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


Reference Question of the Week – 2/15/2015

   February 21st, 2015 Brian Herzog

shoveled drivewayThis question just happened this morning, and my coworker asked me about it before she gave the patron an answer.

Perhaps you've heard that New England is getting an unusually large amount of snow this year? This patron called in and said that her driveway had been clear, but some plow truck went by and now a large pile of snow was blocking both her driveway and mailbox. She was out at the time, and by the time she got home it was frozen and she couldn't pull into her driveway.

My coworker said she sounded like an older woman, and apparently her husband normally clears the driveway, but he's away this weekend. So, she left her car on the extra-narrow-because-of-the-snow street, climb over the pile, got into her house, and called us. My coworker took down her phone number and asked me what we could do for her.

I'm always happy when people think to call the library, but some of the things people call us about surprises me.

In this case, I think the best we could do was:

  • Give her the non-emergency phone number for the Police Department, to let them know her car was on the street. Hopefully this would prevent any kind of ticket, and perhaps the Police had additional ways to help her
  • Give her the number for the Highway Department, who is responsible for clearing the streets. They don't have office hours on the weekends, but if she needed to complain about street snow being pushed where it shouldn't be, they are the people to notify

Unfortunately, I don't think there's much else to do. Notifying the Police should help, but I don't think the Town is going to make a special trip to clear her driveway. Being blocked in by the plow is just part of winter, but perhaps her situation was particularly unnecessary.

I've noticed quite a few impromptu "call us to shovel" signs nailed to utility poles around Town, so between those and the kindness of neighbors, hopefully she can get her driveway clear again - until the next storm hits, anyway.



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Reference Question of the Week – 1/25/15

   January 31st, 2015 Brian Herzog

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about New England snow storms by now (I certainly am), but by far the most common question I heard this week was, "Brian, how much snow did you get at your house?"

Well, this is how much:

2015-01-blizzard-yardstick

Which is to say, more than a lot, but I stopped counting. Granted, this is next to my driveway so some of it is piled up from shoveling, but still a lot. And more coming this weekend.

And for the fun of it, I tried to make the yardstick as close to actual size as I could:

2015-01-blizzard-yardstick-actual

So, if you'd like to get the full Brian's Driveway Experience, just print out that image and hold it up next to you. Or, I am accepting volunteers to help come shovel after the next storm.



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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Open Source

   May 17th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Looking for a way to learn more about using open source tools in your library? Sure, we all are. Have I got a program for you...

One committees I'm on is the Information Technology Section of the New England Library Association. In addition to going to the meetings and sponsoring sessions at NELA's annual conference, we're also planning the NELA-ITS Spring Program, called "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Open Source."

This program is being held Wednesday, June 6, 2007, at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, in Boylston, MA. I'm looking forward to going, both for the program itself and because I've heard Tower Hill is a great place to spend a nice day outside.

More about the program:

Program Schedule:
9:30 Registration and Breakfast
10:00 Opening Session - Elizabeth Thomsen, North of Boston Library Exchange
11:00 Break
11:15 Koha Open Source ILS - Joshua Ferraro, Liblime
12:15 Lunch
1:00 Running Linux Applications in a Public Library - Randy Robertshaw, Tyngsboro Public Library
1:55 Flavors of Linux (Ubuntu and more!) - Wes Hamilton, Technology Coordinator, Western MA Regional Library System
2:40 Q & A with our panel of speakers
3:30 Program ends

Cost: NELA Members - $40 Non-members - $50

More details and online registration is available, but feel free to ask me any questions you might have, too.

Going to various committee meetings is okay, but I really enjoy getting off the desk and out of the library to find out what other librarians are doing and how they handle the same issues I see in my own library. This program will be great for that - maybe I'll see you there.

Elizabeth Thomsen, ils, information technology section, Joshua Ferraro, Koha, koha, Liblime, libraries, library, linux, Linux in a Public Library, nela, nela-ite, nela-its, new england, new england library association, open source, Open Source ILS, public libraries, public library, Randy Robertshaw, spring program, tower hill, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, tower hill botanical gardens, Ubuntu, Wes Hamilton



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