I think we're getting off-topic.
I had a call the other day from someone who informed me she wanted information on space.
Anything in particular?
No, just space. /eyeroll
I finally managed to narrow her down to an actual topic, but there was definitely some blinking going on for a minute.
Winterlight, you are a hero for getting her down to what she really wanted. There are days I would rather take on the twelve labors of Hercules than try to narrow a topic down to what the patron really wants. Among my favorites:
1) The girls who had been given fifteen books on hurricanes and tornados to research a project about tornados. They kept coming back to complain that they didn't want to have to read the chapters on hurricanes and didn't we just have books on tornados. The concept of skipping the chapter was completely alien to them.
2) The girl who was writing a research paper on rape. She was given all the requisite magazine articles and books we had. Then she kept coming to the desk asking that we take scissors and remove all paragraphs that didn't use the word rape. Apparently if the word wasn't in the paragraph, then it clearly had nothing to do with the topic.
3) "I want everything on the civil war" (We don't even bother asking which one any more, since, to our patrons, there was only one Civil War). This particular question is used by a training program for improving reference performance. It's quite refreshing in many ways and helps you refocus on getting to the heart of things....but the trainers use a script that makes me want to cry as it doesn't actually work like that in real life.
Librarian: What can I help you with?
Patron: I want everything on The Civil War.
Lib: Hm, that covers a large area. Can you narrow it down for me?
Pat: The U.S. Civil War.
Lib: That's still a big topic. Can you tell me what interests you?
Pat: Well, I saw Matthew Brady's photos of field hospitals and I am really interested in knowing more about it.
Lib: So you want to know more about how field hospitals operated during the U.S. Civil War.
Pat: Yes, that's it exactly!
Compare with the interview in real life:
Lib: What can I help you find today?
Patron: I want everything you got on the Civil War.
Lib: Well, that's a pretty wide topic. Can you narrow it down a little?
Patron: Everything on the Civil War.
Lib: Well, I can get you several books on the general aspects of the war and--
Pat: Not "aspects" I want all the books you got on the war.
Lib: That's a lot of books. Isn't this assignment supposed to be about one aspect of the war? Isn't there an area you are particularly interested in?
Pat: I want everything on the U.S. Civil War! I don't go time to argue! Just get me everything you got!
Librarian brings half a dozen books on the war to the patron.
Patron storms back.
Pat: This book is about how the war got started! I told you I want everything on the war! Everything!
Librarian gets more books.
Pat: (now really mad) I want to read about the %$#^in' field hospitals and you didn't bring me nothing about them!
Lib: I did ask you if there was an area you were interested in and you told me everything. You'll need to check the indexes for...
Pat: You guys never help me at all! You're supposed to be helping me get what I want! I HATE this library! (storms out)
Librarian is left wishing that a small blue police call box would materialize and take her away. Anywhere.