or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 7/8/07

   July 14th, 2007

Chelmsford High School Football PlayersA patron came in and asked a very reasonable question:

Can you show me where you keep the high school yearbooks?

Ahem. You'd think that the public library in any town would have a complete set of the town's high school yearbooks, but here, in Chelmsford, that is not the case, and it has been a pet peeve of mine since I started working here.

We have yearbooks for the years 1944-1951, 1961, 1975, 1982, 1988-1992, 1996, and even though I've been trying to work through contacts at the high school, we still haven't gotten the Class of 2007's yearbook yet. If someone is looking for one we don't have, all I can do is refer them to the school's office, which has a complete set.

However, in this case, the patron had a bit more information. She said a friend of hers told her the school's photographer had pictures up on their website, which you could view of purchase. Huh.

After a bit of digging, we found that Chelmsford High uses Burlington Studio of Photography, which did indeed have online photographs from many schools, including Chelmsford. This find made the patron happy, as she was able to browse around and find a few shots of her son, without having to purchase the entire yearbook.

But it made me wonder, too, about whether all these kids signed waivers for their photos to be published online. And besides, it's really not quite the same, picking and choosing like that, instead of having the complete yearbook. Perhaps I'm just old-fashion; perhaps today kids leave comments on other kids' online profiles, rather than signing their yearbooks.

chelmsford, chs, high school, high school yearbook, high school yearbooks, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, reference question, yearbook, yearbooks

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2 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 7/8/07”

  1. Lichen Says:

    Yeah, it removes the photos from their context. That’s one thing about the internets – it’s so easy to strip content of a lot of it’s meaning by removing its context.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    In this particular example, I think that’s a bad thing. Yearbooks are nice because they include the whole class, for the whole year. But if parents want to only buy pictures of their own kids, then that might be the end of year books for everyone else.

    It’s things like this that put the “i” in “iNternet” (or at least the “my kid” ), and often leaves the “my community” out entirely.