We’re all guilty of resorting to Wikipedia whenever we need to write a history report or organize a presentation. Instead of pulling your information from a questionable source, why not speak with a librarian from the New York Public Library? In this video on Great Big Story, Librarian Serena Jimenez talks about the help-line that answers more than 30,000 calls a year.
If you have a question, really any question at all, this is your “Google before Google.” Just dial 917-275-6975 to “ASK NYPL.” Unlike the automated help-lines we’re so used to calling, a team of librarians will be available to answer your inquiry by manually digging through the library’s huge collection of books.
The “Ask NYPL” department, which began in 1967, is comprised of ten librarians today. Quite humorously, the institution keeps a catalogue of the questions, and some are rather…interesting to say the least.
“Phone Question -NB,” for example, asks “Is there a book on how to build with popsicle sticks?” Another question, simply labeled “10.76” states, “Why do 18th century English paintings have so many squirrels in them, and how did they tame them so that they wouldn’t bite the painter?”
Even in a world infiltrated by technology, these questions stand as proof that child-like curiosity will never die out. In fact, the department still receives thousands of calls each year. Jimenez attributes this to the fact that many people might not have access to the necessary research tools at home. She also believes that some callers simply want a person on the other end of the line to talk to.
Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park and peer inside its Stunning Renovated Rose Reading Room.