hi – 16jul

Hi. Just a pointer, the DNC blog is over here, but I do have a library related anecdote to tell about the DNC that is really about librarians. The DNC is in the Fleet Center. They tell us that the Fleet Center will have wireless. While I am sure they have the best wireless intentions, all good librarians have back-up plans. My plan was to find the nearest BPL branch which has free wireless for people with BPL library cards, of which I am one. I go to BPL.org, note their spiffy MassAnswers logo and decide to communicate my favorite [and cheapest] way, online.

Please note the text, once you click through, says “Once you submit a question at the right side of this screen, it will be picked up by a Massachusetts Librarian from one of the MassAnswers participating libraries. If all are busy, or if it is off-hours for Massachusetts, a librarian from one of our nationwide cooperating libraries will pick up.” I figured any librarian in the BPL system could answer my question quickly. My question was “Which is the nearest BPL branch to the Fleet Center?” My librarian was in Maryland. I wonder how often you actually get a librarian from Boston, or even Massachusetts? I had to make two connection attempts to stay connected. On my second connection, I was typing but the nice woman at 24/7ref couldn’t, for some reason, read what I wrote. We swapped a lot of messages that went like this

her: Here is the page which lists BPLs branches. If you click the link closest to Fleet Center you will see their contact information. Your best be is to contact them directly to ask about wireless access. Does that resolve your question?
me: No. I don’t know where the Fleet Center is. Can you help me?
her: It appears that you may have disconnected.
me: I’m right here!

etc etc. This took up 20 minutes of my lunch break and at the end, I still had no idea what the answer was. I called the BPL main reference line and the woman who picked up the phone said “Oh, that’s the West End Branch, do you need their number?” Total time, less than a minute, plus no disconnects. I generally try not to take up a librarian’s time when I’m capable of looking up the answer in an equivalent amount of time myself. However, this latest exercise has taught me a thing or two about knowing things versus knowing how to find them.

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