Friday, May 9, 2008

Print out everything, you say?

A very nice older lady came to the desk looking for information on kidneys and disease. She said she had a friend who had something wrong with his kidneys, but it had not yet been diagnosed. She was a little afraid it might be kidney cancer, and asked about that specifically. I found a reference book with info about diseases of the endocrine system that she copied a few pages out of, then she asked me to pull up some things on the Internet ("I don't know how to use a computer.")

She just wanted some basic info on how the kidneys worked, since she wasn't sure exactly what they did. I did a Google search for "kidneys" and showed her the Wikipedia article, explaining that the site was decent for basic information, but you do have to read with a critical mind. I told her that it was eight pages long and would be 80 cents to print out.

Back to the search results. I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to know.
"I want anything you can find."
"Well," I said, indicating the Google search results. "There's a lot -- a LOT of information here. Would you like to look through it?"
"How much? Like... twenty pages? Thirty?"
"About nine million."

I sat her down and explained that the best results were usually on the first page or two of results. We found a good site for her to look at, I showed her how to get around it, and she was happy and thanked me profusely for my help.

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