We never know where the day will take us. This past Thursday afternoon, your correspondent found herself learning all about Michigan state tax liens in the hopes of answering a question related to them. (No offense to the Great Lakes State or any other jurisdiction fond of tax liens, but they are a bit on the dull side.) Suddenly, the story of what turned out to be the crash/splash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 began to spread throughout our network and our building. It was less than 20 minutes before the start of All Things Considered (ATC), which meant parts of that show would change and continue to evolve and update while the show was in progress. Whoosh!
For NPR librarians, this sort of situation means lots of questions will arise that need to be answered, oh, five minutes ago. There is also a good chance that lots of time will get spent on topics or tangents that amount to naught. Sometimes colleagues get excitable. We do not recommend this line of work for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned.
This reference librarian worked with ATC staff to help find phone numbers and contact information for passengers and aviation experts. Knowing exactly how and when to navigate public records databases, Twitter postings and wire reports came in handy. The added bonus of the day: using the ability to think about how names might be misspelled in the first accounts of a story and how to look for them in all their various forms.
If you have an unusual or unique name and we need to look for you some day, TIA. (If you owe taxes in Michigan, the state is looking for you right now.)