Has This Ever Happened To You?

by this.is.not.here@evpl on Wednesday, August 12 2009, 5:57pm. Viewed 1,256 times.

As a Reader's Advisor who sits under a sign that says INFORMATION I have had a lot of reference questions through the years.  Have you ever gotten a "reference" question like this?  "Do you have this movie?"  You sit with breathless anticipation waiting for them to tell you the title or at least give you some clue as to what they are looking for.   A minute passes. The silence is deafening.  Then you say,  "Do you know the name of the movie?"   "No." they reply.  "Do you know who was in it?"  "No."  And so it begins...   Do you know what it was about?   Patron says "I think it had something to do with Viet Nam."  Now we're getting somewhere.  And as if brainstorming opened up the floodgates ----  and it had Bruce Willis in it.  Now I had what I needed.  I thumbed through my mental filing cabinet and then said "Would it be "In Country"?"  The patron got really excited and shouted "Yes!!!!".   

The really fun type of questions have to do with what I call "The Nancy Drew --6 degrees of separation search."  You know the old 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game?  Sometimes they know the name of the actor and sometimes they only know the name of another movie that had a different actor in it  --they can tell you his name, but not the actor in question.   Those are always fun.  Sometimes they get the name of the movie wrong and you have to try to figure out what they are talking about.  I love my job.  I get to stretch my brain muscles and enjoy showing off my trivia skills. 

Through years of experience I've become familiar with the look on the patron's face as they explain that their quest pertains to something that they remember from childhood and it's been bugging them for years and years.  I know how they feel.  There is a certain satisfication in finding out the answer.  The patron had read it in high school sometime in the 80's.  No title, no author.  It was like 1984 and the cover had a picture of a boy with one blue eye and one green eye.  That's all she had.  I asked if it was science fiction.  Not sure.  Suddenly I remembered a book I had read that was like 1984.  It was This Perfect Day by Ira Levin.  It was futuristic and everyone was just alike and it had to do with a wrist scanner.  I found a picture of the cover online.  It was out of print but the cover had a boy with one brown eye and one blue eye.  Sadly we did not have any copies but........Interlibrary Loan did have a copy.  I called the patron and reported the good news. 

Yesterday I got another weird one.  It was a mystery with a main character that was also a writer.  He had a dog named "hound dog." and an ex-wife named Merilee.  After a few false leads we finally found it.  It was a series by David Handler.  The dog was a bassett hound named Lulu.  I know I'm not unique in these experiences so I'd love to hear other peoples  questions that have been bugging them. Please post your elusive song titles, movie titles, or books.   I love a challenge.  I wish other Reader's Advisors would also share their stories.   Who knows one person's question and answer might be the one you've been wondering about  for all these years.    


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Comments (6)

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on Wednesday, August 12 2009, 7:45pm

Thanks so much for sharing. I always enjoy a good library question story or two.

Although I'm not one of those people who have a brain full of trivia, there is still nothing like helping someone get the information they are looking for. Everytime I make someone's day, I know why I love my job. I complete the rest of my job requirements, but there is nothing as rewarding as my work with library customers. The "fun" of trying to figure out what it is they want (when they may not even know)and the "satisfaction" of actually finding it is priceless.

And I have so say, that there is nothing so amazing as watching you pull all those pieces of trivia out of your head:-)

on Thursday, August 13 2009, 8:27am

good piece, mpw!

gawell@evpl wrote
on Thursday, August 13 2009, 12:51pm

Imagine everyone loves their job

It's easy if you try

Imagine helping all the people

That come your way today

on Thursday, August 13 2009, 5:35pm

Well done! The unravelling process is half the fun - especially when it yields the answer the person's looking for!

on Monday, August 17 2009, 11:00am

I like to think of doing reference like playing Jeopardy but you get to look up the answers.

My favorite one was a high school boy who said he needed a book about killing hummingbirds. I sat for a second and said "It wouldn't be To Kill a Mockingbird" would it?" Yes, that was it.

I sometimes miss doing reference, so Susan Fowler calls my office to ask me reference questions. I love that.

on Monday, August 17 2009, 11:50am

I once had a patron ask me for a book that had just come out about Two Good Marshalls.  After many questions and research I found the book-  it was about Thurgood Marshall!