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


Reference Question of the Week – 9/14/14

   September 21st, 2014 Brian Herzog

This ended up being one of those very rare reference questions where initially it seems like a million-to-one shot, and ends up very casually being that one in a million. This email request came to the reference desk:

Submitted via Chelmsford Library Reference Question.

Comments:
Allan Daniel Clark, from (born\in North Clemsford, MA Born june 19, 1924, Father Shirley John - Mother Lela M. Lord Clark Enlisted in the US Navy on jan 27, 1953 at Boston, MA Lost on the submarine USS Swordfish (SS-193) --- This man's photo is needed for use with his published Memorial record in the set of six volumes of all the known men lost while attached to a US Submarine Command during World War II. Photos may be in local newspapers of school yearbooks, etc.

That sounds like a great project. My library does have a collection of Chelmsford High School yearbooks, but unfortunately it's not complete. And of course, the further back you go, the more gaps there are in the collection.

But by doing some estimation - someone born in 1924 would be 18 in 1942 - I guessed the yearbooks we'd need would be in the 1940-1943 range. According to the catalog that should be no problem, but when I got to the shelf the only one from that period that was actually there was 1942 - not great odds.

Also, it turns out that Chelmsford High only included photos of the seniors in the yearbooks, with other classes only having their names listed.

But, despite the odds, this was indeed the correct yearbook, and Allan Daniel Clark was right there at the bottom of the page:

Allan Daniel Clark in the CHS yearbook

I was rather surprised, but very happy. I emailed the patron some scanned versions of the page, as well as contact information for the High School to see about copyright permission. I felt really good about being able to answer this question, but even still I was expecting the inevitable reply:

Thank you for your efforts on locating photos. For your reference, i am attaching a description of the six volume series.

Although I wish him well with this project, the library will not be purchasing this six volume series.



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Reference Question of the Week – 7/8/07

   July 14th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Chelmsford High School Football PlayersA patron came in and asked a very reasonable question:

Can you show me where you keep the high school yearbooks?

Ahem. You'd think that the public library in any town would have a complete set of the town's high school yearbooks, but here, in Chelmsford, that is not the case, and it has been a pet peeve of mine since I started working here.

We have yearbooks for the years 1944-1951, 1961, 1975, 1982, 1988-1992, 1996, and even though I've been trying to work through contacts at the high school, we still haven't gotten the Class of 2007's yearbook yet. If someone is looking for one we don't have, all I can do is refer them to the school's office, which has a complete set.

However, in this case, the patron had a bit more information. She said a friend of hers told her the school's photographer had pictures up on their website, which you could view of purchase. Huh.

After a bit of digging, we found that Chelmsford High uses Burlington Studio of Photography, which did indeed have online photographs from many schools, including Chelmsford. This find made the patron happy, as she was able to browse around and find a few shots of her son, without having to purchase the entire yearbook.

But it made me wonder, too, about whether all these kids signed waivers for their photos to be published online. And besides, it's really not quite the same, picking and choosing like that, instead of having the complete yearbook. Perhaps I'm just old-fashion; perhaps today kids leave comments on other kids' online profiles, rather than signing their yearbooks.

chelmsford, chs, high school, high school yearbook, high school yearbooks, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, reference question, yearbook, yearbooks



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