Friday, January 29, 2010

Clear Your Desk Edition

Okay, who sent me the old library magazine?

Last Thursday I decided to stop being lazy and check my mailbox, something I hadn’t done since that Tuesday. Some of you may be wondering why I don’t check it everyday. It’s a logistics issue. I dwell under the stairs like the mole people on the lower level and my mail box is on the 5th floor. The regular elevator doesn’t go up to the 5th when we’re open, and Murphy’s Law dictates I never have mail when we’re closed. And when I do have mail, I have so much I need a cart. Technically I could use the freight elevator, but that elevator freaks me out. It’s padded. No, it’s not as bad as it used to be---remember back when it had ripped dark blue padding, as if someone had tried fruitlessly to claw their way out of there? Still, it’s pretty bad. Whenever I’m in there it makes me think someone is going to lower a bucket from its roof and say, “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

But that’s another story unto itself.

I go upstairs, check the staff room to see if there’s anything to eat, look around for free movie passes, get my mail, see it’s full of magazines and start sorting. One is from December 2009. Half the staff has already seen it. Two are from October. I’m the last person on those lists. Then, in an envelope, I spot the Library Journal dated May 15, 2008.


Do you know what how much has changed since then? In May of 2008 I was still wondering if it would be Obama or Clinton, I could truthfully tell people I was in my 20s, and I had the full spectrum of cable channels because, like a drug dealer, they were getting me hooked before upping the price. May 2008 was over a year and a half ago. An elephant’s gestation doesn’t last that long. This magazine has been sitting around someone’s desk, then they sent it to the next person who, in turn sent it to me. What was the point? Giving me a magazine this late completely disrupted the Library Magazine Ecosystem Chain! This how it’s supposed to go:

Receive magazine. Skim over the library/librarian/architect/award-you’ll-never-get-because-you’re-just-not-that-dedicated of the year section. Skip pages having to do with professional development or the department you work in. Discover an author you like is coming out with a new hardback in 5 months.


Check catalog for the new title only to discover it is not there. Put a reminder in your calendar to check the catalog in another two months.


Two months later, while watching a funny YouTube video involving talking animals and eating an entire box of crackers because some pop culture quack dietician said it was okay to eat as many carbs as you like as long as it was before 5 pm, a reminder pops up telling you to check MillCirc for your book title. You check it only to discover the record is SUPRESSED. Set another reminder for later that month.


Three weeks later you discover the title you want is officially in the catalog and the holds list is now wider than your rear thanks to time/the crackers. Become 301 of 301 holds.


Receive your hold request four months later only to realize you bought the book at CostCo for 40% off the day it was published. Chastise yourself for not having the patience to wait 15 weeks for a book you wanted 9 months ago. Try not to remind yourself that you could have conceived and given birth to a baby in the time that has passed since you first learned about the title.


Rinse and repeat.

So what should you do if you find an old library magazine under the pile of donated disintegrating National Geographic magazines at your desk?

1. Go over the list.
2. Cross off my name. (Trust me, it’s for the best.)
3. Cross off the name of anyone who has retired since the printing of the mailing list.
4. If you’re one of those OMG-there-might-be-something-important-they-need-to-read folks, AND someone has retired in the last few weeks, send the magazine out in a clean envelope. Hopefully the person on the receiving end will assume the retiree cleaned off their desk.

When I got the magazine, after I thought, ‘You’ve gotta-be-kidding-me,” and, “Why do some librarians think it’s okay to wear what they would wear while cleaning the litter box in a professional magazine?” I contacted CDV. They said for something that old they could just file it away. So for those of you who are upset that you have to read the “Going Green” article in Academic OneFile instead of in print form…

It’s all my fault.

(This time.)

I'll explain the video later.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Call Center Chaos

Asking me what it’s like to work Telis is the equivalent of asking someone how it feels to get a bikini wax. While they are searching for a tasteful way to tell you about the excruciating pain of feeling like someone set you on fire and then told you they had to do it again to even things out (“On a scale from 1-10, with childbirth being a 10…”) there is simply no way to convey what Telis workers go through. Many of our calls are straightforward, pleasant transactions with nice people who are happy to have a live person on the line and are easy to help. There are the people who want answers to crossword puzzles, need you to settle a bet between them and their spouse, want an audio edition of an older popular title...

