Journalist's Notebook: Life in the field for a SNEWS reporter

Excerpt from SNEWS® reporter Marcus Woolf -- Telluride, Colo. Saturday, Sept. 16

Excerpt from SNEWS® reporter Marcus Woolf -- Telluride, Colo.
Saturday, Sept. 16

As an outdoor journalist I've negotiated many dangerous obstacles in the field -- disgruntled manufacturers, risky outdoor terrain. Gators, snakes, spiders. And, most recently -- a stubborn librarian. I know what you're thinking: How could someone slip by such a stalwart foe? With cunning, my friend, pure cunning. I scratched out these notes about the encounter, which occurred while working feverishly to file a story on the Tetons.

8 a.m.: New Sheridan Hotel. Unable to file Tetons story -- AOL local dial-out number not working. (Note: That's what I get for going cheap with the "1,000 Free Hours!" disk I got in the mail.) I'll try to find computer in Telluride public library.

10 a.m.: Found Telluride library. Write name on sign-up sheet for Internet computer #8. Sheet says, "45-minute limit." Lots of work to do. I'll try to fudge it.

10:50 a.m.: Return to sign-in sheet to put name down for 11-11:45 a.m.
"Wait. Didn't you already sign up once?" Uh oh. Librarian's "spider sense" is tingling.

"Uh, well, yes, but I need more time, and no one is even waiting for the machine I was on."

She stares sternly over large eyeglasses. Very school marm-like. Creepy. Librarians always creep me out.

"I'm sorry but you can only sign up once a day."

"Only once a day?"

Librarian stiffens in her seat, sensing a showdown.

Getting desperate. I try to reason. "Well, I could really use the computer. You see, I'm a writer trying to file a story for a very stressed-out editor. So if you could just..."

"It doesn't matter. You can only sign up once a day. That's the rule."
She's leaning forward, making me nervous, like she might clobber me with a stapler.

I stare….


"I can't even use i…"

"That's the rule."

Argghh! (Don't actually yell, because everyone knows that if you raise your voice in a library they put you to death -- death by Dewey Decimal System.)

11 a.m.-Noon: Find "10-minute limit" Internet computer along back wall of library. Alternate 10-minute sessions with aimless trips to the stacks, technically avoiding a violation of the strictly enforced "10-minute limit."

12:05 p.m.: File story. Exit quickly. (On way out, stick tongue out at librarian -- while she's not looking.) Go get a beer.