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

Reference Question of the Week – 1/31/16

   February 6th, 2016

The.I've said this before and I'll say it again, but I know that sometimes, some things are funny only to me. One day this week, a patron walks up to the desk and says,

Patron: Can you help me find a book? The title is, The [szuunnttz] of Murder.
Me: I'm sorry, what was that first word - "sounds" or "silence?"
Patron: "The."
Me: Um...

And then she set her phone down on the desk and spun it around so I could see the title: The silence of murder, by Dandi Daley Mackall.

Ha. I blame our cataloger for constantly drilling into me to ignore the leading article in a title when typing it into a library catalog. Unfortunately, I can apparently no longer tell the difference between typing a title into a computer and asking a real live patron what the title is. Oh well.

Th good news is that the book was in the catalog, and I showed the patron how to place a request for it, so everyone was happy. Even the patron, who perhaps now thinks I'm an idiot. Oh well. It also made me wonder if patrons have blogs where they share all their stories of crazy interactions with librarians - now that would be interesting.

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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 1/31/16”

  1. JoshR Says:

    I wonder if you could figure out the total number of books published having titles beginning with “The”

    It would be an interesting exercise and a neat piece of smartass librarian trivia.

    “I’m sorry, I meant the second word, there are 47 million published books who’s titles begin with “The” so we librarians tend to filter it out when we’re thinking…”

  2. Emma Says:

    I would read that blog every day!

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @JoshR: According to almost everyone, “oh I’ll just look that up on Amazon.” Ha. But yes, I like that perspective. Your comment also reminds me of a really old post about “the” entries in the phone book.

    @Emma: I would too, and probably cringe every day as well.