Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I extremely dislike talking on the phone. I know this isn't really that unusual, a lot of people would rather conduct business (and personal communication) by email or chat or texting. I will avoid phone calls pretty much whenever possible, and even when a friend calls who I know I will genuinely enjoy talking to, part of me doesn't want to answer the phone. Ironically every job I've ever had has involved some amount of phone answering, but despite lots and lots and lots of practice, my opinion of the telephone hasn't changed. I'd go so far as to say that some days I'd choose no communication over communication via phone.

However, today I made a call, and one that I technically wasn't even obligated to make. It was minimally painful, and resulted in a lot of good information. I wouldn't say I'm a telephone convert now, but I hope I did learn to take my blind stubbornness a little less seriously.

I'm working on a presentation for one of my classes comparing the Dictionary of Literary Biography in its print and online formats. The print source is pretty straightforward: 300 odd volumes going back to 1978 (they take up practically a whole bookshelf in the reference section). The electronic component is a little more confusing. Libraries can purchase digital archives of the DLB in ebook format, or they can sign up for a yearly online subscription plan, or they can gain access to some of the DLB's contents through product package deals. I was having a little trouble finding some of the information that I needed (especially with regards to pricing options) so I figured I'd do what the website suggested and send them an email for further information. I did not expect them to respond to a library student's random request for info. about their product, but less than twenty-four hours later, someone did. Regardless to say I was pretty surprised to receive their response, though a little disappointed that the email didn't really contain any of the specifics I was looking for. However, the representative who emailed me gave me her phone number and offered to go over things in more detail if I wanted to give her a call. I didn't really seriously consider calling at first; it's just not what I do. But I finally decided to bite the bullet and suffer through a few minutes on the phone to try and get some facts for my presentation. Beyond all my expectations, the rep. was kind and helpful and very willing to pass on pricing estimates. She even sent me a link to a trial version of the product (as well as some promotional material). And when I got off the phone I was shocked to see that we'd talked for more than twenty minutes. I walked away from the phone call feeling much more prepared about the subject I have to present on later in the week and being completely unarmed by how painless the whole process had been.

This may seem really elementary, but what you can get out of this scenario is simple: if you can't find something, ask. And if someone offers help, don't be afraid to take it.

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