Nice New York Times profile of  Ask NYPL reference librarian  Matthew J. Boylan, aka “the Magician.”

“In a certain sense, the work I do begins where the Internet ends,” Mr. Boylan said. “Certain things you can’t find with Google"

The library system’s former president, Paul LeClerc, nicknamed him “the Magician” for his ability to take on complicated questions and stumpers, and find answers in the library’s stacks, microfilm and other resources

.“I guess you could say I’m well positioned,” Mr. Boylan said. “I sit near millions of books and I have access to 650 databases above and beyond the open Internet.”

He turned to a full queue of emailed questions and browsed it like a menu. There were questions about the Laotian general Vang Pao, old tuberculosis hospitals on Long Island and a Grafton-Middlesex fox hound match in Virginia in 1905. Someone wanted to know if the city of Chemnitz was part of the kingdom of Saxony in 1899; another wanted to borrow the latest season of “Boardwalk Empire.”

Love the stack of print reference books on his desk.

“…Library buildings may also seek to incorporate within their overall aesthetic some visual statement of the importance of their contents: as storehouses of knowledge, as lasting memorials of human achievement, or as publicly accessible gateways to education and enlightenment.”

- From The Oxford Companion to the Book. In anticipation of UK National Library Day on Saturday, 6 February 2016, we’re sharing free, fun library content all this week. Given the statement above, what is your favourite library building?

Image credit: Life beauty scene library by Unsplash. Public domain via Pixabay.
Before Google, Here's What New Yorkers Asked The NYPL
  • 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). We also had requests to rent a guillotine.
  • 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.
  • What is the life span of an eyebrow hair?
  • Does the Bible have a copyright?
  • What percentage of all bathtubs in the world are in the US?
  • Can you tell me the thickness of a US Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We cannot get this answer quickly. Perhaps try the Postal Service. Response: This is the Postal Service.
  • What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant?
  • How do you put up wallpaper?
  • A question from New Year’s Day 1967: I unexpectedly stayed over somewhere last night. Is it appropriate to send a thank you?
  • What’s the difference between pig and pork?
  • What kind of glass should I use in my greenhouse in Cuba?
  • Can mice throw up?

External image

Happy UK National Libraries Day!

Today is UK National Libraries Day, and we’re celebrating libraries across the UK and beyond with a selection of free content.

Read more about the development of circulating libraries, discover the ancient libraries of the Ottoman Empire and Assyria, or enjoy an audio biography of a favourite literary writer.

What is your favourite library to visit?

Image credit books education school literature by Hermann. Public domain via Pixabay.

We’re looking forward to meeting lots of Tumblarians at the VALA conference in Melbourne this week. Did you know the world’s first full-length narrative feature film was actually filmed in Melbourne? ‘The Story of the Kelly Gang’ (1906) traces the life of the legendary bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly.

Image: Ned Kelly. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Phone Conversations with Patrons: Episode #1

Archivist: Town Archives

Caller: HELLO! I’m a WRITER and I’m a LITTLE DEAF

Archivist: Okay, I’ll speak up. What can I help you with?


Archivist: [long pregnant pause] Okay. Do you have an address for that church?

Caller: You want my address?


[quiet chuckles are heard throughout Archives’ office]

Caller: No, I don’t have the address. I just need to know when it was founded. After World War II, LOTS of BAD THINGS happened and the SATANISTS started a CHURCH. I NEED TO KNOW THE EXACT DATE

Archivist: So, I need to know the address in order to find any records.



Caller. I don’t have the address.

Archivist: I’m sorry, without an address I can’t help.

Caller: Its really IMPORTANT that I find out the FOUNDING DATE of the SATAN CHURCH

Archivist: Do you know what I’d do? I would go to the library down on [censored] Street and talk to the reference librarian there.

Caller: HUH?


Caller. THANK YOU [hangs up]

[laughter erupts throughout office]

Archivist: Oh God, I feel like a terrible person. And I could never be a public librarian.

Don't Trust People Who Read Fight Club

This one is for @feminist14er whose birthday it is today. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays and the best of years ahead of you! <3

Also, thanks to @ottersandotherstuff who told me you liked these prompts. :D

Based on the prompts: “you said Shakespeare was dumb while checking out Fight Club and I am ready to Fight You” and “someone left a comment card in the suggestions box that says ‘the reference librarian is super cute’ and now all of the reference librarians are arguing over who it’s for”

Also on AO3

Bellamy Blake is a librarian. And with that great power comes great responsibility.

Mostly, it means he’s bitten his tongue so many times he’s not even fazed when he tastes blood, because of people who are reading shitty things he wouldn’t recommend in a hundred years.

But it’s what he does, and he lives for those who are actually interested when they lean on his desk and ask for recommendations. That sort of people make him forget all about assholes like the blonde who drops by his desk one day, looking to check out Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Palahniuk’s Fight Club.

As far as literature choices go, this one isn’t the worst but Bellamy can’t help but to feel wary of the stranger who’s currently toying with her phone. He doesn’t trust people who read patriarchal shit like Fight Club in their free time so he focuses on her other book.

“Shakespeare, huh?” he asks, swiping the books over the scanner.

The girl looks up from her phone and wrinkles her nose in disgust. “Shakespeare is dumb. This,” she points at Fight Club, “is what I’m reading for fun.”

Bellamy’s stomach plunges and despite the fact that he can keep quiet in the face of immense stupidity ten out of eleven times, this one is the eleventh and he can’t help himself.

“Are you seriously saying Shakespeare is dumb and you’re reading Fight Club for fun?”

Now he’s got her full attention, her blue eyes glaring at him in a way that makes him seriously question whether glaring daggers is a metaphor or a thing that actually happens, and when she speaks, it’s with a low and threatening voice that sends shivers down his spine.

“You got a problem with that?”

Bellamy squares his shoulders, returning the glare. “Actually, I do. Fight Club is the worst piece of trash I’ve ever read. It’s not a book, it’s a word-vomit about a bunch of white guys whose daddies didn’t love them and now they’re self-pitying themselves being nostalgic for patriarchal power.”

“That’s not what I heard,” the blonde counters, her phone completely forgotten as her hands curl into fists on her sides. She’s actually pretty frightening, Bellamy will give her that. But definitely not the sort of person who’d read Fight Club. “I heard it’s a metaphor for liberating ourselves from the chains of capitalism.”

“You probably need a hearing aid, then.”

The girl slams her fist on his desk, seething with rage. “What is your problem?”

“My problem is that whoever recommended that,” Bellamy narrows his eyes at the book, “to you is an asshole you shouldn’t trust.”

“My boyfriend recommended that.”

Okay, so he’s just insulted this girl’s boyfriend. God, if he gets fired, he’s going to slap himself for being so stupid because there is no way she’s not going to file a complaint now.

Or kick his ass.

Probably the latter, she seems like the type.

“There’s a reason why the first rule of the fight club is that you don’t talk about the fight club, Princess. It’s because it’s such a shitty book.”

Keep reading

makenmeisterart-deactivated2016 asked:

Sorry if this was asked before, but how tall is Tara?

(Bradley for Scale) I am so happy I get to include him! He is by far my favorite of her neighbors.

I will admit that I don’t alway draw Tara at a consistent height (just so she fits in the frame)

The general rule of thumb is that she is just twice as large as anyone else.

Also, Tara is not a fully matured monster, so she WILL keep growing.