Category Archives: refgrunt

almost the last refgrunt

I have around 3 weeks left of work for my current job. I’m teaching my last classes this week. It all seems a little surreal. With that, I give you a refgrunt:

We have drop-in hours for writing help in the library (staffed by graduate students in English) but they aren’t on duty tonight. A student comes and asks if the librarians are editing papers tonight, and I explain the program to her. She asks if I can help edit her paper anyway, but I tell her that she can stop by during the regular hours for writing help, or e-mail the writing people to set up an appointment.

Here are some scissors for you. Yes, I also have a glue stick.

TD (Environmental Technology. Sanitary Engineering) books are over there.

I show a student how to search news transcripts and find full text articles from general news magazines.

We have Office installed on those computers.

DF (History of Greece) books are over there.

You can find that Chemistry handbook in the reference collection.

I help a student find articles on insect communication patterns in the Etymology Abstracts database.

Yes, you can check out that museum catalog.

I show a student how to use Statistical Universe and some of our business databases to find information on the tobacco industry.

Those physics conference proceedings and that ancient journal that has gone through around 4 name changes will be over there.

I’m sorry, I don’t seem to have a highlighter.

I help a student figure out what databases to search in for information about education reform in Africa, and then we locate an obscure physics article based on a few topic keywords and the author’s institutional affiliation in web of science. She says I will be sorry for helping her because from now on she will hang out at the desk all the time asking us questions, and I say that’s what I’m here for!

Spanish dictionaries will be over there

Another question about business, it is the alcoholic beverages industry. I bet a class assignment is due very soon.

A couple students come to the desk after wandering around trying to find a journal article only to find that the specific back issue they need is missing from our collection. I check, and it looks like we have online access to the article. I offer to print it from my computer. It turns out it is 40+ pages long. Oops! Well, the students are leaving happy after being frustrated earlier, which I think is good.

Someone is having trouble printing a document that requires a special plug-in. Maybe the computer lab computers might be better for that than the library computers?

ALA email and a Refgrunt

I’m really tired of some of the e-mail I get from ALA. I have my communication preferences set to official communication only, which on the ALA site is defined as “I only want to receive official membership communication (ballot, renewal and membership card, American Libraries and division journals and newsletters specified in the ALA Handbook of Organization).” Maybe my problem is that I don’t understand what exactly “official membership communication” is. I don’t see why a notification about a partnership with and contest in Women’s Day Magazine is in the same category as information about ALA voting. I already knew about the Women’s Day Magazine library thing before ALA sent me spam, because my Mom told me about it. She happened to spot a display about it at the Urbana Free Library. On the bottom of the e-mail message I got I had an option to opt out of getting more messages, but the form it linked to would opt me out of all e-mail communications from ALA, instead of opting out of marketing campaign e-mails, which all I’d really like to do.

On to the refgrunt portion of the post:

A student needs quotations about family. I show her the cool quotation dictionaries in XreferPlus.
Reserve books are over there, you can check them out for three hours.
I attempt to give a student an impromptu lesson in RefWorks, only to be foiled when I realize that I’ve forgotten my password. I give her a handout, ask about her project, and point out how she’d export to RefWorks in the databases she’d likely use for her topic. Then I figure out my refworks password.
You can put money on your copy card over there….Oh, both machines are out of order? You can also try putting money on your card in the computer lab.
Paper Jam!
BR books (Christianity) are over there.
The writing tutors aren’t here right now, but here are their drop-in hours.
I try to help a visitor figure out which building their seminar is in. Unfortunately the flyer for the event has no street address, and the building name listed is shared by three different buildings on this campus.
Someone is diligently setting off the exit gate alarms near circulation. Repeatedly he walks back and forth. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
KF (Law. United states) and KN (Law, Asia and Eurasia) books are going to be over there.
We don’t have a subscription to that particular journal, but you can request a copy through interlibrary loan. This is the web page that you can use to register for an account, and it really comes in handy if you might be requesting more articles later on.
If your professor put that answer key on reserve, it should be over at that reserves desk.
I think the reserves desk should have a giant neon blinking animated sign. not only would it help people find it, it would make the library seem much more festive and Vegas-like.
I wonder if I should bring yummy cookies from the Italian bakery near my house to the meeting I have tomorrow for the working group I chair.
The bound periodicals for medicine are going to be over there.
I check back in with the student who was using RefWorks.
I wander around, cleaning up debris from the computer area.
I help a student use our electronic journals list to find online access to The Economist.
I show an engineering student some of the databases he can use to track down conference proceedings, and show him how to narrow down searches in INSPEC. I give him the contact info for the engineering librarian in case he has any follow-up questions.
Reserve books should be over there at that desk.
A student walks up and greets a girl at one of the computers by burping at her. Classy!
I show a student how to ILL a book.
HM (sociology) books are over there
I show a student how to find film criticism in Film Literature Index, Expanded Academic ASAP, and the MLA bibliography.
Here is a stapler.

evening shift refgrunt

Yes, you can have some scissors.

