"Ask Heidi" is the Belleville News-Democrat's new question-and-answer column. It will be written by me, Heidi Wiechert.
You may recognize my name from the historical series, "Into the Archives," in which I examine stories from the BND's past.
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To address the 1,000-pound elephant in the room, no, I am not attempting to fill the now-retired Answer Man Roger Schlueter's place at the BND.
He leaves a legacy of question-answering excellence. I don't intend to mar or dishonor his gift to the community with this contribution.
Instead, I will apply my own unique set of researching skills to any questions you may have.
Answering questions is right up my alley — I started working at the BND in December 2016 as an editorial assistant. I'd estimate half of my job consists of answering questions for the public who call the paper or the newsroom staff.
Prior to that, I was a reference librarian at the O'Fallon Public Library. As a librarian, I answered questions like: What should I read next? Where do I find references for my homework? How does this computer program work?
I learned, as an information professional, despite its awesome computing power, sometimes the internet doesn't have all the answers.
To quote one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman: "Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one."
As the BND's resident librarian, I invite you to submit your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to the Belleville News-Democrat, ATTN: Ask Heidi, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.
Suggested reading: If you haven't read any of the wildly-popular Neil Gaiman's books, you may want to start with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It's a fantasy-romp about another world that lies very close to the surface of this one. It's also rather short, less than 200 pages, for the easily intimidated reader.