And then there are the other calls.

Everyone gets the other calls. People who are upset that we don’t do court appointed community service, provide fax machines, proctor tests or give foot rubs.

I made the following other call up.

(In other words, don't write me letters.)

It’s completely fabricated, melding several common Telis situations, yet it so matches the calls we routinely get so much, a co-worker didn’t know the difference. When I showed it to him he said, “I got that person on Saturday. They must have called back.”

No, they didn't.

If only it were one person...

Here it goes:

Me: “Good (morning/afternoon/evening), Sacramento Public Library, may I help you?”
Them: “Yeah, what are your hours today?”
Me: “Which particular library branch do you need the hours for?”
Them: “Your branch.”
Me: “This is telephone reference. We answer all calls for all branches in the Sacramento Public Library System. I need a name of the branch you’re looking for.”
Them: “I need the hours for the Sacramento Public Library.”
Me: “That’s the name of our system, not a library branch. I need the name of an individual library.”
Them: “I need the one on the corner.”
Me: “Which corner would that be?”
Them: “Your corner.”
Me: “What’s the name of the street?”
Them: “I don’t know. I think there’s a McDonald’s and then you turn the corner and go down a few blocks and it’s right there.”
Me: “Sir, there are about 60 McDonald’s in Sacramento County. I need a more exact location. What part of town are you talking about?”
Them: “You know the one I’m talking about.”
Me: “Actually I don’t. Can you remember the street name at all? Is it by a mall or in a high school?”
Them: “Never mind…Know what, I’ll just go to something downtown.”
Me: “There are three downtown branches, Central, McKinley, and McClatchy. However, all of them are closed on Mondays.”
Them: “Closed on Mondays? That’s ridiculous. I went to the big one a few months ago and it was open on a Monday. When did it start closing on Mondays?”
Me: “Central Library hasn’t been open on Mondays for about 5 or 6 years.”
Them: “Oh. Well, I need this book like now.”
Me: “If you give me the title of the book I can look it up, see where it’s located, and have it sent over to the library of your choosing.”
Them: “That will work. I have the ISBN.”
Me: “Hmm…I’m not seeing this. Is this a textbook?”
Them: “Yes. I need it for class.”
Me: “While we have the occasional textbook in our system, we do not purchase them.”
Them: “Why not? I need it.”
Me: "We do not carry it. What’s the name of the book?”
Them: “Calculus and Analytical Geometry, 9th edition.”
Me: “We don’t have the 9th edition. The only one I see is the 6th.”
Them: “Well how do you expect me to get the 9th edition?”
Me: “Usually your campus textbook store will carry the item if it was assigned by your professor.”
Them: “You want me to buy the book? Do you know how much that would cost me? It’s $160!”
Me: “Amazon has a used copy available for $8.29.”
Them: “I’m not buying it. Where’s the old edition at?”
Me: “Okay, the computer shows the book you want is at the Norman R. Siefkin Library in Folsom.”
Them: “Never heard of it. What town is that in?”
Me: “Folsom.”
Them: “So it’s not the one on Folsom?”
Me: “No, the one on Folsom Blvd is Rancho Cordova, which is closed for renovations. Norman R. Siefkin is in Folsom. But I can have it sent over to one of the open Sacramento Public Library branches if you give me your library card number.”
Them: “Can I have it sent to the one on Folsom?”
Me: “No, Rancho Cordova Library is closed for renovations.”
Them: “But I was just there are few days ago and it was open.”
Me: “It’s been closed for several months; however, I can have it sent to a nearby branch such as Arden or Arcade.”
Them: “Have it sent to Arcade.”
Me: “Yes, if I can please have your library card number I can have it sent over.”
Them: “I don’t have my library card on me. Can you look it up by name?”
Me: “Sure. What’s your name?”
Them: “J. Williams. J is my first initial.”
Me: “I’m going to need more information.”
Them: “The last guy looked it up by my name.”
Me: “Sir, there are over 509 entries for J. Williams in this system. May I please have your phone number starting with area code?”
Them: “I don’t like to give out my phone number.”
Me: “Sir, your phone number was entered into the system when you applied for a card.”
Them: “How about I give you my social?”
