Today I was looking for some government info on the web. Specifially, some forms from a municipality on the opposite coast. I poked around a government website for a bit, got frustrated, then I had a flash of brilliance...why not see if the local library has a chat reference service? Maybe they can help?
14:18 2005/07/08 Librarian: Hello, welcome to [ask a librarian chat reference]. What is your question?
14:18 2005/07/08 Patron: hi. i'm wondering if i need a form to [something for which a bureaucrat would probably want a form]?
14:19 2005/07/08 Librarian: Please call [phone number] for assistance.Huh? Am I supposed to recognize that number?
[brief google interlude]
Okay, I get it. A government agency. But that doesn't look like what I want.
14:19 2005/07/08 Librarian: OK?Um, no. I don't really want to make a long distance phone call to some government number where I'll probably spend a half hour on hold. I came to you online because I want to find something online. "Um, excuse me. Can you help me find a video on sharks?" "Over there we have some lovely books on sharks." "Um, but..."
14:20 2005/07/08 Patron: can you give me any more information than that?
14:20 2005/07/08 Librarian: Sorry, no. The people at [same phone number] can help you. We don't handle legal questions.Librarian side of brain: Oh yeah, I knew that.
Customer side of brain: Jeez, that's really unhelpful.
LSOB: Never fear. When all else fails, try a little reference interview. What is it that you're really looking for? What do you want to find?
CSOB: I want to find an online form for a permit.
LSOB: See, that wasn't so hard.
14:21 2005/07/08 Patron: okay, can you help me find permit application forms on the web?
14:23 2005/07/08 Librarian: I will send you a Web link shortly. Please
minimize your browser to see the chat screen.
14:23 2005/07/08 Librarian: http://[municipal government web portal]CSOB: grumble grumble
14:24 2005/07/08 Patron: i looked on this site earlier and all i could
find was construction permits.
14:24 2005/07/08 Librarian: I'm sorry. Again, the folks at [guess what? same phone number] should be able to help you.CSOB: GRUMBLE GRUMBLE
[Patron has disconnected]