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

Reference Question of the Week – 2/7/16

   February 13th, 2016 Brian Herzog

IIA patron walked up one afternoon and asked if I could show her if she was "typing in Roman Numeral two."

Sometimes, I figure I'll better understand the question once I see their computer screen, so I just said "sure" and got up and walked down to her computer with her.

When I get there, I see that it looks like she's started typing a term paper - heading, professor name, date. I think maybe it's an outline or something that needs Roman Numerals, so right where the cursor is blinking, I just type two capital I's and tell her that that's Roman Numeral two. It doesn't look very impressive, and I glance up onto the Word ribbons and notice the font is Calibri size 11.

The patron wasn't really impressed either, and said,

That's it? I don't know what she meant, but my teacher said we needed to type in Roman Numeral two.

Ah, now that, for some reason, made more sense. I deleted the two capital I's I just typed, Ctrl-A'd to highlight the entire page, showed the patron how to change the font to Times New Roman - while at the same time explaining that I have heard of some professors requiring a particular font, especially a serif font like Times New Roman, because supposedly it's easier to read. The patron indifferently acknowledged that I had just formed words, and said,

Well, that could be what she said. I was rushing at the end of class, but that looks fine to me.

Okay. She had her assignment sheet next to the computer she was working on, and I glanced down to hopefully see a font requirement spelled out as part of the project. I didn't see it, but noticed ironically the assignment sheet was printed in Calibri.

Towards the end of the night as the patron was leaving, she smiled and waved. Hopefully Times is what she needed, but I'm not sure I'll ever find out.

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Reference Question of the Week – 10/16/11

   October 22nd, 2011 Brian Herzog

Typing Tutorial mascotSometimes, it's not the difficult questions that are the most engaging - but then again, I can be entertained by very little (remember, I'm the kind of guy that is content reading the phone book).

A patron came to the desk and asked if we had any typing tutorial software she could check out. I knew we had books on learning to type, but no software, so I just did a quick search for "typing tutorial" online and the first result is exactly what the patron wanted.

She was happy, and I set her up on a computer to work on it. But then of course I was curious, and started playing with the website myself - and it turns out it is a very fun and addicting program. It gives a live words-per-minute speed indicator, so my game was to get that up as high as possible (also remember, I only use three fingers when I type).

This is also another example of "everything is on the internet, but it took asking a librarian to find it" - but then, I wouldn't expect someone learning to type to be good and online searching. And in this case, I was happy she asked, because not only could I show her how to do an internet search, but now I also have a fun new game that might actually improve my own typing.

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Web Tool for Filling in PDF Forms

   February 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog

FillAnyPDF.com logoFile this web tool under "why didn't someone think of this before?" FillAnyPDF.com lets you upload any pdf or image file (such as a blank form), type on it, and then save the completed form as a new pdf file.

It's not perfect, but it's easier than a typewriter. I'll use this both for patrons and myself, and I'm still surprised there aren't tons of these sites out there.

via LibraryStuff

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