Most of us use Google, Yahoo, Ask or a custom search engine to find the answers we need to life’s (or businesses) complex questions. We do it instinctively. However about 150 times a day the NY Public Library gets phone calls asking for questions as well. This unit of 10 people works every day but Sunday’s to answer people’s questions from all over the world.
The next time you are looking for an answer and can’t find or don’t feel like using the Internet call the library.
The NY Times writes Most queries are humdrum, like when is the library open. The clueless ask who the famous are, like who is the vice president. Secretaries puzzle over their own shorthand when the boss uses an unfamiliar word.
Some queries get garbled: one librarian thought a caller from South Africa was asking how many statues of Lenin there are in the world. (He meant John Lennon, and was referred to other sources.)
While the number of telephone calls has declined over the years to fewer than 150 a day from more than 1,000, they still made up two-thirds, or 41,715, of all inquiries to the staff last year (the rest were by computer).
Still, the persistence of this service raises its own questions. Like why, in the age of search engines, would anyone bedevil a human being with such questions? And what human being would choose to be so bedeviled?
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