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


Reference Question of the Week – 2/24/13

   March 2nd, 2013 Brian Herzog

Library Emergency PhoneThis sort of happened once before, and I think it's awesome - although it probably wasn't very awesome to experience.

One member of our staff recently took a two-week cruise, leaving from Florida. She and her partner flew to Florida, took a shuttle from the airport to the dock, and were just about to get on the boat when the realized one of their suitcases was missing. But worst of all, it was the suitcase that contained his blood pressure medicine.

They simply could not go on the cruise without it. And they only had an hour and a half before they had to check in on the ship, so they didn't have enough time to get all the way back to the airport and try to track down the bag.

So, she did the only smart thing - she called the library.

Her logic was this: they knew the name of his doctor and the town in which he practiced, but no other contact information. The Reference Desk was able to easily find the doctor's office phone number, which she then called from her cell phone in Florida.

The doctor's office said they could send a new prescription to a local pharmacy down there - but of course they were at a cruise ship terminal and had no idea where a drug store might be.

The ensuing story sounded like the stuff of a Benny Hill sketch: they found a taxi, but the driver barely spoke English. He tried to locate a CVS Pharmacy on his smartphone's GPS, while my coworker tried to keep the doctor's office on the phone. I can just hear Yakety Sax playing while picturing this cab racing down the street, cell phones blazing, communication barrier humming, and the clock ticking.

They finally find a pharmacy, (hopefully) convince the cabbie to wait in the parking lot because they'll be right back out and need to race back to the dock - my coworker still has the doctor's office on the phone and gives it to the pharmacy technician so they can work out where to send the prescription.

After a few tense minutes the new prescription is filled, the smiling taxi driver is happily waiting for them, and they make it back to the cruise ship just in the nick of time. The rest of the cruise goes smoothly, they have a wonderful time, and they even manage to pick up their lost suitcase on their way back through the airport going home.

And the moral of this story? Never go on vacation without taking your local library's phone number with you.



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Reference Question of the Week – 6/24/12

   June 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Child reading in a carSince school ended and the weather has been nice, the reference desk has been pretty slow. Most of the requests we've had have been to help kids find school summer reading books - but this one was a little different.

A woman came up to the desk carrying a couple YA books. She was obviously in a hurry, and I think because she was trying to rush, it took me a bit to actually figure out what she was asking* - it turned out, she had found on the shelf books three and four in the Rangers Apprentice series, and wanted to know if we had books one and two checked in.

I searched the catalog, but unfortunately books one and two were checked out. When I offered to place a hold on them for her, she said,

No, my son wants to read these on our vacation but we're leaving right now and the kids are in the car in the parking lot and I have to go.

And she turned and literally ran away from the desk and up the stairs to the circulation desk.

Ha. When I go on a road trip, my last stop before hitting the road is usually the gas station - awesome that that someone's point of departure is filling up on books.

 


*Initially, she asked me if we had any "earlier editions of this book." However, she didn't offer to show me what book she was talking about, and then when I tried to clarify if she actually was looking for an earlier edition of that book, or if she wanted the earlier books in the series, she seemed to take offense. I wasn't trying to be a jerk, just make sure of what she was really after - but I think she viewed me as just dead weight slowing her down at that point.



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