Your class isn’t meeting in the library today. I know this, because your instructor e-mailed me yesterday, and I haven’t been able to schedule the class yet. Maybe in a couple weeks, you will be meeting in the library.

Scissors guy needs help blowing up an image on the copier.

My co-worker comes over to show me a delightful drawing her child has done of the grim reaper, complete with a scythe and the motto “R.I.P” printed on top of the page. I praise her child’s excellent grasp of death symbolism. I hope when I have a kid, he or she will make cool drawings of Death.

A book mysteriously has no call number in the library catalog. I’m not sure if we don’t have the book or if this is just a glitch in the catalog. I find the call number from the Marc record and tell her to come back if the book isn’t on the shelves.

Art book are there, and dvds will be over there.

Fun with microsoft word viewer locking up.

Book with no call number girl is back – It wasn’t on the shelves so we start looking to see if it is available in our library consortium. She’s a grad student, and she’s already visiting other libraries if they’re along the way of her commute. All the nearby places that have the book already have the book checked out. I point out one copy that’s available from a school in another state, and she says she’ll request it later if she can’t find a copy from one of her classmates

“What is the name of that database for book reviews?”
I don’t think we have a database just for book reviews, but were you looking for reviews in a newspaper or something more academic?
“More scholarly, you can put in the name of a book or article and see what people were writing about it.”
Oh, was it a citation database? Like Arts and Humanities Citation Index?
“Yes, that’s the one!”

I explain how to print.

Some freshmen students come to the desk asking how to search in Medline. It seems like they haven’t done much research before, so I make a little detour and show them Health Reference Center and suggest they use that as a starting point, while they are still thinking about narrowing down their topic. Then I show them how to search Medline.

I walk someone back to the reference collection, and we find his Chinese dictionary.

They need group study space – I tell them the locations of all the group study areas, and point out they can also work and talk in the library cafe.

We have the atlases right over there.

I explain how to print.

You can return your books at the circulation desk.


I fill out the release form for an atlas for someone who needs a color copy of a map.

“Do you have headphones?” We do, but they aren’t very nice (note to self, ask dept if we can buy nicer headphones).

I walk a first-time library user over to the stacks and we find his books.

You can put a recall on that book and have the circulation desk trace those other books.

That book should be over there.

Wireless isn’t working?

“Is this video on reserve for my class?” Yes it is, and it is available right now.

Here is a kleenex for you.

Color map person brings the atlas back, and it is snatched up right away by someone else who needs an atlas. I think there’s a major geography test tomorrow. Or everyone loves atlases!

“Where are the walls painted green in the library?” I am confused, as I can’t think of a specific place where the walls are painted green. Everyplace I go, the walls are off-white. “Were you looking for a particular area or room?” He’ll walk around the library until he finds the green walls.

Call for media dept.

“Where are the “U” call numbers?” My brain seizes up but eventually I remember the alphabet. Those books are over there.

“Do you have this text book here?” Yes, it looks like it is on reserve.

One of the staff here has a daughter with a sudden research paper assignment requiring different types of newspaper sources. She grabs some citation handouts and I suggest that she tell her daughter about Lexis Nexis.

marathon refgrunt

Yes, those computers have powerpoint, but be sure to save your work to a disc often.

Tour group. Never believe anything a student tour worker tells you about the library.

Student worker vanishes with my keys. Wither goeth mine keys?!

Stapler is right there

And so is the 3 hole punch

More tours.

A tour yet again

Phone call, a guy is calling to see if his girlfriends shoes are in lost and found (!)

Yes we have Russian dictionaries right over there

Yet another tour

That book is at another library, you can still check it out though.

“How do I know where a book is? Is there any way I can search for that?”
You can look up books by clicking on the library catalog link on any of those computers, if you need any help just let me know. (I debated just offering to look the book up for her, but I decided it might be good for her to try using the library catalog, if she hadn’t seen it before. She finds the call number for her book, comes back, and I tell her where to go to find it.)

