Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ooh, Ouch

My librarian conscience is pricking me this morning.

I usually give pretty good reference service, but yesterday I had to walk away without giving it my best. The young lady wanted information on compound fractures for an essay, and I could only help her to a point. I showed her the catalogue, with the provision that the university would probably have more information than we, and indeed we had one book on fractures - written for children. Then I showed her the health/medical encyclopedias, and left her wandering the aisles in the 610s. Couldn't bring myself to try to take her through the health information database.

I hate this about myself, but I can't deal with people who ask for help but won't take my advice. It pushes my buttons. Shades of Aunt Frieda, I suppose: she likes to wail things like, 'What am I going to do with [the mountain of crap that I've accumulated, and that no one wants]? How can we make decisions if we never talk??' Over the holidays, my sister and I (or was it Jim and I?) finally deciphered that 'how can we make decisions if we never talk' is code for 'let's sit down together and I'll tell you what I'VE decided and then I'll tell you how I'm going to boss you around to get it done'. I always knew I hated those 'family meetings' but I couldn't exactly say why.

Anyway, this girl at the Library yesterday came to me for help, and her only real 'sin' was that she desperately wanted us to have the material that she needed for her paper. I know that sort of magical thinking - if I look REALLY HARD, I'm sure this store will have this dress in my size. If I crunch the financial numbers JUST ONE MORE TIME, I'm sure we'll suddenly have the money to buy a bigger house.

In the Library, this sort of thinking looks like this: if I type in 'compound fractures' three different ways, at some point the Library will have JUST THE BOOK I NEED. If the librarian suggests that I look under 'bones' instead, I will ignore her because that is not what I want. I WANT compound fractures.

I understand the thinking, but when I'm on the other end of it my little brain just screams "Run away!!!" like a herd of Monty Python knights.

Anyway, I could have handled it differently. Given her more options, or at least more emotional support. Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Aim higher, Squirrel.


Blogger liz said...

Oh, don't be too hard on yourself.

As I have needed nearly ten years of intensive training to learn: "You can't fix everything for everyone."

(Especially when they resist fixin'!)

4:13 am  

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