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

Reference Question of the Week – 4/8/12

   April 14th, 2012

The Tick animated TV characterThis reference question marks the unofficial start of blood-borne pathogen season:

A patron called Monday morning and said he had been bitten by a tick Sunday while hiking, and wanted to have it tested for Lyme Disease.

He knew he could mail it to UMass-Amherst for testing, but wanted to know if there was a more local testing facility, so he could get results quicker. I didn't know of anything, so before consulting our Town's Board of Health, I just searched for tick testing massachusetts to see what came up.

The first result was a Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services listing of the testing services they trust - perfect. Only one was closer than UMass, but still not close enough for him to drop it off. It was $20 per tick, as opposed to the $40 UMass charges, and although the patron liked the cheaper price, he decided to go with UMass. They do their testing on Tuesday, so if he overnighted it, he'd get results quickly - besides, he said, he had already filled out the envelope before he called me.

Before we hung up, I offered to contact our local Board of Health to see if they knew of any services in the immediate area. He said they already did - it was they that told him about the testing at UMass, and they also referred him to the library if he wanted to look for more.

Ha. It makes me laugh when the resource I would consider the authority on a subject refers people to the library. It's always good to check multiple sources, but referral-looping like that makes me feel like I'm missing something.

And on another note: it's only April, and the ticks are already out in force and biting. Man, it's going to be a long summer.

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One Response to “Reference Question of the Week – 4/8/12”

  1. Jennifer Wharton Says:

    Okaaaay, I never realized this was a thing other libraries went through. Have never forgotten the day I came out of our workroom in time to hear an elderly (and rather deaf) gentleman shout “and when I woke up there was ticks all over my pillow and blood in my hair.” He wanted ID too – but he also described, in nauseating detail, the ticks’ *ahem* interactions with him. Ewwwww.