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Reference Question of the Week – 2/15/2015

   February 21st, 2015

shoveled drivewayThis question just happened this morning, and my coworker asked me about it before she gave the patron an answer.

Perhaps you've heard that New England is getting an unusually large amount of snow this year? This patron called in and said that her driveway had been clear, but some plow truck went by and now a large pile of snow was blocking both her driveway and mailbox. She was out at the time, and by the time she got home it was frozen and she couldn't pull into her driveway.

My coworker said she sounded like an older woman, and apparently her husband normally clears the driveway, but he's away this weekend. So, she left her car on the extra-narrow-because-of-the-snow street, climb over the pile, got into her house, and called us. My coworker took down her phone number and asked me what we could do for her.

I'm always happy when people think to call the library, but some of the things people call us about surprises me.

In this case, I think the best we could do was:

  • Give her the non-emergency phone number for the Police Department, to let them know her car was on the street. Hopefully this would prevent any kind of ticket, and perhaps the Police had additional ways to help her
  • Give her the number for the Highway Department, who is responsible for clearing the streets. They don't have office hours on the weekends, but if she needed to complain about street snow being pushed where it shouldn't be, they are the people to notify

Unfortunately, I don't think there's much else to do. Notifying the Police should help, but I don't think the Town is going to make a special trip to clear her driveway. Being blocked in by the plow is just part of winter, but perhaps her situation was particularly unnecessary.

I've noticed quite a few impromptu "call us to shovel" signs nailed to utility poles around Town, so between those and the kindness of neighbors, hopefully she can get her driveway clear again - until the next storm hits, anyway.

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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 2/15/2015”

  1. Mary Ellen Says:

    My town (Melrose) has, on the Mayor’s blog, a list of names and numbers of high school students who are willing to shovel snow — prices and such negotiable. Maybe your city has something similar?

    Or, if your town uses the SeeClickFix site/app, or something like it, there might be a way to request shoveling help that way. Or there’s this, maybe? http://neighborsforneighbors.org/page/snowcrew

  2. JoshR Says:

    Around here (MN) a number of the local cities have programs to assist seniors with household chores, including snow shoveling. We keep the phone numbers for such programs in our store of general local info because people do seem to call the library for assistance with such things.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Mary Ellen: Chelmsford does use SeeClickFix, which is actually something we suggested but I just forgot to include in the post. I’m not sure if the patron had a computer, but we certainly could have entered a ticket for her over the phone.

    I don’t know if, like you and @JoshR suggest, there is a list of local people or groups that can help, but that is a wonderful idea. I will definitely check with the Town Hall and Senior Center to see if such a thing exists here – because if we don’t, we certainly should.