I’ve worked on the enquiry desk for over a year now, and it still feels like a huge learning process. I guess that’s bound to happen if you work in the vague and immense field of ‘information’.
It’s my job, for large chunks of the day, to sit at a desk and wait for people to come and ask me questions.
A lot of people come, but I sometimes worry that there’s still a lot of people don’t realise quite how much we do, and, hopefully, how much help we can be. So I’m writing this, to try and give you an idea of the variety of questions we get asked, and maybe encourage you to think of us next time you’re looking for a piece of information and even google turns up a blank.
In the last week, I’ve found songs for funerals, forms for immigration, directories for businesses, addresses for councillors, phone numbers for agents, legal documents, circuit diagrams, exhibition catalogues, string quartets and cricket almanacs. That’s only looking at some of the ones that stand out, missing out all the everyday enquiries for biographies, cookery books, health information, DIY, computer manuals, local history, art, fashion, Which? reports, the electoral roll and just about anything else you could imagine.
We can’t always find everything, and we certainly don’t know everything, but we’ll be ready to try our hardest to find what you’re after. If we don’t have it here, we’ll order it in, or tell you where it is.
We are like human versions of google, and, if we’re honest, we use google ourselves, but we also have shelves of other information sources all around us. There’s a book that (theoretically) allow you to look up a famous classical theme if someone whistles it. There’s almanacs and yearbooks and handbooks and directories and atlases and all manner of reference guides. There’s law digests and guides, as well as the Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments. We’ve got art price guides and stamp catalogues and so many ridiculous (and wonderful) things that I feel that no matter how many I list, I’m barely even scraping the very top of the tip of the iceberg.
Put it all together, and my job becomes doubly great, because I’m not just helping people, but I’m also learning stuff. Specifically, I am normally learning stuff that I had no idea that I wanted to learn. Perhaps I never did want to learn it, but there it is, in my brain, because of you lot, the general public, and your incessant clamouring for answers.
Keep it up. Bring us a question, and even if we don’t know the answer, we’ll try our best shot at finding out where that answer would be.
Alex – Library Officer (Not pictured)
The Jubilee Library enquiry desk can be called on 01273 296969, or just pop in to your local library for assistance.