Posts Tagged ‘reference interviews’

I thought it would be a neat idea to keep track of some of the reference questions I have been asked. If you’re an MLIS student, this will give you an idea of typical reference questions asked in a public library and help you practice answering questions. Also, I can look back on these questions and think of how I’d answer them the second time, thus improving my mad information retrieval skills 😉

  • I need information on creating a public service announcement- are there any books or other resources on the subject?
  • I received a medical report from my doctor saying I had an angiomyolipomas- what does that mean?
  • I have to write a paper on the pros and cons of school uniforms- where can I find information?
  • Do you have any books on the side effects of drugs?
  • My daughter loves Harry Potter; are there any other books you think she’d like?
  • How do I download audiobooks onto my iPhone?
  • Plus, 654,824 questions on how to use the photocopier.

This is just odd. A young man approached me today and asked if I could look in the phone book for John Doe’s address. I checked Canada411, which had the person’s address unlisted, as did the local phone book.
“Sorry the person is unlisted but I can give you the phone number.”
“Oh, I already have the phone number.”
“Well, couldn’t you phone the person and just ask for their address?” I asked politely, trying to keep a straight face.
“Oh, I could, but I thought I’d come down to the library first.”
And off he went… Left me puzzled, but it was nice that he thought of the library first!


Awww, my heart is still warm. I had such a nice reference transaction the other day that left me with a warm, cozy feeling. An older gentleman phoned me with what started out as the most convoluted question I had yet to answer. He started rattling on about his DVD recorder and wanted to know how to operate the machine, specifically how to enable this auto-fill feature so when he’s typing in the name of a program he wants to record it’ll complete the title… Say what? I almost told him that he had reached a public library, not Future Shop. (Apparently he had called London Drugs and was told to contact his local public library (?)) I, of course, tried to help as best as I could. I wasn’t able to find an owner’s manual online, that was downloadable, and I figured it wouldn’t be much help anyway because he didn’t know what that specific feature was called. So I found him the 1-800 number for Toshiba and sent him on his way.

I was helping another patron when he called back, but he left such an elaborate message for me saying how he called Toshiba, which he wouldn’t have called until he talked to me because he thought they wouldn’t be open (it was evening). I had assured him that most support lines are open 24/7. Anyway, he said he got his machine working properly and he was so grateful for my help. “Congratulations! Good work!” He went on an on with his praise. It was so sweet. Such an insignificant problem in the scope of problems one could have, but it meant a lot to him to have his machine working properly. And it was nice to have contributed, in a small part, to his happiness.