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

Reference Question of the Week – 1/15/12

   January 21st, 2012 Brian Herzog

Colored pencilsThis question was short and sweet, and in addition to making me laugh, left me a little confused. A patron walks up to the desk and asks:

Can you show me where the painting books are?

I asked her if she meant books on how to paint, books of paintings by famous artists, or books on painting your house, and she said the how-to books. So I took her to the 751's, and she said that was exactly what she was looking for and would browse for awhile.

I went back to the desk, and maybe five minutes later the patron came back up:

Patron: Those were okay, but not what I was looking for. Can you show me there the books are about painting with pencils?
Me: Oh sure, the drawing books are...
Patron: No, not drawing, I mean painting with colored pencils.

I had no idea what painting with colored pencils could possibly be besides drawing, so I just searched our catalog for colored pencils to see what came up. It wasn't much of a surprise that a lot of drawing books came up, so I took the patron to the 741.2's and actually found a book called Painting light with colored pencil. Again, she said that was exactly what she was looking for, and that she'd look around.

I went back to the desk a little puzzled, as I didn't know why there was a stigma on "drawing."

It must be a thing though, because a little while later the patron stopped by the desk again to thank me. When she did, I noticed she was carrying two more books: Masterful color : vibrant colored pencil paintings layer by layer and Drawing workbook : a complete course in ten lessons. But she left happy, so it was a good day.

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