Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do your own homework

Teen girl of about 16 or 17 approaches the reference desk.
Lazy Teen Girl: I've got a report to do, I need some information on Shakespeare.
Me: Did you do a search in the card catalog yet?
LTG: No.
Me: What type of information are you looking for?
LTG: (shifts weight and looks at the ceiling) Ohhh, like what made him important. My teacher said the report is on why Shakespeare was such a big influence and why he was...important. Can you tell me where the books would be about like other authors explaining why he was important?
Me: You mean like literary criticism or a historical perspective?
LTG: Yeah that.
Me: (searches) There's one book and its description sounds like it would fit your topic, the only problem is that it's located in another library. I can put in a request for you, but with Monday's holiday it's probably not going to get here until Tuesday or Wednesday. When is your report due?
LTG: (appears to be thinking) Sometime at the end of next week.
Me: You want me to put it on hold for you?
LTG: No. Are there any books filled with essays on why Shakespeare is important at this library?

I write down some call numbers for literary criticism and explain to her that our databases are also useful for her project and send her on her way. A few minutes later she returns, this time with who I assume is her mother.

Lazy Teen Girl's Mom: My daughter has a report due on Tuesday and needs some information right now. Where are the books that have examples of old student reports on Shakespeare? Or magazine reports on him too.

One painfully drawn out reference transaction later, where neither side is really satisfied, my coworker leans her chair into me and whispers, "It's a good thing her mom will be going with her to college."


  1. Wow! It looks like mom is going to introduce her daughter to the fine art of plagiarism. It's touching when you see parents taking the time to teach their young how to cut corners and coast. I bet she took her daughter to the circulation desk after that to show her how to weasel out of fines.

  2. Eesh! My mouth literally dropped when I read the mom part. Crazypants!

  3. Plagiarism is a teen's best friend?

    Off topic: Shushie, with the ever-increasing success of ebooks and their ease of creation and cost-effectiveness, if we were ever to put together some sort of blog-to-book work I vote for the ebook route. Basically all you have to do is allow Amazon (or similar service) to take commission and design a cover, the rest is all in what we're already doing. It would be waaaay cheaper than actually printing a real book. I hope you're still interested.

  4. Sure I'm interested. My email is shushyou at gmail for further discussion.