This blog often has posts that recount our interesting daily reference questions. Many people don't realize that they can ask their local librarian to help find information so we like to advertise that fact. What has not been posted are the dismal failures. So in the interest of full disclosure, here are some recent stumpers submitted to the reference librarians.
How to make charts using linear programming? OK, I give up. We searched JerseyClicks and the library catalog and the internet. The patron's table was littered with math and business books we hauled out. But nothing was quite right. In cases like this, I wish I could text or twitter the professor who assigned this problem and say something really scathing like - "huh?"
A patron wanted the Silver Banquet which evaluates railroad memorabilia. It didn't show up in any N.J. library according to JerseyCat. WorldCat showed very few library holdings for it. Googling didn't turn up any copies we could get our hands on. I'm posting this long after the question reared its puzzling head. Anyway, another "huh?" In these cases we often try to do a bait and switch - well we don't have that, but how about this? But when a patron has her heart set on a particular thing that Uncle Fred said was the best, that's it. No bait and switch works. We don't argue with the wisdom of Uncle Fred.
A few commonly asked questions which just don't seem to lend themselves to easy answers are as follows:
Ratings for NJ private schools. The book, Private Secondary Schools describes, but does not rate them.
Ratings of things not rated by Consumer Reports are especially frustrating. Not that CR should rate NJ prep schools, but we can dream, can't we?
Catcher in the Rye on audio? Nope, does not exist. J.D. Salinger will not allow his classic book to be recorded.
A book whose title includes the acronym HIAA which lists costs of medical procedures? We found physician fee schedules , but even the local health sciences library did not have such a book.
Is Sony Reader compatible with Netlibrary? No, the former is text, the latter is audio mostly and they don't play well together.
Specifics from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We found recovery.gov, but it's big, it's complicated and it's a work in progress. Please don't make us look through it.