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

Punk Rock Librarians

   August 20th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Punk Rock BrianIn July, Library Journal featured an article that compared libraries and punk rock, as an intro to a bibliography of books on punk music.

I liked the idea, and also enjoyed a follow-up post on The Contrarian, further exploring the similarities between libraries and what it means to be punk.

I do certainly see (and feel) the similarities each points out, and both posts are worth reading. Librarians know what is important to us and the profession, and if something threatens it, we have our own ways of pushing back - but I would like more push-back in certain areas.

And even though there is a stereotyped look for punks and librarians, there are certainly plenty of librarians who break that mold.

Incidentally, the photo is of me from the not-too-distant past. What can I say? I am a rocker. I rock out.

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Reference Question of the Week – 5/3/09

   May 9th, 2009 Brian Herzog

mystery rockThis question didn't come from a library patron - it came from my brother. He found a weird rock in his yard and emailed me pictures to see if I could help him identify it.

I don't know very much about rocks, but I looked through our rock identification books trying to match it to the pictures. I also tried looking online, and found lots of rock and mineral identification websites, but couldn't find anything that looked exactly like it.

It turns out, rock identification is more more involved than I would have thought. With plants, birds, trees, etc., a good field guide is enough. But with rocks, you need to determine the hardness, the composition, the luster, the cleavage, and more, and still an ID is not certain.

Since I was striking out, I did the only thing I could think of: ask someone smarter than me. I sent the photos I had to friends of mine who work as naturalists, and I posted the photos on PicAnswers.com.

PicAnswers.com is a question-and-answer website, but instead of just posting a question, you post a photograph of something you need identified. I had never used it before, but posting this this mystery rock was a perfect opportunity to try it out.

Only one person responded, but he identified it as Calcite, which is what my naturalists friends thought it was, too. Having the same answer coming from multiple sources is good, but when I looked up Calcite in our books and online, it doesn't really look like the rock my brother found - which shows why actually knowing what you're talking about is important.

If you've never used PicAnswers.com before, check it out. Some of the photos people post - everything from antique tools to skin blemishes - are bizarre but interesting.

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