More Straight Talk from the Reference Desk

Well, we didn’t actually plan it this way (though we clearly should have), but apparently November is officially “Reference Desk Interactions Month.” Let’s face it: the best  laugh-out-loud stories happen at the Reference Desk. There’s just no way around it. And so, we proudly continue the theme this week with these fabulous stories–submitted, as it were, by the same person. Sounds like life in “Jedi’s” library is funnier than a drunken Yoda impersonation!

One (thankfully) quiet night on the desk, I received a call from a man with a low, husky voice. He was calling to ask if I had heard about a book that was going to be coming out on the conspiracy between the police and the African Americans. Inwardly rolling my eyes, I told him that no, I had not heard of this book. Did he want to request it? What was the title? Trying to sound scholarly, the man continued to describe the conspiracy and confided that he was actually writing the book himself, and doing extensive research. He was so passionate about his subject that I had a hard time getting him off the phone once I realized he didn’t need anything from me. The conversation got crazier and crazier until I heard a thump in the background on his end, and his already low voice dropped to a whisper. “Um, I have to go. My parents are home.


As a brand new librarian, I was still in the “can be shocked” category, and this one was a doozy.  A phone call came in to the reference desk, and a very ‘normal’ sounding male apologized and said he had a sensitive subject he was doing research on. It was for a paper, he said. He hemmed and hawed around a while before finally stumbling out with the topic of his study:  Which nationality of men have the longest penis? Other librarians have since said they would have hung up on him, but newly minted as I was, I was determined to treat it as seriously as the patron appeared to be. And you know what? There actually are studies to cite on this subject, and I found a few of them.  The ensuing conversation was necessarily vague, since I was at a busy reference desk. To the eavesdropping patron I might have been answering a question on the typical size of vegetables around the world. This call was five years ago, and I’m sorry to say I don’t remember which nationality was the winner.  And I don’t have the heart to search again.


Thank you, “Jedi,” for your stories!

Do you have a crazy reference question story to tell? Submit them to Merry and you could be featured on our site!

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