The Mystery of the Library’s Voice Mail

Yesterday, our IT department sent out an email imploring all of us to check what was going on with our voice mail and to fix one of the various problems that were causing complaints from the community.

I read the email with relative equanimity. This was just the way to end the day: a necessary task but one that required little brain power or angst. Famous last words.

The first thing I learned was that my own phone was one of the problems. Although I don’t recall ever setting it up this way, if you called my office last week, it would direct you to press a number to get to the operator. Except there was no operator. 

After I fixed my phone, I decided to call all the staff members’ phones to make sure that their voice mail messages were set up correctly. Some were. Some were not. I also discoverd that the more annoying ring the phone had, the less likely voice mail had been set up. So I had to listen to eight to ten buzzes, cheaps, alarm sounds, etc. as I waited in vain for voice mail to kick in. So slapping sticky notes on their computer screens, I reminded them all to make the change.

But this paled in comparison to our library’s main line. I’m not sure any of us really considered the library’s voice mail since, in general, we don’t get that many messages outside of work hours. In fact, I can remember a few years ago coming in to work and noticing that message light was on at the circulation desk phone. “Did anyone check that message?” I asked. Everyone looked a little sheepish and then admitted that no one had any idea what the security code was since it had been so long since we’d had a message. So I know it was working at one time.

But sometime in the interim, the library’s voice mail stopped. As I told my boss, the good news was that the library was not sending anyone to a non-existent operator. The bad news was that we were sending them nowhere at all. Apparently, the phone could ring for minutes until the frustrated caller gave up. This was despite the fact, that when I pressed the numbers to get to voice-mail set-up, my voice was there. I had recorded a message, but the voice mail mechanism just didn’t work.

I called our helpful IT people who sent me directions on setting the “answering feature.” And I did that. Proudly, I went to another phone and called the Circ desk number. After four rings, it went to voice mail. Very proud of myself, I waited hear my voice.

But that didn’t happen. Instead a male voice welcomed me to the Nashville State Technical Institute’s library telling me the hours and that the library was closed on Saturdays. Now we haven’t been an institute in eight years. We’ve been open on Saturdays for several years. And I didn’t recognize the male voice at all. So where this message came from I don’t know, but it had staying power. I could not delete it. I could not change it.

I called IT again. Jeff, one of the three great guys at the Help Desk, listened while I explained the problem. “And it’s not a message you put there?” he asked.


“And you tried to delete it?”


“And it’s still there?”


It’s never a good thing when the Help Desk guys are stumped. But stumped he was and wrote up an order for the phone expert to take a look at it. So the mystery of the library’s voice mail continues. But please, know, if you call the library and can’t get through, it’s not because we don’t want to talk to  you. We do. We really do. And we’re working on the problem. 

At least, for the time being, our email is working just fine.


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