Get lost in the Reference stacks

This semester for my Reference (407) class, I have two sample reference question sets.  These have been my favorite assignments so far because they let me practice something I'm really starting to enjoy doing.  My favorite question to research so far:

What are some variations of the old saying “a penny saved is a penny earned”?

Now, this isn't necessarily because I love random knowledge (although I do), but  more because of HOW I found the answer.  By the time I'd reached this question in the sample set, I’d spent lots of time just sitting and looking through several online databases.  I deserved a break!  I got up just to stretch my legs and browse the shelves for fun.  I started browsing through the New York Times bound collection of film reviews to try to find the print version of the Gone With the Wind review I cited for another assignment question (no luck) when a nearby title caught my eye: The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs: Meanings and origins of more than 1,500 popular sayings by Martin Manser.  On that same shelf I also found A Dictionary of American Proverbs.

The answer?

From Facts on File (p 190): Thrift is a great revenue.

From American Proverbs (p 458):  A penny saved is a penny earned; a penny spent is a penny ruined.  A penny saved is a penny made.  A penny saved is as good as twopence earned.  He who saves a penny earns a penny.  Penny saved, a penny made.

So even though I didn't technically do any research to find this answer, I did learn the value of browsing and getting to know the print reference collection.  With so many answers readily available online, we sometimes forget or neglect our print resources for reference.  And as quick as we are to defend our print books from e-readers, we seem to have resigned our print reference books to the online version or database without too much of a fight.  So as much as I'm a fan of endless online browsing for random facts and information, I'm also now an advocate for getting lost in the Reference stacks whenever you get a chance.


Leave a comment