He’s found a weird glitch in a catalog record. Book has no call number or location info. I get a rough idea of the call number from WorldCat and tell him all about interlibrary loan, just in case. I print out the funky record for tech services.

Her entire class has all copies of this book checked out — we can request it for you from interlibrary loan.

Another tour.

I get my keys back.

I escape the desk for 10 minutes to chug a bagel. And some iced coffee. I’m starving!

Oy, An engineering student needs help. I’m not so great at engineering. I show her some databases and we find a couple of promising books although it takes some time to hit on the right subject heading in the catalog. I give her the contact info for the engineering librarian and suggest she contact him if she has trouble finding anything for her research project.

How to get on the Internet in the library with a laptop.

Another tour.

Very very tricky journal abbreviation. I can’t find the full title in the database giving the reference, it doesn’t seem to be in the handy Periodical Title Abbreviations: By Abbreviation book, I try Ulrichs, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, and then just searching on the web hoping to pull something up. Student has to go, I give him the info of the librarian who specializes in his subject area and suggest that he consults her for follow-up.

Where to get coffee.

Person overhears a tour (I was not paying attention to the content of the tour since I was helping someone) and comes up to ask where the computer lab is, he needs to write something. Um, those computers over there have a few microsoft office programs on them. But where is the lab the tour guide was talking about? There isn’t an open computer lab in the library, all our rooms with computers are used only for teaching. But the guide said there was a lab. Maybe he was talking about the computer lab next door. No he said it was in the library. Well, the tour guides don’t always give out totally accurate information, I’m sorry we really don’t have a computer lab in this building. Feel free to use those computers over there though, if you need Microsoft Word. This is why no one should believe what they overhear on a tour!

Call for circ desk.

Phone call. Yes, we are open!

Chicago manual of style. He doesn’t like the big orange book so I also give him one of our quick citation handouts that has a few examples.

Here is a paperclip.

You can add money to your copy card over there.

Call for circ desk.

I call over to see if the wireless computer people are in for a student who needs help. Looks like they’re gone. She says she’ll go in tomorrow.

This is how you get your copy card out of the machine.

Where is the reference bin? The bin? Were you looking for reference books on a particular subject? It turns out the books were on a cart and haven’t been reshelved yet. I Wonder where she got the terminology “bin”. I suspect the circ desk.

Very impatient student wants books on a particular subject but doesn’t seem to want to know how to search for it herself, or that she might have to try a couple ways of searching for what she wants. She’s super-impatient and doesn’t want to hear that the first book I pulled up might not be exactly what she wants. “I’ll just look through it! It’ll be fine!” So I give her the call number.

Oy, a Chemistry student needs some help. We try one of our online reference sources and don’t seem to be finding anything, so I give her the call numbers of a few handbooks that I think might have what she needs and tell her to come back if she doesn’t find what she’s looking for.

Student from another university wants to know where our bound periodicals are. This is the call number, here is a map of the library, your journal should be over there.

Very slaphappy and giggly student needs to quickly edit a word document but all the computers with software on them are taken, so I have her step behind the ref desk to edit her document on the 2nd ref desk computer.

Mouse on one of the ref desk computers isn’t working, so I go back to one of the student machines in the office area that isn’t being used, snag an extra mouse and connect it to the computer. Huzzah for cannibalizing parts from other computers!

Statistics on teacher salaries, I show her statistical universe.

I finally unsubscribe from NEWLIB-L, which I’ve been finding very toxic and unpleasant to read recently. I’m sure being a new librarian or hunting for a new library job can also be both toxic and unpleasant, but there isn’t really a need for me to read this listserv any longer. I do however find Dorothea’s post on the lame antitech stuff that gets tossed around every so often very untoxic and quite pleasant.

His paper is due in 2 days and it happens to be a popular topic, so I try and find the few books we have that aren’t checked out and concentrate on showing him some of the full text sources he can use for his topic (which are plentiful).

Looks like all of our copies of The Stranger in French are all checked out.

Phone call:How late is the DVD library open? I tell her the hours of the media library.

I take a break and eat some tootsie rolls and watery iced coffee. I forgot to bring my apples and carrots but somehow remembered the tootsie rolls. Funny, that.

I’m really tired. It is probably not a bad idea to stay up late playing Katamari Damacy before a long reference shift. I kept sleeping way late over the weekend, I think due to allergies.
I think instead of having computers in the library, students should soak up knowledge by rolling a sticky katamari around the library. Whoever ends up with the most books, citations, and journals stuck to their katamaris gets an A on their research paper! I need a nap!!!!!

