Sunday, September 18, 2011

Longest Reference Request On A Postal Card

The excellent staff of the American Library Association Library is always willing to respond to reference requests within the scope of the library's mission.  The Library responds to and shares some of those requests via its "Ask the ALA Librarian"  service. The Library staff might have been taken back, however, if they had received the lengthy request sent to ALA in 1912 by an Italian professor on the postal card shown here. Professor Adolphus Laura of the Royal Technical Institute in Cosenza, Italy breaks his request into five questions mostly related to "the classification of clippings, notes, index reruns, abstracts, correspondence and documents" and the Dewey Decimal Classification. He also ask if the Library can loan him "The Address of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes bearing on the getting at the essential contents of books 'with the least waste of time and labor' which was published in the Boston Daily Advisor on July 25, 1879.  Professor Laura's request written in neat cursive covers every inch of the back of the postal card and continues on the front of the card. I'm sure the ALA staff in 1912 responded diligently to Professor Laura's request, but not on a single postal card. 

1 comment:

Susan T. said...

Thank you for a very informative post with a picture of the postcard! I just love how your post capsulates the mission of how ALA has responded to a patron's request.