Reference librarianship is a green occupation. Work at the reference desk long enough, and you’ll find a use for any scrap of trivia you have ever picked up. You even have opportunities to recycle; some questions present themselves repeatedly.
Librarians note, too, that special nuggets of data that we seek in pursuit of purely individual (we thought) interests not only address someone’s question but even lead to unexpected avenues of inquiry and discovery. Ah, the circle of life.
This observation was prompted by a visit from two former colleagues. They journeyed down from the Midwest for the weekend, and I’m proud to report that we did not devote our time to libraries and bookstores (well, just one library). We opted instead to rummage through antique stores and boutiques, sample restaurant fare, check out the Williamson Museum, and gape longingly at wildflowers and the multitude of Volkswagens traversing roads around Fredericksburg.
Such ventures, along with chats about hobbies and experiences, add as much to our informational repertoire as does sharing reference Q&A’s. Perhaps that explains why I didn’t disappoint (for example) the patron who asked for books about ikebana. As I walked her to the flower arranging section, she confided that more than once that term was assumed to denote another form of martial arts.
We may have succeeded too well in our quest for unlibrarian-like well-roundedness. On the drive back to Round Rock, one of our group wondered about the style and construction date of a building we’d seen. We all nodded blankly that, yes, this would be interesting to know.
My daughter’s “Gosh, if only there were a reference librarian in this car!” sent me scrounging for my iPhone to salvage our collective reputation. The answer: Moderne, 1939.