You can imagine the vast array of questions a resource library gets asked in one day. In my brief time sitting at the JJ Hill Centers front desk on a Wednesday afternoon I was asked, “Can I look up every address I ever lived at?” and “Do you have a book that would show me where to find all the award emblems that can be given to student in school?” Our reference librarians can almost always find an answer and if not, they can point you in the right direction. We are a business reference library and we cover every business imaginable, which leaves us with a vast database of facts and details that people quickly discover can connect them to more information than they may have thought.
But, is there ever a question that is too off the chart to answer? In short, no. In December 2014 the Gothamist reported on a discovery found at the New York City Library. A reference librarian was cleaning house and found a large box of old reference questions from the 1940s and 50s. Questions varied from “What is a life span of an eyelash?” to “What percentage of bathtubs in the world are in the US?” to “Where can I rent a beagle for hunting?” Amazingly enough the system back then was the same as today and a reference librarian called them back with an answer. There were of course question where answers could not be found, but the fact that people asked gives a wonderful nod to the trusted resource a reference library held then and still does today.
Here at the Hill we believe there are no stupid questions. So, if you can’t find it when you search online and you want to dig deeper, contact us. As the esteemed and highly respected Carl Sagan once said “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every questions is a cry to understand the world.” Come learn with us!
The first patent filed under the name “Google, Inc.,” was on August 31, 1999 – 17 years ago. It was initially started as a research project for “watermarking systems and methodology for digital multimedia content.” It has since become the primary tool for all things people question, wonder and need to know, BUT what did we do before Google and is there a human need to reconnect, be certain and have a trusted “human “source?
The James J. Hill Center is considered the oldest free reference library in the nation and still holds some of the most relevant business research in the country. Reference desks did not become a service until the late 1800’s. The Boston Public Library in 1883 was the first library to hire librarians whose primary purpose was reference and research. Over this century reference services grew to be a trusted direct personal assistant to readers seeking information. The invention of the computer, web and Google has drastically shifted that perspective but not eliminated it. As more time is spent in front of our computers and listening to automated voicemail there has been another shift.
A recent article on the New York Public Library (NYPL) proves reference desks are still a vital and growing way to find out anything from the odd and mysterious to the most challenging. The NYPL receives 300 inquiries per day and one of the number one comments is “Thank God I’ve reached a human being.” At the Hill though the numbers are smaller, the reaction is the same. Business researchers have access to databases and materials that are not easily accessible. This is not to say that reference librarians do not use the web to search for answers but they are experts at sifting through content, picking what is relevant and getting a trusted response, backed up with facts and put in one place.
So the next time you jump on Google and type in “Business Plan Templates” – why not consider coming to the Hill to ask an expert or research some of the most successful businessmen in history figured out. Reference libraries hold the backbone to our past and are the seed for our future.
The Hill known for connecting business, entrepreneurs, and community welcomes Danika LeMay, Lily Shaw and Maggie Smith to round off the team that will drive the mission and build the brand.
The James J. Hill Center is pleased to announce the addition of three new members of the Hill team that will support Executive Director Tamara Prato. The existing staff has been joined by (pictured left to right) Danika LaMay, Director of Reference Services; Lily Shaw, Director of Marketing; and Maggie Smith, Community Engagement Specialist.
“With the support of this incredible team I will have the ability to execute my vision to provide the community with unique entrepreneurial programming, cultural experiences and access to a dynamic Reference Library, which in turn will support the growth and economic development of the region” states Tamara Prato.
Danika LaMay most recently worked as Course Reserve Coordinator at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Libraries, where she helped instructors make course materials easily accessible to their students and had the opportunity to collaborate on innovative cross-unit and cross-campus projects. Danika is excited to bring her dedication to the user experience and make a positive difference.
Lily Shaw joins the team from Twin Cities Diversity in Practice where she oversaw the communications and programming of high quality diversity and inclusion initiatives for leading Twin Cities Legal Employers. Lily is excited to collaborate with her team and promote invaluable and unique opportunities for the community.
Maggie Smith spent the past 3 years working as the marketing and communications manager for the local health non-profit Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. As the community engagement specialist for the James J. Hill Center, she is excited to work with the community to spread the word and advance the mission of the organization.
About the James J. Hill Center – Opened in 1921, the James J. Hill Center supports the legacy of one of America’s greatest entrepreneurs. Today, the Hill is focused on supporting business, entrepreneurship, and community with the goal to build sustainable and lasting relationships that enable economic prosperity by providing services, programming, and cultural events. Learn more at jjhill.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.