Printing problems from JSTOR. Damn you JSTOR, and your high resolution article images!!!! I reboot the printer and it seems to be all better.

Phone call about finding an English law from the 1500s. Hmm. I try to think back to my distant past when I worked on a finding aid for British Government documents when I was in grad school. I’m pretty sure that we have nothing that I used to use when locating British gov docs. Woo! Caller is a grad student who actually has a citation for a legal reference book that reprints the law. We don’t have it but other area libraries do.

Paper due in a couple days about gender issues in the Soviet Union. Have you tried Sociological Abstracts yet?

Tibetan bodhisattvas, for a paper due in a couple days. I show her some books and humanities article databases.

Here is some scratch paper

Here are the scissors.

Yep, we sure don’t have that journal. so you can request that article from Interlibrary Loan

Call for circ desk

How to e-mail yourself an article from JSTOR

Call for circ desk.

You’re welcome! (A student who I had referred to the writing center on campus had a good tutoring session and stopped by to say thanks.)

She wants Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations

That book is over there

I find another book on Tibetan Buddhist ritual. Man, library catalogs are lame — this book didn’t come up before. Student comments on my inspired use of the “magic librarian parentheses”.

How to find short story collections in the library catalog….after talking to her it sounds like she’s looking for the Best American Short Stories Series, which we have. Hey, I didn’t realize Lorrie Moore edited the 2004 volume. She is one of my favorite authors.

You can get that from Interlibrary loan

Phone call for the circ desk.

Student wants an quick and easy way to get an MLA citation from the catalog. It appears that he wants to click a button and have the catalog spit out a perfectly formed bibliography. I tell him about RefWorks and demonstrate how he would use it, but that doesn’t seem to be quick enough for him, and he would rather cut and paste from the catalog. OK.

Time to go home!!!!!!!

midnight pancakes

Isn’t eating breakfast food in the middle of the night one of life’s great luxuries? I had to work the late shift tonight, didn’t get home until 11 pm and I was craving pancakes. My copy of the Joy of Cooking automatically opens to the pancake page. Ah, lovely, lovely pancakes! I’m glad I walked both to and from work today, I doubt that will balance eating so many carbs before bed but at least I was semi-active. I didn’t walk home in the middle of the night, I went to work in the morning, came back home at noon, went to work again at 5:30 and now I’m back, tired yet joyfully stuffed with pancakes.

So, a pancake infused refgrunt:

Books are over there
Here are more staples
This is how you find old Chemistry journals, this is where they are in the library, you can request that article through interlibrary loan
She needs information about a contemporary Jewish musician and she’s already used the music databases…I show her WorldCat and EthnicNewsWatch and print an article from Lexis Nexis for her.
I’m sorry we don’t have state tax forms.
I spend a bunch of time trying to locate a particular type of map of the Ottoman Empire right before World War I. Thank you historic atlases!
Books are over there
You can put a trace on that missing book at the circulation desk
No, we don’t give away extra notebooks here, but you can have some scratch paper.
Book on social psychology experimentation
Books are over there
How to access e-journals
You’d get more results if you search for Brooks, Gwendolyn
Books are over there
How to use EconLit
We open tomorrow at 8:00
I wonder why people are doing jumping jacks in the library
I suggest ways someone can enlarge an image they printed out from a web page
Books are over there

poetry refgrunt III: Refgrunt With a Vengeance

The night shift librarian
was sitting at the desk
She answered many queries
both sublime and grotesque
Look in the architecture section
for construction romanesque

“I can’t download from JSTOR!”
The hapless student cries,
“What’s wrong with acrobat?”
Try photocopying, the librarian replies.
Yes, we do have art books,
in the section ‘oversize’.

The printer says “toner low”
shake the toner cartridge.
Students research stem cells, world wars
Voltaire, psychosis, and gay marriage
The librarian wants to eat yoghurt,
but it’s in the office fridge.

The sleepy librarian
sips some more coffee
Its only nine ‘o clock
You can print, but not for free
Johnny Damon strikes out,
but there’s a homer for Manny!

poetry refgrunt 2: sestina boogaloo

I’m not sure how long I can do refgrunts in various poetic forms, but here’s another one!

I’m working an evening reference shift
Jeff Spicoli‘s doppleganger asks me a question.
He’ll have to use interlibrary loan.
She wishes all the articles were full text.
I show a girl how to search the New York Times.
Books with PQ call numbers are over there.

