Friday, March 11, 2011

"Can't find the game? Want to try the book?"

Was helping out at today's official opening of Serangoon Public Library.

A young boy approached me. He must have been about 12.

"Are you here to help people look for things?" he asked in a meek way.

"Yes, I am".

He was interested in an item from the Visual Discovery kiosk. Said he tried to look for it on the shelf but it wasn't available.
Serangoon Public Library official opening 11 Mar 201137
[He's not in the picture; just showing you how the Kiosk works]

We checked the kiosk display again.

"Halo Encyclopedia".
Halo Encyclopedia

Seemed like a rather heavy-going book for a 12 year-old.

He pointed to the word "Game" in the display. Which made me ask him if he was interested in the book or the computer game.

"I want to play the game."

"Oh, this title is a book. Not the actual computer game".

Apparently, he was looking at the Subject field which contained the word "Game".

"Why not try reading the book?" OK, that wasn't so subtle. But I had to try.

He gave a sheepish smile. The way kids do when they mean "I'd rather not" but don't want to say anything for fear of offending an adult.

I smiled back.

A few minutes later, he came looking for me.

"Where can I find Greg Bear?"

I brought him over to the Fiction section. Greg Bear was definitely not a Children's author. This kid's reading upwards (not my place to doubt him either). "Halo" must be one heck of a game for him (Thank You, Bungie).

"What's the title?" I asked.

"Halo Cryptum". He had to spell out "Cryptum", as he couldn't quite pronounce it.
Halo: Cryptum: Book One of the Forerunner Saga

Unfortunately for him, the title wasn't on shelf.

"Did the OPAC say the item was available or out on loan?"

He started looking doubtful. We scooted to the nearest OPAC. A man was using it, so we waiting in line. The boy appeared eager for the man to finish this search, for he stepped up pretty close to the guy. But he was discreet enough to stand just a little behind.

Our turn came.

He typed in "Halo". We went through a few minutes of clicking on titles and checking the availability. I showed him how to limit the search to only SRPL.

We clicked through a few titles. Some that he picked out weren't novelisations. I explained that to him.

It seemed like we were performing a cat-and-mouse game, hunting down available titles. There was a queue behind us. I asked they boy if he wanted us to email him a list.

"I don't have email at home".

My colleague, Jan, happened to walk past. She took stock of the situation and immediately offered to help print out a list. Asked him if he could wait for 5 to 10 minutes while she went to the office to get it done (this wasn't something we readily offered on the spot, as SRPL wasn't a regional library with an advisory counter).

The boy went off.

Meantime, I thought I'd try looking around for Halo novels. Something about the kid made me want to ensure he didn't go back empty handed.

By chance, I noticed "Halo: The Cole Protocol" sitting on a display panel.
Halo: The Cole Protocol

I picked that up. Found the boy sitting on a floor reading. I triumphantly presented the book to him.

"How about this?"

"I already have this," and he showed me.

Nice! But I thought I'd try one more time. I'm sure there were some other titles he wasn't aware of. I don't know what you can call it. Perhaps it was from a selfish professional reason. Professional pride?

All the OPAC stations were occupied. I wasn't sure how long the boy would be staying in the library. Gotta rely on memory.

Some time back, I read a Halo-related anthology out of curiosity. Couldn't remember the title*, vaguely remembered the author's surname started with the letters "Ny". [*Now that I've access to my RoughNotes blog, this was the book.]

Walked over to the Fiction shelf. Looked under "N" and then "Ny". It was "Eric Nylund". Two of his stories were in plain sight: "The Fall of Reach" and "Ghosts of Onyx".
Halo: The Fall of Reach

Ghosts of Onyx (Halo)

I brought both titles to the boy.

The delight in his "Thank You" was simply priceless.


  1. Anonymous11:01 am

    very nice encounter! yup, it is a priceless feeling when customers are happy.

  2. @hamsterguppies - you said it!

  3. eunice4:11 pm

    Just saw that there's a mobile app to access library database, you could've used that when all the OPACs were occupied ;)

  4. Yes, that's true. Though in this case, I'm not sure if the boy would still have been around. We'd already searched the OPAC once. In the end it was a snap decision to browse for the author. Search or Browse... doesn't matter, as long as the customer ends up happy.

  5. Wow, what an awesome librarian you were. Stumbled upon your blog today and had fun reading all about the library and your thoughts! Alethea

  6. Thanks Alethea. BTW, I couldn't quite make up my mind if your comment was a ploy to keep your comment & link from being deleted :) I'll err on the side of my ego and let it remain, heh.


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