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Silliest Reference Questions

I belong to PUBLIB - a listserv for librarians. There's an ongoing thread that's just had me ROTFL for a while now: Silliest Reference Questions. Trust me - put the drink down NOW.

From Elizabeth in Plattsburgh: Two of my all-time favorites were similar:
A photograph of Jesus Christ and Photographs--NOT drawings or paintings, I've seen plenty of those, I
want photographs of dinosaurs.

From Anne in NJ: Several years ago, I had a high school student ask for a photo of the "Big Bang".
Another library on staff was asked (by phone) "How do I become a senior citizen?" The mental answer: Just live long enough -- The real question was: Do you have the phone number for AARP?

From Donna: My all-time favorite was more of a reader's advisory: A request for The Complete Works of Shakespeare by Edgar Allan Poe.

From Liz in Ohio: My favorite was a young man who asked for a biography of Louis Armstrong. I checked and told him that ours was out but if he would like, I could have a copy sent from another agency. He sighed and said "Well, do
you have a biography of any other astronaut?"

From Suzanne in Utah: We had a young patron who wanted to know where the books on "accidental insemination" were.

(I warned you!)

From Jim: Then there was the telephone caller who asked when the letter "j" entered the alphabet. I gave her the information from the OED which was "in the 13th century". She responded that that had to be wrong because "when they first wrote the Bible how could they spell "Jerusalem" without a "j"? I've also been asked for books by the "famous American author "Hemingstein" and "who invented water".

From Wanda in Illinois: We still crack up over the gentleman who called in and wanted a recording of the "Taco Bell Cannon." We set aside the "Pachelbel Canon" for him.

From David in Texas: Along the line of the person looking for photos of dinosaurs... Just this week we had a woman that wanted "books on dragons. Not the fake dragons, the real ones. I need to know what colors they were, their
breeding habits, and where they lived."

From Carolyn: I am looking for some information on how Martin Luther King freed the slaves.
(Pointing at the stairs) Do the stairs go up?
The guy who put his library card into the floppy drive and told me that he couldn't get on to the internet.
I am looking for a book called, 'dummies for beginners'.
I had one once of someone looking for info on the hemlock maneuver - you kind of get a different outcome from what he wanted which was the Heimlich maneuver
Your Hemingstein reminded me of the kid who asked me for a copy of Ivanhood. (I wonder if that is the sequel to Robinhoe??)
I always tell everyone about the lady who asked me if I had music for "Cats". She really should have laughed when I asked her what instrument her cat played...

From Marsha in Nahsville: Just this week I had a person call telephone reference and ask: "How many animals are there in the world?" I looked up species but that's not what he wanted - he wanted actual animals in the world.

Several gems from Katie: 1. Patron hands me several different rocks and says "what are these?" [turns
out it was a geology student, looking to identify different rock types]
2. Patron presents me with photo and says "would you date this man?"
3. Patron calls and asks "who is older, Ben or J-Lo?"
4. Patron asks to see books that tell the "official" history of the angel Constantine [yes, he saw the movie Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves, and wanted to know more]
5. Patron returns laptop that he has checked out and tells me that he has run it over with his car, but "by accident. Is that ok?"
6. Patron comes to reference desk and sees a printout of a webpage from the Disney website showing some cute cartoon characters dancing around (a childhad printed it some minutes before and hadn't picked it up yet). He
looks at it, and looks at me, and says "Do you think Truman Capote would approve of
this?" [yes, this man was a mental patient, though I hadn't realized it yet]
7. Teenage Patron approaches desk with essay in hand and a sad face. She hands me the bibliography page and asks if we have any of these books. I look them over, and quickly grow a little puzzled (the paper was on a medieval topic and had citations like "Henry Shaw. Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1843"). The patron is definitely not older than 16 or 17. I ask her where she found the books the first time (the library I where I was working at that time, though academic, did not have a rare books room). She replied "oh, I bought the paper online and my teacher doesn't believe that I wrote it and wants photocopies of the title pages of all of the references. I thought I could find them here."

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
tyrell
Mar. 18th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
I looked up species but that's not what he wanted - he wanted actual animals in the world

*Headdesk*
tyrell
Mar. 18th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
(Here from mitchy, by the way. Those quotes are hysterical!)

My brother used to work in a library. He genuinely had a little old lady come in and say
"Have you got a book - I can't remember the title or author, but I read it before and it's got a blue cover. It's very good..."
jenni411
Mar. 18th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
Heh. I've had this happen, too. Lady was very insistent that she wanted "that big red book." I finally determined that she wanted the Physician's Desk Reference ... which has a different colored cover every year. I offered her the current edition, which was blue, and she refused to take it, since it wasn't the same book.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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