Lately I’ve been very disappointed with the twopointopians, the boardslammers, and all the other earnest librarians claiming to reach out to the public and giving them help wherever they might be, from malls to toilet stalls. Normally they go all giddy over every new gadget and service because they like to "connect" to people.
And yet, I haven’t heard anything from the usual suspects about Chatroulette. Untold dozens of librarians broadcast their latest inane thoughts via Twitter or their blogs, but none of them as far as I know have taken their earnest librarian case to Chatroulette. The boardslammers like to slam the boards at online answering services, but I haven’t heard of branching out to the latest fad. Even the fad followers who normally drool over this sort of thing haven’t been mentioning it.
Being the helpful and curious librarian you all know me to be, I decided to fill the gap left by my more timid colleagues and slam Chatroulette. I figuratively dusted off my once mighty reference skills, literally dusted off my collection of reference books, and clicked to find a new person to whom I could offer reference assistance.
My first chatter was a teenage boy from Pakistan. I’m not sure if he was actually in Pakistan at the moment, but he started chatting to me in Urdu. I’m glad he had his microphone working, because I didn’t have Urdu fonts installed on my laptop (an oversight since corrected!). I asked him if perhaps he needed some homework help, since I assume children in Pakistan have homework, too. "Jee nahin," he replied, so I clicked Next.
I couldn’t tell for sure the age or sex of my next chatter, but I assume he was a man, even with the breasts. Only men are pathetic enough to cover their head with a gigantic sock puppet and sit naked in front of a computer fondling their enormous hairy chests. He didn’t even need to speak for me to know his information need, so I immediately recommended a gymnasium and a dietitian before clicking Next.
My third and final chatter (I don’t have as much time to waste as some of my fellow librarians) had a definite information need, among other obvious needs. In fact, he began the chat with a direct question, "Do you know what this is?" I was pretty sure of the answer, but a reference librarian needs an authoritative source. After thumbing quickly through my copy of Gray’s, I finally had my answer: "It looks like a penis, only smaller."
And there you have it, my effort to leap into the twopointopian gap left by my so-called peers. They didn’t have the foresight or courage to venture on Chatroulette to answer the reference questions of people so desperate for attention and self-exposure that even Twitter let them down. Now that I’ve broken the barrier, lesser librarians can follow.