The live oaks around town have dropped their old leaves as new leaves emerge, creating perilous drifts on the city streets for the two-wheeled. Take a corner through a pile of dry, dead, live oak leaves, and you might go down, they are so slippery. I saw a man lay down a Harley a couple of years ago braking downhill into an oak leaf-strewn curbside parking space on Park Avenue outside the library.
Like so, new editions of often-used reference works have been pushing the old ones off the shelves at the reference desk this month: the 2009 Polk City Directory, Hill-Donnelly Reverse Phone Directory, U.S. and Florida Statistical Abstracts, Toll-Free Phone Directory, World Almanac. Their numbers have decreased over the years, but there are still books that are indispensable for "ready reference".
A young woman approached me about doing an offender search at the Florida Department of Corrections. Clearly her first time in the library, she seemed a little disoriented by all the activity around the reference desk and the public workstations. I was pretty busy. I gave her a reservation, pointed her to her PC, and said I'd be over to help in a minute.
When I got to her, she was just sitting in front of the PC. Hadn't started her session yet. I got her logged in while helping the guy next to her print something. (Browser File -> Print didn't work, multi-page form with in-page print button generating "unblock pop-ups" message to work.)
"Ok, now go to myflorida.com." She didn't make a move. With anything else, I'd normally take her to the desk and do it for her, but DOC offender searches need tact. A family member or boyfriend is in prison. There is worry and grief and pain. You want to leave them alone as soon as you can. I talked her through to the offender search page. She didn't know his DC number, so I told her to fill in the fields that she knew and submit.
I hope she found what she wanted. I kept looking over to her, but I was so busy. I think she only stayed about twenty minutes.
It was a bad call. She was too unskilled to be seated in front of a PC and given a push. I should have put aside my scruples and done it for her, handing her a print-out with photograph, ready to go.
I was trying to decipher a Martindale-Hubbell entry for a local attorney, something I don't do often enough to remember how to do from one time to the next. The patron was going to call back in twenty minutes. I couldn't get a five-minute block of time to do it. It was just one walk-up or phone call after another. Got my colleague to take the desk while I did it. Patron didn't call back until after lunch.
Are We Volunteers?
Yes, the Dreaded Question. Man wanting co-dependency literature, with court-ordered community service to do. Um, no, we have Master's Degrees and are paid staff.