When I first started working as a reference librarian here at the Mississippi Library Commission (my first day was last Monday), I gave a great deal of thought towards the importance of the position. I’m a provider of information, I thought, a critical link between the public and much needed information. This position allowed me to utilize my razor-sharp analytical skills to help the greater good and when my first question arrived I have to admit I was excited—nay, downright giddy. What important information would this person need: insight into the national health care debate? Strategies for online job searching? Advice on staying cool this summer?
Of course not. My first inquisitor wanted to know how a vampire might react if he/she were doused with holy water. At first I was a bit deflated by this question: a vampire? Quickly though, I decided that this person deserves the best answer that I could provide. So, after a short search on our online catalog I found something I did not know existed: J. Gordon Melton’s The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. That’s right, a 919 page encyclopedia on anything you would ever want to know about vampires.
After looking though Melton’s book, which is an excellent resource, by the way, I found out that holy water only burns vampires; it does not kill them (who knew?). I also learned the following: some of cinema’s best auteurs have directed movies about vampires. Mel Brooks, Werner Herzog, and Francis Ford Coppola are three popular directors who were fascinated with the subject. Also, vampires have appeared in two Star Trek novels, but, sadly, they never made it onto the television series. Lastly, Vlad the Impaler, the man Bram Stoker used to help create his Dracula character, has a statue built in his likeness in Tirgoviste, Romania (for those of you looking for a summer trip).
I wrote up the answer and delivered it to a (hopefully) happy customer. It just goes to show that for every question there is an answer and it’s the reference librarian’s job to find it.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press, 1999.