Ask Jeeves

Just Curious, Jeeves coverJust Curious, Jeeves
Mingo and Barrett

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 search engine still exists, but the last time I looked at 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In looking through the book, initially it seems harmless enough, but I kept running into now-outdated “answers.”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 Each of the sample pages I scanned has answers that are now technically outdated or obsolete, and they’re not the only ones.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.

Jeeves back cover

Jeeves excerpt

Jeeves excerpt

Jeeves excerpt

Jeeves excerpt


  1. We don’t keep anything that’s not current and in good shape. Nasty stuff is trash and the rest someone will usually buy.

  2. Point cut out of the edit:

    The book was published in 2000; it was added to the collection in 2014, according to the pencil notes on the copyright page…..

  3. This whole “Ask Jeeves” thing is going to be very, very hard to explain to anyone too young to be familiar with Hugh Laurie’s career before he was cast as House, isn’t it?

  4. The airy answer to the question about the Electoral College voting system is a bit wince-inducing. When this book was published, Presidential elections won on less of the national popular vote were just a bit of a Victorian curiosity.

  5. This is the kind of book I would definitely pick up at a library discard sale – I’m a sucker for trivia. I never used AskJeeves though.

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