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People used to submit stupid questions to the library before the internet existed

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What is love?

What is gluten?

What is gout?

How old is Louis Walsh?

The above are just some of the questions the questions put to Google in the age of the internet.

But before you could tap your queries into a search engine, what did you do? Wait, don't google that. We've got the answer here...

You'd ask the public library.

In 2014 the New York Public Library (NYPL) unearthed a file full of questions submitted by visitors and to staff.

"If we didn't have the Internet right now, and you were looking to find out information on the migratory patterns of blue birds, you couldn’t just go to a computer and ask," Morgan Holzer, NYPL's information architect told Mental Floss at the time.

You had to find an encyclopaedia, which were expensive, so you would go to your library. And if you were at the library and didn't want to find an encyclopaedia, there’s a person standing right there who you could just ask and who had been trained to either give you an answer or tell you where to find an answer.

Since the discovery, the NYPL regularly share some of the most bizarre questions posed to them pre-internet collated under #letmelibrarianthatforyou.

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Interestingly, and despite the existence of Google, the library still gets 1700 reference questions a month.


H/T Paul Kirby


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