Here Are Some Of The Hilarious, Embarrassing, Or Bizarre Questions People Asked Librarians Before Google Existed

Imagine if search engines like Google didn’t exist. How would you find answers to your questions pre-Internet?

Well, you’d probably have to go to the library and do some research. That, or ask a librarian to do it for you.

The New York Public Library recently discovered an archive of reference questions that people asked its librarians back in the last century. The NYPL has been posting some of the questions on its social media pages, but has given Business Insider permission to answer republish a selection of them here.

Back then, it wasn't easy to get instant answers to all of your most pressing questions:

No one had computers...

Instead, you'd have to try firing your questions off to a librarian:

Although librarians couldn't answer every question, they'd do their best:

'Is this the place where I ask questions I can't get answers to?'

Some questions wouldn't have had answers even if Google *did* exist.

Like this one:

Or this:

And some askers didn't get the answers they wanted:

Some questions from the archive are hilarious:

Others, sad:

Like this one:

Or random:

Or unusual:

This one, a little embarrassing:

Some cards show a librarian with a sense of humour. This man was looking for 'A Long Time In A Dark Cave':

Unlike Google, librarians could laugh at people's searches...

And confusion:

Hitler had been dead for two years when the library received this question:

We particularly liked this one:

Many questions make you wonder about the asker:

Did this person have six toes?

Was this asked by a pre-pubescent teen?

Did this person have too much eye-brow hair?

Some questions seem really obvious:

But, then again, think of all the stupid things you've Googled:

Sometimes common sense just fails you:

Some questions we decided to Google ourselves after we read them:

Some of the questions read like jokes:

Was this lady trolling?

Also, this:

We want to know what kind of book report this question was for:

People were looking for lists even before the advent of the 'listicle':

Imagine life without 'how-to' guides:

And you couldn't just Google search jokes:

Some questions reflect the times:

Like this one:

'It's a window into people's lives at the time,' NYPL social media manager Johannes Neuer said to Business Insider.

You might have to rely on a library for a simple spell-check:

Or to confirm you were using the right word:

Or for fun trivia:

Or, ya know, questions about exotic pets:

We're guessing that there wasn't an entire book about this:

This was among one of the creepier questions we saw...

And this one left us the most bamboozled:

This question could be from an aspiring cadaver sales-person:

Bed bugs are always dramatic, in our opinion.


We bet this person was prepping for a vacation:

The real question is, how many are there *now*?

This 'somebody' ended up being 'the internet':

Believe it or not, librarians are still standing by.

New York Public Library

You may want your Google searches to remain private, but people can actually still call, text, or chat with a NYPL librarian or research specialist. Find the right numbers and links here.

Now, scope something a bit more with the times:

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