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Posts Tagged ‘questions

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers; a librarian can bring you back the right one”*

 

Recently some folks at the New York Public Library discovered a box containing old reference questions from the 1940s to the 1980s.  They’re posting the questions to their Instagram account each Monday, noting that “we were Google before Google existed.”  Some of the examples include answers; others are…  well, probably unanswerable– but all are a reminder of the extraordinary value of the Library and its reference librarians.

People still use an updated version of the service, Ask NYPL; the Library reports that they receive about 1,700 reference questions a month via chat, email, and phone.

Read more at “Before Google, Here’s What New Yorkers Asked The NYPL.”

* Neil Gaiman

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As we keep it down, we might send bibliographic birthday greetings to Archibald MacLeish; he was born on this date in 1892.  A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (Conquistador) and dramatist (JB), MacLeish became “America’s Reference Librarian”– the Librarian of Congress– in 1939.

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“Questions are never indiscreet; answers sometimes are”*…

 

Once every week, Moiz Syed and Juliusz Gonera add a question to their site “How Wrong You Are“…

After one answers a question, one is shown both the correct answer and the percentage of respondents who picked each choice.

How Wrong You Are is a collection of important questions that people are sometimes misinformed about. We poll you to measure how right – or how wrong – the public is about these important questions.

Every week, we will add a new question. These are all questions that we hope you already know. But if you don’t, don’t worry! You learned something. Share your results, successful or not. Chances are, if you didn’t know this question, other people might not, either.

Find out “How Wrong You Are.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we agonize over our answers, we might spare a thought for Franz Kafka; he died on this date in 1924. Trained as a lawyer, and settled as a young man into a job with an insurance company, Kafka began to write in his spare time.  The novels (e.g., The Trial) and short stories (e.g., “Metamorphosis”) he produced made him one of the most influential authors of the 20th century; their themes– alienation, physical and psychological brutality, family conflict, terrifying quests, labyrinthine bureaucracy, and mystical transformations– were especially impactful on existentialism.  Camus, Sartre, and Ionesco all cite him as a key influence, as did Marquez and Saramago. But most of this impact came after Kafka’s death: the bulk of his work was published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have his manuscripts destroyed.

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Written by LW

June 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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