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

Reference Question of the Week ¦ 10/13/13

   October 19th, 2013

shutdown signIt's not very often that I get to answer a reference question by honestly saying, "no one in the world knows the answer to that," but thanks to the recent shutdown of the Federal Government, I got to do exactly that.

On Tuesday afternoon this week, the phone rang and the patron asked me this question:

Brian, can you tell me when the Government shutdown will end?

She was disappointed when I told her there wasn't an answer to that question, but I did go out on a limb and predict it would probably be settled by Thursday - and it was!

I would say that I was shocked and amused that anyone would call a library to ask this (and think we'd know the answer), but this particular patron is legally disabled, and I'm guessing there are services she relies on that were affected, so this wasn't just an idle question for her. Did anyone else get shutdown-related questions over the last couple weeks?

Happily it's over, and hopefully we won't go through it all again in January - otherwise, I'll still give out the same answer: "no one knows!"

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