I ran across a peculiar situation recently where a man called the reference desk at my institution and asked for a few pages of scanned microfiche. I graciously replied and sent him the pages. About six months later, I received an email from him informing me that he had thanked me in his book for my assistance.
At first, I was delighted that he would think to thank me in his book, but as I thought about it more, I couldn't help but feel that I hadn't done much for this man. I was just fulfilling a research request like any other librarian who would have answered the reference desk phone. It wasn't as if I had done major, in depth research on his topic. I just sent him a few pages of scanned microfiche.
The pages of scanned microfiche that I sent him were hugely important to the development of his story, so I believe that he had placed unnecessary importance on my contribution. It wasn't the research that I did that was worthy of a "thank you" in print, it was the substance of the scanned microfiche that had him so excited.
After contemplating the situation, I called and asked the man not to thank me in his book. I didn't deserve special recognition.
But when is it okay to accept research attribution in a book or other work?
I haven't seen much written on this topic, and I haven't seen any guidelines published. It seems that it is left up to the librarian to decide when to accept recognition.
I recently read a comments thread on ALA ThinkTank's Facebook page about a librarian who was excited to be recognized for research, and she asked the group for advice about putting the recognition on her CV. Some librarian commenters told her she could and should, others said she should not put it on her CV -- that research recognition should remain as additional information in her cover letter, if at all.
At this point, I feel like I am creating my own personal guidelines for this type of recognition. I have no problem with receiving individualized recognition for substantial research that I do to aid law school faculty in their publication efforts. However, I will not accept recognition for the situation I referenced above -- basically just a document delivery request.
So the questions become, do I ask the author to attribute the resources at my institution's library instead of thanking me individually for help? Or do I tell the author that there is no need to thank anyone -- it's just a librarian doing her job? I'll continue to ponder this, no doubt.