Shuodong Du, a first year graduate student in the iSchool’s Information Management program, was visibly concerned when he stopped by the Bird Library reference desk last Thursday. After checking the library’s hours online, he was flabbergasted upon learning that the library would be closed for all of Christmas Day 2010.

“I have my own laptop, but I do not have wireless access in my apartment,” Shuodong lamented, “Without the Internet, I cannot do my coursework or find a job. I feel as if I am useless!”

Sarah VanderBrook, a graduate assistant in the iSchool’s MSLIS program who is in several of Du’s classes but never spoke to or looked at him previously, was working at the reference desk that day. She wondered why Du was so concerned about using the Internet on Christmas, a holiday nearly 10 months in the future.

“Why don’t you just enjoy the day like everybody else,” she asked.

Du explained, “I cannot waste this day. If I do not find a job, everyone in my country will laugh at me when I  return. Some of the Indian guys in my program have already found a job. I must think ahead, or I cannot give myself an advantage over my competition. Many companies do not wish to hire a Chinese. They would prefer to hire someone with more experience speaking English. It is very difficult to find a job. I am sending applications all the time, but no one wants to hire me.”

Sympathetic, VanderBrook checked the Web page to verify the facility’s tentative hours on Christmas Day, as well as the hours for other University facilities, the Marshall Square Mall, Starbucks, and Funk N’ Waffles.

“Yes,” she sighed, “It appears that most places will be closed on December 25th, so it might be hard for you to find a wireless zone.”

After pausing to think, she continued, “You could try Dunkin’ Donuts, though…they might be open. A lot of policemen go there for their morning coffee and donuts, and policemen have to work every day, even on Christmas!”

Du, brightening at this news, asked VanderBrook how much money she makes as a reference desk assistant.

“If you’ll excuse me, Shuodong, I don’t think that’s any of your gosh-darn business!” She replied.

Embarrassed, Du ended the reference interview — “Okay. I must go now. Thank you. See you later,” — and ran with his head down in the direction of the Crouse St. Dunkin’ Donuts.