Librarians' true stories ...
  Part 1: Actual reference queries reported by American and Canadian
          library reference desk workers of various levels.

  "Do you have books here?"

  "Do you have a list of all the books written in the English language?"

  "Do you have a list of all the books I've ever read?"

  "I'm looking for Robert James Waller's book, Waltzing through Grand
          Rapids."  (Actual title wanted: "Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend.")

  "Do you have that book by Rushdie: 'Satanic Nurses'?"
          (Actual title: "Satanic Verses")

  "Where is the reference desk?"  This was asked of a person sitting at a
  desk who had hanging above her head a sign saying "REFERENCE DESK"!

  "I was here about three weeks ago looking at a cookbook that cost $39.95.
          Do you know which one it is?"

  "Which outlets in the library are appropriate for my hairdryer?"

  "Can you tell me why so many famous Civil War battles were fought on
          National Park Sites?"

  "Do you have any books with photographs of dinosaurs?"

  "I need a color photograph of George Washington [Christopher Columbus,
          King Arthur, Moses, Socrates, etc.]"

  "I need a photocopy of Booker T. Washington's birth certificate."

  "I need to find out Ibid's first name for my bibliography."

  "Why don't you have any books by Ibid?
          He's written a lot of important stuff."

  "I'm looking for information on carpal tunnel syndrome.
         I think I'm having trouble with it in my neck."

  "Is the basement upstairs?" (Asked at First Floor Reference Desk)

  Part 2: Actual Reference Interviews reported by American and
          Canadian library reference desk workers of various levels.

  Patron: "I'm looking for a book."

  Mental answer 1: "Well, you're in the right place."

  Mental answer 2: "Here's one." (Hand over nearest volume.)

  Audible answer : "Can you be a little more specific?"


  Patron: "I got a quote from a book I turned in last week but I forgot to
          write down the author and title.  It's big and red and I found
          it on the top shelf.  Can you find it for me?"

  Mental answer: "Books classified by color are shelved downstairs in the
        [non-existent] third sub-basement."

  Audible answer: "What were you looking for when you found the book the
        first time?"


  In an art library:
  Patron: Do you have any books on Art?

  Ref: Yes.  Did you have a certain artist in mind,
       or a period or style in mind?

  Patron: No.

  Ref: I guess you'll have to look through our 120,000 books and see
        if you find anything.

  Patron: OK.


  Patron: "Do you have anything good to read?"

  Reference person getting her audible and mental answers mixed up:
        "No, ma'am. I'm afraid we have 75,000 books, and they're all duds."


  Caller: "I have a painting by Vincent Van Gogh.  It's all blue with
        swirly stars on it. Can you tell me where I can get it appraised?"

  Ref.  :  "Sir, does it say 'Metropolitan Museum of Art' on the bottom?
        It does?  Well, what you have there is a poster that they sell
        in the gift shop. I think they're about $10.00."


  Patron: "I am looking for a globe of the earth.

  Ref: "We have a table-top model over here."

  Patron: "No, that's not good enough. Don't you have a life size?"

  Ref (after a short pause): "Yes, but it's in use right now!"


  Patron: "I have to write a two-page paper on the Civil War, can you help?"

  Ref: "What aspect of the war interests you?"

  Patron: "What aspect? You mean I have to choose something in particular
          about it? I thought I'd just write about the whole thing"