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Oxymoronic Library Sign
Sign at Flickr
"Is staffed at all times" means that someone's assigned to that desk during all of the library's open hours. The sign, in my opinion, is entirely reasonable and not at all oxymoronic: It's saying that if nobody's physically present when you come up to the desk, it's because they're off helping someone else (and should presumably be back soon)--not because nobody's assigned to the desk. That's useful information.
I had the same thought Walt had. It is the kind of thing many reference desks would say: we have someone assigned to the desk to help you (the patron) at all times. But in the off chance someone is not here, it is because they are helping someone else, and they will be back to help you.
I know ragging on library signs is the trend and fad these days in the librarian blogosphere, but really? Show some common sense once in a while instead of just pointing for the sake of pointing.
1) The sign looks like crap. What is with all the tape on the edges or is that plastic coming off the sign? Either way have a sign that doesn't look it is falling apart.
2) Clearly the person that took the picture of the sign did not get it and several commentators to the picture did not get the message. So maybe there is a better language to use to communicate the idea that the sign is trying to get across. Stop with the typical "we are always right" librarian attitude.
Re #2: I don't think anybody here has suggested librarians are always right. On the other hand, just as the customer is NOT always right (and is sometimes broken), librarians aren't always wrong...although, viewing coverage of library signs *by librarians*, you'd sure think they were. ("They": I'm not a librarian.)
Was this sign worded as well as it might have been? Maybe not. Was it oxymoronic? No.
Viewing the sign as a circ/reference staff, it does make sense, given that I understand the idea of having to leave the desk to help patrons. However, viewing it as the random patron would, they would see the conflicting statements in the sign as funny and oxymoronic. To a point, I do too.
Yes, the sign could be worded completely differently, and I believe it should be in order to make it perfectly clear what it means. And while you didn't say librarians are always right, and that's a long jump from what you did say, you didn't factor in what normal patrons would think about that sign. We do need to realize that while we understand it, a patron who has no idea what the enquiry desk really is or what librarians do...this person would not understand the intention of the sign.
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