderstanding as I was - in fact, I think he thought I was an idiot. Oh well; at least we eventually straightened it out.

When he came in later that day, I was able to help him connect his laptop to the library's wireless network, so that may have restored his faith in librarian competency.

Regardless, I'm going to take advantage of Jessamyn's incredibly timely post about better publicizing library services (not to mention linking to them so patrons can find local wireless access when the library is closed).

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