This month's featured reference question has to do with a customer (let's call her Ms. X) who came to the desk and explained that she wanted to be prepared to discuss the New York Times best seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, at her next book club meeting.
Early in the reference interview, the plot thickened when Ms. X sheepishly admitted that she didn't have time to actually read the book. I assured her that this point could be addressed by a visit to Schmoop, which has not only a one-page summary of the whole book, but a more detailed summary of each chapter.
Next, I suggested that we prepare her for the discussion by checking out some of the library's databases (all of them available with a DPL card) for reviews of the book, and to find some biographical information about the author. We started with Gale Virtual Reference Library, which has over 12,000 nonfiction eBooks, covering subjects ranging from anarchy to Zoot Suits. The author's entry from Contemporary American Literature revealed that she was a graduate of CSU, and that it took her 10 years to write the book.
Then we checked out the Literature Resource Center (great for students) and found book reviews from the New York Times, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and The New Yorker. There was also several audio recordings of interviews with Skloot from Talk of the Nation and NPR's Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air.