Walk Away From the Computer and No One Gets Hurt


Last week I had one of those transactions with a patron that make my heart skip a beat.  The ones that go horribly wrong and the patron is upset and, in my mind, I keep wondering why I ever sat down behind the reference desk.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened.  A patron came in to email some pictures from her camera’s memory card, but the library’s computers don’t have a port for the cards.  So, our very kind technology dude gave me an adaptor and a USB cable for her to use.  So far, so good.

This is when things started going downhill.  When she handed me back the adaptor, she also handed me back her memory card.  I told her that the card was hers and a look of complete panic flashed over her face.  “Oh, I thought that was yours…I deleted everything off of it… a whole semester’s worth of work.”  She apparently thought that the case that housed the memory card was the entire unit. 

I seriously thought that she might pass out.  I asked her if she wanted a drink of water or to sit down.  After a few moments she composed herself and said, “I think I’m going to be okay.  I wasn’t told that was my memory card.”

Here’s where I stop being sympathetic and begin to wonder about the future of human beings and technology.  Although I felt terrible that this patron lost her stuff (only temporarily – our awesome computer dude used a recovery program to find it all again), I think that she has to claim some responsibility for what happened.

I KNOW it’s hard to keep up with technology.  This is from woman whose 16 year old just built his own computer.  I realize that nobody is expecting me to compete with that, but the rate of change is astounding just the same.

However, I cannot be responsible for the mishaps of people who are technologically inept.  Nor do I know how much a person knows about technology by talking to them for five minutes.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Maybe we should put signs up that say something like, “Compute at your own risk”. 

This is the stuff that they DON’T teach you in library school.


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