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

Reference Question of the Week – 7/20/08

   July 26th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Beijing 2008 Stamp mockupThis reference question is just funny. A coworker and I were sitting at the desk when the phone rang. She answered it, so I only heard her half of the conversation:

My coworker: Reference desk.
[a few seconds of silence]
My coworker: No, I'm not.
[a few seconds of silence]
My coworker: Sorry, no, I don't.
[a long time of silence]
My coworker: Well, I'm not sure. I don't think there is actually a list, that anybody keeps. Maybe you could put an ad in the paper?
[a few seconds, then the patron hangs up]

After the call, my coworker turns to me, smiling, to fill me in. Apparently, the patron first asked if she, my coworker, was going to the Olympics in China later this year. When she said no, the patron asked if she knew of anyone who was going.

With my coworker answering no to that as well, the patron explained her question. Apparently China is issuing special postage stamps for the Olympic summer games. The patron's grandson collects stamps, so the patron was looking for someone who was going to Beijing for the games and could mail him a postcard with one of the special Olympic stamps affixed.

Which is a very nice thing to do, but I'm not sure why she thought the library maintained a list of people going to the Olympics. I thought the suggestion of putting an ad in the newspaper was a pretty good one - you never know who responds to newspaper ads, but it just might work.

In looking for a picture of the stamp in question, I found a few websites that might interest philatelists:

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