Unusual Questions at the Desk

Photo: 'Autumn in Canberra (4)' by Prescott Pym CC-BY-NC-2.0

Photo: ‘Autumn in Canberra (4)’ by Prescott Pym CC-BY-NC-2.0

We’ve featured a few sites before that talk about the many strange questions we get asked in libraries. So this recent post from Sue Green on the National Library of Australia blog caught our eye. Sue shared the top 5 most unusual questions she had been asked on the foyer information desk at the National Library. They were:

1. Are there books in the library?

2. What sort of leaves (as opposed to what sort of trees) are on the trees opposite the Library?

3. I want to obtain a replica of the retro 1960’s chair that was once used in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

4. I want to know about your wooden floors for my house.

5. I need to return an inter-library loan that was borrowed in 1983.

Visit the NLA blog to find out how Sue answered these queries and share with us in the comments: what’s an unusual question you’ve been asked in a library?

Posted in From the Web and tagged .


  1. The most unusual question we get asked is “Where is the Specialist Outpatients Department?” The building where the library is currently located used to be the home of the Hospital’s Outpatients Department, and more than 12 months after the OPD moved to their new home, we’re still getting patients coming in looking for it!

  2. My library serves only the staff of our international relations policy institute, so we are not open to the public. Years ago a member of the public emailed to ask if it would be safe for her, as a pregnant woman, to travel to a foreign country. I presumed she was asking for medical advice, so I suggested she ask her *doctor* and look at the US Dept of State consular affairs info for concerns in particular countries.

  3. When working for a university library some years ago, a woman approached the service desk and asked me how she could donate a body. After some careful questioning (during which time I recovered my wits), I ascertained that her father (not yet deceased) wished to leave himself to a university for medical research. I contacted our medical librarian and he was able to put the requestor in touch with the appropriate section at a different campus.

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