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


Reference Question of the Week – 7/10/11

   July 16th, 2011 Brian Herzog

NO Stairway to Heaven signThis question made me laugh - partly because it is so odd, and partly because it's not the first request like this that we've had.

We received the following email from a patron with a Subject of "Request for a room" (I edited it a little for clarity):

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Request for a room

I would like to do some recordings with my guitar and voice (moderate volume) using a hand held recorder. I am currently working on a set of folk songs. Is there a isolated room in the Chelmsford Library where I could record during my weekday lunch hour?

One of my coworkers had a good response:

"isolated room" and public library - not a good combo.

We don't have anything in the library that is even close to being sound-proof enough so that his guitar playing wouldn't be heard by other patrons. Which may or may not actually bother people, but I would feel bad telling him yes, then having someone complain after he got all set up and going and then making him stop.

So the staff came up with a list of alternative potential places around town that might be able to handle this, including the local community center, performing arts center, and even the local cable television station (which at least has actual studios).

We sent a message back saying the library couldn't accommodate his request, and referring him to the list of other places we came up with. I haven't heard back if he found somewhere to go, but it would seem to lend some folk-cred if you record your album in a public library.

I do always feel bad when we reach a limit on how we can accommodate people, but at the same time it makes me happy that people continue to think of the library for just about anything.



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Reference Question of the Week – 6/29/08

   July 5th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Number One BirthdayI really like answering reference questions using print resources. But I also get just as much satisfaction answering a question using a tool I read about on someone's blog.

In honor of the Fourth of July this year, a patron was doing off-beat research into things that have happened on July 4ths past, to develop a trivia game for his cookout.

I knew of plenty of "in this day in history" type resources, but he had already found a lot of that kind of information. Happily, I remembered reading a library's blog post mentioning a website listing #1 songs for a given day in history.

With just two clicks, we had a list of the Billboard #1 song for July 4th for the past 100+ years. The patron was very happy with this, and proceeded to our CD collection to get as many July 4th #1 songs as he could to use as music for his party. It's rare to see a patron walk away giddy, but this was one of those times.

This website will also be handy with a annual cub scout project. To earn one of their merit badges, the scouts have to find out what happened on the day they were born. Not that knowing the #1 song will make them better scouts, but it does add a fun new dimension to the project.

Also, I would like to point out that in my birth year of 1974, the #1 song was "Rock the Boat" by The Hues Corporation. That's a good song title for a holiday celebrating revolution and independence (even if that's not what the song's about).



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Alice In Wonderland, The Music Video

   May 27th, 2008 Brian Herzog

I read on Boing Boing recently that someone remixed scenes from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland into a music video. It's touchy whenever anyone alters or reinvents a favorite book, but I do like creativity:



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