So Floyd, tell me what you’re wearing…

I was talking to a fellow librarian yesterday who told mentioned that “virtual reference is a very special sort of hell.” I laughed at her pain, but it sparked a conversation about chat reference that I had not even considered – online creepers.

I’ve joked about it here before, but I had never considered that creepers would show up when you’re doing reference work online. She said that transcripts for all interactions are archived and librarians are encouraged to read through them. There are plenty of conversations where people ask creepy questions like what the librarians are wearing. I expect that sort of nonsense on online dating sites, but not virtual reference!

So to avoid that sort of BS, she opted to create her virtual librarian as an older gentleman named Floyd in hopes that it wouldn’t encourage anyone to try to pick her up. I reminded her that Jason Sudeikis’ character on 30 Rock was a pretty great looking Floyd and I wouldn’t mind chatting him up online.

Perhaps her plan backfired.

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About indie librarian

a recently MLS librarian's observations
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2 Responses to So Floyd, tell me what you’re wearing…

  1. Floyd says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this some more. Many of these comments would be considered sexual harassment if said to a librarian in person. However, we are not expected to tolerate it and have a set of responses to issue to any kind of inappropriate comments before closing the session. The question remains: why do people think this is okay? Is it just because there is the power of being online and anonymous, or is it a reflection of the value they place on the service? (and if we really want to get all high and mighty on our MLS horses, the profession as a whole…)

    • I think
      a) people who go in to librarianship, across the board, tend to be slightly more timid or passive when it comes to situations like this. It’s easier to brush it off than to cause a stir and
      b) I think library school breeds this sort of behavior because we’re supposed to always be helpful and all things to all people (I’m being hyperbolic, but the mentality still exists). So I think we created the situation to some degree.

      But why do people think it’s ok to be a creeper like that? Anonymity on the internet is a big factor. Read any newspaper article comments section and you’ll see the worst of humanity on there mostly because they do not have to see the person’s face that they are offending. People are far more brazen online than in person because there’s no concept of how the other person is taking it.

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