Tonight was a fun night at work. No really! First, a regular PhD-student patron asked me if I was a recently graduated senior. Since I haven’t been an undergraduate for almost 10 years I took this as a compliment.  I realize that he might have been trying to be funny but I’m choosing to believe that he thinks I actually look like a 22 year old.

Then I had one of those Oh My, I Really Am A Librarian conversations. It was also one of those Oh My, The Person I Am Talking To Is Not Kidding conversations. It started with an extremely perky guy bouncing up to the reference desk and just saying HI! and smiling at me.

Me: Hi. What can I do for you?

Extremely Perky Guy: OK. Pretend you are my friend.

Me: Errm…I guess….

EPG: Now, tell me something fun about the library!

Me: Well,  something about this library or something about libraries in general?

EPG: You tell me!

Me: There are lots of things I like about the library. Are you wanting to know something to do with using the library for research?

EPG: That’s what I’m doing! I’m researching!

Me: Great. What kind of information are you looking for? [thinking I can figure out some way to make article databases fun. “Looky! You can email the citations to yourself! Whee!”]

EPG: I told you. I’m trying to find something fun in the library!

Me: I see. [I do not see at all.]

EPG: My assignment is to pick something totally boring and then give a speech about it to make people interested in it. I chose the library!

Nice. And then the kid seemed genuinely surprised that I didn’t say “Yeah, libraries are really boring, aren’t they?” Instead I thought a minute while he yammered a bit about the other libraries he had already visited. I knew these other places would have shown him live reference chat and Facebook catalog searching and all the other newfangled bells and whistles. Then I told him what I think really is one of the most fun things about the library: the Dewey Decimal System.

I  know, it sounds totally nerdly. But after explaining that Dewey numbers actually mean something, and that it attempts to organize ALL INFORMATION while it enables shelf browsing and how I could make a Dewey number for any topic he could dream of (he suggested eel worshiping), I think I had this guy convinced. Even better, now he is doing a speech on why the Dewey Decimal System is cool.

What on earth did I get into Library and Information Science if not for this?

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