Thursday, October 4, 2012


Dear Intelligent, well-informed, clever readers of this blog,

Today I got a reference question that stumped not only me but two actual librarians. I'm hoping that crowdsourcing, the solution to all problems in this modern age, might be able to solve this one too. One of our nice regulars came up to us with the following problem:

When he writes, he tends to leave out words, enough that his sentences often do not make sense. It’s not that he doesn’t know which word he should use, it’s just that he forgets to write down all the words he thinks of. He was looking for a resource that would give him strategies to stop doing this.

We got him a proofreading book. We also considered books on grammar and books on reading comprehension (hoping that making him more self-aware about his reading might make him more aware of what he was writing) but we didn’t have much success. I just do NOT know where we could find out what he should do, but I bet its out there somewhere. Tell me if you find it, or if you have any idea where I should look.


  1. I was talking to someone about this issue and she said most people deal with this (apparently not uncommon) problem by getting someone to read the writing aloud to them. Or, if that's not easy, by reading it aloud themselves (but the problem there is that some supply the missing words without "seeing" their absence).

  2. My supervisor looked into this question and found some information suggesting that the patron might have dysgraphia (, which is a learning disability related to dyslexia. I bet you can infer what it means. We put a book about it on hold for him, and if he pursues that angle and it solves his problem it means that I and the youth services librarians I consulted were way off the mark.

    I don't feel too bad that I couldn't solve this one on my own (since another staff member was able to help the patron pretty quickly) and think it's actually a good lesson that my research skills still have room for improvement. It'll keep me from being too cocky. But it sort of alarms me that I can't go to the YS people for help with this kind of thing, even though they have masters' degrees. This isn't the first time I've taken a question from adult services over to children's and not been told anything I couldn't think of myself.

  3. He should see a speech-language pathologist!

  4. Really? Even though it is for writing? I didn't know that!

  5. Yes, SLPs also work with literacy problems! I'm not saying his problem is definitely something an SLP would treat, but he could certainly get evaluated and find out.

    Disclaimer: I don't actually know anything about disorders involving literacy so I couldn't really say if this actually sounds like one or something that's not language-specific. That would be up to a certified SLP doing an evaluation to decide.

  6. Thanks! I'm going to pass this onto the patron next time I see him. I don't know if the book on dysgraphia mentioned speech-language pathology or not.