Thursday, January 25, 2007

If it seems too good to be true...

then it probably isn't true, right?
Today at the Reference Desk started out with a patron who wanted to know if an unsolicited letter and "check" for a large sum that she received in the mail was legitimate. Naturally I thought not, but according to the rules of the reference game, hunches need to be documented. I referred her to this page at which describes this "advance fee fraud", the "Nigerian Scam" or the "4-1-9." We also recommended she take the letter to the U.S. Post Office because it might be mail fraud. More on that when we hear back from our patron.
Next, a patron wanted to know how much oil the U.S. uses to produce electricity to run the auto plants that make the cars that use gas. The question was taking the form of The House that Jack Built, so after a little negotiating, the question became, any figures on barrels of oil used by the U.S. would be useful. The U.S. Department of Energy has a terrific site for all kinds of energy statistics and charts and articles at the EIA (Energy Information Administration.) The relevant printouts of charts and stats await pick-up at the Reference Desk.
A legally blind patron wanted a really good magnifying glass. We keep a full-page "Magna-Page" magnifying glass by Bausch and Lomb at the Reference Desk which he found helpful. We also referred him to the NJ State Library for the Blind and Handicapped for other resources that he might be able to use.
One of our "regulars" wanted the names of manufacturers of a certain chemical. We faxed a page from In the old days Thomases was a huge, space-hogging, hernia-inducing set of green volumes. Now it's online.
A patron stopped by to see the newly arrived reference edition of Top Doctors, the N.Y. Area. That directory is one of the most frequently used medical reference books, along with the NJ Monthly magazine's issue about best NJ doctors and the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Specialists.
Briefly, we were asked to track down a missing Martha Stewart recipe for "yeasted coffee cakes" (could not find the exact one), books with house plans, information on downloadable audiobooks and "Play-a-way" audiobooks, help finding books on the shelf, help with the catalog, help with the copier, book recommendations for a book club, and a follow-ups on a question and an interlibrary loan request from yesterday.
At that point it was about 10:30 am and I looked out the window to see what weather could be causing people to come in or call the library rather more than usual. No clue from that line of reasoning though. Hot, cold, wet, dry, cloudy etc etc seems to have no correlation to library usage. You never know who or how many will come in or call with what type of question and the strange thing is that most people don't even know that librarians answer questions about anything other than books.

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