January 23rd, 2016 Brian Herzog
After I published the post on Wednesday about the likelihood of this blog changing due to my new position, I forgot to mention that until we hire a new Head of Reference (which will probably take a few weeks), I'm keeping my normal desk schedule - and so should be able to keep up with Reference Questions of the Week.
Wednesday is my 1-9pm shift, and I published that post from home that morning. I decided that when I got to work that day, the very first reference question I got would be this week's post. Usually I just take notes whenever something comes up that is interesting or funny, but I thought a random "slice of reference life" might be appropriate this week.
So, here it is: I sat down at the desk and the phone rings...
Me: Chelmsford Library, can I help you?
Patron: Can you tell me how to spell "language?"
Me: Oh sure, it's-
Patron: Does it have an "i" in it?
Me: No, it's spelled l-a-n-g-u-a-
Patron: Is it u-i-g-e?
Me: ... [waiting to make sure the patron has finished talking] It's l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e.
Patron: Oh, so an "a" and not an "i?"
Me: Yes, l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e.
Patron: Okay, thank you.
Me: You're welcome, good-bye.
This is one of our regular phone patrons, and most of her calls are like this. We suspect she works crossword puzzles.
Not every reference interaction is funny or interesting, but it's true that any of them can be.
February 2nd, 2013 Brian Herzog
A patron came up to me at the desk and asked,
I'm looking for information on writing and books about getting published. - you know, like Writer's Market, but modern.
That puzzled me for a second, since Writer's Market is updated every year. I walked with her down to the 808 section and showed her our 2013 edition of Writer's Market*, and some other books on the shelve. She said thank you, and then followed it up with,
I want to publish crossword puzzles - do you have any books on that?
Huh. I didn't remember ever seeing any books specifically about publishing crosswords. We skimmed the shelves and nothing obviously stood out, so I left her there to look through what we did have and I went back to the desk to search the catalog. Nothing came up, so I tried searched online.
One of the first results I came across was an Ask MetaFiler post titled Crossword Publishing help. It had only two responses to the original post, but both seemed (to me) to be very helpful. I didn't really find much else online, so I quickly reviewed the website cruciverb.com which one of the responses recommended. It seemed to be exactly what the patron wanted - it listed publications that publish crosswords, contact information and other details for submitting puzzles, and lots of other resources (including a listserv, forum, and social networking) for creating and publishing crossword puzzles. How perfect is that?
However, when I went back to the 800's to find the patron, she had left. I looked around, and even ran up to the Circulation Desk to see if I could catch her on her way out. I hadn't been searching at the reference desk very long, but she was nowhere to be found. I hate it when patrons slip away like that.
I was curious though, so I went back to the 808's to looked at the shelf. From the empty spaces between books (that weren't there before), I could tell that she had taken the 2013 Writer's Market and also a couple other books. That's good, and hopefully she found what she's looking for.
This question really intrigued me for some reason. I had seen (and really enjoyed) Wordplay, but never thought much about that actual process of publishing crosswords. Oh well - I think I'll stick to word finds.
Link to library word finds.
As with most of our most recent editions of traditional reference titles, our 2013edition of Writer's Market
is a 7 Day Loan item
, instead of in-library reference only. Even though it's been almost two years since we eliminated our "reference" collection, it still makes me happy every time a patron is able to take home and really use something they previously wouldn't have been able to check out.
December 6th, 2007 Brian Herzog
This doesn't have much to do with libraries, but I like crossword puzzles and thought it was neat:
A recent discussion on ME-LIBS mentioned the puzzlemaker, from Discovery Education. This website automatically generates crossword puzzles (and other types of puzzles, too) from a list of words and clues you enter.
It's fun. Not quite the New York Times puzzle, of course, but then again, I'm not quite Will Shortz.
One drawback is that it just generates the puzzle to a webpage, which you're then supposed to print out. A "play online" version would be more fun; also helpful would be a print-friendly pdf version (I had to tweak my Library 2.0 Crossword in Word before printing to pdf).
While looking for one with more output options, I found that there seems to be a lot of software to generate puzzles, but only a few are free:
This could be used as a fun library program for kids or teens, for staff, for making an activity to go along with a book display, for local history/events/landmarks, or even for a book display on crosswords (incidentally, the first crossword puzzle was complied by Arthur Wynne and appeared in the New York World on Dec. 21st, 1913).
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