I Love #8 (Followed Closely by #10 with #87 to show.)

One of our branch librarians did a three-week study in her location to record the type and variety of reference questions her staff received.  With her permission, I've reprinted the list her staff compiled below.  The list of questions includes the criteria she gave her staff as to what should be recorded.

I think this list provides a very interesting snapshot of what you might hear in a typical branch library in a typical city (although it's also probably fairly obvious from a lot of the questions that this study was done in the weeks leading up to Halloween.)



Select Reference Questions
Oct 10-31/07

The following list contains reference questions posed to branch staff over a 3-week period. Please note that these are select questions only, and represent only a portion of the questions answered over that period.

My instructions were to record questions that:
    1) Showed the variety in questions that we receive
    2) Required some effort/research/thought to answer
    3) Went beyond the level of 'where are the Danielle Steel books'

1)    Fiction and non-fiction about Druids
2)    Pony Pal series
3)    Termite mounds – construction/pictures
4)    Craniotomy – information and diagrams for class presentation
5)    Repair-1985 Toyota Camry
6)    Fondue recipes
7)    Book called “In the Wild’ about a traveler called Pennington or something  (It wasn’t actually called In the Wild and Pennington had nothing to do with it. It was Into the Wild by Krakauer)
8)    Marriage to cousin – risks of having children
9)    Age of apostles when they died
10)    Senior citizens/sex and old age, guides/physical changes, etc.
11)    Picture books/non-fiction books for preschooler on construction
12)    Killer whales
13)    Butterflies and crabs – in French
14)    Drawing self portraits (for elementary school children)
15)    Pioneer stories in large print
16)    Prostate cancer – patron just diagnosed with a terminal condition
17)    Sex offenders
18)    Book on autism seen on Larry King
19)    Videos/DVDs on 1) diet and nutrition and 2) geological history of Saskatchewan
20)    Expanded definition of the Westminster model of government
21)    Books about Israel for Grade 1
22)    DVDs for Elementary kids on fire safety (with cartoon-like book characters i.e. Max and Ruby)
23)    Short stories on “children as soldiers”
24)    Cruise ports on the island of Greece. Needed maps to follow family cruise
25)    Stories (15 minutes in length) to read to grades 2 through 7 (Celebrity Reader)
26)    Books about Miss Fisby (was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh)
27)    Children in different countries
28)    Prices of cars, makes
29)    Trees – the definition/history and different types i.e. Conifers
30)    Second book in the Gunslinger series by Stephen King – don’t know what it is called. (The series is actually the Dark Tower series. Gunslinger is the name of the 1
st book in the series)

31)    Feminism; Iconic women – archetypes/strong historical figures i.e. Marie Antoinette, female Pharoahs, etc.
32)    Series called Abby Hayes
33)    Do cats shed their whiskers? (Yes, yes, they do!)
34)    I just saw the movie 1408. Do you have the story it is based on?
35)    Jean Chrétien just wrote a book I would like it.
36)    I’m doing a report on Germany – history, economy, culture, etc. Need facts, figures, maps, graphs, etc.
37)    History of Canadian midwives
38)    Ghost stories of Saskatchewan
39)    What is the best known novel of Saul Bellow?
40)    Hospice workers/copies with death/cultural differences in dealing with death/death of loved ones
41)    Cypress Hills Provincial Park info
42)    War planes – WWI/II
43)    Pictures of 2 specific grain elevators in Sask.
44)    Who was Sacagawea? Whey is he ‘famous’? What tribe did he belong to?
45)    Who wrote the Stone Barrington mysteries?
46)    I am looking for an autobiography of Charley Pride.
47)    Books on fetal alcohol syndrome (we didn’t have any, so then they wanted any IN at Central)
48)    What PG Wodehouse books are in at this location right now?
49)    Pictures of swords
50)    I just printed the abstract of this article. How do I get the full text?
51)    Benefits of organic farming and gardening, health-wise
52)    Picture of a nightingale
53)    Info on history of Canadian libraries
54)    Zlota’s Diary – needs introductory notes by the author
55)    Movie – Tuesdays with Morrie
56)    Online predators
57)    English version of La Fete a la plage by R.L. Stine
58)    Residential school children, differences (Canada)
59)    Books by the former president of Israel (Benjamin Natna? Wasn’t sure of spelling)
60)    “My Daughter’s Cookbook’ – Ukrainian cooking. Is actually “Ukrainian Daughter’s Cookbook”
61)    ‘bring forward’ filing system
62)    Music from WWII- songbooks and CDs
63)    Riddle books and funny jokes
64)    Items on Linda Laylle (Lael) Miller
65)    Trickster books
66)    Dream catchers – picture books, story books, history, construction, mythology
67)    DVDs on the law of attraction and Abraham flicks
68)    About Margaret Atwood – Vampire
69)    Personality disorders
70)    Heart disease – thriving with
71)    Iliad – Kid’s version
72)    Druids and Halloween – specifically how our modern day celebration of Halloween is related to druidism
73)    Looking for the mystery author who writes really gory/graphic stories where the detective of this series is important
74)    Occult
75)    Main Street books (it turned out to be a series)
76)    Do you have the movie Flowers for Agrenaw (or something like that)?
Note: the book is Flowers for Algernon. The movie is Charly
77)    Movies in Italian, with English subtitles
78)    Info on Rosa Parks – books, databases, whatever
79)    Showed a patron how to access the automotive dbases, because he couldn’t find what he needed in Chilton
80)    Toasts to the bride – info has to be IN here NOW!!!
81)    Latest edition off the building code of Canada
82)    Juvenile books in the Japanese language
83)    Spanish language course on CD – Pimslauer version
84)    Books by Farley Mowat in large print
85)    Genealogy/track down family history – specifically Scottish Family history
86)    Which movies does the library have in VHS? Can I make a list?
87)    Consumer reports on 1) cars 2) pots and pans 3) hair dye
88)    U-boats/German submarines/WWI
89)    Calvin and Hobbes comics
90)    Human anatomy
91)    Books with the character Inspector Hill
92)    Series by Alexander McCall Smith about Scotland. What is the first book in the series?
93)    How to draw Manga
94)    Fiction novels about women in the Bible i.e. The Red Tent/books by Francine Rivers
95)    Articles from the dbases on motivating yourself to get fit
96)    Diet to follow for people with kidney disease
97)    Fantasy/scifi for kids
98)    Impact that humans have on the environment
99)    Book discussed on CBC – Generosity somewhere in the title
100)    Movie about a family (Irish?). The mother dies and the children are placed in an orphanage. The father tries to get them back. The title is a first name….
101)    DVDs based on true stories
102)     Biographical info on Matthew Boulton (co-inventor of steam engine)
103)     Remembrance Day video comprised of war images, with Bryan Adams singing in the background (found it on YouTube!)

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