Librarianship: The Role-Playing Game

Tumblr user Yitzus came across this amazing find:

LOOK WHAT I FOUND! A TABLETOP LIBRARIAN GAME! WHO NEEDS DUNGEONS AND/OR DRAGONS WHEN YOU COULD BE FILLING OUT BUDGET SHEETS, DEALING WITH DRUNKEN PATRONS, AND FILING FOR GOVERNMENT AID!

What is this thing? Well, I logged into the library database WorldCat and did a search. This is a game published by the consulting firm Harwell Associates in 1977. It's designed to simulate the experience of a library director.

It's fun! I'm already a third-level cataloger/mage. The encumbrance rules are a pain, but we are talking about 70s-era data storage.

Link -via Breda Fallacy


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I wouldn't call what they did a sign of (obvious) contempt, as their tone was professional and polite. I just made the mistake of assuming it would be quicker to ask for a general section in a small-ish library than fiddling with a search on a computer, but instead get a lecture on why a classification scheme exists or even once a very general description of a how a library works (in case I forgot it was a place with books that can sometimes be checked-out). Usually something along the lines of: "Could you point me to the non-fiction science section?" "Are you familiar with Dewey?" "Well, I'm used to LoC and but remember Dewey had a top level category for science, just not which number." "You see, we classify books by topic so that... there is fiction and non-fiction..."

It reminds me of calling for ISP tech support, and giving a detailed description of the modem status, and then being asked several questions that amount to, "Is the modem getting power and turned on?" While I appreciate that such a question is relevant to many people, the one to two sentence description of the problem I gave should have made it clear I was staring at a modem that was at least powered on.

Maybe I'm just stuck on old habits, since the library I went to as a kid had a giant poster near the front with the high level DDC classification and lots of signage for where different numbers were, which was faster than trying to look up a specific book in the cards. Maybe I am fortunate to not have slipped and asked the front desk where the card catalog was in recent years.

(Edit: I didn't mean to write so much about such a trivial problem... this is what happens when I am stuck at work on a Sunday supervising something really boring. Maybe to be more on topic, we can say this was a librarian RPG equivalent of dealing with a simple question like it was a gazebo)
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It's been a while since I've worked in a DDC library, so I don't remember many specific numbers. But I've retained quite a bit of LC.

The librarians should know better than to reveal their contempt to patrons. That's basic. It's occasionally understandable, but concealing it is essential professional practice.

That said, patrons often ask to be pointed in the general direction of things that don't exist in a library collection. Ask a practical matter, "Where is your science fiction section?" can't be answered in an LC library. But a good reference librarian knows how to handle these situations.
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I only use a public library maybe once every other year, so while I know a half-dozen LoC subclasses off the top of my head and some of the rough number ranges, I don't remember Dewey decimal numbers at all. Yet this really confuses the librarians in the public library the few times I go there, who either act like I am illiterate or never heard of Dewey before when I ask to just be pointed in the general direction of some subject. I guess they (or me...) failed the saving throw.
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