I am a tenure-track professor teaching in a field recently introduced to my college. As all new courses have to be cleared by a committee, it’s not unusual for me to submit course proposals for approval. They are mostly accepted without comment, and so I was surprised to receive an email requesting that I meet with the head of the library to discuss whether they had the resources to support my course. I had, after all, taught more obscure subjects in the past, but I thought it was a good opportunity to go over the resources available and perhaps suggest some new purchases.
When I got to the meeting, to my disbelief, the older male head of the library pulled up the online catalogue and proceeded to explain to me how to run a search. Now, to be fair, we have recently installed some new technology, so I merely told him I’d attended the seminar on it, and was familiar, thanks. Nevertheless he painstakingly showed me how to type a search term into the box and filter the results. Still thinking I was supposed to be having a rational discussion with a colleague, I looked over the results (most of which were irrelevant, because he hadn’t filtered it for the proper field) and asked whether we were subscribed to X and Y journal, because I would have expected those to come up first, rather than the (completely irrelevant) results. Oh, yes, yes, he assured me, never mind that, we have loads of that. But did I know about Trendy-Database? I didn’t. Mostly because it was on a different subject.
I tried changing tack and asking if we were subscribed to some other resources. Oh, yes, of course. I was getting pretty annoyed by this point, as he was still trying to explain how the library catalogue worked (I have a PhD… he doesn’t), so I went back to the original reason I was supposedly there, and asked,
“Are you saying that your library doesn’t have the resources to support this course?”
“Well, of course we do!” he spluttered.
“So why did you ask to meet with me?”
“Well, I need to know that you know how to show the students to do research.”
This man was not my boss. He was not in my department. He is in no way senior to me. I said,
“You do realize I have researched AND published in this area while at this college?”
“Ah” he said triumphantly, “But you didn’t know about Trendy-Database, did you?”