I had back-to-back satisfying service transactions at the reference desk last week.
What defines a satisfying service transaction when you're a reference librarian? Well, first of all and obviously, you have to be able to answer the question. It's like every person who walks up to the desk is a little standardized test. Nothin' better than filling in that little circle.
Then there are circumstances that bump a transaction up over the simple "question answered" satisfaction level:
- When you can get someone to read Rats by Robert Sullivan.
- When you can put a cool novel in the hands of a 13 year old boy (tough customers).
- And let's face it, when you can demonstrate unexpected erudition.
BUT. When the lady and her boyfriend came looking for this one book? she didn't know the author? and the title was something like, "Confessions of..."? I knew right away she was looking for Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans, erstwhile mistress of Ice-T and girlfriend of Bill Maher of all people. Do you know this book? It is outrageous. I read a few pages last year when it came out. The lack of self-esteem demonstrated by this poor woman is unprecedented. However, she is not without a certain physical confidence. The cover photograph depicts her in almost all her glory, round globular boobs looking like they're tacked on with Velcro, and on the spine is another photo of her, wearing a clingy shirt which she is raising in the front to reveal her underpants.
I looked up the book in our catalog system. Of the 9 copies owned by our branch, all were checked out save one that had just been returned. I found it on the carts of books not yet shelved.
I brought it out to the lady, who was happy and surprised that I had found it. I explained that this particular book is actually quite easy to spot, and showed it to her spine-out. "Kind of an eye-catching picture, wouldn't you say?"
"My lord!" she agreed, and as she thanked me and left the desk I told her to get back to me and let me know whether or not Ms. Steffans locates her pants during the course of the book.
I told Bob about this exchange and he said, "You know, last year, when everyone was looking for this book all the time, I always wanted you to suggest that other Confessions book when this one was unavailable."
"Confessions by Saint Augustine, you mean?"
"Right, you could suggest them as companion volumes. Certain themes carry through, and all that."
"Although I don't think St. Augustine ever gives Jay-Z a blowjob."
"I'd have to read it again, but yeah probably no."
Next were a young pair, kids with dreadlocks and eye makeup, looking for the Biographies. I pointed the way and before they started walking asked if I could help them find a particular book.
"Um, it's about the Red Hot Chili Peppers."
"Oh, did Flea write a book?"
"Uh, no, it's the singer."
"Oh, ok, that'll be under Kiedis then." Tappity-tap. "Looks like we have two copies on the shelf, let's go get it."
I led them away from the desk and behind me the guy said, "You've heard of the Chili Peppers!"
I said, "Well sure, it's not like they're Dir En Gray or something."
I don't know if they had any response to that because, as I say, my back was turned. The fact is, all true satisfaction comes from within.
There was a downside to this particular transaction: I had "Party on Your Pussy" stuck in my head the rest of the night. Bad song to catch yourself singing in public.