Great Moments in Pedantry: Librarian critiques Twilight Sparkle's professional practice

At Neatorama, librarian John Farrier helpfully points out some places where fictional pony librarian Twilight Sparkle could stand to improve her professional practice. It is simultaneously a dedicated bit of pony fandom and an interesting overview of the many responsibilities of a real-world librarian.

Conducting a reference interview is the act of translating a patron’s request into terms that are congruent with the library’s resources. It may surprise non-librarians to learn this, but yes: reference interviewing is a skill. And it is one that Twilight should develop.

A good reference interview begins with the librarian conducting him/herself in a manner that is welcoming. Helping the patron is the first priority of a librarian working the reference desk. The patron is not a distraction or an annoyance. In the first reference interview in the series, Twilight interacts with her patron, Rainbow Dash. “Can I help you?” is a good beginning. But her tone and body language suggests that she would rather not.

... Twilight has some good reference interviewing sense. One pitfall that rookie librarians fall into is to give professional advice instead of information—especially medical and legal advice. In “Cutie Pox,” Applejack and Applebloom visit the library and asking for medical advice. Twilight, aware that doing so could expose the library and herself to liability, deftly avoids doing so and refers Applejack and Applebloom to Zecora, a qualified medical professional.

Read the rest of the story at Neatorama


      1. A grad student with an incredibly tolerant advisor, though. Twilight and friends managed to trash Celestia’s palace during the party at the end of Season 1 and yet she wasn’t kicked out of her program…

    1.  As a fellow librarian, some days there isn’t enough coffee in the world to follow your (good) advice.

  1. It doesn’t really strike me as a public library, though. It has none of the ordinary amenities. It’s more like an archive.

  2. Still haven’t decided if the Scientology ad in this context gives a vibe of “Be a better librarian with Scientology” or “Our beliefs are as made-up as the land of Equestria”.

  3. Maybe a bit off-topic, but I think at least the reference librarians will like this. I worked at the main library at UT Austin a number of years back and this story came down from the reference desk:
    An obvious undergrad came up to the desk with this question. “Uh, our teacher said that perhaps we should look at a book called, uhm, ‘Oranges and Peaches’. Can you help me find it?” It took a while for the librarian to realize that the book in question was, ‘Origin of the Species’ :)
    One other thing I remember noting is the number of freshmen who were baffled by the Library of Congress system. Early 70’s, that was.

Comments are closed.