Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | March 3, 2012


One of my biggest pet peeves is when people simply refuse to believe what I’m telling them, despite the fact that they initially asked me the question and there is ample proof supporting my answer.

If you aren’t going to believe my response, why ask me a question in the first place?

If you aren’t going to believe the evidence in front of you, why aren’t you in a straight-jacket?

Here’s the rundown: There was a dude lingering at one of the public computers mumbling to himself, this in and of itself wasn’t all that strange, especially for a Saturday.

He fit the usual library crazy description: wild hair, big jacket, and way too many bags. I’ve hit on it before, but crazies ALWAYS have too many bags.

Anyway, he kept mumbling and occasionally glanced up in my direction, but he was clearly waiting for the right moment of pure frustration before he was going to ask for help.

He finally mumbled “fuckin’ shit” under his breath and smacked the mouse in annoyance.

At this point I knew it is game time.

Donny Denial: “HEY KID…”
Cap’n Charisma: *sigh* “…yes?”
Donny Denial: “I’m looking in the catalog and it doesn’t look like you’ve got the magazine I want.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Okay what is it you’re looking for?”

He spent an oddly large amount of time—I want to say at least 30 seconds or better—fumbling for a piece of paper with the title on it.

Given that he’d literally just been searching for it, I was confused as to why he needed to dig around to find the title.

I chose to let it slide and see what he was looking for…if and when he found it.

Donny Denial: “Uh…um…uh…well…uh…it’s IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Okay I think I know why you might be having trouble finding it…”
Donny Denial: “I am NOT having trouble finding it. It isn’t there.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay?! ”
Donny Denial: “I know how to search a catalog!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Okay…well, anyway, I think the issue is that most of our IEEE titles have moved online, so we stopped getting them in print a couple years back. That might be why the results aren’t popping up the way you’d like. Rest assured we do have online access…”
Donny Denial: “… but I want it in print. I hate reading on the computer.”

Now, I get this argument, I really do. I’m still an analog guy living in the digital world. I prefer a real book over an ebook any day of the week, but it drives me nuts how often outside users try to get super picky about what they do and do not want when we’re essentially giving them free access to a lot of very expensive research materials that they otherwise wouldn’t get their mitts on.

Anyway, I digress…

Cap’n Charisma: “Um, well, okay…what years are you looking for?”
Donny Denial: “I want the new stuff.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Okay, well we only have 1990-2008 in print…and that’s all stored off-site. Anything from 2009 to the present is going to be online.”
Donny Denial: “…but this said you have it.”

This is when Donny hands me what appears to be a printed Google search that basically indicates that we do have the journal, but it doesn’t really say what volumes we have in print or online.

I show him the record in the catalog so he can see that I’m not just full of shit.

Cap’n Charisma: “You see, we do have the journal. We just have access to the online-only version from 2009 forward.”
Donny Denial: “I was here five years ago and you had it upstairs.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Right…and we’ve since moved the older, bound issues into storage—as you can see in the record here—and we’ve moved to an online-only version of the journal.”
Donny Denial: “So if I go upstairs it won’t be up there?”
Cap’n Charisma: “No. The bound journals were actually moved from the library and they’re all in storage now. There are no bound journals in the library.”
Donny Denial: “Well I don’t want the online version.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Well, I’m sorry, but that’s all we really have to offer for anything from 2009 onward.”

Donny appeared to be grasping what I was saying to him.

He nodded and wandered off into the stacks. I’m not entirely sure what his intention was, but I couldn’t help but think that he wanted to double-check upstairs to see if maybe we’d happened to accidentally miss sending the one journal he wanted to storage…oh and maybe accidentally forgotten to quit receiving it in print and cataloging it as well?

About ten minutes passed and sure enough, he came back to the desk to confirm what I’d already told him.

Donny Denial: “All of the journals are gone!”
Cap’n Charisma: “…yes, that’s what I just told you. They were moved to storage.”
Donny Denial: “So how can I get that journal?”
Cap’n Charisma: “You can use the link here in the catalog to access to the new volumes online.”

Whenever someone raises their voice to me and talks to me like I’m a petulant child, my first instinct is usually to leap across the circulation desk and unleash a thunderous fury of rights and lefts into their face.

Luckily, common sense and a desire to remain both gainfully employed and un-incarcerated usually takes over and helps me work my way through the situation.

Cap’n Charisma: “Sir, I get that, however, that’s ALL we have to offer for anything from 2009 forward. If you want to find the newer editions in print, you’ll have to go elsewhere.”
Donny Denial: “Why did you quit carrying it in print?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Sir, I didn’t make that decision. The guy standing behind the desk on Saturdays makes NONE of those decisions. In the end those types of decisions generally come down to cost and it is very expensive to keep receiving journals in multiple formats.”
Donny Denial: “Why not keep the print?”
Cap’n Charisma: *sigh* “Print takes up space. We have to store it. We have to bind it. We have to catalog it. We have to repair and replace it if it is damaged or stolen. Online it’s just there.”

Again, it seemed as though maybe he’d gotten it through his head that the print version simply was not meant to be and if he really wanted it in print he’d have to either trundle across town to another library or buck up and just read it online.

I was wrong. Nothing had gotten through his head beyond a new asinine plot.

Donny Denial: “What if you just print me the new journals.”
Cap’n Charisma: “I’m sorry, what?!”
Donny Denial: “Go online. Print me the journals from 2009 forward.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Sir, I’m not going to do that.”
Donny Denial: “Why not?”
Cap’n Charisma: “That’s not a service we offer. We’re already giving you free access to the bulk of our collection when you’re here. We’re not going to print off multiple issues of journals for you. You may print whatever online materials can be printed, at a cost of 15 cents per page.”
Donny Denial: “Printing used to be free here!!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Maybe once upon a time it was, but it isn’t now. ”
Donny Denial: “When I was here five years ago thi—”
Cap’n Charisma: “Five years ago printing was different. Five years ago the journals were here in print. Lots of things were different five years ago. That’s not the way it is now.”
Donny Denial: “…but I wa—”
Cap’n Charisma: “…you can look at the new issues ONLINE and you can PAY to print what you’d like or you can GO ELSEWHERE to see if they have it in print. Those are your options.”
Donny Denial: “I don’t want to—”
Cap’n Charisma: “…those are your ONLY options.”

Was it douchey to cut him off? Yes.

Did I care? No.

He huffed and puffed and sauntered back to the computer for maybe five minutes before packing up his things and heading out the door where he left me a little bon mot for the road.

Donny Denial: “I liked this place a lot better five years ago!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Me too, man…me too.”
Donny Denial: “Hrrrrrmmmph…”
Cap’n Charisma: “Have a great day!”

And then he disappeared out of my life, hopefully for another five years or so.



  1. I wonder if this is the same guy who’s come to our branch several times (of course, that guy also wants to use our fax for free.) And you’re right on the money with crazies always having huge and/or too many bags or backpacks.


    • It’s pretty much the easiest way to spot ’em coming.

      Fax machines are like crazy people magnets. I don’t think we have any left on campus, but we still get half a dozen people a week asking about ’em. Fax machines, who knew?!


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