That one author that wrote the one book about that one thing

Recently, I witnessed a phenomenon that I cherish. It's one that you're exposed to the more you work with skilled and seasoned librarians on desk. Readers advisory is not easy, but is something to behold when done well. Same thing with reference work, but I'm a little better at reference than fiction. I'm working on that, but back to the phenomenon...

A woman walked up to the fiction desk and said to my morning shift partner and I, "I need to find an author's name." The patron rattled off a couple of facts about the author, no more than three, all short and all vague.

"Edith Wharton," my fiction partner said, with perhaps two seconds of thought.

And there it was - the phenomenon. The phenomenon was the women's gratefulness radiating from her smile, her visible relief and frankly, her shock that this librarian nailed it on the first try. "One of my faves," partner said. You could feel the woman's joy as she rushed off to find the author's works. I watched the conversation in awe, mouthed gaped open slightly from the wonder.

Perhaps this sounds like a trivial thing, but this happens daily at the library. Folks come in and they have but a couple of shreds of information - sometimes a date, sometimes a description, sometimes a partial title. Each day librarians help people put it together and help find answers to questions. We are in the business of answering questions. While I've been in the business of answering questions a long time, it's still amazing to watch a pro wield knowledge effortlessly.

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