A Wonderfully Incurable Disease
posted October 9, 2012 1:43 PM by Julie Steenson
If you haven’t heard of Roy Tennant yet, you will. (No, to my knowledge, he is no relation to David Tennant of Doctor Who fame, although one can’t help but think of how library databases are like the Tardis – bigger on the inside! Sounds like a future post.)
Roy Tennant is often quoted for his 2001 statement: “…after all, isn't it true that only librarians like to search? Everyone else likes to find.” (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA170458.html) When I first encountered this reading, it made me laugh knowingly before I delved into the meat of the article about cross-database searching. (A great article if you have the time, and he writes a lot of interesting stuff.) You will hear arguments on both sides about how Tenannt’s statement is true or untrue, and in the world of librarian blogging, it has formed a life of its own.
I can only speak for myself. I love to search and I love to find, but my desire to search is like an addiction, an incurable reference librarian disease.
When anyone I know has a question, I am always the first person to say, “I’ll find out.” Is it because I want to find, because I want the kudos of bringing the answer? Sure, we all love kudos but my true love is the quest. This has been my curse since I was a little girl, racing to find the most perfect answer before I raised my hand. When I was an undergrad (pre-internet days), if I thought the perfect answer was in another library 50 miles away, I’d be on the next train.
Just yesterday morning, as I was quickly checking email before getting ready for work, my husband called. In preparing for an upcoming trip with his dad, he was trying to figure out which hotel to stay in, one near the airport or one near the attractions. Which ones had a shuttle to the airport? Should he rent a car or just use a shuttle and public transportation, but would that be too much for his dad?….Enter travel agent/librarian…In seconds, I was online, cruising through hotel listings, linked to airport shuttles, metro locations, etc. After a few minutes, with him still on the phone, he said, “I didn’t realize the time – we can do this later if you want. Don’t you have to get ready for work?” My reply, with my eyes glued to the screen and my fingers tapping away on the keyboard, ”Hmmm…yeah, yeah…”
This exchange was repeated a few more times, with interruptions of “This hotel has this and could give you that…” or “If you stayed here the shuttle is free and they will also take you in to the metro so you can get into the city...,” until he finally said, “You can’t help yourself, can you? There is a question that needs an answer and you just can’t help yourself from searching for it…it is like a disease!”
Yes, it is, and it is one for which there is no cure, other than to be a librarian for the rest of my life, feeding my addiction to search and find, and then happily doing it all over again.