Magazine article American Libraries

The Truth about Reference Librarians

Magazine article American Libraries

The Truth about Reference Librarians

Article excerpt

Last year "Will's World" surveyed catalogers about their likes, dislikes, fantasies, and foibles (AL, Jan. 1995, p. 79). This year our focus is on reference librarians. Over 3,500 of them responded to the survey I ran in my July/Aug. 1995 column (p. 736), Here are the results:

The Top 15 Reference

Librarian Pet Peeves

1. Patrons who drink you are as interested in their family tree as they are.

2. Patrons who yell at you because you don't have a book completely devoted to their own little family tree.

3. Patrons who ask questions while sucking on pencils, toothpicks, and straws.

4. Patrons who ask you if you had to go to college to "do this."

5. Patrons who ask unanswerable questions like "How many wild birds starve every year in Maryland?"

6. Catalogers who eat all the ice cream at the annual library staff picnic.

7. Catalogers who refuse to work even one hour a week at the reference desk to find out what the real world is like.

8. Catalogers who dress like slobs and then complain about their image.

9. Catalogers who refuse to change idiotic LC subject headings.

10. Catalogers who take bestsellers home as soon as they arrive from acquisitions.

11. Teachers who assign research papers without checking with the reference librarians first.

12. Teachers who think that reference librarians are below them on the evolutionary ladder.

13. Teachers who send their problem students down to the library to keep them from disrupting class.

14. Teachers who require all their students to read a book that the library only has one copy of.

15. Circulation clerks who think they can answer reference questions.

The Top Five Reference Fantasies

1. A high school student will someday say "Thank you!"

2. A library director will someday spend two full hours working the reference desk.

3. Robert Redford will come up to die reference desk and say, "Please, let me take you away from all of this madness! …

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