Monday, February 9, 2009

Questions for the Reference Desk

Monday: we've started off the week with the following questions:

In person, "Can I bring my Seeing Eye puppy into the library as part of his socialization training?" Yes, I almost jumped up and down with glee at the thought of a puppy at the library, but ran it by my Director before replying in the affirmative.

In person, "What' s the book that I was told every library would have and it's used at the Naval Academy and it's about California and all about ships in the 19th century?"
You don't mean Two Years Before the Mast, do you? Yes, that's it!
That's the rabbit out of the hat effect in reference. Sometimes, the right answer bubbles up from the subconscious. In this case, I remember my brothers reading the book, although I never did.

By email, the patron wanted the library to send for an obscure Revolutionary War document by interlibrary loan, but Googling the title turned up the entire text online for free. Amazing!

A patron wanted us to find a physician in Berkeley Heights. Ellen used the AMA Doctor Finder. People ask us to recommend physicians, but we can't (ethically speaking) do that.

Question by phone: find patents of lithium ion batteries using the U.S. Patent Office website.

Question by email: find how to get grants for a community organization. Ellen found several websites and reference books including

In person, find the book that the television movie, the Ben Carson Story was based on. Gifted Hands, the Ben Carson Story, autobiography of the Johns Hopkins brain surgeon.

Another ILL request by email from one of our regular ILL/emailers.
Moderate a blog comment which comes through email to be approved.
Questions about using the online catalog x 3 or 4 or more by days end.

By phone, question about finding census information for genealogical research. We walked the patron through using HeritageQuest online through JerseyClicks and signed her up for Ellen's genealogy computer class.

How to use the public internet computers x 3 so far
How to use the photocopier x 2 so far
Did I sign up for the financial class on Sunday the 15? Yes, we checked the list.
Where is Blink? It's not on the shelf. One out, one missing, we'll put it on hold for you.
Do you have New York State tax forms? No, but they are online and most locals need the Non-resident New York State form.
Patron brings up laptop which has threatened to go into the dreaded "safe mode." We avert that and the laptop starts up normally.
Where is the bathroom x 2 or 3 or...?
Ten minutes until school's out when middle schoolers run into the library by the dozens flinging their backpacks on the floor in the ideally litigious hot-spots near the bathroom doors and log into the internet to play, er "do homework, Mom, really."
And finally, as we await the thundering herd, a patron who says she has a "bizarre request." She is an artist searching for a particular type of image. We give her some hints including how to do a Google image search.

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