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

Reference Question of the Week – 2/12/12

   February 18th, 2012

Terracotta WarriorsThis reference question happened in our Childrens Room one night, which makes it all the more humorous.

An adult patron went to the Childrens Desk looking for information on the terracotta warriors of China, for a short college paper. The reason she was in the Childrens Room is that the entire sixth grade in my town does an ancient civilizations project, so there is a lot of material up there. However, the terracotta warriors are a popular topic with the kids, and as a consequence of an entire grade working on one project, there wasn't a single book on the shelf that would help this patron.

Which apparently is how this patron's semester was going. She was only taking this particular class because the student loan she was granted required her to take at least two courses - even though she needed just one more to graduate. She took this one thinking it would be an easy elective. However, it had been a lot tougher than she expected, and was actually bringing down her overall GPA - for a course she didn't want or need. So then, when there was nothing in the library to help with her project, her stress level shot up.

But the Childrens Librarian didn't give up, and turned to our databases. While searching Gale's World History in Context, they found an article with this headline:

Topless terra-cotta warriors attract tourists*

She said they laughed so loud that someone from the Circulation Desk came in to see what all the commotion was about.

Contrary to where my mind went, it turns out the topless figures were male, "wearing skirts but topless for performing arts and skills."

After a ten-year excavation and research, archaeologists found that the player figures, quite different from the combat figures discovered before, wore no armors or helmets but gestured for entertaining the royal circle, such as dancing, wrestling and performing acrobatics.

The patron's stress and tension was immediately gone, and although she still had to write the paper, she was now looking forward to it. The Childrens Librarian said the patron couldn't wait to share her findings with the rest of the class.

So, score another one for librarians helping someone in need - and perhaps even saving this patron's GPA.


*"Topless terra-cotta warriors attract tourists to inland." Xinhua News Agency 6 Jan. 2012. Gale World History In Context. Web. 18 Feb. 2012.

The article is also on the free web, in case you don't have the Gale database.

Tags: , , , , , ,

One Response to “Reference Question of the Week – 2/12/12”

  1. ksol Says:

    Why does that sound like a bad spam email subject line? 😉