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Librarian Comes to Journalist's Rescue

A Lindenwood University professor shares her story of relying on Saint Louis County Public Library librarians when she couldn't find what she needed.

For journalists, doing research is part of the job description. But when the location of a particular article stumped a journalist-turned-professor and staff at the New York Times, it was a Saint Louis County Librarian that came to the rescue.

Charlene Oldham, an adjunct professor at Lindenwood University, was looking for an article she’d freelanced for the New York Times. When she couldn’t find it, she emailed the newspaper’s customer service directly. When they couldn’t find it, they had some advice: “You might also try the library,” a customer service representative wrote to Oldham.

She did, and it took Paul Steensland, a reference librarian at the just minutes to send the article straight to Oldham’s inbox.

“It took Steensland about 10 minutes to accomplish a task I'd spent a couple of hours on with no success,” she wrote in an aside linked to her blog. “Clearly, we reporters should leave research to the pros.”

Oldham shared her story on her blog in a post lamenting cuts to public libraries, which she called “the only oasis in a digital desert” for families without Internet access in their homes.

Saint Louis County Libraries put the blog post on its Facebook page, and a St. Louis Community College student shared his thoughts in the comments:

“This article pretty much sums up why I want to become a librarian and why libraries are still a vital source in our society,” Alex Bower-Leet wrote.

Ginny Kramer March 14, 2012 at 09:01 PM
What a wonderful story. Just another example of the value of libraries and librarians. I wonder, though, why this was included in Kirkwood Patch. Oak Bend is a branch of the St. Louis County library and is located in either Crestwood or Oakland (I'm not sure which), but it is definitely NOT in Kirkwood. I love reading about Kirkwood Public Library in the Kirkwood Patch and was just puzzled about the placement of this piece. -- Ginny Kramer
Owen Skoler (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thank you for your comment, Ginny. At Kirkwood Patch we serve the community of Oakland, and the branch is located in Oakland. Like you, I found the story a testament to the value of libraries and librarians everywhere.

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