Friday, July 24, 2009

Hello, Darlin'...

Yes, we really do get asked about everything here at the Reference Desk. And when we say everything, we really do mean...well, everything.

Including whether Conway Twitty was cremated or buried.

One of our patrons must have allowed her morbid curiosity to get the best of her yesterday when she decided to enlist in our Reference Department's investigative services. And thankfully, we didn't have to look far for some details surrounding this country crooner's final resting place.

First, we turned to the rarely used but always helpful FindAGrave website, which (seriously) houses a database containing photographs of thousands of famous gravesites around the world (yes, we mean it). After doing a grave search there, we were pleased (and intrigued) to find a grave record for the man in question. It turns out that Conway Twitty, also known as Harold Lloyd Jenkins (who knew?), passed away on June 5, 1993, and is buried at Sumner Memorial Park in Gallatin, Tennessee. Pictures of the gravesite are included. (You can take our word for it if you'd like.)


We really do get asked about everything around here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eye of the Tiger, Anyone?

Not all reference questions have to revolve around "serious" topics like genealogy, local history, or nuclear physics*.

No, sometimes we receive questions that are actually pretty entertaining. Today, for instance, one of our regular patrons strolled up to the Reference Desk, greeted us with her typical grin, and told us she wanted, and we quote, "Michelle Obama arms."

Without missing a beat, we directed her to the section of our nonfiction area devoted to health and fitness (for all of you Dewey enthusiasts, that would be the 613s) and quickly found Sculpting Her Body Perfect by Brad Schoenfeld. It was the perfect fit for our patron, who does not own a DVD player and was thus unable to take advantage of our great selection of fitness-related DVDs. To supplement her book, we were surprised to find a plethora of online articles dedicated to copying Mrs. Obama's biceps: Fitness magazine, Woman's Day, and even CNN all provided readers with step-by-step workout plans to emulate the First Lady's physique.

Whatever the motivation, we're happy to help our patrons find materials that will contribute to their health and fitness goals. Keep pumping that iron!

(Or at least listening to the soundtrack to Rocky!)

*Just kidding on the nuclear physics; we haven't received those types of questions...yet!

Monday, July 13, 2009

With Two Cats in the Yard...

A patron wandered into our Reference Department today and asked us if we could give her a little bit of information about the house in which she's currently living. While we initially jumped at the opportunity to tell her a bit about our fantastic genealogy services and our house history classes offered every few months, we quickly learned that she wasn't interested in learning about whether or not her house could be haunted. No, she needed information that was much more straightforward and much easier to retrieve: its current value!

In a flash, we directed her to the Stark County Auditor's website; from there, we guided her to the real estate search and then simply plugged her address information into the site's search engine. Within seconds, we were given the land value, the building value, and the total value of her house as of 2006.

Did you know that valuable resources like this one were hidden away in the shadows of your Google searches? Your librarians do -- and we're happy to help you find them!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Super Sleuth!

After all of the books have been turned upside down, after all of the websites have been carefully explored, and after all of the other viable research options have been probed to no avail, librarians have to sometimes travel even farther down the Road of Resourcefulness to find an answer to a tricky reference question. Somewhere near the intersection of At Wit's End Boulevard and Lightbulb Moment Avenue is a little alleyway we like to call Inference Lane. And we just got back from a short journey!

A few weeks ago, the fabulous Margy Vogt visited our Reference Department with an old Washington High School class photograph (not unlike this one) she was considering using in her upcoming book. The only problem? The picture was undated. Would it be possible, she asked, for us to track down an approximate year?

One of our reference assistants, Teressa, handled the query like a true detective. From simply looking at the picture itself, she reasoned that the styles of hair and clothing worn by the students in the photo dated to the 1920s or 1930s. When Teressa began hunting through the MPL's collection of old WHS yearbooks in an attempt to match Margy's photo with one that was published in a yearbook, she discovered a gap in our archives: a yearbook for 1932 did not exist. Hmm. What would cause such an omission, she wondered?

It didn't take long to put two and two together. The Great Depression, of course, was in full swing by the time 1932 rolled around, and it was likely that WHS could not afford to publish a yearbook. Not wanting to deprive its students from a simple class photo, the administrators probably arranged for a photographer to visit the high school and snap a few group shots to distribute to the students. While Margy's photograph never made it into an actual yearbook, it was, in fact, an official WHS class photo. Teressa verified this by checking class pictures in the 1931 and 1933 yearbooks and matching up the teenagers to the ones present in the mystery picture. Sure enough, they matched, and the elusive puzzle piece finally dropped into place.

Kudos to Teressa for cracking this case and for proving, once again, that reference librarians are a force to be reckoned with!

Monday, July 6, 2009

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True...

We've all seen them before, whether they're in the form of a flashing banner at the top of our favorite website or in a piece of junk email that somehow escapes the filter of our inbox. "Make money the easy way!" the ads proclaim. "Fill out surveys online and earn big bucks!"

And while most of us have dismissed the exclamatory promises of easy money along with the likes of Matthew Lesko, one of our patrons approached the Reference Desk and wanted to learn, for once and for all: are any of these companies -- or their offers -- legitimate?

After perusing a few helpful online articles devoted to consumer protection against Internet scams, our answer to the above question is: probably not. If it sounds too good to be true... well, you know the rest.

While we wish we had more encouraging news for our patron, we tried to accentuate the positive by directing them to helpful reports like "Get Paid to Read This Column!" from the Consumer Reports' WebWatch organization, "A Smart Job Search Is a Safe Job Search" by the folks at, and "Internet Crime Prevention Tips" from the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Reading these articles won't guarantee you fast money, but taking a gander will increase your awareness about Internet scams, so they'll prove their value in the long run.

The economic climate seems impossible right now, we know. But try to keep the faith and look out for yourselves!