Submitter: [Edited by Holly for length] This is yet another of those books that compiles trivia “you’ve always wondered about,” much the same as David Feldman’s popular “Imponderables” series. This book is, however, quite transparently an open advertisement for the old Ask Jeeves website, a one-time contender in the search-engine wars that was started in 1996 and marketed itself around encouraging users to submit searches in the form of a question. The basic Ask.com search engine still exists, but the last time I looked at AskJeeves.com this morning, my browser sent up an alert about the site’s expired security certificate!
In looking through the book, initially it seems harmless enough, but I kept running into now-outdated “answers.” One alleged that the new copper-clad zinc penny takes a half-cent to mint–it’s now about 1.5 cents. Each of the sample pages I scanned has answers that are now technically outdated or obsolete, and they’re not the only ones.
This also raises another question many librarians have to contend with: how to properly deal with well-intentioned but obsolete or inappropriate donations. It was obsolete when it was donated–how did it make it onto the shelves to begin with?
Holly: Donations are great, but libraries need to have donation policies in place that give them carte blanche to do whatever they want with them. Libraries should be under no obligation to put every donation in their collections! Say thank you to the donor, and have a procedure in place to discard what you can’t use. This book could have gone straight to the discard pile.