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Reference Question of the Week ¦ 2/16/14

   February 22nd, 2014

guernseyThis week's Reference Question was actually sent to me by another librarian, Brenda Guernsey, just after the Reference Question Contest last year. I wanted to share it because it's such a great "right place at the right time" story.

I mean, hopefully any librarian could have helped them with the basics, but it's always a proud feeling to get to share some value-added personal experience too - and this is the most extreme example of that I've ever heard of.

A father and daughter were at the catalog computer, searching and seemed to be struggling to find what they wanted. I went up to them and asked if they were finding what they needed. They asked how to limit a search, that they needed only nonfiction books on a topic and were only getting fiction results.

I asked about their topic: the daughter had read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book for a school assignment and now needed to give a speech about the Isle of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. And they couldn't find anything in our catalog about that.

Well, if you took note of my last name, it was one of those "in the right place at the right moment" times. I helped them find what I could in our small branch (one of the smaller in our system), pointed them to some valuable online resources that I knew about, told them about Guernsey cows, Victor Hugo's stay on the island, and a few other details.

My father-in-law had visited the island in the 70s, having traced the family history back to the island, and had recently given us all of his information (brochures, maps, two books of history about the island, and other miscellaneous items). Since the student's project was not due until Thursday (yay for a student working ahead and NOT the night before!!), I told them that I would bring all the materials in on Monday, and they could peruse them if they needed to.

So the "after school" crowd included them yesterday (the mother and daughter, and later the father) and they sat in the library with those materials, all studying and taking notes. I wish I could be there when the girl gives her speech!

The only thing about the interchange that made me sad is that my father-in-law recently passed away, and I wished I could have called him and told him how those materials helped someone outside our little family circle.

Awesome. I'm still waiting to encounter the patron looking for information on the Isle of Herzog.

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