Monday, July 07, 2008

Closing Time History

Ten minutes before closing is usually not the best time to ask a reference question. While we do what we can, our attention is often divided among turning off equipment and lights, coaxing folks off the computers and checking out last minute finds. Of course, it depends on the complexity of the question, so when a couple came in last night asking for a Spanish-English dictionary, I was able to easily walk them to the area, the 463's, en route to turning off a copy machine.

A few minutes later, I passed the couple in the stacks. From their body language I could tell that they weren't having any luck, and my intuition told me that I knew exactly what they were looking for. I asked them if they found the word, and of course, they hadn't. I asked them what word they were looking for, and my intuition was correct.

"Peralta," they replied.

I told them it was a tree, but that the real meaning of the word could be found in the book Stories Behind the Street Names of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. They followed me to the reference desk where I pulled the book from the shelf, and it opened right to page 206, where the explanation resides. I was able to go on my merry way shutting down computers, and they happily satiated their curiosity before closing time.

I have been a New Mexico resident since Groundhog Day, 1997, but have only resided in Santa Fe since Groundhog Day, 2007. My knowledge of Santa Fe history pales beside my knowledge of Albuquerque and Four Corners history, but I add a little to it every day. I remember being curious about Paseo de Peralta when I moved here. Delving into my Spanish dictionary led me to "peral", which means "pear tree". I was puzzled, thinking perhaps the city was once surrounded by pear orchards? But when I started at SFPL, still curious, I was able to find out that Don Pedro de Peralta was the second governor of New Mexico, and the founder of Santa Fe.

If you're curious about this or any other street name in Santa Fe, or any place name in New Mexico, come in to the library and be sure to ask! We're always happy to share our knowledge or learn something new with you.

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