The other day I discovered a very cool program offered by the Halifax Public Library system–Ask A Librarian. You can email the research librarians there and ask a basic question. Within a day or two they will try to get back to you with an answer, links to further information, or suggestions for where you should start research for a more in-depth or complex question.
I thought this was a great idea, and I discovered the service precisely because I had a question. I wanted to know if there was a library in Halifax during the time period in which my novel is set (1901). Although I am writing alternate history and don’t have to have all the facts right, I like to be able to integrate some factually correct details along with things I’ve…er…tweaked. So I emailed them on the spot.
The next day I had my answer! A very nice email arrived to tell me that there was indeed a Citizen’s Free Library in Halifax in 1901, housed on the second floor of the City Hall building on Duke Street. The librarian told me the names of the Head Librarian and Assistant Librarian, and sent me a link to the actual catalogue, which I could read online.
I think that’s a fabulous service. I was telling my son and daughter about it and my son said, “Wow, are they Super Librarians?”
Maybe so. :)