Cats staff the research desk — purrfect! (Well, maybe…)

Room209_cat2We at the UT Libraries pride ourselves on being innovators. But, as it says in Proverbs, pride goeth before a fall . . . or, in this instance, before a face full of claws.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, cats are all over the Internet, playing pianos, doing everything humans do. We thought, why not? Why not staff the Research Assistance Desk entirely with cats?

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to those who have sustained injuries.

From the beginning, staffing at the service desk could only be described as, uh, “independent scheduling”: some cat-librarians didn’t deign to show up for desk hours.

Admittedly, we began getting complaints almost immediately. I received this note from a student early on:

“I was halfway through explaining my thesis on the Middle Kingdom of pharaonic Egypt. I thought the librarian (I believe her name was Miss Kitty) would at least be curious. But she interrupted to tell me how SHE used to be worshipped as a god in ancient Egypt. What a narcissistic diva!”

Library users have variously described our new librarians as “moody,” “haughty,” “inscrutable,” “grumpy.” In other words, the new librarians have not exactly cozied up to our service philosophy. Again, I apologize.

And, of course, things quickly escalated. Here’s another complaint:

“The incident in question took me totally by surprise. ‘Tom’ was conducting a database search for me. All of a sudden his eyes glazed over. He began twitching — then rhythmically thumping — his tail. He just went berserk! I hope these stitches don’t leave scars.”

I can only state . . . Bad kitty! (Regrettably, the rules of tenure preclude any further disciplinary action.) So, if you have a complaint about the level of service in the research assistance area, please fill out a suggestion form, roll it into a ball, and toss it into the room.

And have a HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

Sincerely,
Steve Smith
Dean of Libraries

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