We love being asked questions at our information desks. Library technician, Katy Roberts shares some of the most common and most unusual questions:
1. “Where are the books? Do you still have books?”
Variations of this question are asked usually at the level 1 Infozone desk or at the Welcome Desk, SLQ’s entry level spaces. Yes, we do still have books – millions of them – but they are found on levels 2, 3 and 4 or in storage repositories on levels 4 and 5. Unlike other libraries that store their collections underground, we keep our books on the upper floors well away from the flood risks associated with the Brisbane River.
2. “What’s the difference between coffee/tea and water?”
This question has been asked by library visitors when told that they can take bottled water, but not cups of coffee or tea, into the reading rooms on levels 2 and 3. Our food and drink policy is part of SLQ’s pest management systems to preserve our collection items for future use by keeping them safe from creepy crawlies. Water is easy to clean up if spilled, but coffee and tea are harder, as sugar and milk may be involved. Spilled sugar or milk attracts insects, which may stay to eat books, and that will make everyone sad.
3. “Can you tell me if my grandfather had any children?”
Sometimes it is worth stopping and thinking about how you phrase a question. However, our Family History staff can provide lots of help in tracking down your ancestors. For the record, we did manage to track down this person’s aunts and uncles.
4. “Do you have this song?” A library visitor hums a tune and asks the staff if SLQ has the sheet music.
SLQ’s music score collection is extensive and can be borrowed by library members. Specialist music librarians are very familiar with the collection, and some library staff are accomplished musicians. However, it is helpful if you know the name of the piece of music, composer or performer.
5. “Do you sell didgeridoos?”
Perhaps this question was meant for the Library Shop staff who stock a wonderful collection of Australian literature, but unfortunately no didgeridoos. However, the librarian was able to locate information about indigenous art galleries, and successfully re-directed the library visitor.
Anyone can ask us a question, and our team will be happy to help you find the answer. You can visit us in person, phone or Ask Us online. Perhaps your question will become one of our new favourites.
Katy has worked at State Library for 12 years. Katy loves borrowing books from our Information Collections and enjoys the variety and general “awesomeness” of our collections. She also loves answering questions and helping people find the information they need.