Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian

A Prairie Home Companion features a recurring character, Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian. Here is the link to the website with the script from the most recent show and also a link to the audio version of the skit. It's also possible to get podcasts of Garrison Keillor's monologs: the News from Lake Wobegon.

And now the news from Berkeley Heights Library Reference Desk where all the librarians are above average and none of them are as recalcitrant and regressive a luddite as Ruth Harrison, we hope.
Let's go through the reference department mail together, shall we? A plea for BHPL to purchase Key Signifier as Literary Device for only $99.95 by "the academic who coined the phrase at the 2005 international society..." Pretty sure that's too esoteric and academic for a small public library, especially for the price. Into recycling it goes. The Brookings Institution Press catalog, nice cover photo of the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial reflected in the water. Think I'll wait 'til the books get reviewed by an impartial source, pretty academic stuff, and pretty sure won't miss any bestseller by....recycling the Brookings. Next! Manila envelope marked "Time Sensitive Material." Looks like junk mail, but upon opening, turns out to be two packets of bookmarks from the Internal Revenue Service advertising the IRS website. Hmm. The binders of photocopiable forms and many other forms have not yet arrived, but we do have those all-important bookmarks. Come get them while supplies last. Next, more junk mail which turns out to be a bright purple desk planner to advertise a printer that will make promotional items. Unfortunately the library limits itself to inexpensive pens and pencils with our website and phone number on them. And so on. Junk mail, if you toss it without a peek, it might be important, if you take the time to open it, you often have wasted time. What to do? It's a gamble, a toss of the dice; an instant triage of cost/benefit of one's time is required for each piece of mail cleverly disguised to look as though it might be important.

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