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What People Asked the New York Public Library Before Google

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Hyperallergic posted about some of the more interesting questions asked of librarians at the New York Public Library in the days before internet. Besides being endlessly amusing, the inquiries prove that our bizarre and specific interests pre-date the search engine (at least in New York City).

“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?” It’s easy to find answers to such perplexing questions today. A quick Google search explains that squirrels were once desirable pets, and that domesticating them could be achieved in six simple steps.

But in 1976, when the question was first posed to a librarian at the New York Public Library (NYPL), the internet hadn’t yet made everything ridiculously easy. Unable to answer the query, the bemused librarian who received it typed it onto a reference card and filed it away.

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