Refer Madness: Word Nerd

I’m back in Booklist‘s Top Shelf Reference newsletter today, with a Refer Madness column on one of my favorite reference questions: crossword clues! Check out more Refer Madness posts here.

Top Shelf Madness

Almost two years ago I started writing about strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk, in a series I call Refer Madness.  My latest one, titled “Finding Angels,” is debuting over at Booklist, as part of the latest issue of “Top Shelf Reference” newsletter. This latest one is about a… Read more Top Shelf Madness

Refer Madness: Thanks, Man

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Coming out of a recent concert at the library, an elderly man asked if we had a calendar of events he could take home. I showed him where they were on the shelf, and as I was about to return to the desk, he started talking.… Read more Refer Madness: Thanks, Man

Refer Madness: Future Scientist?

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. A mom was looking for her middle-school daughter’s next book. She said her daughter had loved The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and “all the Holocaust stuff.” But she wanted her to discover some real people as well. My first thought was the young adult… Read more Refer Madness: Future Scientist?

Refer Madness: Playing Favorites

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Every librarian has favorite patrons. Like parents we aren’t supposed to admit it, but it’s true. My favorites have developed because of how nice they are, for their interesting requests, or for their particular outlook on life. One of my favorites is an older woman, a regular, who… Read more Refer Madness: Playing Favorites

Refer Madness: The Terminator of Ghent

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. A gentleman called the desk with a pretty simple question: What was the release date of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Because of my prodigious ability to remember useless trivia (film-related especially), I knew it was 2003. But he wanted the specific release date,… Read more Refer Madness: The Terminator of Ghent

Refer Madness: A Name that Named Names

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. A patron who calls regularly — usually looking for the value of an old book or baseball card — had a pretty direct question for me today: “Was Lee J. Cobb blacklisted?” Nope, but just barely. Born Leo Jacoby (get it? Lee J. Cobb[y]?), Cobb… Read more Refer Madness: A Name that Named Names

England Murder Bicycle Chemistry

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. During an otherwise quiet evening on the desk, someone messaged my co-librarian on our library’s chat service with a specific, but not quite specific enough, request. She wanted the title and author of a book in a murder mystery series, published post-2000. She then provided… Read more England Murder Bicycle Chemistry

Refer Madness: PB & A

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Here’s an interesting one that came to the desk: the PseudoBulbar Affect. (Pseudo “false” + Bulbar, referring to the brainstem.) A patron said she had it and was looking for some scholarly information about it. According to PBAinfo.org, PBA occurs when “certain neurologic diseases… Read more Refer Madness: PB & A

The Library Lives of Others

Earlier this year I started keeping a list of things people have asked me at the library information desk. It’s not totally comprehensive: some questions either aren’t noteworthy (“Where’s the bathroom?”) or slipped my mind during a busy rush. But even as a scattershot sample, it’s an interesting snapshot of what people care about. Here are… Read more The Library Lives of Others