Me: “Uh, we don’t use social security numbers. What’s your phone number starting with area code?”
Them: “000-867-5309.”
Me: “I don’t see that number in the system.”
Them: “Try 000-634-5789.”
Me: “The record is pulling up…Mr. Williams, it says here you owe us $465.”
Them: “For what?”
Me: “Apparently you have 15 items you never returned, plus a collection agency fee of $10 added onto that amount, plus late fees for 12 other items---”
Them: “You have to understand, my stepfather’s half-sister’s cousin was in the hospital and my hamster died, so I wasn’t able to get to the library.”
Me: “According to our records the items were due 9 months ago.”
Them: “I’ve been busy. But if you’ll let me check out this one book I promise to bring the others back.”
Me: “Your account fines have to be under $5 for you to check anything out.”
Them: “Maybe we can work out a deal.”
Me: “A deal?”
Them: “You know, I only pay part of that amount.”
Me: “But you still have our materials.”
Them: “Yeah, they’re around here somewhere.”
Me: “You may speak with an individual branch about making a deal on the late fines, but we need our materials back before we start any type of negotiations.”
Them: “I’ll return the things if you waive the fines.”
Me: “That’s not how things work. We also need to see what condition the items are in.”
Them: “Look, I was using them for school.”
Me: “You were using Scarface, 300, The Complete 5th Season of the-X Files, The Godfather DVD Collection, Alien vs. Predator, Cosmo Kama Sutra, Purple Panties, Sublime, Icky Thump, Zodiac, The DaVinci Code, Enter the Matrix Official Strategy Guide, Twilight, The Essential Bob Dylan and The Joy of Sex for school?”
Them: “Yes.”
Me: “Really?”
Them: “Yes.”
Me: “I don’t know what school you attend, but the semester we’re discussing should have ended in four months, meaning you could have returned them five months ago. We would like our things back.”
Them: “I don’t have time to bring them back. And it’s your fault for not reminding me when the books were due.”
Me: “My fault?”
Them: “Yeah, you should have sent me an e-mail.”
Me: “Sir, when you signed up for a card you acknowledged you understood the checkout period was 21 days. When you checked something out you received a receipt listing the item due dates. Receiving an e-mail is a courtesy, and when you didn’t return the materials on time, you received several notices before we billed you for the items.”
Them: “Oh. Then I want to use my wife’s card. Can you look up her card number?”
Me: “According to this there are no cards linked with your account.”
Them: “What does that mean?”
Me: “It means we cannot give you information on anyone else’s account, nor may you use their card.”
Them: “But she’s my wife!”
Me: “Is she home? If I can speak with her and her account is in good standing she may check this item out.”
Them: “She’s not here. How about I use my kids’ cards?”
Me: “Sir your account is not connected with their accounts either.”
Them: “But they’re my kids! You’re telling me I can’t check out things on the account I signed for?”
Me: “You signed them up for their own accounts for their use. If you return our materials in good shape and speak with staff there they can work out a payment plan and get you this book as soon as possible.”
Them: “I don’t want a payment plan.”
Me: “I have to take the next call. If you have any other questions---”
Them: “You’re hanging up on me?”
Me: “Your time is up and there are people waiting in the queue for us to answer their calls.” Them: “I want to speak to a branch. What’s Arcade’s phone number?”
Me: “Those numbers are not available to the public. We take all calls for all branches, including Arcade.”
Them: “You won’t give me their number?”
Me: “No, sir. We transfer calls on a need basis if we cannot answer the questions here.”
Them: “I have a question.”
Me: “What is your question, sir?”
Them: “My question is for them.”
Me: “We have to take your question before transferring calls to them to make sure it is not something we can answer.”
Them: “Do you know who pays your salary?”
Me: “I’m hanging up now.”

To be continued...

BTW, I saw this video and had to add it. I enforce a strict dress code policy in Kids' Place and have kicked teens out who repeatedly wear sagging clothes. Now I think I'm just going to yell, "Pants on the ground! Pants on the ground!" while security drags them away.