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


Library Word Find Puzzle vol. 2

   December 8th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Library Word Find Puzzle #2A couple years ago, I posted a Library Word Find Puzzle on flickr. It continues to be popular, so I thought I'd do a second Library Word Find Puzzle.

Sames rules as before: log into flickr and use the Add Note tool to circle a word; words are only horizontal or vertical, and are both forwards and backwards; please only circle one or two words to let as many people as possible play.

The words to look for are below the puzzle on flickr - and this time, there are a few words-within-words (eg, "mobile" and "bookmobile") so be careful.

I made this puzzle using the same spreadsheet as last time, so anyone feel free to use it to make other puzzles.



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Reference Question of the Week – 1/3/10

   January 9th, 2010 Brian Herzog

You Can't Do That on Television sceneAbout 30 minutes before we closed one night, a patron came to the desk and asked:

How do I find a website that starts with "F"?

When I asked him what he meant, he said he was on a website last week that had Armenian Christmas music, but all he could remember was that the web address started with "F" - maybe "fru" or "fron" or maybe not.

Remember that show on Nickelodeon, You Can't Do That On Television, with the teacher who always said, "Where does the school board get them and why do they keep sending them to me?" Yeah.

I was pretty sure that Google's [site:] operator didn't work with wildcards, but I tried searching for "armenian music site:f*" anyway. That did not work, so I searched to find out how wildcards can be used with Google's limiters. A nice forum posting mentioned the [inurl:] operator, which seemed perfect (if you don't already use them, read about operators and other tips for searching Google).

I re-searched for "armenian music inurl:www.f" and that worked - it showed all websites that mentioned Armenian music and have a web address that starts with "www.f".

Of course there are holes in this tactic: the site might not start with "www.", the site might not mention the words "armenian music," the site might not be in English, etc.

I gave him these caveats when I showed him how to use [inurl:], but he was still excited. He tried a few combinations of "armenian" and "christmas" and "music," but he hadn't found the right website before closing time. I actually haven't seen him since, so I'm not sure if he ultimately found it or not. It's kind of a needle in a haystack situation, and it feel like all I did was give him a very small magnet.



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A Look Back: Library Finds

   January 5th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Unshelved comicAround now is when everyone is either reviewing the past year, or making their predictions or promises for the upcoming year. To vary that theme a little bit, I created a Library Finds flickr group and uploaded stuff collected by me and my staff in the library since I started working there.

What I've uploaded so far is just a fraction of what we've found. Mostly it is left-behind note paper, and it always amazes me what someone chose to write down, and then either left or forgot. Some of the most common things are:

  • call number and book/movie titles
  • quick math (but not so quick as to be easily worked out in your head)
  • urls (especially craigslist posts)
  • artwork and doodles
  • personal messages or notes to other people
  • signs warning people to stay away from their computer
  • lots of things obviously written by middle-school boys

I'm not uploading anything that seemed personally-identifiable: peoples' first and last names, phone numbers, email addresses, account login and passwords - and there were a frighteningly large number of these.

If you like Found objects, here are some related links. Also please add anything you find in your library to the flickr group - I'll keep adding more whenever I can.

I hope you enjoyed 2009, and that your 2010 is even better.



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Library Word Find Puzzle

   January 22nd, 2009 Brian Herzog

library word find puzzleHere's another way to be interactive with flickr - a cool little find-a-word puzzle.

Check out the puzzle on flickr, log in, and use the Add Note tool to circle words as you find them. Because this is flickr, all the words are either horizontal or vertical, but can be either forwards or backwards.

I put a lot of words in to hopefully let a lot of people play - please only circle a couple words, so everyone can have a chance. All of the hidden words are listed below the image in the description.

I thought this could be a fun thing for libraries to do for their patrons. The puzzle is easy to create (I used a spreadsheet [xls] and print preview - not quite as easy as the library crossword, I admit) and can be made on any theme. I also like that more than one person can work on it, so they can be solved as teams.

I'm actually stealing this idea and modifying it with library words. There are other puzzles on flickr, and where this idea originated will be obvious - but NSFW.



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