From: "Flanagan, Kimberly [JJCUS]" .KFLANAG@CORUS.JNJ.com
Passed on from a friend . . .
This collection was selected from the "Weird Reference Questions" thread that ran on LIBSUP-L, the Library Paraprofessionals Listserv in July 1997. Names and locations have been deleted partly because it was a lot easier to do it that way and partly to protect the reputations of all concerned. All of these situations are real and some of them were mighty embarrassing. Enjoy!
Actual reference queries reported by American and Canadian library reference desk workers of various levels.
- "Do you have books here?"
- "Do you have a list of all the books written in the English language?"
- "Do you have a list of all the books I've ever read?"
- "I'm looking for Robert James Waller's book, Waltzing through Grand Rapids." (Actual title wanted: "Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend.")
- "Do you have that book by Rushdie: 'Satanic Nurses'?" (Actual title: "Satanic Verses")
- "Where is the reference desk?" This was asked of a person sitting at a desk who had hanging above her head a sign saying "REFERENCE DESK"!
- "I was here about three weeks ago looking at a cookbook that cost $39.95. Do you know which one it is?"
- "Which outlets in the library are appropriate for my hairdryer?"
- "Can you tell me why so many famous Civil War battles were fought on National Park Sites?"
- "Do you have any books with photographs of dinosaurs?"
- "I need a color photograph of George Washington [Christopher Columbus, King Arthur, Moses, Socrates, etc.]"
- "I need a photocopy of Booker T. Washington's birth certificate."
- "I need to find out Ibid's first name for my bibliography."
- "Why don't you have any books by Ibid? He's written a lot of important stuff."
- "I'm looking for information on carpal tunnel syndrome. I think I'm having trouble with it in my neck."
- "Is the basement upstairs?" (Asked at First Floor Reference Desk)
- "I am looking for a list of laws that I can break that would send me back to jail for a couple of months."