Sometimes it’s good to be a reference librarian

My life turned upside down and inside out last month when I had a death in the family. While thee emotional trauma was, and is, significant, that’s not what I want to write about today. What really amazed me was how much of the minutiae of death there is to deal with and how much of it bears on information-seeking capability.

  1. Obtaining contact information of family and friends
  2. Finding phone numbers of retirement/pension funds that want their retirees to do everything online (yeah, I don’t get it either–according to a 2004 Pew report, only 22% of seniors over 65 are using the Internet; you would think that a business dealing with a target population of seniors would have a clue).
  3. Getting financial information on stocks and funds. I was dreading this one as I didn’t too well on the business reference part of the class when I was in library school, but Yahoo Finance is quite the handy dandy little tool.
  4. Information on probate
  5. And a hundred other little things

More than ever I’ve learned the value of knowing that people can be a resource. A lot of this was beyond my skills, but colleagues were able to help out or point me in the right direction, very quickly and very efficiently. I’m sure my family members would be able to find this information eventually, but you’re already struggling when you’re dealing with a death–who wants to be trying to figure out who you’re supposed to call and what you’re supposed to ask and where you need to go to find all of that out?

I’ve never been happier to be a reference librarian.

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