Thursday, January 21, 2016

Librarian appreciation

Today I had to get a piece of information--an equation, to be specific--from a document.
Someone had sent me an html version of the document, but all graphics were stripped out of it, and that included the very equation I needed.
Once upon a time, I could have gone to the shelf, pulled down a paper copy of this document, and looked it up in two seconds. But we don't keep paper copies anymore.
I decided to look it up online; I knew the host site generally has both pdf and html versions.
The website was down. For ten minutes I waited for the blasted thing to load, and it never did.
I tried to find the document on other sites. My searches were fruitless, even though I had very specific information to narrow them.
I then checked the microfilm in the library, since I knew that this publication had been stored that way up to a certain date.
The microfilm versions ended just three months before the date of the document I needed.
The librarian checked another source that she thought might have the document, but it didn't.
Finally, the librarian was able to find a PDF version somewhere. I don't know where. Librarians are always performing that kind of magic.
I love the internet, but it is a very big place. It's a graveyard of broken links. You don't always know where to look. Sites go down, sites disappear.
I think of school administrators who have cut librarians (and even libraries) because "we have the internet now."
Yeah, good luck with that.

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