In contrast to the previous entry, I’d like to mention a few questions I’ve heard at only a very few Book Fairs (InFrequently Asked Questions). The Newberry Library, being a research library, attracts the curious minded, and some of them are extremely curious indeed. I like these folks, mostly. They remind me that human beings are not so predictable as one might fear in this grossly homogenized world. Every one of these questions was asked in all seriousness. I did not inquire into the thought processes behind them. It goes back to one of my previous jobs where, in 1980, I decided NOT to inquire why the nice lady asked me so desperately where she could find a Men’s Room. Take time to smell the flowers without dissecting them, that’s my motto.
Where do you keep your harmonica music?
The price on the endflap of this book is in shillings. Will someone convert that into American money at Checkout?
What do you call that style of whiskers?
Will you sell me some of these bookcases?
What part did Charles Dickens play in the development of detective fiction?
Can I buy just volumes 2, 6, 7, and 9 of this set?
I need novels set in Pennsylvania in the 1920s. Do you have a section for those?
Do you have any books signed by Mayor Daley’s brothers?
I have a Harry Potter book just like this one you’ve priced at three dollars. What would my copy be worth?
What does this mean? You’ve written $1.00 on this old Chicago Tribune. No, the price is 25 cents; that’s printed here. Your price? What do you mean, your price? You mean if I give you a dollar, I can HAVE this? Really? Wow! I have to go tell my wife! No! I won’t!