A professor wants a floppy disk for the microform machine, I go there
after grabbing a disk from my cubicle, then shift
back to my place at the reference desk. Time’s
passing quickly, everyone has a question
I look up ERIC documents, I can’t spell the text
“temperamental children”. I wish someone would loan

me an extra brain, but instead I loan
a boy with dreads some whiteout. The printers are there.
She’s doing music research and shows me a miniature piano. Text
of the sheet music glued to the front is tiny. It’s a music box! Her hands shift
to the back and she winds it a quarter turn. You might question
me listening to a few bars of automated song, but sometimes

everyone needs music. I barely hear the melody, the time’s
now 6:33 PM. Another student needs the loan
of a ruler and he has a question
about where books are. Right over there
I say, showing him a map. I warn about the book shift,
the map’s not totally accurate. He goes to find his text.

Lexis Nexis search for info on Sudan. I find the text
of Colin Powell’s speech about genocide. Times
today are tragic and uncertain. It’s raining outside. I shift
in my chair to answer the phone, a loan
query about a dvd. I transfer the call. There
is a hush in the library, nobody has a question.

A group of students looks up baseball news. No question-
Yankees suck. I’m sorry it doesn’t look like that text
book is on reserve.
A gaggle of girls giggle there
near the printer. I can’t find a journal, I hate times
like this, his prof said it was here but it isn’t. Try Interlibrary Loan.
One and a half hours left of this reference shift.

There’s a copy of American Libraries I could read but I question
if it will keep me alert. I shift my gaze, eyes can’t focus on printed text
These are the times that last forever, sitting at the desk alone

refgrunt haiku

I decided to write this evening’s refgrunt in haiku. Really really bad haiku. So you’ve been warned:

to recall the book
circulation desk will help
get it back for you

yes I do have some
white-out and a binder clip
you are welcome

you’re right acrobat
is choking on that file, strange
try the lab next door

Korean War news
New York Times Historical
Archives to start search

you put the microfilm
under the glass plate and thread
it through, now it loads

obscure Jewish law
book we don’t have it here but
interlibrary loan rocks

buy copy cards there
the black machines tethered to
the wall vend the cards

um, do you have a
dictionary? Yes I do!
bring it back later

this is how you print
from microfilm, no you aren’t
a bother at all

printing question, woah
I’m starting to get tired
poor librarian!

student needs business
books, but we don’t have too much
I show him WorldCat

catalog record
strangely shows no back issues
of Jama, that blows
because we have it
go to the stacks with student
note error for clean-up

study rooms, kids books
computer broken, I take a bag of
rice cakes to lost and found

really sullen kid
complains about her laptop
sorry I can’t help (not!)

And a final one in Japanese:

yoru toshokan
isogashii tsukue
mada nemutai

back to school refgrunt

First shift on the reference desk with the students back!

Anna Karenina
I’m sorry, I don’t have a protractor.
Yes, go ahead and use the phone to call your prof.
Number of times I say a variation of “Well, we can check to see if we have your textbook.. but the library doesn’t have every textbook used for every class…now we can check reserves…sorry we don’t have your book, you might want to hunt down someone in your class if you need it to do your homework tonight.” – around 11
One person wants the textbooks for her class, but doesn’t know the names of her professors or course numbers (so I can’t look anything up in reserves). She doesn’t have her syllabus or know the titles of the books she needs. I suggest that she attempt to login to the online course system to see if a syllabus with reading assignments is posted that we could use to get more info…no luck. She says she is just going to not do her homework.
I can show you how to Interlibrary loan.
Your book is over there
An instructor comes to the desk asking for libarian Z. Sorry, the only reference librarian here in the evening is me, you can try stopping by during the day tomorrow. I ask to see if I can help him with anything, but he spoke to librarian Y earlier. OK.
That book is over there
Students want to check out dvds and love Owen Wilson. We don’t have one movie they want, so I suggest The Royal Tenenbaums., and show them how to look up dvds in the catalog.
Thank you for returning the pencil that libarian Y lent you!
“Where to go to read magazines”
Photography books
How to find articles on the Japanese educational system
A man comes to the desk carrying a copy of Persepolis. We bond over graphic novels, and I regretfully tell him that we don’t have In the Shadow of No Towers.
Books are over there
I chat with an art instructor about a book that was withdrawn from the collection, tell her how to place materials on reserve, and show her Xrefer.
That book is over there
Poetry books
Monologues for an audition piece
Last question of the night, as I’m walking home a man driving a bulldozer drives by and needs directions to the post office (?!!!)