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Reference Question of the Week – 7/11/10

   July 17th, 2010

CT Lottery LogoThis reference interaction was kind of a double-edged sword. A patron walked up to the desk and asked,

Can you look up some lottery numbers for me? I have two tickets from Connecticut, one from April and one from May.

I don't play the lottery myself, so looking up numbers is an unknown world to me. But looking up numbers for an out-of-state lottery, for tickets that are a few months old, seemed a bit like a long-shot.

I searched Google for "ct lottery" and the Connecticut State Lottery website was the first result. Happily, it must have been designed by someone who knows what people want, because their navigation bar included a "Winning Numbers" section with links to Numbers Archive, Numbers By Date, Numbers By Game, and Numbers History. I clicked Numbers By Date, entered each of the numbers for his tickets, and found (not too surprisingly) that the tickets he had weren't winners.

I told him I was sorry he didn't win, which was true, but at the same time I was feeling pretty self-satisfied. Not only did this seem like a daunting question that got answered clickety-click, but I thought it would also make a great reference question of the week. But my smugness was cut short when the patron said,

Oh well, thanks for looking. I've been out of work for months, and when I found these tickets while looking for loose change in the car, I had to give them a try. I've got to feed my family somehow.

Ever since the recession started, I keep hearing news reports about (and seeing first-hand) how libraries are helping unemployed people get back on their feet. In addition to job searching, resume writing, networking, books and databases, I guess we can also add "lottery number lookup" to the list of resources we offer.

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2 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 7/11/10”

  1. An example of a good reference blog post (to me) and my overall vision « supports an active, informed community Says:

    […] 2010 in reference | by informedcommunity Its right here, at Swiss Army Librarian, where he takes an anonymous patron’s questions and shows how he works through it to find the resources (this time on the web) and the answer the […]

  2. Victoria Says:

    I’ve heard of someone – second- to third-hand – who collects the betting stubs dropped at race tracks and checks them at the payout machines, making enough off of this to consider it his fulltime job…