Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Batting Practice

 Photo by Leoraul Torres - Wikimedia Commons

When I used to work at Emory, we had regular reference meetings to share our experiences helping users.  We called them batting practice because we often swung and missed or needed to bunt or occasionally hit one out of the park!  (I'm sure you understand the metaphor!) No matter what, we were supportive and learned from each other. So in the spirit of Spring Training, I'll share a challenge that came our way today.

Strike one: An ESL student was looking for a book called The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. A search in GIL first resulted in a hit on a three volume Graphic Canon with many selections, but the TOC showed no story by the title requested. It turns out that surrounding the search terms with quotes to bind the phrase resulted in 0 hits.  So we went to GIL Universal to discover that this was a book of short stories by Roald Dahl. It was held by a few USG schools, but the student needed the book right away so a GIL Express Request was impractical.

Strike two: Upon further conversation the actual selection needed was called "The Mildenhall Treasure" which is part of the aforementioned book. Next place to look: a collection or anthology with this Dahl story.  No such collection at GPC, or abundant elsewhere, though Atlanta-Fulton seemed to have one somewhere. (BTW, a few years ago Amy Bursi and Mary Ann Cullen did their best to get TOCs for all our anthologies in the catalog, which helps tremendously in finding short stories!)

Foul ball: What about the pubic library?  Our student lives near a branch of the Dekalb County Public Library. The only copy they had was in Korean at Doraville, but our patron was a Francophone from Africa. (If we'd kept looking, we would have found a single volume of the Mildenhall story in Juvenille lit at Chamblee.)

So it seems we had two strikes and a foul ball, which is when we tried an act of desperation:  we Googled it. Lo and behold, the full text of a Penguin edition was available online at  http://bit.ly/1glt1A8
I'm not sure if that meant we used a pinch hitter or what, but the student left with the text to read before the next class session.  Sometimes you just get lucky!