Earlier today I saw this tweet from Mandie Engram (@mandiengram)
I responded by trying to find the answer myself. Having recently returned from the Google Teacher Academy in Washington, D.C. I sort of fancied myself a Google whiz.
I was wrong.
I simply could not find a ranking based on just our state. When I searched for various combinations (i.e. “economic impact” +industries +”south carolina”) I got all sorts of results, but no real way to rank them.
I tweeted back that Mandie should consider contacting a reference librarian.
Here in Irmo, SC we have a little branch of the Richland County Public Library called The Link. It’s tiny, about the size of a small store. It has some comfy chairs, a bunch of books, and a few computers for use.
They do not, however, regularly staff a reference librarian. To overcome this, they have a video conference system set up and mounted on the wall. It’s a bit like a video phone, where you pick up the receiver and it connects you with the reference desk at the main branch down town. A few months ago while I was in the Link I joked with the ladies who worked there that I didn’t need a reference librarian, I had Google. They tried to convince me I should try it out but I just couldn’t come up with a question that Google couldn’t handle.
So, I decided to try out the reference librarian. I hit up the Ask a Librarian page and fired off an email asking the question. I would have tried the IM, but whatever service they use was blocked at school. I wondered whether it would result in anything, and went about my day. A few short hours later, to my pleasant surprise, I received an email with not only the information, detailed instructions as to how s/he found it. It turns out the librarian used the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the US Dept of Commerce. With no further effort on my part, I had the answer to the question, with an entire table copied to me.
I was floored.
It’s not that I don’t have faith in librarians. In fact, this is the second time that the RCPL reference desk librarians have come to the rescue.
So thank you, RCPL reference desk, for showing me that there is still a need for information experts.