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

Reference Question of the Week – 8/19/07

   August 25th, 2007 Brian Herzog
Boston Herald logoVS.
Mass.gov logo

This question is more interesting to me for the resource it turned up than for the question itself...

A coworker and I were both at the reference desk when a patron walked up and asked,

Can you find a list of what all state employees are paid?

Since there were two of us there, we both started looking, each in our own way.

My Approach
I started with a Google search à la state employee payroll site:mass.gov (I've been getting a lot of mileage out of Google's "site:" search ever since I learned about it). However, even with trying different keywords, I wasn't getting anywhere.

My Coworker's Approach
My coworker just did an open Google search for Massachusetts State Employee Payroll, and found an amazing website with the first result. Apparently, the Boston Herald provides all of this information in a neat little searchable payroll database.

The patron was very pleased with that, and with the speedy turnaround. And we all had a good time looking up a few people.

However, feeling like this was the fast-food version of the answer, I still went back to Mass.gov to see if I could verify the information from an official source. I spent about twenty minutes over the course of the rest of the day looking, but never did find it.

I'm sure with a few phone calls or emails, I could have turned it up, but it's amazing how much better secondary sources are sometimes than the obvious primary resource.

boston herald, libraries, library, ma, mass.gov, massachusetts, payroll, public libraries, public library, reference question, state employees

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