Monday, March 24, 2008

Legal Forms

Surprisingly, one of the hardest questions to answer at the reference desk is whether or not we carry legal forms. We do have a few books on our reference shelves that can be photocopied but usually we just don't seem to have exactly what someone desires. There is a nice set downtown that people were always happy with when I worked in telephone reference but a legal form is something most library users don't consider a big enough project for a trip downtown. It is a very useful set of books. They are designed to be legal in North Carolina.

This last Saturday a gentleman came in and needed a Power of Attorney form. I showed him what we had on our reference shelves and he wasn't happy with it. He suggest I check online. I searched a site had saved on my Delicious bookmark page but it was a pay site and the forms were priced at over $25. We decided to search some more. I then searched the bookmarks of other Delicious users and found this form. He looked it over and thought it was perfect and I printed it out for him. I then bookmarked the site myself. If you ever need to do your own search you can do that here.

I never can know when I mention a website like Delicous if everyone knows what I mean. Delicious calls itself a "social bookmarking site." Essentially you use the site to bookmark other websites. You can then share what you find with others and use what others have bookmarked for your own purposes. That is what I did this weekend. I used what others had bookmarked to help me with the question. I searched for "legal forms" on Delicious and went to the site that the most users had bookmarked. After I did that I had the question answered and the form printed out two minutes later. It's the power of the hive mind.

My favorite use of the internet hive mind concept is a section of the site Metafilter (a collection of nerdy people that link to cool and interesting and educational and funny webites) called Ask Metafilter. It's simple, once a week each member of the Metafilter community can submit a question to the hive mind. There are some smart people on Metafilter and you get good answers from the community. I tried it for the first time a week ago and got these answers.

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