New Leaves, Technopeasant, Are We Volunteers?

New Leaves
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.

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