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The Weirdest Questions People Asked Librarians Before Google

Illustration for article titled The Weirdest Questions People Asked Librarians Before Google

"Do mice throw up?" and "Any statistics on the lifespan of the abandoned woman?" are some of the less strange questions that librarians at the New York Public Library have been writing down for decades. If you're wondering if people asked about sex, the answer is "yes, absolutely."


Before Google, I used HotBot — because it sounded like the best search engine for a teen looking for porn, fuck you Alta Vista — and before that I don't even remember how I asked difficult questions that I wouldn't have the answers to. Now that I'm an adult, I am addicted to googling everything from "how do you really pronounce 'lascvious'" to "Am I having a heart attack right now or what?" to "What are some good ways to tell if the advice nurse knows the symptoms of a heart attack and is just lying to you to spare your feelings because it's too late for you to be saved?" I can't imagine life without Google. But for people in the 40s, 50s and 60s, the only people they had to ask these difficult questions were librarians, arbiters of truth and knowledge. Of course, the librarians were writing these questions down.

The NYPL is releasing some of the best questions they've received on their Instagram and the ones that have already been posted are doozies. My favorite, aside from "what percentage of all bathtubs are in the US?" and "You'll have to excuse me, I'm from New Jersey" — which, not a question — is this one, posed by a woman who was going to politely become a millionaire or die trying:

Illustration for article titled The Weirdest Questions People Asked Librarians Before Google

"I mean, yes, I want to marry someone for their money, but I don't want to be vulgar about it."

You can see more questions here and check back every Monday for more. I haven't been as excited about the library since the SFPL upped their borrowing privileges from 20 to 75 books per person.

Images via Instagram

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zap rowsdower

As a librarian, I can assure you that people still ask these weird things.