Friday, May 8, 2009

When All Else Fails...YouTube!

Every once in awhile, our Reference Desk comes face to face with a question that resists even our most resolute research efforts. After trying a handful of trustworthy sources and repeatedly coming up empty, we like to take a step back and put a fresh spin on our usual reference M.O. And you know what? Sometimes a new approach makes all the difference when it comes to solving the tricky requests that are part of our day's work.

Case in point: our Head of Reference Services, Sherie, was asked to supply a patron with the lines to a poem that a patron recalled as having a title similar to "Beauty Is What Beauty Does." The poem was showcased, the patron vaguely remembered, during an old Mickey Mouse Club episode.

After doing a little detective work, Sherie found out that the poem was actually an old song that was once sung on the original Mickey Mouse Club back in the mid-1950s. "Beauty Is As Beauty Does" was a unique MMC tune that was part of a "Words to Grow By" segment in which each female cast member was asked to participate at some point during her tenure. Since the Mickey Mouse Club was (and is!) such a pop culture icon, one would assume that tracking down the lyrics to one of its recurring songs wouldn't be very difficult.

Not so!

It turns out that the lyrics to "Beauty Is As Beauty Does" are harder to track down than Waldo and Carmen San Diego combined! Sherie checked a wide variety of both electronic and print sources and kept running into that frustrating Wall of Unanswer that every librarian encounters from time to time. Taking a step back from the question, she cleared her thoughts and settled on a new plan of attack: YouTube.

It turns out that YouTube isn't just handy for looking up videos of dramatic chipmunks and montages of LeBron James' greatest plays; it's also quite the go-to resource for reference questions involving obscure song lyrics! With just a few clicks, Sherie found a 41-second Mickey Mouse Club episode clip in which cast members Jimmie Dodd and Doreen Tracey offer a charming rendition of "Beauty Is As Beauty Does." Sherie simply listened carefully to the lyrics and transcribed them by hand.

Sometimes a fresh approach is really all you need!

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