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

Reference Question of the Week – 9/20/09

   September 26th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Middle School TextbooksOne service my library offers, that makes me absurdly happy, is that we have a collection of the textbooks used in the local middle schools.

I think it's a valuable community-based resource. If a kid forgets his book at school, the family can still come to the library up until 9pm so the student can do his reading, photocopy his assignment pages, whatever.

And they're very heavily used. I wonder if people consider them a homework last-resort (which they are in my mind), or if families who come to the library often just count on using them and so the kids always leave their books at school.

In either case, a woman and her son came to the desk this week and asked for the seventh grade history text book. No problem, I gave it to the boy, and they went off and photocopied what they needed. But when they brought the book back, the mom asked:

Patron: Do you have the workbook that goes with this?
Me: [checking the shelf] No, it looks like just that textbook.
Patron: Well, his older brother was in this class last year, and the teacher kept handing out homework assignments from a little workbook.
Me: Oh, sometimes textbooks come with teacher supplements, but those are only for the teacher.
Patron: I just thought that if you could get all the homework for us, I could have his older brother just do them all right now, so this one can just turn them in when they're due instead of having to work on them during vacations and weekends.

I'm not a parent, but if I ever become a parent, I never want to be this kind of parent.

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Reference Question of the Week – 8/23/09

   August 29th, 2009 Brian Herzog

baby carrierOn their way to the bathroom, lots of patrons will ask if they can leave their books or whatever on the Reference Desk.

Generally, this is no problem, although if the item is something the patron owns, we do tell them we can't be responsible for it.

So imagine my surprise when a patron walked up with an infant in a baby carrier and asked if he could leave her there while "took a squirt."

I said no.

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