Tag Archives: price guides

Librarians: Breaking Your Heart, Crushing Your Dreams

Alas, it’s true. Although we library workers spend 90% of our workdays making people happy with the information we provide, there are those…awkward times when we have to tell you something you might not want to hear.

Everything’s less awkward with an image from icanhascheezburger.com

Luckily, we’re usually able to counter the bad news with better news, news that will not only guide you to the information you’re looking for, but save you from future awkward moments as well. Here are just a few of the many ways a librarian can break your heart…and then put it back together with credible information.

1. You are most likely not the grand prize winner.

You’re also probably not the dearest, most trusted confidante of a wealthy foreigner in need of some banking assistance, and that precious tot whose picture keeps popping up in your inbox most likely wasn’t really abducted. While the web’s vast trove of knowledge, and the breakneck speed of sharing it, can be beautiful things, they also make it easier than ever for scams and hoaxes to spread like wildfire. Acting on false information you receive can cost you in a variety of ways, from simple personal embarrassment all the way up to identity theft.

The Good News: There are a lot of terrific, credible sources that not only bust hoaxes, but provide you with ways to protect yourself. The fine folks at Snopes and Hoax-Slayer are joined in their efforts by the FBI, the IRS, and the Federal Trade Commission to set the record straight on matters ranging from urban legends to work-at-home scams.  Don’t forget, too, as we slouch toward the November elections, to  peruse non-profit, non-partisan websites like FactCheck and OpenSecrets for a truly fair and balanced picture of the “facts” Uncle Gordo forwards you once a week.

2. You should listen to your doctor.

Although we definitely sympathize with folks who have a tough time swallowing their doctor’s advice, librarians are not licensed to practice medicine.  Ergo, we can’t give you a second opinion, prescribe an alternative medication, or tell you what we think you should do about that horrible rash that just won’t go away. So when you press us for a diagnosis, you make us wish we were somewhere else doing something slightly less awkward (like giving a “coming out” speech at Thanksgiving dinner).

The Good News: While there are a lot of potential communication breakdowns in the doctor-patient relationship, there are plenty of consumer tools you can use to become a better advocate for your own health. Confused about a medication you’ve been prescribed? Look it up in the MedlinePlus encyclopedia of drugs, supplements, and herbs. Interested in alternatives to conventional treatments?  Research them at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Whatever medical difficulty you’re having, librarians can give you the educational materials you’ll need to read and take back to your doctor, so the two of you can have a heart-to-heart.

Not sure how to get that conversation started? Check out one of the many books on communicating with your doctor and rehearse the conversation before you go in.  Of course, if you’d like to start fresh, we can also point you to credible advice on choosing a new physician. As ever, Pittsburgh readers can check out the annual medical professional rankings published by Pittsburgh Magazine for advice on who is local top dog in their area of concern.

3. That doodad you found in the attic is probably not worth millions of dollars.

Thanks to a certain television show that will go unnamed, many of you may harbor the fond hope that, while cleaning out your attic, you will find an original copy of a Very Important Historical Document, or perhaps A Rare Fabled Painting By A Famous Eccentric.  In less dramatic, but no less fond, fashion, you may simply hope that the cherished vase that has passed through the matrilineal line since your great-great-great grandmother sailed to America from foreign parts is your ticket to early retirement. Alas, I fear it is not so–the truth of the matter is that an object is worth exactly as much as somebody will pay for it on Ebay…and to figure out a reasonable price point for your geegaw, you’re going to need a little help.

The Good News: It’s now easier than ever to research those attic and basement treasures! A phone call or in-person visit to Main Library will get you access to Artnet and ArtFact, two art research databases that contain auction records for items similar to yours, and/or produced by the same artist. The library also offers a pathfinder of subject headings to make searching for collectibles price guides a snap. Still unable to find a price, or want a professional opinion? Click here for more research tools (including some in–gasp–print!) and advice/resources on finding an art appraiser.

The bottom line? Your librarians love you.  We don’t want to see you get hurt. It’s an information jungle out there.  Believe me, when we have to break your heart, it hurts us more than it hurts you. But it’s worth squirming through a few awkward moments to be able to give you what you actually need, instead of telling you what you’d like to hear. You’re welcome.

–Leigh Anne

whose delivery probably needs a little work, but whose heart is definitely in the right place


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Unlikely Rare Books: Sailor Moon

Back when I started college and got my first credit card, I built a pretty impressive manga collection. But when I finished college and had to pay that credit card bill, I sold most of my books and only kept the sets that I thought were particularly nifty.

One of the things that I kept was Naoko Takeuchi’s 18 volume Sailor Moon, which (in the English version at least) contains three titles: Sailor Moon (vols. 1 – 11), Sailor Moon Super S (or Supers, or SuperS, vols. 1 – 4), and Sailor Moon Stars (vols. 1 – 3).


And boy, am I glad I kept these. And that I kept them in super pristine “I’m a librarian” condition. Why? Because they’re out of print, and have been for a few years now. Suddenly I’ve become a rare book collector.

I know. Sailor Moon. Really. Who’d have thought it?

Of course, a rare book is only as valuable as what someone is willing to pay for it. So if you think you have a rare book and you want to see what it’s worth, where do you go?

The easy way is to start on the internet with sites like these:

  • AbeBooks.com – One of my Sailor Moons goes for $145 here, but that’s pretty unusual.
  • amazon.com – Prices here vary from $38 to…$1,499. Wow.
  • eBay.com – About $25 here, which is the most reasonable.

Prices vary based on the condition of the books as well. For example, if you just want to read the darn things and not preserve them for the ages, you can easily get a copy for $10 or less.

If the internet is not for you, use the library’s trusty price guides (though I doubt you’ll find Sailor Moon in here):

And you can look under these subject headings:

Now that I know what Sailor Moon is really worth, you can bet your Silver Imperium Crystals that my books are insured and properly stored. And no, you can’t borrow them.

If you would like to read Sailor Moon, there are a few stray volumes floating around our wonderful county libraries – but don’t get any ideas about them. By the time a library gets through with a book (laminating, recovering, stamping, stickering, and barcoding) it loses its resale value.

The moral of this post? Be nice to your books; you never know what will turn out to be valuable!

– Amy


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