Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

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Fun times at the library

The other day, just as I was getting ready to go home, one of my co-workers was complaining that she couldn't remember the title of a book she'd borrowed a few months back, and now needed it for her her other job. She'd taken out three at once, and could remember the second and third, but not the first. Because she couldn't remember anything about that book, this meant going back to the interlibrary loan libraran, starting their search for books on this topic (import/export management) from scratch, and hoping they could locate the same books.

I piped up that she did know something--she knew the topic, and which library it was from. That library is part of our consortium, and thus I could easily search their catalog from my desk for all books on that topic.

This intrigued her, so she came over and we started searching. Nothing familiar showed up in the first page or so of the hundreds of hits in the first few searches. I asked if it was a recent book or something a bit older; she was pretty sure it was from the last couple of years. A few searches and a few more questions later, I'd gotten more about the book--including what she thought might have been part of the title--but still no luck. I did find a few other books on the topic, asked if they were the same sort of book she was looking for, and tried searching for other books with those specific subjects. Still no dice. Then, just in case she had misremembered some element, I started removing bits from the search, slowly broadening out. Once I removed the library and put in some key words from the possible title and subjects, there it was, right there on the first page of hits: Mastering Import & Export Management. I printed out the page for her, and she took it to the reference desk to request it. She was astounded that, given how little we'd started with, that I'd still been able to locate the book for her. Two to three business days later, the book had been shipped to our library and was in her hands.

Being able to tease out half-remembered details from someone and find even the most unlikely prospects are all part of the art of the "reference interview"--not something catalogers like myself are normally called on to do, since we don't work directly with the public, but it's nice to use some of what I learned in my master's-level classes on reference services and database searching. (Here you thought being a librarian just required knowing how to shelve books, shush people, tie a hair bun, and find sensible shoes.)

And I got the warm fuzzies from making a co-worker's week.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: librarians, work

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