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



Reference Question of the Week – 5/12/13

   May 18th, 2013

Juicing with Kids book coverMy library tracks desk statistics only one week each quarter, putting tick marks on a tally sheet whenever people ask desk staff a question.

We also use these sheets to create a "no list" - a record of any time we have to tell a patron "no" for any reason (to help improve our yes-based policy). Usually, the reasons are "no, we don't have that book/subject," but also things like "no scanner" or "no jumper cables" show up.

Last time we did this, one staff person wrote down, "no juicing books." To me, "juicing" has always meant taking steroids, but in this case I guessed they meant making your own fruit and vegetable juices at home. So, I wanted to fill this hole in our collection by ordering a few juicing books.

My first stop for topics like this - popular topics I want to purchase quickly - is to search Amazon. I always use the Advanced Search so I can limit to new printed books, in this case published after 1/1/13 - there are quite a few.

But I was surprised, as I started to click into titles that looked good, just how many were CreateSpace books. It's not unusual to see them on Amazon of course, but they generally don't make up 80-90% of new books on a topic. But in this case, that was easily the percentage.

I found a few non-self-published books to purchase, but also ordered the CreateSpace title Juicing Recipes From Fitlife.TV Star Drew Canole For Vitality and Health. Our Selection policy specifically mentioned we don't buy self-published books, but in this case it was by far the most highly-reviewed book on the topic, so I figured our patrons would like it too.

With the rise of ebooks, I suspect lots of libraries will have to amend their "no self-pubs" policies, as self-published books - and quality self-published ebooks - become more prevalent. We'll still need to apply some selection criteria, but at the same time, I suppose the risk is lower - hopefully these ebooks will be cheaper, and we won't have to worry about them falling apart quickly.

Regardless, I think I will always consider "juicing" an undesirable activity, so I can't help but do a double-take on a title like Juicing with Kids. Not entirely unlike my perennial favorite bit of irony, Homeschooling for Dummies.




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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 5/12/13”

  1. Andromeda Says:

    And here my first thought was “patron wanted to run books through a juicer, we said no”. Wasn’t sure how you were going to get to yes on that one!

  2. Peggy Says:

    Brian,
    Do you have a category for referred in your get to yes policy? We use Supplied, Not supplied and Referred. We serve as a defact source for State government information so our referrals to the correct agency are quite high.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Peggy: we don’t have any categories on the stats tally sheets. We used to, but now we just record a tick mark when we help someone (not “the bathroom is over there” kind of help, but actual librarian-assistance help). The “getting to yes” policy is something separate, and just sort of a guiding philosophy for my library.