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

Reference Question of the Week – 10/18/09

   October 24th, 2009 Brian Herzog

flagpoleOn my drive in to work this past Thursday, I noticed the Fire Stations in town had the American Flag flying at half-mast. I wondered why, but forgot about it by the time I got to the library.

Shortly after we opened, someone walked up to the desk said he saw some Flags at half-mast, and asked why the Library's Flag wasn't. No one on staff knew, so I went online looking for some kind of government Flag-flying website. I found all kinds of useful resources.

I didn't find any government proclamation lowering the Flag that day, but I did find a few half-mast calendars, as well as many flag companies that offer email notification reminders of when to lower the Flag:

Flag Flying Calendars & Notifications

It was also interesting (to me) to read about when the Flag could be flown at half-mast. Lots of pages offered general information, including the Flag Code:

General Flag Information

However, none of this answered my question about why some Flags in town had been lowered and some hadn't. I called the Town Manager's office, to see if they knew of (or had issued) a proclamation, but they were as puzzled as I.

So I called the Fire Department, since it was Fire Station Flags I had seen lowered. The person I spoke with there said the Stations lowered their Flags because a former Fire Chief had died, and they were honoring him.

Okay, so that answers that question. I'm not sure this is permitted under the Flag Code, but I wasn't going to push it. In researching this, I did learn that it was okay to put a black ribbon on a Flag to mourn someone's death (or when a fixed Flag can't be lowered), which I hadn't known.

And being the person I am, my favorite finds of the day were Flag Code Violations in the News and American Flag Wall of Shame, which detail prominent gaffs of people who really should have known better.

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iWish: Airport Public Library

   August 21st, 2007 Brian Herzog

Airplanes on runway at CLEI flew to Ohio this weekend to spend time with my family. I brought a book to read on the plane, but my mom asked if I could leave it with her so she could read it.

This leaves me with no book for the return back, which got me thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a library for airports? I could go into the CLE branch and check out a book, read it on the plane, and then return it to the MHT branch when I landed.

I know the logistics would be difficult, and this is certainly an idea that could not sustain itself today, but I still think it would be nice.

Of course, I could always just buy a book - or better yet, find a BookCrossing in the terminal.

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