Don Quixote at the Public Library

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So, Don Quixote comes in the library and sits at a public computer to do research on fighting legal giants. You’re at the reference desk. He comes over and asks for your help with his research.

You listen for a few minutes as he describes his noble steed and powerful lance. From somewhere, he produces laminated sheets that make claims about “stare decisis” and “color of law.” Mr. Quixote seems to think you should be impressed with his depth of knowledge. Surely you’ll jump at the opportunity to be his legal research assistant for the next three hours.

Fearing for your sanity, you say, “I’m sorry, but I am not allowed to give legal advice.” That displeases Mr. Quixote. He responds with disgust, “I’m not asking for legal advice; I thought libraries were places where you could get information!”

Technically, Mr. Quixote is right about what you’re supposed to do at the reference desk. But you can barely keep from blurting out, “You’re tilting at windmills!”

You really love helping patrons, but this patron needs help of a sort you cannot give. What do you do?

— Brad Hepp, May 3, 2023

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