Thursday, January 1, 2015

Something fun for the New Year!

Reference Question from the NYPL 


Happy New calendar Year everyone!

I just read about this fun thing the New York Public Library is doing until their supplies run out (which may be a long long time). I found this information from the Gothamist blog, which I follow via Google +.

The NYPL has always been a place for people to find information, and in the days before Google, they would record the reference questions that people would ask on what looks like catalogue cards. Well, they are now posting pictures of these reference questions on their instagram account with a new one each Monday. The hashtag they are using #letmelibrarianthatforyou.

Some of the questions are ....
  • Is it possible to keep an octopus in a private home?
  • I just saw a mouse in the kitchen. Is DDT OK to use? (1946)
  • Does NYPL have a computer for us of the public? Answer: No sir! (1966)
  • What did women use for shopping backs before paper bags?
  • Are black widow spiders more harmful dead or alive?
  • Is it proper to go to Reno alone to get a divorce? (1945)
  • Are Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates the same person?
  • Can NYPL recommend a good forger?
  • Where can I rent a beagle for hunting (1963). 
  • Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?
  • What is the life span of an eyelash? Answer: Based on the book Your hair and its care, it's 150 days.


As I am writing this I am thinking of some ways to use this resource in school and some of the ideas  I have come up with are: 


  • Repost the question on our library instagram or facebook page and see if someone can find the answer to the question. 
  • Use the photos as a lesson on questioning - good and bad questions, strange and unanswerable  questions, what are they really trying to find out?
  • Use the cards as a history lesson on life before Google ... where would you find the answers to this question? Can it be googled?
  • Use the cards and questions as a stimulus for a social insight into the era of the question.
I may think of more, but thanks NYPL - this is a fun little project and I will look forward to checking my instagram feed on Mondays!

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