Tim Russell: Once again we take you to the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library for the adventures of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.


Sue Scott: Reference desk. (VOICE AT OTHER END) Yes, right. (VOICE AT OTHER END) Yes, of course. -- The name Buffalo comes from the French term, "beau fleuve" - meaning "beautiful river." (VOICE AT OTHER END) No, the Erie Canal opened in 1825, connecting New York City and the Great Lakes. (VOICE AT OTHER END) Erie is one of the Great Lakes. (VOICE) You didn't know that? Well, now you do. (VOICE) You're welcome. (HANG UP)

TR (TEEN): Gosh. How do you know so much stuff, Miss Harrison? Every time somebody comes in to ask you some ignorant question, you've got the answer. On the tip of your tongue.

SS: There is no such thing as an ignorant question, Trent. Ignorance is not wanting to know. And I'm a reference librarian. It's my job to have the answers.

TR (TEEN): You ever Google, Miss Harrison?

SS: "Googling," as people call it, is like fishing for trout in a landfill. Your chance of catching a trout is slim. It's more likely you'll come up with six million beer cans. "Google" comes from the word, googol-plex, which is the number 10 raised to the power of 100, which is the number of irrelevant entries you pull up every time you "google".

TR (TEEN): Wow.

SS: And now it's time for you to re-shelve these books that Girl Scout Troop 179 returned today covered with what I hope is oatmeal. Be sure to wipe the covers with the sanitizing solution. And keep your mind on your work, Trent. Last week I found Lady Chatterly's Lover in the Do-it-Yourself section.

TR (TEEN): Why don't we get one of those book sorting machines, Miss Harrison? The kind that just reads the bar code and sorts it automatically.

SS: Shelving books builds character, Trent. (TELEPHONE RING, PICK UP) Reference desk. (VOICE AT OTHER END) Yes-- (VOICE) Well, we have a no-singing policy in the library, but I'll sing a few lines...(SHE SINGS) O the E-ri-e was a rising, and the gin was a-getting low, and I scarcely think we'll get a drink til we come to Buffalo-- til we come to Buffalo. (VOICE AT OTHER END) You're welcome. (HANG UP)

TR (TEEN): Can I ask a question, Miss Harrison?

SS: Of course you can. Your vocal cords seem to be in order. May I ask a question--

TR (TEEN): Okay. Go ahead.

SS: No, I mean "may" is the proper word -- "can" refers to ability -- and yes, you have the ability to ask a question -- "may" refers to permission -- see?

TR (TEEN): Okay. -- I forget the question. --Oh. Right -- Am I going to have a job here this summer? I keep hearing rumors that the library's going to close.

SS: I don't concern myself with rumors, Trent.

TR (TEEN): Yeah, but I gotta have a job or my dad is gonna kill me.

SS: I have no reason to believe that the Herndon County Board of Supervisors is about to close the library. Excuse me-- (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH) Yes, sir, how may I help you?

Fred Newman (HIGH): Yeah, I'm looking for a book where I can look up the meaning of a word.

SS: An English word?

FN (HIGH): No, it's American. The word is "poindexter".

SS: You came in here last week asking about "poindexter".

FN (HIGH): I did? Oh right. I did. I forgot. You mind if I look it up again?

SS: The reason you forgot is that you were high.

FN (HIGH): Huh?

SS: You came in here last week and tore a page from Webster's Unabridged dictionary and used it to roll a smoke.

FN: I didn't do nothing.

SS: Ungrammatical and untrue. You came in, torn a page out of Webster's, and used it to wrap your weed. Your tea. Grass. Pot. Reefer. Mary Jane. Gange. You got hopped up on dope and then sat and surfed the Web.

FN: I don't remember any of that.

SS: I do and I don't allow the destruction of library materials or the use of hallucinogenic or intoxicating substances. If you want to get drunk, read Emily Dickinson and you will find inebriation there that -- (HER VOICE BREAKS) will last you a lifetime. "I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died --The Stillness in the Room--was like the Stillness in the Air --Between the Heaves of Storm -"

TR (TEEN): Wow. That's beautiful, Miss Harrison. What is a"poindexter," by the way?

SS: It means nerd, Trent.

TR (TEEN): You mean someone like me?

SS: I didn't say that, Trent. I would consider you more like a schlemiel. (PHONE RING, PICK UP) Reference desk. (VOICE) A Whiter Shade of What? (VOICE) Pail? Is that P-a-l-e or p-a-i-l? (VOICE) You don't know. I see. I'll have to look that up and call you back. (HANG UP)

TR (TEEN): So you don't think they'll close the library?

SS: Knowledge is power, Trent. And that's why men are in fear of a woman with a Master's in Library Science. But the moment the barbarians come through the door, the teachings of Gandhi go out the window -- I've been reading up on Tai Kwan Do. (KARATE CRIES)


TR: Join us next time for the adventures of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.