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

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Reference Question of the Week – 12/27/15

   Posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 in Library, Reference Question | 2 Comments »

If you’re a reference librarian long enough, eventually you might hear every possible question – even those you’d never think someone would ask. Due to traveling for Christmas and how New Year’s Eve fell this year, this past week was a short one for me. However, that didn’t stop one patron from sneaking in this […]


Reference Question of the Week – 12/13/15

   Posted on Saturday, December 19th, 2015 in Library, Policies, Random, Reference Question | 2 Comments »

One slow evening, a patron walked up to the desk and asked if anyone had turned in a pair of glasses. In my library, we have two lost-and-founds – one on each floor. I try to keep the downstairs one, at the Reference Desk, limited to valuable and personally-identifiable things only, and bring things like […]


Reference Question of the Week – 12/6/15

   Posted on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 in Library, Reference Question, Service | 6 Comments »

This week’s question fits right in with the recent thread of “things that happen at closing time,” but unfortunately gets filed under, “you win some, you lose some.” Wednesdays are my night to work until closing at 9pm, and in general that’s a pretty quiet night. This week, at about 8:40, a patron walked up […]


Closing at Night – How Does Your Library Do It?

   Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2015 in Library, Policies, Service | 28 Comments »

Last week, in response to my recent Reference Question of the Week about the importance of providing good customer service right up until closing time, Emma posted this comment: Brian, can I ask: Are your hourly people paid for some amount of time after 5:30 on your 5:30 closing days? Something that drives me crazy […]


Reference Question of the Week – 11/29/15

   Posted on Saturday, December 5th, 2015 in Library, Reference Question | 8 Comments »

Sometimes, the most interesting part of my job is the unexpected glimpse into a stranger’s life. About fifteen minutes after I got to work on my first day back from spending Thanksgiving in Ohio with my family, the phone rings: Me: Chelmsford Library, can I help you? Patron: Oh, hi, do you have, can I, […]


Reference Question of the Week – 11/15/15

   Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2015 in Library, Reference Question, Service | 8 Comments »

Not all of the reference interactions I post here have a moral, but this one does – and it’s one of my favorite morals. On Fridays, my library closes at 5:30pm. At about 5:25 one Friday, an older gentleman comes down the stairs to the reference area, where most of our public computers are. Now, […]