A light one today since all are recovering from 2014 and New Years Eve this weekend. On Austrian radio today (yes, Austrian radio), I came across a campaign being run by the New York Public Library which is reminding everyone in a very creative way that “[They] were Google before Google“.
In cleaning out some offices, they found an old box of bizarre reference questions asked by people who didn’t have a fancy search engine to satisfy their querying needs. In fact, part of the mid-century job description for New York City librarians was to ‘slake the myriad curiosities of the public’.
So, what did they find? A few of the best were captured in the article attached here. Among them:
-“Do you have the Oxford Ornithology of American Lit?” (hope they like birds!)
-“Why do 18th century paintings have so many squirrels in them?”
-“I just saw a mouse in my kitchen. Is DDT good for ’em?”
(and many, many more)…
A final quote from the NYPL on their finding:
“In a world pre-Google, librarians weren’t just Wikipedia, they were people’s Craiglist, Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram all rolled into one. “Is this the place where I ask questions I can’t get answers to?” – Phone question, September 13, 1947”