Finding stuff

People generally assume that librarians know how to find stuff, especially in their own libraries. But that is not always the case. Witness the past 20 minutes of my life.

I took a call from a professor who needed a copy of an article he wrote. Not available electronically, but he says we have it here. I pull up the record in the catalog and verify that we should have the volume in question.

This is where the fun begins:

  1. Proceed to third floor, where journals are shelved alphabetically by title. Wander around until correct part of alphabet is located. Peer at shelves and scratch head when title is missing.
  2. Try to log in to 3rd floor info desk computer to double-check name and location of item. Fail due to forgotten password.
  3. Remember that a random assortment of journals is still on the second floor. Proceed to second floor to check there.
  4. Pass by “journal overflow shelf” on the way, peruse for title in question until it becomes apparent they are not at all organized. Wonder how anyone is supposed to find anything. Wonder when journal reshelving will be complete. Hope it is before midterms. Give up and continue journey to second floor.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on second floor.
  6. Return to first floor reference desk to look at record.
  7. Realize there is a call number for this item.
  8. Double-check that it is in fact listed as a periodical on the record.
  9. Ponder the fact that your library does not apply call numbers to periodicals.
  10. Return to second floor and wander around until you find the BLs.
  11. Wonder how long it will be before you will be able to go straight to the right spot, or at least until you don’t circle most of the floor to find something.
  12. Locate title, which is volume 19 of an annual series released in hardcover.
  13. Proceed to first floor staff copy room.
  14. While copying, think about how confusing it is to have the same thing be listed as a periodical and treated like a book.
  15. Return to reference desk to write blog entry on how librarians sometimes cause confusion by being too precise.
  16. Compare this record to one for an actual periodical. Realize that periodical records say “Location: Loyola Notre Dame Library Periodical. Call Number: Alphabetical by title.”
  17. Realize this is user error.
  18. Decide not to delete blog entry since it is all but finished.
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3 thoughts on “Finding stuff

  1. Love it.

    Not quite so elaborate as your search, but lots of our materials don’t have call numbers and locations are somewhat shaky… looking for the “possibly file-box-shaped-but-might-be-in-a-Hollinger -or-perhaps-a-flat-box” collection is always a good time. Even better when nobody can recall the collection name or creator, just the subject matter.

  2. Ah. The joys of cataloging serials.

    Wait until you personally have to go get something from storage. (It’s only happened to me once, because the prof. was quite anxious and needed it right away.)

  3. We’re actually small enough that we don’t have anything in storage. During the renovation most of the older bound journals were sent off site, but those came back in June.

    Within a couple of weeks of starting here though, I did get lectured because a colleague took me into the archive to look for something and shouldn’t have done so. How is that my fault? That was frustrating.

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