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

Reference Question of the Week – 12/8/13

   December 14th, 2013 Brian Herzog

girl scout communication badgeHere's hoping I can crowd-source a reference question to help someone. I received the following message through the contact form on this website:

OK, this is my final attempt to research something. I'm going to pass it to you and then hopefully let it go! My mother died two years ago, Dec. 29th at the age of 91. We had a wonderful final six years together when I moved her to live in a small single floor house right across the street from me. We were great friends, always. (Well, maybe not in my tantrum throwing years) She told me of a saying she learned when she was a girl scout, of all places, that she was able to rattle-off with great speed until the day she died. If I had asked her, she could have made it the last humorous comment of her life. I am so haunted by it because I CAN'T find it anywhere on-line. I only remember bits of it. Now I'm going to see if YOU can research it! It HAD to have existed. Someone else MUST have known it, too. It was a humorous collection of "almost" cuss phrases. See what you can do with this pitiful hint: "son of a biscuit basket cheese and crackers got damp down in the (cellar overnight)" It was longer than that, and my quote may be flawed, after all, I am 67!! My memory is cruddy!! I always meant to write down this whole litany or memorize it, but never did. Do you think you can research it for me? It would help put this aggravating issue to rest in my own brain. Thanks.

I've certainly heard "naughty" rhymes like this, and when I searched online for variations of the key phrases, I did find a few that sounded familiar - though a bit ruder and not quite like what the person quoted.

I found a couple that are close, but don't seem as long as she was looking for:

So, are there any girl scouts out there that know this rhyme?

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Great Video to Help Raise Money for a Library

   March 26th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Just a quick post to share this great video, in case you haven't seen it already: the M. N. Spear Library in the Western Massachusetts town of Shutesbury put it together to help raise money for a new building.

[video link]

Whether or not you donate is up to you, but I thought this was an excellent example of a library being creative with new media: the video is great, they're encouraging sharing it, they involved their patrons, and it's fun.

Update 3/27/12:
Speaking of great library videos, I hope you've seen this one too:

[video link]

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The Librarian Song on The Red Green Show

   February 29th, 2012 Brian Herzog

I can't believe I forgot about this song - the Red Green Show is one of my all-time favorites.

[video link]

Happy Leap Day, everyone.

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Reference Question of the Week – 4/4/10

   April 10th, 2010 Brian Herzog

CastleI haven't done a good, old fashioned, "look it up on the internet" type reference question in awhile, so this was kind of fun. A patron asked,

What was the name of the song they played at the end of Castle this week?

I actually like Castle*, but hadn't seen the episode yet because I watch it online instead of on television. So, the first step was to get the name of the episode by looking up Castle on Hulu.com ("Wrapped up in Death" aired on 4/5).

Next we searched the internet for "Wrapped up in Death" castle song to see if anyone else was talking about this song. One of the results, heardontv.com, was exactly what we needed - it even described the scene when the song was played. According to that website, the song was "Love Is Endless" by Mozella.

The final step was to search for this song on YouTube just to make sure it was the right one. It was, so the patron was happy.

A video of the song is below, but I warn you: it's catchy, and will likely get stuck in your head. I noticed the patron was humming it when he left twenty minutes later.


*And it humors me to no end that my library actually shelves Richard Castle books.

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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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