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

Reference Question of the Week – 3/5/17

   March 11th, 2017

wire hangerI'm at work on a Saturday covering our "Info Desk," which is kind of like a mini-Reference Desk right inside the front door.

During my lunch today, one of my coworkers from the real Reference Desk relayed an interesting interaction she had this morning:

A guy came up and said he was locked out of his car. I asked if he wanted to call AAA or something, but he just asked if we had a wire coat hanger.

I said I thought that didn't work on new cars, but he said he thought he knew a trick and wanted to try it.

So I went into the lunch room and found the one wire hanger we had on the rack*, and I gave it to him. And it must have worked, because I saw him a little later and he just gave me the thumbs-up.

Ha, that made me laugh. I think I'd be a little uncomfortable giving a patron a hanger, but I'm sure I've given out worse. My three favorite things about this are:

  1. he thought to ask the library for something (even something unusual)
  2. we were able to give it to him (even though it was unusual)
  3. and his life was better off for it (or so the thumbs-up seems to imply)

And even better, now this patron has a great "guess what happened to me today at the library!" story to tell people. Nice.


*By the way, she had just dumped everything that was hung on this hanger onto the nearest chair. Me asking her, "why is all this crap on my chair?" is what prompted her telling me this story in the first place.

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4 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 3/5/17”

  1. Jen Says:

    Hopefully it was his own car that he successfully broke into!

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Jen: I was kind of wondering the same thing, but no reports of stolen cars, so I think we’re in the clear.

  3. Emma Says:

    This is excellent! I think it’s a great example of your library’s “Yes” policy. Instead of thinking or saying “Lending out hangers isn’t something that we do” (which is probably what would have happened at my library, sadly) the librarian asked herself “Is there any reason NOT to provide this service?”

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Emma: you’re absolutely right, and I do like when this happens. We have a shredder in the office that isn’t available to patrons, but of course if any patrons asks if we have a shredder I say yes. There’s lots of little opportunities like this all over the library – I never would have guessed someone would ask for a hanger though.