by Delia

Recently, a customer came in seeking information about parks in Fort Wayne. He was very clear the minute he walked in the door that information on the parks, of which Fort Wayne has a plethora, was his interest. We asked if he was interested in a specific park, but no, he wanted all of the parks. We have a great deal of material on local parks, including photographs, books, old newspaper clippings and pamphlets. We produced a lot of material for him to browse through, and he examined it all over the next couple of hours. We got distracted with other customers, but when we saw him leaving, we asked if he had found what he needed. Well, no, he hadn’t, he answered dejectedly. He was really looking for a piece of sculpture that was supposed to be in one of the parks. With that idea, we asked a few questions about the sculpture and found what he wanted, information on a piece of sculpture that was sitting on the lawn of the Performing Arts Center! He thought he knew what he needed, and felt he was being very specific about what he wanted.

Another time, an experienced researcher arrived for what she indicated was her first time here. The staff member on the desk provided a quick orientation to The Genealogy Center, complete with map and various guides, then asked, “So what are you looking for today?” She answered, “My family history.” The staff member, said, “No, I mean, what specifically are you looking for today?” And she answered, probably thinking the staff member wasn’t paying attention, “My ancestry.” Once they settled the definition of what the question meant, the researcher was provided with several good sources with which to start and was soon happily, and successfully, researching.

Both of these scenarios happen on a regular basis. When you arrive, whether you realize it or not, we may subject you to a “reference interview,” where we ask questions to determine exactly what you want. It may feel that we are trying to stall you while we think. While that might be the case sometimes, we are really just trying to get a better handle on what you need. It’s also important for you to think about what you want. You may think that by asking for material on parks or a specific war or a specific place, you will find what you need, but if we have some clarification about what your ultimate goal is, we may have a better suggestion.

So come on in and visit us, and answer our questions, so that we may help answer yours!