And knowing how to spell, as a librarian, is very important.
I had a teen come up to me asking if we had any books on fersous? (That was about how it was pronounced.)
After a few questions on my side, she told me she really needed books on the elements. Especially zinc and fersous. When she said elements, I asked her if it was phosphorus. Her eyes lit up. Bingo!
Another variation of needing to know how to spell is authors. Now, I don't know all authors. That's just impossible and silly. But knowing how to spell the most popular author names, like Clancy, Steele and Auel comes in handy when we get the questions about a new book they've put out.
The second part to this post is something that sometimes irks me.
When a patron calls up with a specific request. Something like "I'm looking for an encyclopedia about criminals published in the 30s."
Okay. So I do my normal searches. Library catalot. MeL catalog. WorldCat. When those three fail, I go to my backup. Google, Abebooks and Amazon.
When those three fail, I tell the patron that I'm sorry but I can't find what he's looking for.
He proceedes to tell me "Did you try google?" "Can you search by copyright?" "Did you search in MeL by date?"
Now, like a lot of reference librarians, I went to school (graduate school) for what I'm doing. I took classes on searching, reference, cataloging and more. It's a rare thing when I can't find the answer to a reference question like that - if the answer exists, more often than not, I'm going to find it because I know how to search for books.
When a patron acts like I need to be told every step to take to find a specific book he wants, it's annoying.
Like any good librarian, though, I hide my annoyance. I tell him that while I didn't find that exact book, I found others that are newer. They aren't what he wants, though, and he questions my searching skills.
On the other hand, I get patrons who just want me to google something for them. Which I do happily. Then, I pick the best two or three links that explain what they want to know.