Friday, November 04, 2005

Ref Grunt

Over the past month or so, I have looked at more library blogs than I can name. They link back and forth to each other in an incestuous way and I have taken a few whirlwind tours. My favorite for pure fun is Ref Grunt.

I have been working in adult reference for over 5 years and if ever someone cared to know what it is like to be a reference librarian (which they don't since they already know I sit around and read books all day), I would direct them to this site. It's a blow-by-blow of a typical day at a reference desk. The array of topics that are dealt with is dizzying. The requests for books with half or no titles at all, mangled authors' names, the expectation that we can solve any and all problems and have every title ever printed in our collection.

Ref Grunt also brings up another touchy issue in many libraries, namely computer, copier, and fax stuff. Departments frequently argue about who should be responsible for computer sign up, refilling the printer with paper and toner, helping patrons log on, reduce copies, etc. To be honest, I don't mind doing those tasks. What I mind is that I am then unable to do many of the tasks for which I was hired. There are 4.2 employees in my department and we cover the reference desk at the main library and the circulation/reference/youth services desk at our branch library. The two libraries are open for a total of 107 hours. You do the math.

The scary thing about Ref Grunt is that when I read the first few posts, I was sure it was someone at my library. But it looks like his name is Peter. Well, Peter represents Everyman and Everywoman for reference librarians worldwide.


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