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

Reference Question of the Week – 8/2/09

   August 8th, 2009 Brian Herzog

diet booksThis week's question made me feel bad: I don't feel I helped the patron much, but I also don't think there's much he can do.

A kid in his twenties came to the desk and asked for books about losing weight. During the reference interview and process of searching for books, he revealed all kinds of factors working against him:

  • Lives in a group home, and does not have much (if any) control over his food
  • Has epilepsy, so he
    • has a hard time remember things (like what foods to eat)
    • can't use the treadmill in the home
  • The home has a hot tub, but they won't let anyone use it because there is no lifeguard (he told me this after he happened to see a book called The Spa Directory on the shelf
  • Is the youngest person in the home, so
    • no one will hold his feet for situps (he also said there is nothing in his room to put his feet under)
    • when they go for their weekly walks, he has to walk at the pace of the group, which is much slower than his own

Also, this patron is male, and many weight loss books are written specifically for women.

We looked through a lot of books, and ended up with two that were promising:

He was hopeful, especially about the exercises. His group was leaving, but since they come in once a week, I'll see next week how he's doing. In the meantime, I've been trying to find other resources for him, but there really just doesn't seem to be much.

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