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

Reference Question of the Week – 6/29/08

   July 5th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Number One BirthdayI really like answering reference questions using print resources. But I also get just as much satisfaction answering a question using a tool I read about on someone's blog.

In honor of the Fourth of July this year, a patron was doing off-beat research into things that have happened on July 4ths past, to develop a trivia game for his cookout.

I knew of plenty of "in this day in history" type resources, but he had already found a lot of that kind of information. Happily, I remembered reading a library's blog post mentioning a website listing #1 songs for a given day in history.

With just two clicks, we had a list of the Billboard #1 song for July 4th for the past 100+ years. The patron was very happy with this, and proceeded to our CD collection to get as many July 4th #1 songs as he could to use as music for his party. It's rare to see a patron walk away giddy, but this was one of those times.

This website will also be handy with a annual cub scout project. To earn one of their merit badges, the scouts have to find out what happened on the day they were born. Not that knowing the #1 song will make them better scouts, but it does add a fun new dimension to the project.

Also, I would like to point out that in my birth year of 1974, the #1 song was "Rock the Boat" by The Hues Corporation. That's a good song title for a holiday celebrating revolution and independence (even if that's not what the song's about).

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