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

Reference Question of the Week ¦ 2/23/14

   March 29th, 2014

portable dvd playerAn email question was waiting for me when I got to work Friday morning:

I'm not sure this falls under reference, but we are going on a long family car trip and I was wondering if the library had and lends out portable dvd players for kids to watch in the car? Thank you for any information.

Of course, I think everything falls under reference, so I thought this was a good question. However, I knew right off that we don't have any portable DVD players like this - although it sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing for a library circulate.

We share our Evergreen catalog with 35 other libraries, so it was easy of me to find out if any nearby libraries did in fact have them. Very easy, in fact - our catalog offers an "Equipment/Toys" Item Type limiter, and a search for "dvd player" with that limiter produced six matches.

Although not all were perfect matches. I read through the catalog records to make sure they were portable DVD players with a screen, not the kind you connect to your television. Some of the records contained model numbers, which made this verification easy.

I noticed though, that none of the records contained "policy" information - like, could non-residents borrow them, how long do they circulate, etc. A call to the owning library quickly answer that question. Oh, that was the other great thing - the owning library was just two towns over from us. Yay, Groton Library!

My email back to the patron explained that I had found some nearby, but that she'd have to go there to pick them up. I wasn't sure when she was leaving, so I sent her their website, directions, and hours, as well as their phone number in case she questions about the devices. I never got a reply, so I hope that helped her out and they have a good trip.

More about the Equipment/Toys limiter, and what lies within

I've known about the Equipment/Toys limiter since it was implemented, but really don't use it very often (this might be my second time, in fact). So I got curious just what other "equipment/toys" libraries in our consortium offer. Evergreen allows "termless" search, and doing that returned 575 total results - here are the results for different keyword searches:

Skimming these records felt like I was going through the library's basement - all the unusual stuff we don't use often ends up here. I'm guessing a lot of it is in-library-use-only, but still, I found this very interesting to see what other libraries offer.

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