Thursday, August 27, 2009


I was excused from serving on a 3 week jury because of childcare issues. Whew! It would have been very interesting, but finding someone to watch Nathaniel all day would not have been fun.

I hope to be excused in another way, too: I had a serious reference desk blooper last night.

A very nice patron came in trying to find out if we had a book by a specific author (we didn't). I was able to find out that the local public library had 1 copy of the particular book she cited, and gave her instructions on getting a card (as a university student) and requesting the book from a branch that was a little further out. Then I found out that she just wanted something fun (preferably a western romance) to read that night.

Well, if I were at a public library, I would have shown her the romance section, shown her the western section, and let her have at it. I am not at a public library, and I have to say that our collection is very light on the genre fiction books.

I tried searching for the author. I tried searching for a couple other authors that popped into my head. I tried to find one western book and then copy the LC subject headings from its catalog record. I tried to find some suggestions on Novelist (this link just goes to their advertising site--see if your local library subscribes to this super database!). None of these worked.

I had a brainwave about halfway through and sent her upstairs to the library school's library, where they have an actual fiction collection. However, I don't know whether or not she found anything.

The most frustrating part? These are the kinds of questions I LOVE! I love it when people come it to a library looking for something good to read. This is why I'm a librarian, for crying out loud!

Today, in order to try to learn from my mistake, I did two things. First, I went and played with Novelist some more to get a few more of their features under my belt (I used to rely mostly on the "read-alike" feature, but you need a specific book for that to work). I've learned both about their genre search and the really fabulous "feature articles" that highlight a genre and/or topic. There was one on western/frontier romance, too!

Next, I got on ACRL's "collib" (college libraries) listserv and asked for advice on doing RA (reader's advisory--the fiction side of reference) in an academic library. One librarian sent a list of official subject headings for some genres, which I have duly printed off and highlighted, to be ready to grab next time.

I just hope the same patron comes back...


Beth said...

Three weeks of jury duty--yikes! I'm glad you got excused. I have to serve once a year here in Baltimore City but I've never been for more than a day at a time.

Ellen said...

Ooh, could you forward me that list of subject headings? I'd love to have that!

Libby said...

Hi, Beth! Yes, I was glad to be excused, too, although I would eventually like to be on a jury when called for jury duty! (I've reported twice, and not yet been selected for an actual jury.)

Ellen, I sent the list on to you today, so let me know if you don't get it.

Thanks to both of you for stopping by!