The other day I am sitting at the reference desk and a student of the local college comes up and interrupts my game of Minecraft. The kid in question asks for help finding sources for a reference paper.
"I need three sources that prove cats are better than dogs as death omens and companions," she said.
Like a good reference librarian, I did not ask the one question we are trained from birth to ask, "Why in the name of all that is above and below would you want to know that?" I just began working the problem.
I asked what sources she had already searched. "None."
I asked what sources the professor had recommended. "I dunno."
I asked whether she had decided to breathe that morning or the spontaneous reaction of her lungs had so shocked her that she decided today would be a good day to remain a conscious, living, thinking being. I got no answer.
"I just need three sources that say which one is better for dying people," she said.
"Where would you like to begin?"
"You wish to start researching with the answer to your research question?"
There's a thin line between ignorance and entitlement. See, ignorance is not just "not knowing" something, but actively not knowing. You are ignoring knowledge, turning your back on it on purpose. This is a choice, an act of defiance of the will of the universe for you to become a better more complete human. I can get behind that.
Expecting the answer to be handed to you is just entitled bullshit and it happens a lot in libraries. College students growing up in the internet age have not been taught the proper curiosity that comes with research. The stamp and deliver college educations manufacture not thinkers but membership cards to various job markets.
Grandma better not be nodding along to this, either, because all generations have behaved entitled. For every college student shrugging his or her shoulders there is a blue hair handing over an ereader or phone to a librarian and saying "do it." There may be an age where you are entitled to not give a fuck, but if you can get your ass to the library you care enough to learn how to scream in frustration at a computer like the rest of us.
Either that or make due with books. They have not changed in over two hundred years.
But back to our friend at the reference desk waiting for Santa Claus to deliver the proper research. How would Old Saint Nick handle that question? Feel free to insert as many "ho-ho's" and "belly jiggles" as necessary.
"Welcome to the North Pole Library, how can I help you, Krissy?" Librarian Santa said.
"I need three sources on whether cats or dogs are better at being with people when they die. And its Kristina."
LibSanta then goes through the usual questions. He does not ask why the hell that's a thing, just works the problem. "Our database has tons of articles on cats and dogs as support animals. See?"
"But I need to know which is the best for my research paper."
"Well, how about these articles on animals used in hospice centers-"
"Look, Fat Man, my professor said I needed three articles, not databases, on whether dogs or cats were better as with people when they die. I don't know what you want from me."
LibSanta's heart breaks just a little. He does the best he can. An elf named Scratch comes over and helps. Together they find three articles saying cats are better and three that lean canine. They print them out, no charge, and Krissy leaves the North Pole library.
That night LibSanta goes to the Old Toy Factory, the local bar and saddles up to the bar. He has a few too many, ends up talking to Krampus at the back corner.
"I just don't get it. Why can't they just research the things?" LibSanta says.
Krampus says, "Well, why not stuff them in a sack and hit them with sticks?"
"That's your answer for everything."
"There's always the nuclear option."
"You shut your whore mouth about that," LibSanta says and stumbles home and falls into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The next day, though, he's back at the reference desk. He opens up the account for Kristina the College Student. He thinks over the way she sat there, the way she called him "Fat Man."
He clicks the box marked "Naughty List" and goes about his day.