An Almost Empty Library

The library where I work is almost about to transition over to holiday hours. It was totally dead tonight at the reference desk. I had only 4 questions. I walked someone to the stacks to help him find his book. I answered a question about reserves, told someone where the books were, and I discussed the holiday hours with a telephone caller.

There are still a few students around, checking their e-mail. One person looks like they’ve abandoned a paper half-written on one of our workstations that has MS Office software support. A couple people are actually looking up books in the library catalog. Vacation reading maybe?

ALA has now sent me 3 notices to renew my membership. I received one notice after I renewed, and I received yet another notice today, when I got my new membership card in the mail several weeks ago. I renewed, but only at the most basic level. I dropped all my division memberships. If I thought I was going to any ALA conferences this year, I probably would have maintained my membership in ACRL and LIRT, but I just decided not to spend the money this time.

I was helping a student out last week and I ended up having the perfect reference question that called for the use of google book search. The student had already done plenty of research, and he noticed that several of the articles he found were referencing a chapter in a particular book. We didn’t have the book here, and I explained the ILL options to the student, unfortunately he was under a bit of time pressure because his paper was due fairly soon. The student went to work at another computer and I tried google book search randomly just to see if I could find anything at all. By typing in the title of the book and the chapter author I was able to get a few pages. This is one case where the ability to purchase the chapter would have come in handy, because the student probably would have spent money to avoid waiting for interlibrary loan. Or maybe a library could have some sort of slush fund for times like these? If the cost of buying a chapter for a student would be about equal to acquiring it through ILL, there would be no reason to avoid doing this.

While I was showing the student how to use google book search to get the few pages up on his computer (he was happy to even have a short excerpt of the chapter), a friend of his stopped by and asked how to make the front and back arrows “work” on google book search. I explained that people were only able to get a few pages at a time from the service. The student then commented that he was able to text message google to get driving directions, and wasn’t that cool? This would have been the perfect opportunity to publicize a text a librarian service (if my library offered such a thing).