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

Reference Question of the Week – 4/13/08

   April 19th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Motel Senior Discount signAn elderly patron called and said she looking for a list of senior discounts. The library does not maintain such a list, so I told her I'd do some searching and call her back. She then said that she was coming to the library in an hour, and I should have it ready by then.

So, with that time limit in mind, I started searching. My first stops were the AARP website and the local Senior Center. AARP did list member benefits, but because this is a national organization, they were all very general - too bad there isn't a "search by zip code" feature.

And sadly, the Senior Center's website wasn't much help either. They did have a list of available services, but it didn't include discounts. I know they'd be the best resource for this, though, so I gave them a call and explained what I was looking for. The woman I spoke with said they didn't have such a list either, and the only discount she could think of was that the Town gives seniors a break on their water bill - and that I should try the AARP website.

From there I searched the internet, but was surprised I couldn't find very much:

When the patron arrived, I didn't have much for her. She did like the idea of printing online coupons, because most of those websites (from the last bullet point above) allow you to search by zip code. But, not being computer-savvy herself, she said she and her daughter would go through them later. And not being computer-savvy, she did not at all enjoy this other AARP membership benefits interface.

I gave her the phone numbers for the Senior Center and the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, which is another senior-focused group in the area. When I mentioned AARP, she said that she thought she remembered getting some kind of list from them, so there was potential there, too.

In the end, even though I wasn't able to give her what she asked for, she was very nice and made me feel like I made her day. I took down her name and number and told her I'd call her if I found anything else, so if anyone knows of a resource I missed, please share in the comments. Thanks.

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