An Unusual Coincidence

Life as a librarian is not always a bed of roses. If you see librarians and other library staff at work, you’ll realize that a lot of us are often scuttling around to get things done. Sort of like ants and other bugs that gather food, pass messages, and march to exotic lands. The analogy, of course, is imperfect: we’re a lot less creepy than bugs!

Last week, a lecturer encountered some issues when using a database to add references to EndNote. To keep the introduction simple, I’ll just say that EndNote is software that helps you to manage your references. It also has more than 3000 citation styles, which you can change at the click of the mouse. EndNote is useful if you’re working over a period of time and have gazillions—or what feels like gazillions—of references. But, because it’s a reasonably sophisticated programme, things can go wrong. And when things go wrong, the librarians will scuttle around to help users resolve the issues.

The database in question was misbehaving. References that were saved and imported into EndNote did not show the year. The reference type showed book, when it was a journal article. The journal title, year, volume, issue and page appeared in the notes field instead of their respective fields. After trying for some time, I checked with a colleague and she confirmed that she was experiencing the same issues. To put it in a nice way, the database was acting up and driving me up the wall. After spending much time tinkering around, I emailed the database vendor and resigned myself to playing the waiting game.

To my surprise, the reply came in less than half an hour. The technical support consultant acknowledged that they were aware of issues with the databases, and were working on it. Strangely, not long later, the database worked perfectly. I was impressed and really pleased. Did you have a hand in that? I asked the technical support consultant. No, he replied. It was probably just a coincidence. Well, I accessed the database again, and it’s back to throwing the same tantrums, which can be solved by doing something not very intuitive.

So my delight was short-lived, and my new motto in life is: Strange things happen. Grin and accept it.

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