(212) 340-0849: The Telephone Reference Service of the New York Public Library

new_york_public_libraryDo you like using Google to look up obscure facts but miss the warm, soothing voice of a human on the opposite end of a telephone line? You’re in luck.

Everyday except Sunday, eight women and two men provide the telephone reference service of the New York Public Library system. The telephone reference service has been around since 1968. Anyone from anywhere can call (212) 340-0849 and ask any question. The researchers have five minutes to come up with the answer.

What country had the first license plates? What is the life cycle of an eyebrow hair? What is arachibutyrophobia? How does a person get out of quicksand?

France; 150 days; fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth; don’t thrash, ease to the surface, float.

The next time you’re stumped on Google, or can’t come up with a way to phrase a question that gives you less than a bilion results, give good, old fashioned human research a try.