... does not constitute an emergency on mine!
Helicopter Mom just came to the Reference desk, with her tween daughter in tow, and said she needed books on orphanages in the 19th century. Hmmm, okay... so, I search, and am unsurprised to find out that we really don't have anything in this library aside from a couple of little-kid story books. However, we're part of a nice big network of libraries, so I expand the search, and find that there are some good books available elsewhere, which I can request for her. Helicopter Mom needs them before Monday morning, though, so that won't work -- our delivery services only operate during the week, so even if I request them today, they won't be here by Monday. (And with Thanksgiving coming up, they might not get here until the following week!)
So, I change search tactics, and start looking to see what's available at the libraries nearest to us. I tell Helicopter Mom that it looks like there are several good books available at one of the college libraries in our network, about 30-40 minutes away, and check the library's hours to confirm that they are open today, until 7 p.m. Mom huffs, rolls her eyes, and says that she can't go there today, are they open tomorrow? Nope, alas, no Sunday hours there. But they open at 7:45 a.m. on Monday!
More eye-rolling, more huffing about how it's just unbelievable that we don't have the books she wants HERE, and that she has to go driving everywhere to get them herSELF, this is awful, etc. So, I start hunting for anything even remotely related to the topic at libraries closer to us -- the next town over has ONE book that appears to have a chapter that talks about the history of orphanages. So I write down the title and call number, check the library's hours, give her the info... and she's still pissed. She wants a copy of a recent novel, Orphan Train, she says, and she cannot believe she's having so much trouble getting one. Um, okay, I thought you wanted non-fiction? But let me see about this novel... nope, every single copy in our network is checked out, and there's a waiting list. Not surprising for a new-ish, critically-acclaimed book! And I try to clarify: does she want this particular novel, or does she want non-fiction books about the history of orphanages? THEN she turns to her daughter and says "I don't know, what do you need??" Because the books are, of course, for the daughter's research paper, and she needs to have a specific number of print sources to show her teacher on Monday morning. Argh. And after another rant from Mom about how ridiculous it is that I can't just produce the books her kid needs right then and there, I firmly (but politely!) explained that, while we do try to have books on lots of topics, we have limited space and resources, and that the benefit of being part of a larger network is that each library has different strengths... but there are also limits on what we can do on short notice. I'd love to be able to produce whatever a patron needs instantly -- I love being able to send a patron away happy! But sometimes the most I can do is tell you "okay, these other libraries have what you need, here are their phone numbers and hours," and the rest is up to you.
And also, for crying out loud, make your kid do her own homework, Mom.