Library Enquiries
Part 1: Actual reference queries reported by American and Canadian library reference desk workers of various levels.
Part 2: Actual Reference Interviews reported by American and Canadian library reference desk workers of various levels.

Patron: "I'm looking for a book."
Mental answer 1: "Well, you're in the right place."
Mental answer 2: "Here's one." (Hand over nearest volume.)
Audible answer : "Can you be a little more specific?"

Patron: "I got a quote from a book I turned in last week but I forgot to write down the author and title. It's big and red and I found it on the top shelf. Can you find it for me?"
Mental answer: "Books classified by color are shelved downstairs in the [non-existent] third sub-basement."
Audible answer: "What were you looking for when you found the book the first time?"

In an art library: Patron: Do you have any books on Art?
Ref: Yes. Did you have a certain artist in mind, or a period or style in mind?
Patron: No.
Ref: I guess you'll have to look through our 120,000 books and see if you find anything.
Patron: OK.

Patron: "Do you have anything good to read?"
Reference person getting her audible and mental answers mixed up: "No, ma'am. I'm afraid we have 75,000 books, and they're all duds."

Telephone patron: Do you have books on leaves?
Library worker: Nope, we keep them on shelves.
(She then hung up. Can you tell she's not too fond of Reference duty?)

Caller: "I have a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. It's all blue with swirly stars on it. Can you tell me where I can get it appraised?"
Ref.: "Sir, does it say 'Metropolitan Museum of Art' on the bottom? It does? Well, what you have there is a poster that they sell in the gift shop. I think they're about $10.00."

Patron: "I am looking for a globe of the earth.
Ref: "We have a table-top model over here."
Patron: "No, that's not good enough. Don't you have a life size?"
Ref (after a short pause): "Yes, but it's in use right now!"

Patron: "I have to write a two-page paper on the Civil War, can you help?"
Ref: "What aspect of the war interests you?"
Patron: "What aspect? You mean I have to choose something in particular about it? I thought I'd just write about the whole thing"