Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Before Google, There Was the Patient, Long-Suffering Staff of the New York Public Library


Once upon a time—midcentury America, to be precise—you couldn’t turn to the Google search bar with all your most deeply personal and/or random questions. Instead, there was the New York Public Library and its very patient librarians.

As NPR explained back in December (and our compatriots at io9 reported), the NYPL’s Reference and Research Services has fielded all manner of questions for decades. They stumbled across a box of queries from the 1940s through the 1980s, and they’ve been sharing them on their Instagram every since. Unless you’re following the account, you’ve been missing some gems. For instance:

Surely this came not from somebody with a very poor understanding of lunar cycles, but rather a pre-Internet troll.

If you have any questions for which Google just isn’t getting the job done, you can still turn to the NYPL. In the meantime, here’s a free prompt for a mystery novel.

Contact the author at

Photos via the NYPL’s Instagram.

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