Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Minneapolis Central Library - Minneapolis, MN

I received the news that I would be taking a field trip from work to the Minneapolis Central Library for some research. I was excited about this because I do lots of sitting in my job and repetitive tasks and was looking forward to something different, hoping it would make my morning go fast. I made the walk of only a few blocks in good spirits and with the confidence that only librarians can feel when visiting a library they have not been to before.

I arrived on the floor housing the business collection and looked up the resource I was looking for in the catalog. I wrote down the call number and was on my way. I found the Business Reference collection which was where I was directed to and located the call number range but didn’t find the book. I then see a Directories section and check there but the call numbers weren’t making sense. I was confused so I went back to the catalog and indeed confirmed that the resource I was looking for was in the Directories section of the reference collection. There is not any further information as to the location of this book in the record. By this time I have attracted the attention of a librarian who comes over to check to see if I needed help. I explain my situation and she then informs me that the directories are in order by subject. Which means the call number I had been looking for – the call number some cataloger worked so hard to assign with the intention of aiding the patron in locating the item – was worthless. So then I ask the librarian what subject the book I am looking for is under. She doesn’t know. The other librarian doesn’t know either. So I resort to scanning shelves and eventually find it.

Onward in my research journey I locate the copy machines and pull out two five-dollar bills from my wallet. Both are new fives, and of course neither this machine nor do the other change machines on the floor take new fives. I inquire at the desk and am directed to the first floor service desk for change. I exchange one of my fives for a nice older one and return to the second floor to get my copy on. I begin my mission and am approached by a library staff member and an elderly lady with a walker. The librarian tells the woman she will have to wait as this is the only copy machine on the floor and then proceeds to leave the woman with a 4 inch thick, heavy, medical encyclopedia to wait for me. I stop my copying as I have a large amount that is needed and tell the woman to go ahead. She thanks me, places the book haphazardly on the copy machine and then says, “Now what do I do?” So I proceed to make her copies for her which I am more than happy to do and listen to her surgical story (thus the medical research out of the large reference book teetering on her walker) and then she is on her way. I return to my copying realizing that one five wasn’t enough. I swear several times under my breath, put my hair into a ponytail because my body temperature was rising alongside my frustration, and return to the first floor.

On this visit to the first floor I bring the reference book with me because I am hoping there is at least one copy machine on the first floor I can use and I was taking what I can only assume would look like a suspiciously long time being away from work on my field trip. I return to the service desk and asked a different person to exchange my five for me, muttering, “Well, if we HAVE any old fives” as she did it. I was preparing my argument about the reserve of old fives they should keep if their copy and change machines in a fairly new building don’t take new fives when she found one in the bottom of the drawer. I locate what I am assuming is the only copy machine on the first floor and discover that a person has left their drivers’ license and social security card on the copy machine. I briefly contemplate stealing someone else’s identity as I wasn’t please with how my own day was going but decided I couldn’t pull off being a black male and returned to the service desk to wait in line again. After ensuring the safety of the items in the library’s lost and found I finally finish my copies. I breathe a sigh of relief along with a few last swears of frustration and exit the building. As I tuck the copies under my arm and start along the sidewalk back to work I suffer the worst paper cut of my life.

Top 5 Things:
1. The building is beautiful and almost new.
2. The business reference collection seems extensive.
3. Lots of databases that can be accessed remotely.
4. The building isn’t cluttered.
5. There are lots of security personnel.

Bottom 5 Things:
1. There is only one copy machine on the second floor which has the science and business collection as well as government documents.
2. The change machine does not take new $5 bills.
3. Some call numbers are meaningless.
4. It was warm in there and the crabbier I got the warmer it became.
5. Some of the reference librarians do not know their collections well enough.

No comments: