I mentioned a book on Friday in my blog that was published in 1872 by Samuel Butler. The novel was one a philosophy teacher often referred to during my undergraduate days. For some reason, I never forgot the weird plot about treating the sick as criminals. Friday, I wanted to reference the book but had forgotten the author’s name and had no idea about how to spell the title:
None of the search engines on my computer found anything viable. Stumped, I sat for a while, blaming my machine and wishing I had someone to talk to. And then it hit me. There was someone!
Before I could shout Arrow Wan again, I rushed to my phone and found myself speaking to a reference librarian. She listened sympathetically while I poured out my plight. All I had was the fragment of a plot. Would she… could she… by some miracle help me out?
“Absolutely,” she piped. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll call you back.”
I was doubtful. How could she find what Google, Bing, Go Ask and a host of other search engines had missed? But I was a fool to doubt a reference librarian. Five minutes later the phone rang. “Samuel Butler’s Erowan,” said a cheery voice. “Shall I reserve the book for you?”
After fifty years I felt no urgency to read the novel again. But how could I say “no” to a librarian, especially one who’d just performed a miracle?
I gave her my library card number. It seemed to make her happy.
By the time I put the phone down, I was happy too. “Now that’s what I call a search engine,” I thought.