Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interest, Feigning an

A polite librarian will nod and occasionally interject an umm, hmm, or really?! while suffering through a patron's recitation of his or her family genealogy. These proud orations can go on for hours if uninterrupted, so take precautions and situate yourself within reach of a fire alarm.

There is a reason these people hang out at the library all the time: Their families (which can be traced back "to George Washington's brother-in-law!") won't let these insufferable old birds back in the house.

7 comments:

unstricken said...

that does sound excruciating. but in law libraries, we have to listen to patrons rant about their legal problems--e.g., "they said I caused serious body injurly [sic]." Or "Bill Clinton has been doing brain surgery on me and I'm going to sue the government for four million dollars."

Anonymous said...

Try working in a medical library! "The doctor planted a chip in my brain. The tinfoil blocks him from controlling my thoughts." or "Miss, I have this rash..." I think librarians have to be masters of the listen-without-really-listening skill.

unstricken said...

Hey anonymous--did you refer the tinfoil-hat guy to us? Sounds like a promising medical malpractice suit.

Anonymous said...

Here in the local history room, this is absolutely a job requirement. Especially since sometimes that's the most help you can give: "Uhm, I'm not sure where those century old sanitarium records from that institution in the next town over that closed fifty years ago would be held... Your grandmother's cousin, huh... how about that."

Anonymous said...

Oh, it hurts...

In library school, I worked in a place with many users interested in genealogy. Their stories I did not mind. It was the complete lack of knowledge that some of them had about their own families. They were so certain of their facts that they missed important things ("Grandma lived in New York State, I know it! How dare you screw the records up!! Oh wait, sorry, here she is in Connecticut. Never mind.") Others had no idea at all where to start (e.g. couldn't remember Grandma's maiden name). Still others tried to find themselves in the 1930 Census (they were born in the 1970s).

your neighborhood librarian said...

A librarian at the Nat'l Museum of the American Indian gets genealogy researchers with no sense at all:

"My great-grandmother was, like, part Indian or something. I only know her last name. Her tribe? I don't know. Where did she live? I don't know. Do you have any pictures of her?"

your neighborhood librarian said...

and at the American Museum of Natural History, where I worked, we used to BEG researchers not to tell us about their work.
"I'm looking for pictures of Japanese family crests."
"Ok, let me see what I can find."
"See, I'm writing a book on..."
"No! I mean... I, uh, let's look over here!"