ME: Can I help you?
PATRON: Where do you keep your paper system?
ME: Our paper system?
ME: (Thinks for a moment, not understanding the question. Decides to repeat question again.) Our PAPER system?
PATRON: (Growing frustrated.) Yeah. The place where you file away and store papers?
for a while more, thinking this guy might somehow mean FILING CABINET
or CARD CATALOG, then discarding both of those options as they don't
make a lick of sense.) Uhmm... Huh?
PATRON: Your PAPER system?
ME: (Stares stupidly at patron some more. Suddenly a thought occurs... ) Wait a second. Did you mean NEWS-papers?
PATRON: Yeah. Sorry. Newspapers.
ME: Ah. I see.
PATRON: So where is it?
ME: Don't have one.
PATRON: You don't have one?
ME: Well, we do keep the past month or so worth of newspapers at the top of the stairs.
PATRON: You mean those piles?
ME: Yeah, that's them. But, we don't have any kind or archive or microfiche or anything. Sorry.
PATRON WANDERS AWAY IN AMAZEMENT.
is such a fairly frequent occurrence that I should have known right
away what the guy wanted. Newspapers are just one of the many things we
don't keep on hand here, much to the chagrin of those who think that all
"real" libraries should. When confronted with this notion, we point out
that most "real" libraries have either the space necessary to keep
newspaper archives or a microfiche system, which would also require a
bit of space that we don't have.
The next question out
of their mouths is, "Do you know of anyone who does keep a newspaper
archive?" to which our answer is always, "Have you tried asking the
We're pretty sure they don't keep one
either, being as how the paper is usually pretty worthless in most other
regards. It's always fun to say this though. The only other option is
to consult the crazy old-lady newspaper hoarding population in town, but
they don't exactly list themselves in the phone book.
A similarly fun conversation along the same lines is:
PATRON: Do you have old high school yearbooks?
US: No, we don't.
PATRON: Do you know who might have some?
US: Sure. Have you tried asking THE HIGH SCHOOL?