Monday, July 03, 2006
CAN'T GOOGLE IT? CALL THE LIBRARY.
(Via) If you've want an answer to a question, just dial 212-340-0849 between Monday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Your call will be answered by one of ten telephone reference research librarians at the New York Public Library.
A schoolboy once asked if there were "cultural institutions" close to Coney Island. The researcher asked why. Because, said the frustrated youth, "I want to go to Coney Island today, but my father says I have to do something cultural first." [...] The reference service has been around, in a limited way, for as long as telephones have been available in homes. But it was only in 1968 that the service was organized as a separate library unit. Today, it can be found in a quiet room at the Mid-Manhattan branch at 455 Fifth Avenue, catercorner to the main branch with the two stone lions, Patience and Fortitude. Phones don't ring there; they light. The 10 researchers range in age from their 20s to 60s and have degrees in elementary education, chemistry, mechanical engineering and criminal justice, as well as one PhD in English literature. [...] Under library rules, each inquiry must be answered in less than five minutes, meaning the caller gets an answer or somewhere to go for an answer--like a specialty library, trade group or Web site. Researchers cannot call back questioners. The deadline is meant, in part, to focus the staffer's attention. "Otherwise," Shalat said, "once we get going, we would never stop." Almost all telephone calls are in English, although researchers can get by in Chinese, Spanish, German and some Yiddish. Specialty libraries, like the Slavic and Baltic division, can lend a hand with, say, Albanian.that sounds like a pretty interesting job. Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame should work there. To read more...Click Here