custom gadget

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm Bringing Reference Back

Although there are many aspects to public library service, the crux is reference work. Most queries besides "Where's the bathroom?" can be considered reference questions, and I personally love a challenge: no question is too weird, random, or involved. Some questions are straightforward, while others take a little more time and effort. Librarians are trained to know that what people request usually differs vastly from what they actually want. For example, a patron will ask, "Where are the books on love and relationships?" when what she really means is: "My husband gave me chlamydia and I need to know how to kill him." It's labor-intensive to get to the root of a reference question, requiring extreme patience and the keen ability to read between the lines.

From time to time, I will be posting questions that are beyond the call of what I consider "normal" reference work. I like to call this Random Reference. Some questions are funny, others are disturbing, and others still are just plain inappropriate. All of them, however, are part of the job and must be handled with tact and poise.

Some quick examples of Random Reference questions (without the answers. Those come later, but you can use your imagination):

"Uh, you got a cigarette?"

"Would you like to buy some of my special homemade soap?"

"So, are you married?"

"Do you have a copy of the Kama Sutra?" Same patron, a few minutes later: "Do you have a microwave I could warm my baby's bottle in?"

And one of my favorites: upon learning of our drug prevention program at the library one night, a patron asked, "Are they serving any?"

All in a day's work.

No comments:

Post a Comment