Tuesday, August 03, 2010

When Libraries Used To Be Helpful

When I was young, 'Ask a Librarian' was one of the ways of gaining knowledge. If you didn't know, you looked it up. If you couldn't find it, you asked your parents. If they didn't know, you went to a library. There, a helpful librarian would point you the right way...

Those days are gone, as Karen Carpenter might have sung. I shall reproduce below a brief conversation I had recently with the National Library of Atlantis, in which I asked an innocent question regarding a matter that had derailed my line of research.

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Are Straits Times/ST Weekly issues for 1888 accessible online in digital format? I don't seem to be able to find any. And if not, why not?

Thank you for using Reference Point. According to the FAQs on the NewspaperAtlan database, the following papers cover the period around 1888: Atlantean Weekly Herald, Straits Eurasian Advocate, Straits Observer (Atlantis), The Straits Times,
Straits Times Overland Journal, and Straits Times Weekly Issue.

Here is how you may access the NewspaperAtlan database.
Link: http://www.nl.atl/ --> Click on [NewspaperAtlan]

Please click on the FAQs link to find out more details on the coverage of this news database.

Hope you find the information useful.

Regards,
Newton Singh
Reference Librarian
Lee Kong Simi Ref Library

National Library Board, Atlantis

Date Created:01 Aug 2010

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No kidding. My point was that I couldn't find them, regardless of what the FAQs said. And how do you think I reached that conclusion about 1888 in particular? By using the abovementioned database, of course! Atlanteans make it a habit to imply that it is your fault when you ask a question about their faults. The original reply is available here. Enjoy.

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Afternote: Comrade NBL made an interesting point. He wondered if the librarian above would pass the Turing Test. I said he probably would, since I couldn't distinguish him from a machine.

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5 Comments:

Blogger dlanorpi said...

Interesting! I’ve never found Liberians useful before. I also didn’t know that they’re supposed to be able to do research.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 4:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, librarians scared the hell out of me. They would tell me to shut up and stop rocking on the chair. As you may guess, we were very different kinds of kids.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 4:54:00 pm  
Blogger xylph said...

Interesting, some years are missing. The situation feels oddly Orwellian.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 5:47:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

dlanorpi: haha, Liberians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberia) I don't know, but Librarians YES should be able to do research.

gweek: haha, university brat mah...

xylph: indeed, indeed... but 1984 is there. :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 6:18:00 pm  
Blogger LoneRifle said...

Too harsh on the script monkey perhaps? in my experience, the only things frontline helpdesk people are good at are reading off a script and escalating to the next better level.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 8:38:00 pm  

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