Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Today at the Reference Desk: Fowl Play

Those of you who are regular readers of our library blog know that we post occasionally about what librarians really do all day long aside from shushing our noisier patrons. Things have really changed in libraries since I first began work in these halls of learning, but one thing remains the same. You just never know what the next person who comes up to the Reference Desk will ask.

It must have been in a nearby town in New Jersey that allows chickens to be raised in the suburbs. Not Berkeley Heights, I think, but not too far from here either. I heard that the librarian on duty, let's call her Marian, had her nose in a Nook when she felt, with that librarian sixth sense that detects patrons in need, that someone had approached the Reference Desk, but she couldn't see anyone.

All she could hear was someone demanding a "book, book." 

"What kind of books do you like to read," she asked trying to put a 'smile' in her question, but still not sure who she was talking to. 

"Book, book, book!" demanded the insistent voice coming from the floor in front of the Reference Desk.

Marian leaned over her computer monitor and looked down at the slightly worn carpet where patrons usually stand to ask for help. There stood a chicken, patiently waiting in front of the desk. When the chicken saw that it had the librarian's attention, it squawked again,

"Book, book, book, BOOK!" 

Feeling that she shouldn't ask what genre the chicken preferred or what his/her? (Marian is a city girl and cannot tell the gender of this fowl patron) favorite book is, as the chicken seemed to be in a hurry, Marian indicated that the chicken should wait while she ran off to the area of romance fiction to pull a few titles. Marian grabbed a plastic grocery bag from the staff room supply and offered the 'bodice rippers' (aka: romances) to the chicken. The chicken quickly grabbed them and strutted out the library door. 
The next day, the librarian was again approached by the same chicken, who put the previous day's pile of books down on the desk and again squawked,

 "Book, book, book, BOOK!" 
The librarian realized that the chicken must not have liked romances, maybe it's a rooster? Marian gathered some westerns  for the chicken this time. The chicken grabbed the bag of books and stalked out.
The next day, Marian was alerted to the presence of her new poultry patron, by squawks, which seem rather more irritable than before. 

"Book, book, book, BOOK!" 

Now you should know that librarians are obligated by law to find the perfect book for each patron, specifically by Ranganathan's Law:  

'Every book, its reader, Every reader, his book,'  

This idea is drilled into librarians in library school at which time the librarian-in-training probably has no idea how hard that simple instruction can be.

 Marian realized that she had to find out more about her chicken patron in order to find a book it would like. Marian got a new selection of books for the chicken, and followed the bird when it left the library.  Through the parking lot, down the street for several blocks, and finally into a large park, the chicken quickly ran with the bag of books in his/her beak. The chicken disappeared into a small grove of trees, and Miriam followed. On the other side of the trees was a small marsh, very similar to the boggy area behind the Berkeley Heights Public Library. The chicken stopped on the path of the marsh where the weeds parted to reveal a gnarled tree root sticking out of the still water. Miriam got close enough to see, but not close enough to be seen, and spotted  a small frog on the log. A frog of the species Rana Clamitans that live in the area. The frog was examining each book, one at a time. Marian got within earshot just in time to hear the frog saying, 

"Read it, read it, read it..." 

Thanks to  MacScouter.com

The process of finding the right book for each patron is called 'Readers Advisory.' Finding the next good read for a well-read person, or chicken, can be a challenge, but stop by the Reference Desk and we'll try to make a list of books we think you might like.  

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