A few weeks ago, a woman came in looking for an article she'd heard about on an MSNBC business program broadcast. She knew, roughly, the timeframe, and she thought she remembered the name of the publication. She was able to describe the subject of the article. She said she'd been looking on the internet for the article on the internet for a month without luck. Could we help?
A couple came in last week looking for a power of attorney form. They needed something for a specific situation. They had been trying to fine one online without luck. Could we help?
These are pretty common situations at the reference desk. Librarians come to the rescue when the internet doesn't produce the needed information. Don't get me wrong. The internet is a wonderful thing. Librarians use it every day. There is a lot of information there--some accurate, some not--but finding it is not always easy, and it's not always free when you find it.
In the case of the power of attorney form, what you can find online usually has a charge (have you ever known of any freebies in the legal profession??!!). We found the form in about 3 minutes using a reference book (yes, a book!) of legal forms.
The article took a little more work. It turned out that the patron had only a partial title for the periodical, but with a little research I figured out the correct title. Still, a search of the periodical's website didn't produce what I was looking for. The next step was to go to MSNBC's site and search in the business program category. After scrolling through transcripts for the timeframe the patron provided, I found the story, just as she had described it, and was able to determine the exact date the article was published in the journal.
Next, I went to the GMILCS catalog to see if one of our members subscribes to the periodical. Bingo! Kelley Library in Salem had the periodical--the Boston Business Journal--and within 2 days, a copy of the article arrived on the delivery van.
The moral of this story is, yes, it's fine to use the internet on your own, but when you come up short, don't spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. Come see us. We'll rescue you!