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

Reference Question of the Week – 11/4/12

   November 10th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Sometimes, patrons know they're going to ask an unusual question, and they savor it. This patron had about a two minute preamble when he walked up to the desk - but he could have just lead with the punch line:

Can you tell me where the library bought the couch up in the Children's Room? It's the most comfortable couch I've ever sat in and I want to get one for my house.

This is the couch* in question:

Couch in our Children's Room

And yes, it is quite comfortable, but the most comfortable? Hmm. During his story, he said he's been looking for a couch for awhile, has visited 20+ furniture stores, and all the couches seem to fall into two categories: not good enough quality, or way too expensive.

He has kids, and he figured that library furniture must be built to last. He was surprised how comfortable it was, and I guess that was it - he liked it, was sick of shopping, and was just done. I bet if I would have taken a check, he would have left with it that day.

But unfortunately, this happened on a Saturday - I didn't know the answer, and the woman who would wasn't back in again until Monday. So I took the patron's name and number and told him we'd call Monday.

When I checked with our office manager, it turns out the couch was from Demco, and cost about $1,200 (looks like our fabric is "cayenne"). So there you go - library as showroom.

People think that saying "I like working in a library because every day is different" is a cliche - but no, it's not. I never dreamed I would be asked this question, but almost anything can be answered. And I really hope this patron buys one for his house - for some reason, that would delight me to no end.


*This is probably more of a loveseat, but it sounds weird to me to refer to something in the Children's Room as a loveseat. My grandma, however, would have called this a davenport.

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