Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Morning at the Reference Desk: Questions, We Got Questions

This morning has been what I still think of as a "typical" shift on the Reference Desk, When I started out in a big-city library, the Reference Desk had 3 incoming phone lines, lines of people around the desk waiting for help, and librarians took one hour shifts on the desk, one hour off to recharge. It was like working at a fast-food joint, but handing out answers instead of burgers. Now, libraries are busy, but in a different way, with questions coming in by email, blog comments, faxes and sometimes Twitter. We don't take text messages yet, but it could happen.
This morning's questions:
A late-breaking (8:55 pm Tuesday says the call slip) research question about commodity prices.
A Girl Scout leader asking about the best way to publicize G.S. programs and distribute flyers.
A colleague at another library asking about what databases we have and which might be discontinued due to lack of state funding.
Emails with incoming blog comments in Chinese to approve or reject. We don't accept comments that are selling things.
A public internet computer froze twice on the same patron and needed to be fixed.
I started to try out a new database using a trial subscription, but immediately ran into technical problems with it.
Questions about our downloadable audiobooks and how to renew them.
A man wanted recommendations of mysteries for his wife, but not "spy stuff."
A caller wanted the music and lyrics to a song by Irving Berlin.
Many interlibrary loan requests piled up on my CPU.
Request for the phone number of the Better Business Bureau.
Caller asked for book with funny title, something about "Guernsey potatoes."
Request for a book that went out yesterday for a local book club.
Do we have a copy of the 9/11 Report? (yes)
That's it so far at noon, 9 hours to go.

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