Friday, September 24, 2010

Wretched Failure

I am usually pretty much full of awesome, at least as far as you know, but I must recount a moment of wretched failure today.

Our interlibrary loan person came over to ask me about a book that she couldn't find on the shelf.

She noted that it was listed in the catalog with a Library of Congress call number, which is unusual because, being a medical library, we normally use medical call numbers. Because they are much cooler, obviously.

She pointed out that it should really have a medical call number, and I concurred, but, hey, the record in the catalog says it doesn't! Someone slipped up by not giving it one, but still, you're basically telling me the call number is wrong and asking if I know where the book is based on that, and why would I?

Missing books are a whole different issue from incorrect call numbers! I'll correct it if the book turns up, but what else can I do here? Why will you keep rambling on about the call number?

So she gave up and went away, and about 10 minutes later I realized that what she was trying to say was that it should have a medical call number, and so maybe it did (on the spine) but it just hadn't been corrected in the catalog record.

And what she really wanted to ask was, what's the classification for a book on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis? Because then she could go look in that range and see if it might be there, having been properly shelved according to a correct spine number, even though the record in the OPAC was wrong.


See, I could in fact easily look that up, and it's WE 550, and I went to the WE 550s and there the book was, properly labeled even though improperly recorded--but she'd already declined the ILL request.

So I personally lost the library an $11 ILL service fee. Sigh. Me! I will bring down this institution!

OK, not really.

But it just goes to show that communication is a constant challenge.

I knew the answer to the question I thought she was asking ("do you know where this missing book is?"), and I stuck on that, completely missing the question she was actually asking ("do you know what the classification should be for this book?")

Truly, a poor display of reference interview skills.

I partially blame my nice cold/allergies combo of the moment (yes, it turns out this year it's both!), which is really fuzzying up my brain. But that's no excuse for not listening better, and accordingly I hang my head in shame.


1 comment:

brian said...

Take two aspirin and call (dial) it back up in the morning! ;-)