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


The Christmas Tree of Knowledge

   December 20th, 2011 Brian Herzog

My sister-in-law takes my niece to their library frequently, and last week she texted me this photo:

Christmas tree made of green books

This is in the Sandusky (OH) Library (where I grew up), and I think it's great. Slightly less massive than this one, and it makes me wonder if the staff marked all those volumes as "Display" in their catalog.

Anyway, this also serves as my annual "don't expect to hear from me for awhile" Christmas post - hopefully when I'm visiting my family in Ohio, I'll be able to stop into the Sandusky Library and check out their tree. Happy Holidays everyone.



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Reference Question of the Week – 10/23/11

   October 29th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Shadow of a witch on a treeI don't know if this question was Halloween-related or a coincidence. A patron came up to the desk, slid me a piece of paper with "manningtree" written on it, and said,

Can you tell me where this tree is? It's the tree in Chelmsford where they used to hang witches.

I've never heard of this, and it's definitely the kind of thing would have stuck with me. But, we're not too far from Salem, MA, and Chelmsford was founded forty years before the witch trial era, so I suppose it's possible.

I searched online for manning tree chelmsford, and one of the results is a downloadable book titled Trial Of Manningtree Witches In Chelmsford 1645.

At first I'm shocked that this is something I've missed, but from the description I learn that this book is about some accused witches from Manningtree, England, and their trial that took place in Chelmsford, England. Ah, now it makes sense (someone confuses us with the Chelmsford in England about once a month). I explained this to the patron, and although he was disappointed, he wanted to read about this book online, so I pulled it up on one of the public computers for him.

Interestingly, one of the other search results was for Manning Tree & Landscape in Boxborough, MA, a few towns over from Chelmsford. This is probably be Google trying to be location-aware, but I did think it was a funny coincidence. Happy Halloween, everyone.



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