Benbrook Library / Library services

The Library Does Some Retro Reference


The library is no stranger to questions. They come in bunches from in-person visitors, phone callers, and e-mailers every day. Yesterday, on Throwback Thursday no less, we received a question via an old school method we rarely see used anymore: snail mail. Yes, someone sent us a bona fide letter (pictured above) to inquire about where to get Texas harvester ants. There are several things to love about this, namely:

-The person thought to seek the help of a library for his information needs relating to an issue with which not many people would consider appealing to the library for help.

-The letter came from Washington, meaning the person thought it best to entrust his Texas ants needs to genuine Texas librarians because they ostensibly would know better than Washington librarians. I like the logic.

-The letter appears to have been written by a child, which means the chain of events that led to his writing and sending of the letter potentially went something like: kid needs information, kid asks parents for help, parents encourage kid to try to solve his information need on his own, kid and parents discuss it and reach conclusion a library would be the best place to get information, kid writes letter to library. Thinking things like this might actually be going on gives me hope for humanity.

-The last line of the letter, “Yes!”, is so enthusiastic it’s hilarious, both in and out of context.

Our director was as delighted and tickled by the letter as I was, and he gladly found some information to send, along with a nice letter of response, back to the (presumably young) gentleman:


Here’s hoping the reply gives our ant man what he’s looking for. I’m betting he wrote to multiple Texas libraries, in which case I’m betting he’s going to get multiple replies from friendly Texas librarians who were nothing but glad to help with his refreshingly quaint request.

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