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


Librarian Q&A Forum At StackExchange Now Live!

   May 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Unshelved comic stripGreat News - the Libraries and Information Science question and answer forum, by librarians for librarian, is now open for business! Check it out:

http://libraries.stackexchange.com

This is the long-awaited replacement for Unshelved Answers - at least, I've been waiting for it, because I used it all the time. I love that librarians have a place to ask each other questions, share tips, ideas, and best practices, and just easily communicate - all with a searchable archive.

Thanks to all the early committers and beta testers. If this is completely new to you, please check it out - it's worth it, and is definitely useful professional development.



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Reference Question of the Week – 6/20/10

   June 26th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Unshelved Answers logoInstead of a reference question this week, here's a question posed to Unshelved Answers this week:

[What is your] most ironic/moronic question?

A number of librarians have posted almost painful exchanges they've had with patrons - mine is:

A patron came in and asked for information on homeschooling her kids. I showed her the section, and ten minutes later I saw her leaving with our copy of Homeschooling for Dummies - come on, should a "dummy" really be teaching kids?

Check it out and post one of your own.



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Google is not The Way to Salvation

   June 24th, 2010 Brian Herzog

I passed this church sign while walking around Ottawa:

Google Church Sign

I'm used to hearing the "Google is not as good as libraries" rhetoric, so it was funny to see another profession facing the same struggle. By the way, Bibles in my library are shelved at 220.5/Bibl - maybe our slogan should be, "find a library, find your way."



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Reference Question of the Week – 11/8/09

   November 14th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Yahoo! Answers logoThis entertained me, so I thought I'd share - Huffington Post collected some funny responses to questions asked on Yahoo Answers.

I wouldn't call them the "funniest of all time" - most of them were snarky answers or just really bad questions. But the one about the sandwich did make me laugh out loud.

Occasionally I use Yahoo Answers to help with a patron's question, but like with any traditional or crowd-sourced resource, it needs to be evaluated critically (and enjoyed).



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Reference Question of the Week – 11/16/08

   November 22nd, 2008 Brian Herzog

let me Google that for you imageI'm going to be visiting my family for the week of Thanksgiving, so this will be my last post until I get back. So instead of a regular reference question today, here's a tool people can use when they're asked questions.

It's not just Google, it's let me Google that for you. Of course I would never use this with a patron, but it's "teaching moment" kind of tool, to remind people that Google is good for certain kinds of questions (it's entertaining, but also borders on snarky).

The way it works is this: visit the website and type in the question you were asked - say, What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Click the search button, and you get a link to send back to the person who asked you the question, which shows them how they could found the answer themselves.

Just out of curiosity, I thought I'd run a few recent Reference Questions of the Week through it, to see how my answers compared with Google's:

Google will not replace librarians, because librarians help people in was that Google can't. And by the way, there is a similar website, but it has a bad word in the URL. Thanks, Chris.



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Reference Question of the Week – 8/24/08

   August 23rd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Georgia invasion question on Yahoo AnswersA few months ago, I listed online services that provide answers to peoples' questions.

In the library world, the big concern is usually the quality of the answers - do these services provide the same level of quality in the answers that someone would get from a librarian?

As I read on studio twentysix2, perhaps we should be more concerned with the quality of the question.



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