I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

one step forward, two steps back

Posted in progress,thesis by Rae on 25 May 2006

At least that’s how it felt. I had a particularly frustrating email interaction with a librarian at my university this past week. Here’s how it went (I paraphrase):

Me: Do you have this newspaper on microfilm with an index for the years 1915-1918?

Librarian: We have the newspaper, but no index for those years.

Me: Is there any way I can get a copy of the index from another library?

Librarian: No. Libraries need to keep the index with the microfilm.

Me: Is there any way I can get a *copy* of the index from another library?

Librarian: No. We do not have an electronic copy.


I gave up trying to find a way to induce this librarian to help me (God forbid). Considering I had gained no additional knowledge from her second and third responses, it was obvious that route was a lost cause. Surely I’m not the only person to have encountered unhelpful librarians. Maybe she would have helped me if I had said I was a professor.

I also emailed another university about a different newspaper because I was trying to arrange a research trip. I still haven’t heard back from them, but no matter as that newspaper (The Jewish Chronicle) now has a digital archive! Now I can conduct my research in my preferred anti-social manner and in the comfort of my own home – and by that I mean in my pajamas!

I’ve also managed, with some help, to pare down my topic a bit more so that it’s more manageable. So really, one step back, two steps forward. Now I’m feeling good.


3 Responses to 'one step forward, two steps back'

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  1. Shirley said,

    You’re invited too. Please read my post from today. Don’t miss the comments. 🙂



  2. dave said,

    Was this your ILL librarian? If not, try that person. I worked at the university library through my undergraduate period. I was always baffled by the adversarial posture some librarians would take with patrons. Not all, but some definitely felt that library patrons were little better than brain-damaged chihuahuas. Knowing this, however, as a grad student I made it a point to meet the ILL librarian in person, and to occasionally bring the ILL staff candy!

  3. Rachel said,

    Great suggestion, Dave. It was not an ILL librarian because I was initially communicating with her about microfilm in our library. Fortunately, I’ve resolved the matter, so it’s no longer an issue.

    On another note, the ILL staff already know all about me. I request books from other libraries on an almost weekly basis, and have done so since I first obtained a student ID as a part-time student two years ago. As a library employee said to me three weeks ago, “Hardly a day goes by that something doesn’t come in for you.” I intend to leave good-bye gifts for the ILL office and the Circulation staff.

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