pocket reference librarian

Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan
Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan

While some days I love working at home, there are always things I miss about being in a library.A   I miss fondling and schlepping books.A   I also miss reference work.A   I love when you have a Ranganathan moment and the user walks away with the perfect book or piece of information.A   It’s especially satisfying when you help them articulate what they want, and then find them the perfect slice of information that they themselves didn’t know they needed.A   I miss these interactions the most.

Over the fall I’ve informally fielded some interesting questions and queries from friends and acquaintances including:

  • the names of the CEOs and board members of several industrial meat companies.A   This involved explaining the difference between publicly and privately traded companies and what databases are good for finding this info.
  • history of a specific word that I can’t remember anymore
  • what to do when a friend is arrested and is being detained in the suburbs.A   While Pivot Legal Society’s rights cards weren’t the complete answer for this situation they were quite helpful, as were the staff at the Carnegie branch library and the Carnegie center.
  • helping to devise a research strategy for an essay for a grad school application.A   This involved getting the person to scale back their initial scope (they were essentially doing a lit search) and focusing on what they were being asked to do (list 10 resources).
  • determining the total compensation package for a union employee to prove that benefits are a significant part of a compensation package
  • how to catch the bus to the ferry
  • finding a citation in a bit of legislation

My reference skills are pretty rusty, but I still enjoy it.A   I also love the network of awesome librarians I know who are so generous at sharing information and helping me find stuff I can’t.

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