Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Librarians to the Rescue :

December 15, 2017

Recently, my second son and I had a disagreement over some arcane bit of information. I suggested he “google” it. Laughing, he asked if anyone used anything other than Google to answer questions.

Recently, my second son and I had a disagreement over some arcane bit of information. I suggested he “google” it. Laughing, he asked if anyone used anything other than Google to answer questions. We wound up discussing the advantages and disadvantages of different search engines. What we did not discuss, however, were the advantages of calling a reference librarian. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, reference librarians continue to answer millions of questions each year. For example, in Hennepin County, Minnesota, which has a population of about 1,200,000, public librarians answer approximately 1,300,000 questions a year. People may turn to librarians for answers due to lack of computer access, ease of use, confidentiality, custom, or recognition of the remarkable expertise of many reference librarians. Librarians may answer mundane questions such as the weather forecast for the next few days or how to prepare a tax form. They usually relish the opportunity to answer esoteric questions and take pride in answering questions that cannot easily be found with a quick internet search.

Because librarians have access to paper records that may not be available to search engines, such as newspaper clippings stored on microfilm, they can answer challenging questions such as whether or not it snowed in a particular town on a specific December day in 1837 or how the graphic design of the tax forms have changed since inception. As for me, I still tend to use search engines for most of my questions.  However, I do find that if I really need information about a challenging medical education topic, our medical librarian usually turns up resources I did not find. Maybe the next time my son and I have an amicable disagreement on a topic, we will turn to our own local librarian for assistance.

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal