Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Confession Time

You know I actually do like helping students. I know I give them a lot of grief and poke fun at them, but when they have a real problem or question, I do honestly try to help them, and when I'm able to give them the information they need, I feel good or conversely feel bad when I'm unable to assist them.

Granted at 3am, a student doesn't have many research options immediately available to him. My library only has a slim collection while all of the bigger research libraries don't open till 8am. The databases are available, but often there's only a citation for the article they need. The limitations can be frustrating.

More often than not though, I am not approached with a research question but a computer question. Printing, saving, accessing problems arise frequently, and I am the desperate student's only IT hope.

I have gotten the dubious honor of being known as something of a computer expert. I am wary of the title because I have had no formal training. My success usually can be attributed to dumb luck, pedantry, or rote action. I don't know why a .pdf won't print beyond the first page in a particular program, but if you save it and open it again, the whole document will now print. I don't know why a document you emailed to yourself appears as gibberish when you open it. I can maybe help you clean it up, but the gibberish is gibberish to me too. That is odd that the computer won't recognize your memory stick. Let me try it. Oh, the memory stick is a little too wide to plug in completely to the front USB port. We'll have to plug it into the back. There now it appears to be working. And if all else fails, why don't we restart the computer or move to another one to see if the problem will just miraculously go away.

Yes, miracles do happen, and when the student turns to me with a relieved smile to thank me, attributing the miracle to me, I get a queasy feeling in my stomach like the computer goddess will smite me for falsely taking praise that is due to her.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Spike said...

"I have gotten the dubious honor of being known as something of a computer expert. I am wary of the title because I have had no formal training. My success usually can be attributed to dumb luck, pedantry, or rote action. ... I get a queasy feeling in my stomach like the computer goddess will smite me for falsely taking praise that is due to her."

Ditto.

7:35 PM, May 04, 2005  
Blogger Grace said...

I'm a computer librarian and all my skills were gained by trial and error. IMHO a large part of it is a tolerance to push a button, try installing or clicking something and seeing what happens. Young people have no problem with this. Older people are afraid that something will blow up.

9:27 AM, May 15, 2005  
Anonymous Jay said...

I'm a library IT person, and I wish that even 10% of our librarians were at least half as willing to try to help patrons with technical issues.

Ours just throw up their hands and call us (unless the patron is cute). And if the computer does need rebooting, they get angry.

10:48 AM, May 15, 2005  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

There are certain things I will not touch with a ten foot pole when it comes to computers. The one at the top of the list is wireless issues. One of my coworkers is usually able to figure out the problem for the student, but he's only in till 2am.

The students do usually know a thing or three about computers so sometimes the problems they're having are way out of my scope. One girl was working on a paper that had a ton of images. She was trying to format it to her prof.'s specifications, and the darn thing would re-paginate to hundreds of pages whenever she tried to make the change. The paper was only suppose to be 22 pgs. I fiddled with the thing for an hour, and no matter what I did, it would do this crazy re-paginating. I think in the end she decided to just hand it in as is and sacrifice the couple of points he'd take off for her bad margins.

3:30 AM, May 16, 2005  
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3:12 AM, March 17, 2010  

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