Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Valentine's Day Conversation with the Library Computer

Art by AsdeF
Why don't I just blog about romance books today?  Searches of the library OPAC (Online Public Access Computer, formerly known as the card catalog) tell us that:
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 203
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' upstairs only (ie: not kid's books) = 106
#DVD's in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 25
#books with keyword 'love' in library = too many to count. That query caused our online catalog to give up and answer '250', which is what it says when the number is larger than 250. It just gives up and expects the term to be narrowed or qualified in some way to bring the number below 250. Sometime it is difficult to 'heart' the library catalog. It is an ornery computer servant, like HAL, that has its own rules, regardless of what we want to ask it. I imagine my conversation with HAL/OPAC would go like this:

Anne the Librarian: "How many books about love do we have, oh library computer?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne the Librarian: "OK, so how about just adult books about love?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne: "OK, would you believe, just books with the Library of Congress Subject Heading 'Love'?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, you sound like Maxwell Smart, that is the wrong video entertainment format. I can't understand you."
Anne: "I am going to power you down now, OPAC. Good bye!"
OPAC: "Nooooo...."
Anne: "Mwah ha ha."

Happy Valentine's Day! We've got lots of books about romance and love at BHPL, more than 250 I'm guessing. Just ask at the Reference Desk.

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